“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).
I have just returned from our church’s annual junior and intermediate youth camp, which was held from Thursday 9th to Monday 13th December. The publicised theme of the camp was “The Wrath of God” and the main preachers were Pastors Saidi Chishimba and Kennedy Sunkutu. Whereas I feared the theme would keep away many young people, I am reliably informed that registration exceeded 700, which was an increase on last year’s camp by more than 150 young people. As I have reflected on what I saw and heard, I have said to God over and over again, “Lord, I’m grateful.”
|Pastor Kennedy Sunkutu preaching in the evening session|
I am grateful for the opportunity that God has given us as a church to minister to pre-teens and teenagers in this way. The camp is evangelistic and we continue to see a number of young people coming to Christ as a result of these camps. Our daughter, Mwape, came from last year's camp a totally different girl and I baptised her five months later. When people come to Christ while they are still young, they are saved from the devastating effects of sin that destroy many people later in life.
|Mrs Sarah Kalifungwa handling a seminar with females on godly dressing|
I am grateful for the many churches that send their young people to our camp. Most of the 700+ young people who attended our camp were not Kabwata Baptist Church young people. They were from sister churches in and around Lusaka. In fact, some of them travelled from right across the country! The relationships being forged at this camp will last a lifetime. When these young people become church leaders in the next two or three decades, the unity of the churches across the country will be stronger because they would have known one another for a very long time.
|Sports activities during the camp|
I am grateful for a church that is like a beehive, with everyone busy serving the Lord through its ministries. These camps would have killed me if I were their chief organiser. Apart from asking members to contribute financially towards the camp budget (and designing the camp brochure), I did nothing else. Under Elder George Sitali, the young people themselves came up with the theme and the preachers. They found the venue and worked out the budget. They publicised the camp across the country and raised funds for it by holding a music concert. They literally did everything even during the camp itself, with one of them even giving the key-note address at the beginning of the camp! They themselves maintained the discipline across the days of the camp. Yes, behind the scenes were older church members who contributed financially to the hosting of the camp, prepared the meals, led small group seminars, counselled young people needing someone to talk to, etc.
|Young people eagerly waiting to get their share of the meal at lunch time|
I am grateful for church officers who see the Great Commission as the chief business of the church and are willing to pay the price for it. It was not always like this at Kabwata Baptist Church. George Sitali, who oversees the church’s ministry to youths, literally camped among the young people. It also should be no surprise to learn that hosting the 700+ young people emptied our church coffers completely—I mean completely! Yet, talking to two of our deacons during the camp, their words were, “This is ministry. This is where church money should be going. This is truly worth it!”
|The only way to get everyone in on the group photo was from the sky!|
I am grateful for the preachers who take time out of their busy schedules to come and minister to these young people. What an investment! Pastor Saidi Chishimba is now so much a part of the camp that we can hardly imagine a camp without him. He preaches to our youths literally every year—and they love him. “Pastor Saidi, see you next year!” they shouted to him as the camp came to an end.
|Pastor Saidi Chishimba preaching to the young people|
Finally, I am grateful for the grace of God. I have already heard testimonies of lives that have been transformed during the just-ended camp. When the camp came to an end, I asked one teenager who came from another church what he liked most about the camp. He said, “I loved the theme—the wrath of God. I now know how to escape it. It is by repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus.” Surely such clarity does not come from the flesh. The Spirit of the Lord was ministering to many young lives during the just-ended camp. For all this, all I can say is, “Lord, I’m grateful.”