Methodist Message: February 2021

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THE METHODIST CHURCH IN SINGAPORE

ISSN 0129-6868 MCI (P) 027/11/2020

Vo l 1 2 3 N o 2 F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 1

WITH GENTLENESS AND RESPECT


Contents

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Church life Methodists in the world Christian living

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EDITORIAL BOARD

1

Bishop’s message

2

Coming Up

3

One MCS—A very special Christmas with ETAC

4

One MCS—CAC Highlights

6

MCS 135—Youth Matters!

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News—A cosy celebration with the CCIS Family

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News—PLMC Christmas outreach

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News—GC WSCS Thanksgiving Service

12

News—A new chapter for Methodist preschools

15

Home—Rachel Teo

18

Home—Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home

21 Missions 22

Welfare Services

24

You & Your Family

25

Hymns & Songs

26 Soundings 27

TRAC Bible Matters

32 News 33

Looking Ahead

34 THINK

The official monthly publication of The Methodist Church in Singapore. Published material does not necessarily reflect the official view of The Methodist Church.

Adviser and Publisher Dr Anthony Goh Chairperson Council on Communications

Editor Sheri Goh

Sub-editor

All Scripture quoted is based on the English Standard Version unless otherwise stated. 70 Barker Road #06-04 Singapore 309936 6478-4793 | 6478-4763 message.methodist.org.sg | www.methodist.org.sg newmm@methodist.org.sg

Tan Chiu Ai

fb.com/Methodist.SG

Communications Executive

@methodist.sg

Jason Woo

Proofreader Tan Sheng Ling

Design & Production by Londonbob Design Printed by Adred Creation Print Pte Ltd

Have something to say or share? Email us at newmm@methodist.org.sg


BISHOP’S MESSAGE Bishop Dr Gordon Wong was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2020. He served as President of the Trinity Annual Conference from 2013–2020.

Love God by loving our neighbour “How could the apostle Paul write that?” I was once asked by a diligent young Christian. “Write what?” I asked. “How could Paul write that ‘the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself”’?” (Gal 5:14 NIV) “What about that concerns you?” “Well, surely if Paul wanted to summarise the entire biblical Law, he would have used the summary which Jesus gave: the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” (Matt 22:37–38) “I see. You are concerned that Paul appears to be in contradiction with what the Lord Jesus taught. But there is no contradiction.” “There isn’t? But Jesus says clearly that the greatest commandment of all the commandments in the Bible is to love the Lord our God. And Paul says, just as clearly, that the entire Law can be summed up in the command to love your neighbour as yourself. In fact, Paul says the same thing again when writing to the Romans: ‘The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You

shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself”.’ (Rom 13:9 NIV) How does this not contradict what Jesus said about love for God being the greatest commandment of all the other commandments?” “Let me try to explain. Jesus did not only say that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God. In the very next verse, he went on to say that there is a second commandment that is just like the first: Love your neighbour as yourself. (Matt 22:39) In other words, both commands function equally well as the best summary of all the laws in the Bible. “Two different but equally good summaries of the same thing?” “Yes. Or let’s try to approach this from another angle. Ask yourself: how does one obey the greatest commandment which is to love God with all of our heart, soul and strength? “Hmm… I suppose we could say we love God with all our heart by obeying all his commands.” “An excellent answer. And there are many, many commands in the Bible, are there not?” “Yes, there are!”

“So if we were to try to pick one command of all the many different commands that are in God’s Word to function like a summary of all the commandments of God, which would we pick?” “Well, Gordon, I wouldn’t want to pick and choose. I would say that all God’s commands are equally important.” “That sounds like a reasonable answer, but it isn’t the answer that Jesus gave. Jesus was prepared to pick one commandment as being the best way of showing that we love the Lord our God with all our heart. He didn’t pick ‘Remember the sabbath day’, or ‘Pray at all times’ as the best summary of all God’s commands. Jesus picked ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.” “So Paul is not actually in contradiction with Jesus?” “Absolutely not. Paul is in perfect harmony with what his Lord Jesus taught. And it isn’t just Paul who understood Jesus correctly. James describes the law ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ as ‘the royal law’. It is the king of all laws! (James 2:8)” “Thank you, Gordon. Perhaps then we could summarise what Jesus said is the greatest commandment of all in the phrase ‘love God by loving our neighbour’.”

METHODIST MESSAGE FEBRUARY 2021

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Coming Up

TRAC SENIORS MINISTRY PRAYER SERVICE

THE AUTHORITY IN THE NAME OF JESUS

TRAC SENIORS MINISTRY DVD AND BIBLE STUDY

THE ME I WANT TO BE 2

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METHODIST MESSAGE — FEBRUARY 2021


News ¢ Wilson Sampath is Chairman of the ETAC Board of Social Concerns. / Photos courtesy of ETAC

(from left to right)

Christmas meals in bento boxes The migrant workers taking part in team building Christmasthemed games

A very special Christmas

C

hristmas 2020 was a very special one for the Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) Board of Social Concerns and some of the migrant workers who live in dormitories. Bro Solomon (Singapore Telugu Methodist Church [MC]), Bro Barnabas (Tamil MC [Short Street]) and Bro Satish Abraham (Ang Mo Kio Tamil MC) co-ordinated the outreach programme to bring Christmas to migrant workers in six dormitories. Volunteers from ETAC brought the Christmas celebration to 1,500 migrant workers. They distributed 1,600 bento boxes, snacks and goodie bags. They shared the Christmas story and played some games together. The migrant workers also had fun in groups of five using craft materials such as construction paper, scissors and scotch tape to make Christmas trees as part of team building activities. The intention behind the outreach to bring the meaning of Christmas to the migrant workers, and to get to know them in a relaxed and casual setting.

