Camp Meeting

By: Gabriela Yareliz

Camp meeting (n): An event at which churches from a certain area get together, usually once a year, for a spiritual retreat and fellowship. The concept and practice originated in England and Scotland.

Camp meeting is always a fun time of the year. It always has been.

I have good memories of running around going to the youth services; exploring and running up hills and oftentimes tumbling down hills; glittering rivers and star-lit skies. It was a time to be among friends and despite the bruises, allergies, sometimes dumb little tiffs, we’d have a blast.

I had the opportunity to go to camp meeting this year. We drove out of the city into a green lush countryside lined with what looked like mountains or giant hills covered in bushy dark green trees.

The camp ground was littered with tents, parked cars and coolers. Everyone, dressed up to stun, walked to the tents for the worship services. To think Christian churches have done this for years. Since the 1800s and who knows… maybe even before that?

It’s a time when you meet new people, see old friends, and above all, learn and get a spiritual retreat and recharge. The messages were fantastic, and I must say that the main thing that stuck with me was:

If you are in Christ and God is working in you, then you will not stay the same.

Those are powerful words. I have always written that religion, belief and God cannot just be spoken in words or some distant ideal, but it must be enough to transform us and continually change us.

A lot more was said. There was encouragement for us to study God’s word and clothe ourselves in the Armor of God.

The Armor of God:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Ephesians 6:10-18 New International Version (NIV)

There was also a gentle prodding that we should let go of harmful relationships with people who refuse to change and delight to see us unhappy. We cannot change others; we can only love them. We should always take care of our own wellbeing and leave certain things in God’s hands. The main thing was, however, that if we are in Christ, we are changing everyday and choosing to be better; to be more like him, and to be empowered by Him.

I hope that every day, we choose to grow and challenge ourselves to imitate and adopt traits that reflect God’s character. He is always willing to empower us and work on our behalf. Our job is not to fight a spiritual warfare alone. Instead, we win by surrendering to God.

God fills us with the strength to overcome, and shines the light of truth into our hearts to dispel the darkness.

At camp meeting, we were walking down a steep hill with stone and concrete steps down to a lake. When we got to the lake, at a distance I could see a large beautiful building that looked like a house with a grandiose window and surrounded by trees.

The conversation revolved around how sharks and turtles supposedly grow according to the environment they are placed in. If they get a small tank, they stay small. A young man was discussing that he has a turtle he wanted to release into nature, and he took it to Central Park. He didn’t release it at Central Park because a park employee told him it wouldn’t be good for the turtle because Central Park is so artificial. I am no scientist, but this is what the conversation was about. If this is true, I thought about how we are in a similar situation. We grow according to the environment that we are in. Unlike these little critters, we can choose where we place ourselves. Don’t choose a tank or an artificial place. Choose a lake or an ocean. Choose something real. Grow, and grow without fear.

Published by Gabriela Yareliz

Gabriela is a writer, editor and attorney. She loves the art of storytelling, and she is based in NYC.

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