Crossings' testimony

God's call to ministry experienced by many campers

By Rusty Ellison

Published: March 1, 2021

The theme of this last Western Recorder, "Calling Out the Called," sparked memories of L. R. Scarbrough, who served as the second president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Rusty Ellison

Prior to his role as president, Scarbrough was the seminary's chair of evangelism. B. H. Carroll called that position the "Chair of Fire." An evangelist to his core, Scarbrough wrote a significant paper in 1914 on the matter of "Calling Out the Called." Scarbrough's passion and fire were so evident that the phrase "calling out the called" gained much traction in Baptist life in the early part of the 20th century.

More than 100 years ago, Scarbrough wrote, "The need for workers in the harvest fields of God was never greater. The cry for effective helpers comes from every quarter and side of the kingdom work … a divine call is a spiritual necessity to successful work in the kingdom of grace, either in preaching or in missions … He must do the calling, pastors, churches, anxious parents or loving friends must not do the calling of preachers and missionaries. Nothing can fill the place of the divine inner call.

"God is doing His part, will we do ours? There is a human side to the divine call: God calls and man calls out."

While all of us are called by God to minister to those in need and share our faith in Jesus, there are surely those God calls specifically to vocational ministry. Over our 20 years of Crossings camps, we have sought to provide an environment in which our students can hear a call of God to such a vocational endeavor.

Our mission statement states, "We create experiences to proclaim the gospel." As we serve thousands of students and kids every summer (hopefully again in 2021!), we also pay particular attention to those students who respond to God's call to vocational ministry.

And every summer we see hundreds of our students give testimony to their student ministers that at camp they experience a call to such work. Over the years, our data suggests that some 7,000 have sensed God's call in the midst of the experience we call 'camp.'

We admit that it is difficult to verify what happens in the lives of such students when they get back home. However, we can point to so many specific cases where the trajectory of the student's life was forever changed as a result of an encounter with God at camp.

Those of you who have read my column over the last few months know that in the midst of the pandemic and financial challenges we face at Crossings, we launched a 2020 campaign to raise $20,000 by the end of 2020.

When Dec. 31 came, we were over our goal — so we extended the 2020 appeal to the end of January. I am so very thankful that we far, far surpassed our goal. A sincere thanks to so many of you who contributed. We wouldn't have made it without your support.

Now that our 2020 appeal is over, by the time you read this, recent donors will have received our "thank yous" and swag bundles in our appreciation for your generosity.

I also want to give a word of testimony to the influence and significance of our Western Recorder. After reading my column in the Recorder two months ago, God stirred the heart of one of the readers to send us an extraordinarily generous gift that put us well above $70,000 on our 2020 campaign. To God be the glory! And as I have already written in previous columns, I'm going to miss our Recorder, as I know many of you will, too.

Today, 107 years after Scarbrough wrote and preached on "Calling Out the Called," the need has never been greater nor the responsibility weightier for Crossings to continue to make such a task one of our top priorities. Pray for us as we plan so diligently for camp this June and July — pray that God would mightily stir the hearts of the thousands of students and kids that we are expecting this summer!

Rusty Ellison is vice president of development for Crossings. He can be reached at