The problem with our society is our innate selfishness and constant lust to expand our own kingdoms. Being a teenager, it is easy to fall into this trend, especially when surrounded by people who only have their own interests in mind. This aura of egocentricity fosters distrust in others, as people work the hardest and save the best and for themselves. But, in occasional cases, you are surrounded by selfless, encouraging people who not only reach out, but also continually to provide support. These situations stimulate a more positive attitude, respect for others, and an active learning environment.
I am blessed to say I was able to thrive in this wonderful atmosphere for an entire week this past summer at Chinese Christian Union Church Teen Camp: Kingdom Seekers. I was unimaginably nervous, because I only knew a few people of the hundreds attending. To my surprise, before we had even loaded the bus, many people had gone out of their way to introduce themselves to me. Throughout the week, during meals, or message, games, etc., I saw courteous people in action, welcoming others into their group and putting their own egos aside. This was completely new to me, having attended a public high school for two years where people are all about their own cliques and reputations. But, those dauntless campers gave me the strength to reach out to others, open my hearts to them, and pray that they do the same to me.
Another aspect of camp that promoted positive attitudes and cordial communication was “Sunshine Mail”, thoughtful letters sent to encourage and pray for one another. As silly as it may sound, Sunshine Mail not only got me through my trials at camp, but also still inspires me today, whenever I feel down and need a little inspiration. Besides the Holy Spirit, there is nothing more reassuring than finding fellowship that is persistently supportive. Even after Teen Camp had ended, my brothers and sisters in Christ still keep in touch with me and keep me accountable because they care. I could not have possibly asked for a more motivating, tender group of people to help me begin my relationship with Christ.
Along with people’s willingness to open their hearts to everyone came a newfound respect for others within myself. I still struggle to match the amount of understanding and sympathy they put forward every day of their lives. Every morning at 7:30 am, I was astounded to see the number of people at the optional prayer meeting, praying for each other and the upcoming day. This made me realize that people are humble, and that we should not judge one another because there’s so much to a person that we can’t understand just by looking at them. Similarly, during cabin and camp sharing time, I was amazed at the willingness of campers to share their personal experiences in order to teach others what a meaningful life with Christ is. The testimonies I heard were beyond what I could ever have imagined happened to people who now have such strength in relationship with Him. I still take the things I learned from those nights at Teen Camp and use them in my everyday life to live a better, more respectful life for the man who died so I could have one.
In just one week, I had learned more about faith, God, and Christianity than I had my entire life. God had His hand in my life when he brought me to Teen Camp because it would have been hard for me to learn and flourish in another environment in which I was uncomfortable and unhappy. Every day, we would hear a message and worship. The first few days, I had no idea what I was doing and just went along with the crowd. But, by the end of the week, through knowledgeable counselors, pastors, and workshops, I had discovered the true meaning of worshiping and began to genuinely understand what the messages were about. Also, every day we would meet with our bible discussion groups, analyzing parables and understanding the true meaning of His word. When camp started, I had no idea what the bible was even about much less its significance. After hours of studying and discussing, I not only learned so much about Jesus Christ, but also the importance of reading scripture every day.
When I told people that I had accepted Christ into my life at camp, they were so happy and ecstatic for a person they had just met days ago. The reason was because they had Jesus at the center of their lives, and another follower of Christ was like the one lost sheep found by the Shepard (Luke 15: 3-7). For a while I wondered how these people could be so caring, considerate, encouraging until I realized that the Holy Spirit was living through each and every one of them. As I continually strengthen in my relationship with Him, I use everything I learn from Teen Camp and all the amazing people I met to look up to and aspire to be like (which is really like Jesus). Without his Will and the environment of all the loving people in Teen Camp, I would not be the faithful servant of Christ I am today.