Africa embraced as Fuge camp's 5-year focus
JOHANNESBURG (BP)--A group of 26 young people spent their spring break in South Africa to catch a vision for using Fuge camps to touch Sub-Saharan Africa with God's love.
Organizers aimed to raise awareness in this summer's camps about physical and spiritual needs from a global perspective, said Joe Hicks, LifeWay Christian Resources team leader for student events.
"We want to challenge students [at Fuge camps] to listen to God and then to pray for missions, give to missions and possibly even go on an international mission trip," Hicks said.
Since its first Fuge camp in 1979, LifeWay Christian Resources has developed six different Fuge summer camps to engage young people from the third grade through college in God's Word and His global vision. Over the past 27 years Fuge campers have donated nearly $10 million toward world missions. Each summer's gifts support the work of the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board.
For the past five years Fuge camps have directed their international missions focus toward the Roma people of Central and Eastern Europe. Now Fuge is kicking off a five-year partnership with the peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa.
College and seminary students who serve as Fuge camp directors visited South Africa in March to build relationships and assess specific needs that the Fuge missions offering could meet. The leaders were dispersed between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Soweto (the nation's largest township) to discover ways to spark a fire in the hearts of the next generation of campers.
"Our goal is to ignite these youth to have a passion for the Gospel, and to be a Christ-follower, whether it's in Africa, Germany or in their hometown," said Audra Long, director of Fuge Combo Camp at Mississippi College this summer.
Fuge camps partnered with the International Mission Board's International World Changers to send students on mission trips to minister to the Roma people during the now-concluded five-year initiative. Now, once Fuge campers hear about Africa this summer, leaders will identify future IWC opportunities for campers to go on mission in Sub-Saharan Africa.
"We feel that over the course of five summers, students will have a better understanding of the needs in Africa, and their heart will have a special place for the ministry needs in that part of the world," Hicks said.
Rachel Trammell, development director of Fuge Combo Camp at the University of Mobile, was surprised to discover that, while the physical needs of Africans and Americans may be different, their spiritual needs are the same.
"In their eyes I'm a rich white American, which is not really true in my eyes," Trammell said. "But the ground is level at the foot of the cross. We're both in desperate need of a Savior, even though we are completely different people from completely different backgrounds."
Before the team in Johannesburg got involved in inner-city ministry for the week, they accompanied Kurt Holiday, IMB urban strategy leader for South Africa, to the local Baptist seminary to engage in conversation with students about how God is moving in South Africa.
Henry Dutton of Bristol, Tenn., is currently in seminary and was enlightened to meet people on the other side of the world who are in the same situation he is in.
"God is working in their lives and giving them a passion for the Gospel just like He is in my life," said Dutton, who will travel the Southeast U.S. as director of CentriKid 6. "It's really eye-opening to make those connections and see that God is working and that He is raising up people to fulfill the Great Commission, not just in our neck of the woods, but all around the world."
At each Fuge camp throughout the summer a missions offering is taken to help fulfill the Great Commission from home. For the next five years, the offerings will include mission projects in Sub-Saharan Africa.
"We would love to see churches get behind this mission offering, and possibly even have adults back home who are willing to match the mission offering their youth are giving at camp," Hicks said.
Even if churches cannot give financially, Hicks asks that Southern Baptists pray for students and adults to be open to what God is asking them to do this summer, "even if they have to change everything."
Riley Reynolds is an International Mission Board semester missionary serving in Africa. To learn more about missions in Sub-Saharan Africa, visit imbafrica.org. To learn more about Fuge camps, visit fuge.com.