An Unexpected Call

Another week, another miracle. Hasiniaina and Henintsoa were called to lead a youth camp in Ampefy, 90 miles from Antananarivo. As they had been already serving together in a ministry with youth and teenagers, the association “Avotr’aina ho an’nyankizy” (literally “Life Rescue for Children”) called upon them to lead their camp just 2 days before that camp started; a difficult challenge given the short time they had to prepare. They were told by many other team members that they were very blessed to serve together, yet they needed this opportunity to appreciate that blessing again, as both their hearts were heavy with concerns related to their future wedding. But they shook these off, put their trust in the Lord and taught the kids on the theme of “ A New Creature”, emphasizing what it means to follow Christ. “Avotr’aina ho an’nyankizy” is an association which takes care of orphans and poor children, exactly like Fitarikandro’s Ministry, where Hasiniaina and Henintsoa have been serving since 2015.

The first day was a day of discovery of nature and biodiversity. While visiting the “Geysers of Ampefy”, they saw firsthand the greatness of God, who created everything and who also designed a marvelous plan of salvation. The 80 teenagers were divided into 5 groups named Paul, Matthew, Maria Magdalena, the Samaritan Women and Cornelius. Five people made a profession of faith during the camp.

The second day started with a meditation on Colossians 3: “Think of the things above”. Then the teaching was about “Being a Real Follower of Christ”. The teenagers were very happy to discover and understand the real meaning of receiving Jesus as Lord, and not only Savior. They were told that following Christ in one’s daily life includes giving up everything and being ready to die at any time for the cause of Christ. They were challenged with life-defining questions, “Are you ready to surrender your will, your thoughts, your everything? Are you ready not to yield whatever the cost? Do you realize you have nothing to lose on earth and all to gain in heaven?”.

Ampefy 2

Where is Your Home?

These kids and youth had a very difficult upbringing and have known poverty since their birth. As they are fighting on a daily basis for food or bed, it was easier for those teenagers and children to understand that their real home is not here on earth. It’s such a blessing to see their smiles and tears of joy when we talked about the fact that Jesus prepared a home for us in heaven and that death is not the end, but just the beginning of all that they would have been living for in the. The second day ended with the youths having to do a “news report”, during which they shared in their own words how to be a real Christian.

Getting Real…

The final day was all about applying what they had learned. Hasiniaina and Henintsoa talked about showing love and forgiveness to others. The teenagers were surprised as they opened their lessons with of the top 5 difficult words to say. The first one was “AcideDesoxyriboNucléose”, and the list culminated with “I am sorry, please forgive me”. It is even harder to forgive each other sins, but if we take a look at Matthew 18, we see the story of the bad servant. He was forgiven by the King but refused to show mercy to his friend. We often do the same.

The camp finished with a visit to “Chute de la Lily” waterfalls where they discovered the beautiful work of God once again.

Ampefy 5

Ultimately, Hasiniaina and Henintsoa learned afresh to trust in the faithfulness of God in every situation. In his own words, “Even when everything seems gloomy and messy, we cannot forget that the Lord is on our side. We cannot overlook the fact that our real life is what awaits on the other side of eternity. Our mission here on earth is to proclaim His holiness and His love. We need to lose our pride and fear and keep our sight on the incomparable promised heavenly life. Our temporary afflictions here are nothing, really nothing. So, let’s all be strong and courageous!”

Catharina von Schlegel famous anthem is a fitting reminder of the sweetness of the promise those who believe in Jesus have to one day meet their beloved Savior:

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

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