Camping for Christ --Part 2

Camping for Christ
Part 2

Kenneth Baird

The high ratio of conversions to the number of unsaved present at a Bible camp frequently generates both joy and concern. Before considering the possibility of false professions, let us examine some reasons for expecting special blessing in Bible camps as compared with other efforts, everything else being equal. It goes without saying that all collective gospel efforts will be preceded by exercise, prayer, and preparation.

Children Are Receptive

In the first place children are open to the gospel. Their tender and receptive hearts are remarkably free from the preconceived opinions and philosophies that must be torn down in adults before they are willing to come to the Lord. It is easier for the child to move from his dependence upon his parents to dependence upon the Lord than for the adult to forsake his citadel of self-sufficiency. The loving care extended to children by parents, teachers, police officers, or any charged with their safety or wellbeing develops faith within a child; whereas the experiences of later years in a world of competition produce the cynicism which even questions the motives of a preacher of the gospel. Satan’s assistance will further lead to distrust of the very God of love who gave His Son to die for our sins. For the most part the distrust resident in the heart of a child has been placed there by older ones who know something of the evils that can come upon the unwary. When the child comes to camp he finds an atmosphere of love that is not only concerned for his physical wellbeing, but most of all for his eternal welfare. He then moves onward to that greatest Source of love that planned and purchased his salvation at such awful cost. Response to the love of the Saviour by faith is the frequent result, and faith “worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6).

Natural Surroundings

Another influence which we cannot measure, and seldom even consider, is that which God’s handiwork in nature has upon the mind of the child at camp. In Psalm 19:1-3 we read, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” Who would want to say that English-speaking people are excluded from this passage? We adults have lived in our subjective thought-world so long that we have largely forgotten the appeal the Lord’s creation makes to the heart. Certainly the warm atmosphere of love and the communion of nature combine to make a deep impression upon the heart and mind of the child.

Cumulative Effect

Another factor figuring in the blessing at camp is the frequency with which the child hears the Scriptures. The seed sown by the wayside (Luke 8:12) produced no fruit because the birds found and devoured it. Satan is quick to take away thoughts of the Saviour and our need of Him by substituting his distractions. Apart from Satan, should the child even try to put the thought of God from his mind, he is continually brought back to the subject of his soul’s need. The cumulative effect of the Word of God makes itself felt.

Systematic Teaching

A well co-ordinated camp program will present the subject matter in a consecutive order with the subsequent lessons in the home Sunday school emphasizing and reinforcing the lessons taught by individual counselors; or with the counselors clinching the lesson taught in the assembly, if that plan is followed. Systematic teaching will provide the repetition so necessary to learning without the subject matter seeming to be repetitious. We need not think that sound principles of learning are a denial of the sovereignty of the Spirit. The rhythmic motion of the sower’s arm could be said to be repetitious, but it is entirely necessary in the sowing of the seed. The life-giving Spirit of God acts upon the seed after it is sown. We may plant, and we may water, but God gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:7).

Individual Testimony

The impact of the testimony of saved children upon the sensitive spirits of the unsaved may well be one of the best reasons for blessing at camps. Children expect adults to have sober thoughts of the future and of things spiritual, but the fact that salvation is something that happens to real live boys and girls fastens upon the heart and mind of the unsaved child his responsibility to the Saviour. Some of the best camps the writer has been privileged to attend have been those in which the children themselves have been deeply exercised about the salvation of their friends. How lovely is the sight of a child bringing his companion to a counselor to be dealt with concerning salvation! And how the Lord does seem to honour the faith of His lambs!

Spiritual Counselors

Thus far we have touched upon the attitudes of children, their receptiveness, and the influence of children upon children. Let us think a little of that counselor to whom an anxious child may be brought. Certainly the success of the camp bears directly upon the counselors.

No one would wish to say that the Lord is obligated to bless a Bible camp because of the sacrifice the counselors make in being there, but it has been our observation in the service of the Lord that blessing is often in keeping with the amount of sacrifice made to bring it. In most instances these unselfish people work an entire year in their secular occupation, but instead of using their vacation for a well-deserved rest, they give that time to the Lord. We would expect blessing from the collective efforts of Christians of this calibre!

Counselor Training

An indirect benefit of Bible camps is gained in that it is a training ground for earnest young counselors. Under the guidance of older and more experienced camp personnel, they learn something of their privileges and responsibilities in pointing souls to Christ, and also of the dangers to be avoided. Their helplessness in dealing with some cases (and who does not feel it?) casts them upon the Lord for His leading and help. When the Lord does give that help and they see the light and joy of Heaven flood into a human soul, a desire is born that finds its only satisfaction in winning other souls for the Lord.