The ARCA is a Christian Camp and retreat center located in a rural area about 20 miles from Curitiba, Paraná. Thousands of lives are touched through this ministry every year as people get away from the distractions and busyness of everyday life and are immersed in the beauty of God’s creation and in the teaching of His Word.
ARCA stands for Acampamento e Retiro Cristão da Associação which means Christian Camp and Retreat Center of the Association. The simple word “arca” in Portuguese means “ark” and is descriptive of the large camp building set into the wooded hillside. As God was faithful to Noah and all His people throughout history, He has been faithful in providing for all the needs of this developing ministry.
The camp is fully equipped to host 120 people comfortably. It is used several times a year for Free Lutheran camps and retreats for children, teens, couples, and families. The remaining weekends are available for other evangelical churches to rent the facilities. Missionaries Paul and Becky Abel manage the camp as part of their church-planting ministry. The ARCA is a faith project, developed as the Lord provides the resources. The beautiful grounds and facilities are a testimony of His provision through many generous groups and individuals. During the summer season (Dec. – Feb.) the ARCA hosts camps for children and teens as well as Vacation Bible School. Donations are welcomed to help with construction projects and/or scholarships to enable needy children to attend camp.
How It All Began
Paul and Becky have always enjoyed working with youth, especially in a camp setting. They dreamed of one day having a camp of their own. In July of 1991, Paul eyed an advertisement for a farm for sale outside of the city. The ad mentioned a beautiful property with electricity, city water, phone, bus service, two small houses and a large rabbit barn. The following day they took a leisurely drive away from the busy city to a rural area with rolling hills and small farms. The property was picturesque and the view spectacular as they enjoyed taking a look at the little pre-fab cabin and small caretaker’s cabin before touring the “eyesore” on the property – a large concrete rabbit barn – 160 ft. X 30 ft. As the real estate agent tried to take attention away from the barn Paul and Becky were already imagining how the building could easily be transformed into a retreat center with dorms at each end and a chapel and dining hall in the middle. There was plenty of space for ball fields and woods galore for hiking on the 21-acre property. What a find! Only one problem – no money!
As they drove back to the city the agent explored their financial resources and soon discovered that the only remote possibility of closing a deal would be dependent on the sale of their home in the city. An hour later the agent appeared on their doorstep with the couple who owned the farm. After a quick tour of the house and property the husband consulted with his wife and promptly asked if the Abels would be willing to trade their home in the city for the farm. By the end of the afternoon the Abels were proud owners of a beautiful farm. Only God can orchestrate circumstances in such perfect precision.
Paul and Becky are very thankful for friends who loaned them funds to add on to the little house on the farm and six months later they moved to the country in January 1992. Then began the pouring out of miraculous provisions for transforming the rabbit barn into a camp building. Donations and volunteers appeared regularly to complete the rustic camp building in time for a Free Lutheran Youth Convention in September 1992. 200 people gathered to praise God for His faithfulness in making a dream come true.
Since that first retreat many improvements have been made on the camp and several church groups have enjoyed the blessing of spending time at the retreat center. Today the ARCA is maintained by rental fees and volunteer contributions. They have a full-time maintenance staff, including a Brazilian manager, Carlos Belay.
The ARCA continues to depend on the promise from God’s Word – “He who has promised is faithful.” Heb. 10:23
See ARCA website ARCA