During the week of June 22-30, my wife, Marilyn, and I had the opportunity to visit three different camp meetings. What a blessing and inspiration we received!
The first visit was to the New York Conference campgrounds at Union Springs Academy. This camp meeting was unique in that they were celebrating the 150th anniversary of the conference. Their theme “Watch and Be Ready” was very appropriate, as the setting reflected the spirit of the pioneers of the Adventist Church. That week many of the pioneer-look-a-likes visited the encampment and shared some of the counsel and inspiration of the founding leaders of our church. The theme “Watch and Be Ready” was very much a practice in the 1840s. Our pioneers were seriously watching and making preparation for the return of Jesus. In Matthew 24:42 (NIV) it says, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” I suggest that this information motivated them then, and it should motivate us now, with the understanding that watching and preparing for the coming of Jesus go together.
Our next visit was to the Southern New England Conference campgrounds with the theme “2013 by 2013, A Bold Initiative.” The emphasis in that theme was evangelism. We know that the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19, 20 is about sharing the good news of Jesus, His life, His death, His resurrection, His mediatorial work in the heavenly sanctuary, and His promised return. The pioneers of the Adventist Church embraced the good news of Jesus and the messages of Revelation 14 as the mandate to be carried to every conference territory and the world. Can we do less in 2012, 2013, and until Jesus comes? I say no, we cannot do less, we must plan and do more to accomplish this Great Commission of Matthew 28 and Revelation 14.
Our third camp meeting visit was to the Northern New England Conference. Their theme was one word, “Hope.” We were truly blessed, informed, and inspired with the Sabbath message by Elizabeth Talbot, Jesus 101 Ministries director, who shared with the adult encampment the glorious work of Jesus, our Kinsman-Redeemer. His willingness to stand in the place of fallen humanity and therefore redeem us, engenders every day the reality and the power of “hope” as emphasized throughout the Bible. Hebrews 6:19 (NIV) speaks about “hope” as an anchor for the soul. In these uncertain times, it is so encouraging to know that we can have hope in Jesus, hope in His Word, and hope in His promises. This hope can keep us focused, settled, and calm. The song written for one of our General Conference sessions correctly states, “We have this hope that burns within our hearts, hope in the coming of the Lord.”
My prayer for everyone is that the hope of Jesus’ soon return will motivate us to surrender daily and rely on the Holy Spirit so that we will watch and be ready, evangelize our church and community, and one day enjoy a glorious “camp meeting” with Jesus in heaven.
Carlyle C. Simmons is the Atlantic Union Conference executive secretary and director of the Health Ministries, Human Relations, and Prayer Ministries departments.