When you think of Falls Creek, what comes to mind? Most of us recall it is a time spent with thousands of other teenagers. Without question, the youth weeks at Falls Creek are legendary. There is really nothing in the world to compare. But as great as those experiences are, Falls Creek is much more.
The last week in July, more than 2,000 Native Americans gathered at the Creek for a family camp. Starting in 1947, they have come to the Arbuckles each year for a week called Indian Falls Creek. Our native peoples are a rich blessing to Oklahoma Baptists. Indeed, they were the first Oklahoma Baptists!
Just as many of us look back to our teen years and a divine encounter with God at Falls Creek, so our native people have memories of deep moments with God on these grounds. This is sacred ground to them, just as it is to those who attend youth weeks, where God has come among them time and again. Many ascribe their salvation experience, and others their call to ministry, to Indian Falls Creek.
God has allowed me to preach in many places around the world, including three teen weeks at Falls Creek. This year, the Indians honored me with the privilege to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to them. Few invitations to preach can compare.
Something new and exciting took place during 2009 Indian Falls Creek. Several hundred Hispanic Baptists gathered under the amphitheater for a new Hispanic Week. It made for a joyful experience. Think about it—Indians in the tabernacle singing in Kiowa, Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, etc., and the Hispanics on the hill in the amphitheater praising the Lord in Spanish. I have a sense that the Father was pleased as He leaned over Heaven to hear the multilingual praise rising from Falls Creek toward Him.
I have said many times that Southern Baptists are the most multiethnic denomination in Oklahoma. Now, Falls Creek reflects our ethnicity. It is a great joy to sit at the table in my apartment at the Creek and watch people of brown skin fill these grounds. I was blessed by the acceptance and openness shown by our Native Americans as they shared “their week” with our precious Hispanic people.
God has used Falls Creek for 92 years as a place where young people could enjoy a week of fun, fellowship and deep spiritual encounters with Christ. Now people of various generations and from all tribes and nations come to this wonderful place to have the same kind of experiences the young people enjoy.
Spending a week among our Indian and Hispanic people causes me to long for the day when people of every tribe and tongue will gather around the throne of God and give multilingual praise to our Lord Jesus. I guess Falls Creek is just practice for eternity.