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Youth embrace God’s Open Arms in camp

open arms

PAPAR – The Royal Ambassadors Youth (RAY) of the Light of Jesus Christ Covenant Community (LJCCC) held their annual camp for youth aged 13-18 years old themed Open Arms.  The camp provided an opportunity for the young people to know Jesus in a closer and more tangible way. One hundred and forty youth from around Kota Kinabalu attended the camp at the Pace Bene Retreat Centre here during the school holidays on 18-20 Mar 2016.

The various activities and talk sessions were aimed to bring participants to deepen their understanding of who God is and who we are in God and the importance of forgiveness of self and others, and of past hurts.

A new session catering to gender issues saw the girls and boys having separate sessions on the same topic ‘Who Am I?’ They learnt about their worth as women and men in the eyes of God and that both sexes have their differences, strengths and weaknesses. It was an eye-opening experience for all and a new one for experienced camp goers.

A workshop was conducted to drive the message home. Within group activities, participants were given tasks aimed to distinguish the differences and uniqueness of  being a boy or a girl. One of the most enlightening aspects was the listing of participant’s opinions of the opposite gender.

Paul Santa Maria, one of the teens empowered by the workshop said, “I have learned to interact with the opposite gender properly and with respect.” He also learned that it was possible for one to change with God’s help, adding that he experienced and felt God’s great love in the camp.

Another edifying activity was when each individual presented the opposite sex with tokens; girls were given flowers and boys crosses as a symbol of respect to one another. It affirmed the individual’s beauty and worth.

Triesha Jinivon shared that the session has touched her deeply and that she did not need to be pretty in appearance to be accepted. It was all about truly opening the heart and surrendering to Jesus, because “He waits for me with open arms”.

Nojuel S who at first came to the camp with a heavy heart said, “I felt God truly opened my eyes and heart to accept Him and surrender everything to Him. He gave me another chance to be the best version of myself.”

The camp highlighted the truth in seeking forgiveness and of forgiving past as well as present hurts. This enlightening session stressed the importance of knowing oneself better as one’s relationship with God requires one to continually hash out one’s past transgressions. Prayer stations were administered in groups which required participants to reflect on their sins. Group discussions revolved around the subject of forgiveness and mercy.

RAY night, hitherto, began with a fresh start as groups were given Biblical themes relating to mercy. Fourteen groups presented creative interpretations of Bible verses in the form of dance, song and acting. Later, the night took an emotional hue as they were brought to a more in-depth inner healing session. Participants had the chance to nail their sins written on papers on a wooden cross, as a symbolic gesture of surrendering it all to Jesus.

Triesha said, “I learnt that Jesus will always love and forgive me no matter how big my sins are,”  while Nojuel said, “I now know, the greatest love of all is when I am able to forgive those who have hurt me, just like what Jesus did.”

An important session on Baptism of the Holy Spirit was also conducted to give participants the opportunity to be prayed over. The experience was a powerful and uplifting one; many teens boldly asked to be forgiven and healed and many lay slain by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Natalie M shared, “I have learned to slowly accept myself. I am able to be more open and I have learned a lot about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I do not feel so insecure now.  I am able to socialise better and I feel very happy. This camp has helped me to open up.”

Delia Claudette learned her worth in God’s eyes, “I am actually worthy of many things! This camp has helped me to deal with my personal problems, my self-esteem and my wellbeing in general. This has given me a lot of hope in life!”

Reading from the Cardboard Testimonies done by individuals in each group, it revealed that the participants were beginning to be more aware of God’s presence and His ‘Open Arms’ in their everyday lives. Jenna Desiree Robert

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