Youth Getaway (YG) occurs during the Easter holiday and
this year was no different. Unfortunately last year I missed out and so I made sure that I would be there for YG 2014. Never being to YG before, I didn’t have high expectations. I assumed it was going to be a casual camp that I would enjoy with some people that attend the same church as I do. Saying this, I was still very eager to spend some quality time with my friends as well as learning about God, however, there were some issues. Being a year 12 student, HSC was one of my main priorities and YG was 2 weeks before my half- yearly exams and so my decision to attend YG was not one without conflicts. It was quite hard to decide whether or not I should attend and I was praying to God asking for directions, and like always, God delivered. One of my friends asked if I wanted to help out with preparing games for YG and being the nice guy that I am, I agreed.
We first all met up at church and headed off together to the train station. There, we caught a two hour train to Lake Mac outdoor recreation centre, waiting patiently for our leaders (who were 1 hour late) to drive us to the venue. When I arrived, my friend and I immediately set off preparing for games, marking out boundaries and setting out the arena. When everyone had arrived, the place started to look pretty crazy. There were leaders organising rooms for everyone, a group of girls setting up name tags as well as the music crew cramming in last minute rehearsals. After the commotion died down a little, we were introduced to our speaker, Daniel Ng and his wife Megan. We then moved on to games followed up by a discussion within the small group that we were allocated too. Unfortunately my group was not the brightest compared to the others and decided to sit outside in a little hut where we were bombarded with mosquitoes. Dinner was up next, cooked by our amazing chefs Lawrence, Jo and Debbie who we are all greatly thankful for. We then sang a few songs, played some games and it was off to bed for all of us. Refusal towards this request would mean we would have to face the wrath of our leaders (who were not very intimidating but nevertheless we would not want to be in such a position, although I did push it a few times).
Being finished with the first day, I was still yearning for a deeper connection with God so I made the most of all the activities set out for us during the day. Since my friend and I were in charge of running the games, there were some complications and I was not too sure if I got the most out of my experience at YG. However, this view changed during the talk that Daniel gave us. He talked about how God should be the centre of our lives and that the only thing preventing us from strengthening our relationship with him is our selfish nature and desires of the world. This was a huge challenge for me; I knew that many things had to change if God was to be the centre of my life. After the talk, I had a quiet talk with Daniel. There he shined a light in the direction I should be heading and made it clearly obvious that what I should be aiming for is pleasing God rather than myself. After this talk, we were able to have quiet time by ourselves where everyone would choose their own individual spot to sit and read over their Bibles, reflecting over what was spoken to each of us. I mainly used up this time going over the issue that was discussed before. It was clear what I should do, I had to devote my life to God and resist the temptations of the world that would not please him. At that very point I dedicated my life to God fully and made God, my centre. This was followed up by a game and discussion within our small groups. After discussion, majority of us went down to the jetty where we watched the beautiful sunset; it was a very special feeling for me, being surrounded by so many friends after committing myself to God. I really felt a massive turning point in my life at that moment. That night when the leaders told everyone to go to sleep, I asked one of the leaders if he could possibly allow me to study for my upcoming exams. Feeling guilty or maybe sympathy he allowed me, however, even though I had a friend with me “encouraging” me to study, I couldn’t do it. All I could think about was God, it was truly an amazing feeling being surrounded by the Holy Spirit; I could almost feel it working inside me physically.
The next day was quite intense, though many memorable highlights were recorded such as having a water balloon fight (many grudges were settled that day). We shared an intimate prayer session with each other in the morning followed by Daniel’s talk which led to little seminars on specific topics on God that we wanted to learn more about. We were lucky enough to have a few guests to come talk to us and we are all very thankful for them taking time off their busy schedule to help build our relationship with God (big thanks to Karen, Debbie, Nat and Sally-Ann as well as Bernard and Garry who decided to take some time off to spend with us). One of the seminars that I attended talked about our future. There, Debbie talked about how she put all her faith in God to decide the path that she would take and did not question his judgement at all. I was overwhelmed by the amount of trust someone could have in one person alone. I have been yearn- ing for such a connection for so long, and to know that it can be so easily achieved just be keeping faith in God was completely mind blowing to me. We were then made to have dinner and had an awesome time singing and dancing. That night was one of my most favourite nights at the camp. It was so amazing to be along-side such amazing people, singing and praising God. Again, that night, I asked if I could study for my tests, though studying was the one thing I was not doing. I was still so captivated by God and was too excited; I couldn’t wait to get back to “normal” life and really begin to ignite my relationship with God.
Sunday had begun and there was one down-side to thinking so much about God the previous night. I woke up at 9:30am and had almost missed breakfast. Everyone was off and about talking and playing games while I was dragging myself out of the cabin, I was so tired that my leader started to feed me cereal (they all laughed at me). Though, it was nothing a hot shower could not fix. I was refreshed and ready for the day. It was a big day for us “game masters,” we had been working on a quite a complex game for quite a while before YG had even begun and have been praying for good weather, and of course, God delivered. The game ran pretty smoothly and it looked like everyone enjoyed themselves (well those who didn’t get drenched by big water balloons “accidently” popping on top of their heads). Daniel then gave his final talk. We then had a question and answer segment. The panel consisted of Daniel, Megan and a few of the leaders who did an excellent job in answering the questions given to them. That night was the most chaotic of them all. We grabbed our pens and all began to write motivational notes to each other, encouraging or just simply thanking each other for making our experience at YG so amazing. We battled through the night and continued the next morning (there was no time for me to “study”). It was a gloomy morning, everyone had begun to realise that YG was finishing up. We said our last goodbyes to the campsite as well as Daniel and Megan and were lucky enough to even be able to squeeze in a few last games of table tennis.
We were then on the train back to the city. Unfortunately for us, the train ride was not so pleasing. The train was packed and we found ourselves standing the whole trip next to the entrance of the train. A man was also standing with us. We had started a conversation with him and were clever enough to bring the subject of God into our conversation. The man told us that he believed in God, however, also believed in the teachings of other religions. It made me realise that when I get back home, I’m not going to be surrounded by such a spiritual presence as I was at YG. I had to start putting effort into my relationship with God, constantly spending time with him and always relying on him. The man also brought to my attention a topic that I had neglected for quite some time. Not all of us know who God really is. This challenged me to strive towards telling people about God and encouraging the ones who already “knew” of Him to further strengthen their relationship with Him. I thought I was a Christian before I went to YG, but now after YG, I know that I am a Christian.