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AG Camp Receives Unexpected Blessing from a Baptist Church

2020 was a difficult year for many ministries, but a surprise gift from a Baptist church touched the hearts of the directors of an AG camp and retreat center.

For many ministries and businesses, 2020 was a year that began with promise, but COVID made it a financial nightmare. Perhaps few other AG ministries experienced the negative impact of COVID more than district camps and retreat centers.

Lakeview Camp and Retreat Center located near Waxahachie, Texas, is part of the North Texas district. Jaroy and Kim Carpenter have been directing the camp since 2013; Jaroy is the camp’s executive director and Kim serves as director of hospitality. They both admit that 2020 was a very difficult year, but it was a gift from a Baptist church that helped give them hope for the future.

“In 2019, we had 289 events at the center with 40,000 people passing through the camp,” Jaroy says. “This past year, 2020, events fell to 101 groups and about 15,000 people passed through the camp – about one-third of normal.”

He explains that although the camp hosts multiple AG events, retreats, conventions, and the like, including summer church camps for the district, they also open the camp to be used by schools and other Bible-believing, Christ-following ministries and churches.

One of the events outside of the AG that has started making Lakeview Camp an annual destination is the Beltway Park Baptist Church Women’s Retreat.

“A few years ago, the place they typically go to had double-booked, and they suddenly found themselves without a place to go,” Jaroy says. “We happened to have that weekend available . . . they fell in love with this place.”

But, like so many other groups, once the pandemic came through, the Abilene, Texas-based church had to cancel their retreat with the camp.

DeAnna Fields, Next Steps and Communications pastor for Beltway Park, explains that the church had to close its doors for a while, but it has been blessed with very faithful and generous people.

“Some of the ministries we were doing on a regular basis [prior to COVID], we were no longer able to do, so those funds weren’t being used,” Fields explains. “And we knew that the camps and retreat centers we used were really being hurt during that season, so our elders prayed through and decided to bless the camps as they had blessed us.”

When Jaroy and Kim received the phone call that that Beltway Park was sending the camp a check for $25,000, at first they were a bit confused. Was this a deposit? Maybe an additional payment for the next year’s event? No, Fields assured them, it was a gift!

“There were tears flowing and we were rejoicing,” Kim confirms. “It was like, ‘Okay God, we know You are here!’”

Kim says that the Beltway Park ladies, from the first time they came, became near and dear to her and the staff’s hearts. “We just clicked,” she says. “They were here to have a fun time and we wanted to make their experience count, and they made it easy for our staff to do that — in return we were blessed.”

“We knew that part of their vision [for the camp] is to reach the lost and for discipleship purposes, which is in line with our vision,” Fields explains. “[And] we love working with the people at Lakeview Camp -- they’ve been amazing!”

The Carpenters are both of the mindset that although they may be ministering through the Assemblies of God, the body of Christ is who they are ministering to.

“We’re open to all fellowships who believe in and point the way to Jesus Christ,” Jaroy says. “What I’ve learned is that when you take care of God’s people, God and His people take care of you.”

For 2021, things for Lakeview Camp and Retreat Center are already looking better as events are being scheduled and people are looking to return to some normalcy. But whatever 2021 may bring, the Carpenters say that it was a generous gift by a Baptist church that reinforced to them the very heart of God and purpose for the camp.

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.