Summer camp provides spiritual growth, ministry
Features Editor Maddie Yee, '13, spent a week at Operation Good News in order to expand her faith in God through classes, devotion and conversations with people on the beach.
There is a coolness in the air; a slight breeze brushing past my arms and the sun is glistening on the deep blue waves of the beach. The world appears to be in complete peace.
As I close my eyes and think about my glamorous surroundings, the realization hits me: This is the beginning of my week at Operation Good News (OGN).
Yee attends classes, shares faith
Located at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) in San Diego, this seven day training event teaches students how to share and secure their faith through classroom training and hands-on experiences.
In addition to the group and personal times, students stay in the campus dorms throughout their week at OGN. Each morning consists of breakfast and personal devotions as well as apologetics and evangelism classes. Classes can last anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours.
Following the morning schedule, students break off into evangelism partners of two, receive six dollars for lunch, load into various busses and go out to different beaches for two hours. While on the beach, students speak with randomly-selected people, and use survey questions to initiate conversations.
Questions included: "In today's busy world, how interested do you think most people are in knowing God? Do you think it is possible to know God in a personal way, and why? If you died today and were standing at the gates of Heaven, and God asked you, 'why should I let you into heaven,' what would you say?"
Using these questions, people were able to have discussions about individuals' backgrounds, what they believed and what they thought about the testimonies they heard.
Although it was my first time at OGN, I came with the expectations of learning how to better spread the gospel and support my faith in a more in-depth way, growing deeper in my relationship with Christ and acting in obedience as I listened to the Holy Spirit's leading.
Proceeding my forethoughts were the things that would divert me from letting God change my heart throughout the week. These included distractions like not obeying what God told me to do, being selfish and doing things how I thought was best. If I did not purpose to avoid these hindrances, I think my heart might not have been open to what God was going to teach me.
Experience offers insight into spiritual purpose
During my time in San Diego there were highs and lows. The personal devotions each morning were meaningful because they helped me grow closer to God as I dug into the Bible and talked with him. Along with personal time with God, the evening worship was something I will never forget. The opportunity to worship with other believers magnified how powerful and holy God really is.
"By listening to people and showing them you care, it opens up a door that can lead to spiritual conversations. While at OGN, and on the beaches, I was able to have multiple conversations with people about their beliefs, doubts and questions concerning my faith." --Maddie Yee, '13
Every day while spending my time on the beach, there were moments that I either felt really pumped up for having conversations, or discouraged because I was not finding people to have good conversations with.
When facing discouragement, I had to remember that God was working through me to reach others. I was not the one who was going to change the lives and hearts of people -- God was going to use me as his instrument.
Something that really hit me while in San Diego was the truth of planting seeds. Not every person will get to experience a person accepting Christ into their life, but every Christian has the opportunity to plant seeds in the lives of those around them. Realizing that God opens up circumstances wherever I am contributed to the fact that everywhere I go, God can use me as an example for others.
Maddie Yee, '13
This is the way God uses us as his instruments; the Holy Spirit works through us to reach others. It does not mean just sharing your faith in words, but living out what Christ calls us to do. I think it is hard for most people to express their faith because they don't know how to in the first place.
Sharing your faith starts with the relationships you already have, and continues with the new relationships you will create. Through these connections, you have the opportunity to learn about others' lives, and share how God has worked in your life.
By listening to people and showing them you care, it opens up a door that can lead to spiritual conversations. While at OGN and on the beaches, I was able to have multiple conversations with people about their beliefs, doubts and questions concerning faith.
Even though I did not personally lead anyone to asking Jesus to enter their lives, I know that the Holy Spirit was working in me to plant and water seeds in their hearts. Whether it was asking survey questions, praying for them or sharing my testimony, it was not about me racking up 'brownie points,' but rather Christ drawing them to him.
Towards the end of my week, I could see a difference in how my mentality towards the gospel had changed. At first my mission was sharing the gospel with people and hoping they would accept Jesus into their lives. Then, it became more of an opportunity for me to be a light for Christ. Now I'm not saying that I didn't think people would make commitments of faith, but that instead of focusing on the commitments, I actually spent time focusing on the people.
What I learned at OGN did not only apply to what God was doing in San Diego, but more importantly to my walk with the Lord. I am so thankful for my experience at OGN and how it has changed my perspective of the gospel. Instead of treating people as check lists, I want the Holy Spirit to open my eyes even more to the hurting world around me, and continue planting and watering those seeds.
For more opinion articles, read the Aug. 18 article, Grasping the difference between innocence and maturity.