I first attended the United Youth Camp in the summer of 2004. My family were just starting to attend Sabbath services and as a youth, I don’t see the church as something to be serious about. I only see the Church as simply a religion of my parents and nothing more. All these changed after I joined the United Youth Camp for the first time.
A youth who lost a religious identity
I grew up not really knowing what my religion is. When someone asks me what my religious affiliation is, I simply say “I don’t know”. I have a hazy and unclear definition of my family’s religion. All I know is that we are not part of any major religious group, we don’t eat pork and shrimp, and we keep the Sabbath (though not in a consistent manner).
As time passed by, I heard my parents and their small religious group that they will start to establish a new sect. This just made me even more confused and aloof from my parent’s religious belief.
Eventually, their small religious group was dissolved. One by one, each member assumed a more popular body of religious belief. This has left me and my family not attending any church.
A search for the truth
From my youth, my parents already taught me about the truth in the Bible. Though I believe what they taught me, it’s all just academic knowledge. I only practice those beliefs whenever it is convenient.
However, God has been merciful to us and we came across with the United Church of God. We started to irregularly attend Sabbath services in 2003. I am not sure, but the feeling of finally having a Church to belong to made me happy and elated. However, since my parents need to open their business during the Sabbath, we just to go the service when we have the time.
A Life Changing Event
As a newcomer, I heard about the United Youth Camp. I first saw a video of the UYC 2003 during the Sabbath service. I was not that excited about it, but my parents convinced me to join – and so I did. Little I do know, it will be one of the best decisions I will ever make in my entire life.
For the first time in my life, I experienced what it is like to be surrounded by god-fearing people. It was something that I never felt before. Being immersed for so long in the world made me forget about how pleasurable it is to live according to God’s way of life. Yes, it was not perfect, but it was the closest thing I could ever get for me as a youth starting to know God’s truth.
It is not enough to read about the UYC, you have to really experience it yourself to know how awesome and amazing it is. If I can only replicate the feeling and memories I had in UYC 2004, I would do it over and over again and share it with as many people as I can.
For all people who have been part of the UYC, a simple glance to the camp’s photos will bring back memories, smiles and even tears. That’s how powerful and influential the camp is!
After the summer of 2004, I keep on coming back to the UYC and not just a camper, but also as part of the staff. I can honestly say that I only started to get serious with doing God’s commandments after joining the camp.
Why we need UYC 2015
There is no denying that there are many challenges that beset us every time we start organizing the UYC. These challenges have been very evident for the last couple of years. However, the reasons to have the camp every year are BIGGER and WEIGHTIER than those challenges.
There is no doubt that the UYC positively impacts the lives of those who participate in it – both campers and staff. You can ask any camper or staff who attended the United Youth Camp Philippines and get different positive and fascinating answers.
This is the work of God and not man. Thus, there is POWER in every United Youth Camp we hold.
The UYC only happens once a year. In a country like Philippines, it is rare for the youths to see each other and if they do, it is almost always during the Feast of Tabernacles. Hence, many look forward to the camp for them to see their old friends and make new ones.
I can’t start to imagine how many lives the United Youth Camp had changed and how many it will still change. Though the UYC Philippines only last for eight days, its effect is long-lasting and may even extend beyond this life!
Now, this will not be possible if the UYC 2015 will be cancelled and will not continue anymore.
Admittedly, not all people who attended the camp continued to fight the good fight. Some left, some forgot what they learned, while others simply did not allow the lessons and memories of UYC to change their lives. But I strongly believe that the number will be greater without the camp.
The Church’s Responsibility?
It is given that there are priorities the Church need to take care of first before other matters. Preaching the Gospel is surely among the items on top of the list. Nevertheless, forgetting the youth of the Church is simply unacceptable. Jesus Christ Himself instructed Peter (and by extension the Church) to “feed my lambs” (John 21:15) – obviously referring to the youths.
He equates loving Him to taking care of the young people in the church. So if we claim that we love Christ, then we need to show it by taking care of the youths.
Investing in our youth is a wise, godly and noble cause. The youths are the ones who will continue the legacy of the Church. Therefore, having a program directed to the youths, like the UYC, is something the Church should NEVER neglect.
There are things that are beyond our control. There are certain limitations that we just need to accept. Whatever the reason that might keep us from having another United Youth Camp this year, I am sure we need to find the solution to address it. We should not simply make excuses or not do our part. Remember, this is not our work, it is God’s.
In the final analysis, God is in COMPLETE control. No one can shut a door that God opens and no one can open a door God shuts (Revelation 3:8). Therefore, in this coming summer, let us all pray hard that God will supply what we lack and pray, at the same time, for His will to be done. Prayers are powerful (James 5:16) and we certainly need it for God’s purpose to be accomplished.
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