The dormitory residents have had a difficult time this year with the COVID-19 lockdown and movement restrictions. After the event, the dormitory management told the organising committee that they were very touched to see their residents laughing and having fun together. They were grateful to the organising committee and volunteers for all their hard work, as were the migrant workers. We thank the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for giving us this opportunity to share Christmas with those among us who might be overlooked and marginalised, while contributing much to our nation building. We also thank Holy Covenant MC, as well as Sister Janice, for their donations. Finally, we want to thank God for His guidance throughout this programme, and for all our volunteers from Tamil MC (Short Street), Pasir Panjang Tamil MC, Seletar Tamil MC and Ang Mo Kio Tamil MC.

(from left to right)

Even during Christmas celebrations, social distancing is observed for the safety of the migrant workers The migrant workers taking part in team building Christmasthemed games

METHODIST MESSAGE — FEBRUARY 2021

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One MCS ¢

CAC Highlights

The Rev Nathanael Goh Jun Chuen serves as Assistant Pastor at Sengkang Methodist Church / Photo of the Rev Goh courtesy of the Chinese Annual Conference

Celebrating Chinese New Year

as a Christian

The Rev Nathanael Goh

C

hinese New Year (CNY), also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. The date of Chinese New Year is determined by the Chinese calendar, based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. This is why CNY falls on a different date each year. This year, it falls on 12 Feb 2021. It starts on the first day of the new year containing a new moon and ends on the Lantern Festival fourteen days later. Chinese New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year’s Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honour of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors. However, Christians can also rightly identify with many of the themes of the CNY celebration and honour God!

The family The Chinese New Year celebrations typically include the extended family. The extended family provides the basis

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for the flourishing of each individual member and for each discrete family unit. The strength of the family lies in its ability to bind the family through good and bad times. Our celebrations this year will be muted by not being able to welcome more than eight visitors a day to our homes at a time due to COVID-19 government restrictions. Yet, just as each celebration of Holy Communion is a picture of God’s final banquet where a whole assortment of seekers, sinners and disciples can gather to eat and be with Jesus forever, so too can our smaller Chinese New Year celebrations be joyful symbols of our larger unity.

Spring cleaning The annual spring-cleaning can also serve as a time for spiritual stocktaking. Where are we going? Is there anything in our lives that needs cleansing? With regards to the kingdom of God, are our hearts ready to meet the New Year? We should approach the New Year with a quiet humility based on Christ’s atonement and justifying grace (Rom 3:23–26).


New clothes As we begin to shop for new clothes for the Lunar New Year, we thank God for His abundant provision. The move from the end of one year to the beginning of a new one— especially after an unprecedented year like 2020—should call to mind the profound exchange where God takes up all our pain and suffering into Himself and bestows on us “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isa 61:3 NIV).

Feasting

CHINESE NEW YEAR PRAYER

At festive times we generally eat too much. Even as you are feasting, contemplate on the following:

Almighty God, you are Sovereign over

a) Spare a thought for your own body: it is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Col 6:19). Enjoy the good gifts of God’s creation, but do so while remembering that our bodies also belong to God!

history and time. As we mark the celebrations for Chinese New Year, we are still mindful of the great global trial of COVID-19. Yet there is much to be grateful for. We thank You for our families; for

b) Spare a thought too, for the poor and needy, the down and out, those with broken families, or no families. Can we be witnesses to the life-changing Gospel through sharing our festive joy with them?

physical and spiritual ancestors; for blessings of warm hospitality; for the providence of the abundant fruit of creation; for seeing us through this

Ang pows The giving of ang pows is bi-directional: we give downwards to those under us, and we give upwards to the senior members of our family. Similarly, it may be a good time to appreciate our superiors or subordinates in every station of our lives. And, most importantly, what about our God? Instead of simply expecting His blessings, how can we honour our Heavenly Father?

Ancestors Ancestral worship is prominent in ancient Chinese traditions. As Christians, we worship God, not our ancestors. But the bible also repeatedly reveres the patriarchs of old. In Hebrew 11, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and others are listed as a great cloud of witnesses to the running of our race.

season of our common distress. In one hand we grasp the burden of this world, yet with the other we reach for the hope of this world’s redemption. As we celebrate Chinese New Year, therefore, let our hearts be surprised by, shaped by, warmed by and remade by the same joy that forever dwells within and radiates from You, O God. In the name of our Christ, the King of the Ages, Amen.

It is good to remember our forebears: respect them for what they have done for us. Chinese New Year is as good a time as any. We thank God for those who came before us, for without them, we would not have been born, nor would we be where we are today. We also thank God for our spiritual ancestors: our spiritual parents and mentors. Think of our Sunday school teachers, pastors, missionaries and faithful servants in Methodist history like John and Charles Wesley, William Oldham, James Thoburn and Sophia Blackmore. Let us give thanks to God for our rich heritage this Chinese New Year!

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News ¢

MCS 135

The Rev Benjamin Lau has a heart for Discipleship & Evangelism and a passion for mentoring the younger generation. He currently serves on the TRAC Board of Youth Ministry. Formerly the pastor overseeing the Youth Ministry at Christ Methodist Church from 2018–20, he started his new appointment at Wesley Methodist Church in Jan 2021 and is the pastor overseeing the Children Ministry and BeTweens Ministry (11–14 year olds).

Speakers and participants

Youth matters! As part of the MCS 135 celebrations, the MCS Youth Conference Committee organised an online “Youth Matters” forum on 10 Dec 2020. The Rev Bernard Chao, a lecturer at Trinity Theological College who teaches a “Rethinking Youth Ministry” course to youth workers, moderated the forum together with a panel comprising Pastor Ian Wong, a youth pastor from Kum Yan Methodist Church (MC), Bernice Toh, a youth leader from Paya Lebar MC, and Samuel Wan, a youth from Christ MC.

T

he panel had an engaging and authentic dialogue with youth practitioners and youths from different Methodist churches in Singapore. Four key questions were brought up for discussion.

