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Living Together, Living for Him

Li Shi Wei talks to Nathasha Raj and Dr Loi Kuan Long on their expectations for this year’s church retreat, and what it means to them as part of the GBC family.

This year’s church retreat, held in June, was Nathasha’s first experience of the biennial event. Strictly speaking, it should have been her second experience. In the last edition two years ago, the teenager was struck with stomach flu on the first night, which confined her in the hotel room for the rest of the event.

This time round, she’s looking forward to creating a more memorable experience over the four days. She sees this as an opportunity to know people from outside the young adult care group. “I am joining the retreat because I want to grow in fellowship with the rest of the church,” she says. “If not, I’ll simply be always close to just my group of 5 to 6 people.”

Although Nathasha admits to having mixed feelings about interacting with people outside of her circle (she is attending the retreat with her family, and two close friends from her own fellowship will be her roommates), yet she feels an almost duty-bound sense in her desire to build up a bond with the church family. She cites Galatians 6:2 (ESV), and its exhortation to ‘bear one another’s burdens’, as her inspiration.

Living Together image 2Immersed in a small group discussion, Nathasha (second from left) and other campers listen intently.

The sense of community was also a factor in Dr Loi’s decision to get involved in the church retreat. Not only did he sign up for it, but also for the first time this year he was part of the organising committee. Months before the event, he went around scouting for a suitable location, before finally settling on a sprawling and quiet venue near Malacca.

This year’s event comes amidst a time when the church is raising funds for the rebuilding project. As Dr Loi explains, with the current situation that the congregation is in, it makes the organising of the four-day event all the more necessary.

“In these two years we won’t have a physical place to call our own,” he says. “We need these events all the more, where people can bond together. A church retreat has a different emphasis from a normal service.”

“When people stay together for a period of time, there is more interaction, the worship and learning becomes more concentrated, and we form a deeper bond as a church family.”

In addition to location scouting, Dr Loi’s role as an organising member extends to staying back after Sunday service to assist participants in the registration process. The general practitioner, who is married with three children, also sets aside time to liaise via email with various stakeholders to tie up all the necessary arrangements. Often this would take place long into the night, after he comes home from his clinic.

Living Together image 1We give thanks to God for Dr Loi (middle) and the organising committee for bringing the GBC family together for the church retreat.

Indeed, as Nathasha and Dr Loi have expressed, the church retreat is an opportune time for fellowship across all generations and groups within the church. Their commitment to the GBC family – mirrored by many others out there – shows that, whether as a retreat participant or a committee member, the deep bonds of love between God’s people are essential.

Read what campers say about the retreat here.

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Read the full issue of Grace News on Relationships and Community here.