In the mid-1970’s, the charismatic renewal was in full swing, and people from traditional churches were opening up to new life in the Spirit, to the gifts and to the filling of the Holy Spirit. In response to the hunger that there was for personal ministry and for teaching from the Word of God from many parts of the Body of Christ, it soon became evident that there was a need for a place where people could come to be renewed by Holy Spirit ministry.
In the fall of 1978, some visiting speakers to the Maranatha Good News Centre in Niverville, MB spoke out prophetically one night that they believed God wanted a nondenominational, charismatic camp in southern Manitoba. Immediately, that word resonated with the people who were in attendance (from Niverville and many other communities as well). People began to respond with enthusiasm, saying that God had placed that same vision in their hearts, and all agreed that this was a God idea. So, an organizational meeting was called, and Willard Thiessen (of “It’s a New Day”) suggested that the camp be called “Christian Enrichment Family Camp,” and everyone present agreed. Three people were delegated to start a search for property that either had camping facilities, or was suitable for facilities to be built on. The initial steering committee for this included Charlie Braun (from Carman), Roger Armbruster (from Niverville), and Jake Janzen (from Winnipeg) then president of the Full Gospel Businessmen.
As different properties were checked out, none of the initial sites bore witness as being feasible to get the camp started in the near future. However, motivation was such and urgency so great that even before we knew where we would meet, we were convinced that we would be having camp somewhere during that next summer of 1979!
By February of 1979, the steering committee (now including Dave Friesen from Winkler and Henry Warkentin from Morris) came across a property on Rock Lake - the Avery Resort – that had exactly the type of facilities that we needed. Everyone who came to see it had an instant witness that this was the place, and there was unanimity of heart and purpose that we should proceed to purchase this property from Bob Avery.
The committee stepped out in faith in this venture, believing that God was in it, and every need would be met. By March, Roger Armbruster went ahead and wrote up a brochure for five weeks of family camp. Henry and Nettie Warkentin agreed to be camp directors, and Roger and Marge Armbruster agreed to do the children’s ministry. People came from far and near, and the local people were excited to realize that God had led to have a charismatic camp founded so close to where they lived. Among those local residents who began to give their enthusiastic support to the camp were Vic and Jeannie Neustaedter, who later became camp directors.
Since 1989, “Youth Week” had been added to the summer program, which many young people have attended, and having received a fresh touch from God, they’ve gone home to bring new life and blessings to their local communities. Rock Lake Ministries (formerly Christian Enrichment Family Camp) has existed for the purpose of blessing the Body of Christ, and as long as that vision has been honoured, God has continued to make a way for that vision to go forward. In this year of 2018, there is a strong sense that God who started this ministry is going to fulfill and complete the purposes for which He brought it into being. The best is yet to come!