Saturday, August 2, 2008
XcamP was awesome. Really. It was an incredible time of meeting new people, learning about God's plan of deliverance, and having a lot of fun doing it. Everyone began to arrive on the grounds of the Karmel retreat center in Smilovice on Saturday afternoon. All of the kids in attendance were assigned to discussion groups based on age, but at registration, they had the option to switch to my English discussion group. The groups were to meet in the morning and evening every day throughout the camp. At our first group meeting that evening, we spent a little time getting to know one another and talking about our first topic, the text of Joshua 24:15, where Joshua admonishes the people of Israel, now that they've been able to settle in the Promised Land, to follow the Lord, rather than turning aside to follow the gods of the people around them. This first group meeting didn't go too well. Many of the kids who signed up to be in my group weren't really prepared to have a discussion about the Bible in English. Needless to say, once this first meeting was over, I was highly discouraged and praying like mad that God would help me to do things in that group His way, because my plan (which had included some real in-depth discussion of how the Exodus foreshadowed the salvation that we have in Christ) certainly didn't look like it was going to work at all.
Sunday morning, we had a leaders meeting to talk about the goal of our groups and how the group break-down was to help keep the kids involved in all the activities of the camp, to give them each a built-in community so that they wouldn't be alone and so they would have an outlet to talk about whatever they needed to. After that meeting, we broke up into our groups again and my group gave it another try. It was again a tough time. I was so thankful for Miriam, my "assistant," a wonderful Christian young woman who spent a little more than a year in England, and who was able to do some translating when it was necessary. Following group time, we went to breakfast, and then the pastors from all over Silesia came out to lead Sunday morning worship for us in the big tent at the camp. This was a wonderful experience.
The best part of our Sunday morning worship was celebrating the sacrament together. For me it was a particular blessing for me. When the pastor with the Cup came to me, he said "the blood of Christ for you" in English to me. This was the first time I'd heard these words in English in the Czech Republic. It brought me to tears because it was the first time HERE that I really felt that communion really was something that Christ had done for me in particular, the first time it felt like the very personal gift of the Lord that it is. It was exactly the encouragement that I needed.
Later that morning the regular schedule for the week began, with seminars and workshops in the morning and afternoon, sprinkled with free time and group meetings, late afternoon evangelism and evening concerts. All of these things went off without a hitch except some of the sports activities during free time and on Wednesday afternoon as the skies let loose with rain on late Monday morning and didn't quit until Thursday night.
By Monday morning, some of the people in my small group came to Miriam and me to say that they really had no idea what we were talking about in our group and that they had found different groups to attend instead of mine. They didn't want me to be upset. On the contrary, I was praising God for this. I really didn't want them to miss out on hearing God's Word because of the impairment of being in my group, so I really encouraged them to leave. At the same time, many more people began to join my group. They hadn't known that there was an English discussion group that they could join, but they heard about it very early in the week and came to be with us. Many wonderful young people with fabulous English skills joined my discussion group, and we were able to even laugh and joke around in our group as we discussed our topics in depth. I was even able to pose some of the very difficult application and connection questions that I had initially wanted to ask of my group. I really praised God for that opportunity. Also, we were able to make connections in every discussion between the Exodus that God gave the Israelites and the exodus from sin and death that we have through faith in Christ and His cross.
By the end of the week, on Saturday morning, it was so hard to believe that it was actually over. What had started for me as a discouraging and lonely week (my group was difficult and I knew relatively few people with whom I could talk, only having one or two people for translators) ended up to be one of the best weeks I've had here (even in spite of the fact that on Thursday I spent the whole day in bed with a fever of 100F). By the end of the week, God had made my discussion group into a wonderful group of fun-loving Christian friends, He had blessed me with many new friends from the youth groups in the surrounding villages, and He had also blessed me with about 5 or 6 incredible grown-up translator friends.
-Please pray that the youth who attended XcamP would be salt and light in a world that is not friendly, even hostile, to the Gospel and to Christ. Pray especially for those who are returning to their university campuses this fall where there is no powerful Christian network present like the one here in Silesia (the universities here don't have anything like the Christian "infrastructure" that I was blessed with at the U of N).
-Pray for the youth who returned to non-believing homes; may they be a light before their parents and siblings!
-Pray that the believers in this tiny corner of the Czech Republic would be passionate about God's salvation and worship of Him in such a way that they cannot help but evangelize those around them out of a desire for more people to come to a knowledge of the Truth and worship of our great God!
Psalm 65:8 "Those living far away fear your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy."