An Oasis of teenage Christian Liberty – EMW Camps 2019

EMW Camp‘s provide an oasis of Christian liberty to our teenagers.

For one week they can gather together safely and study the Bible with friends, free from the mocking voices they face back in school.

It is such an important week for our campers!

Last year God moved in a powerful way with six campers professing faith (three of which have been baptised since).

You can read more about this week  here Being in the Presence of God

Could we see God move in the same way this year?

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We all arrived at camp a year older (some may say wiser), and exhausted!

Junior officers had just got their exam result and were preparing for university, senior officers had recently bought houses and even got married in the weeks leading up to camp.

I had arrived gasping for breath after dealing with a number of seriously draining Pastoral issues.

We came excited – but were praying for an easy group of kids!

The theme of the camp was “Space” and the team got to work decorating the meeting areas with stars and planets and fairy lights, it looked amazing and the theme did a great job supporting the ministry.

Our campers are often one of just a handful of youth in their church and perhaps the only church attendee in their entire school. For them being a Christian is incredibly lonely. So I wanted to teach Biblical truth that they could take back home with them that would both reassure and comfort in their times of need.

After much consideration and in light of the theme we created an “Intergalactic Prayer Warrior training camp”. We took instructions from Star Fleet Command (Matthew 6:9-13) and over ten messages and studies we could see ‘How great is our God’ and how mind blowing it is to call Him ‘Father’. We studied God’s Kingdom and how to live it out in our daily lives (back at home and at school) and how to deal with temptation, peer pressure, assurance and loneliness.

The theme played right into the content and on Wednesday night they watched Indescribable, a short lecture that again magnified God in the creation of the cosmos and revealed His matchless condescension in the person of Christ.

The campers had a great time going to the beach and Ice-Skating, we enjoyed tournaments, fancy dress and crafts, we even wrote a camp song. But the real joy for me was seeing God work among us.

The dynamic was different this year, our camp sold out within a day of opening. Those lucky enough to get in were from church families. They were all well behaved and studious children. But this presented an array of other challenges. Their questions were deeper and more profound, they knew the Bible and understood the seriousness of their salvation.

But such blessings can create huge stumbling blocks to faith. Those naive to the truth come as blank canvases, others who have grown up in the church are wise to the gospel and question everything.

Church kids often feel that their faith is not as genuine as those around them and as a result lack assurance. They wait for the defining “experience” (which some may get), but until that day comes (if it comes) they question everything at the slightest of doubts.

For these reasons children raised in Christian families are often harder nuts to crack!

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The first half of the week we were overjoyed at the behaviour and ease of the campers, but knew that many were not saved, so as officers we wrestled in prayer. 

It took until Wednesday for God to move among us and this year He chose the dorm studies to make a real impact. The officers excelled this year, they had worked so hard in their preparation and came with many notes and questions for me. It was a delight to see their enthusiasm rewarded.

What I found most interesting was the similarities between those campers who professed faith. They all suddenly became aware of their eternity and feared the reality Hell. This was clearly a movement of the Spirit as “Hell” was not the focus of the week (it was prayer). 

On the Thursday night we were singing hymns by the camp fire and a young man came to speak with me. It was his first time on an EMW camp and at 13 years of age, his last with our group. He told me how shocked he was by our first meeting on the breakfast table where I asked him so bluntly if Jesus is His Lord and Saviour. It made him think all week about the reality of his eternity without Christ. He asked me how He could be saved and I had the great privilege of leading Him to the Lord. Walking back to the dorms our camp leader was having the very same conversation with another young man who was in tears of joy knowing the assurance of God’s love for the first time. 

After my last message on the Friday morning I asked all those who had heard God speak to them this week to meet me after the service. Fourteen stayed behind…!

Fourteen soul’s who had either felt great assurance or had committed their lives to following Jesus for the first time. Hallelujah.

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Friends, what you see above is the power of the EMW camps! They are intense weeks of Christian liberty where God truly blesses souls with assurance and salvation!

As churches we need to remember that our youngsters are the first generation for a millennia to grow up in a non-Christian culture. The EMW Camps offer an oasis of  for these kids and I do not believe that any of us truly understand how much they need (and appreciate) the week.

The commitment and love for Jesus shown by many of our campers is of such great encouragement, the church has a bright future ahead of us, but more can be done to support this amazing work!

As we plan for next year I pray that you can support the EMW Camps by ensuring that the youth in your church come and even ask the unchurched youth in your community to join us. It is a wonderful opportunity for the Gospel.

I want to close by saying a huge thank you to our camp leaders, officers and cooks who worked so hard during the week. 

Another great privilege of being a camp chaplain is to see them mature and grow spiritually each year and use their gifts to glorify God.

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.” Psalm 85:10-13

Being in the presence of God – EMW Camps 2018

I am broken, exhausted and emotionally drained as I write to you all. This last week has been both a battle and a joy.

