FIRST-PERSON: It's not about a place
EDITOR'S NOTE: Hance Dilbeck is the executive director-treasurer of Oklahoma Baptists.
OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) -- "It's not about a place." So said a man who had led a group at Falls Creek for 39 years in a row. We broke his streak when we canceled our camps this summer. He is the group leader who took me to Falls Creek in the summer of 1983 when God called me to be a minister of the Gospel.
To tell you the truth, I was surprised to hear him say it. He loves the place called Falls Creek! He has invested blood, sweat and treasure in that place -- long hours, hot days, cooking, cleaning, teaching, corralling and comforting. He knows what most Oklahoma Baptists know: Falls Creek is a special place that God has blessed.
Yet these were his words: "It's not about a place."
If it is not about a place, what is it about? That question forces us to consider what "it" is. What is the point, the purpose, of Falls Creek? The purpose is bringing lost teenagers to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We do a lot of good things during a week of camp, but evangelism is the primary purpose. We want to see teenagers get saved -- experience forgiveness and new life through Jesus Christ.
We don't have to go to the Arbuckle Mountains to do this work of evangelism. What if, in our hometowns all across our state, we did what we do while we are at a week of Falls Creek? Do you think God would bless that work as well?
The power of Falls Creek is no secret; it's not magic. Have you ever thought about what we do during a week of Falls Creek?
1. We pray for teenagers by name, that they might be saved.
2. We love teenagers in tangible ways.
3. We spend time with teenagers -- sharing meals, getting an Icee, playing ball, going fishing, doing chores, playing board games and sitting on the porch.
4. We talk to teenagers.
5. We share our testimony with teenagers: "Jesus changed my life!"
6. We tell teenagers the simple Good News of Jesus and the cross.
7. We ask teenagers to turn from their sins and trust wholly in Jesus as Savior and Lord, and we celebrate with them when they do.
I prayed about Falls Creek for eight weeks solid, every day. Now, I am praying that our Father will stir up Oklahoma Baptists to take the work we normally do in the Arbuckle Mountains and spread it all across our state and to make that same investment of time, energy and passion in the lives of the teenagers around us.
Oh Lord, give us a burden to pour our lives into teenagers this summer. I know they are open to the Gospel as never before. Use us right where we are -- in every county and community -- to do this work of evangelism. Indeed, this is not about a place; it is about Your purpose, Your power and Your promise.
"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age'" (Matthew 28:18-20).