Still Developing: In His timing

“For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45 HCSB) While God’s plan may not be readily evident, we accept from the Father both the sun and rain in His timing. Growing up and pastoring in Oklahoma most of my life, it was difficult to hear that a week of Falls Creek summer camp had to be cancelled. After the recent devastating flooding at Falls Creek, hundreds of volunteers and Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center summer staff repaired the camp so Week 5 of Falls Creek could take place. Because of God, the BGCO staff and many friends, a herculean task was accomplished in the past two weeks. We praise God and applaud the work of the hundreds who have made the remaining weeks of Falls Creek encampment possible. Thousands of young people are happy these volunteers and staff worked as hard as they did. One grandmother at church asked me if her 13-year-old grandson, who was looking forward to his first year at Falls Creek, was going to have to miss attending camp this year. At the time, I didn’t know. Last week, her grandson and thousands of other campers were able to attend and hear the Gospel presented in many ways. Since the opening of the R.A. Young Tabernacle in 2007, 51,000 young people have heard God’s call in this hallowed place. Of that number, 17,000 have answered the call to salvation and 8,000 have answered the call to ministry. More people have surrendered their lives to missions at Falls Creek than any other place on the face of the Earth. Because of the extraordinary efforts of many workers over the last two weeks, hundreds more decisions will be added to those historic numbers. The way Oklahoma Baptists have built and rebuilt Falls Creek across the years, physically and spiritually, has been with historic Baptist cooperation, many hours of sweat equity and the generosity of countless Falls Creek donors. While construction has halted temporarily for the summer, the construction crews will be back after the camps end to complete the Thompson Family Lodge and the Mathena Family Event Center by the end of the year. While those buildings are paid for, the rooms inside must be furnished and that is where we need your help today. Also, because of the Downing $2.3 million matching fund, your gift of any size will be doubled, which means $1 becomes $2 and $10,000 become $20,000. Please pray about sponsoring a room in the Thompson Family Lodge through a three-year pledge or a one-time gift today and make the most of your donation dollars with the Downing matching fund’s doubling influence. Remember, your gifts to the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign are not merely about the buildings, but mainly about the lives of people who are eternally changed in those buildings. Your gift today will answer the question of the next grandmother who asks whether Falls Creek will be ready for her grandchild. This recent flood event may be a gentle nudge that this is the time for you to give to the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign. Please ask the Lord what your gift should be to help complete the inside of the buildings and pay off the debt on the R.A. Young Tabernacle. The Lord’s timing is always best for us. When we cannot see what is ahead, we can see His hand all around us working for our good. Contact me for more information about your gift for the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign at 405/516-4868,...

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Still developing: The most exciting thing

