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.