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AMMAN – From June 24-27, 2017, young Christian students from all over Jordan gathered at the Our Lady of Peace Center for a time of prayer and formation. The Summer Camp organized by the Young Christian Students of Jordan (JEC) had as its theme: the major problems encountered by young Christians today (emotional life, temptation of atheism or indifference towards God). The Latin Patriarchate sponsored the project.

A camp to encounter God and face the challenges of today

A snap of the finger and it began, the tone was given: an ad-lib song of praise was sung between two teachings. On this June 24, the young people fervently celebrated their reunion. There were 110 students aged between 18 and 23 from all over Jordan for this retreat organized by the Young Catholic Students (YCS) in Jordan. These four days of a summer camp constituted a highlight of the year for these young people of the YCS. This year, the session focused on three key topics: the temptation to succumb to atheism, the risk of indifference to God and, finally, the emotional life. These themes were dealt with through readings, fellowship time, praise and prayer time. Father Nohra Sfeir, a Carmelite who came specially from Lebanon, preached and illustrated his teachings by the lives of several great saints such as Elizabeth of the Trinity, Teresa of the Child Jesus, and Edith Stein. In addition to this spiritual approach, there were times of in-depth personal analysis in which young people learned to know themselves under the gaze of God in a benevolent atmosphere. “Here we do not care whether you come from Kerak, Smakieh or Amman. Persons are welcomed for who they are,” said Rami, head of one of the youth groups.

The summer camp, a boost for the rest of the year

This annual camp is a real breath for many young people after a busy year. “During the year, students are often under pressure about their studies and their future … With the YCS, during the camp, they find a real family, a support for the whole year. The great opportunity for YCS in Jordan is to enjoy a ambience of peace that allows them to practice their Faith and to find themselves easily without problems,” continued Rami.

If Faith is, for many, a pillar in life, thanks to this camp, others rediscover the true joy of being Christians, and beyond belonging to a religious family, the joy of being nourished on the sacraments. “When a young man gets up to go to confession, which he has not dared to do for five years, or when another firmly decides to return to Mass, it is a great victory for Christ!” continued Rami. This year, YCS camp also had the opportunity to receive five Iraqi refugees who brought a different tone. “They have a radiant Faith, grounded. It’s as if what happened to them had strengthened their faith…” explains Rami.

To teach the Gospel to young Jordanians, the YCS animators had lots of ideas, and it was also through song and theater that the young people experienced Christ. Of course, all this creativity was always at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel, so that each one could make this personal encounter with Christ. The pillar of these four days, the vigil of adoration, constituted a strong moment of heart to heart with God, in the silence.

Pursuing evangelization through the web

Till the end of the camp, the joy of each one was palpable and faces were radiant. “Between the beginning and the end of the camp, there is a world,” smiled the Salesian Sister Rudaina, while describing the camp. So that this fervor can bear fruit all year, the organizers YCS are aware it must be nurtured. It is through the weekly meetings in small groups that these young people will continue to form and support each other. But to put Christ at the center by all means, Rami, director of social networks of the student groups, did not hesitate to launch a Facebook group on the web. “It speaks of everything and including subjects as delicate as emotional life, taboo in certain circles. When these young people open Facebook, and God knows they are connected, they now have the impulse to go first thing to this group. It’s a sure winner!” Seeing the success of the initiative, as regards to the age group of the students, this model could extend to other YCS groups, of a younger age. (To be continued)

Claire Guigou

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