The power of camps

Tags: Asia, Japan, Story

By Stacey Lovett, ministering to university students in Tokyo, Japan

Ministry during summer breaks almost entirely consists of preparing for and attending camps. Some summers, I attend at least seven camps.

To be honest, there’s always a part of me that finds camps a burden.  At camps I often have to sleep in less than comfortable circumstances.  I spend long days listening and speaking in Japanese. The limitless energy of the students leaves me exhausted for days afterward. 

Yet, at the end of every camp, I’m stunned by the change that occurred in my life and in the students’ lives. Take a summer outreach camp, where the the theme was “God Is Love” from I John 4. 

Twenty of the 90 campers were non-Christians. The messages provided a clear presentation of the Gospel.  Each student was also in a small group of eight where they discussed the messages and shared their thoughts and feelings during camp. We also enjoyed lots of great activities and games.

One of the most inspiring parts of the camp was a night hike we took to a hill just above the camp.  The camp is located far from the city, so the clear weather that night revealed thousands of stars.  There were at least 10 shooting stars while we were out there! All 90 students and staff sat in complete silence and darkness. Nobody wanted the experience to end. 

There are few greater apologetics for the God of the Bible than an experience like that. What seemed like just a fun activity turned into one of the most powerful statements of the gospel we had all week.

On the final night of camp we had a bonfire outside.  Each small group of eight students nominated one of their members to give a testimony at the bonfire. I expected that most of the testimonies would be from the Christian students explaining why they became a Christian. I was completely amazed when at least half of the testimonies were by non-Christian students who expressed a desire to become a Christian. Of the 20 non-Christians who attended, around half decided that they wanted to become Christians! We are praising God for such incredible fruit!