By Randy C. Davis
TBMB President & Executive Director
It was a gift for me and it had a significant place in my spiritual growth. I was a new believer as a teenager when I attended Citronelle Baptist Assembly (CBA) about 60 miles inland from the Alabama Gulf Coast. That opportunity to get away from the distractions of life allowed me to hear from the Lord in ways that have profoundly impacted the course of my life. My brother, Rob, is a pastor and also had his life and calling shaped at CBA where he served as a counselor for several years.
You probably have your own camp story. I hope you do. If so, you know the importance of camp and the importance for praying for everyone associated with camp: counselors, staffers, leaders and campers. We have established Sunday (May 20) as a day of prayer for Carson Springs and Linden Valley Conference Centers, and we’d really like for you to join us.
Many of you are familiar with these two great retreat locations and I’m willing to assume many of you are thinking of a great experience you had at one of these camps. I hear stories all the time from people who remember exactly where on one of those campuses they prayed to receive Christ, or where they believed God called them into ministry or to international missions. These two locations are blessed with a rich spiritual history and there is no doubt God has constantly been at work in the lives of the young people who attend camp, and we have no doubt He will continue to do so in the future. That’s why we’re asking for your prayers. We’d like to see an amazing Kingdom harvest this summer.
Maybe you are a Tennessee Baptist and don’t know about Carson or Linden. Let me introduce you. First of all, your Cooperative Program giving helps support these two vital ministry centers that have led to thousands of spiritual decisions through the years. Linden Valley generally serves the western half of Tennessee and Carson Springs generally serves the eastern half. Messengers to the annual Tennessee Baptist Convention meeting voted to establish the camps in 1947, but amazingly, these two camps have ministered to more than 250,000 people just in the past 15 years alone.
On average, more than 14,000 people will visit these facilities this year and the camps will host 56 church staff retreats. Those numbers are great, but let’s pause and think about them for a moment. The majority of those 14,000 souls are children and teens. Statistically, researchers tell us that 90 percent of this youngest generation, children born since Sept. 11, 2001, will grow to adulthood and have no relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s a staggering statistic. When you look at a group of 10 children, nine of them — nine — are currently on a journey toward hell. We simply cannot allow that to happen. We must intervene, and camp is a great intervention.
Research also tells us that the majority of children who have had a church camp/retreat experience are more likely to be regular church attenders when they reach adulthood. There is a direct correlation between getting your kids to camp, them hearing a clear presentation of the gospel in a setting without distraction, and the likelihood they will remain in faith as adults. That’s a pretty good deal.
Our camp managers and camp staffs take seriously the ministry opportunity they have when buses roll through the gates. They know what’s at stake with your children and they share your burden for their spiritual well-being. That’s why we’re asking you to share in their ministry responsibility through prayer. Pray for the Holy Spirit to move in a mighty way in the lives of everyone who retreats to Carson Springs and Linden Valley this year.
And think about it. Your prayers and the opportunity to attend camp could very well be the best gift you’ll give to someone this year because it could reap an eternal return.
It’s a joy to be on this journey with you.