MainKids Camp Out 2016: Part 2

June 23, 2016

By Dolores Rader, Minister to Children

Camp Out is coming to a close and we are filled with sadness to leave our
friends and this beautiful, beautiful place! It has been such an amazing
camp filled with God’s presence at every turn. Here are a few highlights
from me and then highlights from the boys!

Since worship is our central theme to Camp Out, we have one worship
service each day we are here. On Tuesday, Rachel Moore was our preacher
for our midday service and the girls lead in every aspect of the service
from tolling the hour to singing “Little Lamb” as the offertory anthem to
praying, reading scripture, and ushering. On Wednesday, Suzann Herrmann
and the boys led the evening service at the water. Suzann preached on
looking up and finding God wherever we are. The boys sang Amazing Grace
and ended the service with a joyful “I’ll Fly Away”. As is our tradition,
on the morning we leave, we will have our final Camp Out worship service
outside at the giant cross here at Artesian Lakes. Anna Rader is our
preacher and the camp counselors lead in worship. All of our worship was
based in Psalm 92 this year.

MKCampout2016FWe played at the playground, played capture the flag, hiked, swam, flew
down the slides into the lake, and shopped at the gift shop for candy and
souvenirs. In between all of the fun, we talked about and practiced
different disciplines for personal worship. Amanda Villasenor talked to
us about what the Bible says about personal time with the Lord and how
she practices journaling. We made our own journals and journaled
throughout camp. Emily Westerburg talked to us about the importance of
devotion time and how she and Mr. Trey do this together and separately.
We also talked about ways to ask for prayer from our friends and ways we
can pray when we can’t find the words and when we only want to share our
thoughts with God. We made teeny, tiny prayer boxes, lit candles, and
prayed for each other.


And now highlights from the boys:

I loved everything about this camp. My favorite parts though were playing
with my friends, swimming, free time, and seeing wildlife. –TrevorMcLaughlin

I love camp because we can have fun. My favorite part in camp is the
slides and seeing wildlife. -Ulysses Paredes

I liked naming the wildlife. That is my favorite thing. -Cody Sawyer

I love swimming with my friends and spending time with my friends. For
swimming, I love the slide! -William Fowler

My favorite thing here to do is Circle Time and free time. -Timothy Kutz

Quiet time is my favorite time at camp. -Marco Campos

My favorite part about MainKids Camp Out is hanging out with my church
friends. I love playing tag, swim, and do a bunch of other stuff. -Lee


MainKids Camp Out 2016

June 23, 2016

MKCampout2016DBy Dolores Rader, Minister to Children

Our fourth and fifth graders are at a point in their lives when they are ready to exercise their gifts of leadership and to dig deeper into the practices of corporate and personal worship. Camp Out at Artesian Lakes is the perfect place to safely and boldly lean into these two ideas. Below is a sentence or two from each of the 9 4th and 5th grade girls on what their favorite aspect of Camp Out is, but before you read on to their favorites, let me briefly share some of my favorites.

I love that we bring high school youth to serve as the perfect role models to the children in how we lead with a servant’s heart. They work REALLY hard and at the same time swim and play games establishing relationships to ease the transition to the Youth Group, sing songs around a campfire introducing them to Youth music and traditions, and sit side by side in worship praising and praying together.

One of my other favorite elements of Camp Out is our tradition of “Circle Time”. Every child, youth and adult gets the opportunity to sit in the middle of a big circle surrounded by all the rest of us, where we each, one by one, sisters and brothers, boys and girls, best friends and new friends, offer a sincere blessing which begins “What I like about you is…”. It is a beautiful gift of affirmation to receive and a empowering gift to give. This tradition is life giving and life transforming.

I could on and on about all of my other aspects of Camp Out, but for now hear straight from the kids and counselors themselves…


My fav part of camp is riding the horses. It’s fun. #horses

Gillian Tinsley

I love to ride things mainly horses, and Lily G. Hot coco in my mouth is the best! J Playing games in circle time is great!

Isabella Campos


During camp, everyone has a secret helper. Their secret helper is extra nice to them and pushes them in the right direction.

Elaina Mays

The absolute best thing about camp out is the opportunity to watch each and every child be authentically and completely themselves! We have the BEST kids!!

Amanda Villasenor

I love the outside space at Artesian Lakes. Our house is huge, and I love how big our living room is. #lake

Lily Gribble


I loved the pool another favorite is the slide and finally the store the best of all the three!

Kiran Harper

One thing that I love about Camp Out is swimming. I also love the Gratitude Cafe. I also love circle time.

Lily Durden

The absolute best part of camp is quiet time when all my friends come in my room and we have a snack party and talk. It is nice being new to the church and getting to know everybody. I love circle time a lot. I also enjoy swimming.

