As a child, Apurbo Biswas, or Apu as he is known, attended Christian camps through Generation Bangladesh, an organisation in his home country running activities similar to CRU®. This had a huge impact on Apu, helping him grow in his faith. “It was everything the leaders did, that helped me know more about Jesus,” he remembers.
Now Apu is 26. Last year, he finished a Masters in Accounting but he isn’t working in that field. Instead, he works for Generation Bangladesh, planning and organising their many Christian camps.
“I finished my qualification, but this is my passion,” Apu says. “I love the kids. I love to work for God’s kingdom.”
Over summer this year, Apu travelled to Australia and was a part of the CRU Summit Fellowship program for five months. This program trains dozens of young leaders each year in outdoor recreation and Christian ministry.
Coming to Australia was a dream come true for Apu. He recalls, “Some mornings I woke up and I would think, am I in Bangladesh? Then I would realise, no, I’m in Australia! It was wonderful and life-changing for me. God gave me such a good opportunity.”
Summit has welcomed international fellows before, but Apu wasn’t a traditional Summit Fellow. He entered the program for a very specific purpose: “I came to Australia to learn about the outdoor activities that we can apply in my country.”
Generation Bangladesh runs many camps each year, ranging from small camps of 70 kids, to bigger camps of 250 youth. Apu says that a lot of what they do on camp in Bangladesh is the same as here in Australia – “We do Bible study, we sing songs with actions, there is teaching and mentoring of young people.”
“I give thanks to God because of this opportunity. I am blessed. Through Summit, God has prepared me in His kingdom to raise His kids in Bangladesh.”
But some things are different. While CRU relies heavily on outdoor recreation, like rock climbing, abseiling, archery and more, GB camps rely more on indoor activities, and playing sport, like cricket and football.
Apu got to experience and learn how to run many outdoor activities and games, including sailing, canoeing and bushwalking. “This was all new,” says Apu. “It was amazing to learn about these. I want to apply these in Bangladesh so kids are interested in camp.”
Apu also says he learnt 15 or 16 new songs to teach the kids in Bangladesh, and he has already introduced some of these songs, translated into Bengali. He’s also been sharing the games he learnt with his team.
But being in Australia wasn’t always easy for Apu. “Sometimes I didn’t understand, because English is my second language,” he says. However, Apu was thrilled by the support he received from the other Summit Fellows, who helped him understand and relate to the kids.
“I am 26 years old but I learnt so much from Summit leaders, some who are only 18 years old!”
Apu exclaims, “They are so friendly, so openminded and they love the Lord. What theyspeak, their life shows the same thing. And they are so energetic.”
Apu was also impressed by how the Summit leaders interacted with the kids on camp. “The leaders spent all of the time with the kids – eating, in breaks, all the time! We need to spend more time with the kids on our camps in Bangladesh, so we can change their minds and know what problems they are facing. We need more relationships and bonding with them.”
Excitingly, God is already using Generation Bangladesh powerfully. “Many kids are from traditionally Christian families but they don’t know about Jesus. They don’t know about God's sacrifice. They don’t know that God came into the world to forgive us for our sins. But at the end of camps, we have kids raise their hands and say, ‘I love the Lord’, and ‘This camp changed my life’,” says Apu.
James Carroll, Director of Summit, is delighted that CRU is able to train people from around the world, to take proven ministry strategies back to their countries and enhance their gospel work:
“It’s been a wonderful privilege getting to equip Generation Bangladesh, through Apu, with ideas and resources they can use to continue to develop their camping programs and ministry models.”
James continues, “As Apu learned from us about how we do camp here in Australia, he also shared with us about his ministry back home. It was a wonderful reminder that God so effectively uses camping ministry to grow His kingdom, not just in our little corner of the world, but to the ends of the earth.”
Apu is so grateful for the time he spent with Summit, saying, “I give thanks to God because of this opportunity. I am blessed. Through Summit, God has prepared me in His kingdom to raise His kids in Bangladesh.”
Though Apu is now back in Bangladesh, he still feels close to CRU: “My course in Australia has finished, but this relationship is not finished, because our hearts are the same. Inside is Jesus.”