Church camp with a missions component

A Challenge of the Status Quo

One missions Sunday, Joseph Chean from Youth With A Mission (YWAM) challenged the congregation to have a missions component in our church camp. The church camp, by virtue of its purpose, is usually inward-looking. Its purpose is to get the church together to set aside time for spiritual edification. The objective is that with a deepened faith and bonding, the congregation will return home refreshed and stronger as a body of believers. Joseph’s idea is missional. It is radical and challenges the status quo. However, the idea came to the leadership as a word of the Lord. We sought to respond in obedience. This was what happened.

Multi-generational team

We had a multi-generational team to organize the camp. We had Bangkok in our sights. The team connected with Joseph and told him we wanted to put his idea into action and he was most helpful. YWAM had an extensive and established ministry in Bangkok and YWAM Singapore would help us liaise the outreach component. We invited Stephen and Marie Goode, based in Bangkok, to be the guest speakers. They have served in refugee camps and war zones and lived as long-term leaders of YWAM’s mercy ministries. They led efforts against human trafficking in Southeast Asia and beyond.

The team canvassed a few Bangkok hotels and settled on a suitable one. It worked closely with the YWAM guys in Bangkok to co-ordinate the five different outreach exposures to the poor and needy. It publicized the camp to the church and about 80% of the church signed up at $550 per person including the air ticket. It worked closely with the Singapore YWAM and got them to prepare the church for the mission component in the camp. YWAM ran a Sunday afternoon workshop several weeks before the church camp in June. As there were many flights to Bangkok we were able to get everybody in before the opening session started. The church was excited!

Many Firsts

There were many firsts in this church camp. It was the first time we have included a missional component in a camp. We went not merely to be blessed, but to bless others as well. It was the first time we would have a banquet to bless and mingle with the poor. It was the first time we have travelled this far for a church camp. Bangkok is 1420 kilometres from Singapore. It was the time we did a church camp over the week- end so that less annual leave would be needed. We did this because we realized that leave is very precious to working young adults these days. We had arranged for those who could not come to the camp to have their worship service back home with the Mandarin congregation in a bilingual service. Lastly it was the first time there were more young people in the organizing committee than there were older ones.

Camp Schedule

Praise God everyone arrived safely before the camp began. There was excitement in the air. Some had come earlier for their shopping, eating and golfing. Others would stay a day or two longer. The bulk came for the camp for there would be time for almost everything. This was what the 5D4N camp schedule was like.

Thu 8 Jun – arrival / evening briefing / first session of teaching

Fri 9 Jun – morning second session/ free & easy afternon/ evening third session

Sat 10 Jun – missions component whole morning and banquet for the needy / free & easy

Sun 11 Jun – last morning session of teaching / free and easy the rest of the day

Mon 12 Jun – sermonette & holy communion & group sharing & final lunch & departure.

Different missions exposure

The YWAM Bangkok’s Ruth Center co-ordinated the missions projects. We broke up the 145 odd campers into five areas of their choice, first come first served. The options were:

  1. Elderly Sports
  2. Rice Distribution & Prayer Walk
  3. Youth Sports
  4. Construction of Sidewalk
  5. Community Cleanup

The morning missions projects ended with a lunch banquet with the elderly poor and needy. By mid-afternoon we were back in the hotel. Most washed up and went out again for their shopping and meals. It was free and easy until the next and final morning teaching session.

The church camp video

Wrpf Church camp 2017 from Tom Cannon on Vimeo.

Stephen & Marie Goode

Steve and Marie Goode were good communicators. They shared their many life experiences. They asked a lot of questions to engage us. They showed many videos of real-life examples from around the world of “Serving Christ Beyond The Church Walls” (our camp theme): in missions, in community and in marketplace. They got us to examine scriptures about God’s heart for the poor in group study and share the results. They enlightened, stimulated, and encouraged us. It was not the humorous inspirational messages that motivated; nor the deep teaching messages that grounded; nor the revival type sessions that had people under conviction and on the carpet. It was more like engaging in a conversation with the speakers, who led us on a journey of experiencing God’s heart for the poor. It was a good piece of reflexive communications. From what I have been learning about Christian education and spiritual formation, the sessions ticked many of the boxes of effective learning.

What Next?

By the time the camp ended we were so excited we were on a wave we wanted to have another one the next year. However, we recall why we decided to do church camps every two years instead of annually: lessened interest and the opportunity for members to go on a mission trip, a silent retreat or cell holiday during the alternate year. Still makes more sense to keep that original decision intact. We now plan for another church camp with a missions component.

