Mission team finds God’s
Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 8, 2002
world an ‘awesome’ experience
By JAINE TREADWELL
God is awesome – awesome in His love and awesome in His creation.
That’s how the members of the Northside Baptist Church 2002 summer mission team expressed their feelings about their trip to Canada in July.
The group answered God’s call to teach Bible school at a Christian sports camp at St. Albert in British Columbia and found the experience to be one of the most rewarding of their lives.
For some, their life-experiences have spanned less than two decades. Others have more than a half century by which to gauge their experiences. But, no matter the age, each "missionary" said the trip was an experience they will always remember and cherish.
The group flew to Vancouver on July 10 and opted to drive almost three days to their destination. They drove because they wanted to see the Canadian Rockies.
"Country people like us had never seen anything like that," said Ramona Dunn. "It was awesome. God is awesome."
Wanda Golden said the scenery was so beautiful they often stopped and just sat there amazed at all that was before them.
"The mountains, the ice glaciers, it was all incredible," Golden said. "We even saw a bear. Really, we almost ran over a bear. It just ran right in front of us."
When they arrived
at the camp site, they thought they had made a wrong turn and were at the equator.
"It was so hot that we thought we were back in Alabama," said Faye Johnson. "When we saw there was no air conditioner in the place where we were staying, we thought we might burn up. When we saw that we couldn’t open the windows, we were sure we would."
Golden said the group prayed to live through the night and the next morning, they were blessed with a breeze that brought some measure of comfort and peace to the group of folks from the South.
"The section of Canada were in a heat wave and those people were probably hotter than we were because they weren’t used to the heat," Dunn said.
The camp was sponsored by a Christian organization in an affluent area where most of the population is Catholic or unchurched.
"They used the term ‘unchurched,’ but many of those young people had never heard of God," Dunn said.
And, they came to the camp not expecting to hear about God and his love.
"Canadians are very sports oriented," Dunn said. "They told us that, on any given night, 50 percent of the population won’t be at home. They will be at some kind of sporting event."
In the past, Bible school camps sponsored by the Christian church had attracted about 35 youngsters from first to sixth grade. Using sports as a draw, the Christian Sports Camp enrolled 120 young people and many had to be turned away.
Each participant in the day camp spent only 45 minutes in Bible study.
When the mission team first saw their facilities they thought they were in trouble.
"We thought we would teach inside, but we were outside under a tent," said Johnny Locklar. "There was no place to hang the posters and other visual aids we had carried and there was no place to play the games we had planned. So, we used the aids as incentives to learn Bible verses. We had to make adjustments, but everything worked out."
At first, the children didn’t know how to respond to those slow taking, loving folks from Alabama.
"When my first group started to leave I hugged a little boy and it almost scared him to death," Golden said. "After that, they were crawling all over us. It was almost as if they were starving for attention."
Christi Arcemont and LeAnn Stephens were in charge of the music for the camp and the children responded quickly and enthusiastically.
"We taught several songs with motions and they picked it up in a hurry," Lee Ann said. "Before the end of the week, they all wanted to get on stage with us and sing."
During the week, 54 of the young people responded to God’s call, Dunn said.
"It was wonderful the way God worked at the camp," she said. "One little boy said he had never been to a sports came like that one. We hope that they all went home feeling a little closer to God and blessed by his love. I know that we all were. We said that we had never felt closer to God than we did in the beautiful Rockies. It seemed like we were right up there with Him."
And, even when they came down from the mountains, they found God’s love in the children of St. Albert, Johnson said.
After such a remarkable experience, will they say "yes" to the invitation to go back next year.
"We’ll go where God calls us," they said.