This past summer I spent a week in Spain serving with Young Life Expeditions. Our team was putting on a Young Life camp for students from Sweden and Norway. This was hard to explain to people, that I was with Norwegian and Swedish students…in Spain. However, traveling country to country in Europe is pretty similar to traveling state to state in the US. Most years these Young Life areas from Sweden and Norway travel to the United States to experience the magic of Young Life camp. Last summer Thor, the National Director in Norway, and his leaders wanted to create that magic closer to home, in Spain.
The Young Life camp was held at a rental property. It was an incredible place, but not one designed with Young Life camp in mind (the property was normally used for elementary school aged children). Because of this, the program team, work crew, and assignment team worked hard to transform the camp and set the stage for the Gospel to be proclaimed that week. The work crew built an obstacle course from nearly nothing, put up and tore down volleyball courts in a matter of minutes, and did so many other things to help create the Young Life camp feel. One thing that really stuck with me was watching the local camp staff in Spain observe what was taking place. They had many questions and wanted to know why we were here to help students we didn’t know and why we spent so much time on something a kid might see for only a matter of minutes. We got to share the why, the heart of camp, the idea of setting the stage so perfectly for the Gospel to be shared each night.
Being part of the week was surreal for me—seeing Young Life camp happen in Europe, on a property that had never experienced anything like it. But the most compelling piece of the trip happened on night 5 when the camp speaker shared about Jesus dying on a cross for each of the students in that room. One of the students there was of Islamic faith and all week we saw his leader love him, we watched him experience the magic of camp, and then he heard the truth of who Jesus is. That night we saw him in tears while listening to the speaker share what Jesus had done. The Gospel softened his heart and in that instance every ounce of work we had done felt like nothing.
As a Communication Studies major one of the things that fascinates me is the many languages & dialects we speak. I’m sure you can think of a few words or expressions only you and your friends share. So much of our life is understood through the lens of our own language. That week there were so many different cultures and languages all combined into one shared week of Young Life camp. American work crew, program, and speakers. Norwegian and Swedish campers and leaders. Spanish camp staff. However, one thing that is not confined by language is the Gospel message. We watched the power of Jesus’ story in action. With tears and overwhelming joy we served as Jesus allowed us to be involved in His work of transforming lives. I have traveled abroad a few times to serve but each time I have returned home feeling as if I was the one who had been served.
Written by: Landon Dermott