Thousands of students attending youth weeks at the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell this summer are learning that following Christ is so much more exciting than anything the world may promise.
“More,” taken from Ephesians 3:20, is the theme for the 2015 summer youth weeks at Fort Caswell, where approximately 7,000 middle and high school students will attend one of the seven weeklong camps held throughout the summer.
“God can do so much more in the lives of students, and He wants to do so much more in their lives than they even think about asking Him for,” said Merrie Johnson, consultant for youth evangelism and discipleship with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina who has conducted summer camps at Fort Caswell for 15 years. “During camp, we’re trying to help them understand that Jesus is better than any other thing that they want to seek after.”
Students divide into prayer circles during worship at Fort Caswell.
So far this summer, Johnson has seen God move in the lives of students, as many have trusted Christ as their Lord and Savior, recommitted their lives to Him, or surrendered to God’s call to vocational ministry.
“You don’t realize what a week can do in a teenager’s life,” Johnson said. “This week at camp might be what sets them on a path that will lead them on a different trajectory for life.”
Each week at camp, students are challenged to grow in their faith through personal and small group Bible study, and powerful worship services that challenge students to go deeper in their walk with Christ through the proclamation of God’s Word. Campers are also given an opportunity to participate in global missions by packing meals and giving to an offering that goes toward sharing the gospel with children and families in Jacmel, Haiti, through a partnership with Change This World, a ministry that helps meet physical and spiritual needs in the lives of individuals in developing countries.
During one of this summer’s youth week services, pastor and evangelist Mike Satterfield challenged students to boldly live out their faith in their day-to-day lives, while sharing the message of hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ with their friends and family members.
“What are you doing with the rest of our life?” Satterfield said. “At the end of the day what will you show God as a result of your journey? Since we cannot count our days, we need to make every day count.”
Youth leaders from various churches said they’ve seen God at work in various ways in the lives of the students who attend the summer youth weeks.
“We all come back home with life-changing experiences,” said Michael Logan, who has attended camp as a chaperone with students from Oak Ridge Baptist Church in Sandy Ridge for several years. “We learn a lot, we grow a lot and we come back home and share that with others.”
Matt West, a youth pastor from Buffalo Baptist Church in Buffalo Junction, Va., said he appreciate the camp’s emphasis on discipleship.
“We want the kids to have fun, but we’re here to help them see the Bible more clearly, to see who Christ is and how to follow him more,” West said. “The camp staff want the kids to have a great camp experience, but they are also interested in equipping them to follow through on the decisions they make while they are here.”
Johnson said her prayer is that God would continue to do more in the lives of students as they continue to seek Him in the days after camp concludes.
“Remember that God still wants more of you,” Johnson told campers during one of the closing sessions at a recent youth week. “I pray it doesn’t stop for you, and it doesn’t have to. God goes with us wherever we go. We don’t leave Him here when we leave camp. He asks us to be His hands and His feet.”