Encounter Camp: Day 7-10

Theotokos Foundation

On Thursday morning we had the opportunity to go into town and serve at a very special place. The Theotokos Foundation is a remarkable organization that cares for those with severe special needs. Their desire that they would meet the needs of everyone in their care and that they would be valued and cared for in a way that would is specific to the individual. They truly see the people before they see the disability!  We had the great honor of getting to meet the founder of the foundation and hear how this vision started many years ago and what he desires for the future. What a privilege to meet a man who has devoted his life to fighting for those in need.

We were so blessed to just spend time with the residents. It was so amazing to watch the campers come alive as they loved on the people. At the end of the time there we put on a small program of songs and skits bringing joy to everyone in the room. As we debriefed after lunch many commented on about how eye opening this experience was for them. They also explained how moved they were by the staff at the foundation. The love that they show to every individual is so obvious. Many of them shared that this is their life and this is their family. What an inspiration! May we carry the same love to the world around us!

 

Spirit Break Out

Everyday we have been praying for the Lord to break out in our lives and we have been desiring to break out of old patterns and run into newness of life. On Thursday evening we experienced such an outpouring of there spirit where every single life was touched. After a word about sensing God wanted to release the gift of tongues we saw everyone who came forward receive their prayer language. While this was all happening the Holy Spirit was bringing deep healing and restoration to each camper. Depression and anxiety had to leave as the Lord filled up these precious ones with joy.

After this significant time of worship, Julie gave a message that expressed the value God sees in us and how that changes us to bring His light and love to the world around us. Panayoits also shared a powerful word out of Psalm 73 encouraging us that the Spirit of God is always with us. Both affirmed the work that the Lord did that evening that it wasn’t just the gift of tongues but the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them!

Water Games

It’s been very hot this week so to get some relief from the scorching sun, Alicia planned an afternoon of water games. Wet sponges, water balloons and buckets of water were only some of what we used to have get each other wet. Each team had the opportunity to earn more points for their team as they played forms of battleship and a water balloon parachute.

After all of this weeks fun and games we tallied up the points and announced the winning team for this years Encounter Camp.  In fourth place we had Team Encounter God. In third place we had Team Fifth Power. In second place we had Team Spires of the Lord and in first place we had Team #MRCTJ!

 

Shabbat

There are many reasons we love Shabbat including the freshly baked Challah bread and enjoying a delicious meal. More than this, we love to take a deep breath and recount all that the Lord did in the days behind us.  We love lifting our hands to dedicate them to the work of Yeshua in our lives and we love the sweetness celebrating this together. This week was no different as we spent time in remembering what He has done for us and looking ahead together for all He will continue to do.

After the meal we gathered together for a time of testimonies. The campers began to share how God had impacted their lives the night before. God has been so faithful move among us! After a time of worship Cissou encouraged everyone to continue recounting all the Lord did in their lives and to never forget the encounters they had here. Steffen then shared a provoking message  from the life of Esther encouraging us to step into confidence and freedom.

 

Commissioning Service

It’s always a little bittersweet when things come to an end. Camp has been such an amazing time filled with a lot of fun and countless encounters with the Lord. That being said He had a lot more in store for us on the last evening. During worship we prayed for a campers back who has a lot of pain for a long time and when we were done praying her back felt a lot better. We then prayed for two more people with back issues. One of them felt a huge improvement and the other was completely healed!

To close the evening the staff served the campers communion and prayed for each one to seal all the breakthrough they received this week. We ended the evening with a few songs that expressed our desire for true passion for the Lord. Tears of thankfulness streamed down the faces of both campers and staff as the He drew near to us. With full hearts we returned to the cabins for our last evening together.

 

Farewell Gathering

On Sunday friends and family gathered to celebrate all the Lord has done. We began with a short time of worship singing songs that meant a lot to us the last ten days. Many of the campers shared testimonies of how they encountered the Lord during camp.   One of them shared about  rededicating her life to Yeshua and others shared about the freedom they feel after being in His presence.

Families were then invited outside for a performance that the campers have been working on since the beginning of the camp. This dance was a creative expression to show the desire to break out of the normal christian life and to fully pursue bringing the Kingdom of God to the world. There was such a powerful message of hope spoken through this dance!

Though it is bittersweet to say goodbye, it’s amazing to look back and reflect on how deeply the Lord touched our lives in throughout the camp. We are so proud of all of those who came to the camp and broke out of the things that kept them from fully pursuing God. We can see God’s faithfulness and we are sure of the beautiful work He did in our midst.

 

 

Encounter Camp: Day 4-6

Meet The Teams!

Though there has been a heat wave, nothing can stop us from having fun and finding adventure. Every day we break out into teams for various activities. Meet them Below!

