James Creasman, founder of CRMS

This is a very late post. Like three years late. After James Creasman went back to the US, I wanted to post my appreciation but I never got around to it. Today, Seng Chor and I had lunch with him and we updated each other on what has been happening in our lives in the past three years since James closed the chapter of his ministry in Singapore and move back to the States. It was so good to re-connect with James.

Kenny, Seng Chor and James Creasman

I got to know James through Church Resource Ministries, Singapore (CRMS). I signed up for a Focused Leaders Network that he was leading together with Seng Chor and How Beng. I benefitted a great deal from the sessions together with others and from my personal mentoring sessions with James. Later I continued with the facilitators’ training and together with others led a few Focused Leaders network groups. Later I was invited to join the CRMS exco and served with other godly leaders for several years.

James was like a paraclete (one called alongside to strengthen, encourage, guide). He loved God and was devoted to the word of God. Gentle, encouraging, gracious, humble, and a good listener, he was easy to relate to and confide in. He never misused his office and he was a wise and discerning mentor. He led and encouraged the expansion of the CRMS into Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and China. He inspired and mobilised the exco and other facilitators to lead networks in these countries.  He excelled in networking and building friendships. Near the end of his time in Singapore, he sought for a few years to seek locals to take over CRMS, and finally succeeded in doing so, as CRMS is now run by local pastors and marketplace leaders. He has advanced the cause of mentoring in the church. Now the main concentration of his ministry is in Vietnam but he is based in Los Angeles as both his and his wife’s aging parents are in need of help. Missionaries like him are a rare breed but the Singapore church was blessed to have him and his ministry based here for all those years.

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.

Simeon Poh: found faithful

Simeon Poh seated on extreme right
Simeon Poh seated on extreme right

Simeon Poh was a young man of 27, with a girlfriend, and a career in precision instruments with Timex. He was Spirit-filled and zealous for his Lord. On the way home from a mission trip to Simpang Rengam, Johor, where WRPF planted its first church, the car that Simeon Poh was in, crashed with a Johor lorry. He almost died. The neurosurgeon did two major operations on him in Tan Tock Seng hospital. A Swedish evangelist, who traveled and preached with David duPlessis, the famous Pentecostal statesman, prayed for his healing. The surgeon was

Simeon Poh at 65
Simeon Poh at 65

surprised at his accelerated and remarkable recovery. Though his physical co-ordination deteriorated, and his personality,  somewhat altered, he was independent, and able to go anywhere he wanted unaided. He still loved his Lord.

Yeo Hiap Seng compassionately gave him work for many years. Then he was graciously hired to clean our church premises for the last 14 years. Friday was his last day of work. He has been thorough, diligent and faithful in his duties, often going beyond what was required of him. His example of a faith that endures setbacks and hardship will encourage many. He could have been a bitter man. He could have turned his back on Christ. Instead, he still loves and serves his Lord.

Simeon will receive due honor on that Day when Jesus comes.  May the Lord, watch over him and bless him with good health and meaningful ministry in the years to come.