Rite of Passage: Camp mile markers
by Walker Moore
Every life contains many mile markers—major events or experiences that stand out from the norm. I’ve lived long enough to have many: my salvation, leading my first person to Christ, my call to ministry, the first time I saw my wife, our marriage and our sons’ births are among a few of the mile markers that stand out.
Another one of these life-changing events was the week I preached at Falls Creek. Anthony Jordan himself called to invite me. He had never heard me preach, but he sensed God laying it on his heart that I should receive an invitation.
Most summers, I spend my time overseas leading students to plant churches, but I have a tremendous respect for Dr. Jordan. I jokingly call him the fourth person of the Trinity. There’s God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit and Dr. Jordan.
Most preachers only dream of preaching at Falls Creek and standing (back then) on the stage of the old tabernacle where many of the great preachers stood to proclaim God’s Word. In that place, thousands upon thousands have given their lives to Christ, and many of our missionaries have responded to His calling. In fact, I believe more missionaries have been called at Falls Creek than in any other single place. God has placed an incredible anointing upon that piece of ground.
So when Dr. Jordan phoned to tell me what God had placed on his heart, how could I refuse? When it comes to God and Dr. Jordan, you don’t say no.
I rearranged my schedule, and for one week, stood night after night looking out at a sea of young faces. There were so many students that week that the camp provided an overflow room where some of them could watch on a video monitor. During each service, many gave their hearts to Christ and their lives to go. It was a week I’ll never forget.
I grew up going to church camp. In our small church, the children and youth didn’t have lock-ins, Disciple Nows or weekend retreats. We participated in two major events: Vacation Bible School and summer camp. The camps I attended were nothing like Falls Creek, where thousands show up every week. These were tiny associational camps that relied on volunteers to cook the food and teach the Bible. I used to joke that our camp was so bad each cabin had bars on the windows and was named after one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Our Arts and Crafts time consisted of painting the camp director’s home. And when someone flushed the toilet, the water in the pond we swam in would rise.
But despite these less than stellar conditions, we saw God show up. I sat around a campfire with a bunch of other young folks who all came from similar small country churches singing “Kumbaya” and “Pass It On.” There in the flicker of the flames, one of the pastors spoke of a God Who so loved me that He gave His only begotten Son. There at camp, I gave my heart and life to Jesus. Church camp will always hold a special place in my heart.
I remember one year when I couldn’t go to camp. My dad’s business wasn’t doing well, and my parents informed me they couldn’t afford the $10 it took to send me. Still in my formative years, I longed to build my spiritual life and meet new girls. I really couldn’t tell you which motivation was greater.
A generous man in our church heard of my plight and offered to send me to camp. My parents were embarrassed to have someone else pay my way when they couldn’t. They turned down his offer and refused to let me go.
While the youth group was away at camp, I sat home enduring the longest week of my young life. I knew most camps had a similar schedule, so I imagined what the students were doing each day: Bible study, Snack Shack, preaching, Snack Shack, swimming, Snack Shack, Debbie Gardner, Snack Shack, worship service, Snack Shack. You get the picture.
Camps make a difference in children’s and students’ lives. Today, there are many who want to go and learn, but the economy has kept them from attending. I urge you to find one or more students and help them register for Falls Creek or one of our associational camps. The experience will become a mile marker they’ll treasure forever.
And when you pay their way, don’t forget to give them a few extra bucks. You don’t want them to miss that other mile marker . . . the Snack Shack.
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827)