Color Bomb Capture The Flag!

It wouldn’t be camp without a friendly game of Capture the Flag. It definetly wouldn’t be Encounter Camp without going a little out of the box. On Monday we ventured to a nearby field to play. As the teams discussed their roles and came up with their own strategies, the staff planted themselves at all of the boundary lines for a little fun of their own. The whistle blew and the campers began to run as fast as they could to the opposing side. Much to their surprise, they were suddenly being covered in neon colored powder.  The game intensified as they had to dodge not only getting tagged, but the color attack from their staff. The teams did so well working together that no one could actually get the other teams flag successfully over the line.

 

Worship and Teaching with Gwen

In worship that evening we began with some testimonies of how the Lord has been moving in the campers lives. He is truly bringing such transformation and it is a beautiful thing to witness. During worship there was a sense that we were right on the edge of breakthrough. As a prophetic act, everyone came forward to the stage to run and jump off into newness of life!

We then had the pleasure to hear from Gwen our fearless Encounter Camp leader. She spoke about the way God had called Jeremiah and the destiny God has for our lives. Our prayer for these students is that they would see the beautiful horizon He has before them.

Picture Scavenger Hunt

This year we decided to bring back a game that many campers have loved in the past. We sent each team out into the village with a diverse list of things they needed to get pictures of. Pumping a strangers gas, holding a cat, going down a slide as a group, and making a human pyramid were just some on that list. Each team did such a great job working together to get as many pictures as possible and some of the results were hilarious.

Shouts of Joy, Dance of Freedom!

On Tuesday during worship the Lord poured out His joy in a beautiful way. As we sang, exuberant praise came forth and we danced and shouted to the Lord. Many stepped into a new measure of freedom as they broke out of their comfort zones and worshipped without abandon. After worship Iulian shared from Numbers 13 encouraging us to not be limited by fear and fight for the promises of God in our lives. Alicia shared from the inspiring life of Obed Edom and desire to be in the presence of God. She encouraged everyone that when we seek His presence we will surely find Him.

Beach Day

To try and beat the heat we decided to head down to the beach for games and refreshment. With much excitement we hopped in the cars and drove down to Limassol.   After having a quick lunch, everyone ran straight for the water to race to the rafts floating on the sea. Some of the team decided to have diving contests or see who could flip the best while others waded along the shore. After about an hour of time in the sea we swam back to shore for a team challenge. Each team was given a shovel and a bucket in order to make the best sand sculpture.   Immediately they took their place on the sand  to see who could build the biggest or best. Some sculpted sharks or turtles while others kept the tradition of sand castles alive. Even the staff decided to join in with the competition and construct a massive sand structure. In the end it was the turtle that took the lead and gained points for their team. It was a fun day in the sun 

Guest Speaker: Brandon from Youth For Christ

During a deep time of worship we sang in the languages represented in the camp as we cried out for a move of God through our lives. We then had the honor to have Brandon from Youth for Christ as a guest speaker. He shared a message about our adoption as sons and daughters of God.  It is our desire to to see the youth in this region receive the revelation of their sonship. As this happens we are confident that the Lord will use them as fire starters in their nations!

 

Encounter Camp: Day 1-3

 

Welcome to the Encounter Camp 2017 blog! This is such an exciting time of year and we are so expectant for all God will pour out in our midst! Last Friday we welcomed 19 young students from Cyprus and Egypt to a ten day encounter with the Lord. The theme for this years school is Break Out inspired by Philippians 3:12-21. It is our desire that each one who has come will break out of anything that holds them back from stepping into their true identity as a son or daughter of God. We are expecting a breakout of the Holy Spirit in our lives like never before.

As each student began to arrive excitement began to fill the room as we spent some time getting to know one another through various games and ice breaker activities. After breaking up into our teams for the camp, every group came up with a design to put on their flag and put together a team song. We could already tell that deep friendships were being formed before our eyes

 

Friday Night

On our first evening together, it was our joy to gather around the table and celebrate shabbat. We ate a delicious Indian meal and shared our expectations for the next ten days! After dinner we had a beautiful time of worship and then Remi shared the Word with us. It was the perfect way to start off Encounter Camp with someone who has revival fire burning in his heart for this generation! After sharing out of Philippians 3 and the surpassing worth of knowing Yeshua, he encouraged the campers to lay down their burdens and to say no to the things that hold them back from knowing Him. We then had a time of prayer for those who felt they needed to respond to Remi’s message.  God began to move among us by bringing a desire to know him more deeply.

Worship on Saturday

We began our morning with a powerful exhortation from Panayiotis on what it looks like to respond to the Lord’s invitation for our lives. He shared out Psalm 27:8 inspiring all of us with a desire to seek His face. What a better way to respond then to enter into a time of worship together. When we look to Him and seek His face, He will surely show Himself to us.

