“Sir, what are you doing in the holidays?”
It all started with this question from a 12 year old boy, four years ago. I was sitting in the form room at the secondary school where I taught. A million possible answers went through my head but I went for Newday. To my surprise, he responded, “Can I come?”
A phone call later and it was decided. Stephen came to Newday with Revelation Church, London. To be honest, I wasn’t around much during the week as I was leading N:gage, but what I saw was a young boy who, for the first time, had a holiday; for the first time was able to be totally free; for the first time met powerfully with God.
At that moment I decided Newday was not just for ‘church kids’ but for everyone; I began to pray and trust God for more.
Over the past three years, I’ve brought a total of 24 teenage boys from school to Newday, with Beacon Church in South East London. Socially, Newday provided an opportunity for the boys to thoroughly enjoy themselves. There’s very little scope to participate in such a range of activities, or to roam so late at night, growing up in central London. The boys did everything: from the football tournament (which they won!) to the basketball, the Nerf arena to the dodgems and, of course, the Rhythm Factory - which they coined The Party.
But what has stood out over the years has been seeing young men give their lives to Jesus. A huge majority of the boys realised over the years that their lives had no direction. Some who once thought they were saved came to terms with the fact that they weren’t. To lead many boys to Christ, to pray with them, to see them filled with the Spirit and speaking in tongues, has been the most fantastic experience of my life. For many years I’d prayed for the boys and their families, led Bible studies at school and held onto the fact that God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). To see the outworking of this, and to marvel at who God is in the process, has been wonderful.
The boys are now at college and I’m in a different school, but for many of us the relationship remains. Many are now committed to their own church families, while others have joined Beacon Church, where my family and I are based. Since Newday 2016 it’s been a pleasure to witness four of the boys being baptised; standing in front of others and testifying to God’s grace in their lives. I look at the young boys I inherited six years ago and now see friends: brothers in Christ. Two are now godparents to my own son. They offer a challenge to my spiritual life and an encouragement of God’s faithfulness.
I am convinced God can work in anyone’s life at any moment. However, God often uses specific events to display his glory and one of these is clearly Newday. I’m often reminded of the four men who brought their friends to Jesus through the roof of a house. Like them, I believe that by getting young people to Newday lives will be changed, God will meet them and they’ll leave knowing more about him than they previously did. Now I pray for further fruit in the lives of these boys. I’m looking forward to the next stage in the journey.
From the boy's themselves...
“Newday allowed me to recognise that there are many young people who love God; that he is real and changes lives. I realised that God could also become a big part of my life.” (Marc Agou)
“Newday was an experience that changed my life in many ways, spiritually and physically. I feel that God sends signs to me to show that he’s watching and he knows what he wants me to do. Sometimes the signs answer my questions, so it’s opened up my eyes more to who God is.” (Elwin Larty)
“This year was my third year going to Newday. I went with high expectations and it delivered. Every year brings something different. The first year I went was the first time I felt a real connection with God. This year it was about developing that connection and helping others. It has helped me because I now understand the importance of church, and spending time with God. It also helped me to understand the importance of baptism and encouraged me to get baptised, which I did a few months after Newday.” (Joseph Vambe)
“Newday has been a life changing experience which has allowed me to witness God’s love first hand! Ever since Newday I’ve discovered what it truly means to be loved, realising my life has a greater purpose than I could have ever imagined. I’ve grown so much with my relationship with God and I’m really thankful for camps like Newday.” (Renedi Masampu)