Is Jesus your "forever Daddy?"


I usually do not read “Perspective,” the publication of Women’s Missions and Ministries Department of the Florida Baptist Convention. However, my wife pointed out an article in the Fall/Winter 2005 issue by Dr. Sharon Thompson, the “Camp Worldlight Director.” According to the Florida Baptist Convention’s website, Thompson has a PhD in child and adolescent psychology and teaches at the William Carey College in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Camp Worldlight is the new name for the GA and Acteen camp sponsored each summer by the Florida Baptist Convention. According to the website, in 2004, 324 campers made “first-time professions of faith.” Doesn’t that language betray the superficiality of our evangelism? Now we must qualify “profession of faith” with “first-time” to distinguish that kind from the “second-time,” “third-time,” etc. kind. Kinda makes you long for the good ol’ days when a profession of faith was a profession of faith! But I digress.

Dr. Thompson writes in her article in “Perspective” about the 200 girls who “accepted Christ” (I assume for the first time) and 247 others who were called to career missions in the 2005 camp. But, she writes, “the story of camp is not written best with numbers and statistics; however, but with faces of girls who lives were changed.” Then she inserts a picture of a little girl named “Brianna” who looks like she is maybe 9 or 10 years old. Thompson calls her “one little girl with one big story” because “she asked Jesus to be her ‘forever Daddy’ at Camp Worldlight.”

If this is the way the camp director is describing Brianna’s decision, one is left to wonder (with fear and grief) just what the children were instructed to do and what they were promised would happen. If it was the biblical Gospel that Briannna was taught and called to believe then one would at least expect to see Jesus referred to as Lord and Savior.

I do not know exactly what was taught nor how the children were handled so I will not comment specifically beyond what I have already written. However, I am certain of this: those who preach a false gospel to children, lead them to give some kind of assent to such a gospel and then assure them that they are saved are guilty of spiritual child abuse. There is only one Gospel that saves sinners regardless of a person’s age. To withhold that Gospel from children or to substitute something in its place in hopes of being child-friendly is to put a barrier between children and Jesus Christ.

Children, like adults, need the Gospel. If the Gospel has been lost then the most important work we can do for children is to labor to see it recovered. This is the work of reformation and is the crying need of our day.

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24 Responses to “Is Jesus your "forever Daddy?"”

  1. At the Franklin Graham festival, at which I was a volunteer (back in my SBC days), the childrens’ material referred to Jesus as “your forever friend”.

  2. I am in no way seeking to defend the WMU, which I have long since given up hope on, and which I do not support because of its clear liberalism. Either this is an issue of an immature child being quoted (perhaps this was her foolish, immature wording, or something she said in another context?!?), or it is just further proof of the fact that the WMU is theologically inept. Would this really be a shock to anyone?

  3. In the effort to portray God as one who is intimately involved with His children, condescending to our lowly state (a truth), many have seemed to forget that He is also, “a consuming fire” (that’s in the New Testament) and to be feared reverently. Why do we feel the need to make everything having to do with God so superficial for children? Is it any wonder that kids are growing up and rejecting Christ when they simply have known him as their “forever Daddy”?

    We can’t treat God’s name with such irreverence and then expect that our children will look upon Him with more than just mere sentimentality. It seems like this kind of stuff is in one way a violation of the principle inherent in the 3rd commandment, isn’t it (see Ps. 89:7)? We really need to be biblically balanced in the way we portray God to our children- is it not our greatest hope as parents that our children would come to KNOW the one true God as He is revealed in Scripture?

  4. From a much older and frequently accused
    “pestilent fellow,” “gadfly,” “trouble maker” and “disturber of the peace” both in and out of the Southern Baptist Convention, I salute your courage in pointing out the superficiality (and sometimes falsity) of so much that goes by the name of Biblical theology and Christian spirituality in these (to quote Vance Havner) “wild, weird, and
    wacky” days before the return of the King of kings and Lord of lords Jesus Christ.


  5. I heard Jack Graham’s buddy, T. D. Jakes, deliver a message that went something along the lines of, “Is Jesus your ‘Sugar Daddy’?”

  6. This is just another example of the truth that by and large the SBC, in spite of what the BFM2000 says, practice “Decissional Regeneration”

  7. “I heard Jack Graham’s buddy, T. D. Jakes…”

    Sorry, I was ignorant of this… Graham is buddies with T. D. Jakes?!?!

