Published July 10, 2014
FORSYTH — The challenge was daunting when first issued more than 2,000 years ago. The same challenge remains so today, but by most accounts, accomplishing Acts 1:8 is within reach.
The key may be in the hearts and hands of today’s Royal Ambassadors (RA) and Challengers.
The current population of unengaged and unreached people groups (UUPGs) is more than 4 billion. This number represents people groups where less than 2% are evangelical Christians, according to the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board (IMB). An estimated 424 million have no one with a church-planting strategy to reach them with the Gospel. Of those, many reside in the “uttermost parts of the earth.”
In 2007, the IMB asked the North American Mission Board’s Mission Education Team for help. The number of males applying for mission service was declining, and few had the skill set to penetrate the last frontier of missions. With the Mission Education Team’s background in missions for boys and campcraft, they took the challenge and produced a new curriculum called The Last Frontier Survival Manual.
Camp Kaleo expands missions prep
Georgia Baptist Convention state missionary Mike Flowers felt that summer programs at Camp Kaleo could no longer be business as usual. The time had come to challenge campers on another level.
“I wanted the boys to realize that we have to be trained and equipped to take the Gospel message to the furthest reaches of the world,” said Flowers, who has directed Camp Kaleo for 13 years and likens the survival training exercise to an amazing race.
Instead of setting up store-bought tents, the boys learn how to create their shelter. They learn how to make fires and cook their meals. Water purification and other skills, including first aid, help round out the learning.
Nolan Jackson, from Danville Baptist Church in Jeffersonville, is a first year Camp Kaleo staffer after attending for six years. He values the added depth of the new survival-training curriculum.
“When worse comes to worse, how are you going to make it? When you get lost, and there’s nobody but you and you’re stuck, how are you going to survive?” Jackson asked. “These are the skills you’ll need.
“This will help prepare the campers for when they do go into the mission field. They will actually know what to expect.”
Though the campers are young, Jackson said they are comfortable with the challenges.
“We’ve worked really hard to make it a fun summer camp environment while teaching them what they need to know,” Jackson said.
Camp Kaleo summer staffer Landrum Counselman grew up in Mali in West Africa where his family served with IMB.
“In the past we focused more on traditional RA stuff [at Camp Kaleo],” said Counselman, whose home church is Millen Baptist near Statesboro. “We’re taking the same skills and ideas as far as fire building, and we’re adding shelter making and water purification and bringing in more of a survival theme.
“It’s like the Bible,” Counselman added. “It’s not just head knowledge, it’s heart knowledge, too, so they can use it to survive.”
He has seen a need for these skills in Mali.
“You can use any of these skills on the mission field,” Counselman said.
But implementation is not just limited to international missions.
“You can even go to downtown Atlanta and find people who live in tarps and shelters,” Counselman said.
Flowers and his staffers have kept the survival training basic. The goal is to build each year to challenge returning campers as they grow their skills.
“My hope is that [someday] they would be willing to do whatever it takes by all means possible to win one soul to Jesus Christ,” Flowers said.
With that attitude and commitment, finishing the task is within reach.
Jim Burton is a photojournalist living in Cumming. He served as NAMB’s Mission Education team leader during the development of The Last Frontier Survival Training Manual, which is available at www.namb.net/survival. Camp Kaleo receives support through the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program funds.
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