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The Gardners have been ministering in the difficult field of Japan for over 25 years. In 1981, God moved them to Okinawa, one of the most southern Islands of Japan. There they started Grace Baptist Church and in 1993 turned it over to a national pastor. The church continues to prosper. In 1995, they started Faith Baptist Church. All that time, though, Brother Gardner dreamed of having a camp for the people of Okinawa and has been laboring to see this vision come to pass. As a result, they now have a small campsite in northern Okinawa within just minutes from the coastline – really a miracle considering the cost of property and construction in Japan. They have held camp there since 2000.
A team visited for three weeks in the summer of 2002 to conduct a Staff Training Week and assist with two weeks of camp. This situation is unique in that the camp can minister to young people from American military families who live on the island.
Our main goal for the three-week trip was to promote interest in the camp by helping others catch a vision for the impact that a biblically-based camp can make in the lives of young people. We saw progress toward this goal in several ways: by promoting the camp at every opportunity (in churches, staff training and during the camp itself), by training the staff in the biblical philosophy and functions of Christian camping, and by establishing an exciting program as a pattern to be continued for future camps. The Lord blessed in all of these areas and when we left, there was a new excitement about the camp with high expectations already for next year. This spirit was further enhanced when people saw the impact that the actual teen camp had on the lives of the young people who attended. For His own glory, the Lord saw fit to move in the hearts of young people in an unusual way during the teen week and junior week that was held for the military churches of the island. In addition to several salvation decisions, the young people gave a number of moving testimonies about decisions they had made concerning wrong friends, bitterness, music that displeases God, gossip and full surrender to the Lord (several for full-time Christian service). Lord willing, camp will be held for two more weeks in August for the Japanese-speaking churches of the island. It is our desire that these weeks would provide the jump-start needed to advance the camp to its next level of ministry. What a privilege to have a small part in a dream that started so long ago and will continue to be used in the future!
In 2004, high winds severely damaged the main camp building. Through much work and sacrifice, the building has been repaired and continues to be used for camp.
Dan Gardner: 4-9-15 Kakazu, Ginowan-Shi, Okinawa-Ken, JAPAN 901-2226