by Rev. James Wong
The Harvest Festival holiday is a popular time of the year to take leave and go away for a break. I am going away with BCCM Sandakan (E) members for a family camp at Sabah Tea Garden. A group from BCCM Likas and BCCM Tanjung will be visiting Sandakan. For BCCM Bundusan we have approved a subsidy of RM14,400.00 for the family camp to be held at Beringgis Beach Resort.
Some of the fondest memories that I have in the church come from attending outings, retreats or church family camps. They have enriched my life and broaden my Christian experience in my walk with Christ.
Jesus also took time off and went for a retreat with his disciples. “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.” (Matthew 17:1-2). Such retreat today is beneficial to us for a number of reasons.
1. It is a time of spiritual refreshment. There were times Jesus withdrew with his disciples to other places to avoid the crowd (Mk 3:7; 6:31-32). The incident on the mountain was known as the transfiguration where that experience helped to reaffirm the faith of the disciples that Jesus was truly the son of God. In every church camp, there is an opportunity for us to learn together and get spiritually refreshed.
2. It is a time to get acquainted with each other. A church family camp is a unique time for members and new friends to have a closer fellowship with one another and provide a time for bonding. Peter, James and John were known as the inner circle of Jesus, which means, they were closer to Jesus as compared to the rest of the disciples. I believe they spent more time with each other. We get acquainted with each other when we spend time together. Acquaintance is also a main key why people stay with a church.
3. It is a time to have fun. Church family camp is a fun time. How often do we play with each other? Relating to one another should be fun. Fun helps us to relax and enjoy each other’s company. This is the reason why we need to have ice-breakers in cell group meetings because they bring fun to relationships and help to build friendship. People stay together when there is fun, happiness and meaning relating to each other.
4. It is a time to work. It takes coordination to organize a successful church family camp. Members serve each other with their assigned responsibilities. This kind of team work in serving will help to forge unity that has a far reaching implication for the whole church. Peter, James and John were the three disciples who went on to witness the agony of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37). They gave Jesus the emotional support that he needed most at that time. When we serve together, we also pave the way to give support to each other so that we all have a strong sense of belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ. Those who serve are the elite class in the Kingdom of God.