Camping, serving, singing…

— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —

When I was a teenager, just before I went to university, I went with a friend to “Soul Survivor”. This “Soul Survivor” event was organised by a large church in Watford/North London. They also had a record label that published artists such as Tim Hughes and Matt Redman, who’s songs we still sing on Sundays.

“Soul Survivor” was held at a show ground in Southwest England over 3 weeks. Each week came almost 5000 people, mainly from church youth groups. My friend’s cousin recommended that we should not prebook our place, but turn up on the starting day and go to the overflow campground.

This turned out to be a good tip. Each evening the camp site leader would make a fire and some hot chocolate, and the small group of people from our campsite would sit around and chat and sing into the night. During the day there would be workshops and talks. High winds meant that their planned large marquee for the 5000 people, couldn’t be put up, so they put up two smaller tents, linked by video. This resulted in competition on which tent could sing along the loudest!

One of the workshops I attended was for new university students. We were split into the universities we would attend. The idea of the organisation that ran the workshops was that we would form “Cell groups” who would go in amongst our fellow students in the bars and student homes, unlike what they experienced from Christian Unions members. Most of them who were from a church background stayed amongst themselves instead of being part of the wider student’s community.

The second time I went was a couple of years later. This time, the “Soul Survivor” planning team had built one of the largest indoor skater half pipes. This resulted in more people spectating at the half pipe than were at the workshops. I went with the youth and young adult group of a church. The ambiance of the main groups camp site was not as good as the previous overflow campsite.

I not sure whether the planning team noticed this too. The next year they teamed up the Salvation Army and other inner London projects. They organised a few campsites on the outskirts of London, then each day a few thousand people would go in groups to these projects and serve the community for a week. My group helped on a city farm, cleared a fly tipped church garden and then held a community barbecue. On the final Sunday there was a large concert in Trafalgar Square.

All that to say, these events all those years back encouraged me in my faith, left me with good memories, showed me the importance of doing meaningful work for others, and introduced me to the power of shared musical experiences – be it sitting around the bonfire or at worship concerts with thousands of other animated youths.

There is a time and place in life for big exciting events like “Soul Survivor”. I hope and pray that the next generation of Christians benefits from them, just as I and my friends did.

The ACF Midweek Meditations
are written by a diverse group of our church members with the intention to seek God’s fingerprints in our lives. They range from somber to humorous and are inspired by all facets of live and faith. Written by ordinary people from all walks of life, they reflect a wide range of Christian backgrounds and spiritualities.

Each week’s text portrays the individual viewpoint of its author. They might not always resonate with everyone, and are not meant to be understood as representing the Anglican Church Freiburg as a whole. Yet, as a church that is aiming to ‘Build a Community of Grace’ we seek to practice learning from and listening to one another.

We pray that these humble ponderings add a small spark of blessing to your week.

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