An expanding Deep Impact draws on energy and missions to keep youth coming.
“We are trying to do things that will have the most long-term impact,” said Mike Sowers, youth mobilization consultant with North Carolina Baptist Men. “If they can see God at work in their lives, they are more likely to share with others.”
It was the fourth year of Deep Impact for Rebekah Simpson of River Bend Baptist Church in New Bern. The 17-year-old said she’s learned a lot by being involved with the weeklong missions camp.
“Missions is not leaving and going across the ocean,” she said. “Missions is everything you do. Everything is an act of worship. You can do everything for the glory of God.”
Simpson was one of about 1,000 youth who participated in Deep Impact camps this year.
Sowers said almost 80 projects were completed — from construction to sports camps.
Simpson’s job during Deep Impact was to help with a basketball camp. Three of her four years have been spent drilling and coaching young players in basketball.
“With these kids, you have to be patient with them,” she said. “You connect with them.”
Simpson doesn’t consider herself a basketball player but enjoys the sport. That’s one of the lessons she tries to convey to the children.
“You can still have fun enjoying something,” she said. “Most of them hated it because they weren’t (good). They’re learning to love the Lord through it.”
“I’ve learned that life is a mission trip,” said Curtis Shelton, 13, of Oak City Baptist Church. “You don’t have to go away from home to do mission work.”
While Katie Basden, 16, has helped with re-roofing and painting projects before, she still signed up to do construction during Deep Impact.
“I love to do mission trips, said the Durham Memorial Baptist Church member. “We’re not doing this just for ourselves.”
For Adam Trahan’s first two years at Deep Impact he played guitar with a choral group.
This year, the 16-year-old River Bend member signed up for the car care clinic.
“It takes a little bit of work to get out and share Jesus,” said Trahan, who jumped around and danced by the side of the road while holding a sign to advertise that car care was available.
“It makes people smile just going down the road,” he said.
Jason Whited, 17, said the Deep Impact leaders “present it well.”
The Baynes Baptist Church member from Burlington said it was his first time at Deep Impact.
“It’s not hard to do,” he said, and the Impact trainers share “simple stuff to start a conversation with people.”
Ashley Walser, 15, agreed with Whited about the ease of sharing the gospel.
“You get rejected but at the same time you can accomplish some great things,” said Walser, who is a member of Liberty Baptist Church in Thomasville.
like helping people,” said Kaylin Warren, 18, of Grace Family
Fellowship. Warren participated in Deep Impact through the youth
ministry of Oak City Baptist Church.
Deep Impact offers lessons for the leaders and chaperones as well.
Charles Keller, youth pastor at Fraley Memorial Baptist Church in Gastonia, likes Deep Impact because it teaches youth the lesson that they can do this in their hometown.
“The stuff we’re doing is not easy,” said Keller, who donned guitar sunglasses and held up a sign for a car care clinic in Shallotte at Calvary Baptist Church.
“I think they learn to do hard things” at Deep Impact, he said. His youth are encouraged even when they get to talk to just one person.
Previous coaching experience helped Michael Gragg, youth minister at Perkinsville Baptist Church in Boone, adjust to the basketball camp at Deep Impact.
“I feel really comfortable,” he said, and expressed a desire to take the lessons learned back to Boone to do a weeklong camp there.
He hopes his youth learn to “be willing, and God will use whatever you like to do.”
Another basketball camp leader was Marty Dupree, team leader for mission growth evangelism at the Baptist State Convention. He also taught youth how to share their faith. Dupree said he was impressed with the impact these camps have on the youth.
“I think it teaches them they have something to offer,” said Dupree. “It shows them how God can work through them. The fun component doesn’t hurt either.”
Joey Waters, a men’s staff counselor at Caswell, used his off day to help with a car care clinic.
The Gardner-Webb University student is spending his third summer as a staff member at Caswell, but this was his first opportunity to take part in Deep Impact.
“Out of all the other things these kids could do this week, they pay to come here and work,” said Waters, a member of Charity Baptist Church in Kannapolis.
For Sowers, the biggest impact was “seeing so many youth get out of their comfort zone.”
He said some come with the attitude of “I don’t care” but the change over the week is incredible.
He said several studies have shown getting youth involved is key to their involvement as adults.
“They’ll go home and practice it,” he said. “It’s something that becomes a lifestyle. One of the great things about this week is that kids are doing things that they never thought they could do.”
Putting the youth in a new environment with youth and a leader they may have never met, “really pushes them out of their comfort zone,” said Sowers.
Deep Impact really has two goals, Sowers said, to make a difference in the community and to encourage youth always to be on mission.
Most of the success of Deep Impact can be attributed to the many leaders across the state who participate in overseeing projects and developing partnerships with local churches and associations, Sowers said.
“We’re profoundly grateful that we have this Baptist Men’s mission camp in our community,” said Mike Cummings, Burnt Swamp Baptist’s associational missionary.
“We are beginning to see the potential for outreach in our area.”
Many of the churches in Burnt Swamp are rural and might only have one full-time staff member. Having Deep Impact allows the association and its churches to reach beyond its normal capabilities.
“Deep Impact has been extremely beneficial to our churches,” said Phil Frady, associational missionary with South Roanoke Baptist Association. “Our goal as an association is to help churches create more disciples and to start new churches.
Deep Impact teams have helped discover prospects, model teaching methods and fill in the gap for churches needing helpers.
“It’s an opportunity for us to communicate God’s love to our community,” said Brad Ferguson, pastor of New Beginnings Community Church in Shallotte.
New Beginnings hosted a basketball camp for Deep Impact this year.
Ferguson said several members helped with registration and provided snacks for the children and the youth workers and leaders.
“Our churches are asking for Deep Impact teams to come back next year.”
Sowers said working with associational leaders as well as Baptist Men has been key to running successful camps.
“One of the biggest things about this is the consistent leadership,” Sowers said. “They’re the backbone of it.”
Sowers hopes the involvement of the youth will cause a “spark” that will continue in the churches.
Sowers would be happy with even more Deep Impact camps. Drawing about 1,000 youth this year is a big jump from the around 300 who came in 2007.
While Baptist Men is happy with the numbers, they still want to do more.
“My goal is that we’ll have them within an hour to two hours” drive for all churches in North Carolina, Sower said, but he also wants them to “do Deep Impact at home.”
Baptist Men is adding sites in Shelby and Greensboro next year, as well as sites in Pennsylvania and Ukraine.
Sowers is working with Florida Street Baptist Church in Greensboro to plan projects for next summer.
Taking lessons from this year’s Deep Impact camps, Sowers said they are looking at combining even more biblical foundation studies into the camps.