Officers Reconnect at AOK Family Camp
By: Captain Jonathan Gainey
On the weekend of August 26-28, friends, adherents, soldiers, and officers came together at Camp Heart O’ Hills in Welling, Oklahoma for the AOK Division’s bi-annual Family Camp. With the theme of “Travel Along in the Sunshine”, Majors Paul and Karen Egan prayerfully and lovingly planned the weekend to be a time of spiritual rejuvenation, starting right away, on a hot Friday afternoon, with an open swimming pool.
Friday evening, everyone was introduced to AOK’s new Divisional Leaders, Majors Lewis and Jacqulyn Reckline, with a prayerfully conducted installation by Commissioners Don and Debora Bell. After the formalities of the installation were ended with a joyful close, Honor Junior Soldier Savannah Robinson was invited to the stage to take a playful cell phone selfie with the Territorial and Divisional Leaders.
In the opening message, the Divisional Commander ensured the AOK Division that he and his wife are more than willing to lead the division in the battle against the evil one, sharing, “We want to move the AOK Division Forward in Christ Jesus . . . We want to win souls for the Kingdom.”
Saturday morning, while the children and youth were introduced to their various classes, the adults enjoyed a study in Isaiah 35, led by Major Thomas McWilliams. After Bible class, everyone split off into various electives, some of which would be performed that evening at the Family Camp Corps Praise Concert. Other activities included Bible trivia and arts and crafts.
Throughout the day, there were plenty of family activities to be enjoyed by all ages. The weather seemed to cooperate with the theme, offering plenty of sunshine for swimming, human foosball, tennis, basketball, and the joyous tradition of “Singing on the Porch.”
After dinner, the praise concert gave ample opportunity for applause, as the youth chorus, hand bells, 2 praise teams, the drama team, and the songsters presented their gifts to God before an enthusiastic crowd. The culmination of the evening was the anticipated presentation of Marsha and Tom Walker. Accompanied by the brilliant piano playing of Marsha’s brother, Major Stan Colbert, Marsha sang good ole Salvation Army songs with an infectious energy that included the participation of a happy audience. Tom joined Marsha and Major Colbert, chiming in with rousing performances on the trombone and an occasional duet with his lovely wife.
Finishing off the weekend, Captain Nick Garrison had everyone on their feet, singing along, and laughing often, during Sunday school preliminaries. After the children were taken to their own Sunday school classes, Major Deanna Gilliam led the adults in a lesson about living joyfully. Worship meetings for the 6-12 year olds were attended by the youth, while the adults were led into the presence of God by the leadership of Major Lewis Reckline and the Divisional Band.
The culmination of the entire weekend was passionately delivered by an encouraging morning message by Major Jacqulyn Reckline. Titled, “Stepping Up: The Joyful Ascent,” Major Reckline’s message challenged everyone to remember that we don’t have to wait for God to show up, because God has been present all along, and “You will be changed after being in the presence of God.” Offering the opportunity to pray, Major Jacqulyn Reckline reminded the congregation that God sees and loves each person, and many found their way to the altar. This time of commitment was not the final opportunity to pray.
Major Jacqulyn Reckline challenged all who “sensed upon them God saying, ‘I want you to be a part of this ministry in The Salvation Army,” to stand with her. Many courageous souls stood up and walked forward, joining her as they stood together before their encouragers, and prayed over by the spirit-filled prayer of Captain Ken Chapman.
Closing with an inspiring, band-led singing of “I’ll Go In The Strength of The Lord,” AOK Family Camp 2016 left everyone encouraged as they gave their hugs, said their goodbyes, before traveling along in the sunshine on their way home.