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Camp critic returns to camp, senses God’s call to missions

FORT COBB, Okla. (BP)–“God does have a sense of humor,” Chip Faulkner said, smiling.
Faulkner, who has openly expressed concerns about the direction of Oklahoma Baptists’ Falls Creek Baptist Assembly the past few years, surrendered to missions at this year’s assemblies.
The pastor of First Baptist Church, Fort Cobb, Okla., introduced a motion at last November’s BGCO state meeting asking the BGCO board of directors “to enact a no-dancing policy, issue and enforce a concise dress code, stop the use of rock videos and require that every corporate service should be carefully structured so as to preserve a God-centered format.”
Less than a year later, while sitting under the Falls Creek tabernacle listening to a preacher talk about lost people groups across the world, Faulkner sensed God’s call to missions.
“During the invitation time, I was sitting next to one of our deacons, praying that God would speak to our kids,” Faulkner said. “But instead, he spoke to me in a powerful way.”
Faulkner said his first response was to fold his arms and say, “This can’t be. I’m too old.”
The 36-year-old preacher admitted he had thought about not going to Falls Creek this year.
“But our church made a decision to go, and I supported that decision,” said Faulkner, who was still on vacation the first two days of the week the Fort Cobb group was at camp, but joined his group on Wednesday, the day he was called to missions.
Faulkner said he called his wife, Gail, from Falls Creek and told her, “This call is a lot different from the one I made to you last year from here.”
She joined him for the remainder of the week to pray with him and talk to missionaries who were serving at the camp.
“We still don’t know where the Lord is going with this,” Faulkner, a Tennessee native and graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, acknowledged a few weeks after Falls Creek. “We are in an appointment process with the International Mission Board, filling out questionnaires, histories, doctrinal statements and taking medical tests.
“What I’m doing is saying ‘yes’ to what I know now,” he said. “I know I run the risk of being embarrassed. God could close the door at any time, and next year at this time, we may still be in Fort Cobb, but I will be involved more deeply in missions.”
First Baptist, Fort Cobb, which Faulkner said is a missions-minded church, has been positive, supportive, encouraging and has agreed to let him stay as pastor until the point of departure to the mission field, he noted.
Faulkner said his children, Ashley, 12, Kelsey, 9, and Wesley, 6, are excited about the possibility of missions service.
“One concern is that Ashley is 12, and the cut-off age for children of missionary candidates is 14,” Faulkner said. “The only concerns Kelsey and Wesley have are what will happen to their dog and cat.”
Faulkner pointed out while he was being called into missions at Falls Creek, Ashley was at home in GAs, hearing a story about a girl whose parents were going to be missionaries.
“If we are doing our programs right, we are preparing our kids for missions,” he said.
Faulkner acknowledged being called to missions at Falls Creek, a place he had criticized, points out what a precious place Falls Creek is.
“Lots of missionaries have been called out from there,” he said. “And to think about where God called us, he definitely must have a sense of humor.”
Faulkner stressed in all his allegations against the 80-year-old camp, he never wanted to be seen as anti-Falls Creek, but wanted to protect what Oklahoma Baptists have always treasured.
“Getting my way was never what I was interested in,” he said.
Faulkner, former pastor at Witcher Baptist Church near Edmond, Okla., and Shields Boulevard Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, said when he drove through the Falls Creek gate this year, he felt a greater spirit.
“The presence of the Lord was definitely there,” he observed.
He added ironically the controversy over Falls Creek the past year may have contributed to that spirit.
“Regardless of which side of the issue you were on, people were praying for Falls Creek, and God honored that,” he said.
“I ran into guys at Falls Creek I had disagreed with this year, but we still serve together,” he said. “Only Baptists can do that.”
Faulkner said he felt there was a more worshipful atmosphere this year, there was an improvement in the reverence of the worship services and the young people were more attentive and worshipful.
“I’ve grown a lot this year,” he confessed. “I’ve learned to appreciate people. And if there’s anything I can do to help with healing and protect our heritage, I’m willing.”

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  • Dana Williamson