Through their faith in God, Jackson Royal and Harrison McLamb enjoyed putting smiles on the faces of officers from the Clinton Police Department.
“It was well deserved because they really do a lot for this community,” Royal said. “Coming and praying with them is also blessing.”
Along with more than 160 students, the two local students enjoyed spreading the Gospel during Camp Illuminate, an annual ministry, where young people come together and serve their community, while showing glory to God. The trip to the police station was one of several activities held during the week-long camp.
Royal, a senior at Midway High School, said it was a really great experience and true blessing being a participant in Illuminate. To express his enjoyment, McLamb referred to Biblical words about shining light.
“The Bible says that the Lord is the light of the world,” McLamb said. “Where there is light, there is no darkness. He is our source and without him, we are not the light.”
Created in 2008, the name of the camp comes from Matthew 5:14-16, which reads: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the… house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
In addition to expressing the importance of police and the community working together, Lt. Anthony Davis showed appreciation for the visit.
“I think it’s outstanding,” Davis said about the work of the Illuminate. “It’s not only sharing love, but the joys of what Jesus Christ did for us a long time ago.”
Tim’s Gift, a faith-based philanthropic organization, collaborated with Illuminate to show appreciation. It included a prayer session and distribution of cards to police officers.
“Our goal was to challenge other communities to come together with prayer vigils and to pray for and support not only our police department, but in anybody in service,” said Becky Spell Vann, president of Tim’s Gift.
During the visit, the evangelism group from Illuminate was led by Aaron Tyner. Throughout the week, Tyner said they went out into the community to spread the message of Jesus Christ and offer encouragement.
“Here, we’re trying to let the police officers know that they have a community that backs them and loves them,” Tyner said. “For us, that’s what the Bible tells us to do.”
To prove his point, he referenced scripture where Jesus encouraged people to serve. It’s the overall goal of the evangelism team. Group member Morgan Cribbs, a recent graduate of Union High School, echoed sentiments when it came to police appreciation and assisting through faith.
“Having family on the police department, it means a lot to be able to come and share the good news with everybody in the community,” Cribbs said about encouraging law enforcement. “They need love just as much as anybody else.”
Jonathan Daniels, a youth pastor from Benson Pentecostal Holiness Church, admired how different churches in the area came together for one mission. During the week, young participants cut yards, built wheelchair ramps, made more than 12,000 meals to help end world hunger, collected school supplies for needy students and hosted Vacation Bible Schools. A food drive for a local bank was held in front of Piggly Wiggly.
“I think it’s the greatest thing we can do by giving back to the community in this way,” Daniels said.
Like many others, Daniels believes faith and service goes hand in hand.
“You can’t have one without the other,” Daniels said. “We’re not called just to be saved and sit down. We’re called to give back and this is a way of shining our light and spreading what Jesus has done for us and try to elevate the community.”
Daniels hopes more churches become involved in years to come.
For Melody Powell, a team and worship leader, 2016 marks her fifth year with the camp. She began by attending with a group of children and became more involved over the years.
“The thing that I love about this camp is that it really brings the community together,” Powell said. “Not just young people, but also the adults that come and support the camp.”
During evening worships, everyone comes together — another highlight Powell loves about the camp.
“It shows how people of different races and denominations can come together to make a difference in the community,” Powell said. “There’s such a sense of family here and that’s why I keep coming back.”
Newcomer Olivia Gillespie, a Sampson Middle School student, is one of many students who enjoyed the camp. One of the activities she took pride in was helping the Falcon Children’s Home through ministry.
“It’s been really fun,” Gillespie said. “We’ve done a lot of fun stuff for the community and I’ve really liked it.”
In the process, the camp affected her spiritually.
“I felt like I got closer to God this week,” she said. “I got a lot closer through the services.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.