‘Maybe one day I'll look back on this as one of the biggest turning points of my life – who knows but God?’ – Jonathan, 18, England
We’re walking down a hillside, the sun blazing above with forests sweeping away to our left and the Alps high up to our right. There’s a buzz of conversation: Adele from the Netherlands and Rachel from Northern Ireland are chatting away about uni life, Clement and Fleur are ensconced in linguistics while three others (Russian, English and French) are deep in theology. Where else does this happen?
We’d all started the day together that morning in multilingual worship and prayer, before carrying on with our journey through Acts – God is on a mission! It’s riveting, humbling stuff: What is God saying to us about community? Possessions? Calling?
‘I loved the time spent looking at and studying Acts in the mornings – not only someone speaking but also the time given to discuss what we just heard. I thought more about the passage and it pushed me to think more about the impact the Bible has on my life. Also, the time which was given to pray in groups, with brothers and sisters in Christ, from different places across the world. This was a very special time!’
Then we’d heard again from Jennie, a translation consultant with Wycliffe who’s based in Europe but works with teams in countries across West Africa that are translating the Bible into their own languages. The linguistic exercises were fascinating (even the non-linguists grudgingly agreed!) but what really gripped everyone was the insight into the work and the people: how you have to tussle with the biblical text, and what it means to have colleagues who are in some cases pastors or farmers by day and Bible translators in the evening.
‘I learnt lots and have come away feeling so inspired…the spread of material discussed really gave me a comprehensive taste of both work with Wycliffe itself but also the mechanics of wider cross-cultural careers too.’
We’d heard the first part of Jennie’s story – how she had joined Wycliffe and where God had led her over the past 15 years – yesterday evening, and the silence in the room at the end had been thick enough to hear a pin drop. People have been engaging deeply, and it’s amazing.
‘The camp turned out to be a great time of rest, a meaningful holiday, motivation to get more involved in the ministry, and a kind of spiritual retreat.’
Lunch together followed. A long, leisurely lunch, and some of the conversations as we hike now probably started then! When does lunch end if the conversation just keeps flowing? Well, for some people it’s when they go for a nap or to read and reflect by themselves under a shady tree. For the more active, there’s plenty to do outdoors in the afternoons – exploring the local towns, swimming in Lake Geneva, hilltop hikes and more.
We’ll all probably collapse when we get back, and the French and English lessons might involve more laughing than learning in the heat today, but that’s ok. We’re all learning really, and it’s remarkable the friends you can make across cultures and in just a couple of days together – this is only day three!
‘The camp itself mostly was what I expected and even better...For me personally it turned out to be a great time of rest, a meaningful holiday, motivation to get more involved in the ministry and a kind of spiritual retreat. So I am delighted and go back home motivated!’
So what happens when you bring together twenty 18-to-30-year-olds from across Europe to learn about Bible translation and hear from God online or by beautiful Lake Geneva? You’ll have to join us and find out...
Carwyn Graves, with quotes from participants of Experience