Have we prioritised programmes over people? A research paper titled “Youth Ministries Realities in Singapore” highlights that many ministries are strong in organising large-scale events and programmes. However, this strength could also be a weakness, especially when programmes take priority over relationships, resulting in people getting lost along the way.1 Pastor Ian shared five steps to describe the journey he hopes to see in a person coming into youth ministry. 1. Fun: The excitement that someone feels when they first get drawn in. 1

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2. Friendship: Making genuine connections with people within the church. 3. Feeding: Growing deeper roots by being taught and learning something. 4. Fruitfulness: Where the learning produces fruit. A season of growth where you see a change in the person’s character. 5. Faith: The place of surrender. You become a disciple of Jesus Christ when He tells you to do something and you actually do it. Events are important for bringing a youth into the church but it is hard for anyone to get to the fifth step without first building genuine personal relationships. What matters to the youths are authentic relationships and not just the programmes per se.

Dr Calvin Chong, “Youth Ministries Realities in Singapore: Insights and Wisdom from the Ground” (April 2016), METHODIST MESSAGE FEBRUARY 2021


Have our pet ideas of church and youth ministry been disrupted? The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted our ideas of what Youth Ministry has become today. Bernice shared her challenges in keeping up with her youths without the weekly face-toface interactions in church. However, this inspired her and her team to do ministry differently. For example, coming up with creative online initiatives like worship music videos for youths so that they can worship in their own homes as well as an online dialogue with a missions worker for the young people to hear and see what is going on in the field. Sam shared: “For me and my friends, the Circuit Breaker was one of the best things that has happened to us. We had almost nightly Zoom calls to worship and pray.” These sessions were what have become the “School Houses of Prayer” (S.H.O.P.), a weekly meeting connecting prayer groups across different schools to pray, worship and fellowship together online.

There is a saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”. Likewise, a church is like a “kampung”, a kampung comprised of different generations. Whatever our stage of life, we all need to do our part in laying the foundation for the next generation. We are stewards of the spiritual treasure God has given us. It is our responsibility to guard this deposit and then invest it in the lives of others. Imagine a Church where the seniors are investing in the adults, the adults are mentoring the young adults, the young adults are leading the youths and the youths are being big brothers or sisters to the younger children. Imagine if every single one of us reading this article embraces that mandate to be a disciple-maker. Imagine the impact we can make in God’s Kingdom in the world today!

Who is missing from our churches? The Rev Bernard challenged the group to consider the following questions: “Who is under-represented? Who is not even there? Are we like a club, or are we engaged and connected to our communities?” Sam shared his observation that one of the reasons visitors find it hard to assimilate into a church is because of cliques that have formed within. Personally, this is an issue that we need to be aware of. As much as we want a tightly-knit youth ministry, we always need to be Kingdom-minded and not just look inwardly as a ‘holy huddle’. We need to look out and beyond just our close group of friends and befriend others, especially those who may not seem to fit in with the community. The reason people come may not be the reason they stay. People may be attracted to a programme but what makes them stay is when they are connected to a genuine life community. In fact, “we do not want them to just stay but we want them to change”, PS Ian concludes.

What are you waiting for? The Rev Bernard closed the session by challenging the participants to ponder their personal ownership of the Kingdom and the Church.

The Online Youth Matters forum held over Zoom on 10 Dec 2020

One of my personal convictions as a pastor is there are many things that we can outsource to different task forces and committees, but we cannot outsource discipleship. We can plan all the programmes for our youths but miss the main point if we are not modelling discipleship. As a matter of fact, discipleship should involve the entire church.

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News ¢ By the Rev Egmedio Equila, BRMC Filipino Ministry Pastor; Chung Chee Kit, BRMC Mandarin Ministry Chairperson; Bernice Lim, BRMC Creative Arts Ministry Chairperson; and Yvonne Foo, Coordinator, TeamBRMC @ CCIS / Photos courtesy of TeamBRMC @ CCIS

Our Filipino tambourine dancers filmed at Wesley Park outside the BRMC Sanctuary

Home for Christmas A cosy celebration with the CCIS Family

I

n 2006, the Rev Oh Beng Khee, one of the founders of Celebrate Christmas in Singapore (CCIS), invited Mrs Irene Tan GP, then Barker Road Methodist Church (BRMC) Lay Leader and Chairperson of Creative Arts Ministry (CAM), to partner CCIS in their Christmas outreach at Orchard Road. Believing in CCIS’ vision and mission, Irene promptly coordinated a team of dancers to perform at CCIS that year. In the 13 years since then, CAM has coordinated a TeamBRMC to participate in almost every CCIS. (We took a break in 2009 for our evangelistic Christmas concert, and in 2011 for BRMC’s 55th anniversary concert and Global Day of Prayer.) We have witnessed several prodigal sons and daughters from the audience telling us they were touched by our performances and wanted to return to God and the Church. Some church friends had also thanked us for bringing love, joy, peace and hope to their pre-believer family members who watched our CCIS performances at designated stages along Orchard Road. Through the years, CAM has collaborated with our Filipino, Glowing Years and Mandarin Ministries, as well as Sunday School youths and young adults, to present TeamBRMC’s Christmas offerings in songs, skits and dances. Our CAM dancers also supported Canadian singer Sheila Ann Smith when she sang at CCIS at the Wisma Atria stage. Our ministry leaders have shared the heartfelt enthusiasm of their members who looked forward to participating in CCIS performances every year. The many weeks of practices helped to bring their members closer together, build joyous community and renew their commitment to God.

