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?
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!
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.
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