Jennifer in Macedonia
September 16, 2019
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothersand sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” ~ Luke 14:26
This summer, I had the pleasure of assisting with the Regional Youth Camp for 18 to 27-year-olds from Serbia, Albania, and North Macedonia. Thirty- three young (and not-so-young) people gathered in the town of Spille, Albania along the Adriatic Sea from July 15th through the 19th for the first regional camp in four years. It warmed my heart tremendously to see young people from these three countries playing games together, eating together, enjoying the beach together, worshiping together and getting to know one another better.
The theme of the camp was “Being a Disciple.” I was responsible for the message on the first day, so I spoke about the cost of being a disciple from Luke 14:25-35. Verse 26, which calls us to hatefamily members and even our own lives sounds harsh at first, so I explained how God asks us to have a love for him that is so great, our love for our self and family members, although very real, can look
like it is on the same level as apathy and hate in comparison. I shared how my choice to follow God to become a missionary could be viewed by some as hateful to my family since I moved so far away, and how it may look to outsiders like we hate ourselveswhen we don’t chase after a profitable career or a dating prospect because we know it is not what God wants for us. Disciples don’t really hate their parents or themselves; they just love God infinitely more.
Enjoying an evening of praise and worship on the beach at the regional youth camp
Photo courtesy of Danail Ristovski
After I shared, we had a sweet time of small group discussion around the following questions:
- Which of Jesus’ 12 disciples do you admire orrelate to the most? Why?
- What do you find is the hardest part about being a disciple?
- Do you have any experiences where you feltJesus’ love for you that you would like to sharewith the group?
- What advice would you give someone trying to decide whether or not to become a disciple of Jesus Christ?
One girl felt safe enough to share how joining a church family helped her when she had been struggling with thoughts of suicide. It was a tender moment. I am so very thankful for this camp and the atmosphere of mutual love and understanding it created out of our normally busy lives.
The second day, Gjergj spoke about how to be a disciple and reminded us of Wesley’s wordsthat disciples are always:
- Giving and
- ServingHe also shared with us that we cannot change the world by ourselves, but if we try to change ourselves a bit, we will change the world around us.
The final day, Daniel spoke from Col. 1:9-23 about all the blessings we are heirs to as Jesus’disciples. He reminded us that God is not only goodto us, but He is good for us. Therefore, it is important we not only seek goods from God but also seek Hisgoodness for our lives.
The camp was a very powerful time for me. I enjoyed a day of jumping waves at the beach, getting to connect with young people from our three countries, and learning from the messages of the other speakers. However, I was most blessed by the opportunity to speak into a few lives through one-on-one conversations ranging from how to speak to ourselves in a loving way, to letting go of shame from the past, to trusting God to bring us a spouse or to guide us in a major life transition. There is just something about camps that create a space for members of the body to have vulnerable and life-giving conversations. It’s times like these that Iwant to pinch myself that I get to do this job!
Thank you all who support me financially and through prayer. I am truly grateful, and I hope you can find a safe space to encounter God this week.
A Surprise Baptism!
One of the young men in our group wanted to be baptized so he and his pastor made a plan to do it at camp.