April saw the start of a new initiative to reach children and young people in Yorkshire. This county (population 5.5 million), with a rich Christian heritage, now has fewer Christians per head of population than Japan, and very few children have any contact with the Christian message.
Andy and Hannah Peace have been working at the Oakes, a Christian camp centre for young people in Sheffield, for the last five years. Recently, they have established ‘Yorkshire Camps’, with the aim of reaching young people living in the centre of the county.
They are convinced that camp ministry is a very effective means of reaching young people with the gospel, including those who have no Christian background at all.
Dr Helen Roseveare says, ‘In my experience, over many years working among young people, both in UK and also in Congo, I have no doubt whatsoever that a week at camp, in a Christian atmosphere, with daily teaching from the Word of God, and watching Christian leaders in their daily behaviour, is of utmost importance.
‘Our youngsters learn more from what they see, combined with teaching from the Word, than they ever learn from merely being told. I thank God for giving me the privilege of working in camps and teaching young people year after year over the past 60-plus years!
‘And now getting letters and emails from those same youngsters, now in their forties and fifties, and bringing up their own youngsters, thanking for all they learned at camp — to God be the glory!’
Yorkshire Camps ran its first camp this Easter in Bramhope, Leeds. There were 69 campers and leaders, from across the north of England. The team of leaders were thoroughly enthusiastic in their commitment to this new venture.
The young people were aged between 7-13 years. Although there were still the remains of snow, the rain stayed away and the children were able to play a host of different games, climb trees, test their ‘survival’ abilities and enjoy being together for hours on end.
Speaking on the person of Jesus, his death and resurrection, Andy emphasised in the daily Bible times, Jesus’ importance to us today. Then, in their cabins, the campers discussed what they had learnt, asked questions and were helped to fill out their camper booklets.
The bonfire was a memorable highlight of the camp, as the young people all enjoyed singing, drinking chocolate and eating marshmallows. Scores of Christian books for children were bought and given away as prizes.
More camps are planned both for this year and beyond, but the intention of Yorkshire Camps is to purchase and establish a permanent centre in the heart of Yorkshire, so that camps reaching young people in schools and from church groups can be organised all year round.
Local pastor Martin Woodier commented: ‘Yorkshire Camps is a great — and greatly needed — initiative! We need a resource to be used in partnership with churches, which will bring the gospel to children and young people in a camp setting.
‘Minds are focussed and hearts are open as a few days are spent away together with friends and leaders. Ultimately lives will be changed! It is great that Andy and Hannah, with all their experience, are taking this step of faith, together in partnership with many churches and supporters’.
Andy Peace asks for prayer for this developing work and for the finding of a permanent site. For more information, go to www.yorkshirecamps.org.uk