These two numbers - 668 and 13,787 - are of great importance to Crossings and Kentucky Baptists.
First, the 668. When campers arrive at Cedarmore and Jonathan Creek on May 30, it will have been 668 days since we last saw campers at either place. Due to the pandemic, we’ve gone almost two years with no students, no kids getting to enjoy “The Crossings Experience.”
The next number — 13,787 — represents the number of campers registered for camp this summer! That’s amazing as we come out of COVID!
To appreciate our sense of gratitude for God’s blessings, we go back in time for a brief history lesson on where our “assemblies” were 24 years ago.
In fall of 1997, after great and prayerful deliberation, the Kentucky Baptist Convention deeded Cedarmore and Jonathan Creek to a newly created entity, Kentucky Baptist Assemblies.
After a couple of years of study and discussion, Kentucky Baptists had reached a heartfelt conclusion that God was not through changing lives at either of our two camp and retreat properties. Those who were around Kentucky Baptist life in the 1990s will remember the annual meeting in Owensboro in fall of 1996 when those in attendance strongly voted not to sell Cedarmore.
A board of directors was set up to lead the new entity. That board was mostly pastors who knew only a little about camp and conference ministry. However, what they did know and believe was that God had a plan for Cedarmore and Jonathan Creek to thrive and provide a place for people to retreat and experience God in unprecedented ways.
The overall board knew little about camp. Neither did I! However, I was blessed to become a part of that team as president and CEO. Those of us around in the beginning prayerfully sought God’s perspective on what a new camp ministry might look like. After a year or so, that vision became clear — we would build a camp ministry unlike anything Kentucky Baptists had seen before, a camp that was designed to appeal to unchurched kids who did not know Jesus! The vision was compelling, exciting and mouth-watering! We sought to cast that vision to anyone who would listen. And many did listen, and a couple of years later we were hosting thousands of Crossings campers every summer.
Now, 21 years after Crossings began in 2000, we celebrate the value of vision. We have stayed true to the vision that God gave us in the beginning. President Lance Howerton and our entire Crossings team understands and “gets it.” Those attending Crossings will find themselves immersed in the gospel throughout the day. To be sure, it’s a fun and exciting experience as well. If students do not know Jesus when they arrive, they will have every opportunity to meet Him before camp is over. And hundreds and hundreds do meet Him for the first time.
The incredible blessing of God on Crossings Camps is truly a remarkable testimony to the power of God and the value of vision. Twenty-one years after the vision for Crossings began to come into clear focus, we’ve had 163,151 campers attend summer camp. 8,750 campers have crossed over into eternal life (John 5:24, from which we got our name)! Through the generous gifts of our campers, Crossings has passed on $1,771,406 to missions causes literally all over the world.
If you haven’t seen Cedarmore or Jonathan Creek in the 24 years since we took possession, you wouldn’t recognize either place. We’ve made more than $19,000,000 in capital improvements!
Consider this an invitation to call me and arrange a trip to Cedarmore or Jonathan Creek this summer. Come and spend an afternoon and evening with us and witness for yourself how God works in the hearts of campers. Experience an evening of worship in the midst of hundreds of students hearing the Word of God clearly proclaimed and the unbridled enthusiastic praise they offer to God.
Contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by cell at 502-671-9311. I’d love to show you around and tell you more about the vision of where we are headed in the future.
As we sang so often two years ago (yes, two years!), He has done, He is doing, He will do great things when His vision for us becomes our vision for His glory.
Rusty Ellison is vice president of development for Crossings.