We spent our first week of outreach helping to staff a camp for teenagers who have parents or family members in the British military. They call it Easter Camp and it’s put on by the AFCU (Armed Forces Christina Union), it’s been going for 85 years. It’s an incredible camp with years of prayer and history behind it. Easter Camp was held at a private girls boarding school that used to be a country mansion. So, no big deal, we just stayed in a mansion for a week. There were about 60 teenagers from age 11 to 18 and a group of about 20 leaders. This was actually the first time that we Americans have been so surrounded by so many British people, which made us the subject of the famed, dry British humour all week. We didn’t mind too much though and now we miss it just a bit.
The schedule at Easter Camp was packed; literally there was something planned from 07:30 to 23:00. We helped to lead dorms, so each of us was partnered with a seasoned Easter Camp leader to look after a small group of campers and we helped to facilitate dorm quiet time, activities and dorm art (each day the campers took a theme or idea from the message the night before and transformed their dorm into a work of art reflecting that theme or idea). We also helped to lead group Bible studies everyday on 1 Peter and a theme of “called out of darkness and into light”(1 Peter 2:9). There were two times of awesome worship each day, team activities and games in the afternoons. Games and afternoon activities ranged from messy games featuring flour, baked beans, porridge, oats and shaving cream; and impromptu gladiator games. We always finished the day with a message on 1 Peter from a guy who has been speaking at Easter Camp for 28 years. He was wonderful at communicating with the kids and he had a solid, biblical and relevant message for them.
We all had so much fun with the kids and were virtually heart broken when we had to leave. A lot of the campers gave testimonies about what God showed them or what they learned at camp and there were several kids who confessed to being “secret Christians” at school, but had now decided to be open about their faith in God with their friends. We’ve seen on facebook during the week after camp one of the campers who really has started sharing his faith with his friends at school. It’s so great to hear their testimonies and see the practical change God is bringing to their lives.
We left Easter Camp with heavy hearts, but we’re here on the next leg of our adventure, which is the Next Wave (a YWAM ship) in Liverpool! We are really excited to be here. Life on a ship is new to most of us, but we’re managing the two-minute showers without too much difficulty. We’ve spent some time getting acquainted with the city and its’ people and the YWAM Liverpool staff, with whom we’ll be working while we are here. So far we’ve done some homeless ministry and some clubbing outreach and next week we’re looking forward to partnering with Jude (from YWAM Liverpool) to do some ministry with the Pearls Project (ministry to women involved in prostitution). We’ve also done two days of “Open Boat” on the Next Wave. We basically invite people in off the street to tour the boat and have a cuppa tea or coffee and visit with them. Some of our team have had some really great conversations with people. Today, in fact, one of our team members chatted to a guy who is on a journey from being an atheist to now feeling called to Christian ministry. He expressed that he didn’t really know what it would look like for him to serve God in ministry, but really liked the sound and idea of a DTS. We were all blessed and encouraged by this story, conversations like this remind us that if God has sent us then the work we are doing is important and it will bear fruit. We still have a week left and we’re looking at doing some more homeless ministry and working on some painting projects on the ship as well as some basic nautical training.