During the ‘30s, children’s and youth work got a clear face through the founding of two youth organizations: the BEJV, the ‘Belgisch Evangelisch Jeugd Verbond’ in 1936 (later named EJV) and in the same year, 6 months later, the French organization UJEB, the ‘Union de la Jeunesse Evangélique Belge’.
The war years
Camp Limauges was very important during WW2. Not only because it served as a hiding address but also since the usual children’s and youth camps continued as often as possible during the war years. It acted as a place to recover mentally and physically from the effects of the war.
The conditions in the youth camp of Limauges were quite primitive back then. The camp comprised simple brick buildings, no electricity and hard beds made of straw mattresses. It was fairly isolated from the outside world but its location made every movement visible from the immediate surroundings.
Expansion Camp Limauges during the ‘50s
During the ‘50s, a great need arose to expand the youth camp in Limauges. The vision to do so grew, partly by the brothers Jan de Smidt and Albert Hainaut, that practically speaking took the leadership upon themselves. BEZ worker Lillian Palmberg visited churches with a slide presentation and scale model of the new camp for promotional purposes and to collect the necessary funding. As a children’s worker she was able to explain how important this work was in reaching young people for the Lord and helping them grow in their faith.
Through the years the youth camp in Limauges has proven very valuable: many campers became believers. A pastor once shared that a quarter of his church was saved there, including his own wife!
A complete renovation of Camp Limauges (1989-2019)
During the ‘80s the need for an in-depth renovation arose once again since the camp accommodation no longer met safety standards. A substantial plan was set up for renovation and new construction that would be realized in 5 phases. As was the case for the entire mission, this would be accomplished without financial loans or any debt whatsoever. The work would be mostly carried out by volunteers to keep costs low and could only continue as long as donations did. This made it a complex process but also one reliant on God’s support and blessing. It is BEZ’s desire (VIANOVA since 2019) that Camp Limauges will continue to be a blessing, that children and youth will come to know Jesus and that believers will be encouraged in their faith.
Henk van Dorp
(this report is a summary from the book, “Uw Woord is de Waarheid”, the story of 100 years of Belgian Evangelical Missions; 352 pgs. from Scholten publishers, Zwolle, 2019)