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Behind the scenes of Cool Camp 2018

If this picture was presented to a primary school student during an English oral exam, the child might describe it as: An image of 2 children running across neatly patterned black and white tiles, zooming past a lady who is wearing a cap and laughing as she sits cross-legged on the floor.

But is that really all there is to this picture? What if there was more to it?

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Cool Camp is FGA’s annual stay-in camp for children aged 4 to 12 years old and it was recently held from 1 – 3 June at Changi Cottage. Every year, the children in Spark Kids, the children’s ministry of FGA, eagerly look forward to Cool Camp as the year’s highlight. With 3 full days of fun games, delicious food and interactive lessons learning more about God, it’s hard to imagine why children wouldn’t be excited!

This year’s theme was “FaceTime! Meeting God through His Word, every day.” Through lessons, videos, games, and an interactive walkthrough of a Tabernacle experience, the children learnt about how people in the past had FaceTime with God as they abided by strict orders throughout the Tabernacle, and how instead, today we can meet with the same holy God all the time, every day, because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

For all the 20 over years I have been in FGA, this year was my first spending some time at Cool Camp to help out. Before I arrived at the campsite, my expectation of the camp was that it was going to be all about the children. That’s what a children’s camp is, right? Being all about the children?

But after spending the weekend at Cool Camp, my eyes opened to how I had only been seeing the camp in just one dimension. I had only been seeing what was obvious at the surface. Cool Camp really goes so much deeper and is about so many other people of all ages and walks of life coming together as a church to throb in a synchronised heartbeat.

It really is like the picture I started off with. Yes it is true – the picture does show 2 children running across neatly patterned black and white tiles, zooming past a lady who is wearing a cap and laughing as she sits cross-legged on the floor.

However what is also true, but not shown, is when this moment was captured – the time of debrief at the end of day 2 where all the volunteers sat down in a circle, waiting to start going through the next day’s activities; What is also true, but not visible, is one group of volunteers enthusiastically pointing and shouting out creative directions to the 2 kids running about. “One run from the left!”, “One run from the right!”, “Ok wait, don’t run yet!”, “Ok, both run now!”. What is also true, but not displayed, is another group of volunteers giving modelling advice to the lady in the middle as she tried various poses and asked, “Where should I look?”, “Is this ok?”, “Should I put my hand here?” What is also true, but not seen, is the multiple takes that the photographer shot, then checked, then shot again, and the unending runs that the 2 kids had to (gleefully) repeat. What is also true, but not presented, is the proud verdict “it’s a wrap!”, announced by the photographer’s trusty assistant, and the collective praise for this winning shot as the camera was passed around.

Yes, the picture does show 2 children running across neatly patterned black and white tiles, zooming past a lady who is wearing a cap and laughing as she sits cross-legged on the floor, but there were many other people, many other actions, many other conversations that had to work together to create this captured moment in time.

In the same way, whilst it may be the most straightforward to think that Cool Camp is about the children, what is also true but not as immediately thought of is the army of people who have come together from all parts of FGA to create 3 full days of a precious experience for the kids. There was the group from the Nepalese campus, the Filipino campus, and the English campus, constantly in the kitchen chopping and stirring, columns of rising steam perpetually dancing around them as they cooked meal after meal for the children; there was the group of young men and women bent over and huddled out in the heat of the day and dark of the night washing, wiping, drying batch after batch of plates, cups and utensils; there was the group of full-time working parents who came to teach from materials that they had spent time putting together prior to coming; there was the children’s ministry team and volunteers, some of whom had taken leave to be at camp, surviving on a lack of sleep but still wholeheartedly running about their duties; and then there was the team from the Salt and Light ministry who helped in the heavyweight transportation of logistics back from the campsite on a Sunday night.

