By. Camille A. Batis

The long wait was over! After three years of patience, the church youth gladly welcomed all the fun, social activities, enjoyment, and, of course, the PRESENCE OF THE LORD! Last August 2-4, 2022, was truly a joyous occasion. By the grace of God, the event started with a spirit of joy and a welcoming heart. It was held in Tacloban City, Leyte.

The year-to-year events for the youth were hindered by this unpredictable and devastating pandemic, COVID 19. For three years, all the activities were discontinued, and it brought discouragement for a lot of youths in Evangel Family Church Central and Eastern Visayas. They were used to going through the summer and vacations with a big event, and they were always excited about making new friends. But the past three years was different. When the CEV announced that gatherings could now be held, they were overjoyed and excited. In Filipino, they said, “Walang patumpik tumpik pa! Simulan na natin to!” In Bisaya, “Unsa pa may atong ginahuwat? “Magsugod na ta!” In Waray-waray, “Ano pa man? Andam na tanan! Uraurada na inin. ” which means, “What are we waiting for? Let’s start it now!” Cool, right? Nothing could stop the much-awaited event because of Jesus!

Delegates from Tacloban City, Ormoc City, Baybay City, Leyte, Leyte, Samar, and Bohol were gathered in one place, and 120 people got to know each other’s cultures and characteristics. Some made new friends in the first hour, some took naps because of tiring travel, some were encouraged by the fact of meeting new people, and some got shy and were overwhelmed by the number of participants. However, it did not stop them from having fun. It should have been one year of preparation, but by the grace of God, it started and was done with a huge impact.

On the first day, they held their devotion led by Ptr. Leah Cabase. She encouraged the participants to be filled by the presence of God through his words. In Joshua 1:8, the highlight of the devotion, says that ” Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. ” They were filled by the word of God and the anointed prayer of Ptr. Leah. After that, Ptr. Jeffrey Arrogante led the first session with a blast. His humor removed the laziness in the morning due to lack of sleep. It was changed with laughter and inspiration. The Word of God he shared was in the book of Philippians 3:12-14. The scripture advises us to keep our eyes fixed on God and forget what is behind and move forward. The morning session was truly a boost for all.

In the afternoon, they were indulged by the workshops for every ministry and the pastors’ and workers’ training led by Ptr. Nelson. They truly enjoyed the presence of God, and felt His Spirit flowing like living water.The first night session was truly a success as Rev. Benjamin Castro shared the life of Gideon, taken from Judges 7:1-21. He encouraged participants not to give up, especially if one knows what God can do in one’s life. It may seem that we are surrounded by enemies, but the truth is, Jesus won the battle, and we have victory in Him. We just need to let God use our lives for his glory.

Truly, the first day gave an unforgettable memory to the delegates and brought a huge impact on everyone. However, it did not stop there! The second day was also full of God’s glory. No one can stop the glory of God! Satan did try to hinder the camp with a lot of unplanned circumstances, but God is truly victorious. First, he messed up with the multi cab, our travel vehicle. Two out of three of the cabs malfunctioned and won’t move even though the gas is full. The delegates was left with no choice but to leave it at the place it was stuck in and come up with a good solution later. It was a good thing that all the leaders were very witty while waiting for all the campers to arrive. They improvised some games and unplanned choreography dances for the delegates. Including all the pastors, they danced, they laughed, and most of all, they glorified God. Ptr. Gina Yana led the devotion and started with the book of Jeremiah 1:5. According to Ptr. Gina, we are called by God, we are not here by mistake, and we are not serving God right now by accident. Then Ptr. Benie Cabase spoke about the three (Abiding in God, avoiding sin, and resisting temptation). It was inspired by the life of the three Hebrew boys, written in the book of David, chapter 3. Then he added the message of loving our own pastors. The sacrifices, love, and sweat they continually give is truly irreplaceable.

The morning session was made possible because of God. Indeed, a calm before the storm. God’s plans were not thwarted simply by removing our ability to travel. After a sunny day, it suddenly rained. The organizers were disappointed as the rain served as an obstacle in following the original program. It’s a good thing they planned to have a poster making activity and made the delegates busy through creativity. When the rain calmed, the organizers started to transfer the people from the church to MacArthur Park by teams. The cabs may have not been available, but they still have a budget to commute. They thought that they could still do the team building, but they didn’t have enough time. Even though the planned activities were not followed, they believed that God had a purpose. The ways of the Lord are better than man’s. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Indeed, it is. Instead of an exhausting team building exercise, the youth had time to fellowship, get to know one another, and play and laugh without competition. Alot of people gained confidence because they’ve met some people with whom they can have fellowship even if they are far. The most essential part that Satan was not able to steal was the step of faith of the fourteen delegates who surrendered their lives to God. Fourteen people were baptized in the name of the Father, of Jesus, and of the Holy Spirit. It was a reminder that Satan is just under our feet. He cannot do anything against us. Victory in the name of Jesus! Since they still had time before the night session at Ritz Tower, the organizers decided to let the team report their chants and posters. It was very timely because Rev. Benjie was unexpectedly early. He was able to witness the wisdom of the youths. He was truly blessed by how God was making an impact on the young people. It was related to what he shared that night. The Story of Paul in the Book of Acts 17:16–34. Paul allowed God to use him and made an impact on the nation. Paul did not stop doing the work of God even though it was hard and sometimes impossible. What he did was to trust God and rely on his promises. With the whole day of unexpected circumstances, they realized that God truly has a plan. In putting their faith in Him, and He made everything victorious. They were able to make a difference because they stayed true to His promises.

The whole event was a success because of Jesus. The organizers initially thought that the camp would be a failure, but glory to God it was not.