Young people in New Zealand experience the Holy Spirit’s work first hand at this year’s summer camp.
Some sixty young men and women from around New Zealand, from Fiji, and from Sydney, Australia, attended summer camp near Christchurch, January 6-11, 2015. (The Southern Hemisphere does summer in January!) The general experience of the participants was, “God was there!” Some were high school students, some were university-aged. There were morning worship times, which were led by university-aged participants, two streams of talks, night rallies with singing and testimonies, and relaxed time together during the day.
From the first night rally until the end of the camp, the Holy Spirit was at work – with young people being prayed with and receiving Jesus in a real way. One of the most memorable times, explained one participant, was the ministry time when they prayed over one another, “We were all soaked in God’s love.” Another recounts, “I could truly feel God’s presence during the night rallies.” Another said, “The ministry time was definitely the highlight for me.” At the second night rally, there was an altar call and almost all the participants responded positively to the call to commit or re-commit their lives to God.
Some of the participants came from families in one or other of the Lamb of God’s 14 branches in various cities in New Zealand, others were new to life in community, but people were open to one another and relationships were formed and strengthened. One participant explained that “throughout the week there were many prophetic words related to the removal of our covering masks that hide our true self and potential from others. This really allowed us all to open up to each other, and not be worried about what others think.” Another person said, “Spending time with teens of the same age and with the same faith as me was a delight.”
The yearly summer camp has been organized in one form or another for the past 29 years by the Lamb of God, the Sword of the Spirit community in New Zealand. The community is mostly Catholic, but this year Pentecostal pastors who are in close contact with the community – one from Christchurch and three from Fiji – were invited to attend this key event and to serve side-by-side with the other leaders. “It was a truly great experience,” one participant explained, “being united in love and friendship, as everyone prayed together, worshipped together, sang together, danced together, had fun and fellowshipped with one another.” Many participants, young and older, experienced for the first time such a great ecumenical unity.
The teachings, which were divided into two tracks – “Encounter Jesus” for the high schoolers and “Every Day God Experience (EDGE)” for university-aged – were direct and immediately applicable to the young people’s daily lives. As one person observed, the talks “made us reflect on the world and the difficulty we as Christians…will face in the near future… and pushed us to realize what our children may also face after us.” One person said, “the talks challenged me and made me reflect on my own life.” Another said, “I loved the reflective talks, especially on forgiveness and sin.” The university-aged people helped give many of the Encounter Jesus presentations. There were teaching sessions both mornings and afternoons.
“This was my first Oasis,” reported one participant. “I found it new and challenging. It was an awesome learning curve for me in teaching me to be a Christian.”