While it is true that Cool Camp is a children’s camp, I now see that the camp for children is merely a by-product of the church coming together as one, selflessly bringing whatever each can contribute to love the next generation. Cool Camp, when seen for what it really is, presents a picture of the church in all its glorious beauty. It is a picture of a body built on members who give of themselves without expecting anything in return. It is a picture of a patchwork of people understanding that what unites them is stronger than what divides them. It is a picture of overflowing response to what has been done for us at the Cross – that our children will know who God is and the mighty works He has done.

Whilst the above is one of the my favourite pictures from the camp, what Cool Camp is a picture of, speaks greater volumes than what pictures we have captured of Cool Camp.

My heart has been so full watching the church in motion at the camp. I am reminded that the church is truly a beautiful thing, there is nothing like it, and I am so glad to be a part of one.

 

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What other volunteers and attendees have to say about Cool Camp this year:

“I’m really touched to see especially the older guys in COOL Camp have understood and realised through this camp that God is actually working in their lives and calling them for something greater and for one of them, he is almost certain of what God has called him for.” – Zac Toh

“Four words sum up my experience about COOL camp 2018. God Is So Good. He is so good because He brought people from different generations to serve the next generation. Youth rise up to take care of the children and attend to their needs even late into the night. Older kids took care of younger one without anyone telling them to do so. Adults cooked late into the night so that everyone would be well fed the next day. People stepped in and helped whenever they saw a need. He is so good because He brought non-believers to the camp so that they may learn just a little more about Him and experience His goodness. Youths praying over the next generation as lives were touched, hearts were mended, souls were saved. He is so good because when weather forecast says its going to rain, He held back the rain so that kids could go outdoor to play. Everything is under His control. After six COOL camp, seeds have been sowed while some are already bearing fruits. And all praise and glory goes to Him for He is so good.” – Ng Hong Kiat, Camp Commander

“Observing them I learned how to be more childlike, and during the ministry time I felt the fierce jealous love of God for the children.” – Eugene Chia

“Personally, I feel that COOL camp 2018 has been a fruitful one as the teachings have impacted the kids in their own ways.” – Nathaniel Gan

“It was my first time being a volunteer. As a participant of cool camp I never realised how much effort went into planning and preparing it. The team behind it all is very admirable, because they had to devote so much time and effort into the camp, and although they were very tired they still managed to put in all their effort and do their very best in whatever they did .” – Chloe Lee

“I am very blessed to be a part of cool camp 2018 as i have witnessed the kids really learning and drawing themselves towards God! The kids have also lived out their Godly values during the camp which makes it very touching to see them having such values even at a young age! Personally i have also learned even through serving in cool camp that the impact given by the older generation to the younger generation is really important and i am encouraged too see the kids grow up!” – Jeriel Ng

Recovering your story

Recovering Your Story (Part Three)

This is the final instalment of a three-part entry about recovering God’s story for our lives. Read Part One and Two if you missed it previously.


Jesus the Truth

In Luke 4 when Jesus went to his hometown to preach there, he chooses Isaiah 61. 

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord

This is what he came to do. And to illustrate that, he set people free from demons and evil spirits, healed the sick – the blind saw and the lame walked. Today the offer still stands. To set us free from the strongholds and filters in our hearts. To bind our broken hearts from all we’ve suffered. God never meant for all the brokenness in your life but He is big enough to use it to heal and restore your identity, your name, and your purpose. In the brokenness, you can find the truth of your original design. Who he meant when he made you. Jesus came to restore us and that’s what he is committed to doing. He restored us to our Father, now He wants to make you whole.

Now in recovering your story, it’s important to understand we will be re-living the painful memories again. But this time, we need to allow Jesus to come into the various events of our lives that had either the world’s or the enemy’s interpretation – which gave you false messages about who God is, who you are, and who you are to him. He is not happy about what happened to you and he wants to come and defend us where we need to be defended, offer forgiveness where we need it, words of truth where we need it, and the true and right interpretation of events.

