What can possibly happen in one week?
I remember, it was the 25th of April, 2014 when I had this question ringing in my mind. I was in my room, packing up the stuffs I need for the weeklong Friendship Camp, which, for the first time, would happen in our district. I remember feeling excited and yet at the same time, a bit anxious of what might happen at the camp, or what might not.
Then came Sunday, the arrival day at the campsite.
Being one of the officers of our Districtwide AY Association, I couldn’t help getting worried about the possibility that not many young people would actually show up for the event. I mean, I knew we’d done our part in inviting the youth—both SDAs and non-SDAs—to the camp beforehand, and I thought, we were pretty successful at it. But what if, just what if, our invitees change their mind at the last minute? All the effort we put forth for the activity will surely go down the drain.
What I failed to realize at that moment was that it wasn’t our work, it was God’s. And when God does something, He perfects it.
First Day at the Camp
Twelve. That’s the exact number of tents I counted when I got to the campsite.
Not really a lot, I thought.
That’s when I closed my eyes and started praying to God to send more young people to the camp. And sent more, He did. After all, it was His work, not ours. So little by little, campers were coming. More tents were set up, and the camp was starting to get noisy… in a good way.
The opening ceremony went on smoothly, with all the young people obviously excited about the activities in store for them for the week.
Before I drifted to sleep that night, I had three things to say to God—first, I thanked Him for the camp’s successful start; second, I was sorry I doubted what He is capable of doing; and finally, I asked Him to keep everyone safe at the camp.
Of course, the Friendship Camp wouldn’t materialize without the active force behind it. Under the supervision of our District Pastor, Ptr. German B. Ramos and the young camp director Clinton Dumangcas, we had a battalion of dynamic young people who rose up to the challenge of leading the camp which we all knew wasn’t an easy task— there was the obligation of getting up before everybody else does, staying up late to prepare for the next day’s activities, and then there’s facilitating a group of young people with different temperaments.
But once again, God proved me how He can make anybody His living vessel at His will, even those people who I thought weren’t capable enough.
Many of the facilitators were so young and admittedly first-timers, yet it was amazing how everyone rose up to the occasion when they were called to. They were young, yes; but not young enough to take part in God’s work.
I remember an inspiring statement I heard somewhere, “people will not care how much you know about God unless they know how much you care about them”.
This was pretty much the case during the Friendship Camp. Because there were quite a number of non-SDA campers, I couldn’t help wondering how we can introduce Jesus to them without them feeling like they’re being pressured to join the Seventh Day Adventist denomination.
I was thinking that if ever these young people would decide to join the church, I wanted them to do it out of pure and holy conviction and not out of pressure or just a spur-of-the-moment decision.
But God has His ways, as always.
With His blessings, everyone started building friendship at the camp. Even now, it still amazes me how people with different upbringing and character can connect with each other in such a short span of time. And then little by little, as the friendship grew, it became surprisingly easy to talk to them about Jesus that it was almost effortless.
Before the camp started, I was feeling vexed by the idea that we’re obliged to bring souls to Christ’s fold at the end of the weeklong event through baptism. I worried too much about the numbers and became so nearsighted that I forgot that it was the Holy Spirit’s job to convict souls, not man’s. But just every time my faith fails, God reminds me of what He is capable of doing.
Just before the Sabbath came, we popped the big question to the non-SDA campers— will you accept Jesus as your Saviour and be baptized? The response we got astounded me.
Then it hit me. While I was busy doubting God, His Spirit was actually working and subtly converting souls.
Accepted Jesus through Baptism
It was holy Sabbath afternoon by the beach and everyone was gathered together for the baptism. Those who were about to be baptized were nervous, I was sure about that. After all, it was to be the turning point of their lives.
One by one, the brethren shook the hands of our new church members and warmly welcomed them. While we were on it, I was silently thanking God for such a wonderful miracle.
I thought it was good enough that we were able to convince those young people to join the Friendship Camp, but God had a greater plan and purpose— a plan to remind everyone how much He loves people and the ultimate purpose to save His children.
New Life in Christ
It was the 4th of May when the camp finally concluded. But not really, I realized.
For the new young Seventh Day Adventists, their real Christian journey has just begun. Surely, there will be a lot of obstacles in their path, but I know that God, in all His greatness and mercy, will carry them through.
As for me, and all others who fell short of their faith, we rediscovered Him and His amazing grace.
So what can possibly happen in one week?
Now I have figured out the answer.
Glyzza Mae F. Bergado