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Camp Siloam exceeds ‘Feed My Sheep’ goal

Camp Siloam exceeds ‘Feed My Sheep’ goal

Jan 24, 2018

Caleb Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

SILOAM SPRINGS – Miracles still happen.

On Aug. 22, 2017, Camp Siloam began construction on a new dining hall that will replace Hatfield Dining Hall, which is more than 90 years old and in major disrepair.

It was, by all accounts, a historic day for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention agency formerly known as Arkansas Baptist Assembly.

At that time Camp Siloam had raised $2.7 million toward its dining hall project through its Feed My Sheep fundraising campaign, but still lacked more than $700,000 to meet its goal.

The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation of Tulsa, Okla., pledged $250,000, of the $2.7 million that was raised at the time, in the form of a challenge grant that would be rescinded if the camp failed to meet its entire $3.4 million goal and/or failed to begin construction within one year of the pledge, between January 2017 and January 2018.

In December 2017 Camp Siloam announced a $500,000 gift by the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt family of northwest Arkansas, which brought the camp much closer to meeting the goal of its Feed My Sheep campaign.

“This gift is a bridge to completing the Feed My Sheep campaign,” said Jason Wilkie, executive director of Camp Siloam. “Without their gift, we wouldn’t even be close to doing so, but this gift makes achieving the challenge grant possible.”

Even with the large gift by the Hunt family, the camp still needed to secure around $200,000 within a month in order to meet the stipulations of the Mabee Foundation grant.

Then, in the final month, Camp Siloam received a $250,000 gift from Wallace and Jama Fowler of Jonesboro, which secured the grant.

“I sure didn’t want to lose the Mabee Foundation opportunity. I really wanted to secure the funds for everyone who had stretched and given sacrificially to get us close to our campaign goal,” said Wilkie, in announcing Fowler’s gift.

“The Fowlers understood my desire, and we couldn’t have done it without them,” he said.

“So many other people had given this fall that, with those two gifts (Fowler and Hunt), it actually allowed us to exceed the goal, which is unbelievable,” said Wilkie. “The real miracle there is … when I first met with Bill Elliff, (pastor of The Summit Church in North Little Rock) our campaign chair, his very first prayer for the dining hall was, ‘Lord, would you just exceed our need?’

“That has been my prayer for the whole campaign,” said Wilkie.

When the camp was in the process of taking bids for the construction of its new dining hall, the lowest bidder was nearly $500,000 above what the camp had budgeted for the project, according to Wilkie.

“We had to cut out almost a half million dollars’ worth of projects, equipment and aesthetics,” he said. “In my heart I was thinking, ‘We are not going to be able to build what we showed people.’”

In light of a surplus of gifts, many of the things that were cut from the dining hall project, including rock masonry, a fireplace, handwashing stations and kitchen equipment, have been reincorporated. According to Wilkie, based on donations currently received, 95 percent of the cuts will no longer need to be made.

After meeting and exceeding its goal, Wilkie said Camp Siloam is no longer actively promoting its Feed My Sheep fundraising campaign. However, he said there are still needs present and that the campaign will be open until June 1.

“Now that I am on the back side of it (the dining hall fundraising campaign), I can see just how faithful the Lord is,” said Wilkie. “Personally, it has been an incredible journey. God has shown me a new side of Him and taught me a lot.”

Construction of the new dining hall is currently in full swing and is set to be completed May 1 and ready for use during this summer’s camp season beginning in June. The old dining hall will be removed April 1.

For more information on Camp Siloam and its Feed My Sheep campaign, visit campsiloam.com.

Contact Caleb Yarbrough at caleb@arkansasbaptist.org.

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