Another year, another Grace and Peace Mission Trip bringing many Instagrams of the Rocky Steps or a nice skyline. . . But our reason for being there was "Grace and Peace Summer Camp" and so a group of around twenty from CE and some members of 'Grace and Peace Community Church' began setting up for camp towards the end of June.
Each day at camp there was over 60 kids present (a record), the children were from all different backgrounds - each with their own unique personality. We all grew to love every one of them over the two week period. Grace and Peace as a camp is nothing like your typical NI holiday Bible club. It is chaotic, loud and incredibly hard but amidst all our messiness God was working and used us, broken people, to spread his word to kids some of whom had no personal relationship with Jesus.
Just as God loves us, so, we tried to show that same love to the kids. At times it was hard with our patience wearing thin and tiredness kicking in. As the weeks progressed and tiredness grew, we learnt not to rely on our own strength because, in the end, it fades, instead to rely on the never-ending strength of God.
Camp consisted of many classes including Art, History, Science and the dreaded 'Pool Time.' Bible class was where the kids could have fun and make friends... But also where the true purpose of Grace and Peace Summer camp was realised. An opportunity to share the good news of the Gospel and as we taught the kids about God and Jesus, bringing them to him. This also allowed us as young adults to mature in our faith and grow closer to Him.
The camp was tough with some kids making us wonder why we ever signed up, but, as we talked with these children who caused trouble God opened our eyes and we saw they really were just children. Children who needed to be shown God's love, who needed care and who needed a friend. For two weeks we had the blessing to be that friend. Furthermore, we learnt our main purpose was to point them to Jesus, the only person who could help them eternally. And so as we formed relationships with these kids and God was at the centre of it all - the glue holding everything together.
Serving God in a Mission team setting is not easy: we grew tired and we messed up but God didn't want it to be easy, he wanted us as individuals to grow and learn to rely only on him. To show the kids what it means to live a life for God in Grace and Peace and when we boarded that plane so we could apply this to the business of our lives back in Northern Ireland. In the hard times and the good times, we bring everything before God. If I was to speak for the whole team I would say "we formed God centred relationships with the children, formed friendships with people both in the team and at Grace and Peace that will last forever but most importantly grew more in love with God."
On Behalf of the Grace and Peace Team