When I heard it was going to be above 90 degrees during most of the week at FLY Beyond, I decided the fan on the “optional” packing list was a necessity. Upon arrival, I was assigned to lead a discussion group and given a dorm room to myself for the week where I quickly plugged in that fan.
An hour after arrival, plans changed slightly, and a camper was assigned to my room. As soon as this happened, I was reminded how much I enjoy community and was excited to have an opportunity to become friends with this girl and build one other up in Christ during the week. However, God had even bigger plans than me leading and pouring into one student for the week.
Within a couple of hours, the ARC contacted AFLC Youth Ministries’ staff to discuss the high temperatures for the FLY Beyond week. It was decided it would be worth moving all campers into dorms with air-conditioning. In this shift, I was assigned to a room of twelve girls and right away my heart felt so full.
I was incredibly excited to see this room of strangers at the beginning of camp turn into a room united in the common denominator of a saving relationship in Jesus Christ by the end of the week. The opportunity to have met these young ladies and mentor them as we spent time together in the Word of God was impactful. The Lord had a plan to use that hot and dry weather for good during camp, and He used Christian fellowship to warm my heart and bless me in ways I did not know I needed.
The theme for FLY Beyond this year was Upward from Ephesians 4:11-16, focusing on growth in Christ and building one another up in Christ. Campers had an opportunity to delve deep into this passage by listening to Pastor Ryan Tonneson unpack what it looks like to grow and go in the name of Jesus.
The best way to interpret Scripture is to use Scripture. I learned this well during my time as a student at FLBC (Class of ’18). Pastor Tonneson did this throughout the week showing us how the Lord equips us and promises to use us, even in our weaknesses, for the furtherance of His Kingdom. Personally, the Great Commission given to us in Matthew was on my mind throughout the week. All authority and power on heaven and earth is in Christ, and we being in Christ have been equipped to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” The Lord in His authority has the power to equip us through His Word for Kingdom building.
At FLY Beyond, there were opportunities for students to meet within discussion groups. I was a leader of one of these discussion groups. The Lord encouraged me through this group throughout the week. Some of my favorite discussion breakout times occurred right after the Apologetics sessions led by Tim Barnett. He simultaneously presented material that was easy to understand and that facilitated deep thought. The discussions we had after these sessions equipped us to be able to identify deconstruction, define it, and flip it on its edge into healthy reformation.
I think as Christians we are often under the false belief that it is wrong to ask questions. However, Tim Barnett reminded us in his Apologetics sessions it is okay to ask questions if you are “seeking answers” and not only “seeking exits.” Reflecting on his sessions, I cannot help but have a favorite. Barnett led us exegetically through Acts 17:16-34, and taught us, “How to be an aPAULogist.” We looked at the example of Paul in Scripture and how he listened apologetically, thought contextually, responded graciously, knew deeply, read widely, reasoned wisely, spoke boldly, and trusted faithfully as he ministered to those around him. Paul knew how to make a case for Christ but in a kind way that inspired trust and fostered relationships in his ministry. As a group, we talked about what it would look like for us to be an “aPAULogist” to those in our lives who do not know the truth and how we can be imitators of Christ like Paul in our ministry.
In their discussion groups, campers took a spiritual gift quiz at the beginning of the week to gain a better understanding of how the Lord has equipped them and blessed them as a member of the body of Christ. Campers attended various sessions related to spiritual gifts throughout the week focused on the following categories: Administration, Discernment, Evangelism, Exhortation, Faith, Giving, Leadership, Mercy, Pastor/Shepherd, Serving/Ministering, and Teaching. As a part of the body of Christ, we all have spiritual gifts. I was fascinated to hear the insights of these campers as they processed through the information they were taking in during the week. The discussion time also gave campers space to internalize what they were hearing from their spiritual gift sessions and externalize what it would look like to apply what they had been learning in their everyday lives.
“Hey Isaac, would you want to wake up early tomorrow and study the Bible together before breakfast?” This phrase made me smile and was one of the best questions I heard one evening as we had concluded our discussion session. There were multiple moments like this one in our group where I could see the Lord working in the hearts of these campers and could see them growing upward in Christ and building one another up in the body of Christ.
FLY Beyond was a week I was strengthened in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a week of opportunities to engage in conversation and discuss God’s Word with other members of the body of Christ. Spiritually, the week was far from hot and dry. Thank you, Jesus.
Olivia serves as Communications Assistant at FLBC.
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