About MaranathaMaranatha Camp and Retreat Center is a non-denominational ministry dedicated to giving people the opportunity to get away from daily routines, quiet down, hear God speak, and make life-changing decisions. We accomplish this by hosting camps, retreats, community events, and discipleship programs. We also provide a venue for families and organizations to hold their own gatherings — including churches, schools, family reunions, non-profit groups and more — all on our beautifully wooded, 210-acre slice of west-central Nebraska.
Our Mission & Vision
Our vision and mission is to help make disciples of Christ
Mission: Glorify God by introducing people to Jesus, training them in Christian living, and sending them out to represent Christ.
Vision: Changed Lives To Change The World
Motto: Get Away, Quiet Down, Hear God Speak, and Make Life-changing Decisions
Our Ministry’s Core Theology
- We believe the Bible to be the inspired, only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, His sinless life, His miracles, His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, His bodily resurrection, His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and His coming personal return in power and glory.
We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful man, regeneration by the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ alone is absolutely essential.
We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; those who are saved unto the resurrection of life and those who are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
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!
WHO WE ARE
Our Team & Leadership
A registered non-profit organization, Maranatha Camp & Retreat Center is guided by a group of 10 leaders in faith, community, and business, who serve as our Board of Directors. This board works together with our camp’s Executive Director and Associate Director, who lead a staff of dedicated professionals in the day-to-day and long-term operations of the camp
Kris has a background in youth ministry and sports evangelism, church planting and administration. He enjoys long walks on the beach and selfies with his wife, Natalie.
Natalie is an associate director at Maranatha alongside her husband, Kris. Homeschooling the family’s three children, Taylor, Jocelyn, and Kristyn, is one of Natalie’s many passions.
Executive Director of the Maranatha Camp Foundation
The second general director in the Camp’s history, George has been a Maranatha staff member since 1973.
// DEVELOP DISCIPLES & SERVANT-LEADERS
In Luke 2:52, we see that Jesus grew in wisdom (mentally), stature (physically), in favor with God (spiritually), and in favor with man (socially). We should seek to grow in these same ways therefore, imitating Christ’s behavior. We want to train and equip each follower of Christ who comes to camp as a guest or staff member with the tools like the Word of God, testimonies, and memories of God’s love. We hope to help Christ followers to continuously transform their lifestyle into that of servant-leader disciples who love and serve their families, and communities while developing even more disciples, (Matthew 20:26 and 28:19-20).
// SHARE THE MESSAGE
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation (Mark 16:15). We seek to open channels, make connections, and build relationships which we can use to live in community, and love others as Christ loves us (1 John 4:19). As a major part in living out God’s love, we prepare and make use of opportunities for sharing the message of the Gospel.
// EXTRAVAGANTLY SERVE
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve (Colossians 3:24-25). As we serve guests on a daily basis, we strive to go the extra-mile. A good work ethic is also a testimony to others about the love and power of God.
// BE ADAPTABLE & EAGER
At camp, plans change, and things happen. As a team, we want to be ready to give each other and our guests the service they need to quiet down and hear God speak while minimizing distractions! Even when the day throws us a bunch of curveballs, we strive to keep the level of fun, possibility, and eagerness to make camp and our guests’ experiences tip-top amazing.
Maranatha Bible Camp held its first session June 6-13, 1938, on a farm east of North Platte, Nebraska. Within a few years, it was obvious the camp needed a permanent home. Land was located near Maxwell, 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 Maranatha’s strengths over the years has been the help of many volunteers. Even after paid staff positions were 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 roadbed up to a flood-proof height. Additional land was bought at the time to make this possible.
Our 30-foot-high Cross, 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, titled “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.
Reaching people through more channels
Maranatha has various ministries which operate under the umbrella of the Maranatha Camp Foundation
Wildflower Ministries is run by Jessica Most and Ellie Powers, two college-age girls (and Maranatha alumni!) who want to reach teen girls with the love of Jesus Christ.
Check out their website. Be sure to follow them on social media too!
“As we grew up, we both struggled with measuring up to expectations and always falling short. Because of this, we felt God was disappointed in us and too far away to reach out to. We now know our identity in Christ, and we’ve found true freedom in shedding those expectations and living in His love. That’s the message we want to share with young girls struggling with the same thing we did.”
We have a new ministry, Wildflower Ministries, which consists of a blog, YouTube channel, and social media posts. In the future, they plan to put on events for the young girls to go, hear God’s word, worship with peers, and leave encouraged and connected to a mentor in the church.