Hensel Christian Youth Camp has been a major work of the Southwest Church of Christ for a long time. In fact, the congregation has hosted an annual youth Bible camp every summer for more than 40 years, not including winter retreats and other events. Looking back over the years, it is easy to see how God has blessed the work. We have had year after year of wonderful and memorable camp sessions, but I dare say this year has to be one of the most memorable.
Southwest decided to emphasize evangelism in 2022 more than ever before. As we were thinking about ways to do that, we received the November 10, 2021, edition of “Reaching the Lost” in which Rob laid out suggestions for evangelistic Bible camps. That update planted the seed that grew into the Hensel Camp 2022 theme: “I Want to Be a Soul Winner!”
Our campers’ ages range from third to twelfth grade along with a few “pre-campers.” Each grade level has its own class (e.g., third grade boys’ class and third grade girls’ class) with nineth through twelfth grades combined. Every camper received a set of Back to the Bible booklets and spent two hours every morning in Bible classes designed to teach the material in the booklets and train the campers in practical evangelism. Additionally, our evening lessons focused on different aspects of the church, to serve as a supplement the Bible class material. We emphasized soul-winning all day, every day, from the 8:00 a.m. morning devotional period to the nightly cabin devotional periods just before “lights out.”
Twenty-three campers and two staff members obeyed the gospel over the course of the week, the majority taking place after we completed book 3. Emotional decisions are always a concern at camp, but I am convinced that was not the case here. First, there were several campers who expressed a desire to be baptized, but after talking with staff members, they decided they were not ready. Second, to my knowledge, every one of the campers who obeyed the gospel began asking questions and studying before they arrived at camp. The ingredients were already in the pan; camp just put the cake in the oven. Each one sat down with an open Bible and a parent or adult from their home congregation or a trusted staff member and thought carefully and thoroughly about the decision to obey the gospel before being baptized.
I have spent a lot of time at Bible camp throughout the year, as a camper, staff member, and director. For me, this year was definitely the most memorable. From the level of investment in the campers on the part of the staff, to the interest and interaction during Bible class, to the individual Bible studies going on throughout the week, everyone came together and worked hard to make this a success. Most importantly, 25 souls were added to Christ, and I am convinced that emphasizing evangelism and teaching Back to the Bible played a major role in that. —Cody Westbrook, director and preacher, Southwest church of Christ, Austin, Texas
Fayette church of Christ, Alabama:
Kaleb Hall (preacher) reports, “Here are pictures of the beginnings of our evangelism room and table. We began the bookmarks yesterday and the congregation was excited and happy to be getting started.”
Honolulu church of Christ, Oahu, Hawaii: Tagiilima Ecene (preacher) reports, “Aloha from the Honolulu congregation! As we continue to implement the plan, we are learning to adapt it to accommodate our island culture. We have had six local visitors that we are now prospecting for Bible studies. My (Lima) focus is on the hot contacts in our church, and I appreciate your prayers for these souls. For the past two Bible classes, we have been praying over the list of people on our bookmarks. Our card ministry is entering its second week, and it is great to have members stay back and write cards to our visitors. One prospect is near to the kingdom; please pray for God to give the increase. Mahalo and God bless.”
Cordova church of Christ, Tennessee: Bruce Hatcher (preacher) reports, “We have had three new families added to our congregation in the last two weeks. All are connected to our evangelism program in one way or another. We are now adding them to our compassion card groups. We have decided to start a Monday Night for the Master program to follow up on the leads we have received from our bookmarks, visitors, and new movers. We also have started emailing all our contacts with congregational updates and a digital copy of House to House. We feel confident that these efforts will bear much fruit.”
New Hope church of Christ, Middleton, Tennessee: Cole Wade (preacher) reports, “We recently rescheduled a Bible study for someone who was wanting to study about baptism. This person seems very receptive and wants to hear the gospel! We have exciting events for our children coming up, and we would love prayers for finding more contacts through those events. We also have some people who have been seriously considering becoming Christians and others who are coming back to the church. We are working to visit them and encourage them to soon make the decision to put the Lord first in their lives. The Lord is certainly blessing us. We would be blind to believe He is not working with us in our ministry!”
Northern Oaks church of Christ, San Antonio, Texas: Mel Hutzler (elder/preacher) reports, “We have wonderful news to report. There were 25 baptisms that took place at camp using the Back to the Bible study booklets. Two of the campers were from our congregation. We have several of our members currently in Bible studies, and I believe more baptisms will be on the way. We have House to House going out soon to reach people from our community. Our card writing teams are continuously working well, and more Bible studies are being set up. We have VBS coming up next month, and our Summer Youth Series has had over 200 in attendance every Friday. We hope to expand our Evangelism Program into all area of the work of the church.”
