This year as well as last, we prayed that we would have the most diverse camp yet at Upward Challenge.
Why did we pray this prayer?
In the book of Revelation we find that in heaven there will be people,
From every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. Revelation 7:9 (NIV)
We prayed for the community of young adults worshiping together at Upward Challenge to look a little more like the community worshiping in heaven. And praise be to God, last year as well as this year have been our two most diverse years yet!
The Challenges of a Multi-Lingual Camp
This year about half of our campers grew up with Spanish as their first language. A few recently moved to the States from Venezuela, and their English comprehension abilities were understandably low.
Throughout the course of the camp, our leadership team did a phenomenal job navigating the language dynamics.
At our first meeting after all the campers had arrived, we decided to host a brief huddle of all the bilingual folks to work out a solution together.
One of the campers suggested an idea, and we went with it. As the week went on, we kept experimenting with different forms of translation, always keeping that in mind as we planned our group activities.
Breaking the Language Barrier
At the beginning of the week, the youth sat segregated in groups with their same-language peers. Over the course of the week, however, this dynamic changed.
Two second-generation Korean-American teens attended, while two campers came with a desire to learn the Korean language.
As the week progressed, campers from all three language backgrounds began participating in informal language exchange.
It was neat to see that by the end of the week, whereas language had previously been a barrier dividing the youth from one another, in the end, they bonded over language.
The Power of Language
A powerful way God brought about that unity was through our experience of bilingual worship. Our head worship leader, had a Guatemalan and Euro-American heritage.
We were led in singing bilingual songs accompanied by a Spanish-speaking camper. We noticed a shift in the group from our start in English-only worship to singing in both languages at once.
With everyone participating, our worship grew stronger and our sense of koinonia deepened.
The topic of this year’s camp was Mountain Mover: Growing in the Power of Prayer. In addition to covering a condensed version of the Dunamis prayer material, we also discerned the need for a Gateways teaching one afternoon.
Presenting the Gospel
While camper evaluations showed that they seemed to have taken away the most from these two topics, we followed the lead of the Holy Spirit in other directions, as well.
Other highlights from the week included a gospel presentation one night. We discerned further that some campers were not familiar with church and may still need to respond personally to the good news of salvation and separate girls’ and guys’ activities one afternoon.
Your Sons and Your Daughters Will Prophesy
What God did at Upward Challenge this year?
Several kids heard God speak to them for the first time. Many others received prophetic words and/or words of knowledge which they felt were right on target for their lives.
Some received specific guidance about where to go and pray during the off-site (and on-site) intercession activity day.
Faith and Healing
Four physical healings occurred this year at camp. In one case, a camper who had severe pain in his neck and limited mobility received prayer for healing in his small group; afterwards he had full mobility and no pain! Praise God!
Raising Up Diverse Leaders
What will PRMI look like in 20 years? If we want to reach the world, our leadership team needs to start looking more like those we serve (and more like heaven!).
The first step in building a diverse leadership team is teaching youth around the world about the person, work, and power of the Holy Spirit.
Your Next Step
Upward Challenge 2017 at the Community of the Cross in North Carolina, is coming up soon! To learn more details about this year’s event or to register, please follow the link below.
Even if you can’t come to the event in person, please pray that the Holy Spirit would meet, lead, and empower the teachers and the teens who attend.