YUNNAN, China – It was a special summer for more than 60 young people from the ethnic groups of Yi, Hani, Dai, Lahu and Han. From 8th to 10th August, with the support of United Bible Societies, Jinghong Church conducted a three-day summer camp.
Targetted at teenagers, the camp focused on helping them understand themselves better, appreciate the meaning of life from a Christian perspective, work towards having their own goals and aspirations, and maintain pre-marital sexual purity.
Organisers hoped to send the message to the young people that they are precious in God’s sight and in order to live a life filled with love and no regrets, they are to choose sexual purity.
Using interactive teaching methods with engaging short videos and interesting games, Candy* and Cecilia*, the main program planners and speakers, brought to life the instructional objectives.
One particularly impactful video testimony was that of Nick Vujicic, the Australian Christian motivational speaker born without limbs. His indomitable spirit and unmoving conviction towards life brought tears to many young campers’ eyes.
Another highlight was instructor Li’s Bible teaching. He reminded campers of God’s immense love and exhorted them to cultivate a love for Bible reading.
*Mark, a camper, shared his take-away lesson, “As a child of God, I keep my sexual purity as an act of obedience to God’s command and an act of respect to my future spouse.”
14-year-old *Leonard reflected, “I’ve not only learnt what parents and school do not teach about sex and love, I’ve also learnt to appreciate how unique I am in God’s eyes.”
*Albert, 15, of the Hani ethnic group was particularly moved when Teacher Xia quoted Psalm 22:9, ‘Yet You are He who took me from the womb; You made me trust You at my mother’s breasts.’
*Albert’s mother had suffered a few miscarriages before having him. *Albert confided, “I believed that God has been protecting me. I am inspired to love God more and share the gospel to my friends so that they would be brought to Christ.”
The finale was a game called “Putting on the full armour of God” based on Ephesians 6:13. Using paper only, each team must dress one member in a full suit of armour. The winner would be one who kept his armour intact after running round the hall at top speed. The outcome was hilarious as each flimsy piece of the armour fell off. The message had hit home: guard our armour well.
After three days of communal living and bonding, the young people could not bear to leave one another. Many wished that the camp had been longer!
What the Church Leaders Say
“When we spoke to the parents about this camp, many of them were moved to tears when they heard their children’s reflections on their relationship with their parents. I wish we had done this much earlier.”
Young people’s ministry leader
“This is the first time we have conducted a young people’s camp of this scale. The outcome has surpassed our expectations! All of them actively expressed themselves and participated in the activities. Feedback from the campers have been very positive.”
Hear from the Campers
“In the past, I had come across Christianity and the history of ancient Israel in books. All that was head knowledge. After listening to the camp teacher’s explanation of the Bible, I learnt that it isn’t just a collection of historical facts, but also a source of emotional support in hard times for many people – including me. Through this summer camp, I have come to a renewed understanding of God. In the past, He was just my father’s God. Now, I know Him as my God too. Thank you for your loving generosity. May God bless you all!”
“I came for this camp because I wanted to be closer to God. Through the Bible teaching, I have become even more convinced that God is real. If not for His protection, I would not be alive today. I want to grow to love God more. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to participate in this camp. We now have a better understanding of God’s word and have also learnt how we should relate to others.”
“I’ve been feeling inferior to others since my father passed away three years ago. This camp has taught me that I am unique. In the past, I only knew that I was a created being, but now I realize that I am wonderfully made. Now, I am learning to pray for myself to overcome my inferiority complex. Thank you! Without your support, we would not be able to learn so much. I feel that I now have a new life.”
“I have grown in my knowledge of the Bible through this camp. Although I have always believed in God and have often read the Bible, I did not really understand nor was I familiar with the Scriptures. However, I will study the Bible more. The Bible will become my guide to life. Thank you. We have learnt a lot that we had not known before.”
“Thank you very much for making this camp possible. It has allowed many of us to come to know Jesus. My mother is against my following Christ and warned me against going to church. But no matter how much my mother is against Christianity, I will carry on in my faith. I will also keep spreading the gospel, so that many more will come to believe in Jesus.”
“Through this camp, I have come to know God better. I want to love God with all of my heart. Thank you for your support! I hope that future camps will keep getting better, so that many more young people can come before God, draw near to Him, and experience greater joy in their lives.”
“I wanted to come to this camp in order to learn the truth about God and Jesus Christ. God loves us and has forgiven our sins; this is the mercy of God towards us. From now on, I want to likewise be a merciful, kind and loving person. This camp has taught me how, as a Christian, I can learn to do what pleases God.”
“In the past, my primary experience of God was through the testimonies of my elders. I began to doubt God when my classmates in school ridiculed me for my faith. Faced with this pressure, I started to distance myself from the Bible and from church. Through this camp, however, I have come to recognize the importance of the Word of God, and I want to get to know God through His Word. I want to walk more closely with God and draw strength from His Word daily. Thank you for your gift of love that has provided us with this opportunity to learn so much.”
*Names are not real names
Interviews: Zhang Li, Zhang Liqin
Story: Zhang Liqin
Translated and Edited: Angela Teo, Tan Lay Leng
Photo: UBS CP
2018 © United Bible Societies China Partnership