Jessie Horton

One thing I like so far in camp is hanging with my friends. Another thing I like about camp so far is Gratitude Café. The last thing I like so far in camp is the swimming and the alligators.

Kayden Nickel


One of the many things I love about Main Kids Camp Out is Gratitude Café. First thing in the morning, everybody in the house gathers to make crazy drinks – topped with sprinkles and whipped cream, and talk about the many blessings for which we are grateful. Gratitude Café allows us to really reflect on the joys in our life, from tangible objects to our friendships and opportunities. This daily morning ritual fills our hearts with thanksgiving and prepares us for the day.

Anna Rader


My favorite things about Camp Out are:

-Swimming in the lake

-Circle time outside

-Free time

Rachel Kee

My favorite thing about Camp Out every summer is watching the development of every child’s leadership skills! I have especially loved so far this week seeing both the fourth and fifth graders be and grow into incredibly mature and thoughtful members of our church family, and I am so excited for the future of the youth group and the church in the hands of such open-minded and knowledgeable Christians. The respect and care for which each and every child treats their peers and counselors and their unrelenting curiosity and joy has made Camp Out this summer an unparalleled experience!

Elysa Tulek

Peru Mission Trip Summer 2016 Day 3

June 14, 2016

By Isabella Baar-Hill

As a member of the music and dance team on the mission trip to Peru, I teach the kids songs and dances to perform for their parents and friends at the end of the week. Breaking through the language barrier, we learned specific Spanish words that are often used in teaching music and dance. During our second full day in Peru at OSA, we presented the children with the theme of Cultural Exchange; we worked from American & Texan perspectives so the kids got a taste of our culture. During dance, we played many rounds of musical chairs (a game I’ve quickly learned they LOVE). We only played English music because that’s what we know and brought with us. While others led the game, I played and stopped the music, watching the kids from the side lines. I began to notice that the kids were quietly singing and humming along to our English songs, words they couldn’t have known. I realized these kids were subconsciously, and joyfully learning our culture in ways we had not planned.PeruSummerBlogDay3During the music classes, Carey took time to teach and translate words we could use in common enabling us to bond with them in a unique way. I was reminded of how excited the kids were two years ago when I came when they would ask how to say things in English and I’d attempt to teach them. This was a new and eye opening experience because I was accustomed to being their student, struggling to learn Spanish. Their willingness to overcome our foreign language and pronunciations with attitudes of joy is a gift I will carry home with me. Their openness to a new culture despite the struggle is inspiring. Every moment I spend with these kids who show such eagerness to learn despite failure, makes me strive more and more to be like them.

Isabella Baar-Hill completed her Junior Year at Houston Christian High School. She is the daughter of J Hill and Hillevi Baar.

Give Grace

October 4, 2010

Dear South Main Family,

Grace may be the single most defining characteristic of Christian life.  We read about it in the Scripture, “for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works – so that no one can boast.”  We sing about it in worship, “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound that saved a wretch like me.”  We say grace before a meal and ask for grace to be excused from a place.  Grace makes everything it touches beautiful: dancers are graceful; manners are gracious.  As a child I learned to define grace as, “unmerited favor.” In my growing up,  I am less convinced I can define grace.  I have grown to prefer a description to a definition, “a gift which costs the giver everything to give and the receiver nothing to receive.”  Lots of Christian words have been sullied in a secular context: charity, once considered the greatest love one person could offer another has become a thing which, in order to receive it, one must have failed; pious, which once pictured a life rooted in faith, has become a byword for a person who is snooty or hypocritical.  But no matter how much the world touches grace, grace holds its wonder.  There is something both incredibly strong and amazingly gentle about grace.  And still I wonder – how much does grace characterize the living of our days?  Do we live in the gracious bliss of gratefulness for the grace we have from God?  Does having received grace make us more gracious?  What would our lives look like if we who have received grace were to Give Grace?

This fall we are going to take the month of October to Give Grace.  Each week in worship we will examine a grace event.  We will read about grace together from the pages of Philip Yancey’s book, What’s So Amazing About Grace?.  We will Give Grace in acts of mission.  Each of us will have an opportunity to reflect on God’s grace in our own lives and in our interactions with the people in our lives.  And in all these things I pray we will develop a stronger sense of the grace in which we stand and that newfound sense of grace will shape the way we talk our talk, walk our walk, and grace God’s world. I look forward to the month and the way that living it changes us.

Grace and peace,


Steve Wells, Pastor, South Main Baptist Church

Unpacking “I See You”

February 16, 2010

At the January 17, 2010 Golden Globe Awards, James Cameron accepted an award for the Best Director of a Motion Picture. In his acceptance speech, he quoted from the movie, “Oel ngati kameie” which in the Avatar movie-speak language of Na’vi means, “I see you.” For Cameron, saying, “I see you,” was a way to express appreciation, honor, and love to those he worked with in making the movie. While I haven’t seen the movie yet, the phrase, “I see you” jumped right out at me–I knew that wasn’t a James Cameron original. I learned about the concept of “I see you” not in the movies but in seminary.

