Sabbath, June 16, was a high day as over 7,000 Adventists gathered at IGNITE Camp Meeting 2018 at the International Centre in Mississauga. Together, visitors of all ages were inspired to ignite their passion for Christ and set the world aflame with His love.
An early morning prayer service set a peaceful, worshipful tone for our Ontario camp meeting. Led by Conference director Maria McClean, it included hymns of meditation and praise, small group prayers, testimonies and a visit to the prayer wall—new for 2018—where they could leave requests all day.
Each service added to the next, like layers on a cake. For instance, the adult Sabbath school demonstrated what an impactful Sabbath school looks like, from a sharing and caring session to a Q & A with an informed panel consisting of pastors and lay members to amazing testimonies. Facilitated by Dr. Fitzroy Maitland, the panel simplified such complex topics as the Sabbath, the Mark of the Best and the Seal of God.
During the divine hour, visitors in the different segments were blessed by dynamic, spirit-filled speakers. In the adult section, Dr. Gene Donaldson delivered a powerful message warning against pride, using as an example Peter’s pride when Jesus asked him to cast out his net after a night of unsuccessful fishing; he had to overcome this pride to fulfill Christ’s purpose for his life. Donaldson explained, “Pride squeezes out all passion for Christ;” and continued, “Pride can only be confronted by unconditional love—that which came through Christ’s sacrifice.”
Weaved into more traditional components of the service, actors and musicians from various churches presented pieces illustrating the hope presented by Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Featuring monologues by characters from Bible times and modern days, the drama segment brought a meaningful new element to the divine program. The much-anticipated Parade of Nations also got a face-lift this year, coming at the end rather than the beginning of the divine hour, as a mass choir sang "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.”
Said Vernon Langdon, Conference field rep, “Incorporating it to reflect part of the theme created a greater impact. [As per the day’s theme] of igniting the passion, then carrying the gospel of the soon-coming Jesus Christ, it symbolized the carrying of the message to the different nations as in Rev. 14:6.”
The youth were blessed to have three teen speakers—Gabriela Caballero, who spoke at the special Friday night service for youth and young adults, entitled “Crave 2018,” Alessandro Coronado, who spoke on Saturday evening, and Aaron Dyer, the divine service speaker. All three inspired their peers in their walk with God. For instance, Dyer shared the story of Hosea and the prostitute, Gomer, as an example of Christ pursuing us despite our sins. He summed up, “God will keep coming after you with His love until you get it . . . until something clicks.” In the young adults’ section, Pastor Paulo Tenorio also assured attendees of God’s love, saying, “The value that you have doesn’t come from me or from other people. It comes from God.”
For primary-aged children, the focus was on self-esteem and God-esteem; the two speakers for primary Sabbath school, Anastacia Ferguson, Bansie and Sean Ellis, helped draw out these points in an engaging way. Said Children’s ministry leader Allan Chichester, “We wanted them to understand that they’re valuable and that they can be used as witnesses for Jesus.” The younger children had a real experience with Jesus through the songs and activities of the Vacation Bible Experience kit, “Sea of Miracles,” which focuses on the life of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee.
Setting the World on Fire
As the day continued, the focus shifted from igniting a personal passion for Christ to spreading that passion throughout the world. The adults enjoyed Ontario Conference president, Mansfield Edwards’, report on initiatives the Conference is taking to “REACH Ontario.” He asserted, “We have 33,569 members. Can you imagine, if all of us were ignited by the Spirit, how quickly we could finish the work?”
Said attendee Carril Cornelius, “I especially enjoyed the updates and the new projects that are on the way, but the biggest highlight was news of the meeting about evolution [Earth Day Summit 2019]. I like that the church is willing to talk with the community and let them know what we believe in [i.e., creation] and why.”
Later, as Pastor Jeff Potts presented the homily during the ordination of Pastors Kevin Donaldson, Robert Greaves and Christopher Johnson, attendees were inspired to let God use them in their respective callings. Among several pearls of wisdom, he shared, “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies those He calls.”
The theme of sending out continued when, following another powerful sermon by Pastor Donaldson, all attendees were given cards asking them to commit to ignite a passion within to be a person of influence for Christ, and to lead at least five persons to Christ this year. These cards were collected and will be distributed to different churches to pray over shortly.
Meanwhile, the youth and young adults got a hands-on taste of what it means to spread the love of God through the Compassion initiative, now in its second year. Akehil D. Johnson, ACF leader, enthused, “The Compassion theme for 2018 was mental health! We wanted people to understand that it’s OK not to be OK. We did this by having TedTalks on mental wellness and by going into the local community to bless passersby with mental wellness kits. The whole experience was truly a blessing.”
Throughout the day, music also played a critical role in fostering a transformative experience. The adults enjoyed first-class musical performances from Executive Secretary David Schwinghammer, the praise team, including Tiffany Campbell-Dailey, the Chitans and more. Youth and children were encouraged to share their talents for God’s glory in the evening, as each section featured a well-received talent show; for the youth, this talent show was a continuation of busker performances incorporated into their Sabbath school program.
It was clear to attendees that this camp meeting was organized prayerfully and thoughtfully. "I felt that it was very well-organized. I liked the selection of the speakers because they were very inspirational and I enjoyed what God blessed them with in sharing with us. It's something that I'm gonna remember for quite a while. It made an impact on me,” said attendee Lenny Grant.
Beyond the worship experience, camp meeting was a joyous reunion for people coming from different regions. Said one church member as she hugged an old friend, “This is what I love about camp meeting.” Victoria Lim, a university student from Scarborough Filipino Church, would concur, “What I really enjoy about camp meeting is being able to see everyone again. There are so many people I haven’t seen in a long time, a lot of personalities, all coming together to worship God. It’s like a taste of heaven.”