Today was a powerful and emotional ending to an awe-inspiring trip. We started out the day with a devotional and prayer as usual, reminded that camp was not yet over and that Christ was not done impacting lives through us. So, despite our exhaustion, we began the day with as much energy as the very first day of camp. When the time came for chapel, Brad spoke on 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 and ended with Jude 20, clarifying the next steps to take once becoming a believer. His final points were: 1) Leave sin behind. 2) Grow in the knowledge of God. 3) Join the church. and 4) Be ambassadors for Christ. In small groups afterward, we expanded on Brad’s message and on how our lives could be or will be shaped by God’s desire for our lives. After some intense Capture the Flag and friendly chats on the grass outside, we walked back to the Ministry Center for the certificate ceremony; we recognized the campers one by one and presented them each with the book “10 Keys To Unlocking the Bible” by our very own Pastor Colin Smith, freshly translated into Hungarian, so that some of these campers may take those first steps to understanding the Bible they’re reading. And then, after investing our hearts and souls and stories and prayers into these children at English camp for two weeks, our team faced very emotional and bittersweet goodbyes. It is extremely difficult to say even a “see you later” to these teenagers who we have loved so much and taught so much, laughed with and cried with and, in some cases, have seen them hand their lives over to Jesus. And the same goes for our goodbyes to the translators tonight. They were so hard. At least we can find comfort in our future meetings with our brothers and sisters in Christ, in heaven if not in Hungary next year. We also attended the grand opening of the Montazs Art Café tonight! Following so much support and participation from our church, it was great to see the café filled with people and open to the public for the first time. If I lived in Budapest, I’d hang out in this café every day.
I want to tell you about one of the most joyful experiences of my life. One week ago on Friday was the first straight-forward Gospel presentation from Brad during chapel. In small group afterwards, we asked our group the question: If you’re not a Christian, what is keeping you from following Jesus? We went around the circle and asked each kid where they were at when it comes to God and their faith. There were mixed responses, but two responses stood out as: not yet in a relationship with Christ, but they want to be. So the Hungarian translator Adam and I pulled sweet Bence out of lunch first, walked outside and sat on the steps, and we asked if he wanted to start a relationship with Christ; he firmly said yes. The thrill and the joy which overwhelmed me in that moment was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. With Adam translating every sentence and Bence repeating in Hungarian the words I spoke, I prayed: “I know I am a sinner. Thank you for dying on the cross to save me from my sins. I want to start a relationship with you. Thank you for showing me your truth today. I love you. Amen.” And just like that, Bence became a beloved child of God and my beloved brother in Christ. After that, we brought Bande out to the same spot. He also was eager to start a relationship with Jesus, so we said a similar prayer, and then he became our brother in Christ as well!! I cannot explain to you the power and the love and the joy in these moments for everyone involved, and since that’s how I felt, I can’t imagine the rejoicing going on in heaven at that time!
God has moved SO POWERFULLY at camp these two weeks…Over the course of our time here, at least 13 teenagers have for the first time acknowledged Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Thirteen!! Can you believe it? What solid proof of God’s might and power and grace and mercy and love. I am in awe of all that God has done through our team, and I have learned anew the intense joy that comes from knowing Jesus and spreading his truth. I am blown away.