In the evening after another time of worship, Ani shared a word of encouragement. Joke shared such a great message that led into the ladies and the guys having a separate time of sharing some of the things that were going on in their lives. As each one opened up to one another, the Lord came with his peace bringing measures of healing to many hearts. God is so good and has been going so deep in just the beginning of the camp!

 

Face to Face: Morning Devotions

In preparation for the camp our staff felt that this is a time where the students will experience Yeshua in such an intimate way. We decided to call our times of devotions Face to Face. In the Lord’s goodness, one of our campers sole desire for this camp was to see His face! Every morning after worship we gather in small groups for a time to dive into the Word and share what God is saying to us. On Saturday we talked about the things we desire from God for our lives. This gave opportunity for all of the campers dream with the Lord and ask what He is saying for their lives. So many beautiful responses came from their mouths. We have such an amazing group of youth who are passionate about loving people and making His name famous in the earth!

 

Game Time

In the afternoon we gathered for a time of team games. For a cold yet refreshing activity, each team had to creatively defrost a t-shirt that had been soaked in water and then frozen. The team that got someone to put on the t-shirt first won that game. We moved on to a game that was a little more aggressive and a bit louder. Using a string each one tied balloons to their ankles and they had to pop as many as they could. There was an intense face off at the end for the win. We finished this off by getting soaked as we played a game of spud!

Avakas Gorge and the Sea Caves

After loading the cars we set off for a two hour journey to go on a beautiful hike at the Avakas Gorge. The terrain quickly changed from walking through a forest to venturing through a stream to get to the gorge. After eating lunch, we went to a special spot at the at the beach to explore some sea caves. The day was a huge success and full of adventure.

Following Yeshua

In the evening we gathered for worship and the resounding theme was choosing to follow Yeshua. Even though everyone here has made that decision, it caused all of us to consider what that means for our lives. Jonathan then shared a his testimony of coming to a place of salvation after a long season of hopelessness. After, Gabe shared a fiery word out of Hebrews 12 encouraging everyone to fix our eyes on Yeshua and run hard after Him.

The first three days of Encounter camp has brought so much freedom and breakthrough as the Lord has been touching these lives in such transformational ways! We continue to wait with much expectation for each camper to fully break out of anything that would keep them from receiving all that God has for them!

 

ENCOUNTER – Day Seven & Eight

day7-8-featured

Therefore, Go!

On Saturday morning we had our final devotional time together. With each day highlighting a different theme, it was exciting to dive into the final topic: ‘Therefore, Go!’ Based on Yeshua’s Great Commission of Matthew 28, we meditated on what it means to be sent out into the world as agents of revival. As we encounter God this week on the mountain, our desire to see His presence taken down to where there are many broken people in need of a similar touch from the Lord. Talking together in small groups, each young person was given the opportunity to share about their personal journey and reflections on the day’s scripture portions. Our team spoke life into the young people and prayed for courage to overcome areas of fear. May we be marked with an Isaiah 61 anointing!

day5-6-smallgroups

Football Tournament

On Saturday afternoon, the teams enjoyed one of their final opportunities to win points for their teams. This time they would be competing in a football tournament! Driving to a nearby football pitch, we had a short warmup playing Ultimate Frisbee before diving into the game with passion. With each match only lasting 10 minutes, there was only a small window to shine before the next teams would have a turn to step up. Extra points were appointed to individuals with the Best Attitude (Joshua from the Yellow team) and also to the Best Players (Arad from the Green team and Judith from the Yellow team!). During the football matches, those not playing competed to see who could keep a volleyball in the air for the longest time and which team could do the most kickups with a football. At the end of the day, we said goodbye to Joshua, Caleb and Louise as they left to fly to the UK – it’s been such a joy to have them with us! God is truly forming some deep and special friendships this year during Encounter Camp, as we have fun together but most importantly as we run after Jesus together. Friendships birthed in His presence can last a lifetime!

day7-8-footballtournamentagain

Saturday Night Worship

Saturday night was our final big worship blow-out here in Moniatis! Packed into the worship room, it filled us with joy to see those gathered worshipping with abandonment. Shining faces and hands raised high bore witness to the many transformations that have taken place in only one week. As we worshipped, the Holy Spirit came and blew through the room, taking many to deeper places than they had been before. Standing under the waterfall of His love and power, we received another fresh touch from God on our final night together. As our team moved through the room praying for people and anointing them with oil from our land, it was clear to see the hearts that were being set ablaze and those who were being marked by His Spirit. After a while we began to pray for our families and particularly those who don’t yet know the Lord. Siblings came together to intercede for breakthrough in their families, and nationalities also stood with each other to ask God for an outpouring in their own land. The night came to a close as the young people were commissioned to return home carrying this fire of revival!

