Students work at Lonsdale Community Church during ENGAGE Missions Camp. (Ethan Dial/ABN)
God is moving in powerful ways this summer in the lives of students across the state as they attend various Arkansas Baptist State Convention camps.
In Arkadelphia, thousands of students gathered at Ouachita Baptist University for Super Summer Arkansas. The camp was held June 24 through July 1.
The annual camp, sponsored by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC), with funding partially provided by the Cooperative Program, focuses on evangelism and discipleship for students.
In total, 2,443 students attended the camp. ABSC Church Health Interim Team Leader/Student Ministry Specialist Warren Gasaway said they recorded 190 salvations and several churches indicated seeing salvations in their church group times. Additionally, they had 133 recommitment/repentance decisions and 222 express a sense of calling to ministry.
Super Summer had 143 students in their Camo school which is geared specifically for graduated seniors. In this school, they learn apologetics and the next phase of life disciplines to help them with the transition to college and the work force.
The Super Summer theme this year was “Follow Me” from Matthew 4:19 and the curriculum was built around the idea of what it takes to follow Jesus.
Gasaway said they received several reports from Arkansas churches who were able to baptize on the Sundays following Super Summer. For instance, First Baptist Church in Pea Ridge baptized four from camp and have another four slated to be baptized. First Baptist Church in Mayflower baptized nine students from camp.
“Super Summer exists to serve the local church. The camp experience is only successful if it helps the ministry of the local church. I’m thankful that so many churches were able to celebrate the life change we saw every night of camp. Hearing reports from Arkansas church leaders at other camps, God is clearly moving in this generation. The evil may be getting darker, but the light of the Gospel is getting brighter,” Gasaway said.
During Super Summer, an offering was taken for Camp Siloam’s scholarship fund to celebrate their 100 years of camp ministry. More than $4,600 was given to go along with a $10,000 gift from the Arkansas Baptist Foundation.
In the summertime, Camp Siloam hosts eight weeks of summer camp during which gifted evangelists share the Gospel of Jesus with thousands of campers. This summer three weeks of children’s camp, two weeks of student-only camp, and three weeks of combined children and students’ camps are filled to capacity.
With five weeks of camp completed, there have been 254 salvations reported in addition to many rededications and calls to missions or ministry.
Camp Siloam’s website says, “For 100 years, God’s name has been honored here and people have been encountering the Father on these holy grounds,” and that is continuing to happen during the summer of 2023 based on testimonies from campers.
During the fall, winter and spring, the camp staff hosts youth retreats and rents the camp to groups for retreats.
PraiseWorks and JoyWorks
Worship camps happening this week, July 10-14, are JoyWorks and PraiseWorks. ABSC Worship Consultant Jim Daniel said these worship arts camps have become powerful equipping tools for the state as children and students are discipled as the next generation of worshipers and worship leaders.
Total attendance combined for both camps this year is 830 campers – 541 for PraiseWorks and 289 for Joyworks.
Both camps focus on music and song, creative arts and disciple making.
“Our mantra, especially for JoyWorks, is to come alongside their parents and their churches in equipping the students in their work for the ministry, sort of an Ephesians 4 model where we are just building up the body of Christ and equipping and preparing them for ministry,” Daniel said. “It’s not a music camp or a band camp. It’s really a leadership discipleship class where we are taking students specifically geared toward worship ministry. The purpose of it is to take them at their level and to continue to increase their knowledge and ability through equipping to where they can continue to grow in their relationship with Christ and their ability to lead in their local churches.”
Daniel said many churches have been impacted through these camps as students and children have had the opportunity to be trained and equipped by some of the state’s best teachers and musicians in areas of the student’s interest. He said he is sometimes asked how does this affect the local church?
“This is equipping the next generation of church leaders,” Daniel said. “They’re not all going to be pastors or worship leaders or anything like that. Some of them are just going to be lay members of their church, but now they can run the sound, or they can lead in a specific ministry.”
Through the years, many of these students have been called to follow the Lord in vocational ministry and are now serving in worship ministries throughout the state and country.
Also happening this week is ENGAGE Missions Camp. This camp, which is being held at Spring Lake Camp & Retreat Center in Lonsdale, combines biblical teaching, worship, evangelism, fun, and fellowship with hands-on ministry opportunities to help equip students to be engaged full-time in God’s mission.
The camp is for students seeking training and preparation for upcoming missions trips, desiring to grow in their faith and learn how to become disciple makers, wanting to experience hands-on ministry or feeling a call to full-time missions/ministry as well as unsaved students wondering what the Christian life is all about.
The theme of ENGAGE Camp each year is taken from one of six basic questions (Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?) concerning the missional lifestyle. This year, the theme is simply “What?”
“We’re talking about what is the mission and what does it mean to make disciples? What does this look like on campus? What opportunities are available to you?” McCormick said. Additionally, he said this year they are delving into the seven “I’s” of disciple making – identify, invite, instruct, invest, include, intercede and involve. The camp is equipping campers for future missions.
“It’s more about what happens after this week than what happens during this week,” McCormick said. “The goal of it is missions discipleship. That’s why I do this camp. We teach them how to be on mission. They learn a lot of things like sometimes we don’t always get to do what we think is ministry but it’s valuable to help someone else in ministry and help them fulfill their mission. They’re learning how to serve. They’re learning how to cooperate together.”
Sixty-seven students are attending the camp this week. As of Thursday morning, there had been five salvations.
Campers also participate in local missions and ministry projects. This year includes assisting in renovations at Lonsdale Community Church, aiding at Healing Waters Outreach Center and sprucing up the Spring Lake prayer garden, which was destroyed by recent storms.