By Johanna Willett
Music booms, lights flash and hundreds of teenagers jump, arms raised, voices hoarse from singing.
The last night of Zona Camp deserves an all-out party.
The camp’s worship band, Becoming Bristol, led around 1,100 students, leaders and staff in celebrating all that God did at this year’s camp for teenagers from 35 churches.
And there’s lots to celebrate. Zona Camp reported 86 students accepted Christ for the first time, 125 rededicated their lives, 74 answered calls to ministry and missions and 367 responded in some way to God’s movement in their lives.
Not to mention friendships deepened, laughter shared and the untold number of students and leaders who committed to living holy lives.
This year’s camp at Biola University in La Mirada, Calif., centered around the theme “Set Apart,” based on the verses in 1 Peter 1:13-16.
“It’s getting away from the familiarity of home and the normal humdrum routine of life, but also being immersed for hours, five days straight, in worship and studying God’s Word and being around other followers of Christ doing the same,” said Chad Murrell, the camp director and family pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, Lake Havasu City. “I think there is something abut that intensity and inten-
tionality that opens students’ minds and hearts to hear more clearly what the Holy Spirit was probably telling them at home.”
David Torna, a missionary in Southeast Asia and past Zona Camp speaker, flew across the world to be part of Zona. Serving as this year’s camp speaker was “an easy yes,” Torna said.
“It’s the way all of the churches come together for this week and are focused on one thing. … I think it’s pleasing to God because He wants us to be one,” Torna said.
In addition to Torna, an International Mission Board missionary from Arizona who serves in Southeast Asia was also present for Zona. During the week, students and leaders gave $8,000 to support missions in Southeast Asia.
The Zona Crew — 41 college-age volunteers from around the state — demonstrated the unity of which Torna spoke.
“They pay like a mission trip to come here and sweat and work [hard] and lose sleep,” said Trevor Bush, one of the Zona Crew directors and a campus missionary and team leader for Christian Challenge at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.
It’s a week of wacky games, endless food, heart-pounding worship and inadequate sleep. It’s a roller coaster of emotion — from tears to laughter and sin to grace. In all of it, God has His way.
“I think [Zona] is fun and influential …” said Mayloni Hall, a soon-to-be junior with Laveen Baptist Church, Laveen. “It was really eye opening when they were talking about Jesus forgiving sin no matter how much … and sometimes you kind of forget that He forgives you and you don’t have to dwell on it.”
Through four experiences — Zona Experience, Impact, Mission Life and Worship Catalyst — students explored the holiness of God and what it means to live set apart from the world.
Caressa Wittwer, a soon-to-be senior from Common Ground Church, Sahuarita, said the theme was what she needed to focus on.
“I need to remember I don’t have to go with the world,” she said. “I can go with God.”