Those His Mercy Gathered -- GBC Church Camp 2019
Neo Yi Ling, a first time camper, recapped the sweet time of fellowship, rest and refreshment for GBC campers over 12-15 June 2019.
Over 4 days from 12-15 June 2019, 215 GBC members went on a retreat in Lotus Desaru Resort, away from the hectic busyness commonly experienced in Singapore. For many campers it was their first GBC church camp!
Read about the last camp here.
Prior to the camp, the church camp organising team (Jonathan Tan, Colin Soh, George Yeo, Pastor Ollie, Serena Khoo, Joel Tang, Thomas Choong, Martin Chan, Mok Chuan Hao, Kagen Lim and Stanley Yin) have been working hard to publicise the camp, handle paper and online sign-ups with indefinite deadline extensions, helping to obtain sponsors for camp fees for some members, sort out last-minute rooming arrangements, and generally enthusing fellow members every Sunday to sign up for the camp. They were convicted by Hebrews 10:24-25 to help us love one another by gathering together that we may grow in Christ together – and this camp was definitely one where many of us could testify to that!
Read Stanley's reflection on serving in the church camp organising committee here.
Martin welcoming GBC campers at Lotus Desaru Resort and declaring the start of camp.
Icebreakers and sharing in groups at the start of camp:
Many members who had been to past camps commented that this camp was different in how much time was allotted to meals and free time. Free time was truly free time! There was only one message a day, 1.5 hours for every meal, and about 3 hours of 'free & easy' time daily. No skits, fewer workshops. This gave everyone more time to spend relaxing, bonding, resting and in intentional fellowship and prayer with one another. Much appreciation was expressed by many to the Camp Committee for their planning of the schedule!
After every message delivered by one of the pastors, we gathered in our camp groups to discuss what we had learnt from the sermon, how to apply it, and to pray about it.
Discussing practical ways we can live out “individually members of one another” after Ps Ollie's message.
Programmes led by Chuan Xin and Claire were available for the kids, which provided respite for tired young parents and opportunities for other members to get to know the children of the church.
Daily devotions printed in the camp booklet were thoughtfully written by our own members – Samuel Tan, Cherie Sim, Tony Chan and Simon Seah. These included a brief exposition of the daily devotional passage (eg. Psalm 15), some meditation and application, and a suggested prayer. They were a guide to many small groups who gathered before breakfast or after dinner by the beach or in the lovely grounds of the resort to read God’s word and pray together.
A workshop about the ministries available in the church was conducted on the second night. This provided insight into the many opportunities present for members to use their God-given gifts to serve one another. Read more about the workshop here .
On the third day, as part of envisioning together how GBC can grow in the gospel and love of Jesus Christ, all 18 camp groups brainstormed, discussed and prayed about three main areas: (i) how God has grown our church, (ii) challenges and opportunities that GBC faces, and (iii) how can we live this out together? Read more about this session here.
On the first night, Pastor Oliver preached from Rom 12:5-6 about living out the applications of the gospel in everyday life. He explained how we are individual members working together for the health and good of the whole body, which is the Body of Christ. What we do or don't do has an impact on the health of the church. Encouraging us to gather for one another and not just for ourselves alone, he exhorted us to use our God-given gifts to serve one another, speak God's word to one another, teach and disciple one another, and give to one another.
The second day, Pastor Eugene shared about living grace together from 1 Pet 4:7-9. Akin to 'spiritual Lego', he reminded us that we are diverse living stones (1 Pet 2:5-10) that together make up the sanctuary of God. As one priesthood, we are here because God exercised his sovereign choice to make us his own. Belonging to God, we are on His mission to make Him known. Eugene encouraged us to think rightly and clearly in light of living in the last days before our own resurrection with Christ. We are called to love constantly and graciously – not to settle for superficial harmony and politeness among one another but to love earnestly even in the face of difficulties. He reminded us that our sin is the greatest threat to our community. We can demonstrate love in action by showing hospitality to one another – opening our hearts, allowing others to enter our lives and entering theirs as well. This deepens relationships in the family of God and brings rest, healing, encouragement, life and growth.
On day 3, Pastor Ian continued on in 1 Pet 4:10-12 about serving grace together - we are called to serve God in ways that give Him glory, not only in this generation. He reminded us that despite mankind’s common cultural tendency towards xenophobia, we are a church of outsiders brought near by the gospel. “Hospitality” as used in the Bible (‘philoxenia’ in Greek: meaning ‘love of strangers’) is the opposite of xenophobia. How are we loving the 'strangers' in our midst?
The prevalent mindset today that each problem faced requires specialist intervention by 'gifted' people does not come from God’s word. Everyone has a gift from God to be used to serve the church (1 Pet 4:10). God’s “varied grace” (v10b) also points to different gifts given to different people – contrary to a common expectation in GBC that everyone should have or strive for the gift of Bible teaching. Stewarding God’s gifts well is recognising that we are given it in order to bless others with it (Matt 25:14-30).
Pastor Ian pointed out that as Christians whose behaviour is generally assumed to be reflective of the God we serve, we are called to steward God’s voice in every word we say to one another (v11a), “that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (v11b). When one is feeling weak, broken and ungifted, it is then that we are truly “serving by the strength that God supplies”, that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
A number of missionaries returned just for the camp and it was our great pleasure spending time with them and getting to know them! There were the Changs (all 7 of them), Deborah Teo and Esther Yap. They shared about their ministry and we prayed for them.
Sharing by David Chang
David is currently serving in Thailand along with his family. He shared about how he continues to be propelled on by 2 Tim 2:2 and his current work in conducting training seminars for church leaders. Serving as a family is testimony to God in this Asian context as many around them have problematic families. It also helps his children to know the Lord. He asked the church to pray for him and his family to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Read more about his ministry here.
Sharing by Esther Yap
Esther is working on translating Christian media into a local dialect in Southeast Asia. She shared about her team of ladies from the local language group and the skill sets they had to learn together as part of her work, as well as recent workshops she conducted in line with that. She asked the church to pray for her ministry to these ladies according to Col 1:9-14, that they may all grow in maturity together. We also prayed for her safety on the roads as she often has to drive long distances to different places.
Sharing by Deborah Teo
Deborah is running a children’s daytime centre in a rural area in Cambodia. Most of the children that come to the centre are children of farmers, ranging from age 3 to 20. She asked the church to pray for bible teachers to come alongside her as she provides this platform, as there are many children open to the gospel but with no shepherd to lead them. We also prayed for her ageing parents in Singapore to come to know and grow in the Lord. Read more about Deborah’s work in Cambodia here.
Games and fun
Conversations over abundant good food.
Spontaneous gaming sessions.
A time of 'unlimited' durian-eating with many people! Joey and Racquel Raju eating durian as part of a durian feast organised by Simon Seah for the campers.
Treated to song leading by veteran worship leader Jimmy Chan. "Does Jesus fulfil your every longing?" "Yes!"
Reflections on the camp by church members:
Towards the closing of the camp, time was given for campers to share about how the camp has impacted them. Read what some campers shared here.
Lily, Rebecca and Hewlett shared how the camp has impacted them.
Church camp this year has been a wonderful time of rest and refreshment for the campers, to recharge and reconsider how we have been living in light of the new life we have in Christ. Many campers left for home pondering how we can practically serve one another and the community around us through our words and God-given gifts, to the glory of God. Let’s be praying that the seeds of spiritual fervour sown during the camp may grow into mature fruit within GBC!
Click here for more photos of the camp.