Each year, during the nation-wide festival of Carnival, the PAZ churches all over the amazon hold youth camps as a healthy alternative. Carnival starts the weekend before Ash Wednesday and runs all the way up to it. It is a festival literally celebrating all the sins of the flesh (drinking, prostitution, etc.)- so that everyone can get their vices in before Ash Wednesday, the day of repentance. Unfortunately everyone parties, and no one really repents. Youth camps therefore are strategic and important, and a whole lot of fun!
On Saturday night the youth camp “Cristoval 2009” began. Around 80 people (youth as well as volunteers) from the local Paz church as well as a Paz church 3 hours away on the border with Bolivia came to be “Incendiados por Deus, Apaixonados por Almas” – or in other words “On fire for God, Passionate for Souls.” Ruth started off sharing at the conference on how we are Children of God- princes and princesses, and how our lives should reflect the King. It was the perfect kickoff to what we knew would be a great camp.
The next day (Sunday) it was my turn to preach, and I had spent 3 weeks in preparation! I had lots of good things to say, but I had to say them in Portuguese. It was a huge challenge for me, but it really turned out well. I wrote out absolutely everything I would say so that I could think it all through thoroughly. I spoke about what it really means to be on fire for God. On fire for God means that you are close to God, the Consuming Fire. In Isaiah 33:14-16 there is a list of 6 things that describes the person who can abide with The Consuming Fire. We spent lots of time developing that list. We made it very practical and applicable for today’s society. It was a great time of teaching!
The youth didn’t have the same accommodations as Ruth and I; they all slept in tents under the large shelter! Several leaders and couples volunteered their time and services to cook, organize and direct the event. They also had their kids with them, which meant it was a real wide age of listeners at the event, not just youth.
On Monday, Ruth spoke about “Royal Romance,” that being what we teach here about dating and marriage. She talked about what it should look like according to biblical principles and practical experience. Of course everyone was super attentive! We (PAZ) recommend 7 basic steps for a person to complete before marrying.
- Age and Maturity
- Finished with Your Studies
- Financial Stability
- Spiritual Health
- Parent’s Approval
- Leader’s Approval
That night I shared about “Super Heroes” – how to live a life full of God’s power and anointing. We are to leave all of our idols – those things and activities that take God’s place in our lives – and put them to the side. We are crucified with Christ, which is a painful, daily decision that brings about the wonderful result of being alive in Christ – full of his power, glory and purpose! We are truly God’s Super Heroes, capable of all things through Christ who gives us strength!
On Sunday and Monday night, after speaking, I led a number of songs: some original and others worship songs. The Brazilian culture is a super expressive culture, which makes it a joy to lead worship- everyone really gets into it. I knew God had great things in store for the conference, but even I was amazed by how anointed the worship was. As soon as I touched the instrument, it was like the Holy Spirit just came roaring through, doing His work! Both nights they canceled what they had planned afterward because God moved so powerfully!
Keyboardists will appreciate this fact: the keyboard that I played on had just 4 octaves and was without a pedal. Not my preferred manner for playing, but it sure didn’t seem to matter after seeing how God moved!