I took my morning run at my favorite spot on Earth—Falls Creek. The camp is quiet except for our small workgroup and Falls Creek staff. While I enjoy the quietness of the morning, I admit my mind was not quiet; memories flooded in. No place on Earth has so marked my life.
I ran past the place where Hominy Hut was located. I laughed as I thought back to the cabin with flaps on the windows, no air conditioning and an outdoor toilet. This cabin was the place where I first noticed a beautiful cheerleader. She didn’t know I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I didn’t ask her for an Icee date that summer, but the day did arrive when she would become my wife.
My run took me by the beautiful new tabernacle that covers the place where the old one stood. The memory of the Saturday morning service when God captured my heart for ministry filled my mind. The moment was as real to me this morning as it was so long ago. This spot on Earth will always be holy ground to me. It was here that the voice of God spoke so loudly I could not ignore Him. Life would never be the same because of that morning at Falls Creek.
My journey took me through this revitalized and dramatically improved camp. Nearly every street has a new or totally remodeled cabin. The recreational venues have taken exponential steps forward over the last few years. Yet with all the improvements, the same God has chosen to work just as powerfully as ever in the hearts of people who step on these grounds.
In the calm, I began to breathe a prayer for the events that are about to begin. In just a few weeks, the women’s and men’s retreats will take place. Thousands of adults will fill the camp. And just as the Holy Spirit touches lives during the summer youth weeks, He will deeply touch the adults who come to this place. Eternity-changing decisions will transform families.
While now quiet, it will not be long before the streets of Falls Creek are filled with young people from around Oklahoma. Indeed, as you know, Falls Creek will become a city bigger than most of the towns from where many of these young people come. The now calm atmosphere will be inundated with the chatter of excited young girls and boys relishing in the fact that this is their town, and they are the overwhelming majority.
As I ran, I just kept praising and thanking God for this wonderful place in the Arbuckle Mountains. There truly is no place on earth like it—it is a treasure that God has given us. We dare not take it for granted or fail to be good stewards of the facilities and the ministry performed here.
The challenges to provide such a wonderful place never go away. We must remove the debt on the tabernacle. Because of 2011 giving and interest earnings, in the next few months the debt will be reduced by $550,000. It is a major step in the right direction, but we will still owe $4.9 million. I am confident Oklahoma Baptists will work together to remove this debt very soon.
This “city” of Falls Creek is in the process of replacing sewer and water facilities to the tune of $7.5 million. We cannot vote a bond issue as municipalities do across our state. The BGCO Board of Directors instead raised the registration fee and designated the increase to pay for the necessary improvements. Falls Creek is the largest youth camp in America and perhaps the world. The cost of a week is still half that of an athletic camp and well within the cost of other smaller camps in Oklahoma, a bargain by any measure for both small and large churches.
I had a good run and a good walk down memory lane. While I rejoice in the past, I must tell you my mind is set on the future—a future filled with transformed lives and powerful spiritual moments. Lord, thank you for blessing Oklahoma Baptists with this awesome place!
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.