The Easter Youth Camp cancelled…?
The unthinkable had become a reality! Just three weeks before the Brunstad Christian Church (BCC) Easter Camp was due to take place in Norway, the Norwegian government implemented stringent measures to control the spread of the coronavirus known as COVID-19, which had taken hold in many countries around the world. These measures included a ban on gatherings, and airports and seaports were closed to foreigners.
Since 2015, annual international Easter youth camps have taken place in Norway, however since December 2018 youth camps are now held four times a year. Attending at least one camp a year is something young people from BCC fellowships around the world aim to achieve and eagerly look forward to. It is an excellent motivator for them to be goal-directed with their money; saving well in advance to ensure they are able to attend. Spiritually speaking, the physical and fun activities and the fellowship with like-minded young people, opens them to receiving the Word of God and this is ultimately the aim of the camps.
What a disappointment for the approximately 4 000 young people who had registered to attend the camp and not least of all for the organisers, who had put an untold number of hours into planning and organizing the camp. However, no time was wasted dwelling on disappointment and despair, the organisers and coordinators sprang into action and after countless prayers, brainstorming sessions and sheer determination, a solution was reached and the first BCC Online Youth ‘Camp’ was borne! And what an awe-inspiring solution it turned out to be!
Having an online ‘camp’, made it possible for many more young people from Brunstad Christian Church fellowships around the world to take part in the event. It is estimated that in total 6 000 youths worldwide participated, 500 of whom were in Africa. It was a technological landmark for Africa that so many could participate and feel part of the global church community. International online connectivity between fellowships is a major accomplishment on this continent and this bodes well for future international conferences and events.
Feedback received from several of the African fellowships conveyed just how much being part of the online ‘camp’ meant to them. Ordinarily, difficulties in obtaining Norwegian visas, as well as financial constraints, prevent them from participating.
While a spirit of foreboding settled over many countries in Africa and strict regulations were implemented to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the young people from BCC fellowships in Africa were eagerly preparing for the online ‘camp’. Working hand in hand with BCC in South Africa to ensure that all the technology was in place to enable everyone to link up to BrunstadTV or to an interactive cellphone application specifically designed for the event.
On Saturday morning the 4th April 2020, the online ‘camp’ was opened by Gershon Twilley followed by an interesting online panel discussion with Kåre Smith, Gershon Twilley and other guests. The message to the youth was one of encouragement, urging them to use their time well and to come into a spirit of faith through prayer, reading the Word of God and church literature. In the evenings there was praise and worship and edifying messages from several speakers, encouraging the young people to follow the examples of the heroes of faith in the Old Testament of the Bible, like David, who had a burning zeal to do God’s will, and Joshua and Caleb who obeyed and believed in God’s promises and in faith entered the land of Canaan.
During the day there were various interesting activities and exciting challenges the young people could join via YouTube and other online platforms where tutorials and demonstrations were shown on photography, media, dance, music, MasterChef, physical training, creativity and virtual nature experiences. Participants could post their videos, photographs and recordings online for others in that interest group to see and listen to and give feedback – this made it really engaging and fun. For many of the youths in Africa it was a wonderful opportunity to be interacting with so many other young Christians from the around the world.
Several young people from BCC in Cameroon, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo shared their experiences…
Christine Kue Kamdem (Cameroon): “I am extremely thankful that I and all the youth in Cameroon could be part of the online ‘camp’ and participate in all the activities. Thanks to all who worked hard to make it so special.”
Christian Bell (Cameroon): “The online Easter ‘camp’ was definitely a great experience for me and although we were actually far away from one another, we were in the same spirit. I also enjoyed the music club and learned a lot of new stuff. I am truly grateful to all those who worked to make it possible.”
Clemence Nweke (Cameroon): “The online Easter ‘camp’ was a special experience for me because it was possible for me, in Cameroon, to see and get to know many other young people in the church from around the world. The messages in the youth services were encouraging and I decided never to be discouraged again and to serve God seriously with a good conscience.“
Etienne Fuh (Cameroon): “The online ‘camp’ was really impressive. It was the first time I could meet musicians from around the world in one weekend! Everyone played music at home and sent a video in on the Telegram group, it was like a dream. I could get to listen to the musical contributions others sent in.”
Purity Nyagweth (Kenya): “I am going to follow in the footsteps of Kåre Smith and allow God to use me as He wills and pleases.” “I joined the music activity and learned how to create proback music.”
Roma Nyagweth (Kenya): “I took part in the MasterChef cooking course and I got to learn how to make delicious new dishes.”
Timothy Bornfaith (Kenya): “What spoke to me from the messages we heard was the need to put extra effort in individually to find God’s Word in this time.”
Liviren Charity (Kenya): “I participated in the exercise activity and learned how to train using the Tabata method.”
Mourine Okelle (Kenya): “My sincere appreciation to the organisers of ‘Camp 2020’ and all the participants for making the event a success!”
Franck Kabeya Mulamba (DRC): “I would like to thank all those who have worked and who continue to work so that such online meetings and events can reach all those who are thirsty and hungry for the word of God.”