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The CAM dancers used the powerful tools of flags in their proclamation dance


Our Filipino Liturgical dancers

Our Filipino Choir

This year, we were pleasantly surprised to be invited by Kelvin Tan, CCIS Programmes Chair, to participate in CCIS’ first virtual Christmas performance. Themed “Home for Christmas”, it was to be streamed on social media on 21 Dec 2020. While mindful we would face some challenges in our first virtual performance due to COVID-19 restrictions, our leaders in CAM, Filipino and Mandarin Ministries gave their thumbs-up for their teams’ participation. We had to adopt new ways of performing this year. For example, we had to split our choir members and dancers into groups with a maximum of five members. Practices were held in homes, squash courts and parks. We used to perform on our preferred stages along Orchard Road; this time, we filmed videos of our performances at our homes or at the BRMC/ACS campus. We also ensured that our filming and audio recording were in compliant with IMDA guidelines. Even though the days on which we filmed were super hot, we thank God that captured on video were the joyful faces of our dancers, instead of their profuse sweating! We give special thanks to our dedicated Filipino Choir Director, Faith Loscos, who spent much time on her Sundays off to train her choir members in four separate groups. We also thank all who assisted us in audio recording and video filming: BRMC AV staff Hillary, church members Yew Meng, Eden, Yvonne, Siang Ngee, John, Koon Siong,

Chung Chee Kit’s Nativity painting

Moneena, our Filipino pastors, Ps Jun and Ps Hannah, and our friends, Victor and Peter. Fellow Methodists Kelvin Tan, CCIS Programmes Chairperson, and Victor Ng, CCIS Logistics Chairperson, provided invaluable help and guidance. Performances included a testimony skit and song by our Mandarin Ministry team and artwork of the Nativity scene by Chung Chee Kit; our talented Filipino Choir’s rendition of an original Tagalog song, “Maligayang Pasko” (Merry Christmas) by Arnel de Pano; an upbeat dance by our Filipino Tambourine dancers, “Hope Was Born This Night” by Sidewalk Prophets; and another dance, this time by our graceful Filipino Liturgical dancers, “The Christmas Hope”. The Creative Arts Ministry (CAM) dancers joyfully proclaimed the good news of the newborn King, Jesus, in “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”. Two CAM ladies, Suyin and Michelle, danced powerfully yet gracefully to the song “Messiah”, and asked the audience to consider inviting a very special guest—Jesus Christ, our Messiah—to their Christmas meal. CCIS 2020 was a new way for us to serve the Lord. As Chee Kit shared, “We were reminded that, where the heart is willing, God will find a way to bring forth His message, pandemic or not.” Watch “A Christmas Performance”, organised by CCIS, at

https://youtu.be/eU02kob7qXU

Celebrate Christmas in Singapore (CCIS) is a registered charity and Associate Member of the National Council of Churches, Singapore. It was birthed in 2004 when a handful of Christian pastors and leaders wanted to bring the message of the peace, hope and joy of Christmas back into an otherwise heavily commercialised festive occasion. Believing that many may have lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas, this annual event, that became a hallmark at Orchard Road at Christmas time, aims to rally the Christian community in Singapore to reach out and bless the community with the message of love. METHODIST MESSAGE FEBRUARY 2021

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News ¢ Amy Cheong is the Director for Corporate Communications at Paya Lebar Methodist Church. / Photos courtesy of PLMC

It is more blessed to give than to receive!

Preparing gifts for the residents in the neighbourhood around PLMC

Christmas at your doorstep

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rom 16 to 20 Dec 2020, worshippers from Paya Lebar Methodist Church (PLMC) visited more than 1,700 families, bringing gifts of love, joy and hope. Unlike

the Christmas Carnivals we organised in previous years, the COVID-19 pandemic gave us the opportunity to think outside the box; instead of the residents living in the neighbourhood around the church coming to our carnival, we brought Christmas to them, living out the 2020 theme of “Christmas at Your Doorstep”. From early November right through to December, groups would meet, with all safety measures adhered to, to assemble, sort and pack the gifts. More importantly, they prayed for these beloved of Christ whom we would be meeting. One of the gifts were plastic balloons with LED lights. Each balloon had to be stretched manually, and after hundreds of balloons, the volunteers ended up with bruised and blistered hands. Yet they testified that these wounds were nothing compared with what Jesus suffered for us, and they felt blessed to be part of “A Family Blessed to Bless the Community and the Nations”, which is PLMC’s Mission and Vision. There were countless stories of the joy and fulfilment felt by the volunteers as they sought to bring Christ’s love to our neighbours, and it clearly brought home Jesus’ point that it is more blessed to give than to receive!

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Some of the beautiful results of PLMC’s volunteers’ hard work


News ¢ Mary Ann Chua is the Secretary of GC WSCS. / Photos courtesy of GC WSCS

The Pentecost MC WSCS ladies

Mrs Kalaimathi Nagulan performing “Nandri Yesuvea”

GC WSCS

Thanksgiving Service

Bishop Dr Gordon Wong

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as

for the quadrennium 2020–24, “Divine

2020 was not an easy year for most,

is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love

Order in God’s Family”.

but we are reminded to give thanks in

your wives and do not be harsh with

everything and in all circumstances.

them. Children, obey your parents in

The passage from Colossians was read

The testimonies of Ms Ong Tham Kwee

everything, for this pleases the Lord.

by Mrs Daisy Ling in Mandarin, Mrs

on God’s provision and Mrs Doris Wong

Fathers [Parents], do not embitter

Kalaimathi Nagulan in Tamil and Ms

on God’s faithfulness encouraged all

your children, or they will become

Neo Lay Tin in English. At the start

to truly rely on the Lord who listens

discouraged.” (Col 3:18–21 NIV)

of the service, GC WSCS President Dr

and works all things for the good of

(Mrs) Teo Li Bee warmly welcomed

His children. Mrs Nagulan’s song,

These were Paul’s instructions for

Bishop Dr Wong, the Rev Dr Gregory

“Nandri Yesuvea” (Thank You, Jesus),

Christian households and was the

Goh (President of the Chinese Annual

filled our hearts with gratitude for

Scripture

Gordon

Conference), the Rev Philip Abraham

God’s goodness in the past year and

Wong referenced in his message on

that

Bishop

(President of the Emmanuel Tamil

with hope for 2021.