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Good sabbath

I was cycling to my favourite pavilion at the Chinese Garden. Then it rained. So I went instead to a nearby Indian food stall. It was new.  I ordered two roti prata kosong. So there they were: my bike, the roti prata, a vacuum flask full of Chinese tea, and my journal. Took a photo of what I thought was an interesting combination of things. Ate the prata, reflected on my week and wrote my journal. Rest, relish, and remember: the three key words to having a good sabbath. After the rain stopped, I went to the pavilion. And then it rained again. I stayed there an hour, enjoying meditation and the cool weather. Precious times, precious morning.

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Church of the True Light Camp 2017

The Church of the True Light camp at JEN hotel at Puteri Harbour

I was in two church camps this past June. One was my church camp in Bangkok. The other was the Church of the True Light (Anglican) camp held at the JEN Hotel at Puteri Harbour in Johor. I was the guest speaker at the camp and I developed the theme of LISTENING TO GOD. This was the third time I taught on contemplative prayer at different church camps in the last several years. Let me give an outline of some of the sessions:

LISTENING TO GOD IN THE GOSPEL:  Church and nationwide revival is great but while we pray and wait for the Spirit’s sovereign move, we need to dig deep wells and tap the living water table that will give us sustainable personal revival. The Trinitarian gospel is often thought of as what we receive only at the beginning of the Christian life. We actually need the gospel message all our life, throughout our faith journey. It is the gospel message that gives life and continually revives us.

LISTENING TO GOD IN THE SCRIPTURES: The word of God wedded to the Spirit is what gives us life and revives us. We do this by listening to God in ALL of scriptures, and in SOME of scriptures. The four movements of the classical lectio divina (divine reading) was taught and practised and discussed in groups.

LISTENING TO GOD IN SILENCE & SOLITUDE: God meets and speaks with us when we are alone and silently listen to God. This was the experience of Elijah when he ran in fear and panic from Jezebel. He could not hear God for his body and soul was drained by flight and fear, and his mind was filled with chatter of doubt and visions of death. God used silence and solitude to bring Elijah to a place of inner quiet so that he could again be revived to hear and obey God. This session was followed by a practice of silence and solitude.

LISTENING TO GOD IN DAILY LIFE: The review of the day or examen is a method of prayer which sensitives us to discern God’s presence, activity and communications with us. This session was followed by practice and group discussions.

LISTENING TO GOD IN TIMES OF CHOICE: We make choices, and our choices in turn shapes us. They can lead us away from the first love or towards a greater love of God. We have different choices to make in daily life but there are those impactful choices where more thought, prayer and counsel are needed. How do we do it well? And when we have the peace of God, how do we discern if its a true peace of divine origin or a false peace that comes from the flesh or the enemy?

LISTENING TO GOD IN THE SABBATH: Showed them how the sabbath could be celebrated as salvation and as wisdom, a way of life that God intended for our good and to shape our rhythm of rest, work and prayer. Celebrating sabbath is needed in maintenance of the fire in our hearts.

A SESSION AT A TIME

At the camp, I sort of lived out the day a session at a time. After finishing one session, I would prepare myself physically, spiritually and mentally for the next session until I hit the tape at the finish line. However I am thankful for all the mealtime fellowship with familiar faces (for I had spoken in their church camps a few times over the decades), and the power naps in between. One of the wonderful things about doing church camps is that you get to know the people better and as you do so the message becomes sharper in terms of application and relevance. Thankfully, all my materials had been prepared in advance. However there were still tweaks here and there to improve the material and the powerpoint.

CHURCH OF TRUE LIGHT & PASTOR VINCENT HOON

I admire the Church of the True Light (English congregation) for its giftedness in prophecy and visions. The Lord had sent Rev Vincent Hoon and gifted individuals there and the windows for the wind of the Spirit to infuse the church with the supernatural gifts suddenly swung open.

I got to know Pastor Vincent Hoon in late 1990’s when both of us came alone to the Love Singapore Prayer Summit and ended up sharing a room. We hit it off and have been meeting regularly for the last 20 years for peer mentoring, updating and prayer.

This Anglican church moved in the Spirit and their worship was soaking worship with opportunities for people to express themselves in dance and sharing insights. I was moved, inspired and learned much. The worship also helped me and God’s people get ready for what God had for them in the teaching and prayer workshops. I returned to Singapore soaked in the power of the Spirit.

MY HOPE

It shows that learning in the Spirit is mutual edification. We learn together, and we grow together, and we advance together in the faith journey. I trust that those in the camp, whose season it is to dig wells for themselves, now have the tools to do so and I pray they will persevere till they hit the water table! May they enter and enjoy sustainable, personal revival.

 

 

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