My Duke Divinity professor Dr.Peter Storey, past president of the Methodist Church of South Africa and of the South African Council of Churches, taught us about the concept that is familiar in Africa and frankly, shouldn’t be unfamiliar to those of us who read the Bible. Desmond Mpilo Tutu, in his1999 book No Future without Forgiveness writes this of the African concept of ubuntu, “Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language. It speaks of the very essence of being human. It is to say, ‘my humanity is caught up, inextricably bound up, in yours.’ We belong in a bundle of life…it is not, ‘I think therefore I am.’ It says rather: “I am human because I belong. I participate. I share.’ Dr. Storey translated ubuntu as “I see you.”

While in Africa, ubuntu may be characterized as a philosophy of life, for Christians in all the world, seeing, appreciating, and cultivating the humanity and God-created good in others around us should be a way of life. For Christians, “I see you” should mean “I love you” in the fullest capacity. Jesus prays in John 17:23, “I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” 1 John 4 writes of seeing the other in this way, “We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”

A recent Avatar blog asks, “What does ‘I see you’ or Oel ngati kameie mean to you in Avatar?” I might ask, what does ‘I see you’ mean to you as a Christian who learns from Jesus that to see is to love and to love is to see?  How can you learn to see and love others around you? Not just your spouse or family or best friend…what about the person you’ve never met who is single and lives alone? What about the widow who has lost her spouse? What about the person who is homeless standing on the corner? What about the friend who is having a hard time?  Daily, may we have the courage to see others as God sees us and calls us his own beloved children.

What I learned about church at the U2 concert

November 5, 2009

u2bestWednesday night Bible study may be my favorite time of the week, so something very unusual has to happen for me to miss it. A few Wednesdays ago, I was in town, but not at South Main. Instead, my wife, Missy and I joined 80,000 or so other people at Reliant Stadium for the U2 concert. It was an amazing night and an incredible concert. It was also a religious experience. If you don’t know, allow me to let you in on the worst kept secret in the music industry: U2 is a Christian band. It is not just that the members of the band are open about their Christian faith, their music is deeply informed by that faith. Many of their songs directly quote Scripture; others offer mature reflection on the Gospel. The concert in Houston began with a song about the Holy Spirit, moved through a song about Judas Iscariot, and closed with a song called “moment of surrender.”

I was at turns enthralled by the depth of the music, wowed by the technology employed for the show, and fascinated by the crowd in the stadium. I am told that many to most of U2’s fans do not know that their music is so deeply rooted in Christian faith; but the crowd clearly connected deeply to the Gospel message being offered. It says something important about the Gospel that so many people, many of who have their guard up against “Christians” and “the church,” respond to the message of Jesus when it gets past their defenses. The church has something to learn from the success of U2 in sharing the Gospel. I have been thinking about what that might be this week and here are three preliminary thoughts:

Presentation matters.

U2 puts on an incredible show. We are not going to compete with them either in razzle dazzle electronics or in musical style. But part of the band’s appeal is that they have worked to prepare a place for you. Bo Prosser at CBF says, “people go where they know they have been prepared for and are cared for;” and he is right about that. It is clear from the moment U2’s show starts to the moment it is over that a place has been prepared for the fan. They are dedicated to innovation and excellence in all that they do: the show in Houston was different because it was in Houston. They had been to NASA, they knew things about us that became a part of the experience. They were enthusiastic about Houston; they cared about us. Excellence and passion attract. They know that connecting to the fan is a part of the delivery of the message. They know that communicating that they care is part of earning the opportunity to speak. South Main has long had some of the most beautiful worship space in town – our sacred space was built on the belief that architecture and design, when done well and right, evoke worship (or hinder it when done poorly). The present renovations of our campus will bring our discipleship space into the same kind of thoughtful, functional beauty as our worship space. Our building committee is struggling over details of paint and carpet color, technology choices, and furniture selection as part of our commitment as a church to prepare a place for our guests. We are setting the table with architecture and design throughout our campus. Of course architecture and design are only the first steps, we have to continue to plan meaningful, thoughtful, and engaging worship and Bible study. And we have to demonstrate to people – new and tenured alike – that we care. All of that is to say I believe our plans to date will show themselves to be wise and strategic in the near future.

Authenticity matters.

