This summer, Send Relief was able to further our partnership with Clarkston International Bible Church (CIBC) by helping host their long-running Camp Encounter. Camp Encounter is a safe, fun environment for recently arrived refugee children to enjoy summer camp.
Typically run almost entirely by church staff and volunteers, Camp Encounter serves children in and around the city of Clarkston, Georgia, most of whom are first-generation immigrants from Ethiopia, West Africa or Nepal. Though GenSend participants have been able to volunteer in the past, due to COVID-19 restrictions this year, the camp has been staffed by high school students who were former campers themselves, along with teams of 40-50 Send Relief volunteers from Ohio all the way to South Carolina.
CIBC Lead Pastor Trent DeLoach commented, “Send Relief allows us to take up space in the ministry center and has been a tremendous partner in these efforts. It’s been a very full summer emphasizing the Gospel from every angle possible and the kids ask really good questions, so we’ve been challenged. We view this camp as an entry point to entire families or communities that we may not otherwise gain access to.”
The schools in this area did not allow children back to school in person until two months before the academic year’s end, so many kids who were already struggling to acclimate and learn English are also now behind in their grade level. Camp Encounter catered to this gap in services this summer by having four main tracks available to the children: academics, art, athletics and intentional small groups where the kids were encouraged to process their feelings around their transition.
NAMB Journeyman Emma Cross shared, “It has been a rare opportunity for volunteers to get the joy of seeing day-to-day ministry and experience working with international students and their families. It’s not big organizations doing this work—it’s faithful bodies of local believers. CIBC’s consistent work with this community has allowed many volunteers who have never been out of the country and who may have misconceptions about the refugee population to have transformative experiences with immigrant families. Camp Encounter has served as a catalyst for many people to change the stereotypes they may have formed in their heads and have their hearts broken for the hurting families in this community.”
As camp staff work together to share Jesus’ love, they often make weekly home visits to meet their campers’ families, so they can build long-term relationships with the parents and connect them to a local church. Through these visits and longer Gospel conversations at camp, over 100 kids have heard the Good News of Jesus every day this summer.
Pray for these refugee children to understand and accept the all-encompassing love of Jesus and for their families to find community in their new homes.
Published July 28, 2021