Tuesday, November 15, 2005

JYC (Junior Youth Camp) 2005: One Step More

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. ”
- Galatians 6:10

Yup, this is the camp’s theme verse. It challenges us to extend a helping hand to the needy, to courageously proclaim and share God’s word for we should not contain our blessing.

Hi I’m back from my church camp from 11th to 14th Nov! The camp was entitled ‘One Step More’. One bold step forward in serving Him and expanding His kingdom, glorifying His wondrous name and worshipping Him in a very personal and intimate way, for he is kings of kings, the maker of heaven and earth. To sum everything up in one word: refreshing.

It was a great and memorable experience of a lifetime, both spiritually and emotionally. I made acquaintances, built on existing friendships and fellowshipped with my friends. But above all, I had increased in my faith; I’ve learnt the importance of surrendering to Him whole-heartedly and let the Holy Spirit work in me and use me to be a testimony to the millions of unsaved children which He so longingly and earnestly hope to see them turn to Him and believe that He is the way, the truth and the life. Nothing compares to being close with Him. It gives me a spiritual ‘high’, the over-flowing desire to humble myself before His majesty and submit to Him, saying: “Lord, here I am, stripped naked. I’m a sinful man. Use me Lord, send me, for here I am, ready to serve. ”

Indeed, the things of this world will fade and disappear and become of no importance when He comes back. The things of this world do not last, they draw our attention away from being with Him, and they prevent us from focusing on Him. They are evil. The world is a sinful world; we must repent and seek help from Him. Materialistic wealth isn’t everything in this corrupt world; many have failed to recognize that their life purposes are wrong in His sight. We all work to be rich, money is all we care about, but He is the one that all of us should be seeking after, His love and His righteousness, which we must emulate.

We must be blessed to be a blessing. You can’t spread the gospel or donate food to the hungry when you are broke. You can’t go out laying hands on the sick when you are lying in bed. You can’t minister joy to others when you are being held captive by depression. Make up your mind to be a blessing, and He will pour out His unending blessings on you by the truckload. We should all adopt this attitude of ‘living to give’.

My life has been transformed through this camp. This has served as a timely reminder to tell me I must obey Him, follow Him, seek Him, and live a God-centered life.

The worship experience was amazing, overwhelming. I cannot describe it using words. Words cannot fully embrace all of my emotions, feelings and that spiritual ‘high’. You have to experience it to comprehend. All I can say was that everyone was praising, jumping and raising hands to the Lord. It was wonderful, great, and certainly refreshing. However, the drums were so loud that it drowned the voices of the worship leaders, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

We arrived at Scripture Union’s campsite at Sentosa at 1 on Thursday. The building was old, constructed in the late 1970s, it was cramp, 2 levels only, and it was rundown but still acceptable for a camp with roughly 90 plus youths attending. The bunks were double-decker beds, they were squeaky and fragile, the mattress was thin, but the one thing I couldn’t stand was the poor ventilation. In my dorm of 10 people, there were no windows, except for two large green wooden doors at both ends of the breadth of the rectangular shaped room, with a tiny opening at the top of the door supposedly for air circulation, but it’s of little use. There were two dusty fans mounted to the side near each door on the stained white wall. In the centre, where I unfortunately slept, there was literally no form of wind. No fan. On the first night, I was continually scratching myself as if my body was infested with flees at night. It was so stuffy that I couldn’t sleep comfortably. It was like a burning furnace, a virtual oven, and we were just like the cookies baking inside. Thankfully, I slept when I was too tired to stay awake. The much appreciated move to the hall to sleep on the second night with the air conditioner on ensured that I had a better sleep.

The campsite was notorious for being home to a splendid array of ants too. In a bathing cubicle, the ants were so prevalent that nobody dared bath in there for fear of their clothes swamped in ants crawling all over. In some cubicles, the shower jet pressure was so high that the clothes would get wet even if hung far away from it at the door. Well, being absolutely clueless and ignorant, I unluckily used one of those ‘strong’ showers on the first day and ended up with my pants damp. Not to mention, there was also a small hole in the roof leaking water when it rained.

