There’s something invigorating about camp meeting. Perhaps it’s the curious name itself – a term used officially by our denomination first in 1868, but foreign to many new members with less familiarity of Adventist history. Perhaps it’s the beautiful weekly forecast of 80 degrees and sunshine. Perhaps it’s the opportunities for adventure and learning. Perhaps the energy of a lively campus teaming with friendly faces and warm conversations. But it’s the anticipation of young hearts passionate for a living God who will breathe fresh life into lukewarm complacency, inspire compassionate service, and cause a hunger for deeper, more authentic relationships that most inspires us.
During each weekday at this year’s camp meeting, fifty eager youth gathered for worship every morning led by a team of students from Union College. They were challenged to go beyond a meaningless spiritual routine into the deeper waters of a personal spiritual relationship with Christ based upon the Bible and authentic worship. From their cold auditorium seats, they boarded a yellow school bus and arrived at a construction site near downtown Hutchinson operated by Habitat for Humanity. Donning work gloves and hard hats, with tools in hand, they went to work vigorously tearing down an old house foundation, moving three trailer’s full of cement block, clearing brush, and building an outdoor shed. One day during a lunch break, Habitat for Humanity volunteers arranged for these youth to meet the residents of the new house yet to be constructed on the site, and introduced themselves to the mother and daughters receiving their service. After several days of hard work, these youth returned to campus inquiring if next year during camp meeting they could come back to the construction site to see the completed house and have lunch with the family, seeing their service as a gift that would have lasting effects.
On hot afternoons after a full morning of strenuous physical labor, the youth enjoyed time together with friends on the beach of a nearby lake or a day celebrating their week’s accomplishments at the Valleyfair Amusement Park. Some of our youth are so spiritually grounded, rooted in the knowledge of who God is and what He has personally done for them, we feel we can entrust them to the Spirit when they interact with people in places and spaces that may be completely void of spirituality. We choose to be less motivated by a fear of the devil’s attacks on our youth and trust instead in the promises of God to place a protective hedge around them to keep them from falling and to empower them for His service. We seek to use every opportunity during our short week together to create for each youth an access to Christ and a growing personal relationship with Him that will keep on transforming them long after camp meeting.
Each year, many Adventists make a pilgrimage to Maplewood Academy for a spiritual week of rejuvenation in which we reconnect with old friends and family; attend seminars and Bible studies to help make our families mentally, physically, and spiritually stronger; and accept the challenge of weekly speakers to seek the presence of God more fully. We have something for everyone – from infancy to those wise-older years. But for many years we’ve segregated ourselves, adults from youth with the goal of intentional age-specific activities and messages. The problem with this is that over time we’ve cultivated a mentality insisting that we have very little to learn from each other.
Combining the youth and adult evening meetings at camp meeting this year was the first attempt to build a bridge between generations, cultures, and peoples in order to listen to one another and our own unique testimonies. It was just the beginning for some to learn the depth of understanding and passion our youth have for our same Jesus Christ–to learn that age is no indicator of spiritual maturity. Together, as we listened to the inspired messages from Karl Haffner, these combined meetings cultivated the opportunity for deeper conversations about Jesus and how He relates to our personal lives, our intimate stories, and our interpersonal relationships.
There is no limit to what He can and will do through the youth of this Conference as we live during the greatest period in all of earth’s history – these last days! There is no telling what God will do through us as we come together and unite in the power of His Spirit confessing with our mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord of all and remaining faithful to His call to the very end!
By Pastor Anna Romuald
e-TNL Staff: Jeff Wines, Director; Carol Lyons, Editor; Melisa Mauk, Website-editor
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