WOODWORTH – Brandon Duvall and his son, Brandon Jr., could have spent their weekend catching an LSU baseball game, playing golf or doing many other activities to spend their free time on a beautiful spring weekend.
But the father-son duo chose to spend time with other young men learning about missions and what it was like to live in the pioneer days at the annual Royal Ambassador Congress at Tall Timbers Conference Center.
“I loved talking to pioneers and how they talked to us about what a man has to do,” said fifth-grader Brandon Duvall Jr., a member of the First Baptist Church Krotz Springs RA group. “This weekend we got to learn about missions and interact with people, some I never met before. It was a pretty interesting time.”
His father enjoys how RAs teaches the boys and their leaders about missions, both during and away from RA Congress.
“They have so many outdoor activities plus teach our boys how to be men of integrity,” he said. “I look at this as my mission field because so many men aren’t Christians.”
The Duvalls were among the 345 people from 21 churches attending this year’s RA Congress. Thirteen boys made decisions for Christ and 9 indicated a re-dedication of their faith.
The two-day RA Congress featured the traditional favorites, such as soapbox car and pinewood derby races, bb gun shooting, archery and presentations from North American and International Mission Board missionaries.
But in keeping with the conference theme, “Pioneer Days,” the weekend gave the young men a taste of pioneer days through characters dressed up in clothing from the Wild West, a meal that cowboys ate back in the 1800s, real oxen that worked as a team and games such as hatchet throwing and making a fire.
Mike Collie, a consultant with RAs, said organizers of the event felt it was important to expose the young men to lessons learned from the 1800s-era.
“One of our goals is to get fathers and sons away for a weekend together for something generally they love to do,” Collie said. “It’s important for them to learn life skills they might not learn at home, especially in today’s society where some of the boys may not live with their fathers or other circumstances that may prevent them for taking part in this.”
Gibbie McMillan, men’s ministry and volunteer strategist for Louisiana Baptists, said these activities are designed for young boys to gather together and experience activities, both familiar and new.
“Our desire is to challenge the young boys in regard to the call to missions,” he said. “They meet real live missionaries and hear testimonies from leaders who remind them of why it is vitally important to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
“We have seen over the last three years a renewed interest from many churches across Louisiana to establish a new chapter of RAs in their church,” he continued. “We are intentional in telling the story of the Cooperative Program and its importance for missions, for with the support of the local church we can accomplish more through missions both in state and globally.”
In addition to testimonies from missionaries, games and car races, RA Congress also featured a closing celebration that included a parade of banners, music by Nathan Mooneyham, a message by Louisiana Baptists compassion ministry strategist Jeff Cook and a presentation of awards.
The winners were:
RA Leader of the Year – Ed Townley
Crusader of the Year – Cole LaCour
Lad of the Year – Connor Owens
Derby Car Races
1st place – Caleb Stryzenshi, First Baptist Church, Opelousas
2nd place – Jacob Stryzenshi, First Baptist Church, Opelousas
3rd place – Don Lalonde First Baptist Church, Opelousas
1st place – Ethan Hogg, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Ruston
2nd place – Luke Endsley, First Baptist Church, Lafayette
3rd place – James Myers, Temple Baptist Church, Ruston
1st place – Adrian Olar, First Baptist Church, Lafayette
2nd place – Ben Binklu, College Place Baptist Church, Monroe
3rd place – Jonathan Shields, Holloway Baptist Church, Deville
1st place – Chase Clendenen , Temple Baptist Church, Ruston
2nd place – Daniel Boulighy, First Baptist Church, Lafayette
3rd place – Asher Jones, First Baptist Church, Lafayette
1st place – Cole Richerson – Holloway Baptist Church, Deville
2nd place – Jackson Buckles – First Baptist Church, Opelousas
3rd place – D.J. Leday – First Baptist Church, Opelousas
Chase Clendene – Temple Baptist Church, Ruston
Caleb Stryzenshi, First Baptist Church, Opelousas
Cole Richerson, Holloway Baptist Church, Deville