“But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” I Timothy 4:7,8
With this exhortation in mind, the committee for the ERCS Family Camp 1993 began their preparations around the theme of “Exercise unto Godliness.” Planning and prayer were spread over nine months and the four-day camp became a closer and closer reality. The advance publicity drive drew the parallels between physical health and spiritual well-being, exhorting the congregations to come to the camp for a time of spiritual restoration and exercise.
Over four Lord’s Days in May, the camp officials comprising of Jason Goh, Daniel Kwek, Mrs. Cheah Lee Choo, and Angelia Teng, were on hand after worship service to register campers. In all, over 80 campers and visitors signed up. Notable among them were mothers with young children who had to manage without their husbands’ help during the camp.
Yet, it is not out of order here to mention the problems that confronted the camp and its officials. This will serve to show that, truly, “the Lord had done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”
First, we could not use the TV or Reading Room in the Nanyang Technological University halls, the venue of the camp, for the night meetings. Consequently, a lecture hall had to be rented and that added to cost and inconvenience. But God provided us both the wisdom and the means to transport the campers, especially our little ones, to the lecture hall. The brethren with cars were more than willing to put their vehicles at the disposal of the camp’s needs.
Secondly, the camp committee were handicapped by the absence of two members. They were unable to obtain leave from their work. But praise the Lord that camp “veteran” – Deacon Yuen Kam Loon and brother Tan Bak Wei volunteered their help in the running of the camp.
Another big consideration was the relatively high number of 50 babies and young children to the number of adults. To ensure that everybody could attend the message sessions, both sisters and brothers look turns to baby-sit. We thank God for the love that prevailed among the campers.
Lastly, weather forecasts had predicted rain during the duration of the camp from 8th to 11th June. That sounded dismal but the Lord answered our prayers and the rain held off. Imagine our joy on the day of the picnic, when the sun broke through the overcast skies!
Finally, it was the long-awaited moment. The camp master, Deacon Cheah Fook Meng, gave the opening address at 3 pm, stressing that camp is a time to get close to God and a time of fellowship. For the godly man is a rare specimen in our time. We do not take time to cultivate godliness any more. Therefore, in this camp, we ought to exercise to cope with our spiritual life and to work out our salvation.
Over the next three days of the camp, spiritual health specialist ‘Dr.’ Kortering addressed the theme of “Exercise unto Godliness” in three parts:
- By Keeping the Heart
- Through Divine Psychoanalysis
- Through Getting Along with Others
It was a soul-searching time as the campers were faced with the diagnosis and offered God’s prescription in each message. Then we were shown the healthy results of spiritual vibrancy, inner peace and harmonious living when we follow the treatments prescribed in God’s Word. As Pastor Kortering said in the introduction to his messages, the speaking times serve only to furnish the material for our quiet times with God. Thus, we need to meditate and pray over what we hear, and to exercise our faith.
Our other specialist, ‘Dr.’ Lau, spoke on the related themes of “Disciplines of a Godly Man” and “Disciplines of a Godly Woman.” The two examples held up for our study and emulation were Daniel and Ruth. Pastor Lau showed how Daniel, a man of prayer and of truth, cultivated the presence of God, participated in the communion of saints and maintained a good testimony before man. On the other hand, Ruth was a Moabitess. In God’s providence, she became a godly woman and disciplined herself towards God’s people, towards those in authority and towards herself. Her reward was great for she became a mother of Israel.
Besides the spiritual intake of messages, the campers also had doses of fun and physical activities. On the second day, campers and visitors traveled in a convoy of cars and vans to the Kranji War Memorial for the family picnic. We had a surprise on arrival: picnicking was not allowed at the memorial. So we had the unusual experience of lunching in the car park. Then Elder Loh Peng Kee gave a short exhortation on “Numbering Our Days” before the children immersed themselves in an art contest and the adults engaged in a discussion on spiritual discipline in their various small groups. It was a meaningful and refreshing time for all.
At night, a forum on “Christian Social Decorum” provided the opportunity for both forum speakers and audience to air their views. Some questions, like “Can a church leader spot a moustache?” and “Can a sister initiate dating?” drew much laughter and discussion.
After the morning message on the third day, the various small groups had a time of sharing and prayer. It helped us know each other’s needs and share the burdens. In the afternoon, a game of Captain’s Ball provided good therapy for building fellowship and sportsmanship. The Married verses Singles match ended in the former’s favor but all were winners at the watermelon eating session afterwards.
The last night meeting saw a Spiritual Fitness Test prepared and administered by the camp officials. The five groups, Archers, Gymnasts, Wrestlers, Boxers, and Runners were put through many rounds of examination. Eventually, Runners emerged as the fittest group of the whole course. Our congratulations!
The camp came to a close on a very special note. In his last message to the camp, Pastor Kortering mentioned that it was the 36th wedding anniversary for him and Mrs. Kortering. A little pie was presented as a token of our rejoicing with them. At photo taking time, we became their family in this family camp.
It is perhaps fitting to conclude this article by quoting one camper, Mrs. Maty Teo. “On behalf of the campers, I would like to say that we have not only been physically refreshed at this camp, but more importantly, we have been spiritually blessed as well, I want to thank the camp officials for all their labour.”