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About Bible Witness Camp

Our Mission

The purpose of the Bible Witness Camp shall be to propagate the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This purpose shall be achieved through Sunday School and Church activities, Bible Clubs, summer Camping programs and through whatever other Scriptural activities that are deemed necessary to fulfill the above stated purpose.

Our History

In the mid 1920's God led Mrs. Jewel Pierpont Ford to found the Bible Witness Mission at 3142 S. State Street in Chicago, Illinois.

Born July 26, 1880 in San Francisco to godly parents, she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior at age nine. Orphaned at age 14 (death of both parents), she married young and became the wife of Joseph Ford, United States Ambassador to India. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire took the lives of both her husband and her son Mark. The young widow, feeling so alone, suffered a complete nervous breakdown. After a long illness and recovery, she, who never had had to think of working for a living, found employment. During World War I her employer was the U. S. Government. Her memory was so perfect that she could recall lengthy messages word for word so the documents could be destroyed lest the enemy somehow obtain them.

Wealth, position, fame were all hers, but the Lord took all of them giving her instead eternal riches: a deep and sacrificial love for her Savior and a genuine love for children and youth and their eternal souls. In 1917 she moved to Chicago, Illinois where she saw hundreds of black children roaming the streets like sheep without a shepherd. That was when the Lord led her and her faithful sister in Christ, Martha Seeberger, to start the Bible Witness Mission, "witnessing" that: the Bible is true from cover to cover and explains the only way to eternal salvation: faith in Jesus Christ.

From the beginning, the financial policy has been one of faith in God's provision without pleas for money or fund-raising methods. The work of George Mueller had impressed Mrs. Ford, and she and Miss Seeberger claimed Philippians 4:19 "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." For more than their 30 years of ministry at the Bible Witness Mission, they personally saw God faithfully provide-true to Jesus' admonition and promise in Matthew 6:33 "seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you."

Our Doctrinal Statement

  1. We believe that the Bible is the Word and Revelation of God and therefore our only authority.
    II Timothy 3:15-17

  2. We believe in the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is very God by Whom and for Whom "all things were created."
    Hebrews 9:14; John 1:1-4

  3. We believe in His virgin birth, that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and is therefore God manifested in the flesh.
    Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:35

  4. We believe in salvation by divine sacrifice, the Son of God gave "His life a ransom for many" and bore "our sins in His own body on the tree."
    Matthew 20:28; I Peter 2:24

  5. We believe in the universality and heinousness of sin and in salvation by Grace, "not of works lest any man should boast;" that sonship with God is attained only by regeneration through the Holy Spirit and faith in Jesus Christ.
    Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:23; John 3:5-6; Titus 3:5

  6. We believe in Christ's physical resurrection from the dead and in His bodily presence at the right hand of God as our Priest and Advocate.
    Acts 5:30-32; Luke 24; Hebrews 4:14-16

  7. We believe in the Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit, who came down upon earth on the day of Pentecost to indwell believers and to be the administrator in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ; Who is also here to "reprove the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment."
    John 14:15-20; John 16:8-11

  8. We believe in the great commission which our Lord has given to His church to evangelize the world and that this evangelization is the great mission of the church.
    Matthew 28:19-20

  9. We believe in the second, visible, premillennial and imminent coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to establish His world-wide kingdom on the earth.
    Acts 1:9-11; I Thessalonians4:16-18; Revelation 11:15-17

  10. We believe in a Heaven of eternal bliss for the saved and in the conscious and eternal punishment of the lost.
    Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 20:11-15; John 14:1-3

Bible Witness Camp is Born


Scrub oak trees and sand covered the 32-acre lot Mrs. Ford purchased in the middle 1940's. True to God's promises of financial provision, He led a couple and their daughter to donate the money for the purchase. Starting out debt free, that is the current status of the Bible Witness Camp to date. Located in Pembroke Township, Kankakee County, Illinois just 65 miles south of Chicago, the property would make 10-day summer camps possible for the city children to enjoy the country.

Summer Camps Begin

The first camps were held in 1947: ten days for boys; ten days for girls. No charge was made to the campers. They "earned" the week through a program of Scripture memory. The summer camp program has continued that pattern. Trudie Sylvester (now Hayon) attended girls' camp that first summer. She returned in 1948 as a counselor, and in 1949 left for Trinidad to serve the Lord as a missionary in that country. She has worked in both Trinidad and Tobago and continues to live and minister in the West Indies today. She too, left trusting God to supply her needs and she has found Him faithful for over 50 years.

"Lord, Send a Family"

Each summer the scenery around the camp changed. More houses appeared as families from Chicago moved to Pembroke. Some moved north from the southern states and settled in the community. Although the mission staff had limited contact in the community through summer Vacation Bible School, Mrs. Ford began to pray that a couple with children would live at the camp to begin a permanent ministry in Pembroke Township. A couple she had met while sharing her work in Paxton, Illinois in 1949 would play a key role in the future of BWC.

Marshall and Lizetta Williams

Marshall and Lizetta Williams

By 1954 Marshall and Lizetta Williams had spent about three years ministering in a church in Wayland, Michigan. That year Mrs. Ford was invited to speak to the missionary group there. While visiting in the Williams' home overnight, she asked them to "pray that the Lord will send a family to the camp." She had a vision for a family to begin a full-time Gospel outreach in the community. Why a family? Mrs. Ford felt that "children would reach children." The basic and original purpose for the camp was CHILDREN!


During late 1954, after attending a Sunday School Convention, the Lord worked a revival in the hearts of Marshall and Lizetta, which spread through their church-cleansing them, drawing them closer to Christ, convicting them to reach the unreached children and youth around them. It was at that time that Mrs. Ford gave them the prayer request. They did pray! The Lord kept using Isaiah 6:8, "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" to tell Marshall and Lizetta that His will for them was to answer their own prayer for this "couple with children." Their response to the Lord was the rest of that verse in Isaiah: "Here am I. Send me." Marshall and Lizetta responded to God's call together: "Here are we. Send us."

In late August 1955, the couple went to the Mission on south State Street in Chicago and volunteered to serve at the Bible Witness Camp. From her sick bed Mrs. Ford made one requirement for their acceptance. "You will agree to the missions' one requirement: Trust the Lord for all your needs."

"We will," they responded. They did. They found God faithful.

The Williams Family Arrives at BWC, September 22, 1955

Marshall and Lizetta Williams pulled into the sandy acreage with four children-Judy 11, David 9, Becky 6, Daniel 2; their personal and household goods; a car; $200; a promise of $15 a month from friends; plus the promises of God! Mrs. Ford died the next day. The mission in Chicago closed after a year or two and the property there was purchased by the Illinois Institute of Technology. The Camp became the sole survivor of the original work.

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