“It’s so nice to be back!” was the common vernacular of those who attended South Queensland Conference (SQC) Big Camp this month—their first camp in three years due to COVID-19.
With the event themed “I Will Go”, speakers in each tent preached on the mission God has given His people to go and be disciples who share the good news of His soon return.
The main speaker for the camp was World Church secretary Dr G T NG. With a lifetime of stories to extract from, he reminded the audience that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” Pastor Keli Pepa was the guest speaker at the 25+ tent and encouraged the audience each night to keep company with Jesus and find practical ways to live out their faith.
Though activities ran all week for all ages, the highlight for many was the children’s story in the Big Tent told each night by Pastor Mark Goldsmith. “With his big expressions and shapeshifting prop (that turned into a house, a walking man, a shark and many other things), Pastor Mark creatively captivated the attention of both young and old,” said Signs of the Times magazine assistant editor Zanita Fletcher, who attended the event.
With a program full of activities available from morning to evening, attendees were able to start the day with workout classes or cycles to the coast. Workshops ran each day on topics such as prophecy, missional living, relationships, finance, dementia awareness and leadership. Campers also enjoyed the opportunity to stock up on Patritti juices, Sanitarium products and Christian books from the store, wander through the Expo Hall and learn about several Christian ministries functioning across the country.
“We can’t forget the Baenana food truck that was saving people from the heat of the day and serving up healthy banana ice cream,” pointed out Ms Fletcher. With 900kg of donated bananas, Baenana raised over $A7,000 for ADRA through 25,000 spins and Ride 4 Rescue.
Sandra Entermann led a concert on the first weekend featuring those who had participated in the Sabbath Singalongs that became a phenomenon online during lockdowns. The musicians that had only just met for the first time that day opened with the song “God’s Wonderful People.” The whole crowd sang along. One camper said the evening was “like a taste of heaven.” Camp closed with a concert held by the talented students of the Tweed Valley Adventist College Choir that left everyone in goosebumps.
“Of course, the potential spread was a concern when organising camp. Yet praise the Lord, not a single RAT test went out, and South Queensland finished the week incident-free,” said Ms Fletcher.
Closing the event, SQC President Brett Townend said, “[God] firstly calls us to come to Him . . . But having come to Him and learnt of Him, He tells us to go make disciples and introduce others to Him. And that’s the privilege and the joy we have as Christians. Introducing them to the One who said, ‘I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.’ So, when He says go, the question is, ‘how will you respond?'”