This blog post is by Lucy Viola, a child sponsorship officer and employee of Arise Africa.
Every summer we hold kid’s Bible camps during our mission trips. And Bible Camp is a life changing experience! This year Arise Africa’s theme for camp is “Faith in Jesus”. It is amazing to see God transform lives. The impact is great for kids when they have the opportunity to participate in something outside of school that stirs their hearts and minds. As Arise Africa, much time is put in to plan for three to five days of Bible Camp and many people may assume that it is over after those short five days, but what I am seeing is that there is much collateral effect happening at one school in particular.
Grace Community Christian School attended our last Bible Camp that was held in June. All of the school attended the camp including the children in our child sponsorship program. Each morning kids would walk to camp from the school lead by the Arise Africa staff and teachers from the school. The kids would carry flags that they made and would chant and sing for the duration of the walk. People in the community ask, “Where are these kids going?” or would ask “Can we come too?” This was a great opportunity for the kids to share with people the things they were learning about Faith. Kids would share the verses they were learning and sing the songs as they passed by the onlookers.
Kids Walking through their compound to camp
Kids walking into camp
During camp these children experienced many firsts. They were learning new stories from the Bible, hearing new songs, eating different foods and had the experience of bonding with new friends. Something that sticks out in my mind is watching one child eat an apple for the very first time!
On the last day of camp we had a sports day. We had 12 different sports stations with different games and activities. There were football matches going on, volleyball games, obstacle courses and my personal favorite were two jumping castles that the kids go to play on. These are experiences that many of these children had never had.
After camp our kids returned to school. The first day back the kids were still talking about what a great time they had. They were continuing to recite their verses and sing the songs they had learned. This went on for several days and I thought it would end after a few days. Much to my surprise and delight, the first grade class started playing “Camp” at recess! They divided themselves into groups, just how they were at camp. They even picked out different classmates to be Zambian counselors and others to be American. They would then pray and sing their songs and they would also chant their team chants. After this I noticed that they would move all the groups together and I asked them what they were doing? They informed me that it was time for their “Big Group Session”. They would assign a leader to teach a Bible lesson. This took up their entire recess! I thought for sure it would end after one day, but they continued on until they played out all five days of camp.
It melts my heart to see the kids remembering all the things they learned at camp. They did not only play camp, but I saw them practice the things they had learned in their lives. What a privilege it is to be apart of impacting lives for God and being allowed to continue speaking into the lives of these kids on a day-to-day basis!
Kid's Bible camp would not be able to happen unless Americans came over and helped us pay for the camp as well as put it on. I think Americans do see the Lord working in these kids while they are here during the week of camp. But I wish they could see the lasting effects months later too. The Lord uses camp in a MAJOR way for these children for a very very very long time.
Please continue to lift us up in prayer as we press on to build a solid foundation and be disciples in these kid’s lives!
-by Lucy Viola