Reflections by Craig Loibner
For more than 30 years, God has been using this little rustic camp in the heart of the Boston Mountains to make a difference in the lives of students. There will be many amazing stories that will be told one day in glory. The privilege of being a part of Castle Bluff’s history is one of the most treasured parts of my life. Castle Bluff has an amazing past – so many students have been impacted in significant ways there. I am deeply grateful for God’s past faithfulness. But I really do believe that Castle Bluff’s best days are still in the future. Today’s students have a deep need for what Jesus has to offer and I believe that God is raising up a group of adults who care about that need. This group is being called to step up and help Castle Bluff become better equipped to serve today’s students. Let me share some of what has brought me to this conclusion and then tell you about what we believe God is calling us to do.
Personally, my long involvement with Castle Bluff has been one of significant “highs” and “lows.” Two years ago I was stuck in a deep low. Both Castle Bluff and I seemed to be old and tired. Castle Bluff was without a resident caretaker and the wonderful memories of the care given by the Hickelheims and the Beans were becoming distant memories. But the Scriptures teach that when we are at the end of our own resources that we can become most open to the powerful hand of God . (2 Cor. 12:7-10) In my low place, I called out to the Lord. I spent some time thanking the Lordfor some of the many ways I had seen him use that place. As best I knew how, I gave the camp to him for whatever he wanted to do. I told him that if it was time to move on to other things, then I would do my best to follow his leading. I would walk away, if that is what he wanted. Then I told him that if he still had things he wanted to happen up there, then I would take steps to do whatever he wanted me to do. In my lowness I told him that if I was to go forward, he would have to bring some reaffirming encouragement my way. Soon after that some significant things happened.
- One of my closest friends, Greg Ingram, told me that he felt like God was motivating him to make a career change to do something significant in his next stage of life. He told me that he and his wife, Dana, felt like God was leading them to quit their jobs in central Arkansas and move to Castle Bluff to serve the ministry there. I couldn’t have asked for a more encouraging sign. The energy, vision and integrity that Greg and Dana brought to the table was huge!
- God had long ago given me a vision for what I believed was the one feature that Castle Bluff most needed. This was a new lodge that would serve the students when camps got too large for the other facilities AND would provide a facility that would enable us to do more significant ministry with adults. Greg and Dana’s news encouraged me to get more specific in what that lodge might look like and where we might put it. I even metwith an architect and things started to take form. Not long after that, my friend Sam Emmerling agreed to come help me construct new bathrooms at Shiloh Hall. Sam paused at one point and said to me, “Would you like to know what God has been telling me that this camp really needs?” When I told him I would, he began to describe to me in some detail what God had already laid on my heart. What followed next was a long and encouragingseries of conversations that helped us both come to the firm conclusion that God was on the move.
- Not long after that, I had the privilege of participating in a Men’s Retreat that was designed to be a part of a ministry of deep transformation in the lives of men. I took 3 other men from our church with me with the idea that if this was as good a thing as I had been told it was, those men would help me implement this ministry with the men in our church. Now, 18 months later, through a ministry that we are calling Men of the Ozarks, God has introduced 48 other men (8 at a time) to the idea of being deeply committed to Christ and his Kingdom and to each other. Instead of wanting to build a lodge with the idea of what “God might do,” we are able to move forward encouraged by what God is already doing. Over the years, I have become increasingly convinced that one of the best ways to impact students is by strengthening the family and helping parents (especially men) get their own life together and embrace their God-given responsibilities to disciple their children. There is so much more to be said on this subject, but there is one thing that is already happening, God is building a band of brothers that not only are taking responsibility in their families, but who also are committed to being a part of what God is doing at Castle Bluff.
I hope you are as encouraged as I am about these things!
Let me tell you was has happened so far and then suggest that there is a place for you in all of this.
- A plan has been drawn up to put a new lodge that takes full advantage of the wonderful view that is one of the best features of the property. It is to be on the edge of the Bluff where the rappelling deck used to be.
- Some significant seed money has been given that has enabled us to begin laying the foundations for this lodge and will help us with the first phase of construction.
- The foundation work has been ongoing and, God willing, the site will be ready for the structure to be framed up and “in the dry” the week of August 29-September 5.
We are hoping to rally the many friends of Castle Bluff to participate in two upcoming events.
On Sunday, August 21, at 3:00 P.M., we hope to gather many friends of Castle Bluff to a party at Next Level Events to celebrate the past work that God has done at Castle Bluff and to take steps to insure a bright future. The format is simple: we will show pictures and tell stories of what God has done and then invite people to help with what we think God is leading us to do. RSVP on Facebook here.
From Monday, August 29 to Monday, September 5, we will be doing actual construction on the new lodge. Some will be coming for the whole 8 days but many will be coming for different parts of the event. Some are coming to do construction work and others are coming to help with the logistics of feeding and encouraging the workers. We hope to see much work get done, but we also hope the event will help encourage and strengthen us all in the Lord and in his work. At the least, I think it will be great fun.
Let me suggest some ways that you can help:
- Pray. Ask God to lead and empower us as we seek to do his will. Pray that God would provide the resources we need to accomplish this.
- Come to the party at Next Level Events on Aug 21. RSVP on Facebook (search “Celebrating 30 Years of Castle Bluff”
- Invite others to the party. Take it upon yourself to bring other friends of Castle Bluff with you. You know people who simply will not get the word on this unless you reach out to them.
- Share your own Castle Bluff story at castle-bluff.com (click here). Take time to remember how God has used this place in your own life and simply type it into the form provided on Castle Bluff’s website. It is important for all of us that we acknowledge how God has blessed us. We hope to gather many stories.
- Come to the construction event. Come as soon as you can and stay as long as you can. Let us know of specific skills and tools you will be bringing. RSVP at castle-bluff.com. We want to have all the food and supplies we need to bring to serve you. (We are not charging anything for this event but you are encouraged to make a contribution to help with the expense of this event if God leads.)
- Invite others to come with you for the construction event. Help us to spread the word.
- Give. As God leads.
- Believe. Together we can make it happen.