Covington church of Christ, Tennessee: Wayne Dalrymple (elder) reports, “The Lord has truly blessed the church in Covington. American Mission Campaign was a huge success last week. We are so thankful for the people who came from nine different states to help us plant the seed of the gospel in Tipton County. It is already bearing much fruit. We have had two baptisms and a restoration. We also conducted four Bible studies. We had several visitors to our worship services Sunday that we had contacted during the campaign. We are having several Bible studies this week as well. We are planning and organizing for follow-up on the contacts we have made. There are people in our congregation who have been searching for ways to be involved in the work of the church who now participating. We are so excited about the trajectory of this church. Please pray for us as we try to organize and get to the work.”
Rogersville church of Christ, Tennessee: Ethan Tate (preacher) reports, “This past week has blessed us with several opportunities! A woman from the community reached out to us wanting material about the church (which we hand delivered). A man and his wife have really enjoyed having a weekly Bible study in their own home, and a young man who is not a Christian is really, really interested in learning more about the Bible. He is asking a lot of good Bible questions, which should lead to a Back to the Bible study soon. Pray for us in each of these different fields we are cultivating. There is much good about to happen, and we pray that the saving of each of these families will open more opportunities to reach even more souls.”
Linville Forest church of Christ, North Carolina: Kelly Brown (preacher) reports, “We are continuing our men’s Bible study. We are still in the progress of teaching four people. I believe they are very close to obeying the gospel. Keep them and us in your prayers.”
Towne Acres church of Christ, Muncie, Indiana: Mark Reynolds (preacher) reports, “We enjoyed hosting a Friends and Family Day on June 5, and we had several visitors and made good contacts. Two Bible studies were set up as a result. Many of the visitors have been there every Sunday since. The compassion cards continue to meet each week with great results.”
Westside church of Christ, Muncie Indiana: Mike Gors (preacher) reports, “The cards continue to be well received. Some who received cards have visited, and others have reached out to us via Facebook messenger on the church page. They call the cards and card ministry a true blessing to their lives. Sadly, we were met with apathy when approaching them about learning more about the church of Christ. This week we sent out 25 cards to four prospects. We will do our follow-up this Friday.”
Coweta church of Christ, Oklahoma: Keno Shrum (elder/preacher) reports, “We are in the process of demolition and rebuilding from our water damage. We are currently displaced from our building but are worshipping in a wedding venue close to us. In the meantime, Jamie and I met a young man at a nearby restaurant last Wednesday evening named Chris. We invited him to church, and he came yesterday morning. He seemed to enjoy the service and expressed interest in coming back. He is going to let me know Wednesday his availability for a Bible study. Please keep this study in your prayers!”
Paintsville church of Christ, Kentucky: Zach Collins (preacher) reports, “This coming week, we have an annual event that could be a monumental opportunity to evangelize our community! We are going to challenge all members to bring one person from their bookmark lists to this event. A family who has become close to one of our members has already confirmed attendance. Please pray for the success of this event so that doors of opportunity can be opened for us to plant the seed in the hearts of others!”
East Ridge church of Christ, Chattanooga, Tennessee: Charles Cochran (preacher) reports, “This is a baptism from last night. Jared Heuter baptized his son Jonas into Christ. What a wonderful way to end Father’s Day!”
Siwell Road church of Christ, Jackson, Mississippi: Derek Broome (preacher) reports, “We have had a couple of really great weeks here at Siwell Road. Set up eight Bible studies recently from some recent contacts through door knockings and our VBS. We have three ongoing studies, and we continue to pray about those. Our VBS produced a lot of great contacts in the community. We have already followed up by sending cards out through our card groups, and we will continue to reach out to each person that attended. Several have requested more information on the church.”
Shiloh church of Christ, Florence, Alabama: McKinley Pate (preacher) reports, “We continue to collect names and send cards. We also continue to make in-home visits along with extended invitations to services. We continue to have visitors at services who are members of the Lord’s body but are looking for a congregation where they can participate in the work.”
Riverbend church of Christ, Georgia: Austin Fowler (member) reports, “Sunday we continued our compassion card ministry. We added three new contacts to our congregational list and sent them cards. My study with Terry had to be rescheduled due to Father’s Day. Lord willing, we will do study number 3 on Wednesday night. On a side note, we had two members restored this past week. We added them to our congregational list a few weeks ago. I believe the compassion cards they received helped them in being restored. Pray for Terry as he is near the cross!”