On pain again

Pain is your friend. -Pastor Terry Benavente

Yes yes I know, pain sucks and we all wanna avoid it. Like I mentioned before, I wanted to bypass pain altogether too. But as Christians, we are called to enter death and resurrection. To share in the death of Christ in order to share in his resurrection. To share in the suffering of Christ in order to share in his glory. I found something interesting about the beatitudes. The one about mourning.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted Matt 5:4

If we are not in touch with our brokenness in order to recover our story, we can’t mourn because, well, we wouldn’t know what we are supposed to be mourning for or are we even supposed to be mourning in the first place. In other words, no mourning, no comfort. One doesn’t need comfort if he or she doesn’t know what to mourn for. 

Recovering your story and walking with Jesus through the brokenness of your life will be painful but this time there will be comfort, there will be truth, there will be freedom, and there will be a great joy. Jesus himself endured the cross, which was the most brutal death anyone suffered in the history of the world, for the joy set before him! So there will be joy after mourning!

In closing

Whatever your story is, know this the foundation to be true:

Through faith in Christ, because of Christ, you are again a child of the most high God. A God that is wise, loving, just, intimate, noble, kind, strong, sovereign, faithful. A God that is your Father. A Father that chose you before he made the world. It was and is his joy and delight that he created you. To bear his image uniquely as male or female. That he made you for himself, to be his intimate ally in joining him in the great theme of the story of this age –  the redemption and restoration of your heart and the hearts of mankind. He has a specific purpose for you in this age and the age to come.

Would you allow God to take you on this journey of recovering your story? Would you allow Jesus to come into the broken and wounded places of your heart, restore the truth that was stolen from you, bind your brokenness? Would you allow him to interpret the many events that seemed to send all those false messages about who you are? Would you let him set you free? Would you let him comfort you? Would you let him come and make you whole?

If you do, then pray this prayer with me.

Father, yes. Yes, I believe in the story that you have and are writing about this age and the age to come. I thank you for sending Jesus to die for me. Through him, I have been restored to you. And now Jesus, you want to make me whole. I believe in your restoration work and I am ready. I accept your offer to take me on this journey of recovering my story. I want to be walking in your truth and your truth alone. I want to know you, experience you, be loved by you, and love you. The real you that only you can reveal. Come and take me on this journey to bind my broken heart, set me free, and make me whole.

In Jesus name, Amen.

Recovering your story

Recovering Your Story (Part Two)

 This is the second of a three-part entry about recovering God’s story for our lives. Read Part One if you missed it previously.


Know how we have been assaulted

It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons -William Gurnall

We were created in the image of God. An image that all of us bear and one that is good and holy. The enemy fears us. He knows we will do a lot of damage on the side of good, for the sake of the Kingdom of God and in the name of our King Jesus. So he targets our identity and attacks with lies during times of trauma and brokenness to distort it. Because a person who doesn’t truly know who he or she is can’t live out the life that God meant. 

So even if a careless word was spoken to us, he is there whispering things like maybe people just don’t like you.  We try harder to be accepted, by agreeing with it, and that dangerously leads us on the path to self-sufficiency, self-dependence and gives the people around us the power to validate us instead of putting it in its rightful place, in the hands of the Father.

That’s just one example. Each person’s story is different and unique. Find an example and look for others over the course of your life and then you will start to notice something. That there is a theme to the brokenness in your life. 

In recovering your story perhaps it would be good to ask these questions. What’s the message behind the brokenness?

What’s the theme of the brokenness in my life? 

Have you been bullied when you were young for voicing out? Maybe you were made to be a voice and not an echo.

Have you been mocked for being sensitive? Maybe you were made with a sensitive heart to be able to feel what others can’t and to walk with people in a unique way. 

Filters

I have learnt that brokenness also comes about when we are not yet whole or the people we are relating to are not yet whole. Unfortunately, these people are sometimes the people that are closest to us. Are there wounds that need to be tended to? Are there people that we need to forgive and release into God’s hands? Maybe things didn’t work out quite as well you have thought and don’t know how to handle the disappointments. Maybe relationships? Marriage? Maybe you were assaulted with accusations and injustice and now there is some resentment?

