Lessons learnt at our youth camp
By Andrew Chen
Having spent the year organising with a camp committee led by my good friend Esther, there was huge anticipation of what was to come. Throughout the year we were continually prayerful and sensed God moving among our youth and telling us it was time for us to take a leap of faith closer to Him and revealed to us the camp theme for this year: Unchained.
So what does it mean to be unchained? By definition, to unchain is to remove the chains fastening or securing someone or something. In the world that we currently live in, it’s difficult for us to identify the chains in our lives that hold us back from drawing closer to God because they are so heavily ingrained in culture that it becomes the norm for us. I’m not only talking just within the political and social context, but church culture can also be clouded. God had made it very clear that this was a camp that was both suited for those who were still yet to know Christ; to people like myself, who have been serving in church ministry for years.
We were privileged enough to have Pastor Ronnie from Maylands Church as our camp speaker and he challenged us from the very beginning. In order to identify the chains in our live, we first had to acknowledge our identity in Christ. Spending the time reflecting with God and one another allowed for us to pinpoint the things that kept us from acknowledging our identity which we find in our heavenly Father. As we were introduced to the camp and what was to come, we had to consider the authority of God over our lives as His creation. As God is the creator and this earth is the wonderful result of His work, all things that occur in this life points back to God as we are surrounded by his presence and that all meaning, purpose and action should be found in Christ. A grace cycle is what we called it. To begin to truly unchain, is to acknowledge God in all His sovereignty.
Still and quiet
As this started to make more sense to us, we took advantage of the serene environment and isolation away from an over saturated, hyper-connected world and simply spent time with God on an individual level. The quiet allowed us to be still before God as He spoke into our lives revealing to us the chains that have entangled our lives. In Romans 8:13 it says “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live”. There is something truly great and empowering with the act of confession; to bring forth our misdeeds in order to take away its power. As the camp progressed, spirit fueled confession took place as we revealed sins and strongholds that had taken control over our lives before God and each other. For some it empowered them to stop denying themselves in growing closer with God; for others, it was tougher as it challenged their identity and being. Through all of it, there was truly a sense of community and fellowship as we sought to encourage and pray for one another. It really highlighted the presence of God as there was an overwhelming sense of love, encouragement and support that ventured beyond the natural.
Throw out, take in
Praying out the chains from our lives then meant striving towards a life pursuing holiness. Just as we prayed out our burdens, we asked God for what it is we could pray in. There was a consistent underlying request; to know God more, to be humbled before Him and to ask for transformed hearts through His word. As burdens were lifted, the youths gained a fresher sense of what this life means for us; just as Christ sacrificed himself for us and our sins, we are now free to live our lives as a living sacrifice for Him. Not only is that liberating but also a privilege that each day on this earth has a purpose that ties both back to Christ’s presence on earth and what is to come eternally. In Hebrew 12:1-3 it says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
As we left the campsite, it was evident we all had left something behind. As we double checked for lost property, we found clothing, old socks, sleeping bags and a myriad of other gear strewn around the campsite. As youths, this is unfortunately natural for us to go home to our parents with bad news of their now lost possessions. But what about what we gained? As we drove off, there was a sense of reflective silence in the cars and buses. Maybe it was because the fatigue caught up to us. I believe it was more than that. In amongst the contemplation, I felt we were so empowered to go back to our lives to bring forth testimonies and to be witnesses ourselves, just like all others before in history, as we fixed or eyes on Jesus. To me, what was lost and left behind at that camp, physical or not, meant a bigger and better cherished gain in Christ Jesus.
Andrew Chen is a physiotherapy student and attends Kingsway Methodist Church in Perth. He has a passion helping youth to discover and find their purpose in christ.
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