More than a year ago, I received an email from Kent Shady, the president of this year’s Lake James School of Missions. He asked me to be the keynote speaker for the conference. The School of Missions is one of the oldest missionary meetings in our brotherhood and continues to be one of the premier missionary gatherings among our churches. It is also a great place for missionaries to recharge and share is some great fellowship. So when I received the invitation I very quickly decided to accept and scheduled my time in Colombia this year around the School of Missions. Since the gathering was to begin on July 21, I booked my flights back up from Colombia on July 18th. That gave me two days to unpack from my trip up from Colombia and then pack again for traveling over to Lake James on the 21st, after early service at the Orrville Christian Church, where I attended with my wife.
I left Rittman about 10:30 and drove for about three and a half hours to Angola, Indiana and the Lake James Christian Assembly. Once there, I set up my tent and got myself organized. I sleep in a tent as housing is rather limited and I like to leave the available space open for families and others who need it more than I do. Besides, I enjoy camping out and a tent is nice and cool on a summer evening. I made myself a lunch from the cooler I was carrying and then settled in to review my sermon notes and get ready for the evening service, where I was to preach the opening service. Sunday night has the largest attendance as many area churches encourage their members to be present. In fact, that has been a tradition since years gone by when evening services were canceled for the event.
The theme was “Be Strong and Courageous” taken from Deuteronomy 31:5. There was a great song service mixing old hymns and newer songs. There is a parade of missionaries every night as scores of missionaries who were present passed across the stage, each given a moment to speak. No was was worried about rushing through the service. Then my time arrived and I spoke on how God has asked us to go out and to take on an unbelieving world, but just as with Moses, He has promised to go with us and to help us. We are simply to trust in him and move forward in faith as we leave the difficulties to Him. The service ended but even then many people milled around and visited with each other and shared with the missionaries present.
The next morning we fell into our routine. There was flag raising then breakfast. After that we began the morning services where Dr. Rick Cherok, of Cincinnati Christian University delivered a series of lectures on the great heros of church history. On morning he donned clothing of the early 19th century and portrayed Alexander Campbell. He spoke of their commitment and their sacrifices to spread the Gospel. It was an inspiring series. After that there was an interview time with a missionary by Paul Brunsmen. This is a great time as Paul mixes humor with some pointed questions. It makes for a great way to get to know the missionaries much better. After that, I had a daily Bible study on the Theology of MIssions. Then at noon lunch followed the morning services. In the afternoon there were different activities for kids and adults. There was swimming and boating, a golf tournament, choir practice for the camp choir, and outings to different interesting locations in the area. At 5:45 gathered for supper. Then at 7:00P.M. we gathered for evening services. Each night a different missionary spoke. It was great to hear so many different missionaries speak in one location in the course of only one week. After the evening service, at 9 each evening there was a campfire. Every day was great!
The camp ends on Friday evening and then on Saturday morning there is a final send-off breakfast. I packed up my tent and then drove back home. It had been a fantastic week and I enjoyed it very much. I always find that Lake James School of Missions excites me about missionary work all over again and recharges my spiritual batteries. Without a doubt, Lake James School of Missions is one of the premier missionary gatherings of our brotherhood. It meets every year near the end of August. I would strongly encourage everyone to plan on attending next year’s Lake James School of Missions. You will not be disappointed! Rather, you will be encouraged and enriched by the great program there and you will go home charged up for missions and for working in your local church. To God be the glory!