Our past colours our present. So how we have chosen to deal with our brokenness contributes a lot to how we see God and see ourselves, more than we like to admit. We could be limiting God based on the way we have dealt with our specific brokenness, believing contrary to who He says he is. Sometimes the hurt is too much and we bandage it with self-medication – like sweeping it under the carpet, callousing our hearts to each other and to God. Over time, these become strongholds which hinder the working and experience of God in our lives. These further hinder our relationships, hinder our purpose and calling, hinder love. 

The good news is that God loves us too much to leave us with these filters and strongholds in our lives that do so much damage.

In recovering our story, we can pinpoint the origin of these strongholds and then let Christ set us free to be loved and to love God as he truly is and not through filters, brokenness, self-redemption, theological limitations etc. It is at this point we realise and remember that the price for our freedom has been paid.


Stay tuned for the final part of Eugene’s story, coming up soon.

Recovering your story

Recovering Your Story (Introduction & Part One)

I was baptised as a Catholic when I was a baby. Cradle Catholics, we call ourselves. Having an intimate relationship with God was not my experience growing up. My growing up years were difficult. I came from a broken family and didn’t have a good relationship with the male members of my immediate family. That contributed to how I saw God and related to him.

However, over the last few months, The prodigal father has run down my road and embraced me – forgiven and restored me to my rightful place – to be his son and by his side. He is showing me who he really is and is restoring my heart and my family. He is pouring out his love, words, affection, affirmation, and validation over me. There have been so many tears that I’m beginning to think that the number of tears I have shed the last few months are more than the tears I have shed in the last 10 years.

There have been tears of joy. Great joy. But also tears of sorrow.

One aspect of the journey that God is taking me on, I was initially fully willing to participate in. But over time, it has proven to be really hard.

It is the journey of pain and of mourning

Throughout this time, the Lord brought me to various places in my past. Places and memories long forgotten. Memories of brokenness, of woundings. Memories of my childhood where I was neglected and left to fend for myself. Memories of my childhood where I was only loved if I did X-Y-Z. Each time I would allow him to take me where he wanted and let him speak His truth. The only truth I desperately needed. I would find healing and restoration in this process.

This process happened more than a few times. There have been times where I mourned and felt the pain of a certain aspect of my youth over a period of a few days. After a while, it was getting too much and I started pulling away from the process of pain. I didn’t want to experience pain anymore, I was asking Him to just bypass the pain. Essentially, I was asking, “Can I have the joy without the pain, please?”

In His grace, He showed me that the reason for the pain is so that He can go deep.

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being. Ps 51:6a

Getting the truth deep into my being involves this process of pain. I then wondered about the reason for the sometimes drawn out ongoing process. What is the whole purpose of all these processes? God opened my eyes to the idea of knowing or recovering my story.

Backdrop

Ever since the fall, God’s perfect story of your life (Ps 139:16) has been hijacked and used against you. Either by the flesh, the world, the evil one and his kingdom. What was meant for so much good has been abused by evil to distort the view of a loving and perfect Father. What was meant to be a childhood filled with wonder and play and delight from the Father has been instead used to mar the child heart in many. What was meant to be days of adventure and belonging has been instead used for addiction and isolation. What was meant for relationships filled with beauty and intimacy has been abused for idolatry and sexual promiscuity.We live in a broken world and we know this all too well.

You see, your life is a story that is a part of a larger story where God is the author. He has written and is writing a really big and epic story and you have a part to play. Through living in a broken world, our lives have been targeted and assaulted and have now indeed, include brokenness. Facing and understanding the brokenness in our story will help us to understand where and how one fits into the larger story.


This is the first of a three-part entry about recovering God’s story for our lives. Stay tuned for the next one, coming up soon.

Testimony: What helped me to stay out of prison.

