The 100th summer is underway for the youth weeks at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Centers.
Photo by Chris Doyle
The first invitational time experienced 271 total decisions including 140 professions of faith, nine assurances of salvation, 101 restorations, 11 other decisions and 10 committing to ministry.
Since the camp was founded in 1917, in the summer months alone, more than 2 million people have walked the 305-acre grounds in the heart of the Arbuckle Mountains in southern Oklahoma. And there have been approximately 65,000 professions of faith and some 35,000 called to ministry, according the latest figures from Falls Creek.
Jason Langley, director of conference centers for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO), was pleased with the June 5-9 kickoff at the camp. Each year Falls Creek provides new attractions while offering the same opportunity to encounter Christ.
“We want to make sure that people are safe, that they have a good time, and we want to make sure that they hear the gospel,” Langley said.
“They (the staff) are driven by making sure that kids hear the gospel, so they have worked tirelessly to get everything functional from the new Icee stands, to getting electricity to where it needs to be, to coffee machines where they need to go, to getting product and shelving for the gift shop to be put together.”
Most of these tasks Langley mentioned refer to the operational workings of the new Centennial Plaza that is located in the central gathering area at Falls Creek, across from the Mathena Family Event Center. Langley noted the Falls Creek staff, both full-time and seasonal, have worked especially hard, even through minor setbacks from recent storms.
Photo by Chris Doyle
More than 2 million people have worshiped at Falls Creek in its 100-year history.
“It’s just a reminder of how great the staff is, working to have everything ready for camp,” he said. “We have ‘set the table,’ so that people can meet the Lord and have that experience many have had over the years.”
Jordan encourages campers to ‘tell their story’
Anthony Jordan, BGCO executive director-treasurer, made sure people had the opportunity to experience Christ as he was Falls Creek’s opening week speaker for the summer. On opening night, he challenged everyone sitting in the Tabernacle to share how they became a follower of Christ.
Jordan said he would speak to campers whom he met on the campgrounds during the day and ask them to share with him their story. This was a significant experience for Jordan, who has expressed high expectations for Falls Creek when he became BGCO’s leader in 1986.
“Dr. Jordan gave the vision for this place almost 20 years ago.” Langley said, “To see the completion of that (vision) and then get up and share the gospel in this place during a 100-year celebration is a fulfillment of legacy.”
Sharing the gospel is what Jordan did every night during the first youth week. On June 6, the first night that Falls Creek offered a formal invitation for campers to make public decisions, Jordan spoke on the parable of the sower in Luke 8.
He referenced how some in the crowd that night would reflect what the parable described as hard soil. “Tonight, there are people here who hear the gospel,” Jordan said. “It will land on your heart, but it’s going to bounce off. Some will ignore what the preacher is saying tonight.”
Jordan said some would be like the shallow soil, and some would be like the thorny soil. “God is not calling you to a new high, a new experience. He’s calling you to Himself.”
Photo by Chris Doyle
Anthony Jordan was the Falls Creek speaker for week one of the summer youth weeks.
He addressed campers directly about what Satan wanted for them. “There is a spiritual warfare going on in your very soul,” Jordan said. “Because Satan wants to blind you to the gospel. He wants to cause you to turn away from the gospel, and here’s the reason why.
“Because Satan does not want you to believe in Jesus Christ, and he does not want you to be saved.”
During that first invitational time, 271 campers made decisions for Christ, including 140 professions of faith, nine assurances of salvation, 101 recommitments to Christ, 11 special needs/other decisions and 10 committing to ministry. Each summer in recent years, there are typically more than 6,000 decisions – from the eight weeks of youth camp – and between 2,000 and 2,500 professions of faith each summer, Falls Creek reported. Falls Creek is tracking the number of decisions for 2017 online and showing evening services livestream throughout the summer at skopos.org/fallscreek/livestream/.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Chris Doyle is associate editor of the Baptist Messenger, newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.)