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 Camp History

While on a survey trip to China in 2007, Matt Collier met with Dr. Paul Choo of Singapore. Pastor Choo’s church is heavily involved in missions work throughout Asia. We briefly discussed the potential for camping in China and began pursuing some options there. But as our plans developed, we began to see the benefit of training camp workers in a country with fewer restrictions. We settled on the Philippines for a number of reasons: open access to all surrounding nations, plenty of quality manpower, less overhead, and a foundation of mature churches. Our goal shifted to establishing a prototype camp that could be run by Filipinos and replicated in other countries throughout Asia. Because of the open access, we could eventually use this camp to train workers from countries like Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and even China.

CampsAbroad Involvement

In January 2009, a CampsAbroad team of Matt Collier, Matt Herbster, Steve Leatherwood, and Tim Meals headed to the city of Iloilo. Their goals were to hold training to generate interest in our brand of camping and to begin to lay down a foundation of a biblical philosophy of ministry with our partner churches. After the training, the team split up to run three outreach camps around the island over one weekend in order to give the workers some hands on experience.

One of the largest teams to be sent from CampsAbroad traveled in March 2010: Matt Collier, Matt Herbster, Andrew Stoner, Shane McMullin (videographer) and David Willis.

From 2010

Yesterday was a full day of training. (Before we even got started on the training day I had the privilege to speak to their “seminary students.” There were about 150 of them for chapel at 7:15 a.m. What were they thinking having chapel at that time in the morning? It went great, though! We had a wonderful time.) We are running two tracks of training. We are doing one track of training that is for the E-camps (evangelistic camps).

Anybody who is new or has only attended one E-camp is attending this side of the training. Everyone else is attending a new track of training for something they are calling D-camp (discipleship camps). Both the E-camps and D-camps are weekend camps that are geared towards directly helping the churches in the region where the camp is held. Andrew Stoner and the Filipino camp team have mostly been handling all the training for the E-camps while Matt Collier and I have been handling the training for the D-camp side. We ended the main part of the training around 5:00 pm yesterday. Matt Collier and I quickly ran back to the hotel to change because we were involved in the Wednesday night prayer service. I sang James Koert’s arrangement of “Beneath the Cross” and Matt preached a great message on trusting the power of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4). That service finished around 7:00 p.m. We quickly ran downstairs, grabbed a bite to eat, and started choir practice. I was pleasantly surprised with how well they did. I’m teaching them “All I Ever Want to Be” and “How Sweet the Sound” which is an arrangement of “Amazing Grace”. After finishing choir rehearsal around 8:20 p.m., we had one final preaching time. I was able to speak on 2 Corinthians 12:15—“Spending and Being Spent.” The day finished up around 9:30 p.m., and we headed back to the hotel.

– Report from Matt Herbster.

We just returned from two weekend camps here on the island of Panay. Andrew Stoner and I went north to a village called San Rafael while David Willis and Matt Herbster went south to a town called Antique. Here are some highlights from the “d-camp.” After holding 5 different evangelistic-oriented camps, the leadership team here decided that they needed to help some of the area churches encourage the newly saved young people. Probably around 75% of the campers who attended camp this weekend were saved within the last year at e-camps. The site was a remote Bible school that has been built entirely by nationals. Many of the younger Bible school students attended camp as well.

A highlight of this trip for me was to work closely with Mike and Jeru. Mike is directing the e-camp efforts here—Jeru works with campus ministry, but also helps out with the camps. Andrew and I had a lot of good interaction with them during the camp (as well as a lot of fun). It is so exciting to hear of their dreams for the future of camping in the Philippines and beyond. They did a great job running the camp in their own easy-going style while following a biblical philosophy of ministry. It was a joy to work with them. We are continuing to fine-tune details, but the overall picture is bright.

We ended up having about 120 campers in San Rafael. The campsite was primitive but adequate. Activities were held on a small field on top of a high hill and in a gym-like multi-purpose building. We only ended up chasing a dozen or so balls down the 150’ drop. Basketball in the blazing equatorial sun was the main Freetime event, but two hours about wiped us Americans out! The kids had a blast—didn’t want to leave after camp was done. “Cat in the Hat” was a highlight as we tried to introduce some new games into their repertoire.

We really weren’t sure how much English the kids were going to pick up so we arranged to have a national pastor summarize the messages at the end in their local dialect. Surprisingly, the kids understood English pretty well—it was more a barrier with the younger kids. I think they were shy about speaking English, but they warmed up quickly. We met some dear kids. One young man named Joseph was just starved for attention and love. Apparently, his parents had thrown him out of the house at a young age, and he had been on his own for a while. He wrote me this touching note: “Dear Pastor Matt, Good day, thank you for God’s message that you sowed for us. I thank God that use you to impart His Word because I touch them message and to help me to change my heart. God bless you.”

By the end of the week, we saw 36 young people surrender to full-time Christian service. Others decided to obey the Lord in believer’s baptism. What a joy!

– Report by Matt Collier

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