“Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side, hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his forces were closing in on David and his men to capture them, a messenger came to Saul, saying, ‘Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the land.’ Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines. That is why they call this place Sela Hammahlekoth. And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi” (I Samuel 23:26-29).
In the latter portions of I Samuel, Saul is relentlessly pursuing David intent on killing him. In this passage, God gave David and his men the opportunity to escape to a hidden oasis know as En Gedi for a much needed rest. Our conference centers provide an “En Gedi” for our members and their families to get away from the pressures of the battle; to rest, relax, reflect, and recuperate.
Jeannie and I have had the unique opportunity to see both conference centers from just about every perspective there is. In 1968, fresh out of high school, I was introduced to (then) Officers’ Christian Union when I delivered milk to the Spring Canyon kitchen in Poundstone Lodge from the dairy store in Buena Vista. I also served ice cream to Cleo Buxton, Jonathan Shine, and other Spring Canyon Campers.
In 1972, I attended the first New Graduates Seminar at Spring Canyon. In 1978, Jeannie and I helped organize the first busload of OCF members from the Washington, DC, area to visit the White Sulfur Springs Hotel that the council was considering for the eastern conference center. Then we made several weekend trips to help get the building ready to open in June 1978. Since then we have spent many blessed times at both conference centers as campers, ROACT board members, OCF council, conference leaders, and camp staff. Our children have participated in Allegheny Outback and as summer staff.
We have seen first-hand the impact of this En Gedi in the lives of OCF members and others. We have seen families come in broken and leave healed and vibrant. We have seen men and women catch a vision for leadership, and then seen the impact that they have had at their home stations as a result. We have seen generations grow up with regular visits to Spring Canyon and White Sulphur Springs to continue family traditions of Christian excellence.
Spring Canyon and White Sulphur Springs are a vital element of the ministry of OCF.
How we are praying God will move during the next 40 days
I pray that God will move members to complete this phase of the Growing and Building Campaign quickly. The new lodging and infrastructure is in place at Spring Canyon. The capacity to house and minister to families is there and being used. But the dining room and kitchen are strained beyond capacity. We need this one more step to enable the staff to effectively serve our members.
—Jim & Jeannie Hougnon
Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret.
Co-Chair, Growing and Building Campaign Committee