I had the privilege to attend a one-week Baptist camp for young people last week. It was a very encouraging and fun week and I hope that sharing some of my experiences can be an encouragement for others as well. The week was full of many activities ranging from worship and teaching from the Bible to sleeping on the beach. This "article" was written in response to a request by my Sunday school teacher.
The first group activity each day was a Bible study with Raquel. She preached from Exodus 20 on five out of the Ten Commandments: the third (v. 7), the fourth (vs. 8-11), the fifth (v. 12), the seventh (v. 14), and the ninth (v. 16). Like Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Mat. 5-7), Raquel gave applications of how we might break the spirit of the commandments in ways that are not explicit in the text of the commandment itself. From this teaching I donâ€™t think I learned many new things since I have already given thought to these subjects, however, the problem in walking in righteousness more often lies not in failing to know right thing to do but in actually doing it. This part of the week was a great encouragement to me to strive hard to walk in the ways of Jesus.
There was one day in which I got stirred up because I disagreed with Raquel. She taught that Sunday is for Christians as the Sabbath (Saturday) was for the Jews. What bothered me wasnâ€™t the idea of a day of rest (I think thatâ€™s healthy) or setting aside Sunday for worship both with the church and in private but the presentation of the fourth commandment as a rule for Christians. Afterwards I spent time thinking about the issue more and found my opinion the same. Nonetheless, it was a good exercise to work through what the Bible teaches again.
After the Bible study each day, we met with â€œmini-groupsâ€ for a time of discussion over the dayâ€™s lesson in the context of a smaller group of about eight people. My mini-group leader had a number of questions or topics prepared to start us on discussion. Unfortunately my group had a couple of guys who continuously made jokes that kept everyone laughing but also kept the group from seriously discussing things in any meaningful way. The mini-group was also the period in which I had the most language difficulties.
During two of the afternoons we watched some (American) movies dealing with honor: Men of Honor and The Last Samurai. These were not just entertaining movies, but they also presented powerful images of men acting honorably, willing to lay down even their lives in pursuit of a purpose higher than themselves. Viewed from a Christian perspective, these movies reminded me of the strength of the great exhortations and examples in the New Testament like â€œLet 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.â€ (Heb. 12:1) and â€œI press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.â€ (Phil. 3:12-14).
On three other afternoons we had time for â€œyou chooseâ€ sessions of studying a topic (yes, you guessed it) of our choice. I went to the sessions about â€œpraiseâ€ where we studied what adoration is, ways that adoration is expressed to God in the Bible, and some things that can hinder adoration. What I took away most from these sessions was the concept of a life driven by adoration of God occasionally punctuated by expressions of this adoration in song, prayer, etc.
In the evenings we had services in the chapel with worship in music led by various campers on various instruments and in the end with preaching by Pastor Pedro. This time of preaching was one of the highlights of the week for me. Pastor Pedro presented with great style powerful challenges for us to live lives fully committed to Christ, bearing fruit in increasing holiness. Fortunately and in answer to prayer, I understood the majority of these messages, for the most part only missing the jokes. Like the morning teaching, this time was not so much about learning new things as about being encouraged to live passionately a life worth of the love the Lord has lavished on me. (Col. 1:10)
Although we had many activities planned and scheduled for us, nonetheless there was significant free time to use as we pleased. One thing I especially enjoyed was getting up a little early to spend quiet time reading and meditating on passages in the Bible, praying, and reflecting on the previous day. Most of the rest of my free time was spent with Lemuel talking about all kinds of things, sometimes in English, sometimes in Portuguese, playing games, napping on the beach, or just relaxing on the swings. I donâ€™t know how much my Portuguese improved, but there was noticeable (to me) improvement in Lemuelâ€™s English from the beginning to the end of the week.
In the end the answer to the question â€œDid you enjoy the week at camp?â€ is a resounding â€œYes!â€. I feel as much love for the Lord and as much energy to live for him as I ever have and am eager to see the fruit that he will bear in my life and in the other young people from the church. â€œNo eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.â€ (1 Cor. 2:9)