Published Aug 01, 2011
JENNESS PARK – “I am always amazed at the way in which God is able to take people from different places, with different abilities, from widely different backgrounds, and use all those people to accomplish His powerful purposes in our lives,” remarked Julia Berryman, leader of the District Children’s Camp held at Jenness Park Christian Camp in June.
Delta Valley, Central Valley and Mother Lode Baptist Associations joined to host “District Camps,” in which 582 campers and counselors heard the gospel message during college, youth and children’s events.
A first this year was a retreat for college students directed by Dale Torres Sr. from First Baptist Church in Patterson. This segment, held June 24-26, featured speaker Jay Wegner from The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, whose theme was, “Preaching the Gospel to Yourself.
Torres noted that, often, young adults are excited to share Christ with others but don’t take time to adequately ready themselves for the experience. Students gained tools to effectively live their Christian life as they transition into the world of adulthood, and prepared to biblically present the gospel to others.
Nathan Gardner, music leader for all the camps, stated, “This is my sixth year to be involved with the District Camps. It has been exciting to see how the youth who graduated in the past few years have come really ready for a time of more intimate and intense Bible study.”
Sixteen youth made first-time professions of faith at youth camp June 26-29. Guest speaker Dale Torres Jr., also from First Baptist, Patterson, addressed the theme, “Rebel Movement.” Perhaps startling at first, the theme was geared toward challenging youth to rebel against their sin nature and the ways of the world and to submit in obedience to the plan and will of God.
The final segment of District Camp, the children’s group, was held June 29-July 3. Pastor Skip Ferris from Sonora Baptist Church in Sonora spoke on the theme, “On the Trail with Jesus,” relating to Philippians 3:13-14. Some 65 children chose to “get on the trail with Jesus,” making professions of faith in Christ.
Lori Sanders from First Baptist Church in Linden remarked, “Seeing so many kids come to know the Lord is why I’m here. It is exhausting, but meeting new people who love children and who love the Lord is really encouraging.”
Geoffrey Tillman from Sonora Baptist Church echoed Sanders: “The biggest thing for me as a counselor is seeing the power of God in the lives of the children. We adults don’t really realize the profound effect of camp on children. The passion for God in these kids is amazing.
“This week, I was sitting by my son in chapel. He left me where I was sitting to go up the aisle to choose to follow his Father in Heaven. Incredible!”
Continuing his thoughts about the importance of the camp setting, Tillman said, “At home, my kids have access to electronics, videos and many activities. When we got here, they were thrilled with running around, digging in the dirt and going fishing.”
Tillman laughed. “I brought my fishing equipment in case I had a spare moment. As soon as I got it out I was surrounded by a whole bunch of kids who wanted to try to catch their first fish.
As a dad, sometimes I forget that something as basic as fishing with my son is really important.
“Here at camp, we got away from our everyday distractions. I spent time talking with the kids and focused on God in a wonderful way.”
A highlight for the children was being able to meet and listen to stories from a missionary family that works with the International Mission Board church planting ministry in Central Asian countries, in a climate where Christians are persecuted.
The missionary (name withheld for security) said his goal at the camp was “to see children experience a vibrant relationship with Jesus. I want them to know that we can’t play-act at Christianity. Children need to learn to read the Bible, to cling to Jesus and to be real.
“We shared bits and pieces of our own missionary story to give them a taste of what Christians in nations that are closed to the gospel face every day.”
Nathaniel Bland from Sierra Baptist Church in Pioneer attended all three District Camps. He said, “I participated in the college component as a camper. It was great to get some spiritual food before being thrust into being a counselor for the other two camps.
“Then it was tremendous to be a counselor for the youth where two in my group came to know Christ, and for the children where five in my group made first-time commitments to the Lord.”
The Hispanic Young Adult Conference is set for Sept. 2-6. For more information contact Veronica Morales at 559-229-9533, ext. 243 or e-mail her.