An Inside Look at BCM Global Ministries
A Snapshot of BCM’s 2018 Summer Camp Season
BCM International reaches upwards of twenty-five thousand children each year in Bible camps in over two dozen different countries across North and South America, the Caribbean, Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. In countries north of the equator as well as in the equatorial belt, the end of school vacation months of June-August are BCM’s busiest camping season. From Brazil and Peru to the USA and Canada, Ireland and Italy, here is just a small sampling of BCM’s 2018 life-altering summer camp season.
Horseback riding, archery, human foosball, water sports, rock wall climbing, hiking, tug-of-war, are only a sampling of outdoor fun at BCM camps.
1. Human foosball, Cuzco, Peru 2. Night sports BCM camp, Cuzco, Peru 3. Mandaville hunter safety training 4. Horseback riding, Mount Traber Bible Camp 5. Thrill ride, Big Sky Bible Camp, MT 6. Archer, Mount Traber Bible Camp, Nova Scotia 7. Water sports, Mullartown House Kids Camp, Northern Ireland 8. Prison break-i.e. obstacle course at junior camp, Recife Brazil 9. Rock wall climbing, Big Sky Bible Camp, MT 10. Game time at beginners camp, Millstream, ON 11. Marksmanship practice, Mandaville 12. Big ball comes to junior camp, Recife, Brazil; 13. Archery, Cortland Bible Camp, NY 14. Tug of war, Cortland Bible Camp, NY 15. Playing human foosball, Castledaly Manor, Republic of Ireland
Crafts, music, and other activities keep campers busy even indoors.
1. Weekend campfire, Castledaly Manor, Republic of Ireland 2. Camp breakfast, Cuzco, Peru 3. Blackfeet girls cabin show off feet, Sankanac, PA 4. Just loving Streamside, Poconos, PA 5. Meeting Hudson Taylor Centro Maranata , Italy, Junior camp missionary hour 6. Smiles from Camp Promise Handicamp, MT 7. Song Fest, BCM camp, Cuzco, Peru 8. Girl time, Ukraine 9. Crafttime, Streamside, PA 10. City campers meet Godâ€™s creation, Streamside, PA 11. Joys of summer, Big Sky Bible Camp, MT 12. River fun Streamside, Poconos, PA 13. Closing campfire, Millstream, Ontario
The ultimate goal for every week is to bring each camper face-to-face with 11
But summer camp isn’t just about sports and games. Teaching God’s Word, modelling Christ’s love and likeness, and discipling the next generation are priorities of every BCM camping program.
1. Bible study time, BCM camp, Cuzco, Peru 2. Bible time, BCM camp, Cuzco, Peru 3. Cabin devotional girls week, Mandaville, NY 4. Sword drill girls camp, Sankanac, PA 5. Creative Bible lesson, BCM camp, Cuzco, Peru 6. Sword drill, Big Sky Bible Camp, MT 7. Chapel, Mount Traber Bible Camp, Nova Scotia 8. Studying God’s Word, Maranatha, Italy 9. Worship at the lake, girls camp, Big Sky Bible Camp, MT 10. Bible lesson, Centro Maranata, Italy 11. Sharing God’s Good News, BCM camp, Cuzco, Peru 12. Outdoor devotions, Millstream, ON
Jesus Christ and to a personal relationship with a loving heavenly Father. 11
Making Disciples Among
Bolivia’s Teens By: Gladys Echalar with Jeanette Windle “How can I become a missionary?” Andres asked BCM Bolivia missionary Saul Echalar. A member of the Echalars’ Teen Bible club, Andres comes from a difficult home life with an atheist father. But since he’d placed his faith in Jesus Christ, he had grown steadily in his spiritual life. His question took Saul and his wife Gladys back to their own ministry journey.
Saul Echalar and Gladys Ortiz both grew up in Christian homes in Bolivia’s highland city of Cochabamba. Saul and his twin brother David were the sons of Maria Luisa Chacon, national secretary to SIM International, a global evangelical mission with its Bolivia headquarters in Cochabamba. Gladys was the daughter of Daniel Ortiz, then-director of Page 6
Cochabamba’s SIM-founded Seminario Bíblico (Biblical Seminary), her mother Sarvia a nationwide women’s ministry leader and speaker. By elementary school, Saul, his twin brother, and Gladys were classmates at Colegio Evangélico Emanuel, a top Christian school in Cochabamba.
A skilled athlete, Saul by age sixteen was representing Bolivia on international volleyball teams. By the same age, Gladys was in North America, her parents having received a scholarship to attend Talbott Seminary in California. Though a difficult adjustment, the three years spent in a Los Angeles public school gave Gladys a heart for hurting, bullied, abandoned teens. After the family returned to Bolivia, Gladys finished high school at Emanuel,
where she reconnected with childhood friends Saul and David Echalar. With other school friends, they formed a Christian music group, Mi Generación (My Generation), that performed in churches and evangelistic crusades across Bolivia. Saul had also helped found a youth outreach called Christian Athletes, using his sports experience to reach teens with the gospel through volleyball and other sports.
In 1999, Saul and Gladys were married, and over the next seven years their three daughters—Sarai, Raquel, and Jaasiel—were born. Saul started his own computer repair company while Gladys worked in SIM International’s finance office. Both served actively in their large urban church, using their own music experience to train worship leaders as
Images clockwise, starting bottom left: Saul & Gladys Echalar and daughters; Saul Echelar leads volleyball training - Sports Club; Teen discipleship evening; Saul leads Sports Club Bible time
well as teaching Sunday school. Gladys also worked with Christian camping and special needs children. But after more than a decade of marriage, both knew God was calling them to serve in fulltime ministry. Specifically, in reaching at-risk teens and children. Though Saul and Gladys had grown up in middle-class Christian homes, they experienced Bolivia’s deep poverty every time they stepped out onto the streets. The poorest country in South America, Bolivia has a population of over ten million, of which almost half are under the age of eighteen. Fifty percent of Bolivia’s children live in conditions of extreme poverty, many unable to attend school because they enter the work force as early as age 6-7.
Tens of thousands live homeless on the streets of cities like Cochabamba, scrounging for food in garbage dumps or through petty theft, driving away pangs of hunger, thirst, and cold by sniffing glue or cocaine paste. To survive, many join gangs, who introduce them to a life of crime ranging from armed robbery, drug-dealing, and sex trafficking to murder. Without intervention, their life expectancy is poor, their future bleak. Saul and Gladys felt both heartbroken and challenged at the need they saw around them. They also recognized that only Jesus could give these at-risk children long-term hope, peace, and
love. But how to share this good news with them? They began taking seminary courses and training, praying that God would open the door to ministry of his choosing.
