This year’s (2011) Upward Challenge camp in England was awesome!
It was a steep learning curve for the Student Leaders, and it was enhanced by having several international participants.
Illness meant that the Director, Catey Morrison, could not attend and so Paul Stokes stepped into the role temporarily. But Catey’s absence meant that the Student Leaders were given much greater responsibilities, and they rose to the challenge in a wonderful way.
Every evening session was planned and led by them in typical Dunamis fashion. They met for prayer and discernment before supper, and acted on that guidance in leading the evening worship and ministry sessions.
There was minimal input from the older adults, allowing the Student Leaders to gain first-hand experience of listening to the Holy Spirit and acting in obedience.
That guidance led to an evening focused on the cross; another centered on testimony and celebration; an opportunity to pray for empowerment; and an evening debriefing the field exercise.
Five of the Student Leaders led small groups, helping the participants to think more about the teaching sessions. They helped the participants feel that they really belonged, and led them in discussions and prayer.
For the final group meeting the content and format was left entirely to the Student Leaders’ discernment, and they all had opportunity to be on point during one of the evening sessions, too.
Continuing the development of young leaders, all of the administration for the event was handled by Ruth Cadoux (neé Stokes). Remarkably, she and Tim were married on the Saturday, and Upward Challenge began on the Monday! Tim himself also helped deliver the main teaching in several sessions, along with Anneliese and Paul Stokes.
The worship was a significant aspect of the camp, and was led mainly by another Student Leader, Nicola Stokes, with help from Anneliese and also from James Willett. It is such a wonderful blessing to have several highly gifted and anointed worship leaders working together.
The Student Leaders had a challenging and rewarding time, and God is doing some powerful work among all these young people! They were supported by adult mentors Hilary Clark, John Morrison and Michelle Davis. These adults were wonderful in providing back up and meeting with the student leaders one on one to discuss the groups and make suggestions about how to handle group dynamics.
This year’s topic, Border Breaker, was adapted from the Listening Evangelism Dunamis Project. As well as teaching about the Holy Spirit’s role in being witnesses for Jesus, there was a ‘field exercise’ which involved seeking guidance from the Spirit and then visiting a nearby town to see how those words and visions could be acted upon. It was quite a mixed experience, and provided plenty of opportunity for debriefing that evening.
On other afternoons the students took part in a service project, helping look after the Barnes Close Centre near Birmingham where the camp took place; they had leisure time in someone’s swimming pool; and they played the inevitable Sock Wars wide game!
This year there was a fantastic international flavour to the camp. Apart from the UK, we had young people from Tuvalu, Singapore, Malaysia, Botswana and America, and also some Pakistanis who live in England. The first four of these came via CWM (the Council for World Mission) – it was not part of their original mission trip schedule, but they had a fantastic time, made new friends, learned about the Holy Spirit, and really enriched us with their presence and their insights from different cultural backgrounds.
We are so grateful to all who prayed for the event beforehand and while it was happening. The onsite intercessions team were fabulous, and the CWM students were an answer to pre-event prayers. And we’re also indebted to those who come to serve as Mentors or running the PA system.
The body of Christ works best when every part plays its proper role, and when Jesus is allowed to be the Head. We certainly saw that happening Upward Challenge, and we’re looking forward to 2012 already!
The Upward Challenge Youth ministry program has enabled many of our own children to grow in leadership that is centered in Jesus Christ and led by the Holy Spirit. We are committed to seeing this incredible ministry continue to grow in the United States and in the United Kingdom.
But pray with us that there can be Upward Challenge in other countries as well. This camping model of teaching and discipleship really is effective in growing young people in living biblical faith in Jesus Christ and in the dynamic of cooperating with the Holy Spirit.