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Hundreds of Fuge Campers at Mississippi College Learn Identity is Rooted in Christ

Jeff Hulett considers Mississippi College his youth group's
Jeff Hulett considers Mississippi College his youth group's "home base" for Fuge camp. They traveled to Clinton from Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this summer for recreation, worship, and Bible study.

Young people the world over struggle with their identity – where they come from, what they look like, and particularly in today’s society, how others perceive them.

Although heightened by the advent of social media, this challenge is nothing new. In 2 Corinthians 3:18, the Apostle Paul reminded members of the church in Corinth that Christians are called to live as a new creation, as a reflection of their Creator who loves them.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (New International Version)

Hundreds of middle school and high school students from across the Southeast are being reminded of their value to God while attending Fuge camp during three one-week summer sessions at Mississippi College. The theme, “In His Image,” drives home the truth that, no matter what the world may tell them, their identity is rooted in Christ.

Jeff Hulett of Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said the message is particularly relevant to students’ lives today.

“The theme this year is spot-on – it’s fantastic,” said Hulett, who has served as student pastor at his church for nine years. “All you have to do is flip on the news to see that people are struggling with their identity. The theme is a very important concept for our students to understand and apply to their daily lives. It has huge implications for their identity as Christians and as humans.

“God made us in His image, and He created us perfectly and with great intentionality. Students struggle with self-doubt, body-image issues, and heavy-hitting topics like depression, anxiety, and lack of self-worth. The world teaches a lot of different things about who we should be, and this year’s theme teaches us that we’re God’s creation, that we are beautifully designed in His image, and that we are designed to be in a relationship with Him.”

MC was the first college in the country to host a combined Mission Fuge and Centrifuge camp – simply called Fuge – which takes students out of their everyday routines and places them into an environment focused on changing lives through a relationship with Jesus Christ. The camp is sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

No one understands the impact Fuge can have on students more than Mason McGlaughn. He attended the camp at Mississippi College years ago as a student leader and rededicated his life to Christ. This year, McGlaughn returned to MC as director of Fuge, while his new bride, Chloe, served as assistant director.

Hulett understands the deep connection between Fuge and MC. The student pastor attended Mississippi College for two years before transferring to Louisiana State University to complete his undergraduate degree. He said MC provides the perfect backdrop for Fuge’s soul-sustaining efforts.

“I loved my time at MC, and I’m thankful MC has partnered with Fuge for many years,” he said. “It’s near and dear to my heart. Through the years, I’ve been here many times, and it’s always been a great experience. The beautiful campus has excellent facilities, and the wonderful Christian people take care of us. Even if they’re not directly involved in Fuge, they love seeing the kids here.

”Our group likes to rotate around to different locations each year, but we always wind up back at MC. I recommend it to everybody. Through the years, I’ve sent many students to Mississippi College.”

Misti Hedgepeth of Gum Grove Baptist Church in Brookhaven doesn’t have Hulett’s experience with the summer camp – the Youth Committee member accompanied her student group to Fuge for the first time this year. Yet she could see why her daughter, Caroline, had been looking forward to her third straight Fuge experience for weeks.

“Our kids enjoy their involvement with Fuge leaders here,” said Hedgepeth, who visited MC for science and mathematics competitions and cheer camp as a high school student. “They feel like the leaders are invested in them. They’re encouraging and draw the students in. The worship times are so moving and meaningful, and the students love that.

“To see the way these kids are open and free with each other and praising Jesus has been very impactful to me. I want to encourage them to continue doing those things once they get back home.”

Students elect to participate in one of two Fuge programs: Centrifuge or MFuge. At Centrifuge, students are divided into groups for recreation and Bible study based on age ranges by grade completed. Recreation is led within Bible study groups by trained Fuge camp staff members who also lead the Bible study. Each activity serves a specific purpose and is debriefed so students can make applications in their lives.

Students also participate in Track Times, creative, active, performance, and classroom-based activities led by camp staff based on the student’s areas of interest.

MFuge gives students a mission experience that makes them aware of similar opportunities they may have to serve in their own communities. Adult leaders from their churches accompany the students to ministry sites in the Jackson Metropolitan Area, where they have an opportunity to discover what it means to serve others.

A typical day of Fuge camp at Mississippi College begins with a rousing, energetic morning celebration in Swor Auditorium, complete with spirited music, worship, games, and a message from the camp pastor. Students then enjoy quiet time within Bible study groups, working through a devotion that reinforces the camp theme.

A trained staff member leads group Bible study with age-specific materials that align with the theme. Students then participate in recreational activities or, if they are part of the more intensive MFuge, mission work in the local community.

All camp members gather in the evening for corporate worship, prayer, and another message from the camp pastor that reinforces the Biblical theme for the day. Individual church leaders meet with their students to emphasize how God is working in their lives during their time at camp.

Hedgepeth said the camp helps her students develop life skills by associating with others in a meaningful way.

“It gives them an opportunity to interact with kids their own age from other places,” she said. “Sometimes, it puts them outside of their comfort zones, because they don’t always have someone from our group with them during every activity. They’re pushed to interact with other people.”

Which gives campers a greater perspective on the world, according to Hulett.

“It gives them a global vision of what the church is,” said Hulett, who grew up attending Fuge camp and participating in MFuge each summer. “They split up, meet people from other states and cities, and form relationships with those students. Some of them will keep in touch across social media.

“They learn that the church isn’t just Jefferson Baptist Church, but it’s God’s church across the whole world.”

Fuge’s mission this year is to remind the students that the church – and the world – is made up of imperfect people who are each created in God’s image.

“Because of sin, any negative thoughts or views of ourselves are a distortion of what God intended,” Hedgepeth said. “Because of the way students can be consumed by social media and whether people like them or not – and what they look like – this camp has been a great reminder to them that they’re made in God’s image, and all these other things don’t matter.

“This message is so pertinent to what our students deal with every day. I pray that that they will continue to remember that. Although society may tell them that no matter what, whatever they want to do is OK, it’s not what God intended. I think that will be an impactful message that they will take with them when they leave Fuge camp.”

For more information about Fuge at Mississippi College or to register for Fuge at MC in 2024, click here.