Revival breaks out at All Saints Camp

06.18.24 | Homepage

    It was not the usual first week of activities at All Saints Camp.  First 65 youth responded to an altar call to confirm their faith. Then seven of them were baptized in the sandy waters of Lake Texoma. “God was watching in a very miraculous way,” said the Rev. Lillian Kamau days after the youth summer camp turned into an impromptu revival.


    An extraordinary group of clergy and lay leaders serving as camp deans carefully discerned what they saw as the Holy Spirit bringing people to Christ. The team consisted of the Very Rev. Rob Price, dean of St. Matthew’s Cathedral; Kamau, who serves at St. Philip’s in Frisco; the Rev. Daniel McCarley who is the curate at Holy Cross in Paris, his fiancé Virginia Compton, and the youth leader at St. James in Dallas, Angela Yarbrough Urick. The camp’s is faithfully led by Deacon Katie Gerber who is the camp director.



    The revival energy came from deep conversations about baptism after the children studied C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and participated in an instructed Eucharist where they zeroed in on what it means to be baptized.  “We were not talking about baptism,” said the Rev. Daniel McCarley, a curate at Holy Cross in Paris.  “But that was the only thing they wanted to talk about.”


    Price agreed. “The questions kept coming,” he said. Then someone asked ‘“Do you need to be baptized to be a child of Christ’ and Father Daniel said ‘yes, but it’s available to everyone.’ The kids were agitated and riled up. Father Daniel provoked them, it was kind of like cold water in the face and they were wanting to figure it out.”


    “That was not what they wanted to hear,” McCarley agreed. “It surprised some of them. We got questions about other religions, it was a way of getting around the question ‘do we all go to heaven?’” McCarley told them that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that offer is open to absolutely everyone. And, he added in what turned out to be foreshadowing, “we have plenty of water available.”  In retrospect McCarley noted, “there’s no beating around the bush, Jesus says in the Bible, “go and baptize and make disciples of all nations.’”


    Kamau said it was clear the Chronicles of Narnia lesson made a big impact, and it was also obvious the Holy Spirit was at work. “Usually among very young people you will not find many of them asking deep questions the way we experienced,” she said.  Price added that the children’s story is solid theology that works, “Good Ole C.S. Lewis,” referring to the book’s author. It’s such an effective telling of the story of Jesus and what it means for individual lives. Kids really got it.” The book was part of the overall theme of this year’s camp.


    After the high energy interest in baptisms, Price wanted himself and the team to discern God’s will for what should be next. “There was this groundswell of the Holy Spirit doing something in the camp and I wasn’t sure what it was,” Price said.  Later that evening, he called the deans together for a meeting. “He had this idea for a presentation,” McCarley said. “He ran it by me and Virginia and we said ‘this is great we should do it.’” McCarley also messaged his curate friends about what was going on at the camp and asked for prayers.


    The next day during worship they gave a dramatic presentation which showed how Jesus’ double gift of forgiveness and new life could make a difference in their lives, Price said. One thing that moved the children was when Price told the campers that meeting Jesus comes at different times and in different ways for people. That sometimes babies are baptized but then they may not meet Jesus until years later, and that sometimes people meet Jesus then they are baptized. After worship service he invited campers to come up and accept Jesus.  


    Gerber said, “Father Rob told them, ‘If you never asked Jesus into your heart and you want to do that now, come up to the front. All you have to do is ask,’ One of the Sudanese boys (from St. Philips’s Sudanese Church) came up first, he started it, and everyone followed. I was bawling, I was so moved, how everybody was just drawn into this invitation. They had prayer stations set up and I had mother Lillian pray over me.”


    Price said, “I gave an invitation to come forward and accept Jesus’ forgiveness and to ask Jesus to fill them with his new life forever. And the first camper came forward before I finished. Two boys from the third-grade cabin came up right up after him and then just a stream of campers came forward, about 65 out of 86 campers, we prayed with nearly the whole camp. It was really extraordinary.”


    After the service the children returned to their camp activities and the deans decided to go around to see if anyone was interested in getting baptized that day. Price offered to call the parents, of those wanting to get baptized, to get permission, if there were any takers. “He convinced me that it’s in God’s hands and that the Holy Spirit was tugging,” Gerber said.


    “We felt like God was really leading us to offer something more at that moment,” Price said.  

    “I was overwhelmed with the response of these children who took on the gift of Jesus’ love for them. There was clearly a deep yearning, and it was extraordinary.”


    Later during the day when the youth were participating in various activities the deans team talked to every single camper and asked them if they would like to be baptized at camp that night. Some kids said they did. “I called their parents and shared with them that their child had received Jesus and asked them what they thought about it,” Price said.


    “Two sets of parents drove up from Dallas so they could be there that night to witness it.” A pair of siblings’ parents said they wanted to wait and have their kids baptized at their home church. Another child needed more time to get parent approval. The rest, three of them around the ages 9 or 10, a 6th grader, 7th grader, 8th grader and a college-age counselor got baptized in the lake. The whole camp was there and they cheered.


    Before the baptisms, Price raided the camp sacristy for candles to give the baptized and he took all the white candles he could find, including those used during advent.  He found seven candles for what was to be originally six baptisms. At the last minute, at the lake, a parent reached out to give consent bringing the number to seven, each getting a candle.




    The next day at during worship “we followed the ancient tradition of the seven newly baptized being the first to receive communion from their bishop at the closing Eucharist service, Price said.


    The world needs more revivals, Kamau said. “We are asking for new things to spring up if we allow Jesus in our Lives,” she said. “I hope revival catches up with all of us wherever we are.”