day7-8-saturdayworshipagain

Streams Worship Gathering – Limassol

We ended this year’s Encounter Camp with a Streams Worship Gathering in Limassol on Sunday night. Joining with everyone at Glory House, it was great to be reunited with parents, family and friends as we gathered together to worship and thank God! The evening began powerfully as Arad, Daniella, and George all came forward to share their own testimonies of what the Lord has done this past week. Everyone then made their way to the front as it was time to perform our group dance! Following on from the freedom we all received in worship during the camp, the team stepped up to inspire this liberty in others as they moved together strongly. Wearing our Cry Out t-shirts, the theme of the camp was shown again as the song’s lyrics declared “I’m going to sing out loud and let my voice be heard!” After a time of worship, Chandy shared a message about responding to every situation from the viewpoint of God’s love, challenging us to be set apart with His vision and Heaven’s perspective. As the meeting ended, the sound of a great cry filled the room as we shouted out the name of Jesus together – ‘we love Your name, Jesus, You’re the beautiful one!’

Truly this year’s Encounter Camp has been life changing for both the young people and also for our team, and we are so thankful to the Lord for how He has met us with His presence and filled us with His love. May we go on from this time into where God has called us with the sound of hope ringing out from our lives. May we never stop crying out!

day7-8-streamsagain

day7-8-artworkstreams

ENCOUNTER – Day Five and Six

featured

Worship – Wild and Free!

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Romans 8:15

During our times of worship together, it’s increasingly clear to see how God is touching lives and transforming hearts through the touch of His Spirit. As we receive the love of God in a greater way, we are stepping into greater freedom! With this, we cannot help by cry out with praise and adoration, the shout of thanksgiving overflowing from our lives.

It’s been a joy to receive a team this week from Caleb Company, based in Nashville, Tennessee. Caleb Company have been long-time friends of Gateways Beyond and have a vision to equip God’s people with His heart for Israel and the nations. Their team of nine is currently on a trip to the Middle East and have come to Encounter Camp to serve in any way possible – we are so thankful for them! On Thursday night the team led us into the presence of God through worship, singing out that Jesus is making us wild, free and full of fire! They then took time to prophesy over each of the young people in turn, sharing the impressions they felt from the Lord. It was amazing to hear the words of life, hope and destiny being spoken over everyone! We look forward to seeing how God will multiply these seeds in years to come.

day5-6-worshipagaintrial

Beach Fun Day


Thursday was the Encounter Camp 2016 beach day! We all piled into the vehicles after dance practice with our picnics, sun screen and beach towels – our destination: Lady’s Mile beach in Limassol. After our lunch, Paul led the activities for the afternoon. This involved a classic game of British Bulldog (also known as Sharks and Minnows) and an Ultimate Frisbee tournament! After the games, the group enjoyed some free time to enjoy the sun, sea and sand before driving back up the mountain.

day5-6-beach

Friday morning with Gustavo Manduca


Gustavo Manduca is a former professional footballer who also spent time playing for APOEL FC here in Cyprus. Most importantly, he loves Jesus! We were honored to welcome him on Friday morning when he came to share with the camp. Gustavo shared his testimony about how he came to know Jesus and he spoke of his personal walk with God in the midst of the limelight of professional sports. Challenging us to stand firm in our decision to follow the Lord, many received his words to heart as he said that “the decisions that we make can change our history … It’s always easier when we take the decision to choose God and walk on His way.” For all of us, it was such an encouragement to hear from someone who has walked humbly with God in a difficult place. God has called us to influence the environments we are placed in and be an agent of the Kingdom of Heaven – we are ambassadors. Everyone was encouraged not to foolishly chase after fame or what the world would call ‘success’ but to choose God, journeying higher with Him into love and peace. Thank you Gustavo!

day5-6-manduca

Erev Shabbat


It is our desire to enter into the rhythm of God’s design for our lives. One of His intentions for us is to enjoy Shabbat, a time set apart for us in the week to rest in Him. Shabbat is also a special opportunity to stand with Jewish communities worldwide and on Friday evening, at the start of the Shabbat day, we gathered together with joy to remember His unending covenant with us. For a few of the young people this was their first time participating in a Shabbat meal. As we broke bread together and shared in traditional prayers and songs, thankfulness filled our hearts and we reflected on how the Lord has brought us all to this place ‘for such a time as this.’ **EDIT

