Witnessing discipleship at Word of Life camp
Twin sisters Tejah and Tangé Bean can attest there’s a lot to do at Word of Life summer camp. From tubing and cliff jumping to canoeing, arts and crafts, swimming, rock climbing and games, there was never a dull moment for the girls at the weeklong programme.
Still, the 11-year-olds admit the best thing to come from the experience was, in fact, building upon their relationship with God.
“My sister Tejah accepted Christ as her personal saviour a week before I did,” said Tangé. “When I first got to camp I figured I was already saved because I remember being seven years old and making the decision then, but when I really thought about it I realised I only did it back then because my sister did.
“This time, I decided I had to make the decision for myself so I could know for sure. This time, I actually meant it and was certain that Jesus died on the cross to save my sins, whereas last time I did it because I was scared about not getting into heaven.”
On average between 20 and 25 students surrender their hearts to the Lord during the three or four weeklong camps, which runs each July and August.
According to Word of Life director Mark Hall, the transformation he sees in the students, age 11 and up, is “amazing”.
“They get off the boat from the mainland to Grace Island and they are normally acting like typical teens, some are self-conscious or a little shy, but by the Friday when they are getting ready to leave they’ve had such a good time and don’t want to go home,” Mr Hall said. “Many have learnt new things about the Lord, strengthened their faith and become saved. The difference in just five days is unbelievable.”
During the weeklong programme, Word Of Life hosts Bible hours and an intense discipleship programme.
Many young people form close bonds with their peers, and report on the positive impact it made meeting other Christians their age.
First launched in 2001, the camp (along with Bible clubs and church evangelistic events) serves as a vital component to the Christian mission organisation’s efforts in Bermuda.
Over the years, they’ve grown from hosting just one week of camp to four, typically attracting 48 campers per week and 30 volunteers and staffers.
“The most rewarding part of camp is the discipleship that happens over those five days,” said Mr Hall. “We are with the kids 24/7 for the week and we can see the transformation in them.
“Every year, we try to make sure there are ten spots each week reserved for boys and girls whom have never been to camp before.
“We want to make sure those less familiar with the church setting also have an opportunity to learn about and experience the love of Christ.”
For 14-year-old LaZai Outerbridge, the camp served as an opportunity to have fun during the summer break, and also helped with his faith.
The teenager said: “I feel that my faith has definitely grown. I met a lot of new people and made a lot of good friendships.”
One message in particular, based on the Bible parable in Matthew 25:15, was impactful. “It taught me no matter how many talents you start with, you can work hard and get better at certain things. For instance, I’m really good at sports and sometimes I miss church because of it.
“But I’ve realised that even if I don’t go to church I need to keep my relationship with God strong.”
Terique Smith, also 14, admits he was attending church ever since he was in his mom’s womb. “I live in Jamaica now and go to school there, but whenever I’m back in Bermuda during summers and Christmas break, I attend Christian camps,” he said. “It’s a fun experience and I’ve been able to learn a lot about God.
“It’s shown me the value of Jesus dying for us, so every time I mess up or sin He has paid for that on the cross for us.
“Once you are saved, it doesn’t give you permission to keep doing wrong, you need to apologise for your mistakes and commit to turning away from them.”
He admits it can be hard to live out his faith at this age, seeing that most of his schoolmates aren’t practicing Christians.
“In the mornings at school in Jamaica, we usually sing songs about God, but a lot of the other boys my age don’t really care. So it’s experiences like this that keep me grounded in my faith.”
• For more details on upcoming Word Of Life programmes and events, visit www.wolbermuda.org/</i>