22nd June 2017
Prayer & Praise
Prayer & Praise Time is usually the heartbeat of the SEC Camp Meeting. During this time, God’s people come to praise His name and share their heartwarming Testimonies because God has heard their prayers, presented before Him at the previous year’s Camp Meeting, or in the cause of the year.
The “Theme” for this year’s Prayer & Praise Time, as introduced by Veronica Williams, the SEC Prayer Coordinator, is “Restoration”. She asked the congregation to pray, in groups of four, for God’s power of Restoration. She also later introduced the first Principle of this year’s Prayer Time as “P” for Patience, citing Isaiah 40:31, “They that wait (patiently) on the LORD shall renew their strength.” The Intercessory prayer, led by Linda Mukwada, focused on praying for “All who are in authority” (1 Tim 2:1-2), especially, for the political leaders of the United Kingdom.
Surprisingly, during the Testimony time, led by Malika Bediako, only one person came forward, to testify of how God had miraculously opened the way for her to attend this year’s Camp Meeting, when funds were low and not wanting to break her 20 years of attending Camp Meeting.
“God’s Adaptability” was the title of the message by Pastor Juan Carlos Patrick, SEC Teen’s Director and speaker for this year’s Prayer & Praise Time. In Genesis 17:1, God revealed Himself to Abraham as “El-Shaddai” (“God Almighty”), which means, “to breast-feed”. He said God acted as a mother, put on His apron, took the bottle and fed Israel because it was then a baby. But when He called Moses to deliver them from Egyptian bondage, He revealed Himself as “YAHWEH” (Exodus 3:14) meaning “A Warrior or Restorer”. God then put on His helmet and took up His Sword” to liberate His children from Egyptian captivity, because He had “seen” and “heard’ their “oppression” (Exodus 3:7). In John 1:14, the Bible also says that God the Word became “flesh”, adapting Himself once again, to save mankind from the power of sin and Satan. The lesson here is that God is Practical, Flexible and Adaptable to every circumstance of His children. He alone sees, hears and knows what no one else can ever imagine about His children, and He is prepared to adapt Himself to their situation just to deliver them.
Busyness and worldliness are the two great hindrances to the work of the church and to the preparation for the harvest. Pastor Mohan Abbadasari began by noting the challenges to preparing for the harvest, with an estimated 7.5 billion people in the world, the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few and the time is short (Matthew 9:37). The workers are often distracted by busyness or worldliness. How often have you heard the words, and perhaps even from yourself, “I’m too busy”.
Busyness robs us of relationships with each other and with God, as well as a balanced life. Where are our priorities when our Sabbaths are so busy we don’t even have time with Jesus. The humility of Pastor Abbadasari was clear as he applied his message to himself, reminding us all that prayer, study and witness should be priorities.
Horatius Bonar said “I looked for the church and I found it in the world, I looked for the world and I found it in the church”. The world will always win if we allow it, and the tragedy is that it is often hard to recognise the difference between the Christian and the world today. There is nothing wrong with the Bible or the gospel, the problem is with Christians who do not live what they preach. How many have turned away from Christianity by the wrong example of a Christian.
We need to change, and Pastor Abbadasari’s prayer is that it will happen at this Camp Meeting. The Holy Spirit will come to all who beg, and if I pray for the Holy Spirit then I pray for myself. If you’re not a missionary you become a missionfield.
‘The good news about depression is that you can prevent it and you can get rid of it’, said Dr Chidi Ngwaba, SEC Health Ministries Director, this Tuesday morning in the first of a series of talks on the subject for campers in Prestatyn. Most of us have had periods of low mood. Depression is more than that.
- Feeling of helplessness
- Feelings of guilt/ shame
- Feelings of anger
- Weight changes (loss or gain)
- Lack interest in anything going around you
- No real hope for the future
- Spending all day in bed
‘If you have any of these symptoms, you should be screened by your GP for depression’, he advised. There are physical, emotional, and spiritual causes of depression. Of course, drugs like Prozac are seeking to address the physical causes. But drugs can create a dependency. Take the drugs away too quickly, and you can create a problem.
So what are the natural physical ways of reversing depression? Dr Chidi spoke of the association between diet and depression. Foodstuffs, particularly those rich in tryptophan, can apparently increase serotonin levels with benefits to mood. Foodstuffs like bananas, green vegetables, walnuts and almonds, cayenne pepper, oats and other plant based foods can improve our mood with no side affects, though it may take a couple of weeks to notice the difference. Exercising an hour a day according to a 2011 Harvard Study, is more effective than any drug for those with moderate or low depression, although severe depression is more difficult to reverse.
In his regular question and answer slot, Dr Chidi was asked whether there was a relationship between Christianity and depression. His response was more nuanced than some of us expected. ‘Being a Christian can protect you from certain types of mental illness. But it can predispose you to certain other types of mental illness. If you feel free to talk about what is going on in your heart, your chance of mental illness goes down…. The question is how do you feel in your church?’
Dr Chidi also raised the question of cannabis and mental health, recognizing that cannabis can cause hyper-alertness, leading to paranoia and even schizophrenia. ‘A single joint can cause psychosis. Don’t think your friends are doing you a favour by offering you one’, he said.
‘Which Workshop Should I attend?’ This question must have been on many camper’s minds as they viewed the rich variety of Workshops offered on the first full day of Camp Meeting.
The largest group gathered for the Women’s Ministries workshop, where participation was encouraged. Most of the presenters started by establishing a biblical basis for their topic, with the “School of Evangelism/Music” presenter Dr Eurydice Osterman, beginning her presentation on worship with the familiar words from Revelation 14:7 “Fear God and give him glory”.