day5-6-shabbat

ENCOUNTER – Day Three and Four

day3-4-featured

Morning Worship


Our times of worship are quickly becoming the highlight of each day, as they should be. We love giving God our best! As we come together each morning to sing songs of praise and adoration, a platform is created for God to move and touch our hearts, bringing transformation. Over the past few days, the Lord has been moving and the list of testimonies is growing. Several young people came forward at the beginning of worship on Tuesday and Wednesday morning to testify of what God is doing in them already this week. Many have experienced more joy, peace and courage as a result of God’s touch. Someone shared how they had felt depressed and heavy for a few months before Encounter and didn’t really want to come – but after experiencing God during worship they felt the heaviness lift and were filled with joy! On Tuesday morning, it was amazing to hear from Ani as she shared her life’s testimony. Ani came to the second ever Encounter camp back in 2011 and has been back every year since. This year she is joining our staff team for the first time! It was so powerful to hear her speak from a place of breakthrough and authority about what God has done in her life, and we were all so encouraged to witness an ‘Encounter-teen’ a few years down the line, pursuing God with a passion.

day3-4-worship1day3-4-worship2

Hiking the Waterfall


Tuesday was our hiking day and the group excitedly made their way into the cars to begin! We drove to Foini, which is quite close to our base in Moniatis, and spent the afternoon exploring some waterfalls there. As the cars dropped everyone off at the bottom of the hill, it was a great warmup to make our way upwards – the sound of water getting louder and louder encouraged us to keep walking! The effort was definitely worth it as we reached the top and had a picnic lunch in a beautiful spot by the waterfall, underneath the covering of green trees. We began to climb higher, following the streams further up the mountain but unfortunately the weather then turned against us and we got caught in a huge downpour of rain! Forced to turn back, the group made their way down towards the cars – very wet but still having a lot of fun! Similar to last year’s Encounter hike, it seems that the forecast can be quite difficult to predict…
day3-4-hike

Serving at Wellspring


On Wednesday, we had the amazing opportunity to send a small team to help out at RightHere, a second-hand store in Limassol which is part of Wellspring Association. Wellspring is a ministry striving to be a counterforce against injustice in Cyprus. Working with victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse or vulnerability they have opened a drop-in centre in Limassol and also organize after-care, home visits and other activities. Our team of six made their way to the second-hand store and spent the day helping in any way they could. In a few hours they sorted through donations, labelled clothing and arranged a children’s window display. Margot, the store’s manager and one of Wellspring’s faithful volunteers, shared their vision with the group. She spoke about how many of the women dealing with crises in their lives have lost their sense of identity, hope and future. Wellspring desires to see their lives restored to a place of secure identity and hope-filled destiny! During our time there, God began to touch the hearts of those in our group in a powerful way – He was giving us His heart for justice and allowing us to feel something of what He feels. One of the girls shared afterwards that she felt she could give her life to working for a vision like Wellspring’s! May we be ready and willing to answer the call to be a voice in the nations for justice, mercy and compassion! May we cry out for those with no voice! We encourage you to find out more about Wellspring and the amazing work they are doing.
day3-4-wellspring

Dance Practice


During Encounter, the teens are spending time to learn a group dance set to the song ‘On the Shores’ by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser. This is a great chance to exercise our freedom in worship through movement! God has used dance and movement a countless number of times to bring breakthrough in people’s lives and we are so expectant for this year’s dance too. The chorus of the song rings out with the lyrics “I’m going to sing out loud and let my voice be heard! It’s a song of victory and it’s ringing in the Earth” – another reminder of our heart behind this year’s theme “Cry Out.” Our prayer is that even during the rehearsals God would touch hearts with his love and power. We will be performing the finished dance on Sunday night at our Streams Worship Gathering in Limassol (join us at 16.00 at Glory House!).
day3-4-dance

An Afternoon at Adventure Mountain Park


On Wednesday afternoon we drove to Adventure Mountain Park which is an outdoor activity center in the mountains. This was a great time of activities and fun for everyone, and the perfect opportunity to let off some steam. The camp split into two groups and took turns playing laser-tag and rock climbing. For many people, rock climbing was outside of their comfort zone – yet, in the process they learned how to step out in a new area and overcome fears and limitations. The laser tag game quickly became competitive as each team wanted to finish in first place. After an intense couple of hours, the Green team emerged as the overall winners!

day3-4-adventuremountain

day3-4-adventureteam

ENCOUNTER – Day One and Two

cry-out

Welcome to Encounter Camp!


