These mountains hold special memories for my husband so after checking in to our hotel, we drove up a lush mountain road to the YMCA campus that also hosts summer camps for Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Established in 1954, FCA has encouraged coaches and athletes to impact the world for Christ. It reaches over two million people annually on all levels of athletics and focuses on serving Christ through relationships and in the fellowship of the church.
FCA camps are a time for coaches and athletes to reach their potential by offering comprehensive athletic, spiritual and leadership training and focusing on integrity, serving, teamwork and excellence.
In the summer of 1965, an anonymous donor made it possible for an upcoming high school senior to attend an FCA camp here. The life changing experience was reflected in the letter I received from my then high school sweetheart:
“Before I came to this conference, I lived my life only within myself. After listening to testimonies by men so admired in athletics, I found I no longer face life alone. I can share my problems with my personal friend and savior. I now have tremendous faith in God and His will for my life.”
After a stellar senior year in high school this young man went on to be a part of two SEC championship teams and one National Championship team. He coached for nearly thirty years and returned to several FCA camps as a counselor.
Driving back up that mountain so many years later brought back memories of football games played in the open fields with other student athletes and testimonies given by famous speakers. Billy Graham, who was in his prime, came over one night to visit the campers.
On our way back home we followed a winding stream that flows at the bottom of the Great Smokey Mountains. As the water rushed over rocks and parted for the giant boulders lying in its path, I remembered the scripture in Psalms 62:7.
God is a mighty rock, my refuge.
In her journal Mother wrote, “It is our responsibility to do all we can do to keep the gospel message alive for the next generation.”
We never found out who the anonymous donor was, but he provided the opportunity to begin a life built on The mighty rock.