  8. Yes. They both pastor in the Dallas area and this past year headed up the “Global Day of Prayer.” Bro. Jack also frequents the set of TBN (also located in the Dallas area).

  9. Another example of why doctrine matters. Some of the so-called evangelism being inflicted on our children reminds me of Matthew 18.

    Matthew 18:5-6 ESV “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, (6) but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

    We would do well to take verse six as seriously as verse five.

  10. Though I will heartily agree that we must throroughly communicate the holiness of God when we evangelize, whether to children or adults, there is not necessarily a problem calling God our “Daddy” per the Abba title given Him in Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6.

    The problem arises, and I think we’ll agree, if that is ALL God is to people. We should rejoice that we have such an intimate relationship with our Father, but a LARGE part of the reason we rejoice in that is for the VERY reason He IS so Holy and we have absolutely no right save that in Jesus to call Him that! If that aspect of what it means to know Jesus (the awesome privilege it is to call God Abba because of His holiness and our unworthiness to even think it, much less say it) is left out of the presentation of the Gospel, then the Gospel really hasn’t been presented properly. Without the reason for the need of the Gospel and salvation, that we have offended the Almighty, Most Holy GOD, then we preesnt God as little more than a Santa Claus.

    Anyway, I digress. :)

    Dave Hewitt

  11. Maybe I’m out of the loop on the WMU–why are they considered liberal? Out here in the West (ie Colorado)–we don’t really do GA’s or Acteens anymore and not many churches have a WMU–please enlighten me.


  12. Joe:

    I am not familiar with St. Anne’s Pub but I took a peak at their site. I noticed one of the segments on “Leading Our Little Ones to Christ” included an interview with Dennis Gundersen. I like his booklet on evangelizing children.

  13. Sean, the WMU has grown increasingly “friendly” (to understate the matter) with the CBF and to marginalize itself doctrinally, at least where I am at in KY, by standing against the 2000 BFM, and FOR things such as the ordination of women Elders/ pastors. My wife was invited for 3 years in a row to be a featured speaker at their “International Day of Prayer” in our old association, and each year, she came back and told me of other speakers who were very cynical of the SBC, very pro-feminist, and VERY pro CBF, which, to my estimation, is all I need to hear. Here in KY, there is not a week that goes by that you cannot pick up the “Distorter” (i.e. Western Recorder,state paper) and read about some WMU function in conjunction w/ BWA, or CBF, or some other. That, for example, is another issue that they lost my respect over. WMU has thrown quite a tantrum over the withdrawal of BWA support, and has gone on to support the organization anyway. This all came to a head at this year’s SBC in Nashville, when a motion was made that the WMU basically submit to coming under the full authority of the SBC (they are presently an independent org. w/ Patent rights to the Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon Offering titles). When the motion was made, there was much restlessness in the arena, and a collective “gasp”. I have yet to hear any more response concerning this, and sadly, am not sure off the top of my head what happened to that motion.

    I don’t need any more info about the WMU than what I see here in KY, and what my own wife has experienced to tell me they are not an organization that I will choose to support.

  14. Just to demonstrate that I am not being “mean-spirited” or dealing in rumors, below are some links to stories about the recent choices and directions of the WMU.

    “WMU of Virginia leaders adopt ‘declaration’ opposing devaluing of women in ministry” (9/21/04)

    “WMU president Wanda Lee criticized for addressing moderate convention” (4/1/05)

    “Some Southern Baptist leaders remain involved in BWA” (8/6/04) (Ironically, this one is written by Western Distorter editor Trennis Henderson, who is very moderate and supportive of CBF)

    There’s plenty more out there for the interested reader.

  15. Thanks for the information. I think here in Colorado we have don’t do WMU–we have a Women’s Missions and Ministries organization that is part of our state convention and I personally know the leader and she and her husband are very theologically conservative. Sorry to hear that this is happening in the South and Southeast. Thanks.

  16. As a person who worked at this camp…. I would like to tell you a couple of things about it.

    It is amazing! There is no false-ness to what we teach these girls. We present the gospel to them. We tell them stories of people within the bible… and focus on the things these girls should know.

    Many of them come from homes that are “broken”.. that is, they have problems at home… and we tell these girls that no matter what, God is with them! That they are chosen.. they are PRINCESSES… that God is the King of Kings!… he will never leave them or forsake them! And most importantly, we tell them the most important thing in life is to have that relationship with Christ – to accept Jesus into your heart and know that God sent his one and only son down to die for our sins – each and every person!

