Camp urges Haitian youth to reach their world
By LAUREN URTEL
Florida Baptist Convention
Published August 30, 2007
Brenda Delphin (l) shares with Marie-Aime Jean-Baptiste at camp.
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AVON PARK (FBC)—Brenda Delphin walks the fragile line between the traditions of her Haitian born parents and the customs of the American culture. As a first-generation Haitian-American, she, like most first-generation youth, never quite knew where she belonged culturally.
However, during the Florida Baptist Convention Haitian Summer Camp she found her spiritual place and purpose. Delphin passionately speaks of the impact the camp has had on her life, and the lives of other campers.
"Camp is such a tremendous experience," she said. "You meet so many different people and the workshops offered pertain to what young people are dealing with."
Delphin grew up in the church. Her father, who immigrated to the United States with her mother before the young woman was born, has always been a man of Christian faith. Beginning as an usher, he became a deacon and now serves as pastor of First Haitian Baptist Church of Avon Park.
"At camp, Haitian-American youth meet together to learn to be better kids, stewards and Christians," said Delphin. "Kids take back what they have learned and work with their parents to be a better family."
Delphin's life was changed after attending her first camp at age 13. Now, at age 29, she shares her experiences with the youth she leads at her father's church and takes them to the camp each summer. "Camp has helped me be a stronger Christian and has helped me guide the children I work with," said Delphin.
"I am fortunate to have grown up in a Christian family, but camp helped me grow stronger in the Lord and made me want to do more," said Delphin. She credits her parents and camp for her decision to accept Christ as her Savior at age 14.
"Seeing how many of the young people were on fire for God, I wanted to bring that back to my church. Because of the experience I had at camp and my parents' support I am able to do what I do for the church," said Delphin. At the First Haitian Church, Delphin leads the youth ministry, acts as church secretary, assists with music during worship services, and even drives the church van.
Delphin is as much an advocate for churches supporting the camp as she is for youth attending. "Giving to these camps is investing in the lives of a lot of young people. They are the next generation of the church," said Delphin. Each year, the Haitian camp and the other four Florida Baptist youth camps are made possible through gifts to the Maguire State Mission Offering.
"The kids come back so on fire for God. Once they get a strong foundation, God can use them more."
Beyond financial support, she encourages Florida Baptist churches to pray for their youth. Congregations should let the youth know they support them as the future of the church, said Delphin.
"When God looks at today's youth he may be saddened to see that many are too much a part of the world," said Delphin. "But He rejoices to see these young people building the Kingdom and so on fire for Him," referring to the Haitian youth.