to some 250 women who attended

Annual

the General Conference of Women’s

guests, namely the Rev Dr Heasun Kim

Indeed, the closing hymn by Pentecost

Society for Christian Service’s (GC

(Korea), the Rev Hikari Chang (Japan),

MC’s WSCS ladies expressed what

WSCS)

held

Mrs Ngui-Ting Sing Hong (Hong Kong)

was in the hearts of all—“Count Your

online via Zoom on 9 Jan 2020. These

and Ms Evelyn Sim (Malaysia). All

Blessings”! We are also grateful to Mrs

“family rules” ushered in the theme

brought greetings to the body.

Angela Tan for being the translator.

Thanksgiving

Dr

Service,

Conference)

and

overseas

METHODIST MESSAGE FEBRUARY 2021

Some of the attendees of the GC WSCS Thanksgiving Service on 9 Jan 2020

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News ¢ Dr Michael Lim is the General Manager of Methodist Preschool Service Pte Ltd (MPSPL) / Photos courtesy of MPSPL

Let the little children come A new chapter for Methodist preschools

M

ethodist Preschool Service Pte Ltd (MPSPL) held its first Thanksgiving and Dedication Service on 28 Dec 2020 at Bedok Methodist Church (MC). The service was live-streamed to the other four centres at Faith MC, Foochow MC, Sengkang MC and Toa Payoh MC. These five Methodist kindergartens are the first batch to come under the umbrella of MPSPL. A plaque was unveiled at each centre by the respective Pastor-incharge and witnessed by a MPSPL board member. We thank the Lord for bringing us from the germination of the idea, more than two years ago, to bring Methodist preschools under a central organisation, through the many discussions among various committees and councils, and culminating in the approval by the General Conference Executive Council (GCEC) of The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) on July 30 last year as well as the allocation of seed money for MPSPL’s formation.

(from left to right) The Rev Khoo Kay Huat (PIC of Bedok MC), Bishop Dr Gordon Wong, Patsy Wee (Principal) and Joseph Lee (Vice Chair of Bedok MC Kindergarten Management Committee)

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On 4 Sep 2020, approval from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) was obtained. We were confronted by a long list of things to be done within an extremely tight timeline to meet the target date of 1 Jan 2021 for the Transfer of Licence. The administrative tasks included gaining approval from each local church LCEC, applying for the Transfer of Licence, and working out the terms of the agreements with the five churches for the transfer and the subsequent lease of premises for the next few years.

Agency (ECDA) for the transfer of licences from the local churches to MPSPL, was received on the morning of 31 Dec 2020.

The Rev Niam Lai Huey (left, PIC of SKMC) and Dr Moo Swee Ngoh (MPSPL Director)

The Lord smoothed the rocky path, and we were blessed along the way by so many people—from individuals giving of their time and expertise to guide us to those who facilitated the many processes required before ECDA could approve the transfer. Many who were involved as part of their jobs went out of their way to help prod us and facilitate efforts that had to run concurrently.

Bishop Dr Wong (left) and Henry Tan, Chairperson of MPSPL

In addition, there were meetings with the kindergarten staff to win them over to join MPSPL, as well as virtual meetings with the parents of the children registered for 2021 to persuade them to stay on by sharing with them what their children would enjoy under MPSPL, including the new four-hour curriculum. Supervised by their principals, the teachers worked hard to prepare to implement the revised curriculum. Renovation work proceeded to give the preschools’ premises a refreshed look and feel. Not only were HDB and URA clearances required because of the unique situation of some of the kindergartens, numerous operating contracts also had to be transferred to MPSPL so that operations could begin safely and smoothly from 1 Jan 2021. The final approval, from the Early Childhood Development

The Rev Ling Tien Ngung (left, PIC of TPCMC) and the Rev Reuben Ng (PIC of TPMC)

We are thankful that we are not alone in this venture to help bring the little children to our Lord. The local churches know that this local ministry is important, perhaps as much as their overseas mission ministry. Here is the opportunity to sow into the lives of little children as well as to reach out to non-Christian families and homes, to which they might otherwise not have access. Bishop Dr Gordon Wong’s exhortation during the 28 Dec Thanksgiving and Dedication Service was especially meaningful as it helped us focus

on why we are doing all these—so that little children can continue to come to Him. He encouraged us to find joy in knowing that our work is very significant in the eyes of Jesus for as we provide an environment where little ones can experience the loving welcome of God, we welcome and honour the Lord Christ Himself. The work of loving and shaping preschoolers in His likeness is tough and tiring work requiring much patience and perseverance, but Jesus would say that such work is among the greatest service, even if the status and material rewards do not reflect its importance. We have also learned that our job is simply to trust and obey. Along the way, the Lord will send helpers to bring us forward. The significance of obtaining final approval only on the last day of 2020 was not lost on us. It has taught us to continue to rely on Him and His strength, especially when things get tough and the obstacles seem impossible to surmount. As one pastor shared in a New Year’s day sermon, we should “Look Up” to God, and see the Lord in action; “Look Out” for others around us; and “Look Inwards” to see our inner selves are right with God. It is a poignant reminder that we need to continue to depend on Him. For this, we humbly covet your prayers and help in whatever form. With all the blessings experienced along this journey with a seemingly impossible deadline, the Lord showed that with Him, nothing is impossible.

(left to right) Lim Boon Chuan (LCEC Chair), Liaw Chun Huan (MPSPL Director), the Rev Raymond Fong (PIC of Faith MC), Veronica Low (Faith Preschool Accounts Executive) and Tan Chow Boon (Faith Kindy Chair)

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2021 Admissions Now Open ACS (International) Singapore is a distinctive international secondary school open to all Singaporeans & other nationalities, offering an all-round English-based education for students aged 12 to 18 years leading to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).

