December 2010 - Vol. 45

some of the Khandala Youth Camp participants and team leaders
My summer highlight at Khandala 
Youth Camp in India
by Theresa Smith

Theresa Smith, from Triumph of the Cross Community in Fredericksburg, Maryland, USA, spent this last year, doing volunteer missionary work with Youth Initiatives, a  Sword of the Spirit outreach to teenagers in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Near the end of her year of service, she traveled to India to serve on the team running the summer camp jointly operated by the four Sword of the Spirit communities in India: Community of the Good Shepherd in Vasai, People of Praise in Banglore, Community of Jesus in Mumbai, and Krist Kiran Parivar in Pune. 
Visiting India was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Being a foreigner there, I knew that I would stick out a bit, but another fear of mine was how difficult it might be to relate to people I had never met before. Initially, I thought cultural differences would make it a huge challenge for me, and there were some drastic differences. But, I felt warmly welcomed by everyone at the camp. Being with some 90 young people, aged 13-30 years, from the four communities in India highlighted for me our common way of living for the Lord worldwide.

During camp, I helped run the sessions for the youth who were aged nine to fourteen. I was pleased to find that after working in a youth program in Belfast all year with that age group, I felt very comfortable taking on this task. I am usually considered a pretty laidback person, which is good for relating to people, although itís sometimes bad for planning. Fortunately, I had plenty of help from other leaders and experienced Godís grace making up for my weakness.

Theresa Smith (left front) and Khandala Youth Camp team leaders 
from Belgium, Lebanon, USA, and India

Our team spoke to the youth about personal prayer and being a young person for God. We explained how young people can give generously of their time for the Lord and his service, especially through outreach work such as the gap program. We also had a lot of fun together and played some great games.

The youth in our discussion groups were a great joy to be with and were very respectful. There was a good balance between serious talks and discussions and fun activities. And there was a positive unity between the youth and the leaders. Overall, the time together and all of our activities were positive.

What really hit home for me was when I had to say goodbye to everyone, especially the young I had spent time with in small groups. I didnít realize until the end how much I had connected with these people, and I was truly sad to leave. I learned that the Lord sets hearts on fire (including my own)  in unexpected places and in unexpected times of our lives. I will always keep India close to my heart and I pray that the Lord leads me back there again one day.

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