By Savannah Cooper
LAKE OZARK—Around five million people visit the Lake of the Ozarks every year, and it is the goal of the Lake Ozark Resort Ministry (LORM) to bring the Gospel of Christ to each and every one of them.
LORM began in the early 1970s when John Farris came to the Lamine Baptist Association as the new director of missions. Farris had a vision of ministering to everyone in the Lake area, especially the many visitors that spend their vacations there. Over time, Farris developed ministries in the RV campgrounds, resorts, the Bagnell Dam Strip, and many other areas.
When Farris retired, many of those ministries began to decline. But some churches from the Miller County Baptist Association—especially First Baptist Church of Eldon—continued the work that Farris had begun, which included holding Sunday morning worship services in several of the RV campgrounds.
Jeff Maxwell, current co-director of LORM, was the ministry’s first student summer missionary and worked with LORM for three consecutive years. Today Maxwell and co-director Clyde E. Leonard are working to revive LORM—a work that Leonard began in 2003.
“This is one of the largest, unreached mission fields of Missouri,” Leonard said about the Lake area.
LORM board members are from the Lamine, Miller County, and Concord Baptist Associations, all three of which are very involved in the ministry.
This summer, LORM plans to welcome at least three student summer missionaries from Hannibal-LaGrange College, an intern from a local church, and possibly a high school student from the Concord Baptist Association. The missionaries will serve as Bible study teachers in the RV campgrounds under the direction of Maxwell and Leonard.
In addition to being a Baptist ministry, LORM is also a member of the Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and participates in events related to the Chamber. This summer, LORM will participate in the Bike Fest, car shows, and other community events. LORM also plans to help with Vacation Bible Schools in local churches and with children and youth camps within two of the involved associations.
“Our vision is to involve more local churches and associations in presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ, especially to the four to five million annual visitors to the Lake area, as well as to the people who have decided to make the Lake area their permanent or temporary home,” Leonard said.