2015 marks the 25th year that Kiah Ridge has been a ministry activity of the Baptist Association of NSW/ACT. This milestone provides us with an opportunity to be reminded of the beginnings of a vision, and the bold steps of determination that were taken to see it become reality.
In exploring some of the history of Kiah Ridge, it was amazing to hear of how the plans came together. Many will know of the Christian Youth Travel Association (CYTA), who purchased the centre and established it as Kiah Ridge, a centre for Christian Camping Ministry. This was a bold vision, to establish a centre from scratch in the challenging economic climate of the late 1980’s. What is more amazing is the six day timeframe from initial site inspection to auction day when the property was purchased The bank was willing to fund the deposit and work out the details later.
Fast forward about two years, and a throw away comment in a carpark in July 1989, ‘don’t want to buy a campsite do you…’ saw the wheels begin turning for the Baptist Association to purchase Kiah Ridge. There had already been discussions occurring regarding the Baptist Association looking to consolidate its existing camping venues and develop a new centre on a suitable site. A mere seven months later in January 1990, the Baptist Association had taken ownership with existing forward bookings and additional camps continuing at Kiah Ridge.
On average, each year, we welcome over 5000 people to Kiah Ridge, over half of which are connected with local Churches or ministry organisations. Many of our groups have a long standing connection with the centre, and it is a privilege to be involved in supporting their ministry objectives through a Christian Camping experience.
Kiah Ridge has definitely developed over the last 25 years, and Christian Camping has evolved also. The word ‘camp’ is now often interchanged with house party, weekend away or retreat. However, there is one aspect of Christian Camping that remains steadfast, that is, the impact that it has on transforming lives through its unique community and opportunities to connect with Jesus that it provides.
Whilst many of us involved in camping ministry are convicted of its impact, a brief snapshot from a recent survey reveals: For 1 in 10, Church Camps were the most significant in coming to faith and this rises to 3 in 10 when looking at 15 – 29 year olds; Nearly 47% of those who attended a camp said it was very important to their first faith commitment. It is encouraging to know that the ministry of Christian Venues like Kiah Ridge continue to bear fruit for the Kingdom.
There are many milestones, especially building and infrastructure development, which we should count as significant over the last 25 years. The most significant milestones however, go much deeper than specific programs, events and buildings and cannot be captured on a timeline. These milestones are the lives that have been impacted and transformed, through the ministry of Kiah Ridge. They are the stories of people, just like you and me, meeting with Jesus for the first time, being challenged to grow in their relationship with God, and being shaped and prepared for a life of discipleship.
These milestones that speak of lives impacted and transformed are the reason that we are here. Changed lives are the real assets that have been developed over the last 25+ years. These milestones will shape the future direction of Kiah Ridge, ensuring that we continue to work in partnership to connect people with Jesus and invite them to experience His community.
Underpinning all that the journey has been, and what it will continue to be in years to come, is one thing. It is our foundation that is built on Jesus. Let us be reminded that what enabled Kiah Ridge to grow to the centre it is today, were bold visions and leadership that held a firm foundation in Jesus coupled with the passion to see the transformation power of Christian Camping be an integral ministry activity in the life of the local Church.
In this edition of Together, we would like to encourage you to share stories with each other of your Christian Camping experiences and how they have impacted your life, and the lives of people around you. You may have stayed at a conference centre like Kiah Ridge with your Church, school or Youth Group. You may have made a decision to follow Jesus, been Baptised in a swimming pool on a weekend away, deepened your relationship with God, responded to a call to full time ministry during a conference, met your future spouse at camp… whatever the impact, we’re asking you to share it with others.
Celebrating a significant anniversary or milestone is a great opportunity to support, share and give generously. So we would like to encourage you to pray for the future of your centre, its teams, guests and ministry opportunities and look out for opportunities to give to the ongoing needs of Kiah Ridge. The greatest gift that you could share in, would be to:
- unite together in revitalising and building upon Christian Camping in your local Churches and networks;
- to commit to getting away together in intentional temporary community;
- continue seeing God at work through the many Christian Venues here to partner with you in Kingdom building work.