By By Andy Kanengiser
Taking part in summer camp at Mississippi College proved to be quite a blessing for 17-year-old Bethany Miller of Meridian.
As a Mission Fuge camper in July, Bethany visited a nursing home, a metro Jackson soup kitchen, and thrift store while ministering to a variety of Mississippians. Attending worship services led by a powerful Christian band on stage at Swor Auditorium added zest to her life changing experience.
“The whole experience was surreal and I am more prepared than ever to return home and share the Light of God with people in my own home of Meridian,’’ said Bethany, a member of Faith Baptist Church. “The worship services were like what the Bible describes Heaven to be like.’’
A senior at Calvary Christian School, Bethany spoke for many in the 21- member camp delegation from the Meridian church.
“I have a new fire for God that I pray will never fade,’’ Bethany said.
With roots dating back to 1951, Faith Baptist Church is a “body of believers that are on a mission to make disciples and make a difference in the world," according to a press release.
During their week spent living at Mississippi College residence halls, doing Bible study, and serving the community, the Mission Fuge camp certainly made a big difference in the lives of teen-age students, parents, and youth leaders from the church located off Highway 19 North, attendees said.
“Fuge allowed me to be more social, and open to serve others,’’ said Karsen Lumpkin, 13, a ninth grader at Calvary Christian School. “It showed me that we should be thankful for what we have, because there are people out there that don’t have anything.’’
An 8th grader at Enterprise Middle School, Milisen Tvarkunas left Baptist-affiliated Mississippi College filled with many spiritually rewarding experiences. Even the Central Mississippi weather was a little cooler than usual for the Meridian visitors, part of the wave of 6,000 MC campers from 14 states in June and July.
“I grew closer to God and to my youth group at the same time,’’ Milisen said. “The staff was amazing and I’m positive the worship services touched everyone’s heart.’’
Faith Baptist Church sent a delegation of 16 youth campers and five adult chaperones to the Clinton campus. Parents returned home to Lauderdale County with a new sense of energy for God, closeness to each other and a greater desire to spread the message of Jesus Christ.
“We had several of our students open up at Bible study time,’’ parent Debbie Lane said. “My prayer is for continued spiritual growth and unity within them.’’
The Fuge camp staff deserves much of the credit for an enriching week combined with the videos, sermons, daily mission trips and other activities that kept the campers busy from day one, Lane said.
“The Fuge staff was great. They were all on fire for the Lord, from the arrival in the parking lot until we left on Thursday morning,’’ Lane said. “ They genuinely loved the Lord and wanted the students to know Him and grow spiritually.’’
In a number of instances, the summer camp experience helps convince high school and middle school kids to enroll as students at Mississippi College.
Nicola Callahan will become a Mississippi College sophomore in late August. “After going to MC two times during her high school years, she fell in love with the campus,’’ said her father, Shane Callahan, a Faith Baptist Church member and chief information officer at Citizens National Bank. “This past week was my son’s first year to attend FUGE at MC. I hope he will follow his sister’s footsteps one day in attending Mississippi College.’’
One of the Fuge camps around the USA supported by the Southern Baptist Convention and local Baptist churches, the summer camps have been a vital part of the Mississippi College landscape for many years, according to the press release.
Taylor Slay, 14, of West Lauderdale, couldn’t have been more pleased with his first visit to summer camp at the Christian university.
“It was very fast paced, and we were constantly doing things,’’ Taylor said. “I really enjoyed my track with the children. It was a true blessing when a little girl told me she loved me. I can’t wait to go back on the next trip.’’
Summer camp season comes to an end at Mississippi College in a few days. Starting Monday July 15, MC began hosting its Super Summer camps for more than 1,100 Baptist youth from churches around the Magnolia State.
Supported by the Mississippi Baptist Convention, Super Summer is designed to build leadership skills, promote athletic competition, focus on Bible study, and help young people expand their love for Jesus Christ.