The ministry of Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center reaches far beyond the campus’ borders in Talladega, as Shocco staffers regularly serve in missions in the U.S. and around the world.
“Shocco’s impact crosses international borders,” said Russell Klinner, Shocco’s executive director
Every year, teams from Shocco volunteer to work projects at other like-minded ministries in Alabama and surrounding states. Additionally, twice a year usually in February and August, Shocco sends a team to El Refugio, a camp similar to Shocco and located a little north of Quito, Ecuador, in the Calacali mountains.
The partnership between Shocco and El Refugio is mutually beneficial, with each encouraging and building up the other. During each mission experience, the staff of El Refugio do an amazing job of keeping visitors focused not only on the assigned work projects, but also on the participants growing their personal relationship with God. They want the lessons learned to be taken back home and applied to everyday life.
In September, a team from Shocco flew to Ecuador, looking forward to reconnecting with El Refugio’s camp team. Their work project this time was building and installing trusses and roofing, and preparing the windows and doors for Hermitage Cabin, which is to be an isolated retreat set in nature, with room for one person at a time.
Many of the materials used in this project were hand cut and milled from trees cut on-site. Team member Lauren Cowart noted, “These are very resourceful people who don’t waste anything. While they don’t have some of the opportunities that we do, they use every resource to the fullest. Things that we would throw away as trash, they clean up and reuse.”
Ministering to families
In addition to the work projects, Shocco’s team joins with El Refugio in ministering to local villages. The camp offers free school supplies and some monetary support for low income families, while allowing the families to participate in on-site training classes. This time, while the parents were attending financial planning classes, Shocco’s staff treated the children to an Olympics-themed day camp. The kids were delighted to be given backpacks and teddy bears that were handmade at Shocco by Campers on Mission volunteers.
On another day, Shocco’s team was allowed to conduct an afternoon of day camp at a school pavilion in the village of Yungilla, about 20 minutes from El Refugio. Despite the language barrier, Shocco staffers Julio Gonzalez and Exari Garcia, along with three of the El Refugio camp personnel, helped with translation so that the children were walked through the salvation story using colorful beaded bracelets to reinforce the concepts of sin, blood of Jesus, cleansing of sin, baptism, spiritual growth and heaven.
Historically, Yungilla has been closed off to missionaries bringing the gospel message into their community, and most of their villagers participate in a distorted version of Catholicism that includes elements of an ancient pagan religion. In the recent past, however, two boys from Yungilla worked at El Refugio in order to help support their families. When there were some unexpected deaths that devastated their community, the villagers noticed that these boys were able to deal with the tragedies in a much calmer way than the rest of the village because the El Refugio staff had been ministering to them.
As a result of this experience, the villagers have begun asking questions about the gospel. Their relationship with El Refugio opened the door for Shocco mission teams to host day camp for the kids in the village.
This trip was Katie Threatt’s first time on an airplane, first time on a mission trip, and her first time out of the United States. She was nervous, but knew she felt God calling her to go.
“I wanted the little kids to understand that God loves them, and that regardless of what home situation or poverty they live in, God is there for them, even in their darkest moments,” Threatt said.
To learn more about missions opportunities at El Refugio, click here.