Church camp 2019 in downtown Bangkok

Feeling very good

Perhaps I experienced a tiny bit of what God felt when it was said of Him in Genesis, “And God saw everything that was made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). That was how I felt about the WRPF Church Camp 2019 in Bangkok: it was very good. Like a gentle spring in my soul, I felt the stillness of peace and a joy that quietly bubbled up throughout the days of the camp. There was no hurry: no huff and no puff, no rush from meeting to meeting. I felt a welcome restfulness throughout the camp. It was very good.

The hotel in downtown Bangkok was hosting us a second time

Fed fresh Bread

To sit back and receive fresh truth from heaven and be in presence of Christ felt like I was a mobile phone seated on a wireless charger. The invited speaker was Leslie Quahe. He was enlightening, edifying and entertaining. He stirred me, stretched me, and seized me with his humorous, riveting and transforming proclamation of His Story and his stories. I felt very blessed. At the end of the four sessions, I felt energized 100%.

Leslie Quahe

I heard of Leslie Quahe from theological college days. He was one year my senior. My only image of him was of him playing soccer, and him with his motorbike. Thus when my sister in law Baby asked if I would like to meet him, I did not hesitate. Why not? We met in his home in Bangkok and got to hear about what he had been doing all these decades, and his stories amazed me, and I concluded this guy can potentially be our camp speaker in future, but I should first invite him to preach a sermon one Sunday when he was in Singapore. He duly did so, and that’s why he was our camp speaker.

With Leslie Quahe the camp speaker

Church encouraged, leaders affirmed

I was encouraged when he affirmed and prayed for the leadership at the last session, releasing what I believe to be prophetic words that confirmed that our last six years of emphasizing on intimacy with God through walking ancient paths of prayer; of emotional health and growth, were on the spot with what God had wanted for WRPF’s destiny as light to others of what first love is.

It is tough to slow down and to wait and to listen to God in prayer.  We are a society that values productivity and obviously silence, waiting and prayer seems highly unproductive. We had to be strong in conviction in order to resist the pressures and temptation to be like other churches and the rest of society. “Do you love Me?” was Jesus question to Peter who had been scarred by the failure of his activism and self-sufficiency. It was not, “What have you done for Me?”. To have this heavenly assurance when you are going against the current of worldliness, is an approving nod from the Master.

Hotel food

The food the hotel served was better than any of the church camp foods I have had over many decades of church camps in Malaysia and Batam. The food was delicious and we had long meal-times of one and a half hour or more, so that people could mingle and fellowship at leisure. No need to gulp your food to rush to an afternoon workshop! No afternoon sessions – they are all free and easy.

Missions component

I was happy we had a missions component and we were greatly helped by Ruth Center in Bangkok who organized three activities for us to serve the residents of the slum. Some went about visiting the elderly poor with rice packets and prayed for them. Some went to play games with the younger ones who lived in the slum. I joined the construction crew whose assignment was to build five platforms with water cisterns. This was laborious work and I loved seeing how the young people did the main bulk of the work. They were awesome in strength and power. It dawned on me that I was not of much use, not even for photography, so I helped minimally in carrying concrete slabs, and spent most of the time chatting with Simeon Siau, another person who shouldn’t be there. We were kindly and tactfully excused from the rest of the afternoon while the rest of the construction crew finished the job!

I loved the idea of creating mission platforms so that men with more practical skills and know-how (like Bezalel and Company who built the tabernacle of Moses with the help of the Holy Spirit) can serve God with their gifts.

Camp organizers

Yes, I do rate this camp with five stars. I was very pleased with the organizing committee and I hope they too were very satisfied when they saw that their hard work made possible the spiritual and eternal impact we felt at the camp!

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.