Summer youth weeks at Falls Creek off to roaring start
DAVIS—Summer has been an especially productive and spiritually rich time at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center. Adding to its ranking as the largest church encampment in the United States, record attendance for the first weeks was seen in June.
“God is so good,” said Norman Flowers, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma student evangelism specialist. “Not only have we registered more students each week than the previous summer, but we also have seen nearly 3,000 decisions. Of those, more than 1,000 have been professions of faith in Christ.
“In looking at the things taking place at Falls Creek, we are seeing a movement of God. We know, statistically speaking, about one of every five students who attend Falls Creek does not profess to know Christ. With that lostness comes a great responsibility, yet also opportunity.”
The theme for this year’s youth encampments at Falls Creek is CONSUMED, which focuses on Psalm 103 and the sufficiency of God. “Bless the Lord , O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.” (vs. 1)
“We want students’ lives to be consumed with Christ, because if all else is stripped away, He is yet sufficient to meet our every need,” said Andy Harrison, program director for Falls Creek.
“There are so many other things that vie for our attention and seek to woo our souls, but only Christ is sufficient to satisfy and fill. Everything else leaves us empty and longing.”
Conservative projections show that more than 48,000 campers will attend Falls Creek this year, with thousands of decisions being made during the powerful evening services and evening cabin devotions.
The preachers for the first four weeks included Lance Sawyer, pastor of Muskogee, First, evangelists Ed Newton and Tony Nolan and Falls Creek Director James Swain.
Each speaker opens the Word of God in the services in a powerful way. Sawyer started the summer off with a bang, with his presentation including a dramatic, modern-day reenactment of the biblical Samson in his teaching. His lessons taught the devastating consequence of sin, lust, deceit and getting out of God’s will.
“The students are really responding to the teaching and powerful worship times, which have been led so far by Matt Roberson, Cody Dunbar, Joel Warren and Stephen Miller,” said Flowers. “We are equally enthused about the lineup of teachers and song leaders for the remainder of the summer.”
A recently added feature for Falls Creek is the ability to watch the evening services live online at www.skopos.org.
“The number is only growing of those who connect and see the mighty ways God is at work,” said Flowers. “We have heard reports of churches hosting in-home events in which they tune in to the evening services, and hold meetings around those.”
The live coverage also has drawn in viewers who used to attend camp, but no longer are close enough to do so. One such viewer is Becky, who resides in Oregon. She wrote to The Baptist Messenger, saying, “In high school, I spent every summer at Falls Creek. I was glad to learn about the Falls Creek live video feeds. Now I rush home after work to log on!”
At Falls Creek, the Bible is at the heart of everything. Parents and sponsors from across Oklahoma and surrounding states have a unique window to make an impact on the lives of students. Setting aside this time from the normal routine of life and the distractions of cell phones and other trappings, students can focus purely on the Lord among the scenic beauty of the camp grounds in the Arbuckle Mountains.
Throughout the years, many adults take time off work or use vacation, just to attend camp with the students, some of whom are their own children. This Summer is no different, as pastors and ministry staff, too, are taking a leading role at Falls Creek, investing time and energy with the students. Doyle Pryor, pastor of Sapulpa, First, had two boys at camp this summer.
“We have a great group of students this summer,” he said. “It’s special to have our own sons be a part of this time.”
It wouldn’t be a summer camp without recreation and fun. Not only are the time-honored recreation options of swimming, boating and volleyball available, but new games and programs also are available.
“I am having a great time,” said Cody, a student with Edmond, First. “Even though it’s hot, we are having great days!”
At Falls Creek, learning time is serious business and is compelling the students to action. Young men and women are catching a vision for God’s calling on their lives and making an impact around the word. One special project for this year is the sale of wrist bands for $5. The monies collected go to help pay for meals for students and orphans in Southern Africa.
“We are going to package and ship those meals at the Youth Evangelism Conference later this year,” Flowers said. “We will pray and then put the food in boxes and crates on which the students will write words of love, affirmation and prayer. These will be sent in boats to Southern Africa, where we are working in direct connection with SBC missionaries there.”
For more information on Falls Creek or the mission project, visit www.skopos.org and www.changethisworld.com/Oklahoma. All Oklahoma churches and students can take part in the effort to help orphans in Botswana, Africa.
Brian Hobbs is director of communications for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.