UN Plaza Outreach by Nikki Guingona

UN Plaza // Photo cred: Jackie G.

Photo cred: Karla G.

As I was singing, I noticed this one girl sitting on the ground. She was rocking back and forth just listening. We then played our last song, Better is one day, and as I opened my eyes from worshipping, I saw her lifting her hands and singing. She knew the song. I was not sure of where she came from but I knew that at some point God had planted his seed in her. I felt joy knowing that we were able to provide an avenue for people to worship and share. I am glad to know that God could use me and our team as a tool for his glory. The one message that rang through to me was that although we may have troubles in our lives, our God is always here and he never changes. He will always be our savior.

Photo cred: Karla G.

Photo cred: Karla G.

Photo cred: Karla G.

Nikki currently serves and shares her musical talents in the music ministry.

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Great. Awesome. Amazing. Astig. What else? Powerful. Unforgettable. Memorable. Incredible. Wonderful. Glorious. Miraculous. Those who attended the Soul Anchor 2012 may have said those words so many times just to describe how the experience was. I believe it is so much more than those words. It is so much more than being able to have fun or have met new friends in just a matter of 5 days (July 9-13, 2012). It is also so much more than having the opportunity to see and stay in a beautiful place called Oak Glen Christian Conference Center in Yucaipa, California. Describing it in words would underrate it and it would never encompass everything. God is incredibly limitless and we cannot just put Him inside a box and wrap Him and just settle for how we know Him. He is beyond our comprehension and He always exceeds. Nevertheless, God deserves to be lifted up by sharing some thoughts and reflections about the said event.

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Be Strong and Courageous was the theme of the camp. In the Bible, Joshua 1:9 says that we have to be indeed strong and courageous because of only one reason: God is always with us. It is so easy to read a verse and be inspired by it. But it is also easy to ignore and not live it out. Camp has been very helpful for all the young people who attended including me to really grasp the message. Thank God for the senior Pastors from different churches around the states because He really spoke through them and the Word was powerfully exhorted during the sessions. Indeed, all of us have different challenges–or as what the Israelites were facing—the Jerichos in life. Most of the time, it seems so hard for us to break the walls that hamper us from God’s promises or from basically having an intimate relationship with Him. Most of the time, too, we back out not even trying, and not even pressing on. It is usual for us to chicken out ourselves just because we want to stay in our comfort zones. We try to be mediocre and we settle for less. Moreover, I would say that we instantly lose a battle when we conform to the world and turn our backs from the Word. It is true that sometimes, our greatest enemy is not even the devil but our own selves. Yes, the enemy is always a total jerk but in the end, the final say is always from us. Our disappointing tendency to give into temptation could make all the difference. Our choices explain how our lives are today. God may have given us free will but it could be dangerous at times. But like how the walls of Jericho fell because of the Israelites’ shout, we could also break the walls of fear and discouragement in our hearts. We could also destroy the walls that represent our weak flesh by not giving in to temptations but going after Godly things. Breaking down such walls is difficult to do by ourselves only. But the Good News is that the power of God in the shout of the Israelites (Joshua 1🙂 is the same as the power of God in us. Paul, the Apostle of Jesus, says that we were given the spirit of power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). With power that is supplied by Him, we can indeed do great things for God as long as we let Him take the wheel. With love that originates from Him, we can have compassion to the unlovable people. With self-discipline that is developed by being Jesus’ follower, we can stand firm in pleasing God instead of disappointing Him.

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Fellowship with the young people whom I just met and known for the first time was a blessed opportunity. Being with people with the same faith and having been placed in our respective cell groups was surely with purpose. The attendees were divided into 3 levels (Middle School, High School, and College) and each group were named by the characters in the Bible such as Abraham, Joshua, Shadrach, Rahab, Elijah, David, and many more. I was part of the Team Joseph under the College level. Having heard each of my group mates’ stories has blessed me in such a way I did not truly expect. It just amazes me how people are brought together because of Jesus—complete strangers at first and then becoming friends after a while. It took a little time of getting to know each other and having devotions together during mornings for us to strengthen the bond. What was more interesting is hearing great testimonies. So much wisdom has been shared from those who have experienced and learned so much. I am amazed that no matter how their past mistakes have brought them to rock bottom point, their lives indeed changed. It is humbling to know that God Himself gave the only solution—Jesus—for us to be righteous in His sight. And so the filth, dirt, or stain that was brought about by our sins is all washed away because of Jesus’ blood. Hanging out with transformed and changed lives and people who love God just reminds me that God could only be the ultimate Restorer of our lives.

Witnessing some of the youth submit to God’s call was the best highlight at camp as for me. I salute those who really took their stand for Jesus, finally receiving Him as their Savior and surrendering their lives to Him. Seeing lives transformed and turned 180 degrees, turning their backs from their old lives, is such a blessed experience. Also, we congratulate those who made the decision to be baptized—a public declaration of a new life in Christ. True, our old selves have passed away and we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We should be thankful that despite living in a world that is corrupted, a young army has aroused whom God will protect and bless to do great things for His glory. I feel joy and amazement when people have come to know God at an early age. One camper said, “Young age is the best time to start.” Believing that the youth are the hope of the nation, we should also believe that the youth are the hope of the church, too. And as for the young people, let no one despise or think less of you, but be an example for the believers in all your speech, conduct, in love, faith, and your purity (1: Timothy 4:12).

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It was our (me and my two siblings) first time to attend a camp. Praise God, He has used instruments for us to be able to join. Until now, my heart is still overwhelmed of how good their hearts are because 215 dollars, multiply it into 3, is no joke of an amount. We may not know who they are, but we sincerely are grateful for them. I am confident to say that their investment on us is so worth it. The camp has been a blessing to all the people who became part of it, and at the same time, God has been blessed because His name has been exalted. People may have a lot of expectations or even have doubts about the camp and its aftermath. But again, I would say that God indeed has exceeded.

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Katrina is a member of the youth ministry and also shares her musical talents in the music ministry.

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This year’s camp was truly amazing! It was my first year being a cell group leader, so I didn’t know what to expect. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know I was ready. I mean, it was nationals, the camp where many churches from around the country come to meet in LA for camp. There were almost 300 people there too. But you know what, I prayed about it and I read the Word, and camp ended up being a blast. Being a leader was amazing and I never thought I could still change, myself, as a leader. My cell group was amazing too! The songs were so deep and powerful, and I could tell by the way the other young people were dancing and jumping up and down that they were into it too. I mean, it’s just amazing what God can do in the lives of these young people. I know that He has so much in store for them in the years to come, and I can’t wait to see what will happen. Even in our youth group, we had so many first-timers. And now, they’ve broken out of their shells, I’ve seen them praising God and just loving him. That’s what makes camp amazing: the way God moves in these kids. And even though my partner and I were the youngest leaders in camp, I think we still had an amazing time, just teaching these kids and watching them grow spiritually. And yeah, it’s a little upsetting to realize that it’s all over. But you know what? Even though camp is over, at least we know God never will be.

Jonathan Miciano serves as the drummer for the music ministry and is a very active member of the youth group. He also the son of Bridgepoint Community Church’s pastor.

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