The Pasir Panjang Family Camp is a big deal. This was the 19th annual camp and the entire church looks forward to it all year. Lots of planning and prayer goes into each gathering.
340 people signed up for the camp! At 8:00 on Wednesday morning, we all filed onto buses and headed north, crossing the Singapore border and into Malaysia. [Singapore (as you probably know) is a fairly small island. Although not quite as crowded as Hong Kong, the person-per-square- meter ratio is definitely higher than most Westerners are accustomed to. There about 5 million people living in Singapore. Prices are very high. Affordable facilities for large group gatherings are fairly limited. So the church heads to Malaysia for its Family Camp.]
We drove for three hours to Malacca—an historical Dutch trading settlement on the west coast of Malaysia, about an hour south of Kuala Lumpur. (It’s a little strange to look at a map and see that Malacca is so close to Vietnam and Cambodia,places that provoke a sense of foreboding and unease in any American—like myself—who came of age in the ’70s.) The city is small and our hotel was within walking distance of the port, the old heart of the city, and lots of shopping and restaurants.There is a scenic board walk along the river that cuts through the center of town. The populace is a melting pot of races and cultures: Malay, Chinese, Indian, VietNamese, Dutch, and Portugese. The equatorial setting means humid and hot weather, brilliant flowers and foliage, and a barrage of aromas—some fragrant and pleasant, some … not so.
I’m preaching five times on the Holy Spirit: once Wednesday night, three times on Thursday, and once Friday night. I’ll take one of the “Paraclete Passages” from John 14-16 (the Final Discourse) as the subject of each lessons.
Wednesday night’s message was on the “Promise of Presence”–that Jesus promised his disciples he wasn’t abandoning them. Though he was going away (in the form of his death), he was returning to them (in the form of the Spirit). The Spirit would be his continuing and forever presence for the disciples.If that promise and presence extends to us today, that is pretty good news.
The church here (begun, as it was, by American missionaries in the 60’s) has not spent much time thinking about and talking about the Holy Spirit. They have no practical theology of the Spirit. So people were very interested to spend some time exploring this subject and thinking about its application to their own lives.
I fell into bed exhausted at the end of a long and tiring day, both anticipating and dreading three major presentations on the morrow.