Camp meeting is a spiritual retreat for members and visitors of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This year on Majuro, it was held at the campus of the Laura Seventh-day Adventist church and school on the quieter northern end of the island, from July 11 to 14. Organized by the Laura SDA Church, Pastor Tommy Kilma – the Coordinating Pastor for the Seventh-day Adventist churches in the Marshall Islands – was the keynote speaker for the nightly meetings themed, “Get Involved! Jesus is Coming Soon!”
The days began with early morning worships, inspirational words from the Bible, and music. The week was filled with activities geared for men, women, and children, including health lectures, cooking and physical development.
It was hard to even consider adding a summer children’s program, because we had run a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for three consecutive summers and knew what it would take. This year we were met with an even greater challenge. COVID struck our island for the first time this summer, causing among other things, a scarcity of teachers to help because foreigners returned home and local members left for the United States.
Pastor Lannon Jokray of Laura SDA Church searched for volunteers, as we prayed for the God’s help. At first, there was only one, then two, who volunteered. Soon more teachers, church members and young people were moved to join. The pastor was impressed and encouraged by how God answered our prayers and was motivated to do more.
As the date neared, the pastor called a meeting for those supporting the camp meeting. At that time, some agreed to merge the VBS with the summer camp. A thorough look at what was needed led everyone to conclude that it was impossible to combine them. The more activities we wanted to plan, the more manpower and budget we needed to raise! However, someone exclaimed, “If there is a will, there is a way.”
Nevertheless, I wondered how God would make a way. Then I saw how He impressed everyone’s hearts. Church members and volunteers were Spirit-filled: some pledged a sack of rice; others volunteered their tents; the school supported our teachers and church members with transportation. People didn’t just offer their precious time and talents for the Lord but also their resources.
God also provided. A couple of weeks before the meetings began, I noticed bunches of mature bananas hanging on the tree. I told my husband, “Please do not touch it. We will save it for camp meeting.” God did a miracle! He preserved them until camp meeting. The bananas were perfectly ripe for harvest and use.
With the church fund and donations from God’s inspired children, we had more than enough for our budget. We even found more resources during camp meeting week, just around the corner of our kitchen. Laura is blessed with breadfruit, coconuts, papayas, bananas, panthenus and moringga trees. Savings were easily within our reach, saving us from spending at the stores. Expenses were only used for fuel for our invitees, programs and some kitchen needs that we couldn’t find around Laura.
It was so amazing how God generously supported His work that summer. At the end of camp meeting, there was still plenty of food to share with families who helped with the meetings. The experience reminded me of the Bible story where God fed multitudes of men, women and children with five loaves of bread and two small fish, yet miraculously, there were still leftover baskets of food.
Some of our church members, young children, and young people got to step out of their comfort zone, by leaving home and staying on campus for a week. Acting as hosts for camp meeting, they experienced the beauty of waking up early for a family worship. During the early5 o’clock hour of morning, everyone awakened to the playing of soft instrumental music. As people gathered, they joined in singing, sharing memory verses, giving testimonies and studying the word of God.
First timers to the program found it unusual and unique. They hoped to have the same opportunity next summer.
Emrita, who has been helping and supporting ladies in the kitchen, was also delighted to give her testimony about that week. “I have learned how to cook food, something I had never done before,”she said.
Sylvia, a mother of two girls, said, “I took this privilege of bringing my two daughters to this camp meeting for me to train them to wake-up early and to help them learn what it means to serve God in the church, just like I am doing. I’d like to train them to do His work.”
The evangelistic meetings were held for five nights and was well attended by church members and non-Adventists, with around thirty to sixty young adults and children. Doctors and a nurse were invited to conduct health lectures, capturing the attention of many and motivating them to return. Both the health lectures and Bible presentations were presented in the Marshallese language so it could be well understood by the listeners.
On Wednesday evening, we experienced bad weather which got worse on Thursday and Friday evening. Nevertheless, God’s word must prevail. He never lets the enemies stop His message from being delivered, especially to those whom He loves and who need to hear the hope of His promised return.
The camp meeting highlighted three important goals according to the theme “Get Involved!” To hasten God’s return, we must first, seek God; second, be physically fit and spiritually revived; and third, allow oneself to be trained in His work.
As a result of God’s work that week, there were two souls who accepted Christ as their personal Savior. Right after the divine worship on Sabbath, everyone proceeded to the lagoon side for their baptism. These two young people had also been students of our Vacation Bible School.
The whole church contributed to camp meeting, however, my husband found that the week’s program and activities were run largely by the women and young ladies. We appreciated the help and support of the Anuntak and the Riano families, Ms. Lai, Ms. Colleen, Ms. Angie and the Delap SDA School administration.
After the culmination of the week’s camp meeting, on Sabbath afternoon, our women gathered around to thank God for how He inspired and used them to be vessels of His work. It was an inspiration to everyone: from the preparation and serving of food in the kitchen, to the setting up and delivery of the nightly series program.
God has opened the eyes of our church leaders with the success of the 2022 summer camp meeting and retreat. We are encouraged to conduct next year’s camp meeting outside the campus, and look forward to launching a bigger, wider reaching crusade.