It was in 2013 that Saul and Gladys were introduced to BCM International. BCM’s focus on reaching teens and kids through Bible Clubs, camps, and practical outreach matched exactly what they felt God was calling them to do. Gladys’ parents, Daniel and Sarvia Ortiz, had already joined BCM in a regional leadership capacity. That summer, Saul and Gladys traveled to the United States to attend BCM candidate orientation, where they were appointed full-time missionaries. Upon returning to Cochabamba, Saul and Gladys felt overwhelmed by how much need as well as opportunity they saw. They began a strategy of “casting nets” that involved planning bi-monthly events to reach youth ages 11-17 who would never set foot in a church. These have included pizza nights, karaoke, cowboy night, mini-camps, cooking session, game night, other fun activities. The Echalars’ own daughters have been eager volunteers in helping reach their own friends and other teens with the gospel.
One such was a Japanese exchange student who had never heard of salvation in Jesus Christ or seen a Bible.
The three Echalar daughters invited her to a teen Bible club. She enjoyed it so much she began attending Sunday school with them. When she returned to Japan, she took both the gospel of Jesus Christ and a Bible. From this ministry, a core now of a dozen teens who have come to Christ and want to serve God with their skills and gifts are attending a weekly teen Bible club for prayer, Bible study, and discipleship. They are also being trained as leaders to help in other new Bible clubs. Andres is among them. Now at university, he is already making plans to attend seminary to prepare as a missionary.
“Working with these teens is not easy,” Gladys shares. “Some of them have atheist parents, drug addicts and alcoholics in their families, broken homes, abusive family members, etc. Many times Saul has had to answer phones calls at midnight. Kids asking for prayer. Kids asking for protection. Kids crying out in panic. We have been pushed to the limits of our faith and strength. But God is transforming their lives, and in it all, God has become our Refuge, our Strength, our Salvation (Isaiah 41:10).”
Then in late 2017, Saul was approached by some teens who knew his background as a celebrated athlete for his country. Would he be willing to train www.Facebook.com/BCMInternational
them in volleyball? A passion to reach teens for Christ through sports had been in Saul’s heart since he’d helped start a Christian Athletes program in Cochabamba in his young adult years. He agreed to train the boys, but only if he could share the gospel with them. One teen, Rodrigo, came to Christ and is now being discipled through the teen Bible club. But that was just the beginning. The principal of the public school these teens attended contacted Saul. Bolivian public schools are so underfunded that any family who can afford it sends their children to private school. So public school students are typically impoverished, many already having to work to help support their families. Others have to drop out because they can’t pay for books, school materials, uniforms, and other required supplies. Organized sports is a luxury few can afford.
The director asked if Saul would consider training their volleyball team. Saul and Gladys spent time in prayer, asking God for direction before Saul returned with a counterproposal. He would start a Sports Club at the school, teaching children and teens to play
volleyball, if he was granted permission to also share the gospel. The principal took the proposition to the school board, and it was enthusiastically approved. Today Saul trains around forty children and teens three times a week, along with teaching Bible and sharing the gospel. Several children have already received Christ and even invited the Echalars to visit their families to share the gospel with them. The Echalars’ daughters and others from their Teen Bible Club are also participating in this outreach. The Echalars’ long-term vision is to open more Christian sports clubs in other schools, especially public schools that have so few available resources. Saul and Gladys express together, “Abandoned kids aren’t just children who live on the streets, but also kids whose parents just don’t see them, who feel they have to go out searching for love. These kids need to have other options—a place or a group of people they can bond with. People who will show them Jesus’s love.
To reach this goal requires many more volunteers. Saul and Gladys are praying that others will share their dream. Gladys sums up, “We cannot wait to see
what God has for us next! There is so much need of Jesus here in Bolivia, of love, of people who show Jesus in their actions and faith, that we feel impelled to follow God’s commission, which is to MAKE DISCIPLES! Would you like to be part of this story? We are praying for people to partner with us. To share our heart for Bolivian kids. We invite you to join with us in being part of this ministry.” To inquire how you can partner short or long term with the Echalar family and BCM Bolivia, contact Saul and Gladys at email@example.com
Images top down: Cowboy night at teen Bible club; Western theme teen outreach
By Karen Whiting
ANIMAL PUPPETS 101:
TURNING PAPER INTO CHILDRENâ€™S MINISTRY Animal hand puppets made of paper are an easy, inexpensive craft that can be used in any childrenâ€™s ministry regardless of country or language. These little creatures can entertain children while also sharing Bible truths and facts about their own species that reflect human characteristics. That makes these simple folded puppets a great resource for adding fun to any lesson while reinforcing key concepts. A hand puppet cow, for instance, could talk about the cattle on a thousand hills (Palm 50:10) or how one day the cow will graze with the bear (Isaiah 11:7). Let a puppet asks question or misquote the Bible verse so children can laugh and then help the puppet learn.
How to Make a Paper Animal Puppet View online or download at bcmintl.org/animal-puppets-101 Any size sheet of paper can be used. Smaller ones result in smaller puppets and fit tiny hands better.
Fold an 8 1â „2 by 11-inch piece of white paper into thirds lengthwise.
Now fold the white paper in half lengthwise (this will be opposite direction of first folds).
Fold each open end of folded white paper back to center (leaving it folded in four equal parts). This should now form a W shape with openings at both outer ends.
Step 4: Insert fingers in top opening and thumb in the bottom opening. The inside fold now forms the puppetâ€™s mouth. The head will go on top end where fingers are inserted, facing toward the fold. Step 5: Now draw a paper animal head, making its mouth the width of the folded paper (or use one of provided patterns). Cut above the mouth so chin is a separate piece. Make a new chin with an extra inch of paper across the top width. Step 6: Glue head to top of folded paper. Step 7: Glue chin to bottom of folded paper, so chin protrudes out. Step 8: Use markers or crayons to add eyes and lips. Step 9: Inside mouth draw tongue and tonsils.
Puppet Talk We move our mouths by dropping our jaw, and so must a puppet. That means lowering the thumb and keeping the fingers steady. Practice this by keeping a hand on top of the puppet’s head or holding puppet head against the bottom of a table tap. Start with ABCs and move on to words, opening and closing the mouth for each syllable. Movement Puppets are fun because they can move. Bend the wrist, and the puppet’s head moves up and down. Slightly bent down allows the puppet’s eyes to look at children. Wrist flicked backward causes the puppet to look at the sky. Moving the wrist sideways allows the puppet to turn its head, such as to scan the audience or read a book. Moving the arm moves the puppet’s body, even when this might be imaginary. A puppet can walk or jump up and down depending on how the arm is moved. Application There’s no limit to fun and learning that can be done with puppets. Fashion a whole set of animal puppets that live in your region of the world. Let children create their own puppets and puppet shows to share lessons they’ve learned and/or bring a Bible story to life. Share how to move the puppet and model a few good puppet shows. For more puppet and craft ideas, check out Nature Bible Puppet Mania by Karen Whiting
Karen Whiting (www.karenwhiting.com) has been creating crafts, puppets, and dramas for children’s ministry for over forty years and has yet to run out of ideas. An international speaker, she is also author of twenty-five books, including Nature Bible Puppet Mania and Finger Puppet Mania. She studied puppetry under master puppeteers at the Eugene O’Neil Theatre Institute of Puppetry and hosted a television show called Puppets on Parade.
