This was the first time I went to camp with high school teens. I was so excited and I didn’t know what to expect. What I was looking forward to was connecting with the girls on a deeper, more personal level.
The first night was a little weird for all of us as we didn’t know each other super well. During our first cabin time I shared how I believed in Jesus and asked them what they believed in. I absolutely love the honesty of their responses. They trusted me with their stories and it let the Holy Spirit show me the best way to share God’s good news with each girl individually.
When I first met Aaliyah she looked very quiet and shy, but when I asked her if she believed in Jesus she definitely had an answer. She replied that she did not believe in God or Jesus, and in fact she was an atheist and would appreciate it if we did not push our God on her.
I shared that God does not push himself on anyone, that I loved her, and respected her and her choice to believe or not. By the second day we had become friends and Aaliyah was starting to trust that what I had said was true.
I found out that Aaliyah was not as reserved as I had thought she was. She is very friendly and very kind. She was also very, very curious and wanted to know why I believed in Jesus. She asked me hard questions! For me this was truly the greatest moment to share the gospel with her and to share more of my journey with the Lord.
As I opened up Aaliyah did too, and I learned the story of her family and why she did not believe in God. There was a lot of hurt by so called believers in Christ who had lied and hurt her family. It was a big deception that left a lot of pain.
But God is greater than any lie, and He began to break down the barrier of her heart and soften it. By the fourth day I could see God working as Aaliyah cried as I shared more of my testimony. I shared how the Lord saved my life and how I was truly living proof of a miracle and how I knew for a fact this was only done by Jesus. Aaliyah even allowed me to pray with her and she said she was beginning to believe in Jesus!
That afternoon during art time she made a painting for me which had me in tears! It had a cross with two angles and it read “GOD LOVES US!!” Yes, an “atheist” painted this for me! She brought it to me and said “look what I made for you.”
This young lady went from believing she was an Atheist, to knowing God loves her and would never hurt her. I could see clearly that God was at work. She shared with me that she was really believing in God again.
God is awesome! He really pursued Aaliyah in love out of his mercy and grace. And I’m glad He included me in her story. Now that camp is over I will stay in touch with her and continue to follow up. I was truly blessed by her experience at Camp. I hope it blesses you as well. Thanks be to God for moments like this! Thanks for reading her story. Would you please join me in praying for Aaliyah?
- Sylvia Hernandez, Group Life Ministry Staff