A Report From City Hill’s ‘Life Change’ Trip To The Philippines12 Apr 2017
By Hannah Pereira
Beforehand, I was under the impression that God couldn’t surprise me anymore.
Our first small group meeting started with a great question ‘What do you want to get from these 3 days?’ It was an interesting question for me to answer. What could I possibly get from this camp? I came to give. Little did I know that I would receive immeasurably more than I could think. I knew what I wanted for a long time. I answered, ‘I want to be excited and hungry for God. I want Him to reveal new things to me.’ I saw God and the gospel move in ways that have left me in awe.
What you see at the camp is a bunch of bright-eyed, crazy-energetic, young and ‘mature’ people. We met the most passionate people who do the prep work, lead meetings, organize and orchestrate the most creative & intentional activities and lead us into Spirit-led worship.
We had 5 talks over 3 days of camp with about 150 attendees. The first day we were split into groups, which we stuck to for the 3 days. It was a great opportunity to share our prayer requests, ask questions, discuss how the talks we heard could shape the way we live and cheer one-another during our competitive games. As we shared our stories with each other, I “saw” and understood God in an overwhelming way in how He brought people to know Him as their savior. Each of them had a personal encounter with Him. I learned that God has means and ways to draw people to Himself and it’s only through His Spirit that people surrender their lives to Him. It does not depend on anything else, but the power of the gospel.
During these 3 days, we were given so many opportunities to have great conversations with people. Besides the bonfire, under the stars or by the river watching the sunrise, I heard painful stories. Some are growing up without parents, some had to dropout of school, some are working with unfair work ethics. These stories I heard as we shared our lives together had the most impact on me. I saw God in the lives of many. At one point I asked someone ‘Don’t you ever get burnt out?’ I thought it was inevitable hearing that she spends 4 hours travelling to work, working a 9-5 job, leading a life group, discipling girls and attending leadership meetings. Her answer stung me hard ‘How could I be burnt out serving the Lord?’ I was embarrassed. I learned that renewing our minds by the gospel is the source of strength and passion.
No panics, no complaints, no mishaps. I never saw any of the organisers, band members, leaders stressed. That was surprising for me. I would have been running around making sure everything was in place. I knew they had it right. They did excel in everything they did, but they also knew that it was only God who can change the hearts of the unbelievers and that’s all that mattered.
I saw God in their community. I saw young people passionately following Christ, living a life that imitates Christ. A community that wholeheartedly adores God and challenges each other to lay down their cross, dying to themselves for the sake of the gospel. They encourage each other to radically live out lives different from the people around them, and constantly looked to Jesus as a model. I saw God in our community as a group from Dubai, I learned so much from the way we challenged each other to step outside our comfort zone, teased each other (well, we mainly teased Prim). Our early morning prayers helped me to renew my mind in remembering to serve the church well, and our friendships with each other deepened. We learned new things about each other and helped hone each others giftings.
At Grace City Fellowship Camp I met people who deny themselves to serve others; I saw young men and women who suffer discomfort to glorify God; I saw young people who supposedly aren’t responsible for the big decisions in their lives make a very real, very powerful choice to spread the gospel. I saw the youth who are able to see Christ in the leaders who serve them, and they are able to see themselves in them. I’ve been blessed and humbled to witness God’s amazing work firsthand this year at the camp. It’s a life-changing, life-equipping, Christ-encountering, gospel-centric camp. And it’s true what this country exclaims: It’s more fun in the Philippines!