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.
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!
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.
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:
- Elderly Sports
- Rice Distribution & Prayer Walk
- Youth Sports
- Construction of Sidewalk
- 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
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.
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.