61 Jalan Hitam Manis, Singapore 278475

Building Through Belief, this school of choice provides

• Exceptional examination results, very strong value-added achievement and an allround holistic education • 50:50 mix of local and international teachers who uphold the dual Methodist ethos and ACS heritage • Small class sizes with overall student-teacher ratio of 8.7 : 1 • 40 different CCAs – 16 Sporting, 12 Visual and Performing Arts, 12 Special Interest Groups • Over 25 overseas trips per year • Over 200 formal student leadership positions • Scholarships for 4 Singaporeans to undertake the IBDP

Achievements include

Mr Gavin Kinch Principal

Mrs Tan Siew Hoon Vice-Principal

• Students with perfect score of 45 points in IBDP • 20 “Top in the World” awards in IGCSE examinations over each of the past nine years • Students accepted to Oxford and Cambridge universities for the past eight years • Admissions to top universities in the UK, the US, Australia and Singapore • PSLE and Singapore GCE ‘O’ Level students achieve outstanding value-added examination results for the IBDP with improved pathways to good universities • Successes at national level in Athletics, Touch Rugby, Debating, Orchestra, Volleyball, Taekwondo, Ice Hockey, Fencing, Swimming, Artistic Swimming, Rhythmic Gymnastics and Wushu.

What the parents say…

Dr Kristopher Achter Vice-Principal

Mr Chia Choong Kiat Acting Vice-Principal

For more information Please contact Joseph Ng or Serene Lim at +65 6472 1477 or admissions@acsinternational.edu.sg

“ACS (International) ignites students' passion to learn through building strong relationships with deeply devoted and highly experienced teachers and excellent pedagogic and sporting infrastructure. The school has achieved a fine blend of academic rigour and holistic learning. The emphasis on CCAs and community service as well as the ample opportunities for student leadership makes ACS (International) a 'cut above' and the preferred choice for our children.” Larisa and Shivinder Singh “Sending our daughter to ACS (International) was the best decision we made. She used to be shy and introverted and has now become a confident, caring and motivated student leader.” Debra and Samuel Koh “We deeply appreciate the contribution ACS (International) has made towards making our son confident, capable and thoughtful. The school has provided an environment of personal care, support and encouragement to nurture him into a compassionate young man. We are also very proud of his academic, leadership, co-curricular and public speaking skill development.” Anju Uppal “We like the holistic learning environment of ACS (International). Apart from academics, the school gives the students plenty of learning opportunities outside the walls of the classroom through service trips in continents as far as Africa, school projects and events, CCAs, student leadership roles and more. Our children thoroughly enjoy the IB programme, the holistic environment of the school, and are very proud to be students of ACS (International). The school has helped our children to grow and mature in so many ways, whilst equipping them with the necessary skills needed for their university studies and future endeavours. We are very glad to have sent both of our children to ACS (International).” Steven and Pau Kim Kan


Home ¢ Gracia Lee is a writer at Salt&Light, an independent, non-profit Christian news and devotional website with a passion for kingdom unity, and a vision of inspiring faith to arise in the marketplace. / Photos courtesy of Rachel Teo

God made sure

I lacked no good thing Still, her recovery was not an easy one. With her body wrecked by the accident, it was impossible for her to even do simple tasks like walking, writing and dressing herself. She dropped out of university to focus on recuperating and spent a full year going in and out of the hospital for a variety of consultations and surgeries. As a result of her brain injury, she also struggled to control her own body. For example, she would sometimes suddenly burst out laughing or crying for no reason. These difficulties were compounded by the emotional pain of watching her friends moving on with “normal” life without her.

Rachel Teo her life irrevocably altered after meeting with a horrific accident in 2011. But God was at work putting new purpose into her future

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Rachel (right, in white) was excelling in her first semester of university before the accident happened

he last thing Rachel Teo remembered was making her way to meet a friend. Then everything went black.

When she opened her eyes, the 21-year-old found herself in an unfamiliar room, with her body in casts and bandages. This is a hospital, she was told. You’ve been in a coma for two months. She had been hit by a van while crossing the road. Her arms, legs and ribs were broken. Her jaw was crushed. A long scar—from a brain surgery done while she was in a coma—ran across her shaven head.

“Imagine at the age of 21, all my friends are back in school, going out, dating, feeling happy, and what am I doing? My days are busy with being in the hospital meeting my neurosurgeon, my orthopaedic, going for surgeries,” she said.

She also struggled to think straight. Later, she was told that she had suffered a severe traumatic brain injury that would be permanent.

Keeping the faith

Then a first-year psychology student who had just received gleaming results for her first semester, Teo found her life now irrevocably altered.

While others were singing praises during worship, she recalled hurling vulgarities at the God she had come to know in her days at Hwa Chong Institution. “Why did you let this happen? You are God Almighty. Why didn’t you stop the van? I just want to be a simple person and go through a normal life. Why did you let me go through all this?” she railed.

“I lost many things because of the accident,” said Teo, now 31. Without missing a beat she added: “But God always made sure I lacked no good thing (Ps 34:10).”

Choking up with emotion, Teo remembered asking God: “Why didn’t you just let me die?”

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God made sure I lacked no good thing

“In my heart—I don’t even dare to say this—but I hated God. I questioned God. I was angry with God,” she confessed. “But I needed God.” He was the only one that she felt could understand what she was going through. She knew that He was listening to her cries (Ps 66:19). She believed He is a wonderful counsellor (Isa 9:6) who can fully empathise with her pain. So while she railed at Him, she also knew this: “I’m His daughter. I need to hold His hand.”

