To Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church, it was a retreat for cell leaders. To me, it was an Awakening Event (A.W.E.) to awaken even more Archippuses 🙂 One may think that it’s just semantics and a matter of a preference of terms. That’s fine, as long as I get to fulfil my assignment of awakening the saints for the purposes of the kingdom.
When I was first invited by Rev Stanley Chua, then Pastor-in-charge of AMKMC, I had no idea what I was committing to, much less what the theme would be and the messages I would deliver. Closer to the event, I was informed by the staff that the theme would be “RENEW & SOAR” based on Isaiah 40:31. If you have been in church for a while, you will know that this is a favourite verse for retreats. Understandably, it is because of the words “wait”, “renew” and “soar”. The Lord gave me a very different perspective when I began preparations through the study of Isaiah 40:31 in its chapter and book contexts.
The result was a series of four messages with four verbs as the topics: HOPE, PREPARE, ABIDE, RUN. It became a time of challenging and provoking the leaders to fully understand why they do what they do, and how they can keep keeping on. More critically, the leaders had to grapple with a very key question as they led and facilitated the cell group meetings week after week: Are they making ready a people for the Lord? Will they and their charges be found faithful when the Lord returns? For sure, these are straightforward questions but not as simple to answer.
As I interacted with the participants, I was very encouraged by their responses. Many took the messages seriously and were determined to be clear of their own assignments even as they challenged their members to consider the same. More than just being engaged in a church activity or function, they were reminded to be clear of what the end objectives are that attention and effort are not merely focussed on the temporal and are duly invested into the eternal! As you would know by now, I am most thrilled when believers’ eyes are opened to understand what running a race is all about and not be deceived into thinking they are running in one when they are not even on track at all.
It was a short weekend in Crystal Crown, Johore Bahru, just two days in all. That said, I know I gave my all and preached with all I had, enabled by the Lord’s power and grace. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to address and speak into the lives of more than 70 key leaders in the church who will in turn impact many others in their congregation. My advice to them was that they must know the material beyond what they have heard from me, however stirred or convicted they might have been. To simply return and share the messages with their members is not enough for these may be met with opposition and rejection leading to disappointment and discouragement. Instead, they must commit to study and know the Scriptures for themselves, teach from the Word and allow the Holy Spirit to convict and bring the right response. Sadly, this is far lacking in many groups and assemblies as it is far easier to just rattle off top line gleanings from the retreat. To this end, I am praying for all the cell leaders as they process and teach the material that they may bring about an awakening amongst the people in AMKMC.
All praise and honour be to the Lord! It was more than 8 years ago, in 2006, when I was first given the opportunity to speak at AMKMC’s Church Camp in Penang. What a joy it has been to journey with them and to see them grow over the years. I have learnt much too and am so grateful for the love, prayers and support of these dear AMKMC saints. May the Lord raise and release many Archippuses in this congregation for His next big move in this new season!