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FUGE celebrates 40 years of ministry to students

NASHVILLE (BP) — Randy Parks remembers the music, the games, and the wacky events from the first summer he attended Centrifuge in 1979. But most of all, he remembers the clear message of the Gospel and the strong conviction that a life following Christ was exciting and worth living.

That summer at Glorieta, N.M., when Parks was only a high school junior, laid the foundation for his future as a hospital chaplain.

“Centrifuge changed the direction of my life,” said Parks, now a chaplain at Newton Medical Center in Newton, N.J. “It was there I answered what I believed to be a call to follow God in the path of Christian ministry.

“Since that time, I have lived out that calling through the local church, in university chaplaincy and for many years now as a health care chaplain.”

Parks credits his summers at Centrifuge for helping him develop a regular quiet time and sparking a passion for evangelism. “It changed my life forever.”

Parks is not alone. Since 1979, LifeWay’s FUGE Camps have seen God work in the lives of more than 1.7 million students and adults across the nation. This summer more than 55,000 students and adults will attend a FUGE Camp.

What began as Centrifuge — with a full-time staff that plans and leads Bible study, recreation, worship and other camp elements — has grown to include four types of camps in multiple locations across the country and overseas.

“We are thankful for all of the ways God has and continues to use this ministry in the lives of students,” said Ben Trueblood, director of student ministry at LifeWay Christian Resources.

“The spiritual needs of students have not changed over the last 40 years,” Trueblood noted. “They still need the convicting, healing, redeeming love of Christ.”

A ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources, FUGE Camps are designed to take students out of their normal routine and place them into an environment focused on life change through a relationship with Christ. FUGE Camps are for students having completed 6th grade through 12th grade. Youth pastors can choose from one of four programs at FUGE — Centrifuge, MFuge, XFuge, and XFuge on Mission.

Students can participate in either recreation or missions with everyone at camp, or churches can stay together and choose their own customizable experience.

“This summer’s theme is ‘The Mission,'” said Joe Hicks, LifeWay’s lead coordinator for FUGE Camps. Students will study the life of Paul and discover how to live a life on mission for Christ.

“Sharing the Gospel to further God’s kingdom is the ultimate reason He left the church on earth,” Hicks said. “Jesus’ followers have been carrying on this mission for almost 2,000 years, but it’s not yet accomplished, since nearly 2 billion people still have not heard the story of Jesus.”

FUGE has had an emphasis on missions since its early years and in 1998 hosted its first international MFuge camp in Quito, Ecuador. Since 1984, FUGE campers have given more than $12 million to the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board through an annual summer missions offering.

Olivia Clapp Baumann, of Raleigh, N.C., remembers being introduced to the Roma people group through the FUGE missions offering when she was in seventh grade.

“When I saw the faces of the Roma people for the first time, my heart broke,” Baumann recently wrote on the FUGE Camps blog. “I remember thinking I have to do something for these people, not just give money at camp but more.”

Her love for the Roma people has only grown during the last several years. This fall she is leading a group from her church on her sixth mission trip to Romania to work with the Roma people.

“Through FUGE Camps, God started me on this crazy journey,” Baumann wrote. “Camp is where I fell in love with the Roma, with missions and with God. I can’t imagine my life without attending FUGE.”

This summer, FUGE Camps are located in 21 locations. For more information on locations or to register your student or group, visit fugecamps.com or call 1-877-CAMP-123.