Organizers hope July event will be the first of many
by Myra Holmes
Some 80 teens from the churches of the Latin American MB District (LAMB) attended a district youth camp July 11-13. “Camp 180” was held at Camp Eben-Ezer, Weslaco, Texas.
The eight churches of LAMB are located in extreme South Texas, near the Mexico border, and most are Spanish-language congregations. Each LAMB congregation had the opportunity to not only send church youth but also invite unchurched youth from their communities, which many did.
“When we thought about the idea of having a summer camp for our youth we wanted it to be a life-changing experience, where youth would be challenged to leave the attractive ways of the world behind to follow Christ with all of their hearts,” says Oziel De La Cruz, youth pastor at Grace Point Church, La Grulla, Texas, in an email interview. The theme, 180, is based on 2 Cor. 5:17 and reflects that desire for youth to “walk in a different direction and follow Christ.”
Camp activities and sessions focused on that theme. Morning worship was led by the Grace Point worship team. Evening sessions included worship led by a local band, Lenette Castaneda Band. Keynote speakers were Iris Castaneda and Chali Martinez. Castaneda, a youth director from a church in Palmview, Texas, spoke about the love of God. Martinez, lead pastor from a church in McAllen, Texas, challenged the teens to never give up and spoke on five names for early Christians that reflected their changed lives.
Small group sessions during the days helped teens grapple with real-life issues such as music, movies, social media, dating, temptation, self-worth and prayer. These small group discussions were led by leaders from the LAMB churches.
For fun activities, teens were divided into four teams to compete in games like volleyball, kickball, soccer, capture the flag, obstacle courses and ultimate Frisbee.
De La Cruz says that many teens committed to follow Christ or to make some life change. “The change has been evident in the lives of many teens,” he says. One young woman told De La Cruz that before the camp she felt unloved, but after camp has a new understanding of God’s love for her. Another young man wasn’t even sure God existed. “After the camp he said he felt as if God personally spoke to him throughout the camp, and he has decided to live for him,” says De La Cruz.
Although the LAMB churches have not hosted a youth camp for many years, De La Cruz says that the district intends to make this an annual summer event. District youth also meet four times during the year for a gathering called “Christian Youth Fellowship.”
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