By: Bob Emmett, Director, Mandaville Camp & Retreat Center
A special place lies tucked underneath a towering grove of hemlock trees along the back edge of a two-hundred-acre section of forest plot in northern New York near the Canadian border. It goes by the name of “Pioneer Campsite”, a secluded spot where each year a small group of adventurous boys and their counselors spend a week just enjoying life together. There is no electricity, no running water, no comfortable amenities except for what the boys can carry in or create. And create they do! Within a few hours after arrival, Pioneer Campsite is transformed into an outdoor home-like environment complete
with a kitchen station for food prep and washing dishes, a tool board, firewood supply, and pitched tents. The boys are now prepared to begin learning the skills for successful living in the outback. Pioneer Boys is a program of Mandaville Camp & Retreat Center, a BCM ministry that for more than forty years has been offering traditional summer camping programs along with Adirondack wilderness adventure trips, horsemanship, leadership programs for teens, and more. For the past ten summer seasons, nearly seventy-five boys between the ages of ten to
Images clockwise, starting at left: Pioneer Boys 2018; Pioneer Boys evening campfire; Oven’s first fruits - Pioneer Boys; Tesing out the new oven - Pioneer Boys
thirteen have left a favorable imprint upon this remote section of God’s creation. Along with a Christ-centered living experience, each new group of boys learns practical skills through a specific building project to improve the campsite. Past projects have included construction of lean-tos, an outhouse, three wooden bridges crossing the creek at different locations, and new trails cleared and maintained. But the Pioneer Boy program doesn’t just build projects; it builds boys into godly young men. Each new group of boys learns Christ-centered living through the caring interaction between campers and the nurturing example of two Christian counselors. Following the pattern of Jesus with his own disciples, they do everything together. Not just cooking meals or washing dishes, but learning about God through his Word as well as his beautiful creation. Singing, praying, playing, and getting dirty together all help build a strong bond
and spirit among the boys and their counselors. This summer’s building project was extremely creative and practical—an earthen oven. Sixty pounds of wet clay dug from the creek bed, twohundred-fifty pounds of sand, and straw added for bonding strength produced just the right mud mixture to form this oven. It was constructed atop a sturdy three-feet by four-feet wooden table, also built by the boys. A layer of ceramic fire brick formed the top of the table and serves as the base of the oven. The first attempt to bake in the oven was a success, yielding four loaves of tasty bread. Boys coming to Pioneer Campsite in future seasons will be able to see the fingerprints of their predecessors now baked into the oven’s mud walls. A reminder it was not just an oven being built this summer, but Christ-centered, God-honoring character of the boys who made it.
Celebrating 70/40 In Northern Ireland By: Jeanette Windle with Elizabeth Spence and Dorothy Armstrong, BCM Northern Ireland Board
ay 19, 2018, marked significant events in the United Kingdom, including a royal wedding (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) and England’s 137th Football Cup Final, the oldest national football (soccer in North America) competition in the world. But no less significant were the festivities hosted at BCM Northern Ireland’s camp and retreat centre, Mullartown House, celebrating Mullartown’s fortieth anniversary along with seventy years of BCM ministry in Northern Ireland.
Festivities included a four-course gala banquet the evening before, a men’s brunch, ladies tea, an outdoor barbecue, games and activities for children, and a joint worship service. And of course, the royal wedding couldn’t be missed, so it was broadcast throughout the day on a large screen. “This was a great day of remembering and celebrating God’s immense faithfulness over the past years,” share Elizabeth Spence and Dorothy Armstrong. And indeed, they have much to remember, as both have been involved in BCM outreach across Northern Ireland for more than a halfcentury each. Page 14
BCM ministry in Northern Ireland began in 1948 when a twenty-fiveyear-old single school teacher named Tom McKinstry from Lisburn in Northern Ireland was handed a green and pink brochure for a Christian organization called the Bible Club Movement. Passionate about reaching young people with the good news of Jesus Christ, Tom had begun holding after-school meetings for some of his students in a wooden hall at the rear of the local YWCA. But as attendance grew, it became clear a more structured program was needed. Tom called the contact number on the brochure, which was BCM’s
London office. Impressed that the Bible Club Movement had just the solid Bible teaching and creative children’s program he was looking for, he registered his own children’s meeting as Northern Ireland’s first Bible Club. Over the following years, many more Bible clubs were started across Northern Ireland. BCM ministry began in the Republic of Ireland as well. Bible clubs expanded to children’s evangelistic rallies, children’s ministry training courses, five-day summer Bible clubs, then summer camps. Images, top down: Mullertown House kids camp exercising; Map of Ireland with Northern Irland highlighted; Celebrating Mullartown’s 40th
Throughout these years, Tom McKinstry was also working fulltime as a school teacher. Full-time BCM missionaries from England and Scotland travelled to help out with rallies, training, camps, and other outreaches. But a strength of Tom’s ministry was recruiting countless other volunteers. And they didn’t need to be adult, as Elizabeth Spence and Dorothy Armstrong can testify.
In 1964, Elizabeth Spence and Dorothy Armstrong were barely into their teens when each received an invitation to attend a teen Bible club Tom had started in Lisburn, where both lived. Elizabeth remembers, “Tom came out seven miles every week on his old scooter. We met in the Wee Barn, which was an old Mission Hall without electricity and therefore no heat. We lit kerosene lanterns for light and oil heaters to stay warm. But being involved in Bible Clubs gave us and so many other young people in those day the opportunity to witness and evangelise in our home area and to grow in faith and serving God. That was one of BCM’s blessings to us.”
In 1967, Tom married a young single BCM missionary from England named Joan. At that time, he left his teaching position, and Tom and Joan became Northern Ireland’s first full-time BCM missionaries. They would serve together with BCM for another forty-eight years before Tom entered God’s presence in February 2016. By this time, many of the children in Tom’s original Bible clubs were young adults who were themselves serving as volunteers, including Elizabeth and Dorothy. Dorothy Armstrong was now a teacher while Elizabeth took on a position
with the government civil service. But they continued to serve as well in BCM ministries as well as on the BCM Northern Ireland organizational committee.
Elizabeth sums up: “BCM to us was weekly Bible clubs, camp, children’s tent missions, fiveday open-air clubs, sports days, rallies, inter-club quizzes, workers fellowship meetings, committee meetings—and more. There did have to be some adjustments, such as stopping inter-Bible Club events during the “Troubles” in the 70s and 80s to avoid risk for the children in travelling at night.”
The “Troubles”, as commonly termed, was a thirty-year violent conflict from the late 60s to late 90s between nationalist elements who wanted Northern Ireland to become part of the Republic of Ireland and unionist elements wanting to remain part of Britain. Paramilitaries on both sides engaged in bombings, targeted killings, and political unrest.
