I remember when summer used to fly by as a kid. After college, ‘summer break’ was no longer and I was working every day, all year round. The summers never flew by as quickly as they used to after graduation. That is, until Jon and I started directing Walnut Ridge Retreat Center. This past summer was the fastest summer of our lives. With groups leaving and arriving with only a couple hours in between, the team at Walnut Ridge was moving quicker than ever. From youth camps, to women’s and men’s groups, to family reunions, to football and cheer camp, June, July, and August were packed full.
At times, it seemed impossible to keep up with all the set-up, cleaning, mowing, pool maintenance, cooking, and fire building…but the Lord always made it come together so perfectly. With His grace and strength, the tasks were completed so His ministry could truly happen. Although we strive to maintain the best facilities here, that is not our goal or our purpose. Just as our mission statement says, we want to “…embrace God, together.”
Here at Walnut Ridge, our main focus is not about how comfortable our beds are, how clean the bathrooms are, or how green the grass is. Our main focus is creating an atmosphere and environment that will provide opportunities for people to encounter the peace of God, the power of relationships, and the purpose of one's life. It just so happens that the beds, bathrooms, and grass all help make that environment possible. But the root of the atmosphere comes from the Holy Spirit - not our facilities.
So, while the summer was flying by, we made sure to pray for every group that stepped foot on our property as well as for our team to be adequately spiritually prepared for any needs a group may have. We know our efforts have paid off because of just one testimony we received from a youth group in Westfield that will be returning next summer, too! Their pastor said,
“We had a freshman who has come off and on to youth group over the past couple years. He got saved this past week and even in the short time we’ve been back, I’ve definitely seen a transformation in him. Also, as a whole, our group has grown a lot closer together. I’ve heard from many parents and students about how impactful this past week was.”
This testimony perfectly illustrates why we love camp. There is no other ministry like it. There is no other place people can escape to, away from worldly distractions while surrounded by God’s creation other than a Christian camp. That is why we choose to do all the work that it takes to keep this place running. We do this because Christian camp is one of the most unique and effective ways to win souls for Jesus Christ. We pride ourselves in offering the best facilities possible; but we aren’t solely focused on our facilities, we’re simply focused on eternity.