The theme for this year was WITNESS. We looked at the expansive life of Paul and how God worked through him, from the time he was named Saul to his last days under house arrest. He was a witness to all people of what he had seen and heard. We are each called to be a witness as followers of Christ (Acts 1:8). The summer was about boldly bringing light into darkness as Paul did (Acts 28:31), not to suppress it by keeping the Light to ourselves. It was about celebrating and rejoicing in what we have witnessed God do, so others can witness His goodness. We ‘partied in the light’ this summer.
We also discussed the concept of THE FOUR, a simple tool that can be used in sharing our faith in Jesus with others. One-hundred percent of the middle school and high school students that came to NTS Camp learned how to utilize these four symbols in preparation to the conversations they may have with a friend, family member, or classmate back home.
THE FOUR breaks down like this:
HEART represents ‘GOD LOVES ME’
We are loved by God unconditionally as His children. He is for us even if we are against Him. We didn’t earn it, it is just who God is. He is love and He loves us. We looked at the verses 1 John 4:16 & Psalm 16:11.
DIVIDE represents ‘I HAVE SINNED’
We have sinned and there is a split in this relationship. Our sin separates and divides us from God. We looked at the verses Romans 3:23 & Isaiah 59:2.
CROSS represents ‘JESUS DIED FOR ME’
Jesus died on the cross to erase our sins. Jesus paid for us which allows us to come back into the relationship with God. His death restores our relationship with God. We looked at the verses John 3:16 & 1 Peter 3:18.
QUESTION represents ‘WILL I FOLLOW JESUS?’
We need to decide to live for God and with God. That is the question we must answer for ourselves. We looked at the verses John 1:12 & Romans 10:9.
At the end of the week, the students were encouraged to make a commitment to have 12 conversations about THE FOUR with someone else in the next 12 months. The majority of the 3000 students that attended, along with the adult leaders, signed that commitment card.
Never The Same Camp or NTS Camp is now 8 weeks at 6 locations in 5 states. After coming home from traveling over 5500 miles, we have been able to tally up the response of how God moved in students’ lives that lead to a life of transformation. We praise God for these numbers because they represent lives and souls. We celebrate as an organization for his hand of protection and provision. We thank our entire team/summer staff that have traveled with us, and the countless youth leaders that made the week-long sacrifice to invest their time with students.
197 || Students received Christ for the first time.
742 || Students surrendered their lives to Christ again.
259 || Students are called into vocational ministry.
1,200 || Students made other faith commitments.
We want to end with a note from one of our site directors, Justin Warns from Kensington Church in Troy, MI. He led our Indiana 3 site at Taylor University.
“This past summer I had the privilege of being part of the NTS Camp experience. I have had the opportunity to partner with NTS for about 7 years now. My first experience was a youth pastor who was told about this great camp that I needed to get my kids there. Since then I have found ways to continue being part of a week every summer.
This year the theme was WITNESS where NTS Camp led our students through how to share their faith, how and why they should be a witness in their classrooms, on their sports teams and even in the homes they would be traveling back to.
Throughout the week and even after I found myself pausing to look at the age of these kids and realize the powerful moment that they just experienced.
I didn’t grow up in a home that read the Bible together. We maybe begrudgingly shared a pray over dinner, but it wasn’t until my high school youth ministry told me about the gospel that it clicked for me. It wasn’t until college at Michigan State University (Go Green! Go White!) that someone taught me how to share the gospel. It wasn’t until people who had walked through life before I took the time to share with me that I felt confident and bold enough to share my faith with others. As I paused throughout camp and saw students learning and practicing how to share their faith with others, I realized something powerful was happening. It was even more powerful for me because it was what I longed for and only learned later in life. NTS Camp was teaching students how to share the gospel using “The Four” method and students were getting it.
(If you are interested in learning more about THE FOUR or receiving other resources, contact the NTS Camp team at [email protected])
The beautiful part of that week started happening before it was even over, students called family members to tell them about Christ, and what He had done for them. Some students were starting to text friends while on the bus ride home and leading them to Christ! Life change had already begun, and I was a witness of what was happening when young people are equipped and empowered with the gospel. I was a witness to what is possible when people understand the gospel and feel confident in sharing it with others. I was a witness of just some of the stories that started to unfold.
Not long after that, I had the opportunity to take a group on a missions trip where I brought along many of the same tools we taught at NTS Camp. I had the privilege of seeing young adults and older adults apply the same principles. They were like me. They were learning how to share their faith, how to be bold as adults because they never learned before, no one had taught them. I loved watching their excitement grow as they took steps of faith for the first time and are never the same. It made me even more thankful that NTS was starting with students. I am thankful that NTS is choosing to lead the charge for empowering the NEXT generation to be the NOW generation. I am thankful that NTS partners with churches and youth pastors as a catalyst for spiritual growth and discipleship. I can’t wait to hear the stories that happen as a result of this year’s WITNESS of students being NEVER THE SAME!”
Justin Warns, along with 2 high school students, leading students in prayer at NTS Camp.
© 2017, Never The Same