“The Troubles were part of life,” Elizabeth goes on to explain. “One summer during camp, a bomb went off in the town, a little too close for comfort as some of the boys were camping outside that night. Several years later, sadly, some children were at camp when the terrible news of their father’s death at the hand of terrorists came through. Thankfully, our own BCM Centre in Lisburn suffered no damage when a nearby bomb damaged the surrounding property. In the midst of all this, our BCM Bible clubs and camps provided a safe haven for children.”
Though Elizabeth and Dorothy attended the same school, they didn’t actually become acquainted until meeting at that Bible club. An acquaintance that would grow into a lifetime friendship and ministry with BCM.
“After just a few weeks,” Dorothy recalls. “Tom had me helping him in a children’s club known as McKeown Street. That was a learning experience!” Elizabeth Spence adds, “Tom would involve us in taking a quiz, teaching a memory verse, then the Bible lesson. After a few months, we were on our own, and Tom moved on to start another club.”
Images clockwise, beginning top left: Early camp, Mullartown; Inviting children to Bible Club - Dorthy Armstrong, middle back; BCM Northern Ireland club 1949- Elizabeth Spence, back right; Tom and Joan McKinstry www.Facebook.com/BCMInternational
Having a central, safe location where summer camps as well as other ministry events could be held was one motivation that prompted the BCM Northern Ireland committee to begin searching for a suitable property of their own. When Mullartown House came on the market, they knew this was God’s answer to their prayers.
“Those of us on the committee were in basic jobs or unsalaried,” Elizabeth remembers now. “Our camp fund stood at just £2000, and here we were, committing to buy a property for £48,000. Tom and Joan McKinstry led us in the amazing experience of trusting God to supply BCM’s needs. In this fortieth anniversary year we acknowledge how utterly faithful is our God. Not just in the provision of funds, but also personnel.”
Listing all the long-term volunteers would fill its own book, including Harry and Christine Dowds, Nigel Mullholland, Judith McKinney, Marcus and Jennifer Suarez, Davy and Heather Morrow, Keith and Ruth Henderson, Carl and Ruth Somerville, Keith and Sharon Parker, Jack Hill, the four Anderson brothers, Ruth and Robert Wishart, and so many more. Added to that are countless numbers who opened their homes for Bible clubs, who taught, who held sword drills, quizzes, choruses, ferried children back and forth, or just sat with the children.
A team for which Scott and Joanna Widman, BCM missionaries since 1990 from the United States, express special thanks. The Widmans arrived at Mullartown House in 2000 just as Tom McKinstry, now in his late seventies, and his wife Joan were retiring (if continuing as active and eager volunteers counts as retirement!), leaving once again only Scott and Joanna as full-time BCM missionaries in Northern Ireland. While many volunteers and interns have filled the gap over the years, the Widmans prayed for more full-time help. And God answered.
When Gemma Hill became a full-time BCM missionary in 2012, serving with the Widmans at Mullartown House was not a new venture for her. Gemma remembers attending her first summer camp at Mullartown when she was just seven years old. Her own mother grew up attending Bible clubs and camps under Tom and Joan McKinstry. Since her first camp, Gemma has yet to miss a single summer at Mullartown. She accepted Christ as Saviour at camp when she was twelve. At sixteen, she became a dorm leader, then counsellor. She served as director of senior teens for ten years and in 2010 became a BCM intern. In 2013, Gemma married Jason Hill, whose great-uncle Jack Hill helped with the founding of Mullartown House. They now have two children.
A graphic designer, Jason had already been volunteering his services to BCM Northern Ireland. In 2015, he joined BCM as a full-time missionary. In 2016, when Scott Widman took on a new role of Ministry Director for Northern Ireland, Jason and Gemma stepped in as directors of Mullartown House. Three more full-time missionaries have since been added to the team, Nate and Rachael Heater, from the United States, and Zak Nicholls from Northern Ireland. Page 16
In 2018 after fifty-four years of service, Elizabeth Spence and Dorothy Armstrong have officially retired as Chairman and Secretary respectively of the BCM Northern Ireland Board, if not as volunteers for camp and other ministries. They too express joy at seeing a new generation of both full-time missionaries and volunteers taking up the baton of BCM ministry in Northern Ireland. They estimate that since its inauguration forty years ago Mullartown House has hosted approximately three hundred weeks of BCM camps along with hundreds camp reunions, church retreats, women’s events, and other Christian outreaches. Tens of thousands have participated in BCM children’s ministries and camps over the last seven decades. Countless former campers and Bible clubbers are today pastors, missionaries in many different countries, church and civic leaders, even city mayors. Elizabeth sums up, “It is impossible to quantify the impact of BCM in individual lives, within the local church, on the mission field, or just in local life here. Northern Ireland is a small place, so often when you are talking to someone and Mullartown is mentioned, the other person has been there themselves or knows of some connection. For example, recently
Dorothy’s car salesman told her he had been to camp there as a child!”
Nate and Rachael Heater, who have now completed eighteen months with BCM Northern Ireland, add, “Probably the most incredible thing we’ve experienced since coming here is simply running into people all over Northern who may not even know BCM, but either attended Mullartown House as a child or have had their kids go there, and they are still walking with the Lord today.”
BCMNI director Scott Widman adds, “As BCM enters its seventieth year in Northern Ireland, it would be difficult to count the number of lives reached for the Lord Jesus. And now from Joanna
and I being the only full-time workers, our numbers have grown to seven, praise God! There is still so much of Northern Ireland that BCM is not reaching. Our vision for the future also includes new workers to reach into these areas. Sound impossible? It would be if I were trusting in my own strength. But we can do all things through Christ, who gives us his strength.” Images page 16, top down: Mullartown aerial view; Mullertown sideview; Jason and Gemma Hill with children Images page 17, top down: Camp slip and slide; Mullartown House teen camp Bible time www.Facebook.com/BCMInternational
The new generation of BCM Northern Ireland missionaries express their own vision for the future. “Our goal for every person who comes through the gates of Mullartown is that they feel valued and be drawn to Christ,” expresses Mullartown House director Gemma Hill. “One thing we’ve learned here is to never make any excuses for the Gospel. Whether a local football group using our new sports hall or some other community event, we want to see glory brought to God, so there will be prayer, a devotional, some other Christian
message that points to God.”
Jason Hill adds, “This is about building a legacy for the next generation to carry forward. My great-uncle worked here at Mullartown beside Tom and Joan McKinstry and others. Now I want to pour into the next generation of children what my elders did for me. It would be lovely to come back in another forty years and see this ministry four times its current size.” Nate and Racheal Heater are working directly with Northern Ireland churches with a goal of expanding existing BCM
ministries for children, youth, adults, and teacher training into new areas. They share, “Our long-term vision is to have a self-reproducing year-round youth and young adult discipleship ministry, partially as follow-up to camp, but primarily as a resource to churches throughout Northern Ireland. We would especially love to see young people coming up through BCM ministries, whether summer camps or others, equipped and passionate to continue reaching out to their peers, families and communities with the gospel.”
