My first term as the Lutheran Church in Malaysia & Singapore Education Chairman will formally end in the month of July. I’m not sure what will happen after the convention. It’s been a challenging and yet memorable time serving as the chair. And one of the areas I confess not having enough energy personally to focus on is the development of the overall youth ministry of the various congregations. But one thing I can be grateful for is this particular camp which was successfully conducted by a few of our not-yet ordained pastors in order to encourage younger leaders to emerge (that’s why on second thoughts I would have preferred to call it a younger leaders camp 🙂 ). Another important goal was to bring the younger leaders together from all the districts to connect with each other and trust in God’s spirit to bring about networking, friendships and unity of vision.
For me one of my most memorable moments was when I had the chance to conduct the closing Holy Communion for the whole camp. I felt the “kids” had spent enough time in the “main hall” so when I saw this little corner at the camp site I thought this would be a great place to have the closing. We were surrounded by nature and fresh air. We could break out of the walls of a building which gave us a better view of us as a BODY. There was a simplicity in the environment which I believed helped us focus on the richness of the meaning which the sacrament of Holy Communion offered.
I tried to link the time to our baptism where I highlighted forgiveness of sins, initiation into the reign of God and incorporation into the Body of Christ. What I added was the missional component where we are also called and “ordained” into ministry and God’s mission. I could see some eyes lighting up when I mentioned every time from this day forward when they partake of the Holy communion they need to know they are not alone in that act. I encouraged them to remember the friends they gotten to know in this camp, the wider body of Lutheran congregations both weak or strong.
The day before they visited the Orang Asli congregations, so we must not forget them as well. In fact, we need to consciously include them in our imagination as we talk about unity in our denomination. We sang an old classic, “Jesus, name above all names”, there were times of silent prayer and contemplation, rededication and intercession … in short, I knew this was a moment we would all remember and trust the Spirit doing his deep work in our midst. Perhaps, we can look forward to a group of younger leaders growing into various roles inside and outside the church walls who would make a difference in the long run. That was my prayer …
I was especially thankful for all the “not-yet” ordained pastors who have put a lot of effort in the organization and support of this camp. After serving the communion and closing with the benediction, one of them engaged me with an interesting conversation over serving the elements and what does “ordination” really mean? The specific case was how some of our other ordained ministers may have a more hierarchical understanding than what we’d prefer. I think the deeper issue is what does leadership mean when we link it closer to the ideas of servanthood and stewardship. This is the kind of conversations we need amongst us in the church.
I love this picture I took of Pastor Calvin Lim from Melaka Lutheran Church. It’s a fun picture and I know all the younger leaders loved his fun-loving nature and yet faithfulness in ministry attitude. The whole camp was initiated by him and the committee led by him as well. His passion and energy really is contagious. 🙂 He’s even got a post-camp website running here 信义青年网 Lots of pictures for now 🙂
I suppose what many will remember is more than the messages they heard and the activities they had. One of the most precious gifts we could offer them is (1) the example of our lives, (2) the relationships and connections we can cultivate, (3) a maturing vision towards ministry, (4) character and values that are Christ-like and (4) Space to grow and learn (5) Conversations which will recognize our folly and enhance our wisdom 🙂 (6) Add to the list … there’s always other surprises we may have never noticed which we will years later.
All in all I thought this was a great camp … wonderful people … superb possibilities … a good spirit … fantastic atmosphere .. and much room for the future … TOGETHER!