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By Lainee Pegelow

“Messenger: His message to us, our message to the world” was the theme of Zona Camp 2016. The annual Arizona Southern Baptist camp was held July 10-15 on the campus of California Baptist University.

Of the 38 participating churches, 11 were first-time attenders. And as the week closed, the stats showed that not only were there more churches in attendance this year, but overall attendance was up.

The final numbers came in at 1,031 on campus for the week. This increase from 971 last year shows that more volunteers were serving and more teenagers were given the opportunity to know Jesus Christ.

This year, Zona Camp celebrated 54 first-time decisions for Christ, 55 students rededicating their lives to Christ, two expressing a desire for baptism and 58 asking for prayer or answering a call to ministry.

Throughout the year prior to camp, a team of student pastors and other leaders from the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention prayed, planned and invested themselves to produce a week designed to impact and change the lives of teenagers. This week was filled with fun, fellowship, musical worship and, most importantly, God’s Word.zona2

In addition to this team, members of the AZSBC staff and Christian Challenge staff were on site to aid in making Zona successful.

Another vital element in making Zona a success was the collegiate staff. Each year, college students are recruited through Christian Challenge and local churches to participate in Zona Camp as staff. This year, there were 47 members of this team serving the teenagers of Arizona.

Mornings at Zona were spent in worship — through the Word with Jeff Moors, young adult and The Edge venue pastor at North Coast Church in the San Diego area, and through music with The New Divide. The goal of worship at Zona was to bring teens to Christ. In fact, every aspect of Zona, from meal times to the fun stuff, solely existed to show teens who Jesus Christ is and how to know Him.

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In addition to morning and evening large group gatherings, various activities were provided to help the students engage with each other at Zona. All classes were designed to help students go deeper into who God is, followed by a time when students were placed in small groups and allowed to discuss in a friendly, open environment what they had learned. The afternoons allowed campers to pick from various track times, attend extra classes or serve in various ministry projects in the area.

Evenings picked back up with a large group session of worship through the Word and music that was followed by a time to make decisions. Zona late night provided an opportunity for students to get together, hangout with each other, the Zona staffers and their church groups for games, fun and fellowship — always a good combination.

“God is moving in the lives of students through Zona Camp,” said Chad Murrell, Zona Camp director and associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, Lake Havasu City. “Hundreds of teenagers are being exposed to and having their lives changed through His Word, His salvation, and His discipleship every year. We know this because so many of those students come back years later as youth volunteers, interns and youth ministers.”