Camping and Latin Mobilization
Given the rapid numerical growth of the church in Latin America, there’s an urgent need for leaders who are Biblically grounded, growing in Christ-like character and actively using their God-given gifts to deepen the walks of new believers and pour themselves into developing younger leaders. Camping ministry has been effectively mobilizing Latins to missionary service and other types of ministry for more than 80 years in order to partner with the work of the local church.
During our fourth CCI Latin America Leadership Summit & Conference, we celebrated 50 years of the association of Christian Camp Leaders (1964-2014) in Siguatepeque, Honduras. It was an inspiring time with all the testimonies of leaders who were impacted by the work of Christian Camping in their lives and are now fully involved locally in our Association, which exists to see every church in Latin America running camps that transform lives in Christ. We heard thousands of testimonies on how God has been calling Latins to full-time ministry through camping ministry. Many of them are involved in pastoral work, youth ministry, children ministry, marriage counseling, Sunday school department, and cross-cultural missions.
Testimonies of lives transformed and equipped through Christian camping.
- Rixi Leiva from El Salvador. Two years in West Africa as missionary working with kids and equipping leaders in the best use of the camping tool.
- Deisy from Panama. Currently a missionary in Malasya with her family translating the Bible.
- Xenia Sánchez from El Salvador. Short-term missionary in West Africa using Christian Camping as a mean to evangelize and train pastors in how to use the tool.
- Bessy Macotto from Honduras. Currently full-time missionary with UWM as Director of Pioneer Program with CCI Latin America.
- Fe from Panama. Ready to leave as missionary to Asia.
- Robert and Nina Bruneau from Panama. Currently missionaries with UWM as Directors of CCI Latin America and Robert as Regional Leader in South America.
We believe Christian camping is used by God as an effective tool to transform lives and to equip leaders in Christ-like character. One inspirational leader is Mimi Cano, who went to be with the Lord last year. As a child, Mimi had never been to camp because her father did not allow her to leave the house. For many years she desired to attend camp and play with other kids. She finally had the chance to go to camp when CCI Latin America offered a course in Lima, Peru, to train camp counselors. She told us once: “That was the most significant, most glorious moment in my life when I played with other leaders during this course. I knew that God had called me to work in Christian Camping for the rest of my life”.
Later, when efforts were made to open an association in Peru, Mimi was on the first organizing committee in 2000; graduated from our Institute of Forming Instructors (IFI) in Guatemala – 2002; and from our IFI-2 in El Salvador. In 2004 she was in our first Camp Directors International Conference in Panama. Mimí travelled for more than 10 years all over Peru, training church leaders in how to improve their camp events using the curriculum CCI Latin America has developed for more than 25 years. Many of our national leaders talk about her as “a real missionary”, considering her commitment to Christ and the sacrificial impetus she gave when serving others around her. Mimi was an indefatigable servant of the Lord traveling the high and the low places of Peru for the Gospel. She was committed to the ministry of Christian Camps.
We have seen that there are four characteristics of Christian Camping, which prepare the leaders’ hearts for their life-time decision, crucial in full-time ministry calling, including missionary work:
- Christian Temporary Intentional Community — Small group dynamic
- Servant Leadership Environment – Christ-like Character
- Bible-centered based program – Spiritual Formation
- Experiential Learning Focus – Combining theory and practice
There is always a need for more missionaries who would like to commit their lives as Mimí did, to share the Gospel of Jesus and to facilitate the growth of leaders through their involvement in the ministry of Christian Camping. We need leaders who would like to serve the Latin church through Christian Camping to develop leaders who are biblically grounded, growing in Christ-like character and actively using their God-given gifts to deepen the walks of new believers and pour themselves into developing younger leaders.
By: Robert Bruneau, UWM Regional Leader for South America &
Director of CCI Latin America