Being a children’s ministry staff at CCMC was a dream come true for Teo, who had always wanted to work in a church

Though she was not earning as much as her contemporaries, “it was always sufficient”, she said. Furthermore, her colleagues were understanding of her condition and took great care of her, she added. “God knew that I needed to be in a very welcoming, loving and supportive community because I couldn’t process emotions or read people like a normal person, and I didn’t understand how to behave in situations,” she said. Teo also found that God cared even about her tiniest desires, like travelling again and attending a fancy D&D like her friends in corporate jobs.

Experiencing God’s care And so she did, even as she went back to university and failed her first semester back—twice. She eventually dropped out of university and took up a diploma in child psychology instead. Though she was resigned to the fact that her life would no longer look like that of her friends, watching them graduate with their degrees was particularly painful. During that period she got off social media and spent her days blasting praise and worship songs in her room. “I knew that God knew how I felt and He could deal with my emotions,” she said. She sought comfort in verses like Psalm 139:16 that showed how intimate her relationship with her heavenly Father is: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Her faith in God’s nearness and kindness was not misplaced. While she worried about being able to find employment due to her cognitive impairment, God sent her a job opportunity to work as a children’s ministry staff at Covenant Community Methodist Church (CCMC)—a job she had always dreamed of as a young girl.

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Rachel (third from right) yearned to travel again after her accident, and her prayers were answered after she went on a company retreat to Vietnam

At CCMC, she got an opportunity to go to Vietnam for a company retreat. And in her next job at a social service organisation, she was given the chance to organise and attend a charity gala dinner. Still excited when she recounts these little answered prayers, Teo said: “God really took care of me. He never deprived me of anything.”

The battle belongs to the Lord However, she was still fighting a huge battle on the legal front, where she was embroiled in a lawsuit against the driver of the van to claim damages. Her lawyer appeared to be less than sympathetic and was often impatient with her inability to grasp what was going on. Her parents, being unable to speak English, were unable to help her. Her lawyer would scold and shout at her, she said. She had little choice but to bear with it as her family—her father is a hawker and her mother is a hairdresser—did not have many connections.


“I feared losing my lawyer more than I feared losing my case. Because if my lawyer [was] gone, who else would I go to?” she said. It was during this time that she cultivated the habit, one that she still has today, of kneeling by her bedroom window and taking it all to the Lord in prayer. “It was just me and God,” she said. “But I believe that God hears us.” Her faith proved not to be in vain. One day a colleague heard Teo’s lawyer shouting at her over the phone and linked her up with another lawyer, whom Teo said was kind to her. The lawsuit lasted an arduous six years, during which Teo often felt helpless. But she exchanged her fears for worship and took courage in Bible stories that demonstrated the mightiness of God. In particular, she clung to 1 Samuel 17:47, which reminded her that the battle belongs to the Lord. After much prayer, there was eventually a “good closure” to the lawsuit, she said. “God really took care of me.”

Giving hope Teo’s experience spurred her and husband, who is an artificial intelligence (AI) scientist, to set up an online platform, CDike, to help connect people to lawyers. “How many people out there are like me? They may not necessarily qualify for pro bono services, nor have sufficient knowledge and connections to get a suitable lawyer,” she said. Teo, who is running this platform full-time, finds out each clients’ need, budget and expectations, and links them up with the right lawyer. The matching is done virtually, which Teo said helps to protect clients’ privacy. The service, which was formally launched in August, is free for clients, while lawyers who wish to join their community have to pay a small membership fee. “I know how it feels like to feel hopeless in a situation. I know the pain of those who are not so educated and who don’t have many connections. I’m not a lawyer. I cannot fight their lawsuit for them. But I can try my best to help them.” While she once cursed God for letting the horrific accident happen to her, she now knows that God’s hand of care and love was always with her. “I believe God already had everything planned out—even life after my accident, what I would do, what I can do with my life experiences. Because He knows just what we need before we say a word and He can do beyond what we can imagine!”

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Rachel and her husband taking their wedding vows

About CDike C stands for community, compassion, clarity Dike is the goddess of justice and the spirit of moral order and fair judgement. CDike believes in supporting the community with compassion, bringing them clarity on their problems and they receive justice and fair judgement in their problems, restoring moral order in our world. www.cdike.com f b.com/cdikepteltd @cdikelegal

Rachel and her husband with their daughter, Ariel

This article originally appeared at https://saltandlight.sg/faith/ her-young-life-stalled-after-a-horrific-accident-yet-god-made-sure-ilacked-no-good-thing

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Home ¢ Dr Chen Chi Nan, a son of Dr Chen Su Lan, was a leading Methodist layman in Wesley Methodist Church and a consulting psychiatrist in Vancouver. He went home to the Lord in September 2020. / Photos courtesy of MCS Archives and History Library, Dr Feng Chen and Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home

Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home

An inspiring, uplifting story A pioneering Social Concerns project of Wesley Methodist Church, Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home provides needy children between ages four and 14 years from broken homes with Christian nurture and prepares them for useful citizenship in a home atmosphere. It is a registered charity administered by a committee that includes a number of Methodist laymen, and began functioning in 1968. Today, it continues in an expanded ministry at Serangoon Garden Way after the original chalets in Wing Loong Road were acquired by the Government to build the Changi Airport runway. A version of this article first appeared in the Feb 2002 issue of Methodist Message.

Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home today

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he words inspiring, heartwarming and uplifting are so hackneyed that they have largely lost their meaning, and yet they sum up the story of Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home (CSLMCH).

Ms Lim Cheng Kiok, its first matron, took early retirement from the Singapore General Hospital where she had been a nursing sister in order to “serve God”. This was the more notable, as she had nothing specific in mind. She waited. She was offered a salary of $250 a month—not a princely sum even in 1968. Her initial reaction was that it underestimated her worth, almost a slight to someone who has been in the highest grade of nursing. At a deeper level, she felt that since this job could be the way she could serve God, what the pay was did not really matter.

