Capernaum in the Holy Land

This is a guest post by James Madison University student Rayah Martin.

This spring we had the privilege of working and serving at a Capernaum Camp in Palestine. I am a Capernaum leader in Virginia, so you can imagine how excited I was. Our first day of camp was filled with joy and laughter as we welcomed campers into the Murad Hotel. Each day consisted of field games, pool time, shared meals and a Young Life club. The joy and freedom of these friends with disabilities was a true testament to the joy and freedom Christ offers us when we walk alongside Him.

Our team served in many different roles throughout the day, but our biggest goal was to love the campers well. Sometimes that meant helping campers who were blind get from point A to point B and sometimes it was just dancing with a camper during club.

One of my highlights was watching a camper named Mira steal the show at club as she danced up front during every game and every song. She was hilarious and fun to be around and reminded me of how fun life can be if we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Mira challenged me to live freely and authentically and be the woman Jesus created me to be.

Our second day of camp was just as fun as we go to start off the day with club, enjoy more time in the pool and around the table and then have a second club that evening followed by a late night dance party! Our speaker, Hiba, gave the club talks in Arabic.

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It was emotional for me as I realized that our God is a God of all nations and all languages. Hiba was telling our Capernuam friends about Jesus in a totally different language, how great is our God that he is a God for all people! For people with disabilities and those without, for people who speak English and those who speak Arabic.

Another highlight was watching my friend Taryn (part of the team from James Madison University) lovingly care for a little girl with Down Syndrome as we swam in the pool. Her name was Doha (pictured in the front row on Taryn’s lap) and she wanted to swim the entire 4 hours of free time! She couldn’t do it on her own so Taryn held onto her and played with her the whole afternoon. It was an incredible picture of Jesus’ patience and selflessness.

It was a powerful experience working with these kids as people with special needs are ofter forgotten in this part of the world. Many of them have been rejected by both of their parents and currently live in a group home. Having the opportunity to share God’s love with them was so beautiful.

— Rayah Martin