I remember being surprised to discover that the concept of christening or “confirming” children isn’t mentioned in the Bible. Instead, the scriptures encourage each person to seek their own relationship with God, regardless of their age.
And excitingly, when a child or adult genuinely seeks God, they can expect a direct response.
Last week, I volunteered at a Young Revivalists Camp – an opportunity for children in the church to build friendships, try some fun activities, and develop their relationship with God. Being a teenager when I first learnt that God was real, I’d heard these camps described as pivotal events in young people’s lives, and was curious to see it in action myself.
I attended the three-night Junior camp, hosting kids from grade three to six at PGL Camp Rumbug in Foster, Victoria. Like school camps, the kids spent lots of time outside, with canoeing, archery and an impressive flying fox. They worked together in duty groups, scored points for tidy dorms and acts of kindness, and connected with peers with aligned values from across the state.
More uniquely, their time together created a safe space for each child to learn about and reflect on what God means to them. Each day, they heard relevant messages from the Bible, learnt from each other’s experiences with God, and sang with all their hearts. There were opportunities for children to encourage each other, by leading the group in prayer or song, giving a Bible-based talk, and sharing stories of how God has helped them. For many children, this was their first time contributing to church meetings, and their enthusiasm is a credit to the support they felt all around them.
I was also impressed by the emerging leadership at the camp. Children were divided into teams – Gideon, Deborah and Elisha – where they could learn more about specific Bible occurrences, and prepare plays and songs to perform in an epic camp finale. These teams were led by youth volunteers, who attended to the kids with genuine care, empathy and seemingly-limitless energy.
Another highlight were the optional prayer meetings offered to the children. These are dedicated times for the children to pray individually or with oversight about whatever they choose.
A number of the children took the opportunity to pray for God to fill them with the Holy Spirit. They know from the scriptures, and the experiences of friends and family, that when they receive the Holy Spirit, their words of prayer will instantly change to a God-given prayer language.
This was the experience of three children during Junior camp, marking the start of their personal relationship with God. These children didn’t need a church leader to establish their faith on their behalf, but have received a direct experience from God that they’ll have throughout their lives. My time at the Young Revivalist Camp reminded me that it’s worth stepping out of my comfort zone for God, and not to underestimate how capable our youngest church members are. I’m thankful God gives us all an equal opportunity to know Him through the Holy Spirit, and that we can rely on Him to confirm His presence in direct and powerful ways.
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