Woodstock church of Christ: Greg Garner (deacon) reports, “The Compassion Cards Group made cards this week for six individuals. Our kids colored and made nine cards. We conducted the third week of the seven-week Youth Prison Ministry Program. There are now 15 youths requesting to study the Bible. One of our Team Leaders is trying to work with a church in Macon to establish a seven-week Back to the Bible series for the Macon RYDC and Macon YDC.”
Oak Hill church of Christ, Covington, Georgia: Tate Sutton (preacher) reports, ““We had a great week at camp this week with two baptisms of people we knew directly. Camp also opened a door with one young man that had been visiting at church with us. He was raised Catholic and had a lot of questions for us. We were able to study with him, and he obeyed the gospel.”
Monroe church of Christ, Georgia: Charles Harris (preacher) reports, “Friday and Saturday we had VBS, and it was very successful. We used Apologetics Press’ Flood VBS curriculum. The Sunday following was the highest attended morning and evening services we have had since my family has been working with the church here in Monroe. I have a couple of studies going on, but none of them have studied the third booklet of BTTB yet. There are at least five other members currently conducting studies. Two faithful families who are excited about the work at Monroe are placing membership as well.”
Canal Heights church of Christ, Demopolis, Alabama: Bryan Cook (preacher) reports, “Our congregation finally finished preaching through book 2 of Back to the Bible. I have had only one say anything even resembling negativity about what we are preaching. Our system for card ministry is taking shape with new ideas each week. We are actively looking for opportunities to overlap weekly prayer needs with those we know are on the bookmarks. Meetings are taking place after morning service as we fill out cards. Excitement is still very high. One of the members says she is conducting her first personal Bible study, and she has been in the church her whole life. Another member showed me a name on her bookmark and said we unknowingly knocked on her door during Saturday’s door knocking, and she called to say she would be coming this Sunday to worship. She has known this lady for twenty years. God’s providence and timing are becoming apparent. Continue to pray for our efforts as we pray for you.”
Highway church of Christ, Benton, Arkansas: Steven Ford (preacher) reports, “Today marked a renewal of the compassion cards and efforts. More visits, calls, and studies will hopefully follow. One visit was made with a grocery delivery to a local lady. She did agree to a study. Follow-up will take place this coming week.”
Coldwater church of Christ, Kentucky: Luke Puckett (preacher) reports, “This past week, we revisited our bookmarks to ensure members are keeping a list and letting us know when they will become a prospect. We also delivered a new mover basket to a new family in the community. We hope to build a relationship with them. We had a couple of visitors this week. We gave them a visitor’s bag, got their address, and added them to our card list. Unfortunately, they had plans and were unable to go out to eat with us, but they greatly appreciated the offer. We also sent out several compassion cards and plan on following up with visits.”
Sylvan Springs church of Christ in Sylvan Springs, Alabama: Caleb Aldridge (preacher) reports, “Our evangelism table is now set up. I preached the John 4 sermon with good response. We had one of our young people decide to be baptized yesterday. I know of one more study that one of our husband-and-wife teams plans to conduct soon”.
Jacksonville church of Christ, Alabama: Keith Ritchie (preacher) reports, “ Paul Studdard is coming to our house Thursday for dinner. I will be trying to set up a Bible study. I have to keep plugging away with Mary Prader. Radford seems to think I may be able to get both Mary and their granddaughter to study. I went to visit an erring member I found out about last week, Jeff Pace. Jeff’s dad was an elder in the church. Jeff has agreed to have lunch with me and talk. Please pray for these efforts.
North Jefferson church of Christ, Mount Pleasant, Texas: Jeff Whatley (preacher) reports, “Praise the Lord for the beauty and power of the Gospel. We’re rejoicing with the angels in heaven for the baptism of PJ Charlton on 6/2/22. She’s got such a good and honest heart. She had been attending a denomination for years. But with the encouragement of her husband Wayne, PJ’s willingness to routinely attend with us at North Jefferson church of Christ, alongside her persistent study has led to her obeying the Gospel’s call. She was baptized into Christ for the remission of her sins, with the new understanding that the Lord alone added her to His blood bought church.
Also on June 15th, Kendall Groda (the youngest son of our pulpit minister, brother Kris Groda) realized clearly his need for forgiveness from his sins, and confessing his belief in the Lord as the Son of God, and also understands the connection this confession and the commitment to the Lord’s way and will for his life. We’re so thankful and excited about their future serving in the kingdom of God”.
NOTE: These reports are from Christians and congregations enrolled in the House to House/Heart to Heart School of Evangelism. These emails are sent to teach and provoke one another to remain focused on the mission of Christ. Each week, we share several reports and highlight one with more details. We hope you enjoy reading them.