By Amy Galliford
More than 150 teens gathered at Stanwell Tops in early October for Drastic, the annual churches of Christ state youth camp. The effects are still being felt a month later, with youth across the network forming their own communities – meeting together to worship, read the Bible and disciple one another after their camp experience.
“Camp didn’t end. They want to keep running after Jesus together,” says Camp Director Ruth Lewis-Jones.
Throughout the week, the youth encountered the full arc of the gospel story through the lens of this year’s theme, ‘Nailed It’. Each day unpacked how God ‘nailed it’ in His perfect creation, how Jesus returned to again ‘nail it’ by living a perfect life, how He defeated sin as He literally ‘nailed it’ to the cross, and how we are then empowered to ‘nail it’ with Him by His grace. The week culminated in the final message, ‘Jesus is enough.’
“The depth of revelation of what Jesus did on the cross for us is the depth to which we can grow as a disciple. We were exploring how the reality of what Jesus did on the cross changes our daily lives,” Ruth explains.
Between Tops activities and sessions, the youth engaged in interactive sessions. These included a panel on forming ‘holy habits’ to encounter Jesus, workshops on reading the Bible, and a student-led discussion on praying for schools, alongside regular small groups and sharing in communion. Both Ruth and Tina Phillips, a camp leader involved in the program team, recalled the highlight moments of connection that were created with kids and the clear work of God in their hearts over the week.
The heartbeat was for the youth to discover that Jesus is our greatest treasure. In the story of Mary and Martha, Mary chose the one thing – sitting with Jesus, looking at Him, and listening to His words. The question was, ‘Will you choose the one thing?’” Ruth said.
Across the week, the leaders witnessed many kids respond to this invitation. At a final session, leaders set up an open mic where many young people courageously and enthusiastically took the stage to share testimonies, recalling how they’d encountered God for the first time, had discovered Him afresh, or had felt their confidence in Him grow throughout the week.
As Ruth states, the best part was “seeing kids feel seen, known and loved by God.”
Dozens of kids have described feeling a spiritual shift at Drastic and tangible peace and presence of God that hasn’t left them. The encouragement for churches throughout the network is to actively look for ways to further disciple their youth, particularly in the wake of this catalyst event.
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