Reports from youth camps overseas continue to stream into the Tribune. In past issues, the Tribune has printed stories of thousands of youths in Mexico and Colombia coming to the Lord through the combined efforts of Baptist Bible Fellowship missionaries, The Rawlings Foundation (Highlands Camps), and Impact Youth Worldwide. As summer is winding down, we are still receiving reports.
After 13 camps (and two more to follow at this writing), the attendance and results are still being compiled, but each camp at The Highlands in Cambodia had between 750 and 1,000 attend, and about 200 were saved in each camp. After the eighth camp, director Mike Valdez reported a total of 8,633 campers with 1,726 professing Christ. There were also students who applied to enter Bible college.
Local Cambodian pastors and other adults attend services in the camps as well. Valdez writes, “Pastor Bontheoun has a brother-in-law (husband of one of his sisters-in-law) who he tried to witness to for over four years. He was very resistant, and so even his wife who wanted to go to church could not go because she was afraid he would beat her if she did. This man came to camp during the fifth batch. On the first night of camp, he was very absorbed listening to the very first message he heard. When the invitation was given for people to trust Christ, he came with tears from his eyes. On one of the subsequent services, he came to present himself for believer’s baptism. While in camp, before baptism, he took off the talisman (amulet) he wore for a long time around his waist and got baptized. Immediately, when he got home, he tore off and broke to pieces the spirit house in their home. The next Sunday he called all his family members and took them to church in his vehicle.”
The Highlands also holds family camps in January and February and sports camps in May. The camp facilities are located on 125 acres in Kampong Selia District, Koh Kong Province.
After a phenomenally successful camp season in 2008, Greg Lyons, Dennis Ebert, and their team have duplicated that in 2009. Greg reported 79,959 campers attended 69 camps (admittedly an insane schedule, Greg says), and about 29,000 were dealt with for salvation (at press time). These statistics are grounds for rejoicing, but as Bill Aven at Impact Youth Worldwide points out, “When you have 1,679 camp attendees filling out an application to go to Bible college, you are reaping permanent results.” These campers will soon be attending schools and training for ministry.
Another point to remember is that nothing like this success can happen without planning and teamwork. Greg Lyons says, “Recruiting for camp began before Christmas. We developed a strategy that would penetrate the youth population throughout Metro Manila. Networking with our public school contacts, government agencies that we had been working with, local churches, and simply getting out there going through each target community, we began to see God work. Targeting specific areas where we felt God was leading us to plant new churches, we worked hard in laying a foundation for the salvation appeal that would come.”
Camps are only part of the story for this youth oriented ministry. Greg also holds Vacation Bible School throughout Manila in early summer, with nearly 5,000 children attending this year. Greg says, “Children are the most receptive age group in our world. Many new studies have identified the ‘4-14 Window,’ not a geographic window, but a demographic window. This has been identified as the most receptive time in a person’s life, between ages 4 and 14 years old.” Lyons reports 2,248 children received Christ through the VBS effort this year.
Greg and the Metro Manila evangelistic team (Greg’s wife LuuAnn, Roger and Tammy Akers, Luke and Kelly Lyons, Jordan and Nikki Nisly, Isaac and Eunice Basilio, Cory and Jessie Lyons, Collette McGuire, and Marc and Jessi Buxton) are planning Youth Evangelism Conference 2010. More information can be obtained by emailing email@example.com.
The Tanzania version of The Highlands will begin evangelistic camps in June 2010, and Dave Jones and Team Tanzania are preparing churches, pastors, and youth leaders for the type of camps in the other Highlands properties. Next on his agenda is a Teaching and Training Camp scheduled for December 14-17.