by Stephanie Arosemena
Every year, first and second generation students from Texas Baptists Intercultural Churches come together for five days and four nights to grow their faith at Camp Fusion.
It is a powerful time for these students as they connect and bond with each other. Students are immersed in worship, small groups, devotion, recreational games and workshops. In every aspect of Camp Fusion, the aim is to connect a culturally diverse group of 6th through 12th-grade students through fellowship and discipleship.
“Our Texas Baptists Intercultural Churches face a unique challenge reaching and equipping their youth,” stated Mark Heavener, Camp Fusion director. “Our church leaders, who were born overseas, struggle to connect and develop the American-born youth and those youths who come to the US at an early age. These youths live between two worlds and are challenged with discovering their identity. Texas Baptists Intercultural Ministry has developed several statewide programs which address these issues and celebrate the uniqueness of these youth.”
The hope is that these students, when they arrive at Camp Fusion, realize that they are not alone. There are other students coming from different nationalities and heritages, and they are searching for their identities too. Camp Fusion aims to help these students realize their identities are rooted in Christ, along with their cultural backgrounds.
“Yearly, Camp Fusion reaches across a least 13-15 cultures, serving over 300 campers in a way these bi-cultural youths hear and respond to the Gospel in their own context, as well as find others from other cultures that are struggling with their identity just like themselves,” said Heavener. “Camp Fusion is the training ground for the next generation of leaders for the Intercultural Churches.”
Making it a possibility
Students in need of financial assistance to attend camp can apply for need-based scholarships. Every student with a desire to attend Camp Fusion is given the opportunity to go. Because of gifts made through the Cooperative Program and the Mary Hill Davis Offering, Camp Fusion is sponsored and made possible each year. As a ministry of Texas Baptists’ Office of Intercultural Ministries, Camp Fusion has the infrastructure to pour into the young students’ lives.
One of the greatest challenges faced by Texas Baptists Intercultural Churches is assisting those that are coming as new arrivals or as refugees. These churches have families with parents holding entry-level jobs and have very little funds to help their youth attend Camp Fusion.
Parents, being new to a country and oftentimes having entry-level jobs, have nothing beyond what they can cover for food, rent and the means to live. Camp Fusion received $12,000 from the Mary Hill Davis Offering to offset the production of camp and to keep the individual cost per student at a low, affordable price.
Texas Baptists Intercultural Churches face a unique challenge reaching and equipping their American born youth. These youths live between two worlds and are challenged with discovering their identities. The Texas Baptists Intercultural Ministry developed several leadership trainings for tenth grade through early college students to do intercultural city-wide youth outreach events and to lead the worship, workshops and breakouts during Camp Fusion. The Mary Hill Davis grant allows us to develop these leaders to lead other students at Camp Fusion and at their churches. In addition to the Mary Hill Davis grant, additional funding was provided through the Texas Baptist Mission Foundation and other donors.
Because of the commitment to making disciples, these students are able to attend camp without financial worry and can expect an intentional week of camp that spurs their faith.
This summer, Camp Fusion had 292 in attendance with 18 Texas Baptists Intercultural Churches from the following cultures: Vietnamese, Cambodian, Lao, Filipino, Chinese, Congolese, Nigerian and Haitian.
“Each year that I attend is a blessing and a reminder of what the Kingdom of Heaven will look like,” said Christopher Sok, a staff member for Camp Fusion. “You see so many cultures, ages, socioeconomic differences, and we are all gathered for one purpose.
At the end of camp, 12 students had made a first time profession of faith. Seventy students made recommitments of faith, 27 students were called to cross-cultural missions, 43 students called into ministry and 118 students made a personal commitment to spiritually grow throughout this year.
Students who had never heard of Jesus were given the chance to hear the Gospel proclaimed. They read scripture and studied in small groups and workshops. They united over culture with a central focus on building their faith. The result of camp cannot be summed up by the number of students dedicating their life to Christ and being called into ministry. The result of camp is summed up by the long-lasting spiritual investment in these students.
Camp Fusion continues to lay the foundation of faith within Texas Baptists Intercultural Churches. The question whether these students are impacted is irrefutable. By gifts made to the Mary Hill Davis Offering, this ministry is made possible. The Mary Hill Davis Offering Week of Prayer and promotion is September 9-16, 2018. Click here to find out more about the Mary Hill Davis Offering.