On 17 October 2023, a group of nine trippers from Wesley Methodist Church took off from Changi Airport for a trip to Nong Bua Lam Phu Methodist Church (NBLPMC) in northern Thailand, that blessed all involved.
A highlight of the trip was a camp for children and youth titled Jesus Really Loves You (Romans 8:38–39) with the objective of impressing on campers the fact that it is not merely a feel-good catchphrase, but it really IS the character of Jesus to love us TRULY. This was achieved through a series of activities including breaking the theme down to its component parts: Inviting Love, Unconditional Love and Transforming Love, each dealt with in a session led by camp speaker, Daryl Tay.
There were mass games for the 34 campers and trippers to get to know each other, and other activities like craft work, discussion sessions, worship and a skit. The three acts of the skit, complete with props, depicted Jesus’ interaction with Peter, James, John and other disciples before and after His resurrection (Luke 5:1–11, Luke 22:54–62, John 21:1–19)
As recorded in these scenes, the love Jesus had for Peter impacted the campers and also Desmond Yiong, a first-time tripper who acted in the skit:
The part where Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me … feed my sheep”, I felt as if Jesus was speaking to me, and I could feel the impact that must have had on the Apostle Peter. From that moment, the conviction of my discipleship was elevated to the next level.
Day 2 of the camp ended with two altar calls, and it was an emotional time for both campers and trippers. At the first altar call, the campers were visibly stirred to sobs, while the second saw the whole group going to the front to be prayed for. Daisy Tan, who was on her second trip to NBLPMC, says:
It was the first time I saw children as young as six years old being moved by the Holy Spirit and then pouring out their feelings. As I went to pray for them, I was overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit too and started interceding and praying for them.
Besides the camp, the trippers visited 10 households in the Nong San community. Led by Uncle Kuk, an NBLPMC member, we took in the sights of the village—the houses, each with a hammock or two in the compound, a low square table which the residents sat on when receiving us and the rustic surroundings which included a grasshopper enclosure, banana trees and rice fields almost everywhere. Peggie Chan, a first-time tripper to NBLPMC, describes her experience:
The visit to the Nong San villagers was an eye-opener. The villagers, even those who needed help with walking, came out of their houses to receive us, listened to us while we sang, clapped along with us, told us what they would like us to pray for them (mostly health issues and family problems), and waited patiently to be prayed for. A woman who could hardly walk even asked if we had eaten!
Besides these activities, the team, ably supported by the youth worship team from NBLPMC, ran the Sunday service with a sermon accompanied by two testimonies. They also ran the youth, adult and children’s sessions in the afternoon, with sharing and discussion sessions for the first two groups and an English lesson for the third. These gave the trippers more opportunities to connect with the sections of the church community. Joshua Liew, a 15-year-old tripper who was fighting an illness, was games master during the camp. He bonded with the youth through meals together, the sharing sessions, the outdoor games and even unplanned sessions like helping to spruce up the English learning materials. Here’s what he had to say:
It was an eye-opening experience for me to help the church youth prepare the church for service. After setting up the main hall, I watched them practise for worship. Their music was so powerful, it was as if it was a full-on band like what we have at Wesley Youth Ministry. However, all they had was one acoustic guitar, one electric guitar and one drum set, but they played with so much power.
Throughout the visit, the trippers witnessed strong bonds between the pastor in charge, Kluay, and all sections of the flock. Her family came on board to help—her mother and sister came from other provinces to take charge of the cooking, together with her assistant, Mon.
The youth not only made up the worship team but took turns to wash the dishes after each meal and helped the children with activities. For Peter Teo, a returning tripper to NBLPMC, the trip was far from being a visit to a strange land:
I had a sense of being “at home” upon arrival at the airport at Udon Thani where we were greeted with the overwhelming reception by the church. The daily devotions together, travelling in an open vehicle plus sharing meals together were all memorable. I was “at home” in worship with people young and old, and also with the reception received at the village visitations.
Another resourceful person was Kung, a first-time Thai tripper who doubled up as Camp Mama. Her invaluable help in translation and her affableness with the children and youth was a godsend. She reflected on her role as our second interpreter:
When you allow God to use you, you can do things beyond your own knowledge and understanding. Later, when you learn and realise it, it is not about how much you can do but how much you trust God to use you.
Her counterpart was our Camp Papa, Danny Lin, a first-time tripper to NBLPMC, who wrote, scripted and directed the skit and made the props, among the many things he did at the camp. He described his experience of the camp this way:
Jesus really loves us, knowing what we need in the different seasons of our lives! Our gracious Lord led me to this NBLP trip and gave me the opportunity to exercise my discernment of the Holy Spirit with His joy. I learned to seek the Lord and waited to be inspired, instructed and executed with trust in Him. At times, the Holy Spirit required me to boost my faith, to boldly let go of what I thought was good. Other times, He gently nudged me to surrender my anxiety and to just trust in His timing.
Another form of support was the prayer team back home updated with the trippers’ daily prayer requests and praying for the team tirelessly.
What did some NBLP youth think of the camp?
Fern, 22: I was impressed by the youth learning activities and the fun and insightful games that teach us, giving us insights into living with God.
Hong, 20: The youth learning activities felt very fun and I was happy. Spending time together and receiving encouragement to live with God and have more peace.
Mark, 18: What impressed me was the drama because it was expressed very well. I liked the delicious food in the camp, and the games were very fun. And I like the activities after the youth lessons. It has very good ideas, teaching us to think and grow more with God.
In all, from the trippers’ reflections and thanksgiving at the morning devotions, it is clear that Jesus really loves us, leading us throughout the strenuous preparation for weeks, with its many changes, upheavals in plans and programming, as well as the running of the camp, and through all the activities—planned and unplanned. We were more than blessed—we went to bless the community but were blessed in return.
Trip leader Tao Ai Lei was thankful to have witnessed God at work:
It was truly a privilege to see God’s hand at work on this trip. There were some impossibilities that God made possible. A trip in October usually means fewer trippers as it’s a busy period for many in Singapore, but not only were there nine trippers, it also included a camp speaker and a youth. God also paved the way, removing challenges we faced and providing for all the needs.
To God be the glory! May He continue to keep the NBLP community in His loving arms, see them through uncertain times and may they sow a harvest in His time.
Photos by Desmond Yiong, Tao Ai Lei and Danny Lin