By Hannah Fleming, Message Staff Writer
WOODWORTH – Girls from all over Louisiana were challenged to be ‘fearless’ as they developed a heart for Christ and a heart for missions at this year’s Girls Mission Camp.
“I was excited to see how the girls got to experience and grow in their relationship with God, learn about missions and see Him in nature and the outdoors,” said Louisiana Baptist Convention’s Children & Youth Mission Education Strategist Jess Archer.
More than 200 campers, staff and church sponsors participated in the two camps (July 20-23 and July 23-26) held at Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center.
Both three-day camps were for girls who had completed first through sixth grade and their adult leaders. Campers were able to interact with missionaries, be involved in Bible study and worship, play games, make crafts but best of all make new friends.
“We attempted to stuff a lot into a day,” said Archer, who was directing her first Girls Mission camp. “Each morning the girls started off with group Bible studies followed a number of fun activities. But in keeping with our theme we also allowed them a chance to visit with a missionary. We finished up their day with a tremendous worship service led by Corey Olivier, our camp pastor.”
“Each of the activities centers around our camp theme of ‘Gotta Tell It,’” said Archer. “Time and again, they were told how they could share the message of Jesus Christ based on Acts 4:20.”
The girls also heard from a missionary (name withheld for security purposes) who has lived, traveled and worked in Asia. Through the missionary, the girls and their leaders learned firsthand about the different religions and cultures in this area of the world.
“Seeing the girls learn how they could pray for those who don’t know Christ, especially those in Muslim countries, was quite moving,” said Archer.
Olivier, the New Orleans Metro Baptist Collegiate Ministry Director, spent both weeks pastoring the girls and “encouraging them to become disciple-making disciples.”
Olivier, who spoke at the evening worship service and led the sponsors in morning Bible study, was a youth pastor for 12 years prior to becoming the BCM Metro director. And while he has been doing camps for 20 years, he has seen his camp experienced increase since working with college students at the BCM.
The first night Olivier told the story of Nicodemus and explained that “being very religious, having an important title or knowing various things about Jesus doesn’t mean you know Jesus.”
The second night Olivier spoke about the Samaritan women as an example of bringing the gospel to all people.
And the third night he spoke on how Peter and John shared the gospel even when it seemed impossible to do so.
“It would be very exciting to know these girls understood that as a follower of Jesus we have a mandate, a commission, to go and tell it to the world. I think many of them got it. I think their eyes were open a little during their time here,” said Olivier when asked what he wants the girls to walk away with after this week. “My challenge to them was to find one person, if not more, and to share Jesus with them. I wanted them to make gospel deposits in their life.”
Eleven girls did make professions of faith during the two Girls Mission Camps. One girl also professed her interest in missions and her desire to make it into a career, but these were not the only lives changed during the week.
The camp also kept connections to the girls’ home churches where they continued to disciple those who gave their lives to Christ and even the ones who did not.
Girls Mission Camp is one of the mission education events planned through the Women’s Missions and Ministry for children and youth in Louisiana Baptist churches. In September they have Mom and Me overnighter, and in the spring they have Voyage for teens and M-JAM for GA and Children in Action. This is all part of developing and encouraging mission’s education.
“Along with returning campers and church groups,” said Archer, “there are new campers and church groups. What really excites me is the interest expressed in sixth grade girls in Acteens-the WMU student mission’s organization for girls in grades 7-12. These girls want to continue their walk with Christ through missions.”