19-22 March 2017
My husband Sam and I had the honour of being invited by Pastor Simon and Pastor Marilyn to join their G12 team retreat in Muar Prayer House in March 2017. We are their 144 and our G12 leaders are Kenneth and Kim so it was a great privilege for us to have the opportunity to learn from many experienced leaders in the team!
The nostalgic atmosphere at Muar Prayer House
(Photo courtesy of Leon Kwong Wing)
From Function to Family
Pastor Simon expressed his desired outcome for the retreat was to help the team understand how to work towards becoming a spiritual family. The hectic Singapore lifestyle can often overwhelm us and we may end up doing things mechanically, including our ministries. So what does it take for a team to become a family?
Unless the Lord builds the house
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain (Psalm 127:1). In order to build a family, we need to first have an intimate relationship with God. Pastor asked a thought-provoking question: “Are you satisfied with God?” Being totally satisfied in God means trusting Him in all things. If we are not satisfied in God, we may seek to satisfy ourselves with other things. And these things may become idols in our lives.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
Being totally satisfied in God means trusting Him completely. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Pastor Simon encouraged us to learn to trust God to provide for us as we serve Him, like Elijah (1Kings 17). Elijah’s livelihood was severely affected after he proclaimed a period of drought as the Lord commanded. Yet the Lord supernaturally provided water from Brook Cherith and food through the ravens. When the brook dried up, Elijah followed the Lord’s instructions and sought a poor widow who had just enough food for her last meal. It is ironic, but God demonstrated that the dried brook was not a curse but an opportunity for a poor widow to experience God’s miracle.
We learned that if God has called us, we must trust Him to provide whatever we may need to fulfill His plans. When we are able to trust Him totally, we can be free from the fear of lack or the poverty mindset.
Journey to be a Family
We are very thankful to Eddie and Julia who took time off from their work and family commitments to help us. They came fully prepared to facilitate a day of activities and debrief sessions to help us understand the dynamics of being in a family and how to build closer bonds with one another.
1. Family is Teamwork
We played a simple game where the whole team is required to cross from one side to the other by stepping through a sequence of tiles on the floor. As the game progressed, we learned that having no leader or too many leaders could be disastrous. Some were clearly better at the game than others and it was very encouraging when the stronger ones patiently guided the weaker ones step by step.
We made it through in our teams. Though it was a simple game, yet it taught us many things about teamwork.
2. Be Intentional – Appreciate one another!
Building strong families means we need to take time and be intentional to appreciate one another. Such acts of affirmation go a long way to build trust in the team. Sam and I were very touched to receive notes of encouragement from leaders whom we just met. It made us feel like we are part of the family.
We learned the power of appreciation as it brought joy and bonding to everyone in the team.
3. Speaking the truth in love!
After spending time to affirm one another, we were instructed to solicit feedback from our team on areas we need correction. It is not easy to speak words of correction to another person as they may perceive it as criticism. We learned it is important to build a good relationship based on love and trust before we are able to speak into the lives of those in our spiritual family. Nevertheless, we must never be afraid to confront each other in love and gently admonish one another to stay the course faithfully.
4. My sheep hears My Voice!
In the last activity, half the team was blindfolded and was led by their designated partner to clear a path filled with obstacles. In a crowded room full of people talking, it was very difficult to focus on receiving instructions from a particular person. This chaotic scene depicts our daily lives as we are surrounded by many voices in our environment. We need to constantly tune ourselves to the voice of God to direct us daily.
Our spiritual family plays an important role to help us see our situations from God’s perspective. Do we trust our spiritual family and confide in them? Sharing our lives openly with one another allows us to build stronger relationships.
The blindfolded person can only rely on his partner’s instructions to navigate through an obstacle course.
The team prayed for Eddie and Julia, thanking them for their contribution in the family building workshop.
Knowing Me, Knowing You
The team can testify that knowing someone takes an intentional effort and listening to someone requires patience and time. Pastor selected six leaders in his team to share about their faith journey, their struggles, their desires and plans for the future. It was an eye opener to see leaders openly share their weaknesses and struggles. There was a great level of trust in the team as they shared their hearts in confidence. I saw leaders coming together to encourage those who were struggling. There was a powerful atmosphere of unity. I was very impressed and I hope this level of authenticity can flow to other teams.
Building Strong Spiritual Families through Constant Fellowship
Living together in Muar Prayer House reminded me of the days of the early church in Acts where the disciples lived daily as a community. The early church was a powerful testimony of the unity and love amongst God’s people. As a result, many received salvation and joined the church.
“Everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-47, NIV)
Morning devotions together
On the last day, we came together to share what we had received from the Lord during our morning devotion. The sharing was very rich and insightful, like nuggets of gold from heaven! If we had compiled everyone’s sharing, we could have published a devotion book!
In closing, Pastor led the team to take Holy Communion together. There is always a powerful anointing whenever God’s people partake in the Lord’s Supper in one accord. After Holy Communion, we could sense an atmosphere of divine liberation as Pastor led us in a worship song called Happy Day.
O Happy Day, Happy Day
You washed my sin away
O Happy Day, Happy Day
I’ll never be the same
Forever I am changed
We departed from Muar Prayer House rejoicing with a new level of freedom personally and corporately. There was also a greater sense of unity and purpose in the Body. May this be the beginning of something greater to come. May we never forget the breakthrough we received on 22 March 2017 in Muar. Forever we are changed, from glory to glory. Praise be to God.
We want to thank Pastor Simon, Pastor Marilyn and the entire G12 team for a very memorable and impactful retreat. Through them, we have learned that a united spiritual family is built on love, trust and authenticity. We pray that every G12 team will aspire to be a strong family. May the Lord help us to build strong spiritual families and may it be our legacy for generations to come.