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Kelly and I have the wonderful privilege of working with some very dear and faithful missionaries, Dan and Terry Gardner.   The Gardners have been ministering in the difficult field of Japan for over 25 years and we greatly enjoyed getting to know them and learning from our time with them.  For 10 years, Brother Gardner has 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.  Although our part seems so small in comparison to such dedication, we trust that the Camps Abroad program was able to contribute to the further development of the Okinawa Bible Camp for the glory of God.

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 towards 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!

Report by Matt Collier

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