This is the eighth year I have organized childrens' camps where children from Jerusalem and all over Israel (Tel Aviv, Haifa, Eilat, Ariel, Ashkelon, Ashdod) can come to spend five wonderful days together learning about God, worshiping Him, and having fun. There were more people than previous camps, around a hundred, including the staff and a group of children from Russia, who come every year for a ten-day trip to Israel.
The location this year was different as we went to a Moshav, north of the Dead Sea. It is in a mountainous area, arranged as a small ranch, with bungalows made from palm branches. The place belongs to a family of orthodox Jews who were, at first, not happy with Messianic Jews using the place. However, they came to most of our meetings, both morning and evening, and were heard humming our songs.
The camp focused on the Parable of the Prodigal Son – how he leaves his father, realizes what he has done and returns home. Similarly, we are those prodigal sons who are lost and who need to understand our condition and return to God, who is still waiting and willing to accept us. The children were encouraged to learn about this through various activities such as theme games, preparing skits, making posters, etc. To make the time especially interesting, we played competitive sports games, went hiking early in the morning to watch the sunrise, and enjoyed horse riding. Many of the children said that riding horses was the most exciting part for them. Apart from that, the children could choose to learn something new, either how to make bracelets, or to take professional photos, or how to give first aid. Interestingly, many were eager to be trained in first aid and included the elements of what they learned in many of their skits.
On the last evening, the children were given an opportunity to make the ultimate decision, whether to return to their Father or not. Those who were willing to do that lit sparklers as a symbol of their home-coming. Many of them decided to take that step of faith and we hope that it will be long-lasting and bring forth a lot of fruit.
Most of the camp counselors were previous participants in IsraCamp, and after they ‘grew up’ have expressed their desire to join the team, to help children grow closer to God. This year there were a number of helpers who were there for the first time in this role.
For us, the impact of what we do is very important. We are pleased by the positive feedback we receive from the parents. They see that their children change after these camps and they want us to organize more activities such as these.
I am grateful for such an opportunity to share God’s word with children. Moreover, I am thankful for those of you who help support this project financially. Even though the children and staff pay some to participate in the camps, not all of the expenses are covered. Please pray for these needs as well as for the children who just began their walk with God, and for the staff to grow and draw closer to God themselves.
Blessings from Jerusalem
Maxim Katz and the Beit Sar Shalom team