Because of Christ
On October 12, 2019, hundreds of people gathered in Big Sandy, Texas, for the twentieth ALERT Family Camp. The International ALERT Academy campus was abuzz with happy children riding bikes, young people laughing together, and couples catching up with friends. RVs, trailers, and tents sprang up in the Ponderosa Campground as families settled in for a family adventure.
The Saturday evening session kicked off a week of fellowship, activities, and celebration. Pastor Bob Gray II, shared about God’s heart for His wayward children in a message based on Luke 15. In his message, Pastor Gray asked “How long before you stop where you’re at and turn around and go back to a time in your life that you had it better? How long before you’re going to turn around and go home?” “How long are you going to live this way? Come now!” At the close of his message, he stated, “There’s no work required to come home, because the Good Shepherd always, always, always brings you home.”
Sunday morning dawned bright and clear as families prepared to attend the morning service. People sang hymns together before Chaplain Tom Burch spoke on the importance of God’s Word in our lives. Chaplain Burch led the congregation in the presentation of the Bible and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the Bible. He went on to challenge listeners to honor God’s Word and make it a central part of their lives.
The horse corral was the center of activity on Monday morning as families watched with rapt attention as Dr. Lew Sterritt shared a message while training a horse. Dr. Sterritt skillfully wove Biblical and practical truths together, using horses as a visual illustration.
During the day, families enjoyed numerous activities including an air rifle range, an archery range, the rappelling tower and climbing wall, metal working, sewing crafts, airplane rides, canoeing, Taste of Journey, a Scripture assembly project, children’s story hour, and an escape room. The annual Family Camp Volleyball Tournament is a highlight among the sports enthusiasts and many of the young people. Other tournaments include horseshoes and ultimate Frisbee. Special events at Family Camp included a 5K obstacle run, whitewashing competition, golf cart races, trade day, and the Great American Bicycle Parade.
New at Family Camp this year was the Sports Complex. Containing three volleyball courts, a basketball court, pickle ball, nine square in the air, a roller rink, carpet ball, foosball, and nerf park, it was a popular place among children of all ages. The concessions area and board games offered a place for fellowship and refreshment.
Monday evening was a highlight for many of the children, both old and young. A concert by the Hamilton Family and part of the Patch the Pirate crew thrilled young listeners, brought back memories to many, and encouraged hurting hearts.
Tuesday afternoon brought Western day with its many activities, crafts, and games. Children participated in making many crafts, including dipped candles, bamboo fishing poles, and glass candle holders. Double-Dutch jump rope provided a coordination challenge, while the Mechanical bull challenged the grip strength and balance of its riders. Human Foosball provided an opportunity to play a life-size version of the beloved table game, and the petting zoo and pony rides brought animals close enough for young children to enjoy them. The afternoon concluded with a mouth-watering barbecue and evangelistic presentation by Dr. Sterritt.
Eric Ludy spoke on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, encouraging families and individuals to rejoice, even in the darkest trials. He stated, “Life . . . is the greatest training ground a Christian can have. . . . But we’re not rejoicing always, we’re complaining always.” Eric went on to say, “God loves the territory of the impossible, we don’t like it. We don’t want to get backed up to a Red Sea, but God is not intimidated by it. We want to know the pathway. We want to see how we’re going get through.” However, “God loves the impossible!”
The week of Family Camp culminated on Friday with lakefront day. Festivities included a slip-n-slide, blow-up obstacle course, sand castle competition, tug-of-war, and canoe races. A hamburger cookout satisfied hungry appetites before the closing camp meeting. The annual Family Camp slideshow was followed by an amazing fireworks show over the lake.
One family said this about their time at Family Camp: “Time away from stress and distractions allowed us to enjoy spending time together. The teaching was awesome! Best family vacation we have ever taken. I felt revived and relaxed, instead of rushed and stressed. The time was a real blessing!” Another family stated: “Our family was in desperate need of physical, spiritual, and emotional refreshment when we arrived. We needed to hear from the Lord and at the same time laugh, fellowship, breathe fresh air and play hard. The Lord faithfully met us right where we were at and used the Family Camp setting to be a catalyst to His working in our lives.”
Make plans now to attend Family Camp next year! Family Camp 2020 is scheduled for October 10–16. For more information, visit alertfamilycamp.com.