By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
PINEVILLE – Twenty-six Louisiana Baptist churches are just two months away from hosting an international mission trip in their home state.
Around 50 South Korean children are expected to participate in the ninth annual Camp USA, a two-week midsummer adventure for elementary and middle school students. They will spend July 14-23 in central Louisiana and the remainder of their time in Ponchatoula.
A partnership of REACH Missions and the Korean Baptist Church Development Board, the camp involves 25 churches in Big Creek, Central Louisiana and North Rapides Baptist Associations, along with First Baptist Church in Ponchatoula.
The children will participate in Vacation Bible School, games, English classes and other activities at CENLA area churches and the Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center in Woodworth.
After a week in central Louisiana, the campers will depart for southeast Louisiana where the South Koreans will enjoy recreational activities and excursions and take part in a music camp at First Baptist Ponchatoula with children of the church. The week will conclude with a musical performance July 30, 6:30 p.m., in the First Baptist Ponchatoula worship center. The campers return the next day to their country.
SHAPING HEARTS FOR MISSIONS
“Camp USA is a truly unique children’s activity which heightens the awareness of different cultures at a very young age,” said David Cranford, pastor of First Baptist Ponchatoula. “It primes the missions pump in the hearts of young people.
“The vision of heaven from Revelation speaks of ‘a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,’” he continued. “Camp USA is a small picture of that great tapestry as we are united with our brothers and sisters from South Korea.”
Tim Hisaw, pastor of Tioga First Baptist Church, said one of the highlights for the South Korean children is staying in host homes of Louisiana families. Requirements for host homes that are still needed include housing one to two children, providing transportation to and from the camp and exhibiting Christian principles during the week.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn about a different culture for the Koreans as well as the host homes,” Hisaw said. “With social media, relationships that are established here in the homes can be maintained over time. For many of the campers, their favorite part of the trip is the home stay, where some of them get to for the first time interact with an American family.”
DOING MORE, TOGETHER
Camp USA is one of the events the Big Creek, Central Louisiana and North Rapides Baptist Association of churches participate in together. Hisaw said this effort displays what an association is all about.
“It’s wonderful to see churches in our area individually cooperate to accomplish something they couldn’t do alone,” Hisaw said. “Each year the churches see this as a great mission opportunity that brings missions from across several continents to right here in central Louisiana.”
Anyone interested in serving as a host family should contact First Baptist Ponchatoula, 985.386.3075, or Tioga First Baptist, firstname.lastname@example.org or 318.640.4760.