Rev Dr Amos Jayarathnam: WRPF 2015 church camp speaker

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 Jayarathnam preaching the message
Rev Dr Amos Jayarathnam preaching the message
Mindmapping on the side for the primary school but others enjoyed it too
Aileen Goh mindmapping on the side for the primary school kids but others enjoyed it too
Lunch with Pastor Thomas, Pastor Amos, Agnes and Mark Chua
Lunch with Pastor Thomas, Pastor Amos, Agnes and Mark Chua

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.

Because the pastor said so

Ben drew a deep breath and closed his bank account. All that he had saved for the past decade of working in the premier Administrative Service is now in this cheque that he would put in the offering bags on Sunday. He had been saving to invest in a private property he had been assiduously evaluating. Now he wrote the church’s name on the cheque. There was hesitation, but once he put pen to paper it was quickly over.

He was not the only one. Many in his cell group from the church had already done the same thing over the last few months. In fact he was his usual cautious reluctant self – turning things over in his head till his mind was exhausted and drew a blank. It was not just a matter of copying others in the cell group, or the many other cell groups. The whole church had been feverish about being ready for this greatly anticipated event the pastor had spoken about. Now he has decided to dive in too with the rest of his friends.

The pastor’s words had reverberated in the corridors of churches in Singapore. As the messages were being broadcasted in other countries in the region as well, there had been a groundswell of hostile reactions in Facebook. Many heads of denominations and pastors have taken to pulpits and pen to write against the pastor’s prediction. “Heresy!” they declared. “Dangerous doctrine!” they shouted.

Ben, 34, had heard from colleagues about how other churches had raised the alarm about his pastor’s prediction. This must be how the early Christians felt when opposition battered them, he thought, shaking his head. The pastor had said it, with scriptural backing, scholarly argument and numerical precision too, and that was convincing enough for him. Like him, many in the mega-church, cannot accept what the critics have said, for their lives had changed and became better and happier as a result of being part of the church.

On August 4th, he was among the first to go to the top of the Marina Bay Sands to get a better view. All the earth will see and know, the pastor had said. It would be a spectacle that cannot be ignored by the world’s media.

Ben had not married, not even fallen in love once. He had wanted to travel more, especially to visit the Holy Land, but was too busy to have done so. He hadn’t even had a chance to vote once! Though he was high up there in the civil service, he had not even attended a National Day Parade in his life. As the elevator shot up, regret bit him as he thought of all the things he wished he had done.

He also wondered, How would his meeting with the Lord be? What would he hear the Lord say? He had mixed feelings about meeting the Lord in the air, but the pastor said it would happen on 4th of August, and he had done all he could to prepare for this day.

Because the pastor had said so.