Kenneth Tan, C3PO CG

Fresh from a week of intense theological classes, this retreat was a much needed rest and also a treat to new things and experiences. Life was shared – in small bits of conversations here and there. Highlights were the boat trips (enjoyed a nice sea sunset and… we spotted dolphins! Woohoo!) and food adventures at Pulau Ketam – Pulau Ketam is a wonder!

Having Erwin and Rachel Chow, my CG leaders who brought their baby Eli (Elisha!) to their first family trip outing as a young three-person family 👨‍👩‍👦👶🚼, was definitely a new experience and fun. Not so much for the new parents maybe, but imagine the fun the rest of us had with the baby! :p

There was little to no direct ‘spiritual’ activities like prayer, singing worship songs or discussing ‘spiritual’ matters. We even had card games during the night. But I came back feeling refreshed and also sort of clearer headed. It made me wonder: Have I been limiting ‘spirituality’ in my CG to just preparing worship songs, bible study, praying, etc.? How about living together like the early Christians in the book of Acts?

Close communal living and the sharing of lives – what does living together do to us? (We stayed at a home stay with multiple rooms and a common area where there was karaoke set 🎤.) I always wondered why living in camps (youth camps, etc.) had a tremendous impact on us growing up in church, more than anything else. I suspect other than the great messages and worship times, it’s the community element where we were able to see one another eye-to-eye (or physically face-to-face!), to understand and also “accommodate” to one another’s needs. We had to, to survive! But I am seeing that this process makes us more human, and also provides opportunities for us to serve one another through the time spent together, small acts of service and also impromptu sharing/conversations of our lives, especially over food! A communal spirituality instead of a fragmented, busy city life. 

It was also great to see Ken Ming and Priscillia meeting up with their former students there where they taught under the Teach for Malaysia programme 10 years ago. Their students have grown up a bit and old times about the education system in Malaysia and Pulau Ketam stuff were discussed! Thus, we also had the privilege of inside info of the local food and local culture 🙂

“Didn’t know so much of life lived differently is taking place here so near to KL.” This phrase is how I would coin the whole experience as I remember saying this to CG member Joel Wong as we walked and explored the fishing village on stilts and mud the first day there. The jetty where we travelled from Klang to Pulau Ketam is after all just a 30-minute car ride (shorter than my daily commute to work in Nilai!) from our houses in BU. Lesson learned: We each have very different lives and it takes time, eyes to see and also true commitment to live with one another, and learn from one another to live as a community – even/especially as a community of God.

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