Students focus on life of Christ at summer youth weeksby Chad Austin, BSCNC Communications
Thousands of students from across North Carolina celebrated Christmas and Easter all summer long at the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell.
The celebrations were part of the worship services and other activities that took place during this year’s summer youth weeks, sponsored by the youth evangelism and discipleship ministry of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC).
This year’s youth weeks’ theme was “Way. Truth. Life.” based on John 14:6 which says, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
“This year, we emphasized the importance of knowing the life of Christ and how we should follow Him,” said Merrie Johnson, senior consultant for youth evangelism and discipleship with the state convention, which is also known as BeDoTell.
Johnson has coordinated youth weeks at Caswell for the past 16 years.
“We started each week with Christmas because Jesus came to earth as a baby, and we concluded each week with Easter looking at what Christ’s death, burial and resurrection means and how it gives us hope,” Johnson said. “Exploring the life of Christ resonated big time with the students by helping them understand more of who Jesus is and gain clarity in the gospel.”
Throughout the week, campers examined various aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry through times of worship, biblical preaching, personal and small group devotions, drama, skits, games and more. In between the sessions devoted to Christ’s birth and resurrection, campers explored how Jesus faced temptation, how He meets our spiritual, physical and emotional needs, and what it means to genuinely follow Him.
Wes Hamilton, pastor of Hulen Street Church in Fort Worth, Texas, who served as the camp pastor during the final week of youth weeks, challenged campers to examine their hearts and called on them to make a firm commitment to Christ.
“Sometimes, it’s just easy to play the part of a Christian,” Hamilton said. “But at the heart of it, we have no real belief. We’re just playing a part, and there’s no real power.”
Throughout the summer, God moved in the lives of more than 6,300 students from 263 different churches who attended one of the seven weeks of camp.
Johnson and her ministry team reported that a total of 321 students trusted Christ as Savior during youth weeks, and an additional 1,200 more rededicated their lives to Him. A little more than 100 more answered a call to full-time ministry.
Additionally, campers packaged a total of 285,000 meals throughout the summer and gave offerings totaling more than $67,000 that will go toward feeding hungry children in Haiti through Servants with a Heart, a ministry partner based in Charlotte.
On the concluding night of camp, Hamilton encouraged campers to “go home with purpose and intentionality” about sharing their faith with their friends.
All summer long, Johnson and her team encouraged students to host what they called a “hope party” during the weekend of Aug. 19. The goal of the parties was to challenge students to be intentional about sharing their faith and the hope that they have in Christ, according to 1 Peter 3:15.
Johnson said she’s received reports of at least 50 parties held throughout the state. The parties took on all forms, ranging from churchwide youth gatherings to small gatherings of friends. No matter the size or the location, Johnson said the goal was the same at every party.
“We wanted to challenge students to put a date on the calendar and be intentional about sharing their faith with their friends who don’t know Christ,” Johnson said.