The COVID lockdown in Australia had taken its toll. For several months throughout 2020, members had been worshipping at home. Camp meetings were a thing of the past, a distant memory of days gone by when freedom reigned. So, it was with great relief that in early 2021, COVID restrictions eased in most of the States, and east coast borders opened.
Making the most of the opportunity, over the Easter weekend of 2021, the New South Wales Conference hosted a regional camp meeting affectionately called a “bush camp.” It was tents-only and BYO food and drinks.
At first, we were going to make it a campout close to the border of New South Wales and Victoria—an opportunity for us to renew our inter-state relationships as a church family. But we thank the Lord that Brother Robbie and Sister Mary Wiseman opened their gates for us to hold the camp on their farm in central NSW. Portable amenities were hired, along with a marquee and chairs, a portable cool room, and for the children, a jumping castle. The hire of the castle and much of the other facilities was through the kind donations of a few.
the Sabbath drew near, several cars, SUV’s and 4WDs began arriving at the Wiseman farm. Familiar faces, long unseen hopped out to set up camp. There were families from Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales. Over 150 guests attended for the Sabbath program.
The theme, in support of the AUC strategic plan, was “Jesus, Our All In All.” Brother Miguel Mendoza opened the camp with the topic, “Christ, the Servant.” We considered Christ as the Servant of the Most High, Who came to our world as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, Who lived a life possessed of one purpose: To bless others.
For Sabbath morning worship, Brother Larry Ah Ching presented, “Christ, the Revelation of God”. Jesus came to reveal the character of God to us—to reveal Him as a Father who loves us—in order that we might love Him and be restored into a loving relationship with Him Who so loved the world. As we behold the life of Jesus, we actually see what our Father in heaven is like. Thus, we are led to love Him.
For the Sabbath Divine Service, Brother Paul Chapman preached, “Christ, the Saviour of All” and the implication that has for each of us. He died for all—that we who live might not live for ourselves but for him. He touched on how to find Christ as a personal Saviour and in turn appreciate what it means for Christ to be our all in everything.
The Youth Meeting, led by Brother Nathan Wiseman and Sister Lucy Wiseman, was a feast of praise and testimony in song and music.
For the close of Sabbath, Brother Nathan Tyler led us to consider Christ as the power of God “unto salvation” (Rom 1:16) — our Saviour from the power of sin in our life. He dwelt on why we need power, how we obtain power and Who is the source of power in our spiritual life. 1 Cor 1:18, 24: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
The Saturday evening hours were spent in fellowship around the bonfire or just sharing a meal with church family and friends.
On Sunday morning, Brother Ivan Feaveai, our youngest preacher during the camp, spoke on “Christ, the Friend of Sinners.” He dwelt on what it means to know Jesus as a friend and how that affects your personal walk with God.
After a quick breakfast we all broke out into groups for the day’s activities. These included a working farm tour, a bushwalk and mountain climb, and helicopter rides for those who enjoy aerial views. For the children, the jumping castle proved a hit.
The day’s activities concluded with evening worship presented by Brother Sam Batger, entitled “Christ, the Lord of My Life.”
“In order to receive the virtue of the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of your sins, you must consent to the conditions he imposes. ‘If any man will come after me,’ he says, ‘let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.’ Seeking pardon of sin from his cross, you will seek direction from his throne. Looking to and believing in Christ as your personal Saviour, is your only hope of salvation. Receiving Christ in all his completeness, you are in truth able to sing:–
‘I will follow thee, my Saviour,
Wheresoe’er my lot may be.
Where thou goest, I will follow;
Yes, my Lord, I’ll follow thee.’”
The Youth’s Instructor, October 2, 1902. [Emphasis supplied].
By Sunday night a few families who needed to get home for the morning had packed and left. Those who remained for one more night were refreshed with the Monday morning worship taken by Brother Ben Thiel, “Christ, My Mediator.” As our mediator, Jesus is the one who ministers for us before the Father in heaven, providing grace for our needs, and pleading mercy for us continually, until we arrive unto the full measure of His character, perfectly reflecting His image to the world.
“Jesus stands in the holy of holies, now to appear in the presence of God for us. There He ceases not to present His people moment by moment, complete in Himself. But because we are thus represented before the Father, we are not to imagine that we are to presume upon His mercy and become careless, indifferent, and self-indulgent. Christ is not the minister of sin. We are complete in Him, accepted in the Beloved, only as we abide in Him by faith.” Faith and Works, p. 107.
We praise God that we could join to worship Him together, encourage each other and enjoy the lovely New South Wales countryside. Though we were sorry that we missed getting a photo of those who attended, we did manage to take a group photo of those who stayed till Monday morning. We were all so grateful for this wonderful opportunity to renew our spiritual energy and obtain a fresh focus on Jesus, our all in all.
~ Paul Chapman