If you attended Falls Creek as a youth, you will remember the excitement building in your heart as you anticipated being at Falls Creek. The first week of Falls Creek summer youth encampment is already in the books—ours and Heaven’s. The first week of camp is an exciting week at Falls Creek for a number of reasons. As they have for nearly 100 years, young people have the opportunity to hear the Gospel message and to respond to the call of Jesus on their lives. What is more exciting than someone getting saved at Falls Creek? Not much! Jesus is recorded in Luke 15:10 saying, “I tell you, in the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.” Heaven is excited about young people’s salvation, and we should be as well. If salvation of young people doesn’t build a fire of excitement in your soul, as the old time evangelists used to say, “Your wood must be wet!” Salvation is exciting! This week, there are plans on June 11 to dedicate three buildings: the Sports Pavilion Complex, the Kannady Family Lodge and the Jordan Welcome Center. With the dedication of these buildings, it is thrilling to see that we are drawing near to completing Phase One of the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign. After the dedication on the 11th, drop by any Thursday during camp and tour the Jordan Welcome Center.  You must see this building to appreciate its beauty and utility for the Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center. In the future, the Welcome Center will be a hub of activity year round. The Kannady Family Lodge is in use now and has been updated in a beautiful and useful way. The Sports Pavilion Complex is also in use for the first time and gives the added protection to attendees in the event of threatening weather. We are approaching the 100th anniversary of the beginning of Falls Creek. In 2017, we will celebrate that anniversary. That’s just two more years, how exciting! Since the opening of the R.A. Young Tabernacle in 2007, 51,000 young people have heard God’s call in this hallowed place. Of that number, 17,000 have answered the call to salvation, and 8,000 have answered the call to ministry. More people have surrendered their lives to missions at Falls Creek than any other place on the face of the earth. That’s certainly a stirring thought! Imagine the excitement of many hundreds more being added to those historic numbers this year! Construction has stopped for the summer on the other two major building projects. But the crews will be back after the camps end to complete the Thompson Family Lodge and the Mathena Family Event Center by the end of the year. While we have those buildings paid for, the rooms must be furnished and that is where we need your help today. Because of the Downing $2.3 million matching fund, your gift of any size will be doubled, which means $1 becomes $2 and $10,000 becomes $20,000. Consider sponsoring a room in the Thompson Family Lodge as a three-year pledge today and make the most of your donation dollars with the Downing matching fund’s doubling influence.  Your gifts to the Centennial Campaign are not about the buildings, but about the lives of people who are eternally changed in those buildings.  The most exciting thing that will happen at Falls Creek in the buildings under construction is that more people can be saved. Amen to that! Contact me for more information about your gift for the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign at...

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Still developing: Here they come

“Here they come” or “they’re here”—in horror movie genre, these expressions strike fear into movie and TV characters and into their audiences as well. Something is coming, and it can’t be good. We hold on tighter to our seats, and our hearts race a little faster in anticipation of something bad happening to the hero or heroine. Knowing something is about to happen and wondering what the characters will do to fend off the impending peril brings tension and makes the plot more interesting. But the phrases “here they come” or “they’re here” in a different context can create a completely different level of anticipation and response. Recently, my oldest daughter and our only granddaughter came for a visit. Certainly you can imagine, as any doting grandfather would, I watched with great anticipation for their arrival, and then I uttered the phrases “here they come” and “they’re here.” The response was not one of fear, but one of great joy that something good was about to happen. Soon, I would be showering love on my family. My heart was racing faster, yes, but it was for the moment when we saw their faces and held them closely. Almost 100 years ago in 1917, Oklahoma Baptists J.B. Rounds and W.D. Moorer saw the need to prepare a place for the young people of Oklahoma. Their vision was for a place young people could come to learn about Baptist distinctives, about missionary service and to understand who they were in Jesus Christ. I can only imagine the joy Rounds and Moorer felt as the first campers topped the hill on the small hand-hewn trail to Falls Creek. Their hearts must have raced a little faster because of the great joy of seeing these campers and praying that some of them would come to know Jesus. That first year, two young people did come to know Jesus, and today many, many more are following in their footsteps. This summer, Falls Creek staff will utter the words “here they come” or “they’re here.” More than 50,000 people will enter the grounds of Falls Creek during the summer. And not only for the summer, but all year long, people will be coming to Falls Creek. The question is not whether they will come, but the question is, will we be ready when they do? Will the thousands who come strike fear or joy in our hearts? The difference may well be the level of preparedness. The Centennial Campaign is the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s way of preparing for the thousands who will be coming to Falls Creek in the years ahead. The Jordan Welcome Center, the Thompson Family Lodge and the Mathena Family Event Center are preparing Falls Creek for the thousands who are coming. The Mathena Family Event Center is a monolithic dome that will double as a fire shelter and F5 tornado-rated shelter. Through the Centennial Campaign, you have the opportunity to prepare new generations to top the hill into Falls Creek. Our hearts, too, should race a little faster with the anticipation that thousands will come to know Jesus as Savior this summer. These new believers will learn how to walk with the Lord as they attend the encampments at Falls Creek. Your gifts to the Centennial Campaign will ensure that we are prepared to shower the love of Christ on all those who will be attending Falls Creek during the next generation. This summer, and for years to come, help us say, “here they come” and “they’re here.” Your gifts to the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign will help us...

