Camp Ministry 2023
School’s out for the summer, and many of our speakers have been in full swing, speaking and serving at our very own Equip camps and other Christian camps from coast to coast. I don’t know about you, but attending a week of Bible camp each summer from the ages of 9-16 and then serving as a counselor or camp leader from ages 17-23 were some of the most influential times of my spiritual growth and walk as a young person.
Today, I'm excited to share some brief testimonies from our Reasons for Hope team members (who are currently in the trenches doing this great work) to show you the impact that camping ministry has on this younger generation. After hearing these brief accounts from Dan Lietha, Frank and April Figueroa, Dave Glander, Carl Kerby, and Alyssa Glander, we pray that you will be encouraged to sign up your children or grandchildren for our upcoming Equip camp in New Jersey (if they live in the area or nearby states) or to sponsor a camper through a donation so that another young person can be blessed through this ministry.
Each year I speak at camps to children as young as ages 7-11, mostly dealing with Genesis 1-11. The creation of the universe, man’s sin brought death into God’s very good creation, Noah’s flood, and the separation of the human family at Babel. Then I end with the gospel, Christ coming to rescue sinners, His death and resurrection, and the two destinations in eternity.
I am amazed at the depth of the questions from these young children when this material is presented to them. A couple of years ago, a grandmother at the camp sat in on my talks. After camp, she told me that at first, she thought my talks were over the camper’s heads. But as camp continued she saw that the campers were not only paying attention to the talks but were engaged and eagerly learning. After camp, she said that her grandson was excited about the Bible and wanted to learn more! These children are thinking about more than we give them credit for!
Update on week one at Lincoln Lake Camp this year: There were 92 campers. At the counselor/staff meeting after camp, I learned there were at least 10 salvations, some who gained assurance of their salvation, and a lot of campers that asked questions and had them answered. Also, one counselor reported that there was a boy who claimed to be an atheist when he arrived who is starting to consider that there is a God. Praise the Lord!
One of the most overlooked demographics at camps is those who are about to enter adulthood. Weighed down with challenges to their faith and assaults against their biblical beliefs, they are looking for answers … and they need answers that are well-documented in Scripture and can be presented in an engaging manner. Because of their need for faith-building dialogues being fulfilled at camp, I have heard so much appreciation from these young adults—not just for answering their questions, but for being able to do so in a way that is theologically accurate and in a manner that they can enthusiastically share with their friends. I am grateful to be able to equip them with tools and answers for the HOPE that is in Jesus.
Psalm 63:1 ESV
O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
“ My dad wasn’t ready to have a child. . . . I was always the one going to my mom telling her I loved her. . . . I was taking care of my younger siblings because my mom couldn’t. . . . The FBI came and took me and my siblings away.”
These are statements I heard from a 12-year-old sharing how she felt unloved and unwanted. This young girl and so many like her are growing up, parched for the Living Water that can fill a thirsty soul. I’m so thankful to see God’s Word and His love being shared in a camp setting with young people who are ready and thirsty to hear it.
I got a call a couple of weeks ago from a pastor from Corinth, MS. He wanted to let me know some further effects of EQUIP. Last year, I showed the teens a video about the truth of what happens when an egg is fertilized—not from a Christian source. I played this same video again last week. His daughter showed this video to another girl, well-known for being a pro-choice advocate, and here’s what happened:
Prior to watching the video, this girl was outspoken about the pro-choice movement and was extremely vocal about it last year at a discipleship camp. The information in this video actually caused her to do a complete 180. This year, at Equip, she defended the pro-life position to the shock of all those around her. Daniel wanted us to know that our “kids” produced more “kids” because the EQUIP camp program—instead of running away from hard things—deals with many of the social issues our teens are facing today in our culture.
I am sadly overwhelmed by how much of an impact Satan is having on families. One 14-year-old young lady I met at a camp told me how she watched as one of her family members put a shotgun in their mouth and pulled the trigger, and she can’t get that image out of her mind. At the end of the camp week , she testified that she now wants to do what we do—sharing with the younger generation and showing them there’s another way.
