FUERTEVENTURA, Canary Islands (BP)–Layers of dingy paint peel from the walls of what once was home to Francisco Franco’s notoriously brutal Legion branch of the Spanish military. Though the property has never left the government’s hands, it is vastly different from what it was in the 1930s.
No gunfire is heard now, only the excited voices of 36 children competing in a scavenger hunt.
No soldiers are present, only six volunteers from Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, along with four summer missionaries and Ana Castillo*, a journeyman missionary from Texas. All are doing their best to keep their “scavengers” on track to win a prize and, of course, bragging rights.
Southern Baptist missionaries Pepe and Shari Lopez* and a volunteer mission team host weeklong children’s camps during June, July and August.
This week’s camp touts a baseball theme and teaches children ages 5 to 12 to speak English through songs, games and class time. The missionaries compare it to Vacation Bible School –just longer. “We are here the entire week … night and day,” Shari says.
Candra Pennington, a graduate of Union University in Jackson, Tenn., is one of the summer missionaries helping Pepe, Shari and the Champion Forest team with the camp. Her first trip outside the United States has been a sobering experience.
Candra realized early on that some of the children had not been exposed to Christianity. Before bed one night, a young camper asked Candra what she was reading. Candra told her it was the Bible.
“What’s a Bible?” the girl asked with a puzzled look.
At that moment Candra realized how important it is to share Christ at every opportunity. She promised the girl they would read the Bible together.
Opportunities like this are “what we are here for,” says Johnathan Siefert, children’s ministry associate at Champion Forest. “We are here to teach these kids English and just to love on them. In the end, you know it’s not about me, it’s not what I can do, it’s not how much I have to give,” he says. “It’s about allowing Christ to live through me.”
*Names changed. Emilee Brandon covered this story for the International Mission Board.