Does Life-Change Stick?

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We recently attended a combined meeting of pastors from Michigan and Ohio. Our job was to help promote what God is doing at Lake Ann with an open invitation to attend. It was great to talk with leaders of many of our churches. However, the part that really blessed us were the stories of changed lives at Lake Ann.

I guess it is natural to be skeptical about the results of the commitments made at camp. Part of me wants to know why people need to even go down that road. For me, those detours miss the reality that many camp decisions mark a dramatic and drastic change in direction.

Glorybowl FireIt was that way for me. I was fourteen when God spoke to my heart about serving Him full time in ministry at a camp. I went home from camp and started preparing immediately for the role God had for me. No amount of discouraging words from the skeptics could steer me off course.

Ken Rudolph grew up in a liberal church that did not preach the Gospel. However, he went to camp as a 15-year-old and got saved. On his own, he went home, left his church and found a church that preached from the Bible. Eventually, his whole family got saved, switched churches and you know the rest of the story.

George Coon told me that it was at Lake Ann that he gave his life to the Lord for ministry. Today he has successfully pastored several churches in Michigan and his life is an example of faithful service.

Pat Warren told me of her decisions at Lake Ann Camp and how those decisions impacted her life and service. I was shocked by this because Dave and Pat Warren have impacted my life for Christ since my college days. I know the ripple effect of their ministry is great.

Doug Crawford came to me quite excited. He shared that one Sunday he had baptized three high schoolers who made their decisions at Lake Ann Camp. Both he and Dave Parmerlee thanked me for the impact Lake Ann has had at West Cannon Baptist Church.

Dan Cook, a missionary with ABWE in Brazil reminded me of the bitterness he harbored in his heart against God after the untimely death of his father (he died of melanoma cancer contracted while working in the hot sun of Brazil to establish Camp Paradise). Dan’s mother brought their family home from the mission field and sent Dan to Lake Ann Camp. It was there that God not only healed his hurt but also called him to the mission field where he replaced the void left in his father’s absence. I have seen the fruit of his life in Brazil first hand and it is tremendous.

Yesterday I was talking to Jim Rickard about financial matters and he interrupted the conversation to talk about how God used Lake Ann Camp dramatically in the life of ownership of his grandkids. What a privilege it was for me to hear that I was able to give back to a man who has given so much to me and others through His kingdom work.

For Such a Time as This

Now for the fun part, all of these stories were from years of ministry where we were building, growing and solidifying how to do camping in the culture that we are privileged to impact in the here and now. In my estimation, it took us 65 years to get to where we could be as powerful in our influence as we are today. Mordecai’s famous line to Esther rings true in my mind as I think of the times that we are now in: FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS. 

Those who are skeptical of the long-term impact of a camp decision have not had the privilege to sit where I sit and hear what I have heard for nearly 28 years. It has been a privilege to watch God take our campers and change the world and I could not be more excited about the difference we will make in the coming year of ministry.

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