Brookville, NY—Wednesday, August 21st marked the Day 4 of IYF World Camp in New York. Only half way through and we could see change in the hearts and minds of our participants who had boarded this ‘leader ship’.
Morning time saw another day of academies and our third special IYF Leadership Speech from Worldwide Orphans Founder Dr. Jane Aronson. In the early afternoon, Camp participants ran the IYF 5k Mini Marathon, a perfect chance for them to challenge their physical and mental limits. Finally, in the evening, everyone headed to LIU Tilles Center for Gracias Easter Cantata, a performance that fully expressed the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
This year’s IYF Mini Marathon was held at Sunken Meadow State Park. Each student was seen reaching their limits and mustering the will to push on and overcome their obstacles one step at a time. Mini Marathon served as a great metaphor for the world of the heart. Finishing the race didn’t require skills, brains, or even strength. It became a battle only a strong heart could win.
“It was hard running the marathon, but I kept thinking, ‘Keep going! Keep going!’ so I didn’t give up. The best part about it was I could feel that all of us were connected as we ran. The reason this race was so special was because we all ran it together.” – Brandon Davis
Earlier that evening, the Mini Marathon Award Ceremony was held at the Tilles Center. Prizes were given to the top 15 male and female runners. Team members and friends cheered on the winners as Pastor Ock Soo Park presented them with their prizes. No one complained about not coming in at first, second, or third; just the fact that everyone challenged themselves and finished the run was reward enough.
As soon as the awards ceremony finished, the lights dimmed and thus began the Gracias Easter Cantata with overture “Remember Me.”
The special thing about Easter Cantata was that it wasn’t just a performance for IYF World Camp attendees, but for the hundreds of newcomers from the region who had received our handwritten invitation letters. Spanish and English speaking church leaders from across New York who were also part of IYF’s annual Pastoral Meeting that day were in the audience.
The scene of Jesus’ resurrection drew cheers and applause so loud that it drowned out the sound of the music. Perhaps the most touching scene was the reuniting of Peter and Jesus after His resurrection. After Jesus died, a despair-filled Peter returned to his old fishing job, but still came up empty. However, when Jesus met Peter by the water and asked, “Do you love me?” to which Peter replied, “Lord, you know that I love you,” the scene of true repentance moved the hearts of the audience, allowing them to gain a heart of joy and thankfulness.
As the performance came to an end, all 2200 seats emptied for a standing ovation and thunderous applause for Gracias Choir and the glory of Jesus’ resurrection. The applause continued for three whole minutes after Gracias Choir left the stage.
Pastor Ock Soo Park then gave the Easter Cantata message, speaking of the story of the woman caught in adultery in John chapter 8. According to the Law of Moses, this woman had to be killed. However, through the new law of Jesus Christ, she could testify that Jesus Christ had taken her sin upon Him. Pastor shared the Gospel with the audience through the scripture of Jeremiah 31:34, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Here is what some people had to say about the Gracias Easter Cantata:
“I got a flier and an invitation letter to the Easter Cantata at my home and that’s how I came. I brought my son too. I was very thankful to listen to such beautiful music today. Also, it was refreshing to hear the Pastor preach the message at the end. I believe what it says in Jeremiah 31:34, that our sins have been washed through Jesus. I want to come to the Christmas Cantata tomorrow with all of my family and neighbors.” – Margie / Huntington
“I’m a student attending IYF World Camp. This is actually my second time seeing the Easter Cantata. The last time I saw it, it just seemed like a short concert. But this time I was able to learn about the death of Jesus in so much more detail. I felt so sad just like the disciples of Jesus must have felt when they saw Him hanging on the cross. But I was really thankful too. Since Jesus took all of my sins, I don’t have sin anymore.” – Jennifer Rivas / Manhattan
“This is my first time here, and it was such an amazing performance. I got a letter at my home and that’s how I ended up coming. It was so much more beautiful and magnificent than I could’ve expected. Also, the message given at the end really gave me new eyes to see with. The Pastor spoke about why Jesus died. Since we couldn’t wash our sins through the Commandments, God gave us the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. That message was so heart moving. The whole Cantata itself, with the performances and the message was very touching. I will be coming tomorrow again to see the Christmas Cantata.” – Pat Cahill / Huntington
Through the Easter Cantata, both our IYF World Camp participants and the citizens of New York are receiving the gift of salvation. The closer we draw to the end of Camp, the more we see the work that God has already prepared and is in the process of accomplishing.