By Mark Kelly
Her eyes brimmed with tears as she approached Jay Watkins. Her family was homeless with Christmas less than a month away.
The woman choked on her own voice, wrought with emotion, as she explained she didn’t even have sheets for her daughter’s bed when they walked into “Christmastime at Camp Rock,” an annual event hosted by several churches in Valdosta, Georgia.
She left the event with a comforter set she’d won as a door prize.
Camp Rock continues to be a miracle gathering where more than 900 children (most of them in foster care) and their foster parents or guardians enjoy a four-and-a-half-hour, Camelot-themed festival. Three large rooms loom above the abandoned children, decorated as castles and forests and a medieval marketplace.
A hot meal brings families and friends of all broken backgrounds together, and children are given toys and clothing as Christmas gifts.
Bibles are given every year to those who want them, and everyone has an opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus.
The crisis engulfing children in foster care may loom so large many churches don’t see how they can make a difference. Nationwide, more than 415,000 children sink in the foster care system. Almost half who “age out” of the system when they turn 18 are homeless within a year.
“Words simply do not describe the tragic situation of thousands of foster kids across our country,” says David Melber, vice president of the North American Mission Board’s Send Relief. “But Southern Baptists have the capacity to significantly change this situation. For more than 46,500 churches, this actually is a manageable issue. The truth is, a ‘normal’ SBC church like Redland can do incredible work toward helping children caught up in this crisis.”
The power of cooperation helps smaller churches make an outsized impact on their communities, says NAMB President Kevin Ezell, who served as a Christmas at Camp Rock volunteer with his wife, Lynette, and several of their biological and adopted children.
“This is a shining example of how a church can leverage partnership with their community, other congregations, their state convention and the Southern Baptist Convention,” Ezell explains. “When you serve those who need you most, and can’t give anything in return, you are demonstrating how to make an incredible impact on a need to those who could follow your footsteps and do the same. It takes one person, one congregation to see a need and be faithful to meet it.”
Learn more about Camp Rock at www.camprockga.com