Archives For Super Summer

Editor’s note: This is the final story in a series of three testimonies about Super Summer, an annual discipleship week for students sponsored by the Illinois Baptist State Association. Click here to read how Hannah Batista met Christ at Super Summer, and here for why youth minister Tim Drury takes his students to Greenville for the week every year.

Zaxxson_NationHEARTLAND | Zaxxson Nation spent Super Summer 2014 teaching high school seniors the most practical parts of discipleship— finding a mentor, building intentional friendships, and investing in a local church. As assistant dean for the green school, which is focused on discipleship, Nation helped transfer to his students some of the same principles he learned as a Super Summer student.

Assistant dean is just one hat Nation has worn since his first week in Greenville 12 years ago. As a 16-year-old student leader from Rochester First Baptist, he realized at Super Summer that his Christianity was based more on head knowledge than faith that had taken root in his heart.

“God really changed everything in my life” that week, Nation said. “And at that point I was ready to serve, to do whatever it took to just serve Him.”

Part of what makes Super Summer different from some other camps is the laser-like focus on knowing Jesus more, Nation said. At his first Super Summer, “When we had free time, we were talking about Jesus. And when we went to bed at night, we were joking around, but we were also sharing our testimonies.”

Years later, he said, “I think it’s the same now as it was 12 years ago when I was a student. It’s still people coming together for the same reason; it’s still students that are serious about their faith.”

Nation acknowledged that Super Summer creates an environment that’s impossible to recreate once students get home and the distractions of life flood back in. Being cut off from regular life for a week is both a blessing and a curse, he said. “God uses it, though; He used it for my life,” he said.

“The other big thing about Super Summer is it’s pretty much where I got my standard for being a godly man,” Nation remembered. He met pastors and leaders who had memorized large chunks of the Bible and shared their faith regularly.

“Super Summer puts you under those guys’ teaching for an entire week, and you leave inspired. And I left personally saying, ‘Wow, I want to be like that.’

“Because as a student I saw that and was challenged by those high standards, I want to go back and work under those guys, and be peers to those guys and continue to learn from them. That’s a huge motivator for me, to think that one day a student could look at me and my life and say that I’m inspiring them in the same way that those guys inspired me.”

Students meet in their "family group" at Super Summer, IBSA's discipleship week for students in Greenville, Ill.

Students meet in a “family group” at Super Summer, IBSA’s discipleship week for students in Greenville, Ill.

HEARTLAND | When you ask him if students in his youth group are different after they experience Super Summer, Tim Drury pops open his laptop and pulls up a video of Hannah Batista sharing her testimony. Hannah came to Christ last summer during the annual discipleship week at Greenville College.

Most students are already Christians when they get to Super Summer, which is sponsored by the Illinois Baptist State Association. But the week is still life-changing. They grow, and they want to grow more, said Drury, youth minister at FBC Bethalto.

“My job as a student pastor is to take what they’ve learned, and for the other 51 weeks of the year, help them put it into practice.”

It’s something he’s been learning how to do since the early 2000s, when he first came to Super Summer as a youth pastor. He now serves as an assistant dean in the gray school, a group for students preparing to go to college in the fall. The dean of the gray school, Lakeland Baptist Pastor Phil Nelson, has been at every Super Summer since the beginning, more than 20 years ago.

The students aren’t the only ones being mentored, Drury said. He’s being discipled too, by pastors like Nelson who take a week away from their churches to come to Greenville.

Caleb Ellis was a student in Drury’s gray school this year. The 18-year-old, who’s also from Bethalto, likened his first Super Summer to drinking from a fire hose. But he learned “tools for practical, modern faith,” and was already talking in Greenville about how he could go home and start Gospel conversations with a friend from another culture.

When he came to Bethalto, Drury said, “I needed something that did heavy discipleship and challenged our kids to look more like Jesus.” Super Summer helps fill in the gaps caused by the time limitations he faces as a youth minister. He may only see most students once a week, for example, and it’s difficult to do intensive classes for specific ages or genders. But in Greenville, his students are “under the pressure of the Gospel” – it’s a refining process for them, an opportunity to evaluate their relationship with Christ.

And for him. The students are learning things here that he’s still learning, Drury said.

For more on Super Summer, read the July 28 issue of the Illinois Baptist, online later this week at


Hannah Batista shares her testimony in a video produced by FBC Bethalto.

HEARTLAND | The last year of Hannah Batista’s life has been different from the first 16. Last summer, she accepted Christ during Super Summer, a week that’s less about camp activities and more about discipling students.

Through a series of tough circumstances, Hannah had ended up living in the home of a member of First Baptist Church in Bethalto. She was an unwilling church attender, and an unwilling Super Summer participant when she wound up at Greenville College last June. “I was guilted into going, honestly,” she says now.

But during the week, something changed. Lots of things, actually. In the quiet of her dorm room on the last night of the week, Hannah accepted Christ.

“Everything I thought I knew was being torn down, and in its place, something new was being built up,” she said from her seat in the dining hall at this year’s Super Summer. Hannah is now a leader in her youth group, and was baptized this year by her youth pastor, Tim Drury.

Watch a video of Hannah’s testimony and baptism at FBC Bethalto (courtesy of the church’s Facebook page).