(The following excerpts are from The Golden Chain (2002, 2007), chapter 1 (1958 and 1961), by Bill Livingston.)
BAY CITY, MI – Frances Brown was well-suited to the challenge she faced. She grew up in Illinois, at that time a pioneer missions state. She served in inner city missions and graduated from the Carver School of Missions at Southern Seminary in Louisville Frances went on to directed educational programs at a Kentucky church before coming to Michigan. Her strong-willed character and sense of calling made her an ideal candidate for the task ahead of her:
“I worked with Frances Brown at her first GA camp at Bambi. Each of the kids kept their money with the counselors so it wouldn’t be lost or stolen, but Frances was reluctant to give the kids their money! ‘You’d better spend it on missions!’, she said…” - Peggie Dye
“I was the camp pastor for the GA camp in 1961. Frances Brown was organized and had a working heart. I can still remember her walking by with girls out to the “prayer shack”, where she would lead them to the Lord.” - Marion Sherrill
A major financial gamble in mid-1958 resulted in the acquisition of a major asset and ministry site that continues to serve Michigan Baptists in increased numbers- the campground at Bambi Lake. The Laurel Gun Club had a large tract of land for sale in the Roscommon area, where Fred Hubbs frequently went hunting:
“When we obtained Bambi, it was a sinkhole lake…We bought it on a lark; they wanted $44,000 for a 14-acre lake, 240 acres, and 4 buildings. We thought it was a steal, but we had to ask “what if”, because the state was in a recession and many of our churches were already struggling financially. We needed to know that our people were behind it…so we organized a car caravan on a Saturday (June 21) to form a prayer circle on the property. We had hoped for 100 people to come; when we formed the circle on the property, there were exactly 100 people there…
We could come up with about $3000 immediately, but we had to have the $14,000 down payment in about two weeks…We were still $8000 short when I approached Bob Bowman, one of the members of Eber Memorial and owner of a gas station, for a loan of $7000 so that we could meet the deadline…We had the money the next day.” - Fred and Shirley Hubbs
How ironic that Frances Brown should be called to serve in Michigan within just a couple of months of the decision to purchase Bambi Lake in 1958. This writer never believes in coincidences…the calling of Frances Brown and the purchase of Bambi Lake led to incredible growth of RA and GA programs across the state in the 1950s and 1960s. Within a decade, GA state conferences drew nearly 800 girls and leaders. I was an RA camp pastor in 2001. Throughout the decades, Bambi Lake has provided a place where thousands of boys and girls….men and women, have come to a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
For less than the price of an SUV, the impact upon the lives of our churches through Bambi Lake has been inestimable. Without question, Frances Brown was led by God to see that Bambi Lake would become a haven for evangelism, encouragement and inspiration. My wife, Anne, and I certainly encourage all of our members and friends to invest in the Frances Brown State Missions offering, and believe you will see a return on your investment that will last for eternity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bill Livingston has been a graduate college professor, military contractor, Southern Baptist pastor, and historian. He has written about a dozen histories for Crossway Christian Church, the Bay Area Baptist Association, and the BSCM. He lives in Bay City, Michigan with the lovely Anne. His four kids, their spouses, and lots of grandkids are scattered around the globe; two are currently on active duty with the US Armed Forces.