My First Encounter with Jesus

The EncouragerI was about 10 years old when I went to National Camp. My reading teacher, Cherry at my school in Auckland offered to take students to camp. I leapt at the opportunity to go on a weekend trip.

My best friend in primary school, Hudson, was one of the other students who went. That made me even more interested in going. It wasn’t just an opportunity to go on a long trip, but now I got to hang out with my best friend all weekend. There are many people that go to National Camp, and I didn’t know anyone. So going with someone I knew was better.

I was young and was still learning what it means to be a Christian. Going to National Camp felt like entering into a different world. I’d never seen so many people with disabilities who loved Jesus. Being in a Christian environment and listening to Bible teachings for a whole weekend was a new experience for me.

Meeting new people and having a buddy caring for me was great. I really enjoyed all the cool activities, especially the quad bikes, and spending time with my friend. It was also the first time experiencing the frequency of camp food!

I’d been to church, but Christian camps give you more time to really

open your heart to learn. Over the weekend I got to witness the love of Jesus through the people there. People who knew that Jesus loved them. Through seeing other people in wheelchairs who were Christians, I began to realise that Jesus can love me just as I am.

They had ministry time following the message on Sunday night and people were invited to come up for prayer. I asked for healing in my legs to be able to walk. I really wanted to walk. That was when I experienced Jesus’ healing power for the first time. I felt a surge of heat and new strength in my legs that Sunday night at camp.

I always knew God as a child, but I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. Before that year I thought being a Christian only meant going to church on Sundays. I couldn’t go to church for most of my childhood until earlier that same year. Going to church taught me more about God. Then this experience of the Holy Spirit made God real to me. Even though I didn’t get the miracle I hoped for that night, something shifted in my heart. It was in that moment that I gave my life to Christ.

That was when I experienced Jesus’ healing power for the first time…

At breakfast the next morning, I was sharing the amazing experience I had with the people at my table. Across the table was a man with blond hair and glasses. In later years I learned it was Dave. He encouraged me that maybe one day God will heal me completely in this life. Or alternatively, I will definitely be walking and fully healed in heaven. This gave me hope.

Camp began my journey of discovering that God loves me and that He can use me even when I use a wheelchair.


Manuele Teofilo is Communications Coordinator at the Elevate National Support Office. He attends Gracecity Church in Auckland and lives with Cerebral Palsy.



The Encourager Magazine 174



Want to read the full magazine? Click here to read the current and previous issues or to sign up to get future issues delivered digitally to your mailbox or posted a hard copy!