Dr Osterman used a number of texts from Revelation as well as else where in the Bible to present a review of praise in heaven, including aspects of verbal, instrumental, attitude and behaviour. There is much to guide the principles we use for worship and music on this earth, yet we have limited understanding. “There [is] music there, and song, such music and song as… no mortal ear has heard or mind conceived.” Education p307.
While the music workshop heard about the Old Testament sanctuary being a place for people to gather for sacrifice, confession, thanksgiving and praise, those at the “SEC Treasury” workshop heard how the Israelites were invited to bring their gifts for the building of the sanctuary (see Exodus 25). Fred Shone, SEC Treasurer, said the appeal remains the same, while processes may have changed, with good treasurers always giving receipts and being accountable through the Church Board, Business Meetings and audits.
Judith shared a testimony of how God has been good despite the personal challenges of being born with a facial birthmark. “It was amazing to engage with women who could relate with a story of not feeling enough and to reassure them that God does not make mistakes”. Together the audience looked at specific texts that truly affirm that women, (one of them being Ephesians 2:10, For we are His Workmanship) are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Fortunately there will be opportunity to attend missed Workshops later in the week, when some will be repeated or the topics developed. I ended where I began, at the music workshop where the conclusion of the whole matter is “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
What is the Bible all about? As Seventh-day Adventists we often think of the Bible as a textbook for our 28 doctrines. We can prove the ‘Sabbath’ or ‘the state of the dead’ but are not great at explaining their relevance to our society today.
Dr Daniel Duda, Trans-European Division Field Secretary and Adventist Mission and Education Director, challenged us to read the Bible in a different way. Our Scriptures have powerful, life transforming stories that impact the way we live in our communities.
The story of Genesis shows how the fall has broken our relationship with God and with human beings. Sin has a wider social effect. It led to the children of Israel being made captives. Sin had become systemic and structural.
The Exodus account starts with the complaints of the brutalised Hebrew slaves. God responds saying, ‘I have heard the cry of my people’ Ex 3.7. This key text introduces the responsiveness of our loving God.
The main lessons of Exodus are:
- God always hears the cry of the oppressed – it is the nature of God! He is always there, acting in His time.
- This ‘cry’ inaugurates history, a new story unfolds that affects us emotionally as well as intellectually.
- When we hear the ‘cry’ of those who suffer, we are on God’s side. Then the stories touch our heart, we become part of the story, empowering humanity’s exodus from the power and effect of sin.
In the next 3 presentations, we will discover how the exodus fits into the big story of salvation revealed throughout Scripture.
Listeners were challenged and inspired by Pastor Wintley Phibbs magnificent message on ‘faith’, this Tuesday evening at the commitment service in North Wales. Opening with his trademark rendition of ‘It is well with my soul’, he began a study of the ladder of Christian progress (2 Peter 1: 5-7) in rich and measured tones. ‘More than anything else I have ever preached, this study has changed the character of the members of my church’, he said.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. (2 Peter 1:5-7, NKJ)
Pastor Phibbs, explained that this list of Christian virtues is unlike any other one in Scripture. There is an order to it. Like a ladder, you must start on the bottom rung. You can’t get to love, if you don’t start with faith. ‘It is a ladder of progress that we can and must climb on our way from a burning earth to the safety of the kingdom of God. Until we master these eight dimensions, we cannot expect to be in the kingdom of God.’
Speaking to the Camp Meeting theme of ‘Preparing for the harvest’, Pastor Phibbs emphasized that preparing for the return of Jesus Christ, is not only an outward evangelistic activity, but requires inward spiritual transformation also. To be a Christian is to be Christ-like.
Focusing on faith, the first rung on the ladder, he said that some people see faith as a weakness and a crutch, but in fact it is ‘the first step towards transforming your character, to resemble, reflect and reveal the character of Christ.’ Faith gives strength, nobility and stability to character. Faith is believing anyhow.
In a run to rival the hall of faith in Hebrews 11, Pastor Phibbs spoke of the need to have faith: ‘body healing faith.. giant defeating faith.. fire proofing faith.. walking on water faith.. tuition fee paying faith… airbag deploying faith.. marriage saving faith.. child conceiving faith.. mind restoring faith.. mountain moving faith…’‘Mountain moving faith knows that you will have enough, even though you don’t have enough right now….’
Inviting the congregation to pick up the accompanying study from the Adventist Book Centre, he petitioned God: ‘Strengthen our faith, we pray!’
Under the banner of #FaithUpgrade, Dean Culinane led the worship for the young adults. Each evening the keynote speaker is speaking on one of the letters to the churches in the Book of Revelation. Dean was charged with speaking on the church of Smyrna, a church experiencing tribulation and poverty; struggling with ‘fake’ Christians; feeling the burden of persecution.
Dean shared his experiences on a mission trip to Kenya, and how he came face to face with the most abject poverty, suffering and destitution. Yet these being the poorest people he had ever encountered, he was overwhelmed by how they couldn’t stop talking about how good God had been to them. Just like the church in Smyrna, they were exceedingly poor, yet exceedingly rich through their experience with Christ.
The young adults were invited to reflect on the persecution that the church of Smyrna experienced and how that compares to our own lives. He made it clear that Jesus stresses that because the world hated Him, it will inevitably hate us too, if we are faithful to him. He gave a powerful charge to be faithful to God, in spite of circumstances, until the end.
Pastor Jonathan Burnett, acknowledging the movement of the Spirit in the room, led the young adults into a prayer session, encouraging sharing and prayer in pairs about what was shared.
[ – PC: Ligia Buzac]