Elizabeth and Dorothy admit that Northern Ireland has seen many changes since their early days with BCM, including a drop-off in church and church-related activities, a curbing of Bible teaching in schools, new legislations that place more restrictions on evangelistic outreach. At the same time, BCM ministries and camps are now reaching a greater range of children, including among more disadvantaged families, foster children, immigrants, and non-Christian backgrounds, who are in great need of the gospel message.
“ This has not taken God by surprise,” Elizabeth and Dorothy aff irm together. “And we can be conf ident he will continue the good work he has begun here in Northern Ireland. Two things that encapsulate our vision for Bible Centred Ministries here in Northern Ireland for the years ahead are stated right in the mission’s name—that however we must adapt to f ind new ways to reach young people with the gospel, the Bible will always remain the centre and focus of all we do.” Page 18
Images top down: Heroes of the Faith Camp at Mullartown House; Worship time in new sports hall
Shining For Jesus in Northwestern Myanmar By: Jeanette Windle with Dr. Jacob Mung, BCM Myanmar Director One hundred-fifty-eight children ages eight to fourteen gathered in the Zomi village of New Thalmual in northwestern Myanmar for five fun-filled days of year-end Bible camp April 5-8, 2018 (school year runs June-February in Myanmar). A highland people group of Tibetan-Burmese ethnicity numbering around ten million, the Zomi live scattered throughout the mountainous hill country of northwestern Myanmar, Bangladesh, and northeastern India. In Myanmar, many Zomi have responded to the gospel over several generations of missions outreach, forming a sizeable Christian minority in that area. A number of Zomi Christian youth have attended BCM Myanmarâ€™s Bethel Bible Institute in the capital city of Yangon more than twentythree hundred kilometers south of New Thalmual. One BBI Zomi graduate student invited BCM Myanmar childrenâ€™s ministry director, Miss Kim, to hold a Bible camp for Zomi children in her home region. When Ms. Kim arrived, she found a village of only ninety-three households with another small village of Old Thalmual just three miles away. To see one hundred-fifty-eight children show up for camp meant that virtually every family in the two villages had sent their children!
A local congregation, Evangelical Baptist Church, offered their facility for camp activities. Miss Kim was helped by a team of nine volunteers, including five young adults who had attended or were currently attending BCM Myanmar’s Bethel Bible Institute in Yangon. The daily schedule included Bible lessons, worship, games, and other outdoor sports. The Myanmar school system teaches English as a second language from kindergarten onward, while the Zomi children are already bi-lingual in their own language and Burmese. So they enjoyed learning worship songs and Bible lessons in all three languages. The camp theme was “Shine for Jesus”, a fitting one as by the end of the week, twenty-nine children had made a personal decision to trust Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, while many others who already knew Jesus renewed their commitment to follow him faithfully. BCM country direction Dr. Jacob Mung and his family traveled with the team as well. Dr. Jacob preaching a gospel message each night of camp to a joint children and adult assembly as well as Sunday morning at the hosting church. He shares about the week: “The Lord has done something great through the team, and the longing of these villagers to hear the Word of God is fulfilled. Praise God for what he has done in this village.” Image, page 19: BCM Myanmar campers - Zomi People Images, top down: Camp Bible time - youngest campers; Closing program for parents at BCM Myanmar Camp; Worship session at BCM Myanmar Camp; Camp game time
When Children’s Ministries Grow Up
By: Jeanette Windle with Arnold Maviya, BCM Zimbabwe Director
Five years ago, Arnold and Paulin Maviya with their entire ministry team, a total of ten, were commissioned as BCM’s first missionaries in Zimbabwe, a nation of seventeen million in southern Africa. Their focus was children’s Bible clubs, reaching a total attendance of more than ten thousand a week in rural and remote areas where there were few or no churches (see Braving Lions, Hyenas, and NIV to Reach Zimbabwe’s Children, BCM World, 2014).
But children grow up—and so do children’s ministries. “When you do good outreach programs for children, they come in numbers,” explains Arnold Maviya. “If you continue doing this for five years, the children you started with are now in secondary school or young adult. They no longer fit into children’s Bible clubs, but they still want to be with the leaders who have been teaching them. Most of them have no church to attend with their families. If they want to come to your local church, they may have to travel a long way. The only way to accommodate their needs is to start something more than a children’s club.” So began the transformation of BCM Zimbabwe’s
children’s ministry into a church planting movement. To date, four children’s ministry outreaches have grown into independent churches, pastored directly by Arnold and other members of his team. In prior BCM World coverage (see above article), the story was told of the first such church plant, brought about through the dying petition of a fourteen-year-old Bible club student. That church, named Morning Star, now has one hundredtwenty members. Nor has this involved just the BCM Zimbabwe missionary team. Many of the children’s ministry volunteers in different areas where Arnold’s team held Bible clubs were youth from nearby churches. Five www.Facebook.com/BCMInternational
years later, some of these young volunteers are now pastors while others are leaders in their local churches. Many Bible clubs have now been turned over to such local churches, who in turn can disciple and mentor not just the children, but the growing crop of youth and adults who have come to Christ through the children’s ministries. “We never anticipated any of this when we started these Bible clubs,” Arnold shares now. “We had no strategic plans for what to do when a Bible club graduated into a church. We say jokingly that we have ‘lost’ most of our original children’s club volunteers. But this is because most of them are now pastors or church leaders.” In consequence, Arnold’s own ministry description has changed from overseeing ten thousand children a week in Bible clubs to overseeing BCM Zimbabwe’s own church planting focus as well as networking with other pastors and former team members in the locales where BCM Zimbabwe had started children’s Bible clubs. This has not meant an end to children’s ministry. In fact, the new church plants are overflowing with children, and each church is overseeing its own children’s ministry outreaches instead of depending on the BCM Zimbabwe team to do so. “It is difficult to do children’s ministry without doing church planting,” expresses Arnold. “The opposite is also true. Doing children’s ministry is the easiest and best method of church planting.”