Welcome to Encounter Camp’s blog for 2016! We are so expectant for God to meet us all in a powerful way and for lives to be changed over the next action-packed week in His presence. On Sunday morning, our staff waited in anticipation for the first arrivals of young people. Teens from Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and Belgium are joining us this year and we cannot wait to see what God does in these 26 revival-carriers! Gwen and Remi, our Encounter leaders, took some time to share the vision and theme behind this year’s Encounter – CRY OUT. Inspired by Isaiah 40, we desire to see an emerging generation finding their voice and crying out for the Lord! They then introduced our wonderful staff team and everyone was taken to find their bed and unpack for the next 7 days!

intro-final

Breaking the Ice


To help us get to know each other at the beginning of the week, we played a few ice-breaker games on Sunday afternoon, led by Alicia. Everyone is split into four teams and will be competing throughout Encounter to earn points (of course there is a prize for the winning team!). Teams chose their own name based on their assigned colour: the blue team became ‘Royal Blue,’ the Yellow is ‘Buttered Popcorn,’ Green is ‘Green Glory’ and Red became ‘Red-necked Spartans!’ At the end of day two, the competition is already growing!

icebreaker-final

Devotional Time


Throughout Encounter Camp we take time each morning to open His Word together for a time of devotions. Our desire for this time is not only to see truth and revelation imparted to the youth, but to give each person the opportunity to seek God for themselves. To create desire in them to continue to seek God for themselves, long after this camp has finished. We began on Monday morning inspiring passion for the Word, highlighting that the foundational and first reason we open these holy pages is to encounter God. Each word is an invitation to know Him more!

devos-final

Evening Worship


To begin and end each day pursuing God and enjoying His presence is our greatest joy, and this year is no different. And so, we gather together every morning and evening to worship during Encounter. In His presence, everything changes: fears and insecurities fade and we truly come alive as the sons and daughters of the King! As we released our praise together on Sunday night, a song arose that “we are washed and liberated, loved and fully accepted.” What a beautiful truth to start off this week with! Remi made a declaration that Jesus is better than anything the world can offer – nothing can compare to the adventure of a life lived for God. He encouraged everyone to fasten their seat belts as we press in this week and ask the Lord to take full ownership of our lives.

worship-final

Wet and Wild Day


Monday was the perfect day to enjoy some water games outside! Relishing the opportunity to win more points for their teams, the young people energetically created chants to rally everyone together. Water Balloon Relay, Human Battleships and a game involving a large slingshot were all on the menu for the afternoon and soon some of the girls’ requests to “keep their hair dry” were long forgotten! The afternoon ended with a full-on water fight before everyone jumped in the dam for a swim before dinner.

watergames-final

Monday with Youth for Christ


On Monday evening we were honoured to welcome a special guest and friend, Brandon, from Youth for Christ. Brandon is YFC’s director in Cyprus and it is such a privilege to partner with others who also desire to see a generation on this island set on fire for Yeshua. Brandon shared his testimony about struggling with anxiety and then spoke to us from Isaiah 40:30-31 that “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Encouraging us to persevere with God, he also championed community by saying that “God never created us to do this alone.” Amen!

brandon-final

ENCOUNTER 2015: Day Five to Seven

ENCOUNTER 2015_header3

Morning Worship

“Who is full of Hope?” was the question asked. The youth were exhorted that hope is what keeps us from drowning from the waves of this world. They were encouraged that we must gain the identity of Christ, that our true identity in Him has to be our foundation. The youth were given time to ask the Lord areas they need to have Hope. We then transitioned into a time of allowing the joy of the Lord to be our strength. As we danced and shouted around the worship room, we grabbed ahold of faith, hope, and joy to lead us towards truth over our lives.

ENCOUNTER 2015_5-6 devotions

Devotions

On Monday in devotions, we focused on prayer and intercession. We talked about what it means to pray without ceasing and some of the different keys to effective prayer. During Tuesday’s devotions, the focus was on prophecy and why it is so important to God. We shared with the youth that prophecy is to be used to encourage, edify and build one another up! It says in Joel 2:28, “…your sons and your daughters shall prophesy….”

ENCOUNTER2015_devotions5-6

Beach Day

Monday afternoon we headed to Limassol for an exciting afternoon of lunch on the beach, swimming and a team competition of beach Olympics. Each team picked one person from their team to compete in each event. Each event was timed and score was given based on the fastest time. The team to take the gold was Ice Cream You Scream!

ENCOUNTER 2015_4-5 beach day 1
ENCOUNTER 2015_4-5 beach day 2

Picture Scavenger Hunt

For Tuesday’s activity we sent the youth on a picture scavenger hunt! Each team was given a list that of which they had to take pictures. A picture of their whole team sitting on a bench, a picture of a cash register, a picture of a butterfly, a picture of an emergency vehicle with its lights on were just a few. The teams scrambled around the village to find the items as they were on a time limit. When all the teams returned, we created a slide show of each team’s pictures to see which team was able to check off the most tasks. The champion of the picture scavenger hunt was Red Eagles!

