By Jennifer Hooks
Attending camp at Central Hills Baptist Retreat Center for three summers as a child, Will Nicholas vividly remembers the campfire worship times and how they had an impact on his life.
“The campfire services were meaningful as a child, but they have even greater significance for me today. I worked as a counselor at Central Hills this past summer, and I had the opportunity to lead a young camper to the Lord for the very first time at our campfire service,” Nicholas said.
Camp Director Jim Ray said, “Matthew, who was 11, came to us as a camper. His decision at campfire was a very sincere one to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. What stands out to me about this decision is that his first time decision to become a Christian was also the first time for his counselor to lead someone to Christ.” That counselor was Nicholas.
“Will was as sincere in his efforts as Matthew was in his prayer. It was a sight that I will always remember,” said Ray, who has served as the director of Central Hills for nine years, and also worked at the camp for four years during his college tenure.
“Camping ministry is making an impact for the kingdom of God. The most important thing is sharing the gospel. Second on my list is this: it prepares and produces those who share the gospel. This is true for me personally, and I see it every summer in the lives of dozens of college staff,” he said.
There were 2, 828 people that attended camp at Central Hills last summer, and 199 made professions of faith. Not only does Central Hills provide a place for children to find the Lord, but it is also a place of growth. Nicholas and other counselors at Central Hills have the opportunity to leave a legacy, and give back to a camp that impacted their childhood.
Out of the 31 counselors who served on staff last summer, 28 had previously worked at the camp. “Having experienced and spiritually mature staff was very beneficial and allowed the new staff to see that the bar was set high,” Ray said.
Central Hills, located eight miles northwest of Kosciusko, is partly funded by the Margaret Lackey State Missions offering. The camp has been open since 1979, and its chief purpose is to provide a Christian camping experience for boys and girls ages 5 to 18.
“As great as the summer was, without the state missions offering, we wouldn’t have camp, so thank you to all who contribute,” Ray said.
Central Hills as well as Garaywa Camp and Conference Center in Clinton are two of the facets of Mississippi Baptists’ work funded by the offering. For more information about the MLSMO, visit http://www.mbcb.org/mission_strategy/missions.aspx.