Lebanon

I Want To Be Like Tom

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Yesterday, I shared a portion of my calling to the camping ministry at First Baptist Church of Pitman, New Jersey.  On my drive home I decided that I needed to share some of my story with you. My calling to the camping ministry began when I was very young.  Of course, at that time, I did not realize that my future was beginning to take root.  As a young boy I attended summer camp weeks at three different camps over three years.  The last camp I attended, as a camper, was Laurel Highlands Baptist Camp.  My counselor was a man named Tom.  Tom was a large round man that had already given many years to serving as a volunteer counselor at Laurel Highlands and had many more to go.  As I look back I am convinced that he was a big man because he needed the extra space for his extra large heart!  Tom was filled with a love for sharing his faith with his campers and anyone that came close enough to hear him.

I was born into an American Baptist family.  I had a lot of good times at my home church and met a lot of very fine people at the church.  I had also attended two different Christian camps prior to attending Laurel Highlands Baptist Camp.  So I was not lacking for Biblical teaching!  Yet, there was something missing even though I did not realize it until I met Tom!

I was a very shy (hard to believe) and backwards boy.  Tom quickly understood that and totally took me under his wing and kept me close.  Boys at that age can be hard on each other and even cruel to each other at times.  But the week I was in that cabin I was protected and safe.  No one could hurt me or harm me while Tom was around.  Not only did we have a lot of fun, we learned our Bible lessons and more about Jesus.  The more I learned about Jesus the more I was convinced that Tom must surely have looked a lot like Jesus!  He was a very kind and loving man who cared deeply about my well-being.  He desired that I be a better person and assured me that I was loved.  Tom showed me a better way to be as a young boy.  Tom was the very first person outside of my own family that I knew loved me for who I was!  It is that love that I experienced as a boy that I desire to share with others.  It became the very beginning of my calling to the camp ministry and eventually lead me to New Jersey and Camp Lebanon.

Tom is not around any more except in my memories and the memories of the many lives that he touched over the years.  Our churches and beloved Camp Lebanon need more Tom's hanging around.  I know Tom was who he was because of who his Lord and Savior was!   Tom loved others because he, too, was loved by the Master, Jesus Christ.

What about you, are you like Tom?  If so, I would challenge you to give a week of your life as a cabin counselor.  You never know who you will impact or where it may lead them!  Maybe, just maybe, Camp Lebanon's future Director will be a camper this summer!

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Most people in a typical ABC church in New Jersey know that Camp Lebanon is a summer camp for kids.  This is a very true.  Yet, Camp Lebanon is more than just a camp for kids.  We host many groups, most on weekends, during the non-summer months. Over the last few years Camp has had a very special relationship with one of the user groups which found our site suitable for their needs.  The Hunterdon Huskies, a competition cheer leader squad, uses Fairmount Hall for their various squads to practice their routines.  The Huskies move back in early in September and stay until their season is over, usually around the first week in December.  The last couple of years the Huskies have had squads make it to the Nationals – they have even won the National tournament!

Last year the Huskies formed a squad for girls with special needs.  They meet once a week and use Roberson Dining Hall for their practices.  This year the squad has grown in size and continues to meet at Camp Lebanon throughout the Fall.

Camp Lebanon is blessed to have the Hunterdon Huskies as a user group.  In fact, they are more than a user group.  They have become like family.  I am proud that, in a small way, Camp Lebanon has helped these girls achieve success through their hard work and commitment towards a goal!  Thank you Huskies for making Camp Lebanon home.

ABCNJ Youth Encouraged to Become Agents for Jesus

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ABCNJ’s Senior High youth conference was held on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at Camp Lebanon.  Sixty five youth and youth leaders from the region gathered to share and reflect on the theme “Special Agents for Jesus Christ: Preparing Youth for Service" based on Ephesians 1:1-4.  The day was filled with praise and worship, speakers, panel and small group discussions. Rev. Erin Phillips, Associate Regional Pastor, welcomed the group and shared the region’s excitement about involving the youth in varies ways throughout the region. Rev. Marella Holmes, Associate Regional Pastor for Youth Ministry, shared a motivating and inspiring word from God. She challenged to youth to accept their assignment from Jesus Christ as an agent to serve the people of God.

2013-04-27 YM 3Four youth from Mount Zion Baptist Church in Newark led the panel discussion about their experience at IMMERSE 2012 conference. They spoke about service projects they participated in while attending the conference. The youth shared how the service projects made a difference in the lives of the people they helped; it changed their worldview and strengthened their faith in God. One of the panelist shared how she gave her life to Christ as a result of the service projects during the IMMERSE 2012 conference.

Ms. Denise Gratzel, ABCNJ Disaster Response Coordinator, shared opportunities in which the youth could serve in the region this summer at work camps in partnership with Habitat for Humanity in areas destroyed by Super Storm Sandy.

Rev. Tamara Davis, ABCNJ “Sacred Safe Spaces” Special Project Coordinator, presented ways in which youth can serve as a Christian example of a healthy relationship with peers in school, the community and church. The conference ended with prayerful reflections and affirmations that we are special agents for Jesus Christ in the Green Cathedral at Camp Lebanon.

Overall the youth and youth leaders were inspired and encouraged to be special agents for Jesus Christ by serving others in their communities, schools churches and ABCNJ region. Everyone had a great time.