By Brian Blackwell, Marketing Director
[img_assist|nid=8065|title=Learning teamwork|desc=Nearly 440 people – including 258 first through sixth graders – from 25 churches attended this year’s RA Congress, one of the highest attended ever for the event.|link=none|align=left|width=640|height=427]WOODWORTH – Gibbie McMillan says he believes Royal Ambassadors are experiencing a revival in the state and pointed to a recent gathering of young men and their counselors as evidence of such.
Nearly 440 people – including 258 first through sixth graders – from 25 churches attended this year’s RA Congress, one of the highest attended ever for the event. About 340 people representing 26 churches attended last year’s RA Congress.
“The emphasis on Cooperative Program and Georgia Barnette Offering have begun to connect with some pastors and they realize the importance of missions education, therefore they are encouraging more activities for boys and girls,” said McMillan, Louisiana Baptist Convention men’s ministry and volunteer strategist. “Therefore they are encouraging more activities for boys and girls. We already have RAs in place and it is available, so they have chosen to get it started in their church.”
Held at Tall Timbers Conference Center in Woodworth, RA Congress featured competitions such as log-sawing, rope craft, obstacle course and BB guns.
RA Congress also featured derby car and Soap Box car races. Participants competed in a series of heats with a goal of placing first in their respective grade level.
The champion from each grade then advanced to the overall finals to determine the top three overall winners. The derby car winners were Graham Ancelet, First Baptist Church, Lafayette, first place; William Kennedy, Calvary Baptist Church, Alexandria, second place; and Caleb Clendenen, Temple Baptist Church, Ruston, third place.
In addition to the various competitions the weekend also featured testimonies from Louisiana Baptist missionaries involved in disaster relief efforts, with a heavy emphasis on Japan, which experienced an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. An 8.8-magnitude earthquake hit 250 miles from Tokyo, triggering a tsunami in the region. According to Baptist Press, more than 500,000 people were homeless as a result of the disaster.
To aid in the disaster relief efforts the RAs contributed a total of $184 that will be used for ministry in Japan. Those RAs who gave the money during Congress receive a special patch that all Louisiana Baptists will earn for traveling to the country for relief efforts.
“In the midst of the tragedy all of a sudden people have a chance to know Jesus Christ,” RA leader Hartie Spence told the young men and their counselors during the general session.
Mike Collie, a leader from Temple Baptist Church in Ruston, said he appreciates the emphasis the weekend has on missions.
“A main part of RAs is missions,” said Collie, who has attended RA Congress for more than 30 years. “They’re learning things that will stay with them the rest of their lives as they learn how a Christian man should live.”
Steve Cowan, a leader from Kingsville Baptist Church in Ball, echoed the thought.
“This weekend is another way to expose our boys to missions,” said Cowan, who attended RA Congress for the first time. “And it helps them learn the need to spread the gospel to the four corners of the earth and have a bigger vision for missions in their own backyard.”
McMillan said the response was so great at this year’s RA Congress that another day could be added to the weekend in the future.
“The gospel was presented and 21 little boys made decisions,” McMillan said. “With that response every pastor in the state should have their boys involved in Royal Ambassadors. What we do today will have a great effect on the future of the church.”