“Maranatha!” is an Aramaic greeting (the language Jesus spoke) meaning “The Lord is coming!” In I Corinthians 16:22 it says, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha.”
Camp Maranatha exists today because of Christ’s love. Chris and Brenda Edmunds were traveling around New Hampshire in 1972 with Evangelist Wade Akins when the subject of what to build on a certain piece of land came up.
The unlikely spot was a 55-acre tract in New Durham. It was hilly, ledge covered, the pond had a muddy bottom, and there was no road through the property. So the site choice looked highly unlikely if not downright foolhardy. In addition, people told us that the economy looked bad. And besides, there were plenty of other camps around!
But God had definitely given Chris a vision to use this land for a camp despite his lack of formal preparation for this type of ministry. His wife didn’t see it at first and even quietly hoped that the whole idea would pass! But God in His gentle and compelling manner drew Brenda into the same vision. Once into the project, however, Chris began to see why Brenda had had her doubts! But as the two of them began sharing what God had shown them two other men, Jim Blanchard and Paul Hedstrom, started praying about the development of this land into a camp. They met weekly for prayer asking for year-round camp facilities before anything existed. Many doubts and fears were dispelled as the prayers were answered time and time again.
In its first year under construction, the camp facilities included a parking lot and a road constructed with a borrowed bulldozer and trucks. The first fall two cabins were started. Two more were begun in the following spring. They were by no means finished, but at least they were usable in time for camp by making do with a plastic sheet as a roof on the boys’ cabin. (The boys loved the skylight view of the stars!) That first summer in 1973 we had just one week of camp with 15 campers and staff.
As the board prayed for wisdom, God directed each member’s thoughts into the proper channels and moves were made only when unanimous agreements were reached. Perhaps the strength of the board came from its forced dependence on God since each member felt a personal inadequacy in this thing of developing a camp to be used to the Glory of God.
The Lord has continually honored our requests for His wisdom as we make plans and improvements. The camp board is determined that the camp will always hold to God’s Word which it accepts as the final authority.
Building continued in the fall of 1973 with the pouring of the foundation for the shower house and more finishing on the cabins. Then in the spring of 1974 the lodge was started. In 1976 a step of faith was taken in asking God for a 50’ dining room. This prayer was answered and the dining room was in use the first week in July (Phil. 4:19). In 1977 it was decided by the board that we needed a swimming area, and the site was chosen. But, it took over a year just to clear all the trees! After 3 years of digging, the dream of having a pond became a reality! Over 9 feet of peat humus was removed in spots. Appropriately, the pond has been named “Miracle Pond”! Construction continues today on the same basis. As God provides the funds, we move ahead. And when there’s no money, we don’t borrow. The camp’s financial policy is not to borrow money or solicit donations. Instead we pray that God will move hearts to give. In this way, both the giver and receiver can know for sure that God has provided. A few specific examples of answered prayer are our camp bus, canoes and an institutional size toaster.
Another aspect of the camp’s financial policy is that it’s open to all regardless of their financial status. That means that people pay the set fee if they can, but they’re welcome to attend even if they can’t pay the whole thing. The balance is made up by donations.
Our focus has gradually turned from “reaching today’s youth for Jesus Christ” to “reaching today’s family for the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Malachi 4:6) In 1978 we had our first father-son retreat as well as the first family retreat. This led naturally to a week-long session for families the following summer with family speaker, Pastor & Mrs. Dick Peters. Our main goal is to work with the family to strengthen it. Strong families equal strong churches. So this fits with one of our goals of strengthening local churches. We have retreat weekends for the whole family, mothers and daughters and fathers and sons as well as fathers and daughters.
At least two couples have met at Maranatha! Ray and Barbara Evans met here when both served as counselors for the summer of 1976! Also, Doug and Sherry MacDonald had their first dinner date in the camp kitchen in January of 1980! In 1981 our first couples’ date night was a huge success. Married couples came to thoroughly enjoy a night out with a buffet dinner and marriage enrichment programs.
In 1981, we formed an advisory board which is comprised of pastors and churches which are very active in the ministry here. Their input allows us to really understand and implement the kinds of programs their churches need. It is the goal of this ministry to give genuine support to Bible-believing churches which are not part of the NCC/WCC since our goals would not be compatible with theirs.
Since 1978 our summer camp programs have included 3-day off-site canoe trips on the Saco River.
The Lord blessed us that year with capable leaders, 8 new canoes and a canoe trailer! Since then a 2nd canoe trailer and 8 more canoes have been added to the fleet! (John 14:14) In 1980 the giant step of taking teens to Quebec for white-water canoeing began. We searched for a white water that’s nearby with the qualities of the Jacques Cartier River in Quebec, but were unable to find one that served us better. So we found the 12 hour bus trip worthwhile. We see tremendous spiritual and emotional growth on these trips as well as during the regular weeks at camp. The activities and options during camp have been designed to involve the campers and give them the feeling that the camp can’t operate without them. (It can’t!)