Soul Survivor: A Diary
Wednesday 12th – Arriving at 1pm we assembled base camp. The site was in a good condition and was beginning to recover from the horrendous weather that had challenged the New Wine campers the week before! Thankfully, the rain stayed away while we put up our tents and the afternoon was spent relaxing, becoming accustomed to our new surroundings and our life under canvas. There was a real sense of anticipation and excitement about the camp and questions and conversations were flowing. While waiting for the main meeting to begin I asked God to reveal himself afresh to each of us, and he didn’t disappoint, sending a butterfly that settled gently upon a number of the group at that very moment. Gathering together at 7pm, the week opened with a huge worship gathering and a challenging presentation of the gospel that led to over 150 (400+ across the week) young people making a ‘commitment’ to Christ. Attending for a third year this was a great reminder of what we could expect and was the first of many incredible experiences. Following worship there was an opportunity to explore some of the venues and resources available before retiring to bed at around Midnight!
Thursday 13th – Up and out of my tent at 7.30am, I was greeted by bright sunshine – a first for Soul Survivor and a lack of life coming from any of the young people (in no way a first!) 9.30am seminars were attended by many of us and covered a wide range of topics. The leader’s stream offered great opportunities to network and meet others from a range of backgrounds and Martin and I found these incredibly encouraging. The Sun remained throughout the day and raincoats were replaced with shorts. More seminars at 2pm (gender specific teaching) and 4pm were followed by one of our most exciting encounters with God as a group. As we entered the time of ministry, almost all of the young people were prepared to be vulnerable and allowed the Spirit of God to work in them and through them. At one stage, every member of the group was involved and looking on I could see a picture that embodied the Kingdom of God. The time of prayer ministry was as intense as I have ever experienced, and at 10.45, a full 45 minutes after the official end of the meeting, the last of the group left the main venue. After an intense evening we all headed back to base camp to unpack the evening’s events and spend time together. Bed was again at around Midnight.
Friday 14th – Up again at 7.30am and again many of us went off to seminars at 9.30am. Returning to base camp I took the opportunity to talk with many of the young people about the night before. The young people were energised because of their meetings with God and there was a real sense of togetherness. As we discussed some of the implications for returning to Keynsham, one young person said,
‘This is an amazing experience, but I think we need to accept that when we go back it won’t be like Soul Survivor. I think we need to work out what we get here and start to search for it in Keynsham!’
As these conversations unfolded the weather was still fine and an impromptu game of football developed. A competitive match followed and a great deal of fun was had by all, including the supporters! More seminars were attended later that afternoon and the evening worship was again an excellent opportunity to spend time in the presence of God. The young people’s engagement and mutual support at these times was inspiring and I was encouraged by their desire not to leave the venue quickly, but to spend time dwelling in the presence of God. Bed was again at around midnight, though there was a wave of tiredness across the camp.
Saturday 15th – Up once again at 7.30am and this morning I was greeted by just a small amount of sunshine! The morning was spent again in seminars, but the afternoon was given to an ‘It’s a Knockout’ competition in which Josh (Laban) and Hugo (Formby) competed. At 2pm, when the competition commenced the sun was shining brightly and the competition was fiercely competed (particularly on the sidelines!) Some young people chose to attend seminars throughout the afternoon, though there was also an opportunity to chat together and to reflect on our increasing sense of community and the implications of our time for our lives at home. The evening was another experience of the Kingdom here and now as the leader Mike Pilavachi encouraged us to wait on the Sprit. Again, almost all of the young people were searching and hungry for God and as I looked around the group I knew in that moment, we what I had sensed all week, the presence of our true and living God, meeting with each of us. Bedtime was officially 12.30am and after another intense experience, it wasn’t a moment too soon.
Sunday 16th – Up at 7.30am and greeted by even more sunshine (note – NO RAIN THIS WEEK!) At 10am, there was a communion service and this was another profound experience of God’s presence. It was a real privilege to be able to take communion together, and as I saw the young people worshipping, God gave me a glimpse of the vision He wants to see in the young people in Keynsham. The evening was a real celebration as the week came to a close and our time here for another year was over. Bring on 2010!
The week was everything you might imagine, tiring and challenging in equal measure but the overriding feeling as we returned was that we had each experienced something incredibly special and unique. The group had represented the church in a way that should make each and every one of us proud. As Bishop Graham Cray said, ‘There is nothing that gives me more hope for the church than coming to Soul Survivor.’ I agree. (Dan Crouch, Youth Worker)