We were blessed to hear Bruce’s testimony last weekend. While his daughter was his motivation to stay out of prison for good, it was God who gave him the strength to keep on the path. May his story stir you up and give you the strength you need for the challenges you are overcoming today.

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Re:solution 12-day Fast and Prayer – Widya’s Experience

In January, FGA embarked on a 12-day churchwide fast and prayer. Together with a devotional focused on the book of Nehemiah, we waited on the Lord to show us the burdens He placed in our hearts, and provide direction and strategy on how to address these burdens.

One of our partners Widya shares her fasting experience with us.

“I was praying for breakthrough with children whom I deal with in my line of work. I fasted a dinner meal during the 12 day period. Initially, it created discomfort in my tummy for a few evenings but my system finally adjusted to it.
I discovered that fasting and praying is a good discipline and should be done on a more regular basis like weekly. It is very powerful when it is done with sincere intentionality to contend with God for breakthroughs over some strongholds. It’s amazing how we begin to hear more and more from Him, before witnessing breakthrough taking place gradually. Fasting teaches me how to persevere.

As I studied the devotional, what resonated most to me were the messages on days 4 and 8:

* FAST – PRAY – PLAN instead of the other way around, which most of us often do.
This requires much patience, humility and TRUST in His direction & timing!

* Valley experiences before the Fountain experiences.
Going through periods of uncomfortable/painful ‘pruning’ & ‘refining’ (purging out of any impurities) seems to take forever, but He is actually preparing us for greater work in the future. Understanding that what He’s working in us at all times will enable us to give thanks even in time of trials/valley moments. It is indeed true that only through trials, we’ll come out more refined in our characters and our faith in God.

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Red Camp 2017: When God Showed Up

December is always a special month for our youth because this is when our annual Red Camp takes place. Amidst 4 days of gruelling games, worship, sharing, and blessings, the youth are challenged and encouraged as they build special bonds with the Lord, and each other. But Red Camp 2017 (RC2k17) was particularly special for all involved. Camp commander Natalie Ng reports.

A word released amidst our prayers for the camp was that God would bless the work sown into the camp, and it would bear fruit. As I reflect, I see clearly how He kept His promise.

21 youth signed up for RC2k17, making up 3 groups of 7 (the number of completeness and perfection). We booked 12 rooms at the campsite (12 being the perfect number symbolising God’s power and authority). I sensed this was not an accident; God was telling me that He was in control of the camp, and the camp would be perfection in His eyes.

Games were always a huge focus for the youth attending the camp each year, and they would discuss it with much anticipation as days lead up to camp. But as we found ourselves changing our camp programme by reducing the number of games planned, we understood that God wanted us to focus less on the games, and more on Him.

As we did so, His presence became so real in the campsite. Spiritual was brought into the physical as our youth experienced God in a brand new way, such as bursting out in tongues for the first time and singing prophetically. One of our youth even experienced the whiff of burning as they surrendered areas of their life to Christ, by writing prompted areas on pieces of paper and tossing them into a bin. God was taking these offered strongholds and bad habits, and burning them. Prophecies were released and God gave gifts to the youth.

I believe that God saw the hunger and desire from the youth and helpers to experience Him, and He honoured that by pouring out. He also honoured all the prayers that were sown into the camp from months before. Besides just the Red Camp team, I know that many people in the church had been praying for us, and I am so grateful for this. Thank you! Red Camp would not have been the same without these prayers.

My own prayer and desire for RC2k17 was simple. I just wanted God to show up, and He did. He was the Red Camp Commander, in  control of everything, in order to show us that His power, goodness and authority over our lives is real.

I pray that all of us at the camp, youth and all others involved alike, will remember that as life resumes to normal, He is always there and we need to look to Him. Even in days when we are not in church, days when we are feeling low and days when we don’t seem to feel His presence. He alone is our strength and He provides for us in every situation. He takes us safely through every situation and always wants the best for all of us. He is our Father.

