“Saved to Serve” was the theme of our June 2021 NSW Conference Campmeeting, the first one held at Elim Heights campgrounds since the 2019 bushfires. Though we missed the former meeting hall which had been destroyed in the fires, we thank the Lord that most of the facilities were still functional. A marquee had been set up for the main meeting place, and work was done to obtain power to the site. As Friday came, the dormitories filled, and the dining hall warmed with cooking preparations for the Sabbath. It was wonderful to see so many faces again gathered in familiar surrounds. With the setting of the sun, Br. Craig Cunningham led out in a message, “Serving Those in Need” to welcome in the Sabbath hours.
After a delicious evening meal, it was time for the main meeting. Despite the three portable outdoor gas heaters provided within its confines, the marquee was just a little bit too chilly, So, by popular request, Br. Paul Chapman delivered the main message for the evening, “Saved by Grace”, from the back of the warmed-up dining hall instead. The message reminded us of the motive for rendering service to God. Gratitude. God saved us from death that we might serve him with a life of good works. Ephesian 2:8-10 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Sabbath morning worship brought us together again in the back of the dining hall. Sr Elisabeth Balarezo shared an interesting message, “Debtors to All,” highlighting the apostle Paul’s motive for service. Christ paid the debt for our sins. By this means Paul was adopted into God’s family as a son. Now he himself felt a debt to all others. But what was the debt he owed them? The duty and privilege to share the wonderful news of their adoption also into the family of God. This is what led him to do and suffer so much in sharing the gospel of salvation to all who would listen. Likewise, we are debtors to all.
After a hot breakfast, we gathered again for Sabbath School, led out by Br Robbie Wiseman. As the sun had warmed up the morning air, we met this time in the marquee. The adult Bible lesson dwelt on hope for those outside the fold of God’s church, which was quite appropriate given the theme of the camp. At the same time, the children’s program, organised by Sr Vesna Kraus, with help from the local church’s children’s teachers, was run in the children’s meeting hall. It was wonderful to see their dedicated meeting hall unscathed by the fires and filled with children once more.
The keynote address, “Saved to Serve,” was delivered by Br Benjamin Thiel. Jesus died for us to save us so that we may serve Him. We may feel rejection at times from those we are seeking to save, but that should not discourage us. Sometimes these rejections are a cry of the soul for help. And even though sometimes we feel incapable of service for others, there is something we can all do, illustrated in the experience of the two restored demoniacs. “They could not instruct the people as the disciples who had been daily with Christ were able to do. But they bore in their own persons the evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. They could tell what they knew; what they themselves had seen, and heard, and felt of the power of Christ. This is what everyone can do whose heart has been touched by the grace of God” (The Desire of Ages, p. 340).
In the afternoon, the tent filled again as Br Larry Ah Ching, Sr Elisabeth Balarezo and Br Nathan Wiseman led out in the praise and fellowship meeting. In between the praise items, thoughts were shared on how we can all serve in some way in God’s vineyard. This led nicely into the close of Sabbath message, delivered by Br Randy Acquiatan, “A Work for You.” This message highlighted the purpose and importance of church relationship in serving others. “Each has his place in the eternal plan of heaven. Each is to work in co-operation with Christ for the salvation of souls. Not more surely is the place prepared for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are to work for God” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 326). The church is where we are organised for service to others.
The evening was a precious time spent in socialising and fellowship. In the morning, the early risers assembled in the children’s hall for worship. The warm, fireside atmosphere fitted in well with the message Br Harold Kraus shared on “Family Service.” His message highlighted the many opportunities family members are given to train for service within the confines of their own household.
Another hot breakfast was a welcome delight to warm us up on a cool June Sunday morning. Following breakfast, the day’s program began. Two morning meetings were held each with sometime for discussion.
The first meeting was led by Br Nathan Tyler, entitled, “How Jesus Worked.” The message recounted the methods Jesus used to reach souls. In the discussion that followed, members of the congregation shared their own experiences of various methods that had proven successful in sharing the gospel message.
The second meeting “Neighbourhood Service” was led by Br Larry Ah Ching. His thoughts dwelt on the responsibility and opportunity for service we all have in our own neighbourhood.
The afternoon activities focused on putting into practice some of the things we learned over the weekend. The NSW Conference Welfare Department organised the assembly of gift hampers, the Health Department gave practical instructions on home remedies, and the Youth Department illustrated the importance of working together in helping others.
Never to be forgotten, our children had a wonderful time too. Their program included lessons on serving others, arts and crafts, and walks in nature on journeys of discovery that complemented the lessons taught over the weekend.
After a packed day, we enjoyed one more evening meal together, before we had the last meeting to close the camp. Many encouraging words of thankfulness were expressed to the Lord for the camp, the helpers, and all those who assisted in some way to make it happen. We are grateful for the wonderful time we had together and look forward to the next one.
~ Paul Chapman
P.S. Camp videos are available here: NSW Conference 2021 – YouTube