Four days of unfathomable fire, all-consuming power and life-altering worship. Witnessing lives changing, bones healing and scars disappearing. God is good.
Exactly a year ago today, I posted about Youth Camp 2017 – Shake History. You might remember it if you’ve been hanging around for a while, but if not, I’m glad you’re here because the movement of Jesus was stronger and so much more powerful this year than it was 365 days ago.
My friends and I had been counting down the days until youth camp this year. I had already experienced the atmosphere that one big tent could create and I was so ready for more. A lot can happen in a year. I had new friends that I had been building strong relationships with since last year, I had a passion and desire to learn more about Jesus, and I was ready to feel Him.
Youth camp is something that is talked about in my youth ministry on the daily. My youth pastors and leaders hype it up pretty much since the day the previous one ends, so by the time it comes around the corner and we load the bus up to get on the road, God is not ready to disappoint.
I was beyond excited when we pulled into the familiar campground that I recognised from last year. As we drove past groups of people setting up their tents and pulled up in front of what they call ‘ the Jesus Tent’ where we have all the sessions, my heart was pumping with enthusiasm.
This time last year, I was filled with fear. It was a new experience and there were a lot of people. This year, my heart was elevated. I knew what to expect, and I knew that I wouldn’t be disappointed with what was to come.
When my friends and I rocked up at the Jesus Tent later that night for our very first session, we got right in and went crazy with 1000 other teenagers during praise and worship. I can’t really put into words the feeling I get when I’m standing in the centre of a crowd of people who praise the same God I do. When I close my eyes and raise my hands to heaven, I can feel the rhythm of the drums pulsing through me. It feels like Jesus Himself is reverberating through my bones. It gives you a whole new appreciation for worship music after you experience it in person.
Andy Harrison spoke about Hide and Seek on the first night. There needs to be an urgency in your spirit in order to find God. He is not hiding from you, but in order to seek Him, you have to get up and go looking. If you seek, you will find.
The next day, I was thrilled to be in the presence of Chris Estrada again. He was my favourite last year because of his stories about his life experiences that he wove into a teaching and threw a little good-natured humour in to add some flare. He lived up to my expectations when he began to speak about being Fuelled by the Fire of the Holy Spirit. He said that we like to catch fire, but we don’t know how to keep it. We have to have a burning desire to be ignited with the fire of Jesus and to spread it to the rest of our generation. His fire will transform you.
He moved on to talk about something that really resonated with me – and clearly the rest of the tent because every hand went up in loud applause. He said that God is the gold refiner. He only stops separating the impurities from the gold when He can see His reflection in it. We are the gold.
I also had the privilege of listening to Joel and Savannah Ramsey who run Awaken Africa. Savannah was very unusual and preached in a unique way. She spoke about being friends with Jesus and spending quality time with Him like you would with a friend from school. She was beautiful and had a voice of serenity.
Joel, on the other hand, was powerful and passionate. He said that it is better to be accepted by God and rejected by man, than accepted by man and rejected by God. He said that hope is the expectation of good, faith is the substance of things hoped for, and God is good. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
Joel spoke again about knowing the truth and recognising the lies. Jesus didn’t come to cause sickness. He came to set people free, and he who the Son sets free is free indeed. We don’t serve a natural God. We serve a SUPERNATURAL God.
Chris Estrada spoke again on the third day. He listed three things that we would need to be ignited with the fire of our Creator.
- I don’t bow
Refuse to bow down to the things of the earth. Be fearless in the pursuit of the Holy Spirit. Don’t run to the bad things when things go wrong. Run to Jesus.
- I don’t burn
Some are killed by the fire, but some are built by it. When you fall for Jesus, you have to get up different. You have to get up changed, otherwise what’s the point? I don’t bow, and because of that, I won’t burn.
- I don’t budge
If you want things to be broken down in your life, you have to face some giants. Don’t move out of the way of the mountains. Stay put. Overcome them. Don’t budge.
In Chris’s words, the devil is spiritually stupid. He tried to throw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the fire, not realising that they were already on fire. He tried to throw Daniel into the lion’s den, not realising that he brought a bigger and more powerful lion into the den with him.
The last session was led by Andy Harrison again, and he spoke about how God doesn’t want our encounters with Him to become a memory. He wants them to become a legacy. Freely we have received from God, now it is up to us to freely give. He referenced The Lion King in an indescribable way when he said that our identity is found in Christ. Be defined by Jesus, not by the world. You are who He says you are.
These messages really spoke to me and I felt God in a way that made me so emotional and left me wanting so much more. Two songs that stood out to me from the incredible worship on camp were Our Father by Jenn Johnson and Break Every Chain by Jesus Culture. If you want to listen to them, I have some videos from YouTube below.
Honestly, what a week. His is the kingdom, His is the power, His is the glory. For man, some things are impossible, but with God, all things are possible for those who believe.
I hope you made it all the way to the end of this post, and I hope you learnt something. I spent an amazing four days with my favourite people in the world, learning about our most magnificent and extraordinary God. There is power in His name, and He can break every chain.
I have severe separation anxiety from my friends and it feels weird to be back home, but four days of constant downpour of the Spirit, spiritually and physically, has taught me to bring more people to know Him. If there’s one thing I want you to take from this post, it’s that He is good, all the time, and all the time, He is good.