CI Leader Darlene Germino shows her Fearless ‘swag’ • Our 2013 Leadership Team • Campers Angelo Guillermo and Mark Jordan Ramirez practice with leader BJ Martinez for MTV Night

Christmas Institute PNW Rises Up!
By Yvonne Agduyeng | Photos by Christmas Institute

Rise Up! CI! Rise Up! CI! The chant for Christmas Institute 2013 grabs the attention of the campers and prepares them for the five-day camp. CI 2013 welcomed campers from all over the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver and Toronto in Canada. There was a total of 60 campers and 15 of them first-time campers. For five days, we gathered as a congregation of youth and young adults joining in meaningful worship, relevant workshops, engaging family groups, and times for self-reflection.

The theme for this year was Fearless. In the three full days of camp, we focused on these three questions: Who are you? Who is God calling you to be? What are you afraid of? Throughout camp, we had guest pastors including Pastor Shalom Agtarap, Pastor DJ del Rosario, and Pastor Mark Galang, sharing with us the word of God and how being fearless is so much more than not being afraid.

Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” As the main scripture for CI 2013, we dug deep into what fearless means to us as beloved children of God.

Whether they were first-time campers or have been coming consistently for the past ten years, we found ourselves meeting new people and reuniting with old ones. Reflecting back, we realized why leaders devote so much of their time and energy to plan and execute a camp like this. The chance to become witnesses of how young people’s lives can transform and grow in their relationship with God was the greatest gift. Hearing the testimonies of our campers encourages us to continue to do this work for the Lord.

When asked to describe what the theme of Fearless meant to them, the campers had a lot to say!

“It related to me by how I always fear of being the person who is left out and being bullied by other people. It showed me that I had to get through that fear and that I am good enough for God.” -7th/8th Grade Camper

“Fearless came at a really good time in my life. I felt really alone before coming to CI, and I feel better knowing that God and all my Ates and Kuyas, and my friends are all here for me.”
-9th/10th Grade Camper

“I have many fears that control some of the decisions I make and this theme really taught me that I should face those fears because being fearless doesn’t mean not being afraid of anything, but what you do with those fears.”
-11th/12th Grade Camper

“Everyone has fears: fears from our past, in our current lives, and fears of the future, but we need to know that God loves us as we are and that we are significant. We need to be reminded of our precious worth despite what other say/think about us and to be brave – to keep moving forward, letting the Spirit lead and comfort us.”
-Post High-School Camper

CI 2013 would not have been as successful without the help and support the Leadership Team who have worked the past six months planning, and also for the Support Team who was eager to help in any way they can during camp. Big thank you again to Pastor Shalom Agtarap, Pastor DJ del Rosario, and Pastor Mark Galang for being present at camp and sharing their message. We would also like to thank the Commission on Ethnic Ministries for their support in helping make camp possible this year and for District Superintendent Daniel Foster for showing his support by attending our evening worship service. In addition, a big thanks to Pastor David Valera who has always been a supportive and a great mentor to all the leadership team. CI 2013 has come and gone but as we go ahead with 2014, we hope and pray that you all have a blessed year and we will see you in December. RISE UP CI!

Yvonne Agduyeng is a member of Kent UMC
and is a student at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C.

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