The camp speaker was Rev Dr Amos Jayarathnam and the theme of the camp was “Faith in the Face of Uncertainties.” It looked like we had to face the uncertainties right from the beginning when the advance party stepped into the hotel. They had a jolt with what they experienced. One had problem with room lights and another had problem with the bathtub. Will the people be able to accept this in addition to the hotel’s jaded look and facilities?
Avillion Legacy in Melaka is not exactly our ideal hotel except that this time we wanted to get a 4 days 3 nights church camp package for under SGD$300 pax for about 130 people. The hotel’s decor and colours are very ethnic Malay. It took a day to get used to. We were disappointed with the inadequate facilities. The swimming pool was the size of a badminton court. The hotel is an inconvenient 15 minute’s bus ride from the main shopping and food belt.
Nowadays, even with a strong Singapore dollar the hotels in Malaysia play hardball and charge a premium for church camps. Most hotels charge from $350 to $400. There are many churches in Singapore wanting to hold camps in June, and Johor and Melaka are popular places because of the relatively short travel needed. The hotels know this. Maybe the next time we should look farther afield at places like Bangkok.
What fell short in terms of facilities was made up for by great organization and the spiritual program. The organizers were young people: Huile and Tian En, with the steady and experienced hand of Ai Choo. I like it when there is an intergenerational team: “the young men and the old shall be merry” (Jeremiah 31: 13). This strict herding of youth from the adults is a sad homogenization that does more harm than good for the church. It may spur numerical growth in a few cases, but in most situations, it starves the church of the rich transmission of values, and the model loses the synergies that can be gained in an all-age congregational setting.
Rev Dr Amos is not new to us. He was in the WRPF family in the early years of his faith development. Now he is an internationally recognized prophet. He spoke on the theme in three sessions. His main point was that we need to learn to trust in God’s true character even in the face of circumstances and evidence that shows it is opposite. When things are uncertain, God is faithful and does not change. He spoke as one whose faithfulness and loyalty to God has been proven and tested. What he preached was seared into his life at great sacrifices, uncertainty and tears. Thus he was able to impart faith and courage and conviction. On more than one occasion, he risked his life and his family and was willing to die for the Lord. God saw that and entrusted him with great gifts and anointing. Despite that he is a very gracious, unassuming, and respectful man of God.
His God-given gift to give personal prophecies that were mostly accurate is priceless. Typically they described a person’s gifts and strengths and gave specific advice on pitfalls to watch and encouragement along the lines of their placement in the body. So typically after the message the campers went forward for prayer and ministry. Later we had to give out numbers on paper to campers as there were many more who had not been prayed for and he offered to pray for everyone. After the message we dismissed all but the 20 persons to be prayed for in the queue. By the time we finished on the third and last session it was about 2pm and most have gone off for the free and easy shopping afternoon.
In the end it was a memorable camp and most went home contented and encouraged to have been blessed with the strong messages preached, and each with a personal word from the Lord as bonus. They enjoyed the shopping and the durian pig outs. For me the personal prophecy affirmed my role as spiritual father in the church, and affirmed and watered the idea of writing books.