Annual Chuch Camp
February 19, 2010
Praise the Lord that from 19 to 21 February, braving the cold weather, we gathered together in Wu Kwai Sha Youth Village to have 3 days church annual Camp under the theme “”STRETCH””. Through teaching, praise and worships, Hope Games, Sub-District Fellowships, as well as workshops, we focused on the enlargement of our territories and capabilities in God’s kingdom.
The Praise and Worships
Led alternately by Bro. Allen, Sister Rosa, and Brother Ray, we preceded every event and activity by singing praises to the Lord and by preparing our hearts and soul to receive His Words. The altar call on Saturday night was particularly memorable when Pastor called for love and unity among the congregation and for laying down to rest all hurts and grievances in our past.
Unity in our Church was more so evident when we gave a “”surprise”” advance birthday celebration to our Pastor. Each sub-district and unit, including the Hearing God group and the youth group, presented well-thought gifts to Pastor Gavin. Everyone was touched by the expressions of caring and nurturing that is only possible in God’s family.
Pastor’s teaching on our theme “Stretch” is based on Isaiah 54:1-5, with emphasis on v.2: “”Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tents curtain wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes”.
The verses are essentially God’s promise that just as the Israelites would “”not remain barren”” as they returned from exile and returned to Jerusalem, so would our Church of today, the “”Spiritual Jerusalem””, will continually be filled with God’s people. Therefore, we should rejoice and shout for joy. In claiming God’s promise we also learnt that the Church that we are building and extending should be in accordance with His pattern. Here analogy was drawn on the pattern of the Church during OT and NT, on how people worship God during the old times and how we should worship God today (in spirit and in truth).
Brother Allen gave a very clear illustration of one of God’s pattern by giving a detailed illustration of the Tabernacle of Moses, for which God gave precise instructions on the size, the placement of the furniture, and even the colors of the canopy. This part of teaching reminded us that we need to build God’s Church in accordance to His pattern and if we do so, the glory of God will come.
After finding out God’s promises from v.1 and v.3, we should then proceed to: a) “enlarge our tent and stretch our curtain wide” This means that we should enlarge the capacity of our vision and think bigger for God; that we should not hold back and look at our limitation. The enlargement and fulfilling of vision is by faith and not just by keeping faith, but to grow in faith because faith can overcome human limitations.
In the process of “stretching our curtain” we must also: b) “lengthen our cords”, and not just lengthen, but tighten as well. God wants His Church to have many cords and to participate together so we can serve Him faithfully and effectively. God sees every cord as important and indispensable so we must have unity. Pastor cited 5 things that will break unity: pride, selfishness, jealously, unforgiveness, and non-commitment. On the other hand, things that will enhance unity are: love, humility, compassion and forgiveness, sacrifice, trust and honesty.
Lengthening of our cords is not enough however and we should also: c) Strengthen our stakes. The “stakes” should be rooted in the Word of God so that our tent (Church) will become stable. If our foundation based on the Word of God is good, we will have the desire to commit to God, to know Him more and to receive more blessing from Him.
Brothers and Sisters first warmed up with some ice-breaking games on the first day of the camp. Amidst the laughter and the fun, the games, such as “Growing from seeds to fruits” and “Fisher of Men” reminded us about the importance of personal growth, of evangelism, and of building strong and biblical people in Christ.
The Hope Games on Saturday afternoon brought us to the football pitch where 4 teams participated in innovative games that tested our physical and mental abilities. In united spirit, we exercised our individual skills and teamwork in 4 games: “Well-clothed and Well-fed”, “Overflowing Cup of Blessing”, “Continuous Stretch” and “Stretch” a tent building contest in line with our camp’s theme.
Saturday evening was devoted to fellowship among Sub-districts members. Brothers and Sisters gathered in classrooms and later in respective dorms for precious opportunities to share what we had learnt in the Camp and to get to know each other better.
Sunday Service was held at the Main Hall as full-time and part-time campers joined together to glorify our God on the day that He has made. Brother Allen first led us into powerful praise and worship; afterwards Sister Lydia from SD2 testified how she went through 9 years as a “casual” Christian she accepted Christ in 1997 to become a devoted one since 2006. Lydia shared how her life changed and how she overcame timidity and learned to face, and not to run away from problems. Through continuous prayers and serving in ministries, Lydia said God not only blessed her in her job, but also brought a lot of her family members to know Christ.
Pastor Gavin’s sermon refocused on Isaiah 54:1-5 and entitled the message: “”Breaking Out of the Box””. Pastor shared how we can “”jump”” out from our daily routine that we comfortably established. The passage from Isaiah in essence teaches us that God wants us to look beyond our boundary and expand, which is possible because of the new covenant that Jesus established with us when he died on the cross.
Praise God that during the altar call a visitor from SD2 received God’s calling and accepted Christ.
There were two workshops on Sunday: The spiritual gifting workshop required participants to undertake a set of questionnaire compiling our answers to certain circumstances and situation. The tally on the answer intends to find out the individual gifts of grace given to us by God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, such as the gift of prophecy, healing, evangelism, etc.
Meanwhile, the Tabernacle building workshop involved the construction of a paper model of a tabernacle. Following the pattern as handed by God to Moses in the Bible, the model contains cutouts to build the tabernacle including the courtyard, the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant, and all the furnishings. Participants of this workshop were divided into groups and through cutting, folding and gluing learned God’s given principle and built 7 tabernacle models.
Teaching and Fellowship for Language Group
To cater for members of the language group that were only able to attend the camp on Sunday, Pastor Gavin prepared a teaching session based on the theme of the camp and in relevance with the circumstances and status of the Thai and Filipino sisters. In addition, Sis Arlene shared a message from John 15:16 to encourage the sisters that we were chosen and appointed by God to go and bear fruit, notwithstanding the seemingly limitation set by their work, which in turn can be put into good use.
Following the teaching, the language group, joined by Ps Gavin, Sister Arlene, Brother Allen and Sis Purple, further exercised joy and unity by gathering together for a barbecue which lasted into the evening.
We really thank God for this camp that through the teaching, games and sharing, the whole Church learnt that it is God’s promise that our Church will continue to grow.
Let’s keep following his principle and keep stretching out and expanding further to enlarge His kingdom so that the promises of God can be fulfilled in our life.