“Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words” St. Francis of Assisi
I'm not sure if St. Francis actually said that or not, but I believe the content has a lot of truth to it. After all, the majority of human communication is non verbal.
The English Camp uses a form of ministry called "relational evangelism." I know that for some of my friends, the "e" word is one that makes them shudder. However, I've had a very good experience with that form this past week. When you live in a country where there are very few Christian role models, a camp staffed by Christians can have a profound effect on the campers. By utilizing athletics, icebreaker activities, and other group games, it has been amazingly easy to engage the campers and learn more about their lives and, in turn, share more about my own.
For example, we went on a 15-kilometer hike one day. (We thought it would only be 10 kilometers, but what's an extra few miles, right?) During that hike, I was able to spend hours talking with campers, learning their stories, and listening. There is a real desire to be heard here and there are a lot of questions that students want answers to but simply do not have the opportunities.
There has also been intentional free time that has allowed us the chance to engage the students on their terms.
I found that by being transparent and honest in my beliefs, I was able to encourage some students to think in ways they hadn't before. One evening, Alisha shared a bit of her faith journey along with a few other staff. During our small group discussion after, several students shared that they could empathize with her story.
While here, we have certainly used words to express our faith, but more than anything, I feel our actions have preached the gospel in ways our words never could.
As the camp ends, we ask for your prayers for safe travel and encouragement for both the students who have decided to ask more questions about faith and for those who are not ready to take that step yet.