“I thank God for the powerful messages from the gospel that I was exposed to during this Easter Camp and I pray for a deeper connection with God.”
This was the sentiment expressed by a young member of the Brunstad Christian Church (BCC) fellowship in The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who participated in the online BCC International Easter Youth Camp. It sums up precisely the aim of all the work done for and with the youth of BCC, not only on the African continent, but throughout the world.
Regular youth camps and other youth directed activities, provide opportunities for exposure to the Word of God. Seeds are planted and nurtured and as they mature, God’s Word becomes living for the youth as Christianity is put into practice in their daily lives. Camp programs are drawn up with a good balance between spiritual nourishment and recreational activities. Young people learn to take responsibility by mentoring the younger youth and by being involved in organising the camp activities in the local fellowships.
This year’s Easter Camp which was held from 26 to 29 of March, commenced with an exciting kickoff evening at which video clips from various countries showed how the youth had prepared themselves for the camp. An opening message from Kåre J Smith, the leader of BCC, was streamed from Connecticut, in the United States of America. Smith warmly welcomed BCC youth from around the world and said all that is done for the youth, is to make life good for them so that they can lead lives filled with content and be preserved in goodness for eternity. He encouraged the youth to be single-minded in their spiritual lives and to do God’s will instead of their own, saying one’s own will is the only obstacle to becoming a disciple of Christ.
The edifying music and songs provided by the music teams at youth services and other events throughout the camp was inspirational! An online theme evening about the book “The Letters of J O Smith” proved to be the highlight of the camp. The letters were written by J O Smith (the founder of BCC) to his brother and various other people in the early 20th century. Kåre J Smith gave an informative and enlightening commentary on the book and the life of J O Smith and its profound relevance in these times.
The recreational program included exciting online, indoor and outdoor activities such as squash, soccer and volleyball tournaments, exercise classes, outings, a burger-making competition and board games, to name but a few. These activities were organised locally by each fellowship and varied from fellowship to fellowship, taking into account the Covid-19 regulations and guidelines applicable in each participating country. However, the worldwide Easter Egg Hunt was one of the activities that captured the imagination of the youth. All the participating youth groups around the world had to complete the same set of activities according to the same rules, and post their results on an app specifically designed for the hunt. This fun-filled and challenging activity had a definite unifying effect on the youth, despite the distances between them.
During the camp there were messages from youth leaders at the youth services and live local updates on camp activities, from Ottawa, in Canada, and Bergen and Eiker in Norway. Nowadays, with improved technology such as streaming and video-linking it is possible for the BCC fellowships in Africa, namely in Cameroon, The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, to participate in all international conferences and events.
The four-day camp concluded with each fellowship organising a special dinner for the youth. During the dinner video flashbacks of the camp were streamed as well as Kåre J Smith’s closing message about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and what it means for Christians today. It was a faith strengthening message filled with hope – a very fitting message with which to conclude the Easter Camp.
The feedback below bears testament to the positive effect this camp had on the youth of BCC fellowships in Africa:
Fabrice Tsakou (DRC):
“It was with great enthusiasm that we participated in the 2021 online Easter Camp. The camp provided a good opportunity for the mentors to make things special for the younger ones. The days were filled with interesting and fun activities, the youth services in the evenings were edifying and the inspirational theme evening on the Letters of J O Smith, led many of the youth to make clear and firm decisions for their lives.”
Shekinah Tsakou (DRC):
“I thank God for the powerful messages from the gospel that I was exposed to during this Easter Camp and I pray for a deeper connection with God. I know God will help me to be free from myself because I am the only obstacle on my path as a disciple of Jesus Christ.”
Grace Godfrey Fasso (Tanzania):
“I really enjoyed the camp, it was nice to be together and to do the activities together. The outing to the lake was also very nice. Apart from the activities, the camp was helpful to me spiritually, the messages I heard helped me to take a step forward in my spiritual life.”
Saviola Nestory (Tanzania):
“I really enjoyed this camp, it made us come together and share our feelings about our Lord, Jesus Christ. I learned about the letters written by J O Smith and it was inspirational and motivational to commit my whole life to Christ. The outing was amazing. I am so thankful for this camp.”
Joshua Chikafa (Malawi):
“To me it’s a great privilege to participate in these camps, I see my life really changing. Our youth is now growing up and every young person is so thankful for the church. The theme evening was so powerful and it is so important for me to have a firm personal connection with God, because it will help me to overcome my faults and I can become a good example to those younger than me.”
Winnie Makwiti (Malawi):
“During the camp I benefitted a lot from what I heard from Kåre Smith’s spiritual messages. I learned that if I want to live a different life, I must have a connection with God and ask Him for help to transform my heart, so that dark thoughts will never rule my heart.”
Clinton Atambo (Kenya):
“I want to thank God for giving me the chance to be in the church and I want to seek Him with all my heart, now, from my youth.”
Felix Otieno (Kenya):
“I am so happy that I could participate in this year’s Easter Camp. The activities I was interested in were media and photography. I was taught various ways of taking a photograph and also did the practical part of it. Spiritually, the greatest thing is to have God’s Word in my heart and spirit and then I can be transformed into His image. I will do everything I can to do His will.”