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Matt Collier and Tim Meals had an adventurous visit with Pastor Joseph in the city of Sherpur, on the Indian border of Bangladesh. A jungle region inhabited by different tribes of people, wild elephants, and boarder traffickers, this area outside the city of Dhaka is the newest region Pastor Joseph has been working to start a camp to spread the Gospel.

CampsAbroad has been working alongside Pastor Joseph since 2017, helping him to establish teen camps in various areas around the country. This is the 5th new area where he has established a camp. Each camp is centrally located among a cluster of Bible-believing churches. Apparently, there are 184 tribal churches scattered around the Mymensingh region. Not all of them were participating in this camp, but it gives you an idea of the potential for the spread of the Gospel in this area!

A group of 50 counselors gathered for 2days of training before the inaugural camp. Since most of the counselors for this week of camp were either pastors or deacons from various local churches, the counselors were much older than the normal counselor age for camp in America –the best guess is the average age was 50. The advantage is they are spiritually mature, and Pastor Joseph believed they were hardy and ready for the challenge. Watching the way they responded to the big balls, it became clear that Pastor Joseph’s intuition was correct.

Pastor Joseph has also recruited a group of 10 younger men and women who travel with him, and they help with nearly every camp he runs. What a joy to see this group jump in and serve in so many ways for the week. They are a key to advancing the Gospel and this camping movement in Bangladesh.

Soon enough, 200 campers from 9 different local churches began to arrive. It was quite a sight to see them lined up around the field wearing their team shirts and waiting to meet their counselors. This was their first exposure to camp of any kind, and they weren’t certain what to think at first, but they quickly enjoyed free time and the cheers. Once camp began, it took very little effort to get the teens involved. They jumped right into the competition; the girls seemed to be just as competitive as the guys! They definitely enjoyed the full camp experience. At the beginning of the week, Pastor Joseph estimated around half of the campers were unsaved. The campers listened well during the messages and were encouraged to talk with their counselors regularly.

Matt and Tim spoke through a translator. Pastor Joseph also included several local church leaders in the speaking schedule. Without any pre-planning on the part of the speakers, all the messages worked together to give a clear picture of the Truth of the Gospel. Any calls for responses from campers were intentionally put off until the last service to allow time for the teens to grow in their understanding. At the final service, it was obvious from the distractions that kept coming that spiritual warfare was taking place. Barking dogs, unattended children walking among the teens, and a power outage were all a part of the final service.

Despite the distractions, when Pastor Joseph gave an invitation, young people came forward and wanted to speak with a counselor –one boy practically ran forward as he bolted up the aisle eager to deal with his sin. Pastor Joseph communicated that around 30 young people made a profession of faith!

Pastor Joseph has a great vision for Christian camping in Bangladesh, and it was exciting to see his vision taking hold in this new region. All the pastors present at the camp were thrilled with how the week went, and you could sense a real eagerness to reach the next generation with the Gospel. This new group of people now see camp as a great tool to help their churches in accomplishing that goal.

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