This is conference number three for me and it couldn’t have come at a better (or worse) time. Worse in that I kind of wish I had another week to relax and cool down from the busyness that was last semester, but good in that I needed something to help give me a bit of a push in terms of growing as a Christian. I guess for me growth has been slow in that spending all your time in ministry growing others gives you less time to grow yourself. I still need to find a balance of Christian ministry in my life.
I think I’m going to start this year’s series of posts with my “ambitions” for this camp; that is, there are a few things I want to achieve, aside from learning about our topic “Humanity”. Yeah, it’s kind of a new thing this year because as a third year student now, we have a bigger responsibility in helping things run for camp within our faculty groups; things don’t run themselves, they need to be organised and all. However, I’m not talking about that either. I’m talking more about behind-the-scenes, ongoing, type of tasks. Or to put it simply, it’s just catching up with certain people, and watching out for certain people. Sounds simple but I have many people in mind for these two categories. And I could anticipate that looking out for many people during MYC (particularly for the first years since it’s their first time) is very hard work.
Anyway, our journey started off at Jacky’s house; we were aiming to get there at 9:00am to help with welcoming and such. Organising transport two nights ago was really really hard, and with final plans on Sunday night, I started off MYC tired (again?). After picking up Mike, who slept over, Quentin and then Brandon, we stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast and ended up late. We only got there 40 minutes late but it was still way before the majority of other people arrived. This year our faculty seems to be sporting a size of 125 people; which is like twice the size of our faculty group from two years ago; such massive growth since then. It was quite daunting and encouraging at the same time to see so many people come (hopefully with the intention to study God’s Word).
We had a few giant group games organised for everyone:
As you can see, it’s hard to run a game for so many people. Oh and for people who don’t normally go to MYC, this is only the Commerce faculty (and we were the largest this year). In total there were about 600+ people at camp this year; so apart from looking out for the first years within this “small” circle, there were many more people in other faculties that I had to look out for.
After our introduction, we moved into Bible Study groups.
One interesting thing at this year’s MYC was that we started each day off with Bible Study first, before the seminars. It felt strange throughout the week that something was different and I only checked now that indeed last year we started off each day with a seminar. It was an interesting change of structure although for the first one we were more lost in terms of what to look for about our topic “Humanity”. Groups were guy/girl only and consisted of five people. My group lost two of its members (because they were no-shows) and ended up being me, Anson and Yong the entire week. Having a smaller group really did allow for much complex discussion, and overall it was a pleasure being able to wrestle with different issues with these two guys.
Anyway, our passage this year was 1 Peter. As with all MYCs, Bible Study is done in “manuscript” form. That is, the passage (1 Peter) is given to us without verse numbers, headings and footnotes, which is what we are normal accustomed to from our bibles. Punctuation is kept, but not paragraphs, so the text just runs from line to line. We get given line numbers to help locate certain sentences in the text, just like with Shakespeare. In hindsight now after three years, I think this is a really good way of studying the bible, because it emulates how the original text was presented; there were no verse numbers, paragraphs or headings. And seeing the whole letter of 1 Peter without chapters and headings allowed us to see how the whole letter and its ideas flow together. Like, when we read the bible at home we normally break it up into chapters and so we consider each chapter independent of another. But here, we saw the whole letter flow and so we take into account the letter as a whole, rather than its parts. As Josef would put it economically: “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” I forget what the economic term for that is.
This morning we circled and underlined words we thought were important, and ideas which get repeated. This would later allow us to work out what the message of 1 Peter is. Most of the time, groups don’t really finish all the Bible Study questions at MYC, but we did use our time for good discussion on some themes that got raised, and how they applied to us today. Some of it was to do with the meaning of words and such. I can’t remember each and every little thing we discussed, or when we discussed it; but I’ll save some of it for the other posts.
After lunch we had our first seminar, which introduced us to the broad idea of “Humanity”. After considering the general definition of what humanity is, we turned to the bible and looked through Genesis 1 to see what it mentioned about humanity. Aside from everything we learn and remember about creation and man being created, we picked up on the idea of man being “created in the image of God.” We started to flesh out in detail what “being in the image of God” meant. The word “image” was confusing and so we looked at other parts of the bible to see how the word gets used. In Hebrew, the word for “image” is “tselem” (don’t ask me how to pronounce that please).
Outside of Genesis, the other times that “image” gets used is to describe idols, where people made objects into idols, and how these materialistic idols were in the “image” of other gods, or kings. Already this seems like a lot to cover in a mere two hours, but we were far from done. Afterwards we looked at how our “image”, being of God, is broken because of sin; and we turned to Genesis 3 for the account of sin entering the world and what effect it had on humanity. Typically you would just think that we became filled with sin through Adam and our relationship with God is broken, but there were a few more things we fleshed out, like how we now were unable to fulfil the duty that God had set for Adam (to be fruitful, multiply and subdue the earth), and also the fact that being in the “image of God” was not a physical, external thing (since Adam and Eve didn’t like morph into animals or something) but that “image” refers to something else in the likeness of God.
We went overtime for each seminar over all five days, and this couldn’t be helped. There was so much material and verses to cover. I think the one thing that made our faculty the slowest to every meal was because we had the largest group. It’s really hard to conduct discussion with 125 people; it takes so much time to have everyone voice their opinions about one topic before we can move onto the next. But still, seeing the lively nature of 125 Commerce Christians desiring to learn from the bible and each other was quite encouraging and rewarding.
We had free time in the afternoon but I think I’ll deal with all the free times over the week, in another post.
After dinner was our 3 hour long evening session. It was filled with announcements, with videos regarding our second semester mission, fun segments to get us laughing, interviews with different people to get us thinking about the different things that Christians can and are doing in the world, singing which was lead by a band (different people each year) and finally a talk from our speaker Carl Matthei (who apparently gave the same set of talks at the combined campus’ MYC the week before, because Phillip Jensen broke his ankle and couldn’t come to speak, or something like that). There were funny moments at night here and there which were all amusing and memorable, but I think I’ll just deal with the talks here.
So the first talk for MYC came from 1 Corinthians 15:1-28 and I know it’d be good to list out everything that Carl said, but for the sake of time and space, I guess the one summary point from this first talk was that humanity is so complex that trying to figure out who we are as humans by ourselves just won’t work. Instead, to understand more about who we are as people, we need to turn to the bible, and in particular to the gospel to see who we really are. And in addition to looking through Genesis in the morning, and a bit from 1 Peter during the Bible Study, adding the gospel in gave a full picture of the story of humanity, although the many ideas would take some time to sort out in our minds.
The Bible then gives us a picture that humanity was created by God, with a purpose. But we fail to live up to that purpose because of our sinful nature. However, Jesus manages to counteract this and today we may now return to living for God’s original purpose again, through Jesus Christ. Heavy emphasis on the last three words of that last sentence. But this is just a quick summary of that full picture; there are many things that were fleshed out in detail, for which this blog does not have the capacity for. But if you are interested in this I would recommend asking someone (like me) about it. Otherwise, you would also do well to look up the bible passages listed throughout this post.