All my life I can’t really remember a year when my family and I have ever celebrated the commercial version of Easter. As I was raised a Seventh-day Adventist, it was never something we acknowledged in our household. Instead, we celebrate the Biblical reason for our long weekend: Jesus’s death and resurrection, the greatest act of sacrificial love to be witnessed.
It’s for this reason that every Easter, rather than surrounding myself with eggs and rabbits, I, along with more than 3000 Adventists, travel to Elmore Events Centre for our annual Victorian Conference Camp. Big Camp attracts Seventh-day Adventists from all over Victoria and Australia for a four-day celebration of the eternal gift Jesus Christ gave us. The theme for this year was “Faith on Fire”—how we can keep growing in our faith and journey with God.
Big Camp provided us with the opportunity to live a simple life, one surrounded by nature and disconnected from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. It was an escape from my assignments and allowed some freedom for parents with children, as their kids were constantly doing activities and making new friends. I rarely saw my mum or brothers unless it was time to eat, but that was okay: we were surrounded by church family, so there was always a familiar face around.
The days were filled with praise and worship, and inspirational sermons from international speakers.
Jeremy Anderson (Atlanta, Georgia, USA), was the speaker for the Youth Tent. He invited us into his painful past, and told about his redeemed present and future by the blood of Jesus. The High School Tent had Willy Ramos (South Florida, USA), known as the “Ghetto Preacher” for his roots in the ghettos of America. He told us his life story of how he was in a gang during his youth, but has now answered God’s call to be a pastor.
The sermons touched a lot of the young adult and teen hearts, with two young people baptised during the week, and more than 50 teens and youth making a decision for baptism.
My family and I have been going to Big Camp for three years in a row, and each year our lives have been changed immensely by the end of the camp. Last year I gave my life to the Lord and got baptised. This year, a couple of people from my youth group decided to do the same—and one of them just happened to be my sister.
There may not have been any chocolate eggs in sight during this year’s Easter Big Camp, but I believe we had something better: spiritual refreshment. I’m already excited for next year’s Big Camp.
Kapungwe Besa is studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Journalism at Deakin University, and attends Rowville-Lysterfield Seventh-day Adventist Church.