Engaging the next generation in missions discipleship 

Camp Paron, AR.- Missions discipleship becomes the focus for one week each summer when Camp Paron hosts a group of students and their adult leaders for Engage Missions Camp. Engage was launched five years ago as a ministry of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention for the purpose of training and equipping students to develop a missions lifestyle through worship, mission-focused breakout sessions and hands on mission and ministry opportunities.  

This year Engage took place on July 18-22 with eighty participants from seven different churches. With Matthew 28:18-20 serving as the scripture passage, the theme for 2022 was simply “Why?”. Students spent the week exploring the why’s of missions through the various speakers at night and the breakout leaders during the day. They discovered answers to questions like: Why should I care about missions? Why should I pray for and give to missions? Why did God choose me? Why do we need each other for the mission?  Through the Great Commission, they realized they ultimately need to be on-mission simply because Jesus said so.   

On Wednesday and Thursday, the students learned even more about missions and ministry as they spread out to serve in Paron, Hot Springs, and Shannon Hills. They completed seven different projects and, in the process, assisted three of our Arkansas Baptist churches, a pregnancy care center, a local ministry center, and the Paron community, as well as Camp Paron.  

Why a missions camp?  

Engage Missions Camp was started because of the need for and importance of missions discipleship. Missions discipleship is crucial because:  

  1. It keeps us connected to our roots. It teaches Southern Baptists of all ages about their heritage. From the past we can learn about our present responsibilities to go, pray and give. 
  1. Our purpose has never changed.  We are a people, a denomination dedicated to teaching all nations and making disciples.  Missions discipleship provides resources, news, information and reminders to keep us focused on our reason for existing as a denomination. It helps us to never forget why we are here and who we are in Christ. 
  1. It passes the torch to the next generation.  If we don’t tell them, how will they know? Missions discipleship provides the resources necessary to help ensure that our children and our children’s children will carry the torch.  Without this education, future generations will not know who they are, where they came from and why they should go, pray and give as part of God’s mission.   

What they are saying about Engage Camp  

Laura Bramlett served as part of the Engage leadership team this year. She is the WMU President and a member of First Baptist Church in Hope where her husband Daniel is the pastor. She was excited about all that she witnessed during the week of camp. “At the beginning of the week, I prayed for God to show me that missions were not lost on our next generation. He did just that as I watched the students engage in worship, breakout sessions, and at their ministry sites,” Bramlett said. “This week was such a blessing! I was very encouraged as I watched 7th-12th grade students not only engage in mission work but learn about what it means to daily live on mission, making disciples. Church, the Lord is raising up some awesome leaders in this next generation, and that brings me great hope for the future! I would love to tell you more about Engage Camp and how you can bring a group next summer!”  

Charlotte Martin is a member of Shiloh Community Church in Fayetteville where her husband Alex serves as pastor. This was Shiloh’s second year to attend Engage. “Two of the girls from our group made decisions to follow Christ and are getting baptized this Sunday. I actually met with both of them yesterday for lunch to talk with them about it. Another girl from our group got saved last year at camp and made the decision to be baptized Sunday as well,” Martin shared. “The Lord really moved in our students’ lives at Camp. One of our young guys made a commitment to really be intentional about making disciples as well. It is exciting to see our students living for Christ.” 

Thomas Little serves as the student pastor at First Baptist Church of Royal, AR. This was his first year to bring students to Engage. “Engage was a breath of fresh air in a world that is so focused on entertainment. This camp challenges your students and adult leaders. It will help your students to see the great commission in a real practical way. It is rich in worship and focused on bringing God glory,” Little said. “All the activities and breakout sessions are focused on bringing students together so that they can see that they need Jesus and each other.  This camp inspires students to seek God and to ask Him what He would have them to do. The breakout sessions were amazing and insightful as well as engaging for both students and the adult leaders. We are definitely coming back next year. We plan to tell as many youth groups as possible about Engage and how it can help in the equipping of the next generation of pastors, evangelists, and missionaries.” 

The immediate impact of the week was seen as four students made professions of faith and eight students surrendered to a call to missions and/or ministry. But the impact doesn’t stop there. As students take what they have learned and become more and more involved in the mission, the impact of Engage camp will be felt for many years to come.  

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