Making waves at the Pavilion

by Robert Mitchell, Hugo Bravo and Warren L. Maye

An evening thunderstorm delayed “Family Fun Night” at the OOB Camp Meetings on Monday, but the rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm as “Extreme Balloon Man” entertained children and adults alike in the Pavilion.

As Christian praise music wafted through the air, the free event kicked off at 5 p.m., two hours earlier than usual, with food, a petting zoo, inflatables, face-painting, ice cream, basketball, a rock wall, and more. However, the fun didn’t last long when rain and thunderstorms rolled through some 40 minutes later and organizers ushered everyone into the Pavilion.

Major Leslie Knaggs, the assistant territorial youth secretary, said that wasn’t the plan, but “What do we do when it rains? We make the best out of it!”

After a song from the Camp Meeting Kids Chorus, Steve Gambrill, known as “Extreme Balloon Man,” took the stage. Gambrill, joined by his puppet friend “Scrappy,” used balloons, puppets, and magic to present several gospel–related object lessons.

In one, Gambrill used balloons to dress up a girl from the audience as a butterfly and explained how we are changed when we accept Christ, much like when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

Gambrill, a Baltimore resident and award-winning balloonist with a ministry called Extreme Balloons, got his start by sharing the gospel 40 years ago. His experience has taught him that keeping the attention of children is a wonderful challenge.

“I knew that if you did something with your hands, at the same time that you’re speaking, it makes it more memorable,” he said. “I found a clown and magic shop and I took a course in magic, and then I started doing the balloons and puppets, and whatever I could do to put the gospel message to that. It’s been very effective.”

After the storm passed, “Family Fun Night” continued at 7 p.m. This time it lasted and included ice cream for everyone.

Major Leslie said the plan was to organize a welcome event that would draw Salvationists and residents of Old Orchard Beach and people on vacation in this beachfront town.

“This event tries to bring the community together to partner with what we’re doing in The Salvation Army,” she said. “We want to worship together with all generations.”

Hands On mission teams

The night also included videos and greetings from three Hands-On mission teams that went to Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, as well as St. Croix, in the Virgin Islands, Camp Ladore in Pennsylvania, and Times Square in New York.

Elaine Castro-Delaluz, a 24-year-old soldier at the New Brunswick, N.J., Corps, was a team leader for the trip to Mexico. She told SACONNECTS the experience was life changing.

“They have a lot less, but they have a lot of God as well,” she said of the people she served. “I learned to be more humble and more gracious and more grateful for the things that I have. I see things in a different perspective now.”

Castro-Delaluz said her four–person team helped with painting, community outreach, and feeding homeless people in the rough areas of Acapulco. They also spent time at a children’s home for kids who had been abandoned.

“We found that they don’t want gifts, they want your time,” Castro-Delaluz said. “They want your presence. They also like playing games and just being with us.”

Before going to Mexico, Castro-Delaluz said she felt comfortable with her life in the United States, but that was before she saw other people who are not so fortunate.

“They have a reason to complain,” she said. “They’ve seen their parents murdered in front of them, yet they seek God. So, for me, I have everything here. I have my family and both my parents. Now I have a perspective of gratefulness toward God. I praise Him in a way that I haven’t before.”

Studying the Bible at OOB

Monday got started with two Bible studies: one in the Old Orchard Beach Corps and another scheduled to take place on the beach.

Commissioners Mark W. and Sharon J. Tillsley led the study in the corps, which was focused on “Together in Mission: Lessons from Corinth.”

“We’re helping people understand that, as they look at the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul’s greatest hope was that he could be restored in fellowship with the people and they to him and his leadership,” Commissioner Mark explained. “But mostly, he wanted them to grow in their spiritual experience. He wanted them to experience sanctification or holiness and that’s what we’re really focusing in on in these days.”

The topic of the day was, “Humility & Power” based on the reading of 2 Corinthians 3:1, 4:6.

Commissioner Mark captured the attention of his audience when he asserted that it is possible for a Christian to be humble and powerful at the same time rather than what most people believe. During his presentation, Tillsley used the Apostle Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church to vividly illustrate this point.

Through a deeply insightful introduction and descriptive background on the decadent culture of Corinth, Tillsley laid the groundwork for a study on the seduction of power, the church’s contrary reaction to Paul’s message, his self–effacing reaction to them, and how his deep humility and respect resulted in his ultimate expression of power through empathy and love for the church he had founded.

The Commissioners Tillsley are scheduled to lead the study each morning through Thursday. Commissioner Mark, the senior instructor at the College for Officer Training (CFOT), called teaching “a great responsibility and challenge” and a “wonderful gift” to have been asked to participate. Commissioner Sharon said she prayed over her husband Monday morning before they left their hotel and she was thrilled to see so many people turn out for the study.

“It seemed like the teaching was blessing them,” Commissioner Sharon said later.

With clouds looming overhead and the possibility of rain in the forecast, the Beach bible study moved from OOB’s sandy shores to the Tabernacle. Attendees arrived with their flip flops and beach chairs and discussed new perspectives on the Gospel.

Majors Brett and Jessica DeMichael, corps officers in Montclair N.J., hosted the study.

“We’ve all been waiting to return for so long. No one ever wanted to stop coming in the first place,” said Major Brett. “So, the idea of being together again is encouraging. Plus, we’re only inside for the first day of bible study. We’re assuming that for the rest of the week we can be on the beach again.”

The discussion began on the power of letters. “Back when we used to send letters, everyone had a memorable occasion of receiving an impactful or purposeful letter,” said Major Brett.

Paul’s letter to the Romans had strong purpose for both his own work and theirs.

“I see three purposes in Paul’s letter: First, he wanted to prepare the church of Rome for his arrival before traveling to Spain. Second, he wanted the Christian leaders to be established in their faith, and to avoid the theological drift he felt was happening in the church. And third, he was writing to address the Gentiles of Rome, saying that they needed to learn how to coexist and live among the Jews of Rome.”

In our modern society, a letter saying that someone is coming over and you better prepare for their arrival might seem forward and bold. Major Brett compared it to receiving a letter that a missionary might send to  ask to stay at one’s home.

“In his first request, Paul is asking to be blessed by the Romans, not just welcomed. He wants their blessing to continue his travels,” says Major Brett. In the second request, the key word is established. “Paul also wants the faith of the Romans to have a solid foundation.”

The third request is the one we can most apply to our own daily lives. Paul is telling the Romans that both Jews and Gentiles are on the same boat, and we are all in need of Jesus to save us.

“Paul’s point is that whatever tradition you’re coming from, whether Jew or Gentile, no matter how much you believe you’re better than your brother next to you, it’s all a lie. It’s wrong,” says Major Brett. “We all need the truth, and the truth is in the Gospel.”

The OOB camp meetings continue Tuesday, July 26, with a 7 p.m. concert in the Pavilion by the New York Staff Band (NYSB) and Eastern Territorial Staff Songsters (ETSS).