By Aaron Wilson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Lifeway Christian Resources employees from across the organization gathered in-person and online on May 12, 2021, to pray for the upcoming camp season and to send staff members working at camp off to their summer posts in style.
Hundreds of local employees assembled at Forest Hills Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, while other employees—many scattered across the country and world—joined by Zoom to participate in the commissioning of Student Life, Student Life Kids, Fuge and CentriKid employees for a new season of ministry.
“The International Mission Board periodically holds commissioning services for their missionaries who are being sent out into the world,” said Ben Mandrell, Lifeway president and CEO. “This Team Huddle is designed to be our version of that. This is the final team meeting our camps teams will be able to engage in this year in-person before they leave to serve, and we want to draw attention to what they’re doing and pray for them.”
The event began with Carrie Dodson, event coordinator, asking employees to stand or raise their hand online if they had participated in different camp experiences growing up or through serving in their local churches. Dozens of employees acknowledged they had experienced a significant spiritual encounter with God at a Christian summer camp. Several indicated it was at camp where they gave their life to Christ or first dedicated their life to vocational ministry.
“I know countless people who made life-changing choices in a camp setting,” said Mandrell. “This summer, tens of thousands of kids and students will gather at one of our camps. This is some of the most abundant seed-sowing we get to do. It’s one of the experiences we design to fuel ministry.”
Mandrell read the parable of the wheat and the tares from Matthew 13 to remind employees that all Christians fight against a common enemy, the Devil, and that Lifeway helps outfit God’s people with spiritual armor for that battle.
“We are in the midst of a great spiritual war,” said Mandrell. “‘An enemy did this,’ Jesus said, as He saw broken marriages, broken churches and broken children. One of the many ways Lifeway looks to the future is by staying connected to the rising generation.”
Mandrell listed three reasons why camp ministry makes a massive difference in spiritual warfare:
- The routine of life is disrupted, giving kids and students an opportunity to hear clearly from the Lord.
- Life-shaping relationships are formed.
- The walls around the heart come down.
“Every kid who shows up to camp-—even the most put-together and popular-—has a spot inside the soul where the deeper questions of life are being asked,” said Mandrell. “Camp creates an immersive experience many young people yearn for—a refuge for kids who feel ready to be real about the way they feel. Inside the coming-of-age heart is a war—with fear, insecurity, doubt, guilt and shame—all things the gospel has power to heal.”
Mandrell then interviewed Jeremy Echols, manager of CentriKid Camps, about the challenges and opportunities of leading camps during a pandemic.
“We have a task force praying and working through precautions and protocols to make camps safe,” said Echols, stating that churches have recognized this intentionality and responded positively. “We are expecting more than 91,000 kids and students attending Lifeway camps this summer,” he said.
The event concluded in a time of prayer and thanksgiving, as Mandrell recalled God’s blessings to the organization and lifted up its employees and the hundreds of churches across the country who would be sending children, students and volunteers to camp this summer.
“We thank you for this team who’s energized and excited to go out and make a difference for God’s kingdom,” Mandrell prayed. “Help us go out of this place sharing with exuberance how excited we are for the future because we know the future belongs to You. Let the joy of the Lord be our strength.”
Aaron Wilson is a writer for Lifeway Christian Resources.
About Lifeway Christian Resources
In operation since 1891, Lifeway Christian Resources is one of the leading providers of Christian resources, including Bibles, books, Bible studies, worship music, VBS, and church supplies, as well as camps and events for all ages. Lifeway is the world’s largest provider of Spanish Bibles. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, Lifeway receives no denominational funding and operates as a self-supporting nonprofit.