Saturday, July 19, 2014

Speak Up ! Lightseekers Camp 2014 - Epilogue

With all the busyness of camp along with the internet difficulties we experienced at camp, I was unable to keep you all posted with the details of the week until now. It is hard to put into words just exactly what transpired other than to say it was truly an amazing demonstration of God's power working in and through the lives of 175 campers, counselors, and leaders. What I do know is that 34 children made decisions to follow Christ this week. There were shouts of joy and tears of happiness throughout our chapel times. Eyes and mouths were left wide open in utter astonishment as God moved young ones to say and do incredible things. I want to share a few of these amazing stories with you.

First off, let me tell you a story about our camp speaker, Mike Alvarez and how he came to us. Mike was not scheduled to be our speaker as of the day before camp, his new bride Krista was instead the one scheduled to be. Unfortunately, she had become seriously ill in the days preceding camp and had asked Mike to step in for her. Krista herself was not the original speaker chosen; that person had to drop a few months prior to camp due to an unexpected educational schedule conflict. As we reached out to find a new one to replace this person, Krista came to us on a listed provided by Biola University's Christian Education Department and was highly recommended for her work with children. When we contacted her, she told us that we were an answer to her prayers as she was looking for a way to serve God this summer after she got married. She and we were so excited with anticipation about her speaking, yet the Lord had something else in mind, it seems. Mike filled in very well indeed - the campers really connected with him and his life story. He even joined the worship team for the last two chapels, teaching us a new song about Jesus. God definitely provided for us by sending Mike as the "replacement".

Another amazing thing happened on Thursday night. Every morning, we collect an offering during chapel in which we raise funds to support special projects - this year's projects were to buy some chairs for the Oak Glen camp facility (replacing broken plastic chairs that were used for patio seating just outside the camper's cabins) and to raise scholarship funds for kids to go to Lightseekers Camp 2015. The amount collected in the morning offering is tallied and shared with the campers during the evening chapel time as part of an ongoing skit (Goldilocks and Mary Bear). The campers were so generous in their offerings that by Wednesday, the amount for the chairs was covered ($500) and they were well on their way to providing scholarships too. As Goldilocks and Karla (Mary had to leave that morning for a funeral) were doing their skit to reveal the amount so far, a little girl came forward to hand Karla a five dollar bill to add to the total. Karla thanked her and tried to continue on with the skit when another child came and handed her some more money. Soon child after child ran up bringing coins in plastic baggies, dollar bills and rolled coins. Karla grabbed on of the offering buckets as the children filled it nearly to the top with their gifts. In that spontaneous outpouring, the children added another $365 to the total. When the week was over, the kids had given almost $1300 towards the projects. I told Karla as they were bringing their gifts that night that it reminded me of the New Testament story of the Loaves and Fish because of the way God multiplies what people bring to Him.

The final wonderful story also occurred on Thursday as well. I already mentioned that 34 children gave their lives to Jesus that night, but let me tell you some of the ways that played out. Earlier in the day, two little boys asked their counselor to baptize them in the swimming pool. After speaking with them and determining the sincerity of their faith and request, he agreed and did so. Other children saw this and also wanted to follow Jesus in baptism, however he was hesitant to baptize them without permission of their parents and church. Instead, they cheered on the two boys from his church as they were baptized. (Take note, pastors: You may have some children in your church wanting to be baptized too!) When the invitation to receive Christ was given, many children stayed to talk with their counselor or pastor. One Senior Pastor had come just to attend the evening chapel and was overjoyed to see six of his boys from church invite Jesus to be their Savior. Another girl, who has grown up in her church and attended many camps, VBS, Sunday Schools and Midweek programs gave her heart to Jesus for the very first time.

As I was standing around watching the children being counseled, a boy came up to me and introduced himself as the son of one of the counselors. Sensing that he had more to say, I asked him if he had made a decision that night -he indicated that he had. I then asked him what sort of decision had he made, what did he ask Jesus to do for him. He told me that he had given his heart to Jesus and asked Him to be his Savior. I then asked if he had prayed these things with his dad as counselor, but to my surprise, he said no because his dad was packing the car as they had to leave right away. As we stood there, I shared with him the significance of his choice to follow Christ, how that Jesus would never leave him nor forsake him. He shared with me something of his life that made me cry and I asked if I could pray for him. As I prayed that he would continue to grow strong in his faith and be filled with God's grace, peace and comfort, he began to cry as well. He left knowing that God loved him and would be with him in whatever situation. A few minutes later, his father came back and upon hearing that his son had committed his life, was overcome with great joy. One reason he was so overwhelmed was that he, his son and another boy had just decided to attend camp the DAY BEFORE it began. The dad had only recommitted his own life to Christ a few years before, but is now being used to lead a Sunday School class of boys.