Not all church plants have grown directly from a Bible club. Children themselves move from one place, Arnold explains, whether due to a parent’s change in employment, families relocating to another area, or students transferring to another town for better schools. One such young boy originally attended a church plant called Maranatha pastored by BCM Zimbabwe missionary Garikai. His parents had moved to South Africa, leaving twelve-year-old Norman with his grandmother in a town called Milonga. BCM Zimbabwe missionaries were in Milonga for an evangelistic outreach when they came across Norman, who remembered them. He shared that he had no church to attend in his new community. Arnold made arrangements for Norman to introduce the team to the headman of the community, who welcomed them and in turn introduced them to other area headmen. It wasn’t long before the team was able to arrange an evangelistic outreach, led by another BCM Zimbabwe missionary, Innocent Sibanda. Over several days of preaching, more than twenty people made a commitment to follow Jesus. These new Christians became the nucleus of a new church, pastored by Innocent Sibanda. Norman also brought his own family members and young friends. The church has already grown to more than thirty members, along with children. In November 2017, BCM Afro-Asia regional director, Stephen King and BCM Africa director John Peters
visited Zimbabwe for the baptism of more than one hundred-twenty people from just two of the new church plants. In March 2018, the four direct BCM Zimbabwe church plants held a joint Easter conference with more than three hundred in attendance, including twenty-six delegates from the church started through twelve-yearold Norman just six months earlier. One delegate to the conference was a pregnant young woman who was facing a trip into the city for an emergency Caesarian. Desperate, she asked the BCM leaders to pray that God would intervene for her child without the risky travel and operation. Shortly after prayer, she went into labor and delivered a healthy child without surgical intervention. When people from the community saw how God had answered, many began coming to the church to ask for prayer for their own health needs. Again and again, the BCM Zimbabwe team has seen God miraculously answer those prayers. “These miracles have left us with another problem,” Arnold shares joyously. “More and more people are being saved as the power of God is being seen in the church and the surrounding areas. We can no longer fit the overflow [during the services] into our Sunday school classrooms, so now they have to stand outside to worship, which is especially difficult in the winter [Nov-Feb south of equator]. This is usually the older children, since in our culture, a child doesn’t sit on a chair while their elders are standing. People coming to Jesus is the result of answered
prayers. But we do need to build a larger sanctuary to hold everyone.” Along with church buildings for the new rural church plants, the BCM Zimbabwe team has a vision for a larger complex for their central church, Maranatha, that will also serve as a conference and camp center for all the churches. This would include a sanctuary hall large enough to seat a thousand along with offices for BCM Zimbabwe ministry. The church has already committed to provide the necessary bricks. Still needed is funding for window frames and roofing materials, a total project need of $15,000USD.
Images page 21, top down: Easter conference; Arnold with Pauline, receiving honors degree, Business Management Images below, left to right: New church plant with Norman’s uncle, far right; Sunday service at Maranatha church plant; Arnold Maviya preaching - Easter celebration; Nightime service
Encounter By: Gerlyn de Jesus BCM Philippines National Director
Images, clockwise beginning below: Kenny’s baptism; Kenny, Haydee, and children; Kenny sharing new faith; Kenny’s mug shots; Kenny discipleship training
Encounters are prevalent in the Philippines. These can be between our military and insurgents, men in uniforms with drug barons, or daily encounters with life’s difficult realities. But one testimony from a BCM church plant in General Santos City, the southernmost urban center of the Mindanao island group, gives witness to a very different and lifetransforming encounter.
Thirty-three-old Kenny Alain Bulawan was born into a very religious family in General Santos City, a city of a half-million located on Sarangani Bay, which opens into the Celebes Sea that divides the Philippine island chain from its southern neighbor, Indonesia. So from childhood he had an awareness of God, but did not understand that religiosity is not the same as having an authentic personal encounter with God. As early as age thirteen, Kenny was indulging in alcohol and substance abuse as well as smoking tobacco. He eventually married his college girlfriend Haydee, who bore him three children. But as his various substance abuses went from bad to
worse, he became an abusive husband and irresponsible father. Over the first decade of his adult life, he was imprisoned eleven times for theft and illegal drug use. Eventually, he became infamous enough for thieving that he was banned from one of GSC’s major malls. Then in 2013, a neighbor introduced Kenny to the gospel of Jesus Christ. That neighbor was Ernest Simon, pastor of a BCM church plant in General Santos City. BCM Philippines ministry has planted more than a hundred churches over the last quarter century, organized into a national church association called Bible Centered Fellowship, Inc., of which over half are located in the Philippines’ southern island group of Mindanao. By this point, Kenny was at the lowest point of his life to date, completely broke and unable to pull himself from his addictions. He went through the motions of praying to accept Christ as Savior, but there was no change in his behavior to indicate any reality of God’s presence and Word in his life. By this time Kenny’s mother-in-
law had been introduced to Christ through another BCM church planting missionary, Pastor Ted Veloso. The church plant where Kenny’s neighbor, Pastor Ernest Simon, ministered was actually in a distant part of GSC. But Pastor Ted Veloso’s church was nearby, and Kenny’s wife Haydee and their three children began attending the church as well and soon surrendered their lives to Christ. Together, they began praying that God would intervene in Kenny’s seemingly hopeless condition. But by 2014, he had spiraled downward in his substance abuse to the point of complete helplessness and despair. Eventually, he decided to end his life by consuming a bottle of bleach. A neighbor found him vomiting on the floor. First aid measures proved successful, and he survived.
It was at that point Kenny began thinking, “There must be a reason why God has spared me and I am still alive.” Throughout his recovery, his neighbor, Pastor Ernest Simon, continued to minister to him, sharing God’s love and the gospel message. Haydee and her mother had asked their pastor, Minister Ted Veloso, and the congregation to pray for Kenny as well. For the following two years, family members, BCM church members, and both pastors prayed earnestly, along with fasting, for Ken’s salvation and deliverance from addiction. Then in June 2016, Kenny received an invitation from Pastor Ted Veloso to attend a three-day Journey to the Cross
retreat. Designed for new believers, this retreat is held on a regular basis throughout the BCFi churches as an initial step in the discipleship process. For Mindanao BCFi church plants, it is an annual event at Camp Española, BCM Philippine’s conference, retreat, and camp center as well as Bible Institute some twenty kilometers north of GSC on the skirts of active volcano Mt. Matutum.
Kenny was at first reluctant to attend. But his wife, desperate to see God intervene in her husband’s life, persisted in encouraging him to go. She even promised to purchase him a new mobile phone if he went on the retreat. Thinking a new phone would allow him to get in contact with old friends and go back to his lifestyle, he finally agreed to attend. On June 26, 2016, Kenny arrived at Camp Española with Pastor Ted Veloso and others from the GSC church plants. During the three days of the retreat, he experienced for the first time an authentic encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. He could not hold back his tears as he recognized the extent of his sinfulness and the depth of God’s grace and love. Then and there, Kenny surrendered his life to the Lordship of Christ. Inner peace flooded his heart and soul. That night for the first time in many years, he slept as tranquilly as a small child. This time it was clear to all around Kenny that he had truly experienced an authentic encounter with God. He immediately gave up all his substance
abuse, and amazingly by God’s grace was even delivered from the typical side effects of withdrawal. With healing from addiction came freedom from other wrong lifestyle choices. God also restored broken relationships with his wife, children, and other people around him. On December 22, 2016, Kenny gave public testimony of his transformed life by following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ in water baptism. Since then, he has continued in discipleship under Pastor Ted Veloso and is now involved in various BCM ministry outreaches across Mindanao, including sharing the powerful testimony of a redeemed and transformed life. Today Kenny is training for full-time Christian ministry. He is also assisting Pastor Ted in two BCFI church plants in General Santos City. He and his wife Haydee just recently took charge of a newly-opened house church that meets within their own residential compound. Returning to our original topic of encounters, one thing is clear. A transformed life is the true evidence of an authentic encounter with God. The testimony of Kenny Alain Bulawan is just one story of such encounters and transformed lives through the ministry of BCM Philippine’s church planting and missionary team. Pray with us for many more authentic encounters with God throughout Mindanao and the seven-thousand-plus islands that comprise this beautiful nation.