The hall, which was just sufficient to accommodate all of us, had six medium-sized air-cons to keep us cool. The canteen was on the first floor, where we had our home-cooked meals. The food wasn’t exactly lousy, neither can I hail it the best ever; in my standards, it’s just okay. Each group took turns to serve each meal. Oh ya forgotten to tell you, I’m in group Gentleness, and my group won third in the games! We were awarded a whole lot of tit-bits, ice cream and sweets, which we couldn’t finish, so we gave some to other envious groups. There were only three boys in my group including me, but the girls were friendly people.

Back to the food. Lunch and dinner usually consisted of four dishes with rice, and the drink was water. Well, to my utmost relief, piping hot Milo was served during breakfast. On the first day, we had noodles which tasted rubbery and dry with porridge, hot bean curd and chee cheong fun was on the menu for the second day, and bread with the previous night’s curry puff for supper was what we received on the last day’s breakfast. Not exactly mouth-watering or tempting.

Every morning after washing up at 8, we had 5 BX, which means simply stretching exercises. It was held in the hall, and we did all sorts of warm-up, from push-ups to star jumps to neck rotation. Breakfast followed, and then it was quiet time.

Wow…this sure is a long post, but do take time to read on because what I need to say is important.

For the camp, Pastor Alvin from The Third Place was invited to speak to us about maturing during our teenage years. His sermon, evenly distributed over the camp duration, had three parts, namely grow-up, wise-up and shape-up. In grow-up he talked about putting away childish things, using the exemplary bible character Joshua, who was Moses’ assistant. There are three principles to help us grow-up:

1) Step up to serve. Do not be afraid for He will always be protecting and watching over you.
2) Seek God’s way. Tell Him: “I’m at your command. What do you want your servant to do? ”
3) Submit and obey. Trust in Him and make Him the king of your life.

In wise-up, we must start to realize God’s purpose for our life. We studied Esther, and learnt that He can work through:

1) The most disobedient people.
2) The most impossible odds.
3) The most trivial circumstances.

In shape-up, we must set a goal, be disciplined and persevere to grow deeper in our relationship with Him. Studying Paul, we discovered that this can be accomplished through:

1) Bible reading. It could be a chapter or a passage a day.
2) Quiet Time. It must be a fixed time daily where we go to the Lord and read His word.
3) Accountability/fellowship. This means having someone accountable to you.
4) Service/ministry. Anything is service if done willingly unto the Lord.

On Sunday the 13th, we had COP at night after a day of fun but wet games at the beach. COP is Concert of Prayer, where we all get together for a time of worship and prayer as one. We prayed specifically for three issues:

1) Abuse. This includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse and drug abuse.
2) Cancer patients at NUH. This group of unfortunate, young children requires the love of God knowing that someone out there still cares.
3) Poverty. Some countries include Myanmar, Vietnam, India and Korea. In fact, in Singapore, there is still a minority that worries about their next meal without having a shelter over their heads.

It was a very intimate time with God, ministering and praying fervently.

The icebreakers on the first day were disgusting. We all sat in a circle in the hall, and we had to pass fruits (red and green apples and pears) around USING OUR MOUTH! To exacerbate our fears, the camp committee ensured that we sat boy and girl alternate. That was the freakiest mouth-to-mouth game ever! Well, we still played without a choice. Occasionally, there were a few high-pitch screams of fright from the girls and I witnessed some cheating too, which was usually complimented by the fruit rolling over the hall like a ball. There was one pear which I bit that had its skin dangling around and juice was dripping from visible teeth marks which sung deep into the flesh. My plastic retainer prevented me from firmly gripping the fruits!

Night games on the second day took the form of catching in Palawan beach. We all got really dirty, sweaty and smelly as flour was poured on our hair, rice was smeared on our shirt, tissue paper balls were soaked in detergent and thrown at us, and toothpaste was coated on our legs. Despite these, we had a ball of fun. Great fun. However, their special ‘concoction’ made the material of my dark blue Nike shirt go all hard and rough.

The third day’s games from morning till evening saw us trekking around the island with the Sentosa map in our hands taking group pictures. At the Merlion Fountain, we stepped inside the circular fountain into the water to take a group photo! At Palawan beach, again, we buried a group member (Yvette, a small-sized sec 1), build a sandcastle, danced YMCA with a group of crazy men and much much more…

It was an exhilarating and fun-filled experience which we all enjoyed. I do not regret a single bit for attending JYC, and I’m very sure that I would sign up again next year. For any of you who may be inspired to join me next year too after my super long testimony, we welcome you with open hands.

Thank you Lord! I love you!

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