We deeply thank all of you who volunteered to pray for this camp or gave financially towards it, or both. This year’s camp was very, very blessed, and we rejoice in the many ways this was evident.
To begin with, God provided the strongest group of counselors the camp has ever seen, so that the 57 campers were in capable and loving hands from the start. Rising early and going to bed late, with high energy and open hearts, the counselors guided the campers through each day, listening to any problem they needed to share (and tackling whatever problem they themselves brought in). The campers were divided almost equally between girls and boys, and this year 4 Ukrainian refugees joined the group. Native languages of the campers included Russian, Hebrew, Spanish, and English.
Eric Hoffman from Young Life Ohio (USA), once again led the campers in fun and frolic from the moment they stepped off the bus. Crazy-funny skits and energetic games provided day-to-day hilarity and gave continued opportunity for the kids to “break the ice” with each other and become friends. As Eric explained, the fun also gave each camper some needed “anesthesia” before the coming surgery the Holy Spirit might want to undertake in their hearts.
It was noticed on the first evening that the campers entered into real worship more quickly this year than in previous camps. We give thanks for the anointed worship provided by Jeremiah and Rachel Smilovici from Revive Israel. Very soon, and in almost every session, worship resulted in a snake-line of praising, rejoicing, jumping kids circling the room, grabbing 2 or 3 others with every pass. Or a group would break out into a huge circle of hand-clasped kids, flowing inward to the circle’s center then back out again, then in again and out again, with rising hoots of joy. But also, the deeper worship engagement in the main room was likely fed by simultaneous worship happening in the prayer room.
This year, Marianna had invited some local worship teams to cover 2-hour sessions in the prayer room, interspersed throughout each day. This worship happened even when the intercessors were absent. And when the intercessors were present, our prayers were perfumed and lifted up ever higher on this gift of worship.
Wael!! This year, the main speaker for the camp was Wael Khoury, an Arab Christian Young Life leader based in Nazareth. When this towering teddy bear of a man spoke, practically every face in the room was fixed in rapt attention. And when he knelt on the floor, eye-to-eye with the kids, and said: I love you! he melted hearts. He communicated this love for his Jewish brothers and sisters in many other ways, too—dancing with the kids in worship, jumping into their games, grabbing the box drum and joining Jeremiah and Rachel in leading worship, afterwards bear-hugging Jeremiah and proclaiming:”This is only the beginning.” The beginning of a dream of Arab and Jewish kids worshipping God together in a joint camp—together in love, together across the painful divide, together in abandon to God’s quest for a Bride as fully beautiful as her Bridegroom. (One of the happiest things I witnessed were Wael and Lina’s young sons, Lucas and John, calling out as Marianna or Eric walked by: I love you, Marianna! I love you, Eric! They knew very few other English words, but this they called out. This was what they were learning from the love they saw between Jew and Arab.
On the last evening of camp, the campers were given time to be alone with God. They walked outside into the full-moon night and found a place to sit alone along a wall overlooking the breathtaking desert canyon. For 20 minutes, they were to contemplate God’s vast love for them and listen for anything he wanted to say. Soft crying was heard, sometimes a louder sob, otherwise just silence and the penetrating, glowing moon. The next morning, when Marianna gave her testimony and asked if anyone wanted to receive Yeshua for the first time, or rededicate themselves after a time of stumbling, 45 or so hands shot up in the air. (Among them was one who had arrived at camp an avowed atheist, about whom her friend had said there was really no hope. 🙂 ). Then when Marianna asked for testimonies from the week, one after another stood up and spoke of what God had done for them, often how He had spoken tenderly to them in the desert night.
Thank you, Lord, for all that You did through this camp of 2022.
A voice of one calling, in the desert prepare the way of the Lord!
Together the cry was raised: Yes and Amen!
Marianna and the team