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Report for Gardner Hall -- July, August 2011

August 28, 2011

Staff and campers from Joe Work's "Sol" (Sons of Light) Camp

Special Gatherings to Encourage Young People

I have had the privilege of participating in three camps this summer. These are not works of the local church and do not accept contributions from them. They are arrangements made by individuals for the opportunity of spending intensive time in Bible study, prayer and conversation with young people, when many of them are at critical points in their lives.

The first camp here in New Jersey, from July 3-9 had 211 in attendance. Our theme was "Be not conformed, but transformed." One young lady was baptized and several more were baptized in their home congregation.
A word about baptisms at camp – We bend over backwards to avoid anything that might encourage the young people to make hasty decisions before they count the costs. If we announce baptisms, we do it as we give a number of other announcements. I’ve found myself almost trying to talk young people out of being baptized when I suspected they weren’t ready.

The second and third camps were designed to give intensive Bible studies for young men and had very little time programmed for recreation. The second camp was my father’s in Russellville, Alabama in late July, which had about a hundred campers plus staff. This was dad’s last year to conduct the camp. Leon Mauldin and Scott Richardson want to conduct a similar camp next year.

The last camp of the summer was directed by Joe Works last week near Hellertown, Pennsylvania and had over sixty young men plus staff. I taught a series on Postmodernism. A young man who attends at the Hispanic congregation in Fair Lawn, Ezequiel Orellana, was baptized in Lake Nockamixon after spending time in study and prayer with a godly young camper.

A mother from Canada reported that her two boys "haven't had their heads out of their Bibles since their return and are both full and overflowing with verses and lessons and stories to tell of the speakers." It is hard to overestimate the benefits that come from spending almost a week in close quarters with godly people. A few campers will lose their enthusiasm after camp, but my experience has taught me that most who make commitments stick with them.

Beverly’s Dad

Beverly’s dad, Herman Cleveland, who has been living with us along with her mother, passed away in Georgia a few weeks ago after going downhill mentally for three or four years. He had a stroke the day before we planned to bring him back up here. After almost a week in hospice care he passed away. Beverly and her mother are taking the loss well. Beverly has been staying with her mother during this time but will be returning here Friday, Lord willing.

Keeping up with local work, meetings

All the camps and Herman’s illness and death have caused me to "tread water" with our local works, teaching publicly almost as much as usual, but having to postpone a number of home studies. I hope to get back to a regular routine with them as we enter into Fall.

Several brethren from Fair Lawn are meeting each Saturday to distribute tracts. Their work has resulted in a new home Bible study.

We have meetings during the next two months in Fort Lauderdale beginning September 18 and another at Kleinwood near Houston, Texas beginning October 9. I also look forward to participating in a meeting in East Orange, New Jersey the last weekend in September. The brethren were kind enough to schedule my preaching there so that I wouldn’t have to miss my regular services with the Hispanic brethren.

Hurricane Irene

Irene inconvenienced us yesterday. I didn’t try to make it to services at Upper Manhattan and was 45 minutes late to Fair Lawn’s services after seeking detours to get around flooding and fallen trees. It was worth it however, to be able to translate for Paul Earnhart as he preached to the Spanish brethren and then hear most of his sermon in English at the evening service.

I’m writing this report with the help of a portable generator that Beverly’s mother bought us. Thanks to all for prayers and support.