A young man came to talk to me after camp was finished and told me that, for the first time in his life, he had something to hold onto when it came to his faith. He committed to standing bolder and firmer with his generation. Quite a few of the youth leaders are also letting us know of the change and growth they see in their youth after we wrestled through hard topics with them and used the Bible, not our opinions, to explain how we can have answers to tough issues.
The highlight of the summer thus far, though, was a young man who is helping Gabby with our Mic’dUp! Training. He is very quiet, but he got up and shared with those who were interested in helping us expand this discipleship program. He was the behind-the-camera guy who would offer comments to the person doing the interviews. When someone suggested, “You try it!” He did. He is doing a great job and talked to the campers at one of our Equip camps about how this training has truly impacted his life. When he was finished, I shook his hand and told him, “Thanks for being a part of the Mic’dUp! Team.” He responded by thanking me for the opportunity and said he was in for the long haul!
When you have the opportunity to help someone see their potential and motivate them out of their comfort zone to be more of a witness, and then you actually get to see them do it, it’s awesome! We covet your prayers and any financial help to be able to increase our outreach in this vitally important area.
The team and I have been on the road for three Equip Camps that have taken place in three different states so far this summer. Since its inception 10 years ago, Equip has been a very impactful ministry. The opportunity to witness young people grow and change in as little as a week never ceases to amaze me and renews my spirit. I consider it the utmost blessing and privilege to be able to serve the campers in the way we do. Meeting new faces this year and experiencing the testimonies of so many youths around the country has been humbling as well. It’s shocking to know what some of these young folk have been through, because when you look at them, 90% of the time, you just see a sweet kid.
It’s not totally uncommon for me to run into a camper with a testimony that makes me feel like I’m looking into a mirror. I recently met a youth with an upbringing almost identical to my own—broken family relationships due to drugs, abuse, suicidal tendencies, and worse. It shakes me to my core when I meet people like that and reminds me of how ferociously Jesus sought me out; He is such a Redeeming God. I have a genuine desire to serve every camper, but I feel a special calling to witness to those campers who come from the same walk of life that I did.
These weeks have been beautiful, heartbreaking, spirit-renewing, insightful, powerful, challenging, honest, and life-changing. My only prayer would be that the teaching and experiences that we have at each camp stay with campers for their lifetime, in the same way, I know their testimonies will stay with our team. Please pray for us and support us in any way you can.
Life-altering decisions for Christ, questions answered, hope restored, and boldness activated are all byproducts of camp ministry. But one week of training and equipping in God’s Word is not enough. I’m so thankful I had an engaged church community and a parent who encouraged my spiritual growth so that what I learned or committed to at camp continued and grew throughout the year.
Each person reading this blog can become a part of the follow-up these campers so desperately need to keep them on a steady path of growth and service for the Lord Jesus Christ. And we at Reasons for Hope are here to help you with resources that were produced to train and equip a new generation to stand boldly on the Word of God.
Please join us in one or more of the following areas:
Please join us in one or more of the following areas:
1. Donate funds by clicking HERE to help a teen in need go to one of our Equip camps.
2. If near New Jersey, sign up and pay HERE for a teen in your own family to attend our last Equip camp of the summer (August 21-25 at Shiloh Bible Camp and Retreat Center in Hewitt, NJ).
3. Click HERE to download our free app and encourage your family and friends to do the same. This resource provides hundreds of audio, visual, and print resources to answer questions and train you and your loved ones to be able to answer anyone who may ask you to share why you believe what you believe (1 Peter 3:15).
4. Visit our rforh store HERE and purchase books for yourself, your church, or loved ones who can benefit from the training these print materials provide.
5. Get one or more of our speakers scheduled at your church, homeschool, or Christian school events to provide even more encouragement from God’s Word to these very needed and needful communities. Click HERE.