Memphis is landlocked in the Mid-South, hours from sun-kissed sand and sparkling waves. A Bellevue guest might hear about Beach Week–Bellevue’s high school summer camp–and assume that the students attend a tropical-themed day camp featuring leis from Amazon, plastic palm trees, and maybe a pool. However, as fun as bulk-ordered leis from Amazon might be, Beach Week is actually a time set aside for Bellevue to fully invest in the lives of high school students, both physically and spiritually! On a hot Monday morning in June, Bellevue staff, volunteers, and campers loaded onto buses at 5:00 a.m. and settled in for the seven-hour drive to the white, sandy beaches in Panama City, Florida. However, this was more than just a retreat. Through God’s power, students experienced a week of eternal significance. He is the reason why Beach Week is so much more than just a week at the beach.
Through Beach Week, Bellevue’s High School Ministry provides an intentional retreat, away from everyday distractions that overwhelm the life of a teen. Just as Jesus withdrew to the wilderness to be with His Father, Beach Week is designed to create an environment where students can withdraw from their busy lives and spend time in the Word. Students have the opportunity to be up at sunrise and seek the Lord before camp activities began. This year, to encourage a more fruitful quiet time, the high school team provided devotionals to the students that focused on the power and authority of Jesus. Daily devotions, small groups, and biblical teachings reinforced Jesus’s authority over temptation, sin, and creation.
Beach Week staff and volunteers invested in the spiritual lives of students through other avenues as well. Grace Wade, Bellevue’s High School Director, shared that, on Wednesday night of camp, students were able to participate in an activity to experience Christ’s authority over their lives. Students were handed two pieces of paper. One had the question, “Who do you need to forgive?” and the other, “How do you need to forgive yourself?” After students answered these questions, they were given a piece of red felt to cover their answers. Grace explained that the red felt represented the prayer, “Even if my feelings are not there, I trust and believe that the blood of Jesus has the power to forgive this.” What better way for students to recognize Jesus’s power over sin than to personally experience His grace and forgiveness?
Through learning about this grace and forgiveness at Beach Week, many students placed their faith in God and gained eternal life in Him. One student named Garrett was a “first fruit” of what was to come. He made a profession of faith on the first day of camp! During the first devotional led by Chuck Butler, students were challenged to investigate their relationship with the Lord as he asked them, “What is going on inside of you when you think about Jesus?” Garrett recognized his need for a right view of Jesus, leading him to repent and accept Christ as his Savior!
Other campers discovered what it means to have intimacy in their personal walk with the Lord. Grace shared about a group of freshmen girls who met Jesus on a deeper level. She recognized these girls as leaders in their community back home, but before Beach Week, they struggled with knowing how to have a deeper relationship with God. Grace challenged these girls to embrace learning about God and to be intentional in their quiet time. The results were transformative! Grace shared that these girls experienced the kind of change she described as “truly, I’m coming home, life change.”
None of these students could have known how God would use Beach Week to forever mark their souls. This is why Beach Week is so much more than just a trip to the beach. Just as Jesus has the power and authority over temptation, sin, and creation, He also has the power to use a week at the beach to change the lives of high school students. With God, nothing is without eternal purpose.
To learn more about God and His power and authority to make your life so much more–to truly experience the abundant life–visit bellevue.org/Jesus. To learn more about Bellevue’s High School Ministry, visit bellevue.org/high-school.