Illuminate was more than successful this year, according to organizers who were in awe over the numbers that participated and the lives that were changed during the week. Many of those lives, they said, will never be the same as God’s saving grace reached out to them and brought many young people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as their personal savior while also serving as an example of the week’s theme…The Great Commission, Matthew 28:16-20.
Illuminate 2012 was held from Sunday, July 8 through Friday, July 13, and thanks to answered prayers, the site at Charles E. Perry School in Roseboro was made available for the event.Over 200 youth participated as campers. As is customary for Illuminate, there were nearly 20 college-aged student leaders who helped direct the camp.
The leaders shared that the volunteers are the backbone for the success of Illuminate, and this year they had close to 100 people, including work site leaders, kitchen staff, drivers, chaperones, etc., offering up their time throughout the week.
As the Illuminate group gathered for dinner each evening, close to 275 people were fed and over 300 people attended the worship services.
Event leaders Matt Barefoot, Brian Jackson, Mitchell Brewington, Scottie Baldwin and Dwayne Dunning each expressed their thoughts of the successes of the camp.
“Overall, it was a great week,” stressed Barefoot. “We began with the sole purpose of glorifying God and we did just that through fellowship, music, preaching, Bible study, and local missions. We have heard nothing but positive feedback from those who participated. anyone who wants more information or to see pictures of this years camp can do so on the illuminate youth project’s Facebook page.
Jackson said that this year’s event was, simply put, amazing.
“We were able to have a baptism service for the first time in Illuminate history. We baptized 14 people this year. We also had 40 professions of faith,” asserted Jackson in defining what was amazing to him.
The leaders said they encourage and invite any church that did not have the opportunity to participate this year to contact them through the web page, illuminate camp.com, so they can be included in 2013. They would, each stressed, love to partner with additional churches for upcoming events.
During the week, the participants were able to accomplish many and varied projects that helped them to “… go and make disciples of all nations…” Work that was completed included building 18 wheelchair ramps, 10 for Sampson County Department of Aging and four for Duplin County Department of Aging and four others in the community. Two trucks full of food for the Salemburg food bank was collected. The yard crews mowed and cleaned 10 yards for residents in the county. Another group of the young people visited four nursing homes in the area. And 175 children were touched through Vacation Bible School, offered at five different sites around the county and taught by the Illuminate youth. Several of the young ladies in the Illuminate youth helped to make 184 dresses for Haiti and work was done on two local church plants. One new activity was the over 10,000 meals that where packed by 40 youth through Stop Hunger Now that will be shipped to Africa. This was something new that Illuminate did this year and organizers said they hoped to increase the number of meals prepared next year. Illuminate has to provide the food for the meals and the leaders hope to be able to have more funds accessible next year for this project. Donations are always welcome.
“I am not only a youth leader at Illuminate, I am also an Illuminate parent with four of my daughters participating in Illuminate,” Baldwin said. “It is very important to me that we teach the future generation to obey the commands of God and to be his hands and feet. The youth are feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, teaching the children, and preparing a way for the handicapped to enter and exit from their own home. They are not only learning how to do it, they are doing it,” asserted the youth leader.
“Also the worship, music, devotions, and preaching bring Glory to God,” Baldwin added. “I have been to many youth camps and I have served on missions here at home and as far as Haiti. But there is something different about Illuminate. Every time I go up town in Clinton and see a youth from Illuminate I think to myself there is someone that does not only go to church they are the church.”
Dunning, too, saw many opportunities seized during Illuminate. “As a youth pastor that has been to many different camps and conferences over the years, I can say that Illuminate is unique in every way. Teens have fun, but that isn’t the focus. Being the salt and light in this world is the focus and the directors of Illuminate never shy away from this. I am so thankful for all those that are part of this, not camp, but the movement in our community. If we all, as believers, will come together with this mindset, our world would be a totally different place. Praise God for what He has done, is doing, and is going to do through Illuminate. I can definitely say that Elevated will be a part of it from now on.”
Jackson added, “I left Illuminate not only in awe of what Christ did, but humbled that my Lord would enable me to be a part of something so beautiful.”
All the directors offered thanks to those who made Illuminate possible for another year.
“On behalf of the illuminate Board of Directors, I want to express our gratitude to the Sampson County Board of Education and superintendent. They helped to make Illuminate possible by providing us with a location to house Illuminate this year. I can honestly say without the use of Charles E. Perry, Illuminate 2012 would not have happened. We thank God for those who made this possible,” remarked Barefoot.
The pastor added, “We always say that we do this to glorify God and that is exactly why we have Illuminate. It is all for His glory and it is awesome to see people in our community whether they be youth or adults coming together with the sole purpose of glorifying God. It is truly all about Jesus.”
Volunteers, too, were touted.
“Two of our volunteer staff, Marcus Page and Spencer Hamm, have been involved in Illuminate since day one and have help build ramps. This year each of them led a ramp team of seven youth and they completed two ramps each. This is how God makes Illuminate such a successful discipleship, the youth learn and take what they have learned and teach others. In addition to Marcus and Spencer, we had a former camper named, Ethan Driskill lead our worship team this year. And other former campers helped us greatly by providing direction and leadership as student leaders,” stated Baldwin.
Although Illuminate is only one week in duration, the planners and leaders feel that the impact will continue much longer than the week, often until eternity. They plan to hold activities throughout the coming year to help keep the participant directed in the right direction and help to continue to grow and share God’s plan throughout the world.
The directors expressed, “Stay tuned for information on upcoming Illuminate events.”