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Still Developing: Making preparations

Recent tornado events in Moore and Sand Springs remind us of the importance of always being prepared for storms in Oklahoma. Although we had been told by news and weather sources that there was a risk of storms on March 25, tornados unexpectedly popped up and caught many people by surprise. Such disasters are a part of living in the heart of Tornado Alley. Most of my life has been spent in either Tulsa or the Oklahoma City metro, either end of Tornado Alley, so I have experienced my fair share of tornados. I’ve lost count of the number of storms we’ve seen over the years. We all remember the large destructive storms and where we were at those moments. If you mention the years of 1999 or 2013, you are sure to hear people recount how those storms affected them personally or their loved ones—stories of harrowing escapes and gratitude when all they lost was property that could be replaced. One thing we all know from living in Oklahoma and watching weather reports is the importance of being ready for the coming storms. Storm preparedness is having a plan to account for the inevitable storms that sweep over the plains of Oklahoma and knowing what to do to escape the ferocity of the storms’ fury. Oklahoma Baptists are well equipped with trained disaster relief members ready to respond to the storms of Oklahoma or across the world. Oklahoma Baptists have prepared for storms in Oklahoma, and the storms of life. Near Davis, there stands the premier Baptist conference center, Falls Creek. Each summer, more than 50,000 people attend eight weeks of youth encampments to hear the gospel message and to grow in their walk with the Lord. Falls Creek is not just a summer camp; it is a year-round conference center, and hosts more than 80,000 people annually. Almost 100 years ago in 1917, Oklahoma Baptists J.B. Rounds and W.D. Moorer saw the need to provide a place for the young people of Oklahoma. Their vision was for a place where young people could learn about Baptist distinctives, missionary service and to understand who they were in Jesus Christ. From the very first meeting and the tent city where the first attendees stayed, to the advanced technology of modern buildings, Falls Creek has met the needs of each generation. The Centennial Campaign includes the Jordan Welcome Center, the Thompson Family Lodge and the Mathena Family Event Center. The Mathena Family Event Center is a monolithic dome that will double as a fire shelter and F5 FEMA-rated storm shelter, capable of accommodating any week’s attendees in an emergency. Through the Centennial Campaign, you can help new generations prepare for the storms of life both physically and spiritually. In these new facilities, many young people will come to know Jesus as Savior and learn how to walk with the Lord as they attend the encampments at Falls Creek. During whatever storms may come, your gift to the Centennial Campaign will ensure that the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma will be equipped for all the needs of those who attend Falls Creek. Contact me about your gift for the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign at 405/516-4868, mharkey@bgco.org, toll free,...

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Still Developing: What will future generations say?

