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Students leave summer camp wanting to GO TELL others

EDITORS’ NOTE: The following story is part of a monthly Baptist Press series to explore and describe how individuals, churches, associations and conventions exhibit a passion for Christ and His Kingdom.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–On the drive home from Rick Gage’s GO TELL Camp this summer, students from Robertson Avenue Baptist Church in Copperas Cove, Texas, put into practice what they had learned the previous week by ministering to everyone they saw at every stop.

At one stop, a gas station cashier asked Christ into her life right there on the spot.

“Our students would not leave until we had hooked her up with a good, Bible-believing church,” youth pastor Jeff Tulasosopo said.

What is particularly impressive about this story is that Robertson Avenue Baptist is a small church in a military town where most of the youth’s parents do not attend church. Tulasosopo’s youth group is made up of Koreans, Chinese, Mexicans, African-Americans, Samoans, Native Americans and Caucasians –- a highly diverse group that came together at the camp as a body full of love and unity.

“Their love for each other was unbelievable,” Tulasosopo said. “Those of our group who had attended GO TELL Camp the year before still had not lost their fire…. Of the 20 students we brought, five surrendered to full-time ministry.”

The heartbeat of GO TELL Camps is evangelism and discipleship, and speakers address students as adults. They don’t sugar-coat the truth, the challenge of living out the Christian faith or the cost students may have to pay for their faith.

“More than anything, because of what they experienced at GO TELL Camp, our students want to be real in their faith,” Tulasosopo said. “It is not an emotional thing — it is a lasting thing, born of the Spirit of God. We go back home with conviction — not just a camp experience — and empowered to live for God. We share our faith and lead people to Christ.”

The Robertson Avenue youth group’s experience was far from unique. By the conclusion of the sixth GO TELL Camp near the end of July, more than 4,000 students and their leaders from 15 states and 181 churches had been impacted by God.

More than 1,200 commitments were recorded, including 241 from those who surrendered to full-time Christian ministry. Five hundred-plus students and leaders went out witnessing in GO TELL Camp’s local community evangelistic efforts, many leading a person to Christ for the first time in their lives.

“These are serious times,” said evangelist Rick Gage, who started the youth camp ministry in 1989. “The task of reaching students with the Gospel and discipling them has never been more urgent. Teenagers are tired of playing games. Their world is falling apart and they want answers. They have an incredible need to be led, challenged and empowered.”

And that is exactly what they got at each of Gage’s six GO TELL Camps, conducted at the Georgia Baptist Conference Center in Toccoa, Ga.; Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.; the Emerald Coast Conference Center in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.; and at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

“This is our fifth year at GO TELL Camp,” said Brett Patterson, youth pastor of Westside Baptist in Warner Robins, Ga. “How can you go anywhere else when, year after year, the camp’s primary emphasis, and our experience, is a powerful encounter with Jesus Christ?”

Gage and his staff request that youth pastors pray and fast with them regularly, asking God to move mightily in every area of the camps, from anointed preaching and teaching, inspiring worship, dramatic productions and powerful testimonies to exciting recreational activities.

Since 1989, more than 50,000 young people and their leaders have experienced a GO TELL Camp and testified of a changed life. In fact, many who were called into full-time ministry at a GO TELL Camp have returned as youth pastors with their own youth groups.

“We united as a group, and it was amazing to see youth and adults together opening their hearts and crying out to the Lord,” said camper Sharon Birch “I’ve never experienced anything like this before in my life.”

    About the Author

  • Ruth McClellan