A Glimpse of Camp Meeting

August 30, 2016 | Dick Duerksen

Each morning about 10, I walked through the Gladstone campground to the Junior tent where life was going full throttle. Along the way I prospected for gold nuggets at the Butterfly playground, was thoroughly tempted by the fragrance of fried Pronto Pups wafting through the trees and wondered about the shouts that came from the amphitheater when the Reptile Man dropped an alligator on Pastor Mfune’s head.

From the hilltop, I heard kids screaming down the waterslide, tractors pulling wagons filled with “Hay Riders” and parrots begging for crackers.

I asked a group of senior campers which seminars they were attending. The list they gave me included almost all of the available seminars, and each person told me (eagerly) the seminar they had just come from was “the very best ever.” They said it was "like college all over again ... but without the grades!" Everyone laughed and began planning what to do after their afternoon nap.

Several times each day, I wandered by three of the most important locations on the grounds: Larry and his audio team in the center of the pavilion, Greg and his lightboards just in front of Larry, and the conference/Better Life media team in the cool darkness of the media control center.

"All good?" I'd ask, hoping for the best.

This week, the answers were pretty much the same: "All great!" Then we'd talk about the obscure power surges and other electronic glitches that slip in uninvited, always at the worst possible moments.

Though much of the campground is loud with conversations, singing, laughing and the joyful sounds of children playing, there is one place that is always quiet: the Garden of Prayer. Walking through the green arch is like walking into another dimension, a place where quiet rules and conversations are whispered personal confidences between servants and the Master — quiet, but a place of extreme energy.

Each evening, as Mike Tucker began his presentation, I watched the sun bathe the congregation in a golden glow as it sank over Oatfield Road. It was as if the Holy Spirit was in Gladstone, painting tongues of golden fire on those who were choosing to be members in ministry.

I photographed a baptism Friday afternoon. One young woman was in the baptistery while Pastor Ben stood outside and performed the “Death of the Old and Life to the New” ceremony. The room was filled with angels celebrating along with Madison Baete, her mom, two of her best friends and a dozen other young adults.

If a picture says it all, then this is it.