Experience the Difference


Testimonials


                 
CHURCH REVIEWS

2013 Youth Camp Report

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Church Update, Events, Reporting

2013 Youth Camp Report

The following is an article written by Brian Craig about the 2013 LA Youth Camp.  You can find the original article on Disciples Today.

2013 Youth CampThe night sky was filled with thick clouds as Geo Garces began his Wednesday night message. The camp director was preaching about how we can approach God and talk to him about whatever we are going through–even if we are feeling angry, sad, or struggling with doubt. As Geo read from various Psalms, he emphasized how the writers were honest and vulnerable with God about their feelings. And then he began to share personally himself:

“Earlier tonight, I was in that field over there, calling out to God, ‘Lord, don’t you know its Wednesday night? Why all these clouds? Don’t you know we are supposed to have the Starlight Devotional tonight? I know the forecast calls for 90% cloud cover, but please, Abba!'”

He continued, “See kids, God hasn’t answered my prayer yet. But I still need to trust him, even when I doubt, and whether he answers my prayer or not. And God wants us to be honest, vulnerable, and real with him about whatever it is we are going through and how we feel about it.”

It was the third day of the annual LA Youth Camp, and the plan for the night called for the memorable “Starlight Devotional.” That was to be the special night when all the campers would be lead out into a large hidden field on the outskirts of camp where they would lie down in the silence and dark, look up at the stars and meditate. It was to be a night where the campers hearts would open up to God and they would make commitments to him. But with the current cloud cover and the forecast for the next two days, at this point it was doubtful if we would be able to proceed with the event.

This was my fourth year driving up to Idyllwild, to the annual LA Youth Camp. John Mannel and his team began the camp back in 2000 for kids going into 5th-8th grades. Every year it has just seemed to get better and better. This year we had well over 500 campers, lots of amazing counselors, and a full staff. The camp has gotten so large and successful that the decision was made to have two camp weeks next year and split the staff between the two camps. So everyone was in the mindset of learning all they could from each other so we’d be able to not miss a beat with next year’s camps.

2013 Camp 2There is something so amazing about being surrounded by hundreds of kids at this “magical” age as they are discovering who they are and how they fit in to their community. They still have so much of their innocence, and it is awesome to watch their eyes open to God and his word. They are responsive to the influence of their counselors as they are figuring out what to do with the different emotions they experience and relationship issues they go through. It’s coIMG 0743ol to wake up early in the morning and see little gatherings of campers all through the wooded areas and along the creek as their counselors lead them quiet times together. It’s the perfect time in life to teach them to begin to look to God for help in challenging circumstances and for answers to the deep questions of life.

There are so many fun things that happen at camp, with memorable activities and sporting events. The legendary “Water Wars” are a highlight of the week; Geo and the staff talk a lot of “smack” at every assembly leading up to the great battle, so by the time the war comes the kids are a frenzy of excitement to destroy the staff in a deluge of water. But for most of us, our favorite moments are the times of worship at night in the outdoor amphitheater, as the kids scream, shout, dance and sing their hearts out to God till they have no voices left. You can’t help but shed a tear at the sound of their young voices worshipping our Creator.

So, back to Wednesday night in the amphitheater. As Geo got into his final point about going to God when we are happy, praising him for good things and remembering to be grateful, murmurings began in the crowd. “Geo, look up!” someone said. Suddenly, clouds had cleared and the whole sky was full of stars. Geo told the campers to look up and to praise God for parting the clouds for the Starlight Devotional. The crowd erupted in cheer that God had heard our prayers. It was just one of those moments when God winks at you, when he reminds you of how amazing it is to belong to him. I felt a sense of awe and gratitude in my heart for this wonderful camp. And I was filled with the expectation that these young campers were on the right track towards one day devoting their whole lives to our awesome Creator.

2013 Teen Camp Report

Written by Ryan Weekley on . Posted in Events, Reporting

2013 Teen Camp Report

Teen Camp 1Each summer our Orange County Teen Ministry, along with other high school ministries from all over the Los Angeles area, travel to Big Bear for what we call “Teen Camp.” This year we took 43 students to camp from Orange County, with the total number of teens being approximately 400. We were also able to award 13 of those students with partial scholarships due to some donations from our members.

Some of the camps most exciting moments occurred during the intense competitions! All 400 students were split up into 6 “Tribes,” and tribes competed throughout the week in various competitions: Monster Ball, Lip Sync, Zombie Run, Glow-in-the-Dark Ultimate Frisbee, etc. There were points given out in each competition for sportsmanship and performance, and the Tribe of Daniel took away the trophy with the most points this year!

Apart from these competitions, students also were able to attend workshops on various subjects ranging from Family Drama, Studying the Bible, Hot Topics, and Leadership. This year’s camp also included two specialized tracks for specific campers: a Drop Zone track for our incoming 9th Grade campers, and a Senior Track for all incoming Senior students.

