As Johnny was sitting for his Advanced Level examination in the month of August, he notified the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (NCEASL) that he would be unable to attend the Kids Camp which too was scheduled to be held in August. Johnny who turned 18 in 2016, was sad that he would be unable to attend this year’s camp as it would be his last. His two younger siblings were nevertheless determined not to miss the camp and their parents filled in their names on the form mailed by the NCEASL. As the dates of the camp drew closer however, Johnny was loath to let this opportunity pass by. He persuaded his parents to let him attend camp, convincing them that he would not let it affect the result of the final examination he had to take.
Johnny and his siblings arrived a day earlier at the campsite because they had to travel from a rural village in the Badulla District. The three children eagerly anticipated the arrival of their friends on 18 August 2016 and helped them settle down at the campsite.
The NCEASL’s Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) welcomed 106 children from Christian homes living through persecution and extreme poverty to Kids Camp 2016. The children selected for camp are recipients of the special Evangel Care Scholarship which provides them a monthly allowance towards their academic expenses. As children from all over Sri Lanka are selected for this scholarship scheme, children from regions as far as Kilinochchi, Trincomalee and s attended Kids Camp. The children attending camp ranged from 7 to 18 years of age and were grouped accordingly in to three groups in which they would attend sessions and other activities. The camp started following lunch with a time of fun activities. Thereafter the little participants gathered in the main hall for action songs, prayer, instructions on the campsite rules and the introduction to the theme of Kids Camp 2016.
The theme for this camp which was ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ was introduced to the little campers through a little skit about an unhappy and lonely tree that does not bear fruits who meets other happy and fruit-bearing trees. The unhappy tree learns that in order to bear fruit one must be filled with good virtues and be willing to spread happiness. The little ones were thereby led to understand that this year’s camp would teach them the nine Fruit of the Spirit and how these virtues would help them in leading happy and fruitful lives.
The theme for this camp was ‘Fruit of the Spirit’. All sessions conducted for the children were centred on this theme and the children not only learnt the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit but also how to inculcate and practice these virtues in the face of adversity. As the campers are children of pastors and ministry workers serving in rural areas, they face a number of difficulties and live through great emotional turmoil. Thus the session facilitators instructed the children to live in accordance with the fruit of the Spirit including the virtues of love, peace and forbearance even in the midst of persecution and rejection. The sessions encourage the children to live as children of God and not fall prey to the temptations of the world. The children also learnt to appreciate their uniqueness and talents. Such lessons were aimed at increasing the self-esteem of children who face so much dejection and discouragement in life. The resource persons imparted valuable lessons on how to study well and persevere in order to achieve their goals in life. The sessions included stories, craftwork and games in order to ensure that the children learn their lessons in fun and memorable ways.
Johnny was among the first to give his name for the children’s talent night. While most kids sang a song, danced to a tune or enacted a skit, Johnny narrated a story to the audience. His story had a very valuable moral to it which taught the children to understand that God is more powerful than other forces in the world.
Johnny does not regret his decision to attend this year’s camp. “I learnt a lot of important things at camp this year” shared Johnny. “I experienced God’s love this year and I learnt so much about the fruit of the Spirit. What I learnt will be very important for my future. I thank God for this camp.” Johnny also explained that he hopes to apply for a degree in motor engineering at the University of Jaffna once he finishes his examinations. Johnny has no doubt that he will pass his exams. “I am definitely going to get through” he said confidently as he explained his future plans. He is certain that all the lessons he has learnt at Kids Camp over the years will help him in achieving his dream. Johnny is also extremely grateful to the NCEASL for sponsoring his education throughout the years.