By SARAH MCLAUGHLIN
20 Years of Timber Creek Camp
If you’ve ever visited Timber Creek Camp in Pulaski, you know it’s more than a camp: It’s a home. To the 8,000 people who visit Timber Creek annually, the vision of the camp’s founders, David and Lori-Lynne Cooke, has become a lifechanging experience. As the camp celebrates its 20-year anniversary, we interviewed David Cooke about how the camp has evolved, and how it’s impacted thousands for the cause of Christ.
MCL: Could you explain how you and your wife had the vision for the camp 20 years ago?
David Cooke: I was serving as a youth pastor in Jackson at the time, enjoying the ministry, and God started to give me a vision of a camp and retreat center in Mississippi. My wife and I began praying about it and started looking for properties. There was a property that wasn’t on the market and I talked with the man who owned it and met with him. As soon as I stepped on the grounds, I instantly had this confirmation that God had set this space apart as sacred ground. That was June 23, 1999, and God was confirming what His vision was; He was calling us to this adventure that was way bigger than anything we could imagine. He’s so faithful in confirming the things He calls us to. All along the way, God has been faithful — and spoken clearly what He’s wanted us to do.
MCL: Was there a camp in your life that also inspired you to start Timber Creek?
David: Yes! This is actually a unique part of the story. When I was younger, I went to summer camp and I was involved in youth and student retreats, and I gave my life to Christ at a Breakthru student event — Timber Creek Camp is actually a nonprofit ministry of Breakthru Ministries. God used camps to change my life and really brought everything full circle.
MCL: How has God grown the camp since 1999?
David: The camp’s growth is a huge testimony to who God is and to His faithfulness. He’s given us a front-row seat to what He can do. Timber Creek has grown to offering more than 65 events each year, and more than 4,000 people visit us in the summer, and about 8,000 annually. It’s an awesome opportunity to minister to a diverse group of people — students, children with autism, cancer survivors, burn victims. We’re privileged to see so many give their lives to Christ. With everything, He’s been doing immeasurably more than I could ever have asked or imagined.
MCL: You mentioned your wife was also instrumental in the camp?
David: Absolutely, my wife, Lori-Lynne, has been my partner in life and my partner in ministry all along the way. I couldn’t possibly walk the journey without her. But at Timber Creek, we do everything as a team, and so many people — Greg Taylor, Linn McKie, Austin Foreman, Roxi Sumrall — have all been so instrumental. Everyone on the team has in the past 20 years. Timber Creek wouldn’t exist without them.
MCL: What else do you feel makes Timber Creek so unique and transformative?
David: At the heart of all we do, we are a catalyst for the kingdom. It’s transformative because we want to support what the body of Christ — what the church — is doing all year round. We’re not a para-church ministry, we’re a pro-church ministry. We want to make relationships with everyone so they can find a home at Timber Creek, but most importantly so they can make a commitment to the cause of Christ.
Sarah McLaughlin is a junior at Mississippi College, and plans to graduate with a B.A. in English education. She attends Pinehaven Presbyterian Church in Clinton. You’ll often find her reading, listening to vinyl records, and drinking coffee.