What will future generations say of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO)? Along with other BGCO staff, I was blessed recently in being able to support Anthony Jordan by attending the funeral of his mother, Norma Jordan. It was a privilege to hear him share about the life of this godly woman. During the service, Jordan mentioned her love of Falls Creek. Her Bible had notations making reference to Falls Creek in connection to Moses collecting funds for the Tabernacle. In the margins of both of those passages about the Tabernacle, she wrote the words “Falls Creek.” She hoped that the result of raising money for Falls Creek would be like the outcome of Moses asking for funds for the Tabernacle—a fully-funded place of worship. After spending any time serving with Jordan, it is obvious that he has a passion for Falls Creek. There is no other place like Falls Creek. And if you have attended Falls Creek, you certainly understand why Jordan does, and his mother did, have such a love for the camp. The total effect that Falls Creek has had on the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus will only be known in Heaven someday. But those who love the ministry of Falls Creek, like Mrs. Norma Jordan, know personally the outcome. It is amazing that in the past 97 years, almost 2.3 million people have attended Falls Creek and more than 250,000 total decisions have been made with more than 61,000 of those decisions being professions of faith and more than 34,000 decisions were calls to ministry. Since the opening of the R.A. Young Tabernacle in 2007, 51,000 young people have heard God’s call in that hallowed place; 17,000 youth have answered the call to salvation and 8,000 answered the call to ministry. Jordan shared from Proverbs 31 during his mother’s funeral. What moved me most was when he read from verse 28: “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her” (KJV). It was a wonderful testimony from a loving son regarding his godly upbringing. How many will rise up and call the BGCO blessed for providing a place like Falls Creek? Of those 2.3 million who attended Falls Creek the past 97 years, how many are not only saved but also serving the Lord because of spending one or more summers there? Former IMB President, Jerry Rankin, told Jordan that more missionaries have been called to missions at Falls Creek than anywhere else. Many times in the application process, IMB leadership read the words, “I heard God’s call to missions at Falls Creek.” Kerry Russell, BGCO Chief Financial Officer, was stopped while in Israel by a man who wanted to talk about Falls Creek because he saw the words printed on a jacket Kerry was wearing. To honor Norma Jordan’s love of Falls Creek, the Jordan family has requested, in lieu of flowers, that a gift be given to Falls Creek in her name. Many phone calls asking how people could do just that have been made to the BGCO. As the Jordan family has a love of Falls Creek because of a long and fruitful ministry, many of us, as well, remember the summers listening to God through the ministry of Falls Creek. As the 100th anniversary approaches, now would be a perfect time to show your love of Falls Creek by making a gift or multi-year pledge. Oh, that future generations will rise up and call the BGCO blessed because provision was made for them at Falls Creek. Contact me for more information about your...

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Still Developing: The most expensive Valentine

February is the month we think about those we love and ways we can demonstrate that love. We buy candy, stuffed toys and cards in an attempt to show those we appreciate just how much we love them. We promise our eternal love to someone with a card that costs $8.95 and plays a tune with our chosen sentiment. We hope that when they open the card or gift they understand just how much we love them and that they feel the same way. Last year, the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker came up with a survey on Valentine’s spending. Their poll of 1,504 adults (some of which had household incomes of $100,000 or more) concluded that Americans would spend an average of $213 on their loved ones, and total spending might reach $37 billion! The total number of Hallmark Cards made specifically for Valentine’s day is a whopping 1,400. That’s a lot of love. Try to remember the card you picked out for your sweetheart last year. You probably will have difficultly remembering what your card said and what you gave them, unless you are among the 6 million a year who propose to someone on Valentine’s day; hope that went well for you last year. When you look at the numbers we spend on Valentine ’s Day, it seems that we really do love expressing love. John 3:16 is sort of God’s Valentine to all of us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (KJV). Now that is a real costly expression of love! We sing the following song as an expression of His love; “Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” The most expensive Valentine; Jesus paid it all! Certainly, we need to share this love with others, not only this month but every chance we have. If you want to demonstrate your love for the Savior, consider a gift to the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign, it will accomplish much for the Kingdom. A love gift or pledge toward the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign would enhance the ministry of the Falls Creek Conference Center, which means more people coming to know Jesus as Savor and Lord. Almost 2.3 million have attended Falls Creek in the past 97 years, with more than 250,000 decisions made at Falls Creek. Of those 61,000 were decisions of professions of faith and more than 34,000 decisions were calls to ministry. Since the opening of the R.A. Young Tabernacle in 2007, 51,000 young people have heard God’s call in that hallowed place; 17,000 youth have answered the call to salvation and 8,000 answered the call to ministry. What better way to show your love for the Savior and the Gospel message by giving to the ministry of Falls Creek? Your monthly pledge to Falls Creek Centennial Campaign is easy to set up and would provide for the love of God to be shared in people’s lives for years to come. Unlike candy, your gift to the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign will not add pounds to someone’s waistline. It will add opportunity for people to hear the Gospel and come to know Jesus as Savior. Along with the Valentine’s card, share your testimony often this month of just how Jesus gave this most expensive Valentine’s to you. Contact me for more information about your gift for the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign at 405/516-4868, mharkey@bgco.org, or toll free at...

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