U2 is a rock band. Their fans expect a concert, and the band delivers. More than that, their music recognizes, explores, and mines the tension between the desperation, disappointment, and confusion we experience in the world around us with the joy, grace, and love we know has been planted within us through King Jesus. We intuitively know both that the world is a mess and that it ought not e this way. They Gospel points us to the redemption of creation. The church we are called to be, like U2, attracts people with excellence and helps us to live in the tension between what is and what should be by meaningfully offering ways to fix our eyes on what is unseen and to touch for ourselves the One who was from the beginning. People in our community are looking for a church like South Main, but do not yet know what to make of us, or do not yet know we are here. We have an opportunity to honestly shape people’s expectation about us in advance of their coming. Our Outreach and Publicity committees have worked hard with our staff to succinctly and honestly capture the essence of our church so that we can intentionally communicate with the surrounding community. Our marketing campaign “Fresh Faith. Vintage church.” is our effort to do so. We want people to come expecting both a place rooted in traditions older than we are and a place of grace and truth where honest questions meet thoughtful struggle, a place where we worship God, grow in our faith, and share all we have.

A call to service matters.

U2 invites people to join the ONE campaign, a secular effort to effect political pressure in favor of the poor of the earth. U2 fans know there will be a call to action. In the same way, people coming to the church want to know not only what we believe but how we behave: what are you doing with the faith you proclaim? South Main’s long commitment to the social gospel rings true to the culture around us. A rich heritage of lay-initiated ministries bears ongoing witness to the dynamic work of the Holy Spirit in this place and our faithfulness in responding to the call.

I believe the combination of beautiful space, well-prepared time, gracious hospitality, and commitment to doing real good in the world is not only authentic to the call of Christ, but also the very thing many people in our culture are seeking. As I have reflected on the concert, I realized South Main has a long and rich tradition of doing the things that are attractive for the Gospel to the community around us today. Last month I went to a concert and came home encouraged about the church.

Grace and Peace,


Encounter with an Angel – By Cindy Hippel

October 15, 2009

praying-angel-bwDriving east on I-10 that summer day seven years ago, I would never have guessed that I would meet an angel.  I was on my way to Baton Rouge to join my sister and help her chaperone 18 high school cheerleaders who were attending cheerleader camp in Florida.  A few miles from Lafayette, driving in the passing lane, I sensed that an SUV was edging over a bit too close.  I moved over, but the SUV kept coming, eventually edging me off the shoulder and onto the soft median.

I turned the wheel too sharply, overcorrected, and began whirling in a 180 degree spin. Knowing I was out of control, I remember grasping the wheel, holding on, and then covering my face with both hands, waiting for the eventual impact.  Finally my car stopped spinning.  I slowly uncovered my face and found myself in the middle of Interstate 10 facing the oncoming traffic.

Miraculously every car and 18 wheeler was stopped dead still, blocked by a pick-up truck which was stopped at an angle between me and all the traffic.  At that moment a short man, with red hair and a bushy beard appeared at my driver’s side window and asked, “Are you all right?  I’ll help you turn back around.”  Obediently following his directions, I maneuvered my car to the eastbound shoulder, and sat motionless, as the busy traffic continued on its way.

Finally the little red haired man questioned me about where I was from and where I was going, and then he asked, “Are you a Christian?”  When I answered yes, he said, “Well, we’re just going to pray right here.”  As the traffic roared past he prayed the most beautiful prayer, thanking God that I was unharmed, and asking that I have a safe journey.  Then he offered to wait in his truck, which was parked behind me, until I was ready to return to the road.  “Take your time. It will be all right,”  he assured me.  I sat there for a few minutes regaining my composure, and then ever so carefully returned to the highway, arriving safely in Baton Rouge later that afternoon. I saw an angel on the road that summer day that brought God’s message, “Do not be afraid.”

Holey house shoes

September 18, 2009

wornoutslippersBy Amy Grizzle, Minister to Adults

My college friend Katie grew up Episcopalian. She and her husband now attend a Baptist church, joined a Sunday School class, and make sure their children are in Sunday School and worship every Sunday.  They are enjoying a good church with good folks.  She calls me from time to time to ask me “Baptist questions” since I’m the homegrown Baptist she knows best.

Katie called recently to let me know she’s on bed rest late in her pregnancy with their second child and to ask a “Baptist question.”  I was expecting a doctrinal question, but Katie’s question concerned casseroles.  Members of her church surprised Katie with a meal saying they knew bed rest makes it hard on a family.  She was truly touched by their thoughtfulness, but also truly shocked.  “In our church growing up, you came to worship, you were seen, you went home, and you told people you go to church there.  Here, people showed up at my door with a casserole and I thought they were at the wrong house.  You’re a minister now, what’s up with that, Amy?”  I laughed and simply said, “we’re Baptists—food says you care.  And it means they know you.” Katie laughingly responded, “yeah, now they know I have holes in my slippers.”

Sometimes being cared for means being known.  It’s what happens when you’re invested in a community. It has nothing to do with denomination and everything to do with the heart and soul of a community of faith.  Being a Christian means we are both willing to give and willing to receive.  And sometimes that means people see the holes in your slippers…I’m just glad I’m not the only one with holey house shoes.