Youth church camp.

If I had to use just 3 words to describe this youth church camp that i’m helping out for this week, it would be these.

1. Nostalgia.

2. Friendships.

3. Revival.

Its been so heartening to have church friends welcome me back into the community. To communicate and be able to integrate back as one of them, especially with me being overseas for most part of the past 7-8 years in New Zealand. So much has changed. So many new faces. New building. Young kids now grown into young adults. People I used to know whom I now can’t even recognise. I just felt like a total foreigner in a church that I supposedly was born into and grew up in. It has all just changed so much!

Camps are time a great opportunity for bonding. To get to know people better and have good conversations amidst the late nights/suppers/game planning etc. Just spending time together and laughing at stupid stuff can surprisingly help diffuse any sense of awkwardness and tension between people.

Being able to have been a part of the games team and to be a part of this camp has really reminded me so much of how youth camp used to be like when I was still in my childhood years. When I was just like them! So many memories. Listening to sermons and having my heart touched. Busily writing and trying my best to get everything down. Singing worship songs and feeling that sense of deep deep joy and happiness/sadness to prepare my heart for the message to come. Oh! And the games! How i’ve missed the classic games like candle fights, tug of wars and water bomb wars we used to play back in Serimbun camp. We don’t have it there anymore. Heard its been demolished or something. Whuuuuut! All those childhood memories of getting muddied and bitten by those much hated bloodthirsty mosquitoes. URGH. But still. Just being able to help carry out some of these games, brings back such good memories of my growing years. Sad, but happy. Yes I know theres a word for it- Bittersweet. 😂

Second word- Friendships. Camp has really helped me bond so much with new friends in church now. And also old friends whom I haven’t seen or kept in touch for years. They’ve all moved on with life and things have changed so much! Being able to actually have this time of planning and hearty conversations, its actually so rare at this stage of life when we are all busy transitioning from school to working life etc. Sadly, there just isn’t enough time for everyone! Community support and integration is just so important.

Lastly, Revival. Being able to hear messages from Luzerne our camp speaker has been such a blessing. Luzerne is my childhood friend. We grew up together. Then we kinda grew apart when he migrated over to Australia in his high school years. Then I migrated to New Zealand. Now he’s back in Singapore for good. We’ve met up on a handful of occasions since then, but things have definitely changed between us. We’ve all changed and moved on. I miss having a close brother, whom I trust and am able to confide and be vulnerable with. To do bible studies together. To pray together for each other. To gym. To study. Christian, I miss you man. But it’s God’s plan. A new chapter and a new life. Hope you’re doing well in the states bro. We’ll meet again i’m sure of that. But anyway, I digress. Luzerne has grown so much spiritually its been so encouraging! Motivates you to want to do better. You know you can be better! Today, his message was on two main points.

1. Quality time with God, beats quantity any day. When was the last time you actually sat down to spend serious quality time with God to talk and ponder about His word? Just as your girlfriend would get angry if you don’t spend enough quality time with her, why aren’t we doing that for the most important person in our lives who loves us so much, sacrificed so much and basically is able to do anything for us?! Why? I ask myself all the time. This message spoke to me and hit home, because recently, i’ve been doing this bible reading plan that enables you to cover the entire bible in 90 days. If you think 90 days is long, trust me, its intense reading. The bible isn’t short. Its a whole compilation of a many ancient manuscripts and has 66 books that are split into the Old and New Testament. Basically, in order to finish the bible in 90 days, everyday requires me to read about 15 chapters on average. This takes me on average about 45-60 mins. Its really tough! And on many days i’ve got to admit, although I force myself to keep to schedule to avoid falling behind and accumulating even more chapters to read the next day, I find myself skimming the words and sentences. And when I ask myself what i’ve learnt from my reading session, if i’m being absolutely frank, many times, in fact, most days would be me admitting I don’t know or understand what i’m actually reading. Its more skimming to cover ground than understanding scripture. Quality over quantity. Thank you for this reminder.

2. Abiding in God’s strength and absolute power to carry be through life’s trials and issues. Life is a journey full of constant trials, ups and downs. We are weak. But this is absolutely why we need to depend on God rather than on ourselves. All too often, I fall into this trap of trying to think up or create more things to do that would supposedly “help” be improve myself. For example, reading the bible more. Hanging out with Godlier friends. YES. Im not saying these are bad. But, what is the whole point?? These things aren’t that. I’m not depending on God when I do these, i’m depending on myself or other people who will all too often fail us! Why place your faith and trust in things that fail when all we could’ve done was to trust in God, to abide in His word and hang on for dear life whilst He takes us on for the ride of our life?

If we do not abide in Him, like a branch that does not bear fruit, we will be cut off and disposed of. We will be useless. Only by “connecting” and depending upon the vine which is Christ, are we truly able to bear genuine fruit, that brings glory to His name.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

‭‭John‬ ‭15:4-8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

All Glory to God.

Whatever your will for my life Lord, I will place my utmost faith and trust in your plans for me, and I will abide and follow you to the end. I only pray for grace and patience for me, as I still try to navigate and learn day by day, prayerfully, to be a better and more God-fearing Christian. Whether the world accepts of rejects me, it doesn’t matter. In fact, they will most likely reject us, just as the bible says that because we am not of or from it. My home is far above, and my journey here not done. Till then, my work here will be to do the great commission, to bring more people into your kingdom. I pray that I will do you proud!

Love,

Paul Chong

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