If you know me personally, you’ll likely know that I love two things: plants and language. So when I heard that the theme for the Freshwater Creek Camp, 2017 National Youth Rally would be ‘GROW’, I could scarcely contain my excitement for all the plant analogies I knew would be headed my way (similar to how there’s a bunch of them headed your way now if you care to read on!).
After a quiet fellowship-filled first night, we heard talks about the parable of the talents, the church spreading and growing like a mustard plant and the growth we experience through our struggles. In the afternoon, we headed to the Torquay Sports Precinct for an afternoon of netball, AFL and (mostly) friendly competition. In the Friday and Saturday morning meetings, we broke off into ‘Grow Groups’ and discussed ideas such as owning our church, being our brother or sister’s keeper, the inspiration of God and unlocking the Bible. What a privilege to share snippets of our testimonies and experiences and to learn from one another’s insights! The weather seemed to gradually improve as camp progressed, bringing a sunny Friday afternoon for our outdoor activities and beach trip. We spent the evening swimming, playing beach volleyball and demolishing approximately 93 pizzas.
Saturday brought around the Amazing Race, in which we split into teams and trekked all over Geelong looking for clues and puzzles. In the evening, we received the infamous ‘morals talk’ which was in fact a lot less painful than anticipated, and emphasised the fact that the Word is written within our hearts. We’ve been given the ability to discern right behaviour from wrong and we understand which choices bring us closer to God and which ones take us further away from Him. Any persisting awkwardness was alleviated by the Battle of the Bands, in which we got to hear musical items from people from all across Australia and New Zealand. Folks were of course very reluctant to go to bed early on the last night and we wound up stretching the curfew out till 2am!
Sunday morning was a difficult start for a lot of people after the previous night’s revelry, but the resident barista, coffee machine and the smell of pancakes helped to make it worth getting out of bed. At the morning communion meeting, Pastor Simon drove home the importance of each and every one of us dreaming the God dream and sustaining the momentum of faith after camp. After having hotdogs for lunch, people began to slowly trickle out of camp to catch planes and drive home, but the fellowship and the uplifting enriching conversations continued right up until the end.
When it comes down to it, our spiritual journey is one that we alone take responsibility for, but God instructs us to pursue fellowship with other spirit-filled people for a reason. So here are some things that I came away from camp understanding a little better:
Growth within the fellowship is about iron sharpening iron.
It might mean learning from really smart brothers and sisters about their scientific expertise and how they see God’s handwriting within the things that they learn about the world.
It might mean putting your hand up.
It might mean opening your mouth during a meeting to give a prayer, even if both your voice and your hands are shaking.
It might mean talking to a brother who is yet to receive the Holy Spirit about his anxieties around seeking for it and how he’s slowly but surely becoming set free from them.
It might mean getting shown that you’ve been taking your knowledge of God and of the truth for granted, or that you kind of need to pull your spiritual socks up and make some tough choices.
It might mean finally coming to understand that others share your struggles and that you have an entire spiritual ecosystem’s worth of different people with different experiences to encourage and advise you and raise you up.
Whatever forms our interactions take, we help to nourish each other. When I see my brothers and sisters all around me, growing and changing and orienting more and more towards Jesus, the seed germinates and it helps me understand that I can too. That’s always a good thing to be reminded of.
Jasmin, Melbourne Assembly.
September 20, 2023
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August 31, 2023