Pastoral Perspectives

We Need Each Other

Church camp 2024 has come and gone! We have spent a weekend away together as God’s family in True Way. Besides all the fun we had playing games, eating, worshipping and hearing God’s Word together, what were some thoughts that we brought back with us?

In 1 Corinthians 12, we see Paul’s consistent love and care for the church – the body of Christ. In the beginning of chapter 12, he speaks on how we have all been given different spiritual gifts by the Spirit so that we can serve each other (v7).

He goes on to illustrate how the body of Christ is like the human body that is made up of many parts. While there are many parts, there is only one body because God has made it that way (v12). All believers with their spiritual gifts are placed right where God wants them to be so that they may serve effectively together.

In v21, Paul is saying that not only should each individual part realize its own importance, but all the other parts should realize their interdependence as well. We are to be dependent on one another.

To have a healthy and properly functioning church, every part of the body must work together. Each part of the body is dependent on other parts of the body to do its work. One part of the body can never say it doesn’t need another part.

In v22, Paul continues by saying the more honoured members must not look down on the more humble members. In fact, those who seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. These people may not be always visible, but they are quietly and actively serving in the background. While they may not be up front teaching and leading, they are still using their God-given gifts to greet and welcome newcomers, to set up and clean up the Cozy Corner, to make sure the audio and visual equipment are working well, to play the musical instruments during worship, to prepare the communion elements, to faithfully gather to pray for others, etc.

In v23-26, the parts we regard as less honourable refer to the private parts of the body, the parts that we carefully cover up and protect. Here, Paul is reiterating that all parts of the body are necessary, even the ones that are kept out of sight. We must not dismiss anyone as unimportant in the body of Christ. All are important!

Building Intergenerational Trust was our camp theme this year. A theme that hopes to inspire True Wayans from across the generations – from young and old to build trust and encourage each other as we do life together as God’s children.

This is my first church camp with True Way – my new church family. As I mingled with new friends, played games and ate with them, I see a church family hoping to be what Christ has called His church to be – His Body.

During the camp, I thought about my last 19 months in True Way.

When I finished my term as an Associate Minister in my previous church, I was recovering emotionally and spiritually from something that happened that left me feeling broken and shattered. I also had difficulty trusting people and I wondered if I could ever be restored and healed.

Yet God’s plans led me to the family in True Way in November 2022.

In the months that followed, I had so much fear and anxiety coming to church on Sundays and meeting with people. I was fearful of church leaders, church members and even of my colleagues in office. Each time a person comes up to me, it’s like my defence shield automatically comes up! I was very wary of people.

As I made my way to church each Sunday, I would always pray and plead with God for courage, to take away my fears, to restore my confidence and to trust people once more. I would ask Him to help me as I speak with people, that I might be able to encourage them with the right words to say.

As I struggled with my fears, the Lord was merciful. Instead of me encouraging others, God in His loving and mysterious ways slowly brought healing and restoration to me through the most unexpected people in His church here.

When I started meeting the kids in U12, I wondered what to say to them, would I be able to understand them and their world? Would they see me as another old uncle trying too hard to be friendly with them? And because of my fears, I often felt anxious, and tongue tied in front of them.

Yet, God sent a P3 girl who would warmly greet me each Sunday when she sees me. Lois would come up and say hello and asked about my week. Later, I found out that her school’s Vice Principal was someone I know and that became a topic we spoke about frequently.

But what warmed my heart and soul was Lois’ friendliness and warmth which made me feel comfortable with children once more.

Another unlikely person whom God sent to bring healing to me is Bro Yong En. When I first came to True Way, he came by to say hello and extended his hand to shake my hand.

In the following weeks and months, Yong En would always come to greet me and say “Good morning Pastor Stanley!” Occasionally, he would come up to me and give me a big hug too!

Later, he added me on Facebook and would send me a message saying that he understood my sermon or liked the song that I played at the end of my sermon.

When Yong En first reached out to me, I didn’t quite know how to respond to someone with special needs. And with me still recovering emotionally, I didn’t know what to say to him at times.

However, his weekly Sunday greetings and messages over Facebook slowly helped me feel at ease with him. But it was the warm hugs he gave me which helped break down my defensive barriers. I began to feel comfortable with God’s people once more.

Another person who encouraged me much was Sis Lai Chun. Her very first email to me was to thank me for my open and authentic sharing of my testimony in the TOGETHER Newsletter. She would continue to send me messages to encourage me, or to thank me for my sermon or for something I wrote in Perspective.

As I thought about all that happened, it dawned upon me that God had chosen someone very young, someone with special needs and someone who is older than me to bring healing and restoration to me.  

Like what Paul is teaching the church in Corinth – every member of the body is important! No one should say and think that another member is not important. Christ uses each different member of his body to accomplish His work!

As a church, what’s next for us? To build intergenerational trust will take time, lots of effort and even a change of mindset. But perhaps, before looking into big plans and changes, we can begin with the small things by looking at our own hearts.

Perhaps, you may think that you are not someone special who can do big things for God or have anything to give. God does not need you to do big things for Him. Rather, He wants you to be faithful even in the small things. No matter whether you are young or old, God can use you!

God in His sovereign ways have placed you and I in TWPC-EC. He has given us gifts so that we can use them to serve others. We all have different gifts and different strengths and weaknesses. Yet every gift that God gives should be unwrapped and put into the service of the body of Christ.

Ask the Lord to use you as a member of the body here in True Way, to reach out to someone today! Ask him to open up opportunities for new conversations, new friendships and relationships to happen – across the generations of people in True Way.

Though I’ve only mentioned three names here, there are many others who have been part of my healing and restoration. I am indeed thankful to God for these new friends I’ve made in True Way.

My dear friends, we need each other, and God can use and enable you to make a difference to someone today!