    We do not ignore the gospel. EVERYTHING that is done at that camp is for God. The focus is on him… the preparation for it, throughout the entire summer, and even after it…

    It’s hard to even fathom how many lives have been changed from this camp. Before I was a counselor there, I was a camper. I accepted Christ there… and everyone there knows it is a God thing… we are all just his servants, doing what HE tells us to do… he works through us! And through them talking to me… and telling me how IMPORTANT God is.. and a relationship with him is… I came to realize God was telling me it was time for me to! And I did… and I have never turned back from that!

    Lives and families HAVE truly changed from going to this camp… working at this camp… even knowing about this camp. People working for this camp and the WMU would never want to feel like the work we do is not 100% for the Lord. THAT is why there are those statistics… and it’s true.. it’s NOT about the numbers… to see those faces…. to see that they know Christ and know that he is in their hearts, and he will always be there.. THAT is worth it!

  17. Who are you to judge Camp Worldlight? Because that’s what you are doing is judging it right? I have work 5 wonderful summers as a camp counselor at Camp Worldlight! Before that I was a camper. And if you even set one foot on the camp grounds you would be able to feel the presence of the One True God! I don’t know if you know it but children look at life in a different way than adults. The mission of Camp Worldlight is to put camp on their level so they can understand it. Brianna’s comment about Jesus being her “forever Daddy” was a HUGE milestone, since she had no father in her life. But I guess you wouldn’t know that, since you’ve never experienced it. And I for one have had many professions of faith. 1. Accepting Jesus as my One and Only 2. My call to missions 3. Obedience in which college to attend… Only the jaded and narrow minded think a profession of faith is limited to accepting Jesus into you heart. Well you know what? It isn’t.
    What does it say about you, when you belittle something which only crime is being faithful to the call of our Lord? If the devil is having a field day over anything it is over fellow Christians tearing at each other just to prove their points.
    But know this you my friend will be in my prayers.

  18. As the mother of a camper that is now a staffer of Camp Worldlight, I must assure you that all that is taught and explained to the young girls at camp revolves around the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father. The staff love the girls with the genuine love of Christ and reach them at the level of their understanding of what Jesus has done for them and how much their heavenly Father loves them. I have seen my daughter and all the other staffers in fervent prayer for each and every girl that comes to camp, that they would come to the saving knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. I have seen them weep with the hurts of the girls, laugh with their joys, pray with their burdens, and lead them in prayer to receive Jesus as their Savior or accept a call on their young lives to serve Him in the mission field. I have seen them love them as Jesus loves them. Many girls come from broken, abused, or foster homes, knowing little or nothing about the real love found in Jesus. They teach them to come to God the Father without fear, and receive His love. They teach them about loving one another. They show them God’s love in all they do, and cover all that they do in prayer and time in the Word of God. What better example of teaching them about the love of Jesus, than by sharing Him with them at a level they can understand? My daughter accepted a call on her life to enter the mission field at this camp. Her love of God and relationship with Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior is as real as the keyboard I am typing on. I know the other staffers too live lives that are genuinely committed to Christ and their desire is to share this with the girls so they can come to know Jesus in the same personal way that they do. Jesus tells us to “go and tell”….the young women serving at this camp have been obedient to His command.

  19. The bottom line is not what Sharon Thompson said or meant to say or her loyal staff tried to defend. The point, of evangelism, and our lives, is to magnify God. We are to magnify God is all spheres of our life. That is why we were created. To magnify God, we should be making Him look like as unimaginably great as He is. Does calling Jesus your “forever daddy” show how unimaginably great He is. I don’t think so, though I’ve been guilty of this phrasing myself. Maybe to a child’s mind it does, but I definitely would encourage a better choice of words. Daddy’s are fallible, God is not. If explaining God as daddy is all they can grasp then they probably don’t understand the decision they are claiming to make.

  20. The bottom line is not what Sharon Thompson said or meant to say or her loyal staff tried to defend. The point, of evangelism, and our lives, is to magnify God. We are to magnify God is all spheres of our life. That is why we were created. To magnify God, we should be making Him look like as unimaginably great as He is. Does calling Jesus your “forever daddy” show how unimaginably great He is. I don’t think so, though I’ve been guilty of this phrasing myself. Maybe to a child’s mind it does, but I definitely would encourage a better choice of words. Daddy’s are fallible, God is not. If explaining God as daddy is all they can grasp then they probably don’t understand the decision they are claiming to make.


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