By Brian Koonce
BOLIVAR – It was hot, it was humid and the days were long, but God made Himself clear to hundreds of students this summer at Super Summer at Southwest Baptist University (SBU) in Bolivar and Hannibal-LaGrange College (HLG).
Split across one week at SBU and one week at HLG, 735 students and youth leaders from 70 different churches around the state spent their week refocusing themselves on the simple realities of the Gospel at Super Summer 2010.
At least 29 students accepted Christ as their Savior at Super Summer, with 30 rededicating their lives to Christ. Five answered the call to ministry. The theme for Super Summer 2010 was Flip. It’s based on the idea that Jesus came into the world and turned everything on its ear.
“First you had creation in the Garden of Eden where everything was perfect,” said Lyle Witcher, student ministry specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). “But then sin flipped that with the Fall and Jesus flipped it back with the Rescue. Everything worked around Jesus changing things up and flipping things around in our lives.”
Witcher taught during the afternoon from the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. Instead of a featured speaker for the evening session as in previous years, this year featured a different speaker each night as students focused on Creation, the Fall, the Rescue, and the Mission. Matt Kearns, MBC student ministries director; Bob Caldwell, pastor of outreach at First Baptist, Arnold; Ron Cathcart, pastor of 2Rivers Church in St. Louis; and Josh Hedger, pastor at Freshwater Baptist in Bolivar, all brought messages from God’s Word during each week.
This was the third year Parkway Baptist Church, St. Louis has attended Super Summer. Jasper Rains, Parkway’s minister of students, took 16 students to the second week in Bolivar.
“We’ve always seen a really good return on the spiritual growth in our students,” he said. “It’s a big boost when we return to our ministry back home. It’s worked out that Super Summer falls right before our mission trip, and it’s worked really well in terms of spiritual preparation.”
One girl from Parkway accepted Christ during the week and another accepted Christ soon after returning to St. Louis.
Rains said the week also ministers to the people ministering to the students.
“Especially in the middle of the summer, it helps when someone takes the time to help you relax and focus on your relationship with God,” he said. “The staff is really good at taking care of us, loving us, and making us feel very appreciated.”
The Parkway experience is exactly what organizers were hoping for.
“It was very encouraging and exciting to see leaders and students taking the challenge to live out the Gospel in their lives beyond that week,” Witcher said. “Super Summer is still one of the best kept secrets in Missouri. As a former youth pastor, I think it’s one of the best things we do to reach and prepare the next generation of Christians.”