After a four-year hiatus, the Emerge Varsity camp returned with a bang this January.
Many people begin their year with hastily written resolutions and goals. For 70 university students, resolutions gave way to action as they gathered for the Emerge Varsity camp.
Conducted from Jan 3 to 5, the camp was themed after the famous, long-running Taiwanese soap opera, Ai (“love” in English) which was better known by its theme song, “Wa Meng Ti” (“I ask heaven” in English). Four houses — Jian, Ai, Wu, Si Ma — battled it out over three days to “inherit the land”.
The key verse for the camp was John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
“Why Wa Meng Ti? It stems from the popular show, Ai. That’s basically what the camp was about. God’s ai, or love, for us, His people. Just like the show, God’s love is never-ending! But seriously, as we carry this love into our campuses, to the people around us, that’s how revival will be birthed forth,” said Elisa Ng, the camp commandant.
The camp committee had taken the time to plan a compelling, intriguing, strong storyline that kept campers in the different houses united, motivated to win, and of course, eager to discover the real purpose of the camp.
The camp games started at Siloso Beach, Sentosa on the first day. The committee rounded up the campers in their houses and presented the four individuals who represented the differing houses.
The House of Ai was the head of the underworld, and their ferocity broke forth in the way they spoke and carried themselves. The House of Si Ma was erudite. This house was intelligent and relied on science and knowledge to find a way out.
The House of Wu was full of athletes. Quick, mighty and reliable, they prided themselves on being physically the strongest. The House of Jian was prosperous. They saw themselves directly in line to the inheritance as they had an acute sense of business and money management.
The house representatives put up a skit that revealed to the campers the need to fight for the glory of the inheritance, and thus began a series of station games that put the houses in fierce competition with each other.
Rallying cheers of unity and enthusiasm shouting out the success of finding the inheritance must have bewildered the tourists that day, but certainly hyped the campers up.
That night, back at base camp on the premises of the New Charis Mission, pastoral supervisor Lim Meng Chin shared about the three laws of love; that the best use of love is for living life, the best expression of love is time and the best time to love is now.
He shared a personal story on how when he was younger, he would be at family dinners yet always be on his phone. He would pray and fast for his brother to receive salvation, but his brother was only truly touched when Lim consciously put aside his phone one night.
“Love is about giving time,” he explained. “If you want to leave a legacy behind, always love. Always care for people.”
On Day Two, the campers woke up bright and early for a morning devotion led by the camp commandants.
Thereafter, the competitive spirit was back on with the next round of games–an afternoon of strategy games, where houses pit their wits against each other. Campers relied on each other to outsmart their competitors.
The afternoon concluded in a massive “Pepsi-Cola” and “Queen’s Dodgeball” game, leaving the campers muddy and sweaty but satisfied.
Lim shared another message that night, from Numbers 13:17-20. He encouraged the campers to be of good courage, as stated in the verse. “Do you see yourself as a conqueror? As an overcomer?” he asked them.
Lim explained that revival belongs to the desperate–the more a person spends time praying in the Spirit, the more he feels edified and sensitive to the Holy Spirit. He told the campers that being supernatural is a lifestyle they all ought to embrace.
The session ended with campers boldly receiving holy laughter and the fire of the Holy Spirit for revival and fresh revelations.
Camp attendee Zhu Minying, 22, shared, “[That night] I learned that God is proud of me, that Christianity is not about religious practices and the love of God is a real and driving force.”
But the night was far from over.
The camp committee ambushed the campers and said that one member from each house had “abducted” and was “held hostage”, setting up the suspense and fun for the night game, Capture The Flag.
Hostages were hidden in four locations within the compound, and each house had to come up with a strategy to prevent the other houses from saving their hostage, while at the same time rescuing their own hostage.
Campers raced around to find and bring back their individual hostages. To the camp committee’s surprise, alliances formed among the houses. The house of Si Ma collaborated with the house of Wu, while the house of Ai gamely fought alongside the house of Jian.
The game finally ended in the wee hours, and campers were thankful to receive a good night’s rest for the last day.
Campers donned their black, uniquely designed VARSITY shirts, and proceeded to the hall for a worship afternoon.
Space had been cleared at the back, paints and canvases had been set up and there was a microphone at the front of the stage. It was a time of free worship and campers were encouraged to express their love for God in their own ways, through singing, dancing, painting or sharing a prophetic Word.
The worship band played tirelessly, moving in the Holy Spirit as different ones came up to share a prophetic Word, all revolving around the theme of loving God and loving people.
At the end of the worship afternoon, no one left without a personal revelation of God’s love. Some had their vision and calling renewed and affirmed; others received deliverance. Many prayed for one another, ministering the friendship and kindness of God.
Throughout the session, the artistic ones picked up brushes to paint their feelings of worship, adoration, fear or confusion on canvases.
A short message was left scrawled on the whiteboard as well, touching all those who walked by and read the words: “Today I danced in grief, but I also danced in joy, knowing I have complete freedom in You…”
When the campers thought there were no more games, a surprise awaited them. Spies had been planted in each house–a member that did not actually belong. This spy had been given a mission beforehand to try and bring down the points of the house they were spying on. For each mission accomplished, points were transferred to the house the spy came from.
Groans of frustration emanated from the campers as the spies revealed themselves. This led to the house of Si Ma falling from second place to the last, and the house of Ai improved its ranking from the last place to third.
The house of Wu had the last laugh. They were the undefeated champions from Day One and even their spy could not bring them down.
At the final night session, campers performed their camp cheer for the last time.
Pastor Edmund Tay delivered a message about making everyone’s life count together as a generation. He talked about how some people stated that Christianity was shallow, but he pointed out that Christianity is never shallow when one pays the price.
“Make up your mind as to why you’re here,” he said to the campers. He referred to Exodus 32:1 — at the moment Moses slowed down, the people were soon uninterested in what God had in store.
“How many friends do you have that have fallen because God did not walk according to their timing? Or maybe you yourself have experienced this?” Tay asked.
He continued the story saying that Moses still chose to plead for his people and intercede for them even when they weren’t the most faithful.
“When you fight for those different from you, that’s what makes you different,” said Tay, challenging the campers to take on a greater capacity and burden for loving the unsaved.
Through this year’s Varsity Camp, 2018 began with a hunger for revival among these university youth. It left no one unchanged and united the campuses in a common purpose.