On June 21st approximately 365 youth campers and adult counselors from twelve different states gathered in Panama City Beach, Florida for a week of Bible study and beach recreation. In
past years we have known the protective mercies and manifold blessings of God, and this year we experienced plenty of both.
The conference theme was "Heaven and Hell." The young people (seventh through twelfth graders) in attendance were asked the question, "Where are you going?" Each day included a time of personal Bible study, daily readings through the book of Hebrews, morning seminars, morning expositions by Dr. Cary Kimbrell, afternoon games and activities, evening expositions by Evangelist R. F. Gates, and late evening small group Bible studies.
Dr. Kimbrell, the pastor of the Trinity Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, challenged the conference attendants to cultivate strong convictions regarding the reality of the existence of both heaven and hell. On Thursday morning we were unusually gripped as Dr. Kimbrell took us on a "tour of the pit of the damned." Something of the spirit of Jonathan Edwards and John Bunyan rested upon him as he preached.
Mr. Gates is an itinerant evangelist and my fellow elder at the Heritage Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana. His evening expositions complemented the morning expositions very marvelously as he set before the assembly some pointed lessons from the lives of five persons in the ministry of Jesus who faced eternity. He encouraged us that our God delights in showing mercy, and stated over and over again that all that is necessary for a person to go to hell is for that person to do nothing. Mr. Gates' preaching was described by one counselor as the bittersweet experience of watching a man pray for your very soul for approximately an hour.
The morning seminars were led by four very capable pastors. Dr. Fred Malone (First Baptist Church in Clinton, LA) spoke to the groups regarding "The Eternal Implications of Repentance and Faith." Mr. Steve Martin (Heritage Baptist Community Church in Fayetteville, GA) discussed "The Eternal Implications of Time Management." Mr. Tim Seal (Grace Baptist Church in Jonesville, LA) challenged the young people with "The Eternal Implications of Promiscuity." Mr. Hal Wynn (Northside Baptist Church in North Ft. Myers, FL) dealt with "The Eternal Implications of Submission to Authority."
By week's end several young people had confessed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. Word has come to us that several more were savingly brought to Christ as they returned to their homes. We are very thankful unto God that He gave us such an opportunity, such an audience, and such dedicated gospel ministers who handled a very difficult subject with integrity and compassion. (Tapes from the conference may be ordered from the address listed below).
From the moment we arrived on the conference grounds we knew we were in for a time of tremendous spirituals warfare. Until Dr. Kimbrell's Thursday morning exposition regarding "The Essence of Hell" we truly wrestled with principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. It seems that the subject matter under discussion had an unusually unsettling effect upon the forces of darkness. Praise God, however, that He overruled every satanic distraction for the glory of Jesus Christ and the spiritual good of many souls.
Next year's YOUTH Conference is scheduled for June 27th through July 1st. Theme, location, and prices will be announced in a future issue of the Journal. For more information you may contact us at the following address : SBFYC, P.O. Box 5321, Shreveport, LA 71135; or call 318-798-7088.
"The devil's war is better than the devil's peace. Suspect dumb holiness. When the dog is kept out of doors he howls to be let in again."