These stories just demonstrate how we can never know when and where God will lead and do great things. From unplanned speakers, to spontaneous outbursts of generosity and demonstrations of faith, to unexpected campers who end up committing their lives to Jesus, our Lord is in charge of all and He alone deserves all the glory. Camp is now over and it will be another 360 days until the next one, God willing we will all be back with new campers along with the old ones to minister to and with. Until next time, remember to Speak Up! for Jesus in what you say and what you do...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day Three - The Carnival

Amazing fun tonight! I'll let the pictures I posted on Flickr tell the story.

Day Three, Part 2

It's the middle of free time and I just finished downloading a bunch of emails from you parents. I try to get the emails you send out to the campers within half a day. If you have sent an email to your child, be assured that they did receive it; the only reason they don't write back right away is that they are too busy having fun to respond to you.

While this has been a very fun camp so far, what is even more important is that the campers are learning new things about Jesus. Today, our speaker Mike talked about Speaking Up in the face of peer pressure and temptation to do things that don't honor God. He reminded us that Jesus was tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread, to bow down and worship the devil, and to jump off the top of the Temple. Each time Jesus spoke up using the Word of God to resist the Devil's temptations. We too can resist temptations to do wrong things by being filled with God's Spirit and allowing the Fruit of the Spirit to reflect that He is living inside us.

After morning chapel, the campers headed off to their Walk The Talk times and learned practical application of this morning's message. Following Walk the Talk, the campers went to their Unit Times where they did crafts, swam in the pool, or played games on the upper field. Lunch followed the unit time and after that, the kids had cabin kick back prior to starting free time. It can be pretty exhausting -perhaps I need a nap.

Day Three- Speak Up!

They just rang the bell for breakfast -we eat in a few minutes and will need every bit of nutrition to fuel us up for today. Wednesday marks the midpoint of camp and tonight we will be having our camp carnival. There is so much for the campers to do , but this week is much more important than games or climbing walls or swimming pools or crafts -it's about Jesus and our relationship with Him. It is so wonderful to watch the kids in chapel worshiping God with their whole being and listening attentively to the missionary story as well as our speaker Mike. Now that I finally got posted a whole bunch of photos on Flickr, I will be able to write more about what we are learning. For now, it's time to eat...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day Two - Speak Up!

We have now finished our second of camp and our children have all gone to bed for the night. It's hard to believe that we awoke just sixteen hours ago -the day was just so jammed pack full of fun and adventure. The food is great! The games and activities are wonderful plus we've had the best time in chapel. Karla is back with her band of volunteers leading worship which seems to get better every single year. Our speaker, Mike Alvarez has been challenging the campers to stand up and speak up about Jesus to the people around us. Tonight he talked about the farmer who scattered seed everywhere -he didn't worry about the outcome, he was faithful to spread to the places he had been called to do it. It's up to God to make the seed of His Word grow in the hearts and minds of the people in whom it's planted. Tomorrow I will have more to report, especially about our our very fun carnival.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Lightseekers 2014 - Day One Continued

I'm sitting in the Oak Glen Office blogging while the children are playing wild games inside the gym above me. I can here the sounds of their footsteps running back and forth. Today has been a great day so far with so much accomplished and we haven't had our first chapel yet even. Just so you know, the kids have been playing miniature golf, swimming, archery and crafts while having a great time. If you look at the Flickr page, you can see some photos from today. We have some posting on Facebook as well. Emails are being received and I'll have replies just as soon as the students write back. I'll report later on our theme, speaker and chapel worship.

Lightseekers Camp 2014 - Speak Up!

Welcome to our blog for the 2014 Lightseekers Camp. The children are mostly all here -arrival began just before 11am. Already Oak Glen is filled with squeals of delight as the children bounded off their buses and vans. There have been many challenges getting us to this point, but we know that it is going to be a great week. Some new churches have joined us this year to go along with the same old gang. Our Design Team has been planning and praying for over a year. I will post some pica and blog more later.