And we cannot, and should not, fall back to normality and resume status quo for the Surge gatherings and future Red Camps in 2018 and the years to come. Let’s expect that God is going to pour out a greater measure from here on.

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Elijah House Prayer Ministry Equipping Course – Mervin’s Testimony.

In September, Mark and Terry Benevente from Elijah House School of Ministry came to our church to run prayer ministry sessions, as they have done for a number of years. This time, they also came to train a few of our leaders who were interested in a deeper level of understanding and equipping of the ministry tools, which would ultimately allow them to be more effective in ministering to others.

The first half of the Prayer Ministry course was run over the week, and the leaders all received a certificate of completion at the end of it! They will complete the next half of the course in 2018.

One of our leaders, Mervin, shared his testimony with us.

 

“Prayer Ministry and Deliverance” – What used to immediately come to mind whenever I came across that term, was one of a Priest commanding an unclean spirit to leave, all the while holding an opened Bible in one hand and the other on the head of the person getting ministered to.

How wrong I was.

What I saw and experienced during the training was immensely peaceful, introspective and most importantly, Spirit led. We would be equipped in the basics during the day and were given time to practise what we learned amongst ourselves. We were unsure of what to do at times, but the Lord took the little that we had and multiplied it as we could see our fellow classmates being healed on the inside. We all felt ministered to and we definitely knew that God was bringing the healing to our lives and souls.

While we were ministering to each other, Ps. Mark, Terry, Angie and Josefa were all ready to give us a hand whenever we felt stuck. They skillfully brought the ministry sessions to a wonderful close each time. By the end of 4 days, we all came out of the training feeling refreshed, light as a feather and also, whole.

At FGA, we come from all walks of life. Each of our lives are so different but one of the things we have in common is that we are all broken people whom God wants to make whole. And prayer ministry is one of the ways He makes us whole again. Prayer ministry is for everyone, and I would encourage every follower of Christ to attend it regularly.

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Elijah House Prayer Ministry

Desiring a breakthrough in your life?

Elijah House Prayer Ministry

The Elijah House prayer ministry is based on scriptural principles and led by the Holy Spirit, through the use of listening prayer and other tools, to uncover roots that hold us to these patterns. In a prayer ministry session, the prayer counsellor leads the seeker in prayer at the foot of the cross to forgive those who wounded him/her, as well as to receive forgiveness of judgments, and other strongholds the heart has formed. Each session is completely confidential and run by a trained prayer counsellor.

Prayer ministry is available to all FGA partners in the month of September. Sign up, and experience newfound freedom and breakthrough in your life!

SIGN UP FOR A PRIVATE SESSION HERE

 

Laying the Foundations Seminar

Mark and Terry Benavente from Elijah House Ministry, Guam, will be back in FGA this September to conduct the “Laying The Foundations” seminar, which covers the basic principles used in prayer ministry and the keys to receiving heart healing and true breakthrough in our lives.

Date: 10 Sept 2017
Time: 12.30pm – 7.00pm
Venue: Studio 6, FGA@Playfair, Level 4
Seminar Fees: Free of charge
Who can attend: Open to all, and compulsory for those who have signed up for the private prayer ministry sessions.

This session helps attendees identify recurring patterns/sin in their lives by discovering root causes with the help of the Holy Spirit and keys of knowledge including identifying:

  • Bitter root judgments
  • Inner vows
  • Foundational lies

As well as steps to pray through these processes in order to experience a greater level of freedom.

REGISTER FOR SEMINAR HERE

15 Playfair Road, FGA@Playfair, Singapore 367987
6339 1317     6334 6694

info@fgasingapore.org

MRT - Tai Seng (circle line), exit at Harper Road

Buses - Tai Seng MRT: 22, 24, 28, 43, 58, 62, 70, 70M, 76, 80, 93, 158

             - Citimac Industrial Complex: 62, 90, 151