Thursday 3 September 2009

Review of RIVERCamp 2009

So we're back! These pictures were taken as we left RIVERCamp. Clean. Tidy. As if 2000 people had never been there. What beautiful surroundings in Evesham Vale, part of the Cotswold region of England. Once packed out with apple orchards. Home of cider and all sorts of old species of apples. Gradually some of these are being reintroduced.

The farm buildings are in need of repair and this is a project in the pipeline. The idea is to open the premises to any group of up to 2500 campers, to provide a great Christian facility for families to learn more about experiencing God together. Even before RIVERCamp , Christine and I have had the most amazing week of renewing relationships with those we used to live with and know very well. Christine was just talking of the "vision" of the young whippersnapper Mark Mumford, whose vision was to lead her church from a small house fellowship in a tiny part of a small town to becoming East Midlands Christian Fellowship at Derby, a hub church for the whole area. She was just relating this when a few hours later the very same man and Nestor his wife walk past the caravan! They were checking out the grounds for use by Salt and Light, who Mark now leads in the UK.

How about RIVERCamp itself? Well it was very good and contained some amazing highlights. But can I just be truthful and say last year probably impacted us more. This may be because The Florida Outpouring 08 had had an enormous effect all around the globe. Perhaps everyone was more on the tips of their toes at RIVERcamp last year wondering what was going to happen next. Or perhaps it was one of the first big conferences that I had been to in the UK since the historic Bible Weeks with Ern Baxter in the 70s. Or was it the fact that Havant Church have been trying to pursue the model that both Peter Stott and Nicholas and Pam had experienced firsthand in Lakeland last year. Although we are a small church, both the Key of David meetings and many of our main meetings are incredibly varied, and have been filled with the Presence of the Lord. Did I mention that one of the recent moves in our recent meetings has been to diminish our reliance on "the worship group". God wants His Church back. And every so often He pulls the rug away from the worship leaders and begins a move in the congregation itself. This can be singing in tongues. A new song. A set of testimonies. Prayers. Prophecy. In these days everyone but everyone has to be on their toes!!. Sometimes in our church it is a 5 or 6 year old giving the direction in a meeting. Sometimes the youngsters have such a key time together on the Fridays that all of them share on the Sunday through pictures , prayer or prophecy what they have experienced.

There was at least an occasion when the congregation led the way in some worship at this year's RIVERCamp, but I wasn't sure that there were other times when the "worship band" kicked in by remote.

As I say, perhaps this is coming out of our Havant experiences in the last months. I'd be interested how others got on.
John Wilbraham and Grace Wentworth

Be that as it may, RIVERCamp is still as hard to define in words as ever. It's the sum totality of all these experiences:

Whole families experiencing God together,all age groups, all types of folk.This year 2000 people.

Eating together,living together,having fun on the bouncy castles, the sumo wrestling,the boxing matches. Kids work where many give their lives to Christ and are exposed to living Christ in a cool and non-religious way. Tears of laughter listening to the "notices" and banter between the two Elim leaders David Campbell and Kevin Peate. These guys are like godly stand-up comedians. They are so quick to come back at each other. The worship band. The new songs. See the RIVERCamp link to get past and present worship CDs...oh and all the messages. 2 more key messages from Mark Stibbe, one talking on "Thin Places" as against Thin Moments, the other talking very seriously on "The second Seal" of Revelation, which he feels is the current word for the worldwide Body of Christ. John and Carol Arnott preaching and ministering as parents of the current move of God.They are not ministers in the traditional sense. They really are more empowering parents imparting grace and anointing in each session. I've seen them on God TV, but never live. They are exactly the same as on telly...but you truly do not know what is going to happen through them next. One session was on praying healing over each other. Christine went on the platform to testify about an amazing improvement in some tennis elbow. Another session, a sister in her 50s I believe, testified to a blind eye since birth suddenly popping open, and now being able to see 90%.

Sheila and Wendy

Sheila and Julie

Shawna was excited that we were going with about 30 or 40 from Havant Church. Sadly though, a quirky camping site law says that our caravan had to be by the campsite roadway and therefore separated from all those in our church who were in tents at the bottom of the same field. So although we wandered over many times, and people came up to us, we lost some of the vibrancy of living cheek by jowl.

Grace Wentworth and Gill Stary

Christine and Ben

You can see above that the children's area was fun. Below is a Youtube film of the Great Sumo wrestler Gill Stary (of Hugh and Gill,daughter of Peter Stott) being floored by the mighty power of a mere yoth!

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