Teen Camp 2The theme of this year’s camp was “Speak Up.” The first lesson of camp discussed how God originally spoke up for us, creating us in his image. The second took that theme further and described how, due to our sin and disobedience, God needed to speak up again for our sake and sent his son to die as a sacrifice for us. These lessons helped the campers gain a better perspective of who God is and what He has done for us through Jesus. In small groups following those lessons, campers shared their thoughts and beliefs regarding God with each, and many openly confessed their sin in the safety of those small groups as well.

Teen Camp 3Later in the week, the students heard lessons on our need to speak up for God. We were taught the importance of allying ourselves with relationships that will take us closer to God, and to be willing to be vulnerable with others about how we’re really doing spiritually. The students were also challenged to “do work” as they went home from the mountain, making sure to put the lessons into practice and not letting the amazing camp experience go to waste!

Overall, our Teen Ministry has returned from camp fired up and ready to speak up for God as they transition back into their schools for the Fall Semester. We ask that you continue to pray for our Teen Ministry, and we thank all of those amazing staff and counselors who spent their week up at camp with our students! `

Good News from Honduras!

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Announcements, Church Update, Missions, Reporting

Good News from Honduras!

Today we bring you a testimonial from a sister in Honduras, Mary Tabora. We hope that her story inspires you to trust that God always works out situations so that we may get to know Him and serve Him…

The Moreno  FamilyMy name is Mary Tabora. I grew up in a religious household; as a child I loved reading the Bible. But I resented our family’s strict religiosity, and I developed a view of God as a punisher. My sister Alma became a Christian in Boston in 1986, but she had to return to Honduras in 1988 when her student visa expired. She shared a few Bible studies with me. But we didn’t have any discipling churches in the area like the one that Alma knew in Boston. In 1995 the San Pedro Sula church was planted. Alma had been in Honduras for 7 years, and now she had a church … 4 ½ hours away! I saw my sister travel each week to San Pedro to worship with the church. Her commitment impacted me: I renewed my Bible studies and was baptized in 1996! And I began to make the weekly trips to San Pedro with Alma and my four children, for midweek and Sunday services; we did that for four years! My husband and the rest of our family were not happy with this. I kept on praying for my family, and I kept inviting my husband to church.

In 2000 the church was planted in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Tegucigalpa is closer to Comayagua, so our weekly trips to church were shorter. God has blessed me with so many answered prayers. My husband was baptized in 2010, after fourteen years of prayers! And two years later, in 2012, the church was officially planted in my city of Comayagua, where we already had 22 disciples! Three of my children are disciples: my two daughters are involved in the worship ministry and my oldest son leads the singles ministry. I am very grateful to God, to my sister Alma, and to those who have sacrificed to help plant our three churches in Honduras!

If you would like to know more about the churches in Honduras, please go to their website. You can also follow the Comayagua Church on Facebook.

J. De Anda

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Missions

Mexico City Church: University City Mission

UNAM Aerial

Note: This is a report from Victor Nava, campus ministry leader in Mexico City

We are grateful that this year the Mexico City Church restarted the campus ministry at the National University (UNAM.) We believe that God has great plans for the youth of our nation (Ecclesiastes 12:1), because many people forge their beliefs, convictions, life philosophy, etc., during their college years

We are grateful to the Los Angeles Church of Christ for helping us financially and spiritually to rebuild this campus ministry. UNAM is the largest university in Latin America, with around 250, 000 students.

We started this mission with 20 church members in December of 2012, holding two morning and two afternoon Bible study groups on campus. This year we’ve had four major events:

  • A leadership training retreat in January.
  • An evangelistic campaign in February, titled “Valiente” (Bold), with 60 visitors.
  • A friendship-building Student Mini- Olympics in April
  • A car-wash in May to help fund-raising for our church’s Special Contribution.
  • Four baptisms: Edgar, Itzel, Dalia and Tania!

We are inspired by the the testimonials of the young people who have been baptized. Edgar Cortes had visited the church a year ago when his sister got baptized. She eventually decided to leave the church, but Edgar, who was initially very apathetic about Christianity, later on started to search on his own. He showed up at church one Sunday, met some of the college disciples, began to study the Bible, and he was baptized a month later!

Tania is an education major. One of her high school friends, who had become a disciple of Jesus, ran into her at the university and invited her to church. Tania wanted to be right with God, but she was afraid of the commitment of discipleship. But as she studied the Bible, she gained more faith. She had to break up with a boyfriend, but in May she got baptized. And, very soon, her parents will also get baptized!

Bible Talk at UNAM

Bible Talk at UNAM

Our new brother Edgar Cortes

Our new brother Edgar Cortes

Tania getting baptized

Tania getting baptized

Please keep us in your prayers as we try to bring glory to God and honor him with much spiritual fruit…

Victor Nava, UNAM Mission Leader (Mexico City)