The Annual Summer Camp for missionaries, which was organized by the Board for Mission and Evangelism of CSI Diocese of Vellore, was held at Vandhavasi from May 29th to 30th 2018. This year about twenty- seven missionaries participated in the camp. The camp started with devotion by Rev. Meshack Prem Kumar, the Presbyter-in-charge, CSI Vandhavasi Church. The devotion evolved around the theme “Christ’s Gospel For All” irrespective of religion, race, class and caste differences; Christ’s Gospel is for all; it is not limited to one particular community; it restores all who accept it. Soon after the devotion, the Director and the Coordinator for the Board for Mission and Evangelism came up with a new thought of “de-centralized” leadership for things to happen in a more effective way. Missionaries were divided into eight groups and each group was assigned with particular responsibilities like registration, worship, prayer, hospitality, first aid help, travel, food and cultural activities. Each group was named after a biblical leader’s name. After the inauguration, With Rev. H. Sharma Nithyanandam, the Chairperson of Board of Mission and Evangelism, along with Rev. D.S.C Menon, Director of the Board, Mr. Gnana Sigamani, the Coordinator for the Board with missionaries visited a village named Thenieluppai where the missionaries were divided into two groups and went for street preaching and prayed for all those who requested prayers and distributed New Testament. Gospel was shared without imposing or by force.
After the visit, Rev. H. Sharma Nithyanandam, the Chairperson for the Board, Mr. Raja Willington, Physical Director, VRV School and Rev. Abraham Asai Thambi, Chairman, Southern Area shared their greetings. In the Chairperson’s address, he shared about three P’s from Matthew 28:16-20. Firstly, one needs to realise the Purpose of his/her calling; secondly, to identify Power and finally, to receive Promise. Later there was a time of elocution and time of tribute for those who lost their lives in the protest for Sterilite Ban in Thoothukudi by observing silence for a few minutes as a sign of solidarity. Rev. Arul Doss chaired a session on the topic “THIRUMARAIHIL THIRUPANI”. He brought out wider theological thoughts on the given topic from the lives of the biblical leaders and related it to today’s context from his own experiences in the form of songs and poems. He stressed proclaiming Gospel amidst all hurdles is the challenge for the missionaries. Being a missionary is highly rewarded in the sight of God as Jesus himself was a missionary during his time; one needs to know that “You are not Simple, but You are the Example”. Soon after the session, there was Bible Quiz from the book of Revelation and it was followed by games from the Bible. It was an enriching session.
Again in the evening the entire team visited Purisai, Echur, and Echur Mettu Colony villages and carried out street ministry. People in these villages accepted and welcomed us and we could find many secret Christians in these villages. The first day of the summer camp ended with a campfire, which was a great opportunity to exhibit individual talents.
The second day of the camp began with worship in a very indigenous way using Tamil Isai Vazhipadu. Rev. Meshack Prem Kumar preached on the duties of a missionary from Matthew 10:32-42 after which there was sharing session about the experience of the first day.
Later, as part of the second day’s camp, all participated actively in the village visit to Vachanur, Mellmaa, Thetthurai Colony, Thetturai and Veerambaakam. The next session was handled by Rev. Arul Doss where he stressed the need to have a prayerful life. He said that “Make Prayer Your Habit, Then Success Will Become Your Life Style”. By doing this one can be fruitful in God’s ministry. This session ended up to be an apt and meaningful time for rededication and renewal of one’s calling. In the next session, all the missionaries were asked to come up with suggestions and comments about the summer camp and further were asked to do group activities on the topic “NAAM SEIYA VENDIYADHU”.
The two-day summer camp for the year 2018 came to an end with The Holy Communion Service at CSI Church Vandhavasi, a century-old historic church. In his sermon, Rev. Meshack Prem Kumar shared that through this camp, they could identify the need of mission work in all the villages which were visited by the missionaries in these two days and he gave the assurance that CSI Vandhavasi Church would extend their help in accomplishing the drawbacks found in those villages. This was followed by the final sharing session and all the members who have visited the camp were presented with bags as a memento for this camp.
On the whole, this summer camp was really a blessing to all. It gave a space for personal devotion, learning, personal evaluation, re-dedication, personal renewal and greater understanding of the need for the mission. Each one was enriched with different and unique experience which is still alive and made to think. Moreover, this camp was done in a very simple way. It once again gave the feeling that real happiness can be felt when one works at grass root levels with the marginalized and broken community.
Rev. DSC. Menon
Board for Mission and Evangelism
CSI Vellore Diocese