Campamento is one of the big highlights of the school year for the kids and its packed full of what you would expect from camp – ridiculous games and relays involving copious amounts of water and soap, energetic team cheers, late night tomfoolery with your best friends when you are supposed to be sleeping and a big campfire complete with over-the-top action songs. More importantly, however, the two overnight retreats (one for the older grades and one for the younger ones) revolved around powerful times of worship, teaching, and ministry. The fun and games make for great memories, but year after year what stands out is the transforming power of the Holy Spirit at work in our students’ lives.
Out of the many instances of God moving in the students’ lives one stands out for me in particular. During the camp for the older students we had a bonfire. After all the ridiculous action songs and some worship, Jervin, our school pastor, opened up the floor for students to come and share anything they wanted, prayer requests, or testimonies; this was their time. A nervous shuffling settled as everyone glanced around to see who would go first. Someone must have cracked a joke because a few of the kids in the back row started snickering. Finally one student came forward and asked for prayer for her Mom who was sick. Slowly, hesitantly different students came forward, talking about concerns that needed prayer, testifying to the goodness of God in their lives, and encouraging their fellow classmates. One boy talked about how difficult his life was before he came to our school and met God and how his life looked completely different now. Another girl shared about a powerful experience she had with the Holy Spirit just that morning in devotionals. Yet another student shared about how she was passed around by various family members when she was a child until God came and placed her in a family that loved her and how He was now prompting her to pray for those family members from her past.
Such a sense of tenderness surrounded us in that campfire ring as these students stood up in front of all their classmates and teachers and shared from a place of vulnerability. It was a real strong reminder to me that our school is so much more than a school for many of our students; it is a community where kids have come from all walks of life and have received healing, identity, and love. And they receive that wholeness not just from the direct ministry of the Holy Spirit, but also through the tangible love and acceptance of the students and teacher that surround them. In 1 John 1:7 the Apostle John writes: “But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” As we step forward in vulnerability and open ourselves up to the work of the Holy Spirit, God’s healing power and affirmation enables us to be vulnerable with one another and form real community.