By Stan Friedman
JONESVILLE, VA (July 17, 2014) — Thanks to the initiative of a Michigan teenager, a weeklong junior high camp for some of the poorest children in Virginia was not canceled at Covenant Mountain Mission Bible Camp (CMMBC) earlier this month.
“Families in this area could not afford to attend any other camp,” said Joe Faulkinbury, who along with his wife, Tammy, manages the facility in the Appalachian Mountains. There were children looking forward to attending, but not enough people had signed up to serve.
“Either the Lord provides camp staff through mission teams and local volunteers, or we don’t have camp,” said Tammy. “This would be a terrible loss for the community and for the kingdom because campers find this to be a safe place to begin and deepen relationships with Christ and to begin healing from abuse, self-harm, and systemic poverty. They also find lifelong friends.”
“We were probably a week or week and a half from having to cancel,” Joe said.
But just over a month before camp was supposed to start, Hayley Robinson, a 17-year-old who attends First Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, sensed a prompting to pull together volunteers. She had learned of the camp’s need and quickly rallied a group of 15 team members from her church. A pastor from Chicago, several people from Indiana, and some local volunteers partnered with Robinson’s team to meet the camp’s staffing needs.
“I pushed some people to go on this trip without thinking it would ever happen,” said Robinson, who had served at CMMBC two previous summers. “It was the best decision I’ve made in a long time.”
Because of that decision, camp was open July 11-15. “We took excursions to nearby parks where campers got to splash in the pool, they worked together to master a low ropes course and conquer fears on the zip-lines,” Tammy said. “We ate great meals, played imaginative games, and sang catchy camp songs that are still stuck in our heads.”
“It would have been tragic if we had canceled,” Tammy said. “One-third of the campers either made a decision or rededicated their lives to Jesus. In addition, 17 people vulnerably gave public testimonies of how God was healing their emotional wounds.”
Robinson also made what she said was the second-best decision of her life. “I answered a call into ministry this past week. It truly is holy ground on this mountainside.”
In order to minister to children in the area, the camp is offered to many at little or no cost. Campers are never turned away due to lack of finances. Donations underwrite most of the camping fees. The Faulkinburys raise their own salaries through mission support.
More than 35 percent of the population in the area lives below the poverty line, according to government figures. That is far higher than the 10.5 percent average across the state.
Fifteen percent of the people in Jonesville live at 50 percent below the poverty level; that figure is 4.9 percent for the rest of the state.
Four camps for children are held during the summer. CMMBC also hosts retreats and weekend events for local churches, families, and community groups.
Joe said there still are several weeks for next year that they need volunteers. For more information, visit the camp’s website.