For Pastor David Van Bebber this summer was all about investing in the lives of young people, then watching as God prepared the harvest.
His church sent 22 students to summer camp in late June, and by mid-August saw nine accept Christ and six baptized.
Van Bebber is pastor of Meadowbrook Baptist Church Auburn, Illinois, which averages about 40 on Sunday mornings. He said church members “prayed and worked hard” putting “a lot of emphasis on VBS and summer camp.”
And he believes God rewarded their efforts.
This year’s camp theme was “I am a Follower” taken from John 10:27.
“We talked quite a bit about what it means to be a follower of Christ,” Van Bebber said. “Some of the kids have been thinking about it for quite a while and those were the ones I baptized.”
Laying the groundwork
Church members laid the groundwork for camp on Wednesday nights in the spring through TeamKID and youth group. Van Bebber described church members as “faithful” in how they followed through with hard work and prayer throughout the spring and summer.
He said the nine students who came to Christ “were from families we’ve been working with. The Lord was moving. He started working in their lives.”
One of the teens had been talking with her Sunday school class about accepting Christ. The girl, who had been dealing with anxiety issues, expressed concern about walking down the aisle of the church during the invitation time to make a public commitment to Christ.
“Her Sunday school teacher told her she didn’t have to walk the aisle to be saved,” Van Bebber noted.
One Sunday morning in early August the teen overcame her anxiety and went forward.
“I told her it was a brave thing to do,” Van Bebber said. “Then her brother came forward the next week.”
This was the sixth year the church has partnered with the Illinois Baptist State Association to host summer camp at Streator Baptist Camp. Van Bebber noted students from First Baptist Church Edinburgh and Pasfield Baptist Church of Springfield also made decisions at the camp. Overall, 87 students made professions of faith through IBSA summer camps.
For Van Bebber, faithfulness was key.
“People were being faithful. The Lord was faithful and the Lord gave the harvest,” he said.
Van Bebber is still talking with the families of three other students who want to be baptized, and is excited about what God is doing in the community. The impact of the summer camp has led to decisions outside local youth, he noted.
After one student accepted Christ, her 67-year-old grandfather also made a profession of faith.
“I’ve known the grandpa and been working with him for 22 years,” Van Bebber said.
When his wife heard the news, she rededicated her life to Christ.
“It was very exciting,” Van Bebber said.
“It makes you want to see more and more folks come to Christ and be baptized. You don’t want it to end.”