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IMPACT Brings Fun and Fellowship to Campus

IMPACT 2013 has brought senior adults together on the Lubbock Christian University campus this week. The group arrived and registered Monday afternoon and had their first speaker, Terry Rush, give the keynote lesson titled “Father, Forgive Them,” that evening. Each keynote throughout the week focuses on the last words of Jesus Christ from the cross.

Each day at IMPACT involves activities as well as keynote speakers, classes, and breakout groups. Card games, dominos, “TEXAS”, the musical, Brazos West concert, a butterfly exhibit, talent shows, and a banquet are all activities that make IMPACT fun, but the relationships built and the spiritual pull toward God are what make IMPACT the highlight of many of the participants year. A mountain top experience is what retreat coordinator, Billie Shuttlesworth calls IMPACT.

Wayne and Wanda Swart have been coming to IMPACT for 14 years. The highlight over the years for the Swart’s has always been making new friends and the fellowship with old. Wanda pointed out that Wayne has been making many new friends this year, one in particular is six-year-old Carrigan Crockett, granddaughter of Dr. Ken Jones.

“She has just taken him under her wing or vise-versa. Wayne knows how to play the harmonica and she just knows she’s going to learn how to play,” exclaimed Wanda.

Sure enough, Wayne played several songs on his harmonica for the “IMPACT’s Got Talent” show and told his fellow campers that someday Carrigan will be playing the harmonica as well as he can. He gave the six-year-old her own harmonica for her birthday earlier in the week, showing how new friendships, no matter how unusual, really are what make IMPACT so special.

David Payne is another IMPACT participant who joined in the “IMPACT’s Got Talent” show by singing “Ghost Chickens,” a parody of the old song “Ghost Riders”, which sent the senior adults into laughter. David doesn’t just sing to get a few people to laugh; he also loves singing praise songs, something that has brought him back to IMPACT each year since he first attended three years ago. He says one of his favorite parts of IMPACT, besides the fellowship with other Christians, is learning new worship songs and wishes he could have a tape of the singing at IMPACT so he could remember the songs throughout the rest of the year until the next summer.

David’s love and talent for singing is how he met and invited a new couple to IMPACT. Roy and Fran Martindale were married nine months ago. They had their honeymoon planned to travel through the Holy Lands. Due to trip complications, Roy needed a roommate. Travelling alone, David happened to be on the same trip and in need of a roommate. When the traveling group of visitors were on the tour bus, David would start singing hymns and one-by-one, the bus full of previous strangers would join in.

This being the Martindale’s first year at IMPACT, they said it’s the speakers and meeting more people like David that makes this place special.

“It’s that we can be Christians and enjoy the fellowship and encourage one another. I think as Christians we should be joyful,” said Fran. “The speakers have just been excellent and thought provoking. You get a different perspective. As old as we are, we like the revitalized Christianity.”

Jodie and Goldye Wallace, have attended IMPACT since 2003. As the couple gestured toward Jack and Leslie Prather from across the lunch table, they said their favorite thing about the week is reconnecting with old friends they haven’t seen or heard from in years. The dining hall filled with nostalgia and laughter as the couples shared stories from their college years, including a humorous story about the gentlemen’s experience living with their professor and fighting the urge to pull pranks on her.

Jodie attended LCU in the early 60’s and was one of the 19 young men who disassembled the Rhodes Perrin Field House in Los Alamos, all in one summer, under the direction of coach Hugh Rhodes and Lester Ray Perrin. Jodie says one year at IMPACT he had the opportunity to speak to his fellow campers about the summer he spent in Los Alamos.

Stuart and Cecilia Jones have been attending IMPACT on and off since the early 90’s. The couple says one of their favorite parts is all the extra-curricular activities because they are always well chosen and fresh.

“We love the social aspect and spiritual food. Socializing for our age group is important. We need more social aspects. It’s all work, work, work,” Stuart pointed out.

The couple works with senior adults at Sunset’s Senior Adventures in Ministry program, so they say IMPACT feels natural to them. Some of the social aspects they say they’ve enjoyed have been the Butterfly Exhibit at the Science Spectrum and winning the “IMPACT’s Got Talent” competition with singing Old Smokey in a quartet.

The Wallace’s, Prather’s, and Jones’ all mentioned they love singing the old hymns. They mentioned that many of the old hymns they sing at IMPACT were new songs for the day when they first learned them. Songs like “How Great Thou Art” and “Sing and Be Happy” brought them back to earlier years.

IMPACT has deep roots for some of the participants. Cecilia Jones mentioned she had an IMPACT tee-shirt from when her mother attended the retreat, bringing up her family history at LCU. The Jones’ had three daughters graduate from LCU, a son who taught business law at LCU, Cecilia’s four siblings all attended LCU, and the couple both received a master’s degree in Bible here. Cecilia now works with the Associates of LCU year round and her mother was in the original Associates group.

“It’s a strong family thing. I’m trying to get a grandchild here. We are rooted here very deep,” commented Cecilia after reflecting on her family ties.

IMPACT began in 1985. LCU was having camps for high school and junior high students and the idea came up to have something similar to encourage senior adults and active retirees. Now the retreat brings in spiritual speakers along with speakers to touch on topics that affect senior adults like social security and Medicare. Senior adults who attend IMPACT range from age 60 to age 101. IMPACT averages 125 campers with some returning each year and others who are first-timers. Regardless, these adults gather from all over the country to share fellowship, build on old friendships and form new ones.