By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
BASTROP (LBM) – A total of 767 salvation deci-sions have been reported by Louisiana Baptist camps as the 2019 summer season closed.
All the data has not been received, yet, but the Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center saw salvation decisions jump from 168 in 2018 to 206 this year (a 22.6 percent increase), coinciding with a 22.1 percent increase in attendance, from 2,428 to 2,965 campers.
Luke Hallman’s repentance for salvation in early July at “Clear Camp” on the campus of the Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center was a long- awaited answer to prayer for members of the Bonita Road Baptist Church in Bastrop — who have been fervent for several years in asking the Holy Spirit to draw Hallman into a relationship with Jesus.
Those prayers proved to be the spiritual soil for a harvest in Hallman’s life that was sown during a conversation at a worship session with Julie Woodrum, ministry assistant to the Louisiana Baptist youth ministry strategist, Brandon Lewis.
“She broke down the questions I had asked very well, such as ‘How will I know I’m saved?’ and ‘How to mean the prayer I prayed?’” Hallman told the Baptist Message. “It’s great to know that when I die, I know I will go to Heaven and I don’t have to fear death anymore.”
Hallman was baptized, July 28, with three other teens who asked Jesus’ forgiveness and committed to live for Christ during the same camp for junior high and high school students who turned to Jesus at the camp was baptized the following Sunday.
SEE CHRIST CLEARLY
“We are blessed to have such quality camps put together by our Convention,” said Casey Johnson, pastor of Bonita Road Baptist church and also camp pastor for that particular camp.
“The partnership between the LBC and ‘Clear Camp’ is absolutely perfect. Our kids were so impressed with the energy, biblical integrity and the intimacy of these camps. God visited our teenager while they were there and this pastor is so grateful for that.”
Although “Clear Camp” was designed to engage participants the whole time, the camp experience was crafted to eliminate distractions that keep youth from connecting with God, organizers said.
“Camp is a unique opportunity in today’s world,” said David Anderson, children’s ministry strategist for Louisiana Baptists. “Camp allows young people to get away from all the everyday distractions and spen focused time. That time is often spent re-connecting with friends as they partake in activities together, but, more than anything they are engaged to connect or reconnect with Jesus. During camp we have the opportunity to share the hope of Jesus in a very strategic way. This always results in young people being faced with their relationship with Jesus. It is why we do camp and it is why so many of our campers go back home with a new relationship with Christ, or a renewed commitment to their relationship with Him.”
Lewis, who just completed his first summer of camps as LBC youth strategist, was overwhelmed because of God’s gracious answer to prayers that waves of students would come to saving knowledge of Jesus.
“When God blesses us, as He did this summer, with the opportunity to see that happen at each week of camp it is very exciting,” Lewis said. “More than once this year, adult leaders from a church would tell us that they were praying for a specific student in their group to be saved. I can’t tell you how much fun it was to meet back up with those leaders after that prayer had been answered. For many decades, God has uniquely used camps all over the country as a place where He captures the attention and the heart of teenagers and changes them forever.
“Camps are strategically designed to plant Gospel seeds into the lives of the students who attend,” he continued. “Long before camp begins, we are praying for the students that need to be saved and for the students that need to grow in their faith. By God’s grace, we have the opportunity to celebrate each of these happening at each camp we host. We understand, though, that camp is a unique setting. We are removed from our daily routines, the schedule is designed for several hours of Bible study and discussion, students are trained to share their faith in clear and simple ways and the service for cell phones and Wi-Fi is poor. These are all good things that created space for students to hear God’s voice more clearly.”
Throughout the summer, churches have baptized and connected the new student converts with discipleship classes to help them grow in their walk with Christ. Anderson said this is important as they begin another school year, when they will have the opportunity to win their classmates to Christ.
“When they leave camp, they go back into the world,” Anderson said. “This is when the local church and the family unit steps up. This gives our churches and our families the opportunity to follow up by leading any new believers to follow through with baptism. It also gives families the chance and the challenge to
help these young people stay strong in their new commitments.”
Lewis said once camp ends, students must then face the everyday struggles of life. It is then that campers are encouraged to apply what they learned in daily spiritual battles.
“As each week closes, students are encouraged to choose what they will do with all that God has taught them once they get back home, back into daily routines, back into a schedule that can make Bible study and discussion more difficult, and with wonderful cell service,” he said. “Our hope is to hear that students all across Louisiana are sharing Christ in their homes, friend groups, schools and teams.”
By the numbers, a salvation count: 206, Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center; 120, Acadian Baptist Center; 112, Clara Springs Baptist Encampment; 101, Camp Bethany; 85, Dry Creek Baptist Camp; 62, Har-ris Baptist Assembly; 35, Camp Living Waters; 26, Judson Baptist Retreat