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.

A.M. Mathew has gone home to his Lord and Master

I saw a follower by the name of Timothy Mathew on the church’s Facebook account. Is this the son of A.M. Mathew the founder of World Revival Prayer Fellowship? I found that he was and so I asked about his father. A.M. Mathew had been living in Toronto, Canada for close to 40 years and was in his late eighties. I asked about them and it was sad to learn that he had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease and his wife had dementia. I brought this information to the church and we prayed for him. I got them to pronounce the Aaronic blessing on A.M. Mathew which we then posted on the church Facebook account and over in Canada the son could show it to his dad. We were glad that we did that but soon after that we received news that the Lord and Master of A.M. Mathew has brought him home to glory on the 21st of September. It was a sad loss but it certainly freed him from terrible suffering of pains in his body. It was so bad that despite palliative care, he could not sleep well, wracked as he was in much pain. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away”(Rev 21:4). I informed the church of this and we prayed for the bereaved family. I adapted the death notice from the cemetery website and put this in the church bulletin:

 

A.M Mathew with his wife Saramma Mathew
A.M Mathew with his wife Saramma Mathew

Rev Arranghat Mathai Mathew (November 12, 1926 – September 21, 2015) – passed away peacefully on the morning of September 21, 2015 at his home in Mississauga, Ontario at the age of 88. Beloved husband of Mrs. Saramma Mathew and loving father to Josephine Mary (Dr. George Abraham), Rachel, Sara (Mr. James Havlik), and Timothy, and a devoted grandfather to Elizabeth (Andrew Douglas), Ruth, Benjamin, Stephen and Joshua. He will be greatly missed by his family, who cherished his kind and loving spirit and are grateful that he has gone home to glory to be with his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. A.M. Mathew leaves a memorable legacy, having founded World Revival Prayer Fellowship in Singapore in 1972, and later beginning a Canadian chapter in 1978 upon his move to the Greater Toronto Area with his family. Through Brother Mathew’s tireless efforts, his ministry eventually extended to Jamaica, Bangladesh, the Himalayan foothills of Assam in North India and Tamilnadu, Kerala State, India and the Six Nations Reserve in Ohsweken, Ontario. Brother Mathew made it his life’s mission to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it was clear to all who knew him that he was an unashamed witness for the Lord. Please remember his bereaved wife, children and grandchildren before the Lord.
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

The family at the Paya Lebar Airport leaving for Canada.
The family at the Paya Lebar Airport leaving for Canada.

I was never close to A.M. Mathew. I was probably anonymous and inconspicuous in church in the early formative years of WRPF. Reserved and shy, I did not easily socialize, and deferred and respected leaders from a distance. My personal impressions of A.M. Mathew was his bold witness for Christ, and an overriding passion to prepare the church to be that spotless Bride when Jesus comes again. To this effect he would preach doctrines Sunday after Sunday. I remember being taught regeneration, baptism, baptism in the Spirit, holiness and sanctification, the Lord’s Supper, the second coming of Christ, the church as the bride of Christ, and the book of Revelation. He gave out notes on the doctrines. I still recall his openness to the power and gifts of the Spirit, and yet knowing that his gift and forte was teaching the word, which he did with passion. Interestingly, I am currently preaching through the book of Revelations. On the Sunday I preached about 144,000 and the countless multitudes of white robed saints of Revelation 7, Zach Wong, a pioneer member from the original first eight who were baptized, came to me and remarked, Now that brother Mathew has gone home, you have taken over his role of preaching Revelation, his favourite book. I was slow to take in what he said and respond. I could only smile. Now that it has sunk in, I pray I will be able to preach it with the same passion and love for it, and to do it with interpretative skills I have learned from seminary and years of preaching. Yes, may I be able to deliver Revelation Made Simple with a similar passion and greater insights. I am sure he would want me to do it better than him.