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Our weekly newsletter filled with news, updates, and inspiring stories of how God is working in the Bay Area.

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Now, this means that when we come together and are side by side, something wonderful will be released. We can expect to be co-encouraged and co-comforted by each other’s faith!

Romans 1:12 – TPT

Summer is upon us, and there’s nothing more inspiring than kicking it off with our annual BACC Y-Camp!

Our camp is nestled deep in the heart of the picturesque Santa Cruz mountains; it’s not only a fun and memorable time, but also an opportunity for God to spark transformative changes in the lives of those who go.

As many of us get ready to go to camp or send our kids to camp, we want to share five stories with you about teenagers here in San Francisco whose lives changed radically because of their experience at camp last year. 

At camp, God provided the catalyst for change for Deshaun Cross, Sarah Chavez, Ian Wagoner, Alix Thomson, and Kai Marquez. Each was impacted by the classes, spiritual friendships, and vulnerable conversations they experienced at camp, which encouraged them to continue pursuing God after they came home.

All five of them decided to become disciples this past year and live for God’s purpose for their lives.

God softens the heart year after year

After hearing powerful lessons and conversations from previous summers of teen camps, Deshaun Cross finally came to understand last year that there was much more going on inside his heart than he was aware of. With the help of his friends at camp, he began developing more emotional awareness. His cabin crew became a group of friends he could be totally transparent with. This led to him understanding how to give his whole heart with honesty in pursuing God and loving his family. 

Deshaun radically changed in his relationships with family and friends from school over the months after camp and was baptized at the end of last May!

God gives hope and courage through spiritual friendships

Teen Camp was also the first time Ian Wagoner built spiritual friendships through the late-night cabin talks with his peers. He was impacted by his friends sharing vulnerably about how God helped them defeat personal sins, bitterness, and insecurities in their lives. This gave Ian hope to overcome his own fears and deceit in relationships.  

Compelled by the Scriptures and inspired by the spiritual examples of his friends at camp, Ian took responsibility for how he had hurt his family relationships and set out to study the Bible all through last summer. Ian was baptized last October, and is now involved in helping another friend build a relationship with God. 

God strengthens our faith through vulnerability 

Encouraged by the environment of vulnerability and honesty among the girls in her cabin, Sarah Chavez began to let down at camp last summer, and her faith began to grow. She started taking on difficult issues in her relationships and past. As she continued to study the Bible after camp, she learned how to get new strength from God to defeat the insecurities and bitterness that held her back from understanding God’s love for her. 

This led to her being baptized last October. She firmly decided that living for God and his purpose was far greater than living for anything else the world offered.

God builds conviction that is greater than any distance

Alix Thomson came to camp last summer from Rohnert Park, which is a 3-hour drive away. Despite living the furthest away from her other teen peers, she built strong relationship ties with other teen Christians and mentors at last year’s camp, and these continued to deepen all summer. 

Through these spiritual friendships, Alix learned how to get emotional strength from God and develop personal convictions from the Bible. As the other teen girls persevered and supported Alix after camp, Alix was able to build a relationship with God and get so much closer to her parents. She was baptized just last December.

God brings breakthroughs at just the right time

Kai Marquez had been studying the Bible prior to last year’s camp, yet felt stuck and unable to move forward to change his heart and character.  It was at camp that Kai’s friends challenged him to embrace humility by becoming a learner. They helped him understand that this would be the key for him to being real with God rather than always trying to perform. His peers at camp helped him learn to listen to God and spiritual feedback from friends over his own opinions and ideas. 

Kai began to experience God’s love and the freedom to be himself through the spiritual relationships that rallied around from camp.

This led to transformative change in Kai’s heart, character, and life, and he was baptized last December. 

Together, we become what we could not be alone   

Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone. 

Romans 12:5 Voice

Each of these San Francisco teens inspire us because they became “together what they could not be alone.”  Their faith was built through the Scriptures and the spiritual relationships at each camp, setting off a chain reaction of changed lives. 

Camp was more than camp for them; it was a catalyst of change, sparked by God. He knew exactly what they needed and worked through their experience at camp to define for them the life and purpose he destined them for! 

Whether you are personally involved in camp or not this year, we hope these stories inspire you to believe that God is always a catalyst for change in our lives. He moves through spiritual relationships and in many other ways to build our faith, bring our hearts closer to him, and help us become who we are meant to be. 

Amy and I are looking forward to our upcoming Y-Camps with great anticipation for the next amazing stories of change God has in store for every teen’s life and future!

Until next time,

Ray & Amy Kim

Lead Ministers, San Francisco

Written by

Ray Kim

Ray Kim is a Southern California native who made the Bay Area his home after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley. He is passionate about community service, and is spearheading such efforts as the E-Hoops program at the University of San Francisco.