If 11- and 12-year-old children had a burning bush encounter like Moses, what would it look like? Can 9- and 10-year-old children hear from God during an exercise of silence and solitude? To usher the children of City Harvest Church into those experiences, Harvest Kidz organised two Bible Camps during the school holidays earlier this month.
Sparks of excitement were felt even before the camps began. Spaces for both camps were snapped up quickly once registration opened. “It had been more than two years since we had an overnight camp and the children were all excited to be a part of it,” observed Wendy Wong, the Harvest Kidz teacher overseeing Camp Encounter.
ENCOUNTERING GOD FOR THEMSELVES
The first stop for the 11- and 12-year-old Camp Encounter campers was CHC’s Jurong West premise. Eighty-one excited campers were divided into six teams before they roamed the building, playing team-building games. After dinner, they gathered for an indoor campfire, where they played more games and learned dance moves to the praise song, “Praise His Name Forever”. The children had fun singing and dancing around the campfire.
Teacher Anson Ang shared with the children about how God transformed Moses during the burning bush encounter he had with the Lord by taking away Moses’ fears, failures and false identity. In exchange, God gave him faith, a future and fellow people to accomplish His purpose. In response to the message, the children surrendered their fears, failures and false identities to the Lord at their own “altars”.
The following day began with a morning devotion session where the children were taught to listen to God’s voice through His Word. Using the Bible passage from Moses and the burning bush story, the children learned to read, meditate, pray and contemplate the scriptures.
One of many highlights of the camp for the children was rock climbing at The Cliff. Wendy said, “Many of the children overcame their fear through this activity. As the children gathered in their groups waiting for their turn, they were cheering for their fellow teammates to keep on climbing and not to give up. It was a sight to see the children being so encouraging and supporting their friends who were climbing”.
The climax of the camp was Encounter Night. Through their worship, it was evident that the children were hungry for more of the presence of God. Wendy recounted touching moments during the altar call: as the children worshipped with the song “Holy Spirit Come”, they were crying out for God on their knees. The pastor over Harvest Kidz, Eileen Toh prayed for the children to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and He filled them with new tongues.
Next, Pastor Eileen told the children, “Some of you are living on ‘borrowed faith’ because you are born into a Christian family, and you do not have a personal relationship with the Lord. If you want to have your own faith, stand up on your chair and give your life to Him.”
Wendy recalled, “At that moment, every child stood up on their chair without reservation. It was such a touching moment to see the children declaring their own faith to believe and follow God. That was the most memorable moment in this camp—to know that every child had experienced their own face-to-face encounter with the Lord, just like Moses did.”
Another teacher Lingual Tan said, “When I first announced the Camp Encounter to the children, I asked them to come with a heart of expectancy. I had faith in my heart that it was going to be heaven on earth and what a night it was at Encounter Night. The children praised and worshipped God with all their hearts, might and soul—it went through the roof! Suffice to say, the team of teachers was so blessed. Every bit of our hard work and preparation was worth it. I believe it was an unforgettable night for the children.”
Ashrielle Chan, 11, said, “During the Encounter Night, I cried non-stop as I stood on the chair declaring my faith in God.” Johnny Tranc, 11, added, “God asked me to speak in tongues and not to be afraid to speak it out. I am still not very good at speaking in tongues, but I have been speaking it more often.”
The camp ended the next day with the children writing Thanksgiving cards to each other and appreciating their teachers.
In the afterglow of the camp, the Encounter experience continued as the mother of camper Alisara Ava Leaw said, “I just want to say thank you so much to the Harvest Kidz teachers. Alisara came back and shared with me her very first encounter with God during the Encounter night. I was very touched by her sharing. She came home and continued to worship. Thank you for sowing seeds into her life. Your prayers have fallen into good ground.”
DISCOVERING GOD AND THEMSELVES
Camp Discovery was a two-day camp designed for 9- and 10-year-olds in Harvest Kidz. “At Camp Discovery, we want them to discover more about God, about themselves and about the friends around them,” explained Tracy Aw, the teacher overseeing Camp Discovery. “We felt that at this age, it’s important for the children to make godly friends in church.”
Seventy-nine children gathered on 28 May in Suntec Singapore where they were split into six teams. The first day was spent discovering Suntec Singapore and nearby icons like the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands and War Memorial Park.
They also spent time learning about the Holy Spirit in a devotion session. At the end of the session, the teachers prayed for the children to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Many of the young ones took a step of faith and spoke in tongues.
While they were praying for the children, Tracy noticed a girl who was hesitant to ask the teachers to pray for her. “I felt prompted to pray for her, so I went to her, and I explained what speaking in tongues meant. When I asked her if she wanted me to pray for her, she said yes and after I prayed, she could speak in tongues. We were all really blessed in that session, the children were ministered, by God,” she shares.
Daniel Hsu, 10 said, “When the teachers prayed for us to receive the Holy Spirit, I spoke in tongues for the first time. I felt the presence of God and I knew that Jesus was protecting me from the things I was afraid of. During the Night Walk that night, I was not afraid even though it was very dark.”
The second day started bright and early at Bedok Reservoir, where the children learned how to spend time with God in silence and solitude. Although some of them were not used to sitting on the mats on the grass patches, they eventually gamely participated.
“The weekend before the camp, we started to teach them about drawing near to God in silence and solitude,” Tracy elaborated. “At the camp, we expounded on that a bit more and we did scripture reading with them. We also told them to listen to God, to the word or the verse that God is speaking to them. Many of them actually heard from the Lord.”
After that, the children did high-element activities at Forest Adventure before heading to The New Charis Mission for another session.
A happy camper, Chua Rui Qi, 10, said, “Camp Discovery taught me who I am in God, my commitment to God and what God calls me to do. I learnt about S.H.A.P.E: Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personalities and Experiences. I remember sitting down on a picnic mat at Bedok Reservoir, quietening my heart in silence and solitude to spend time with God. Making many new friends, the fun, interactions, laughter and competitions like ‘Amazing Race’ made it exceptionally memorable! When we did high elements at Forest Adventure, one of my teammates was afraid. I went before him, demonstrated to him that it could be done, and encouraged him not to look down but to keep his eyes on me. Eventually, he cleared the course! I totally enjoyed the team bonding—it was the best camp ever!”
At the last session before breaking camp, the children learned to worship God in a deeper way. Tracy observed the children lifting their hands higher than usual and some even prostrated before God.
“There was a boy who used to talk a lot in service. He would be talking during worship, talking during Bible lessons. But that day, he learned to worship God. Even after the camp, I noticed that he would be worshipping God during worship time, instead of talking,” Tracy smiles.
“I hope that these encounters will sustain them throughout their lives.”