ENCOUNTER_post3_scavenger

Creative Expression

Part of our desire in Gateways is to grow in creativity as we recognize that we are made with the very DNA of the Creator God. With a desire to instill this understanding in the youth, we made space in our busy schedule for the students to embrace creativity on a new level by expressing how the Lord encountered them this week through painting, writing a song or poem, or making a collage of pictures and other objects that tell their story. They had freedom to use whatever materials they could find, and the results were inspiring!

ENCOUNTER_post3_creative
ENCOUNTER_post3_creative-daniella

Monday & Tuesday Night Service

Monday evening the Lord was doing a new work in the youth. While worshipping a song was given from the Lord “Who do you say I am.” We were led into a time of repentance and consecration turning away from a life of compromise. Tuesday evening Preston shared about consecration, setting ourselves apart. Preston defined consecration as space for God, explaining the danger of when we create space but don’t fill it. He taught about knowing the truth and walking in truth. We must know the truth and know what the word of God says. And then we must walk in the truth; it’s not enough to just talk about it. He gave personal testimony and practical and spiritual ways we can stay in the truth. We ended the evening with communion together taking time to appreciate and thank Jesus for dying on the cross for us and shedding His blood on our behalf.

ENCOUNTER 2015_5-6 evening worship 1

ENCOUNTER 2015_5-6 evening worship 2

Wednesday Farewell

Wednesday was our farewell to an amazing Encounter Camp 2015. After some cleaning and final team time, we welcomed parents and friends to join in a time of worship together. The time was filled with thanking the Lord for all He did in the lives of the youth personally and corporately throughout the camp. Many happy tears came as parents listened to the children step out sharing testimony of joy, freedom, and a new closeness to the Lord. We ended our day with refreshments and a time of fellowship. Many hugs were given and a sense of expectation to continue to live for God more and more everyday as they travel back to their cities and families.

ENCOUNTER_post3_lastday

ENCOUNTER 2015: Day Three & Four

ENCOUNTER 2015_header2

Morning Worship

As we begin each morning with a time of worship, we are continually amazed at how God meets with us time and time again.One student shared her experience in worship singing the lyrics, “This is amazing grace, this in unfailing love, that you would take my life, that I would be set free”. She began to share with tears in her eyes how the song came alive in her as she realized the words she was singing and God came and touched her life. Alex, one of the staff, then shared his testimony of being raised in an unbelieving family, encountering God as a teenager, and having his life transformed by the presence and the Word of God. Afterwards, he began praying over the students that they would increase in their hunger for the Lord and that they would be a voice to impact their own generation.

ENCOUNTER 2015_morning worship 3-4

Devotions

In devotions the students have been discussing the subject concerning hearing the voice of the Lord. The question raised was, “How can we know what God is speaking to us?” We looked at key verses like Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” and John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me”. Great expectation grew from the students as they discussed listening and hearing the voice of God.

ENCOUNTER_post2_devotions

Wilderness Trek

Saturday afternoon we went for a hike along a stream in the Troodos mountains. We started at the bottom with lunch and some fun team games where each member could earn points for their team. After the games, we started our trek up the mountain toward the mineshaft. Along the way we enjoyed the beautiful environment and uniqueness of Cyprus mountain region. The path zigzagged back and forth across the river, and it was always an adventure trying to figure out where to safely cross by jumping from one rock to the next. The reward of this long trek was fresh, ice cold water found while discovering the old mineshaft.

ENCOUNTER_post2_hike

Moving the Ellinas Family

One of our Gateways community families is moving back to the U.S. Their sons, Caleb & Christos were involved in Encounter last year and Caleb was involved again this year. We had the opportunity to serve and bless them practically by helping load packed boxes into their container to be shipped overseas. We will miss our dear friends as they embark on this new season of their lives. With the Ellinas family moving, we had to say goodbye to Caleb. During our morning worship session we took time to pray over Caleb speaking words of encouragement over his life, sending him out blessed.

ENCOUNTER_post2_moving

Football Tournament

Sunday afternoon our outdoor event consisted of our 3 very energetic teams competing in the 6th annual Encounter Camp Football Tournament. All teams played with great teamwork and passion in hopes of reaching the cup final. First, team Ice Cream You Scream were knocked out in regulation, leaving both teams The Folks of Righteousness and Red Eagles in a classic battle for this years’ glorious title. In the end after a very close and well played game, The Folks of Righteousness scored a late winner in extra time! Making them this year’s triumphant champion!

