October 6, 2009
In our GoChurch series, Jim Blake, director for Alliance Redwoods Camp and Conference Grounds (ARCCG), describes the mission of his “congregation” within the camp community. ARCCG hosts churches and groups from all over California and beyond, providing God’s majestic redwood trees as the background for ministry.
Thousands of children and young adults experience authentic community each year at Alliance Redwoods Camp and Conference Grounds (ARCCG), where a Christian camping adventures have changed lives for more than 60 years.
At ARCG, nearly 1,000 young people make decisions for Christ annually as they receive ministry to the whole person and build relationships with God and with caring mentors. The camp environment breaks down social, economic, and cultural barriers that the traditional church setting struggles to overcome and provides a safe environment that is conducive to positive interactivity.
Catch Them While They Are Young
More than 85 percent of those who come to Christ do so before they reach the age of 18. Ten-year-old camper Josh,* whose biker father did not attend church, connected with Greg, one of the head cooks. Greg, sporting his biker regalia and is a chaplain for the Christian Motorcycle Association, spent the week building a relationship with Josh. As Josh left camp, Greg gave him his card for Josh’s dad.
Filled with excitement about his week at camp, Josh gave Greg’s card to his dad, who was moved by his son’s experience and attended a local Alliance club meeting. Soon Josh’s entire family received Christ and all now are active church members who are growing in their newfound faith in Jesus.
Sarah was cutting herself. But the self-inflicted torment could not ease the pain in her heart. Camp counselor Natalie Romalia was asked to help. “When I approached Sarah, she told me that she was having a hard time because her mother had died,” said Romalia. “I brought up losing my brother to suicide, and Sarah said, ‘My mom committed suicide too.'”
That seemed to break the ice between a hurting teenage girl and a high school camp counselor. Natalie’s willingness to share her pain with Sarah immediately built a bridge of hope between the two women.
“We talked longer, and I prayed with her that afternoon,” said Natalie. “That night when other teens were sharing their testimonies, Sarah asked, ‘Would it be okay if I shared?’ I said sure! She stood up and shared a little bit of her story with everyone.”
Sarah’s youth pastor believes this is the beginning of a big breakthrough in her life. At this particular high school camp, too many students to count came to the front during ministry time, weeping with sorrow for their sins and praising God for His unconditional love.
The impact of ARCCG does not begin and end in California. Part of our vision is to become an international training and sending center for The Alliance, taking Alliance camping worldwide. Every winter since 2002, ARCCG has hosted a month-long camp in South Africa that has ministered to more than 6,000 impoverished children. More than 50 percent of them have indicated a desire to have a personal relationship with Christ. Many of these children have AIDS and will never see adulthood. Each one reached represents a life turned from despair to hope in Jesus Christ.
Germaine was a 12-year-old street kid, sniffing glue, selling drugs, and stealing to survive when he came to our first Camp South Africa (CSA) outreach in 2002. Germaine came to Christ during that camp and the following year, he testified that he was drug free, back in school, reading his Bible, and attending a local church-all with no parental care or supervision. It is amazing to observe what the transforming power of God can accomplish in the worst of human circumstances! Germaine now is a spiritually mature 17-year-old and worked as a camp counselor for CSA 2008 last December. He has a passion to reach others for Christ.
International camp workers receive training at ARCCG and go to mission fields like Russia, Romania, Paraguay, and Hawaii. They have a sense of urgency to fulfill the Great Commission and bring back the King. Requests for training abound from all over the globe, and expansion of this vision is limited only by our current financial resources, making your partnership a vital link to building the bridge to future generations.
Stories like Josh, Sarah, and Germaine’s abound at ARCCG, where we are living out The Alliance’s first core value: Lost people matter to God. He wants them found. Life circumstances may differ, but many lives are touched by God during camp!
Jim Blake has served as executive director of Alliance Redwoods Camp and Conference Grounds since 1998. His wife, Christine, is a physical therapist and member of the Camp South Africa 2007 team. College-age daughters Kate and Emily have been campers and summer staffers at Alliance Redwoods since moving to California.
Read about Alliance camping ministries in the March issue of alife
Visit Alliance Redwood’s Web site.
What You Can Do
Pray for Jim Blake and his team as they work through daily details and plan for future ministry. Also, pray for the lives of those impacted for Jesus through ARCCG.
Donate to Alliance Great Commission Ministries