By: Jeanette Windle with Stephen and Jane King
“Serving The Lord With Joy In Suffering” “Please pray for peace and for trauma healing in the Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Kaduna and
Zamfara states,” a top church leader for ECWA, Nigeria’s largest evangelical denomination, recently wrote BCM missionaries Stephen and Jane King. “Pray too for the Holiday Bible
schools taking place with ECWA across Nigeria at this time and that God will raise a young people who will stand for the Lord and for truth in Nigeria.” The straightforward request for prayer does not begin to encapsulate the horrific context in which it was made. In early July 2018, 238 Christians were slaughtered in a single sustained attack by Muslim jihadists on a dozen Christian villages in Nigeria’s Plateau state near the city of Jos in central Nigeria, where the Kings have held multiple children’s leadership ministry trainings. These bring to a total of over six thousand Nigerian Christians murdered by such attacks in the 2018 calendar year alone. BCM International has been partnering with ECWA (formerly Evangelical Church of West Africa) for the past decade to train children’s ministry
leadership across Nigeria, spearheaded by Stephen and Jane King. Originally founded through the ministry of SIM International (formerly Sudan Interior Mission), ECWA now has more than six thousand church congregations with over ten million members. Thousands of children’s ministry leaders and hundreds of trainers have completed BCM’s In Step with the Master Trainer leadership training course and are now applying that training to raise up further leadership and reach children for Christ across Nigeria. All of which an upsurge in anti-Christian violence is making increasingly difficult. The most populous
Images, left to right: ECWA retreat center in the conflict zone; Burnt-out Nigerian Christian home; ECWA 2018 holiday Bible school; Stephen and Jane King with newest ECWA trainers; ISMT graduate applies training
nation in Africa at almost two hundred million, Nigeria is evenly divided between Muslim and Christian populations, with southern Nigeria majority Christian and northern Nigeria majority Muslim. Since 2000, twelve of Nigeria’s northern states have adopted sharia (Islamic) law, which in turn has led to a steady rise in persecution of Christian minorities there. The kidnapping and forced marriages of hundreds of Christian school girls by Islamic jihadist group Boko Haram has roused international outrage. Less attention has been given to the arming of Fulani herdsmen and their attacks on Christian farming communities, mostly in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, where there are sizeable Christian and Muslim populations, though Christians remain a majority. Tension between the Fulani and Christian farmers is not new, since the Fulani are nomadic pastoralists, who feel they have a historic right to drive their cattle herds through farming land and crops. But for the most part, the two groups coexisted peacefully across Nigeria’s Middle Belt. In fact, many Fulani have turned to Christ. Which in itself has enraged radical Islamist elements among the Fulani, who began organizing into armed
militias with a stated goal to wipe out Christianity in Nigeria, beginning with the Middle Belt. Who is supplying poverty-stricken nomadic herdsmen with AK47s and ammunition is itself a question. In past attacks, Christian villages have been simply massacred, burnt, then abandoned. But now Fulani militants are seizing the land so that survivors cannot return to their homes. In a single four-day spree in June 2018, over ten thousand Christians were burnt out of their homes, farms, and churches just outside the city of Jos, an area where graduates from the King’s ISMT courses have been holding ongoing leadership training and children’s ministry. Just one ECWA pastor shares how his entire village, including two ECWA churches, were burnt to the ground. Of over a hundred who lost their lives, fourteen were from his wife’s family, all burnt to death. Photos sent to the Kings of the aftermath are simply too horrific to publish. “They [Fulani militants] say their cows were stolen, and three hundred [Christian] lives compare to one cow,” writes one of the Kings’ ECWA trainees currently in the conflict zone. “May God help us! So many little children left without parents. Please keep praying!”
In the midst of this, ECWA and other churches have steadfastly continued the task of reaching the Nigerian people for Christ. It says much about the situation they face that this year’s theme for vacationtime children’s outreaches (Holiday Bible School) was not super-heroes, jungle adventures, cowboy rodeos, or deserted islands, but “Joy in Suffering.” Training for this year’s HBS program was held in Jos, center of the conflict zone, July 13-14, 2018. Participants then took that training back to their own churches and regions for six weeks of vacation-time Bible schools, centered around, “Serving the Lord with Joy and Suffering as Children of God.” From August 6th-
12th, ECWA youth fellowships all over Nigeria also held their 2018 Week of Prayer with the same theme. It is against that backdrop that Stephen and Jane King’s former student and ECWA church leader asks for prayer for the Holiday Bible schools taking place across Nigeria and that among countless thousands of children participating, a new generation of young Nigerian Christians will be raised up, willing to take a strong stand in their faith and indeed find joy in serving their Lord even in the midst of suffering.
Additional prayer requests received include: Pray for resources, personnel, and generosity of God’s people to meet needs of the increased flood of widows, orphaned children, and homeless pouring into churches from conflict zones. Pray for displaced Christian families who are in need of protection and provision. Pray for the church to apply wisdom in negotiating peace with the Muslims. Pray for protection of children’s ministry trainees currently ministering where killings are happening. Pray above all for God’s will and grace in the situation. Pray for the entire body of Christ across Nigeria.
Looking To The Next Half-Century At C o rt l a n d B i b l e C l u b C a m p
By: Jeanette Windle
“Cortland Bible Club Camp has always been a huge part of our family,” shares former CBCC director George Mekeel. “My wife Theresa and I both had older sisters who attended the very first camp in 1968. Theresa and I both attended for the first time in 1973. I was eight, but she was only seven, a year too young, so camp director Roger Steele had to give her special permission to attend. For the past fifty summers, there has always been someone from our family at camp—whether Teresa and me, our children, even this past summer two of our nephews.” George and Theresa Mekeel had joined their predecessors, Roger and Barbara Steele, as well as current camp directors Dan and Jeannette Rhoda the weekend of August 17-18, 2018, along with two-hundred-plus former and present camp staff, counselors, and campers to celebrate the past halfcentury of CBCC camping ministry. That ministry began when several BCM missionaries working with Bible Clubs in central New York recognized the spiritual value of offering their clubbers a week-long summer camp as follow-up to the school www.Facebook.com/BCMInternational
year Bible clubs. A search led them to a run-down farm property set against a wilderness backdrop of rich, green forests and rolling hills, and Cortland Bible Club Camp was born. For the first five years, the property was tended by caretakers, Mr. and Mrs. Penner, and BCM missionaries Alice Rasmussen, Eleanor Tromsness, Brena Price, Jeanne Schaufelberg, Jan Aucomagh, Barbara Van Valkenburg, as well as other Bible club missionaries and volunteers, would travel in for the summer months to host children’s camps In 1973, Roger and Barbara Steele moved to the Cortland property as CBBC’s first full-time directors. For the next sixteen years, they introduced their own growing family as well as several thousand children
to the joys of camping and the gospel message. With fulltime leadership, the camp expanded to winter youth and church retreats and other yearround activities. “Over those years we saw at least ten thousand campers come through CBCC,” shares Roger Steele today, “and countless hundreds of decisions to follow Jesus.”
