MKs prepare for college during re-entry retreat at Falls Creek

DAVIS—Some 75 members of an unusual “family” gathered for a reunion of sorts Aug. 6-9 at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center, although most of them had never met one another. Missionary kids (MKs) returning to the United States to attend college gathered at this camp in the Arbuckle Mountains—most of them wide-eyed and nervous at first; a few anxious to renew acquaintances with old friends—to attend the MK Re-Entry Retreat. The annual event is organized by the International Mission Board (IMB) and hosted on a rotating basis by state Baptist conventions and their Woman’s Missionary Unions (WMU). It was funded this year by a $5,000 grant from the national WMU organization and $10,000 from the Edna McMillan Oklahoma State Missions Offering. Linda Whitworth, associate director of stateside training at the IMB Learning Center in Richmond, Va., has coordinated the retreats for the past 13 years. “We try to prepare the MKs for reverse culture shock for American life, and how customs are different here than what they have grown up with,” Whitworth said. “We also try to re-emphasize God’s faithfulness and His love for them and how He is going to provide for them. Many of them are going to be separated from their families and it’s much like a normal college transition, but (it’s) combined with families very far away and them coming from a different world view and culture.” While the MKs will be almost indistinguishable from other college students, they are a breed apart, Whitworth explained. “Here, they look the part; they look like normal American kids, and, yet, they’re so different,” she said. “So, we bring them to a safe place where they can interact with older MKs who have successfully done it, are strong in their faith and are active in their church and ministry and they are able to ask them questions and interact with them. Then, after this is over,  our small group leaders serve as a support system for them during their college year. They can call them at any time for assistance.” One student familiar with the program is “Nate,” who came to Falls Creek as a team leader after going through the retreat a year ago. He led a group of 10 MKs. “It’s  a way for them to bond and get to know each other. We have time during the few days we have here together to just talk and learn together,” he said. Also, activities help the MKs, who mostly came from Asia, Africa, Europe the Middle East and South America, form bonds. Included were a scavenger hunt called the Amazing Race, which led the eight teams all over the Falls Creek campus, a dodgeball tournament, a boat building competition and an Oklahoma-style party complete with barbecue and mechanical bull rides, courtesy of Ardmore, Rawhide Cowboy Church. “There’s a phrase we use—third culture kids,” Nate said. “What it means is your parents are from one culture and you grew up in another culture, so a lot of these kids develop a third culture within themselves, which is a combination of that. “It’s a culture nobody else has because it’s unique to you. So, this (retreat) is one of the few places where you fit in with other people who have that third culture, too. That’s a big deal for an MK, because on the outside, they seem to really fit in well. On the outside, most of them look to be American, but on the inside, they don’t really fit in here. “There are some kids born over there, and some who moved there when they were...

read more

2013 Indian Falls Creek makes impact

DAVIS—For more than 65 years, the Indian Falls Creek (IFC) Baptist Assembly has acted as a powerful time for missions, ministry and equipping Native Americans from across Oklahoma and the United States. More than 2,300 attended the 2013 Assembly, meeting July 28-Aug. 1, representing hundreds of churches and dozens of tribes. The 2013 IFC, which was home to a variety of daily activities, Bible studies and fellowship, was historic in various ways. On July 29, Anthony L. Jordan, Executive Director-Treasurer for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) unveiled a new book specifically about the history of IFC. Called Making A Difference: The Impact of Indian Falls Creek, the book, which was commissioned by the BGCO, was written by Oklahoma State University history professor Michael D. Thompson and traces the story and impact of IFC. “This is the largest and greatest gathering of Native American Christians in the country, and Thompson has written a compelling and excellent telling of its rich history and importance,” said Jordan. “It is such a blessing to see how God has used Indian Falls Creek to make a tremendous impact.” Jordan, who presented book copies to IFC and Native American leaders Victor Cope and Bill Barnett, also announced that the BGCO has established a full-time staff position of Native American specialist and that Emerson Falls, pastor of Oklahoma City, Glorieta, will fill that position. “There’s no more capable and respected leader than  Falls,” said Jordan. “In his role, he will focus on leadership develop among our Native peoples, church revitalization and continue the emphasis in church planting.” Falls, who has served in a number of leadership roles with the Southern Baptist Convention, including as BGCO President, will make the transition from the pastorate to this role beginning in September. “I appreciate your confidence, and I covet your prayers,” said Falls, to the IFC assembly who received the news with grand applause. The IFC camp pastor was James Swain, who serves as director for Falls Creek Conference Centers. Preaching out of Romans and basing his sermon on the IFC theme of “Gone Fishing” (Matt. 4:19), Swain said, “Christ called us to be fishers of men. “When fishermen don’t fish, they fight. As I look out among our churches nationwide, it saddens me to see we have more people fighting than fishing,” he said. During the morning and evening worship service, IFC participants were presented with the Gospel and given an opportunity to respond. Many decisions for Christ were made. One attendee, Kate, from Lawton who is a member of the Comanche tribe, brought her grandchildren to the intergenerational camp, had lost her sister just days before camp. “My sister passed away on Sunday,” she said through tears. “It was hard, but we still came to camp and my grandson prayed to receive Christ.” Another attendee, Josh Leadingfox, came all of the way from Florida. “Our church (Immokalee First Seminole) brought 20 this year,” he said. “Indian Falls Creek means so much to me. It is where I accepted Christ. It is where I was called to the ministry. It is where I met my wife,” said the 28-year-old pastor. Many of the tribes were able to present songs in their native tongue during the services, where attendees also enjoyed music from other groups, such as the Joyful Sound special needs choir from Edmond, Henderson Hills. “Indian Falls Creek belongs to all,” said IFC Board of Directors Chairman Bill Barnett. “As members of nations gather this week, we believe our God will work marvelous deed among us.” At the time of this writing, there were 100 professions of...

read more