ENCOUNTER_post2_football

Evening Worship Meetings

We had the honor of having a guest speaker from Nicosia on Saturday evening, Christopher Pitsillides. He shared out of Ezekiel 37:1-12, the story of the dry bones coming to life. Christopher encouraged the youth that there is no situation in life that God can’t change! Nothing is impossible! He shared personal testimonies from his own life about the power of words and how we need to start prophesying to our lives to make it change! “The thing that you want to see being changed, you start prophesying and speak it into happening”.
We had an incredible service Sunday evening as the presence of the Lord came so strong! One of the youth shared a word he received that someone in the room had pain on their right side. From that word, God exploded in the room touching personal lives! We saw backs, knees, ankles, sides, and stomachs healed! One student shared that he has felt oppressed for 5 years, someone prayed for him and he felt it gone. Come on Jesus! Two youth were filled with the Holy Spirit and received the gift of speaking in tongues for the first time. Joy filled the room as testimonies were shared and we saw the goodness of God come.

ENCOUNTER 2015_3-4 evening worship 1
ENCOUNTER 2015_3-4 evening worship 2

ENCOUNTER 2015: Day One & Two

ENCOUNTER 2015_header1

Kickoff to the Encounter Camp 2015

Kickoff to Encounter Camp 2015! As many cars pulled into the parking lot, staff made their way to greet the students as they arrived. Many hugs, smiles, and laughter were exchanged as we are all excited to begin another week of Encounter camp. We have 20 youth from all across the island of Cyprus, Egypt, Israel and Belgium. We took the afternoon for introductions, get-to-know-you games, and fellowship together connecting with old friends and meeting new.
Each day of the camp, the students will have opportunity to compete in various games, sports events, and team building activities. The first day, the students were split into three teams and were given the first task of coming up with a name and chant for their team. Much chatter, brainstorming, and creativity began as team members discussed together. This year the teams are….drum roll please….Folks of Righteousness, Ice cream You scream, and Red Eagles!
ENCOUNTER 2015_teams
ENCOUNTER 2015_day 1-2 games

Evening Worship Meeting

Thursday evening, our first time of worship, was a powerful start of the Encounter. We had a feeling of God drawing closer and feeling His delight for the coming days ahead of us. After worship, Caleb, one of the youth, started sharing with us about his Encounters with the Lord during this year. It was amazing to hear him step out and share about God breaking through in his life. He encouraged everyone to not think about what others will think about them, but fully enter in the Encounter God has for everyone individually. Remi took the mic after him and continued speaking about God’s purposes and desire of wanting to breakthrough in our lives. Spurring us on to desire to walk with the Holy Spirit personally in everyday life. Seeking after Him and be completely open for everything He wants to do. Friday evening Gwen took it away with stating: “Let’s not be distracted, but attracted!” She was encouraging the students from Psalms 119 and how it shows us to walk in a pure way, holding fast the word of God and eagerly desire more of the Lord.
ENCOUNTER 2015_1-2 evening meeting 1
ENCOUNTER 2015_1-2 evening meeting 2

Devotions – Praise, Pray, Prophecy and Proclaim


In a time of worship earlier in the year, the Lord spoke to us the words: pray, praise, prophesy, and proclaim. Our heart over the course of the camp is to dive deeper into these words, which fit right alongside of our theme, “The Sound of Revival.” Each day of the week there is a set subject with different scriptures written for everyone to read and to meditate on. Following our morning worship times we sit and discuss what God is speaking to us on the subject of the day.
These past 2 days we have looked at what it looks like when the Holy Spirit is poured out, according to our theme verse from Joel 2. And we also have considered what it means to worship in spirit and in truth, being released into greater expressions of praise. God has spoken so much in the short times that we’ve spent together, and we are expectant of much more as we continue to go deeper in the word.
ENCOUNTERB_post1_devotions

Wet & Wild Water Games

The whistle blew and the games began. It was time to start our wet and wild afternoon. With each of the staff armed with water balloons and water pistols. Playing water balloon musical bumps and back-pass fill the bucket made for many wet students. The highlight of the afternoon for the students was a chance to pour a bucket of water over a staff member of their choosing!  Our teams worked hard, earning point and having fun. At the end of the day, the winning team was declared the Folks of Righteousness. A great day end to the afternoon of day two!
ENCOUNTER 2015_water games1
ENCOUNTER 2015_water games 2

Shabbat Shalom – Entering into His Rest

Shabbat Shalom! Friday evening we lit the candles of Shabbat and entered into His Shabbat rest. Together we reflected on His goodness and testimony of this previous week. As we looked around, we are blessed and encouraged that the Lord would bring each student up to this mountain to encounter each one of them. Just this morning in worship, we were reading together Psalm 63 talking about seeking Him throughout the day, meditating on His word, and giving Him praise. As we reflect on the testimony of all He has done in our lives, we have much to be thankful for.
ENCOUNTER 2015_Shabbat