Among CBBC campers were lifetime friends George Mekeel and Mike Miller. Mike’s first summer camp at age eight was 1970. Both George and Mike were campers until they aged out, then became teen maintenance volunteers, then counselors, and other camp leadership positions. While Theresa Mekeel was also at camp every summer, it wasn’t until she too joined camp staff that George and Theresa
became close friends.
By then George was camp program director and already committed to serving God in camp ministry. Theresa remembers well his original marriage proposal standing on the third base of Cortland’s baseball field: “How would you like to be a camp director’s wife?” At the time such a thought was the farthest from Theresa’s mind. But after their marriage, the young couple both joined BCM full-time as missionaries, and in 1989 at the age of twenty-four, George took over directorship of CBCC from the Steeles, a capacity in which the Mekeels served for the next twenty years. During those years and all the way to this past summer, there has always been at least one of their own children, nieces, nephews, or other family member attending CBCC.
In 2010, Dan and Jeannette Rhoda took over as camp directors, moving to Cortland from a background of camping ministry in their home state of Maine. Under their leadership, CBBC continues to host six weeks
of camps each summer along with youth and adult retreats, ministry events from scouting, Awana, or creation science, sports outreaches, and more throughout the rest of the years. One factor that has contributed to Cortland’s ongoing successful ministry has been the faithfulness of countless volunteers, without whom a single full-time BCM missionary couple could never carry out the camp’s busy calendar. Many of today’s volunteers are second and even third generation at CBCC, starting as campers, then coming back as kitchen and maintenance helpers, counselors, summer staff. Among such is Mike Miller, who almost fifty years after his first summer at CBBC remains a vital camp fixture, including helping organize Cortland’s 50th Anniversary weekend.
This included two full days of CBBC alumni enjoying again many fun memories of Cortland camp life, including an archery contest, golf tournament, cookouts, swimming,
hiking, riding the camp’s miniature train, favorite camp games, and a very special CBCC activity—ice blocking. What is ice-blocking and how do you play it at the height of summer? It involves a large block of ice, the hill used for snow sledding in winter, and the rest can be imagined! The weekend ended with a 50th Anniversary banquet at First Baptist Church of Cincinnatus. All three camp director couples—Roger and Barbara Steele, George and Theresa Mekeel, Dan and Jeannette Rhoda— were present, representing forty-five unbroken years of CBCC ministry, as well as all three couple’s adult children who’d grown up at CBBC. They along with many former campers and staff shared memories of how CBCC had impacted their lives. Emceeing the banquet, Mike Miller summed up, “There is simply no way we can comprehend how many lives have been changed through CBCC over the past fifty years. We will never really know the total impact until we get to heaven.”
At the banquet were also many young new camp staff who had just finished a challenging six weeks of 2018’s summer camp program. Barbara Steele, wife of CBCC’s first fulltime camp director Roger Steele, spoke of God’s faithfulness to Cortland in the hard times and the good times over the last fifty years, concluding with a heartfelt challenge to those leading CBBC into its second half-century of ministry: “God has always been faithful, and God will continue to bless this camp as long as its leaders are faithful to him.”
Images, page 29 top down: Early photo of Corland Bible Club Camp; Sports time in the early years; Sports time at CBCC today Images, clockwise beginning below: Two views of Cortland camp currently; Cortland Bible Club Camp in 1968; Ice blocking at Cortland’s 50th; Three generations of CBCC directors at 50th
A Banner Still
Raised High in Spain By: Jeanette Windle
On Saturday, September 15, 2018, more than two hundred-fifty visitors from across Spain and six other countries gathered in the small mountain village of La Granja where the summer palace of Spain’s royal family is located. The occasion—the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Centro Bíblico Betel, dedicated to serving a very different and much greater King. Religious freedom for non-Catholics was sparse in Spain under the thirty-nine-year regime of Generalisimo Francisco Franco when BCM’s first missionary to Spain, Cuban-born Maria Bolet, began serving there (see Raising a Banner High for Spain, BCM World Magazine, Fall, 2007). In fact, Maria was repeatedly expelled from Spain for teaching God’s Word to women and children. But she always returned. When constitutional reforms in 1967 legalized nonCatholic public worship and free exercise of religious beliefs, Maria returned permanently to Spain. In 1968, along with other BCM missionaries now serving in Spain, Maria began looking for a property that would serve as BCM Spain headquarters and a year-round Bible Institute and camp facility. The property God provided was a large, high-walled compound on the very edge of the royal gardens in the historic cobblestoned village that for centuries housed the workforce of the summer palace in high, forested mountains just eighty kilometers from the capital city, Madrid. Fifty years later, Centro Bíblico Betel remains one of Spain’s best-known Christian camp and retreat centers. Tens of thousands of Spanish children have attended summer camps there over the decades, many of them now ministry leaders and Christian professionals all across Spain. They in turn are now sending their own children to camp each summer at Betel. Exploring the royal gardens and woods is always part of the fun. But remaining BiblePage 32
centered and Christ-focused is the priority for which Betel has become known. Celebratory events for Betel’s fiftieth anniversary included a banquet and commemorative assembly at a nearby hotel, along with a reception in the courtyard of Centro Bíblico Betel. A local television news program also covered Betel’s fiftieth anniversary, highlighting the impact the camp has had in the town of La Granja itself as well as across the nation (see interview). Many local churches who have volunteered at the camp along with former staff and campers were in attendance. Among overseas guests were BCM president Marty Windle and BCM Europe director Richard Thompson with his wife Joan as well as retired BCM missionary Evelyn Plett from Canada, who took on leadership from Maria Bolet in 1980 and served as camp director for twenty-six years. Welcoming guests was current director Isabelle Leaitch, also a BCM missionary from Canada, who has served in Spain since 1984 and received the baton of leadership from Evelyn in 2006. Isabelle sees the ongoing role and purpose of Centro Bíblico Betel as an “atalaya”, or a banner in English, such as were once raised in battle or royal procession to identify a king and his party. In Scripture, a banner raised high proclaims God’s presence and truth. It also identifies God’s followers (Exodus 17:15-16; Psalm 20:5, 60:4). For the last half-century, Centro Bíblico Betel has been such a banner raised high. Fiftieth anniversary celebration over, Isabelle’s ongoing vision and that of every BCM missionary and volunteer serving at Centro Bíblico Betel is that its banner continue to be raised high for God in Spain for the coming fifty years or until our Lord’s return. Images left to right: Royal palace, La Granja, Spain; Camp game time in Bethel Courtyard
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