10 Aug Path of Hope Bible Camp: An Unforgettable Adventure
Every year across East Africa, each of Lahash’s partner ministries host a special Bible Camp event for the sponsored kids they serve. These 3-4 day camps are full of Bible lessons, group discussions, plenty of food and games, and some unforgettable adventures. This year I had the privilege to travel to the city of Mwanza, Tanzania and attend the Bible Camp put on by our friends at Path of Hope Children’s Ministry.
The kids served by Path of Hope are all from the small city of Shinyanga and the rural villages that surround it. Most of them have never traveled outside of that extremely arid region of Tanzania, so making the long journey to the big city of Mwanza along the vast waters of Lake Victoria was an adventure in itself. And that was just the beginning!
As the sun was setting, the bus pulled up to the conference center and I watched as 30 excited kids piled out to stretch their legs and check out their new surroundings. Seeing their boundless energy and hearing small eruptions of laughter and shouts in Swahili, I knew we were all in for fun few days.
The theme for the camp was “Staying on the Path of Purity” from Psalms 119:9. Each morning, the sessions focused on important life lessons from scripture along with age-appropriate discussions on sexuality and gender issues. The kids were encouraged to think critically about making good choices now that can impact their lives for many years to come. The mornings and evenings were also filled with worship, clapping, singing, and lots of dancing—all led by the children themselves. One night they even put on a talent show complete with choreographed dances, group songs, memory verses, and even a comedy routine!
The mornings were great, but the highlight of each day definitely came during the afternoon. On the first day we all piled back into the bus and headed to the lake. I was told we were going to the zoo, but this was unlike any “zoo” I had ever visited. I could tell we were in for an adventure when a small crocodile greeted us at the boat dock! Then we were picked up by a boat and enjoyed speeding out across the water to an island nature reserve called Saa Nane National Park. The kids spent all afternoon hiking the island’s pathways and rock features alongside the animals that call the island their home. Along with breathtaking views of Lake Victoria they saw a variety of birds, wildebeest, impala, monkeys, peacocks, and even lions. Thankfully the lions were behind a fence! It was definitely an unforgettable experience these kids will always take with them.
The following day, we all spent the afternoon at the Bujora Historical Museum. Again, this wasn’t your typical “museum” experience. It was a huge collection of pavilions, outdoor displays, and interactive exhibits all focused on the traditional beliefs, history, and ways of life for the tribes and kingdoms that made up the Sukuma Nation—the dominant people group that ruled this part of Tanzania long before colonists and missionaries arrived in Africa. Many of the Lahash kids at Path of Hope are part of the Sukuma tribe, and I could tell they appreciated learning more about their unique heritage and history from an African perspective.
The final afternoon was full of soccer games for the boys and netball games for the girls. All these amazing activities were fueled by plates pilled high with delicious food, often including whole fish fresh from the lake. At the end of camp, the Path of Hope staff spent time praying over all the kids and wrapping up with a time of worship and singing.
Afterwards, the kids again found their seats on the bus and headed off on the journey home. I’m sure their hearts were as full as mine with new memories, deepened friendships, and spiritual truths to treasure for many years to come.
On behalf of the kids and all of us at Lahash, I want to say a huge thank you to all of you who donated to help to make these Bible Camps happen this year! The Path of Hope camp is just one example of the camps happening for over 100 Lahash kids at locations across East Africa. These unforgettable experiences are having both immediate and eternal impact on the lives of children struggling with the effects of extreme poverty, and can be truly life-changing events. Next year we hope to send even more Lahash kids to Bible Camp so they can dive deep into scripture and have the time and space to just enjoy being kids!