DAVIS, Okla. (BP) – “To Him be the glory forever” – part of the theme Scripture for summer youth weeks at Falls Creek Conference Center – could also be the response from camp leadership, who saw God move in a powerful way during the eight weeks of camp.
Falls Creek witnessed 2,645 campers make professions of faith in Christ, the most recorded during a summer at the campground in the Arbuckle Mountains. More than 5,600 total spiritual decisions were reported, including 617 campers who surrendered to the call to ministry.
“Falls Creek 2021 is a wrap!” said Todd Sanders, Falls Creek program director, in a concluding email to Oklahoma Baptist leadership. “The stage is cleared, our missions areas are tucked away, the storage building is filled, and the truck is loaded, the rooms are empty, but what the Lord did lingers. There is much upon which to reflect.”
Sanders also shared good reports from many church leaders: “This week has really hit home with our group. We needed this.” “I wouldn’t trade our week for anything!”
“So many comments just like these are what I heard,” Sanders said. “The Spirit was so present all summer. So many answers to the prayers we have been praying together.”
The results came despite the cancellation of camps in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as lower attendance in 2021.
“When we pray and ask the Lord to act, this is a prayer God wants to answer,” Sanders said. “Obviously, we ask of Him, and He brings the spiritual response. We prayed for Him to do what only He can do and not something we can orchestrate. We prayed to see 3,000 (professions of faith in Christ) this summer. We didn’t reach that, but we did see a record number of decisions. It’s not a failure point; it’s pointing out what God did.”
Sanders also noted this year’s lower number of staffers, many of whom were working at Falls Creek for the first time.
“We asked the Lord to work through camp, calling people to Himself and to do ministry,” he said.
“Everyone responded really well. I couldn’t be more proud of everyone – full-time staff, convention staff, area supervisors, conference center staff, especially Andy (Harrison, director of Oklahoma Baptists conference centers) and his crew. It was a great collaborate effort, which shows the true picture of how Oklahoma Baptists are. …
“When we pray and ask the Lord to act, this is a prayer God wants to answer. Obviously, we ask of Him, and He brings the spiritual response. We prayed for Him to do what only He can do and not something we can orchestrate. We prayed to see 3,000 (professions of faith in Christ) this summer. We didn’t reach that, but we did see a record number of decisions. It’s not a failure point; it’s pointing out what God did.”
Monday night invitations during the first evening service of each camp week was a new addition this summer. Sanders said that could have been a factor in the number of spiritual decisions reported.
“Every leader I talked to thought it was a great thing,” Sanders said about adding Monday night invitations. “There were 617 professions of faith on Mondays. I think it did help increase our number of decisions. It was a demonstration to every camp that we are going to get serious about this. It was well received and set the stage every week, building an environment for students to meet with God and have Him work in their lives.”
Baptism also was a focal point at the camps this year, which Sanders said was in response to a decline in baptisms, especially among students, not only in Oklahoma but across the country. Each camp speaker emphasized baptisms, and many churches baptized one or more of their students while at camp, he said. Of the 662 “other” decisions that were made at Falls Creek this summer, a majority were baptism commitments.
Sanders could see enthusiasm from churches and students being back at Falls Creek after no camp in 2020.
“There was some adjustment, after taking a year off, but everybody was excited to be back at camp,” he said. “And I could tell churches were excited to invest in students, helping them grow in their relationships with Christ. …
“I am glad that Oklahoma Baptists, across the state, support Falls Creek and have made it a priority to reach students with the Gospel.”