Last year I wrote a blog on my first camp experience as chaplain and the blessings we received. I encourage you to read it if you are thinking of supporting or getting involved in the camps. “Better than the best thing I could ever think of – camp

This year I am not going to write about all the great activities we did with the campers, as far greater things were done by God.

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Australia was the camp theme

I enjoyed my time with the campers last year and listened to their pains and anxieties as they struggle to live the Christian life amidst the hostility of our secular age.

I hoped to address these issues this year with the theme of “Assurance”. 

I arrived on the Saturday afternoon with my notes and Bible studies prepared.

Every morning and evening we would go through each of the Beatitudes and study how salvation is expressed.

To summarise the weeks teaching;

  • Those who know their own spiritual poverty, grieve their sin and hunger and thirst for God are blessed. 
  • Those who have dealt with conflict at the cross and have made peace with God and who face persecution for living for Christ are blessed.
  • Christianity is expressed by inward reflection, outward action and outside reaction (we even had dance moves for this).

The officers seemed encouraged by the notes and came loaded with several questions. I am grateful for how seriously they took the task in hand.

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The first service felt lifeless, the wind was heavy on the tent and was distracting those who needed no encouragement. The projector fell mid way through the message and I knew I had lost them. 

The first few days were restless, their was conflict, tears and tiredness between the campers. The Devil was clearly attacking! It was going to be a tough week!

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This years camp was different in many ways, but the most significant was in prayer.

From the first night we all met as officers and leaders to pray for God’s blessing upon the week, we prayed for each child until the early hours and then we woke and met again to do the same.

Camp leader (Joshua Slade) lead the morning devotions taking the officers through Colossians. We prayed right up to the breakfast bell each morning and could have gone on all day.

Last year I was encouraged by the handful of campers that came to the early morning prayer meeting (comprising mainly of duty bound ministers children), but this year the early morning prayer meetings peaked at 21 souls desperate to see God work.

We prayed as officers again before the dorm Bible studies and at the very end of the day after the officers epilogues, when we were all exhausted, the officers and leaders still all met to pray again until the early hours ……..and the Lord was pleased to answer!

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As I have already said, the first couple of days were incredibly challenging (the enemy knew what was coming). But from Monday evening (where we truly felt God’s presence in our late night prayer meeting) things began to change.

I had preached earlier that day on Matthew 5:4, using the illustration of a life boat. “Only those who mourn their sin, know the desperate situation they are in and will accept the offer of rescue.”

This analogy struck a chord with a number of the campers, several stayed after the meeting to pray.

As we continued through the Beatitudes we could see a change in the Spirit of the camp, a number of the difficulties were ironed out, foes became best friends, the restless began to sleep and prayer was being answered.

God was with us!

At meal times, we were not singing dorm theme tunes or popular music, but Hymns to God’s glory. 

During the activities, campers were reading their Bibles, whether they were on the beach, or sat on the floor in the crowds at the zoo. They could not get enough of God’s word.

After each morning service half of the campers stayed to pray for the lost, one young girl even wept in utter confusion that there were campers who could leave the service seemingly unaffected. (This challenged me greatly)

Throughout the week we could physically and tangibly see God move through the campers.

In total we welcomed nine professions of faith (compared to zero last year) and several showed clear signs of growth and have gone home assured.

What excited me the most was that each profession was made secretly, personally and reverently.

None of the children were following the crowd, but spent days praying and speaking to the officers to make sure in their own hearts that they were not riding a superficial wave.

One young lady was walking back from the day trip to the farm on her own, praying I would retreat to her so she could discuss her conversion. She was not seeking attention, far from it, she distanced herself from the crowd to speak with me alone. She knew she was saved and had everything in Christ.

One young man who was not in the prayer meetings at the beginning of the week, started coming by the end. I asked him why? To which he proclaimed “Christ died for me”. I would not have known about his conversion if I had not asked. 

None of the converts were attention seeking, neither were they appeasing me. They called officers aside individually to share what had happened to them and although humbled in Spirit all were excited to return home to share their good news with friends and family.

Camp veteran and leader Joshua Slade said he had never known a camp like it.

We had all the fun of previous years, but the spirit of unity (that came out from a potentially difficult week) was clear. 

God drew these young souls to Him through the entire team on camp, every officer had a significant part to play as commitments were being made. Grace (our ladies leader) spent many hours with our young ladies.

On the last morning a number of the converts (and those who were significantly strengthened in their faith) came to me for an unplanned prayer meeting before they went home. I read from Mark 4.

“You can return home assured, knowing that you are in the lifeboat, but storms will come and Jesus will seam silent, but know that He is in the boat with you, have faith that He can calm the storm” 

The reality of the blessing we shared this week has already been evidenced by the storm, with various attacks that I have returned home to. I would value your prayer……

I asked the campers to write where they were at with God on Day 1.

I asked them to answer the same question on the last evening.

Here are some examples.