Vision: Changed Lives.
Motto: Get away. Quiet down. Hear God speak. Make life-changing decisions.
Maranatha Bible Camp held its first session June 6-13, 1938 on a farm east of North Platte, Nebraska. In a few years, it was obvious the camp needed a permanent home. Land was located near Maxwell, Nebraska and a fundraising postcard was prepared. Interestingly, the postmark shows June 6, 1944 which turned out to be D-Day in WWII! Times were hard, but a number of Christian leaders in the area were supportive of the Bible Camp and attendance began to grow.
The facilities started out consisting of tents only. Then came the “slab cabins” built from Colorado timber sawmill rough cut wood obtained by trading loads of baled hay from the Platte valley. A swimming hole was dug to help cool off on the hot summer days.
One of the strengths over the years has been the help of many volunteers. Even after paid staff positions began to be implemented, camp could not operate without the volunteers who assist in programming, cabin leading, maintenance, sweet shop, etc.
A strange thing happened that God used to really make the Maranatha Bible Camp location highly visible. In the late 1960s, Interstate 80 was built running through Nebraska. The plan took it right through the northern edge of camp property. Much effort was made by the camp board to get the route moved to no avail. A big concession was made when the highway department agreed to create the 40 acre Lake Maranatha by excavating fill sand to raise the Interstate road bed up to a flood proof height. Additional land was bought at the time to make this possible.
Our thirty feet high Cross which is lit at night with the words Maranatha Bible Camp has become a nationally recognized landmark for those travelers who frequent I-80.
In 2005, George Cheek and Tad Stryker pulled together a book detailing the ministry history entitled: Maranatha, the Miracle Camp on the Plains. It includes a number of testimonies and photographs organized by decades.
Contact us to order this informative and encouraging book relating the story of how God used a small group in hard times to start a ministry that continues to have national and international impact.
What does ‘Maranatha’ mean?
Maranatha is an Aramaic word that means “the Lord is coming” or “come, O Lord.” The early church faced much persecution, and life for a Christian under Roman rule was not easy. The Romans required everyone to declare that Caesar was god. The early Christians knew that there is only one God and one Lord—Jesus Christ—and in all good conscience they could not call Caesar “Lord,” so the Romans looked upon them as traitors, persecuted them, and put them to death.
Living under those adverse conditions, the believers’ morale was lifted by the hope of the coming of the Lord. “Maranatha!” became the common greeting of the oppressed believers, replacing the Jewish greeting shalom (“peace”). The followers of Jesus knew there would be no peace because Jesus had told them so (Matthew 10:34; Luke 12:51). But they also knew the Lord would be returning to set up His kingdom, and from that truth they drew great comfort. They were constantly reminding and being reminded that the Lord is coming (Luke 21:28; Revelation 22:12). Jesus taught several parables on this same theme of watching and waiting and being prepared for His return (Matthew 25:1-13; Luke 12:35-40).
Today, believers in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ live our lives in the light of the knowledge that He can come at any time. We are to be ready when the call comes. Every day we should expect Him to come, and every day we should long for Him to come. Maranatha reminds us to keep our eyes on the eternal things of the Spirit. To dwell on material things is to be in constant mental turmoil. Looking down, we see the earth; looking around, we see earthly things. But looking up, we see the hope of the soon coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. To those who are discouraged today, Maranatha! To those who are worried today, Maranatha! To those who are filled with anxiety over the problems they are facing, Maranatha! Our Lord is coming!