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Dr Chen Chi Nan, writer of the article and son of Dr Chen Su Lan

Dr Chen Su Lan, after whom the Methodist Children’s Home was named

Furthermore, even her only request was granted, for permission for her friend Ms Lee Soo Yong, who was the matron of a hospital, to move in to help out in running the home. As it turned out, she held the job for nine years, the last three of which were without pay at her own request. It was not just a job, a nine-to-five sort of posting. It meant moving to the countryside in the midst of a kampong to be “mother” to up to 30 children who would soon move in with her. The new home was in Ayer Gemuroh in Changi on a piece of land located a hundred yards from the sea beach. On it were three brick chalets designed by Mr Edwin Chan whose architectural flair matched the vision for the home being a real home and not just an institution to warehouse unwanted children. One of the chalets would be home to a dozen or more boys and another for the same number of girls, each with a housemother. Ms Chew Ah Chok and Ms Beatrice Lim were the first housemothers. The third chalet housed the kitchen, the pantry, the office and rooms for Ms Lim and for Ms Lee, who helped out while keeping her day job at the hospital. When word spread that there was such a home, donations of food came, some from unexpected sources, such as food which had been confiscated by the police from unlicensed hawkers. No one questioned the ethics of accepting such food! The policemen who made the deliveries were obviously pleased to do so as they were greeted by the kids as visitors were being called uncle this or uncle that. They had in season loads of melons and durians. Gifts of fish and meat called for a new freezer. The airport kitchen sent fresh unutilised food. Oliver Twist could only have dreamt of all this as “food, glorious food”. Clearly, this was not an old-style “orphanage”.

The front view of the home

Ms Lim was clear about the three emphases she had for the home. The first priority for the children was their spiritual life, then their physical health and their education. The daily routine for the children reflected this. The usual programme for the day began with preparations for school, being driven there in a van, back for lunch, free time for play, homework, dinner, a half-hour service of worship and bed. For those with the ability and the interest there were piano lessons for which the home subsidised their fees. One of the girls played for the evening services which everyone attended, including the cook and the driver of the van. Ms Lee recalled that the service was the best part of the day. Years later, Jasmine, one of the girls singled this out in a letter as one of what she was most thankful for. The cook and the driver in time became Christians. The children attended the Hokkien-speaking Telok Ayer Church Sunday School, choosing to be baptised in the churches they attended after leaving the home. When the time came for them to choose their spouses, they chose fellow Christians and some are still active members of their churches.

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Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home: An inspiring, uplifting story

Most of the children stayed on till they finished schooling or till the age of 16. This in itself was remarkable for a household of more than two dozen adolescent boys and girls whose behaviour gave no real problems, and this was attributed to their Christian code of conduct. While others found work either in the workforce or at home, one went on to study at the university, graduated and became a teacher.

Chairman was Mr Koh Seat Wee and the Vice-Chairman was Dr C. N. Chen. Mr Kon Choon Kooi was the Honorary Treasurer and a seat kept for a representative from the Social Welfare Department was filled by Mrs Chai. Mr Tan Boon Chiang, who was the next Chairman, did yeoman service during the setting up of the home and served faithfully for many years.

So by any measure the home was fulfilling the purposes for which it was founded.

In 1968 the home was officially opened with a ceremony with the Rev Christopher Smith presiding. Present were members and dignitaries of the church as well as Radio Singapore, which indicated the good wishes of the Government. Dr Chen Su Lan, having suffered a stroke, did not attend.

When interviewed more than 30 years later, Ms Lim and Ms Lee recalled many happy memories of the home and the children but they still sighed when they thought of how some of them were when they first arrived. There was obvious satisfaction in the knowledge that the children had been given a good start and had outgrown their initial difficulties, in a Christian home setting, a satisfaction no doubt shared by the Church and all those who devoted so much of their time, imagination, money and their prayers to this project. How did the home get started and what went into its establishment? Apart from just building a home for children who were deprived of parental care for one reason or another, the hope was that this one home could be a model for others to follow. Accordingly, the proposal was made to the Wesley Church Official Board.

Donations in memory of

Dr Chen Chi Nan CSLMCL is saddened to learn of the loss of Dr Chen Chi Nan, the third son of our founder Dr Chen Su Lan. He passed on peacefully on 28 Sep 2020 and would have turned 98 in October 2020. Guided by the ethos of exemplifying faith and love through action, Dr Chen Chi Nan worked closely with his father to create and establish this residential home in 1968. His vision was to provide children from

Another factor was a casual comment made by a doctor to Ms Lim that since she was so fond of children, why did she not start an orphanage? It was then an impossible idea but she did not forget it and it fell in place. Involving Wesley Methodist Church as the sponsor would give the church an outreach programme, an avenue to express its professed message of love for all of God’s creatures. It could provide support and talent for management. It had the advantage of being a long established congregation which would provide a continuity that was not contingent on the commitment of a single individual or two.

broken homes a safe, caring and loving environment guided by Christian values. He carried out the work from its initial concept and design, through to the development of the small group homes model for the original Home in Changi. Dr Chen laid the spiritual foundation that continues to sustain our Home to this present day. In remembrance of his life and contribution, the family have suggested that friends and well-wishers may wish to make donations to the Home, in memory of Dr Chen Chi Nan. Funds from these donations will be used towards the cost of further education for our

Besides, the Chen Su Lan Trust offered a two-acre parcel of land and an initial sum of $100,000 for the buildings. Although the Wesley Church Board debated it long and hard, hesitant about making a long-term commitment, with some dissent to attaching the name of Chen Su Lan while he was living, it adopted the project, passed its constitution and elected its first committee members. The

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children and youth from disadvantaged families.

To make a donation in the memory of Dr Chen Chi Nan, please go to http://www.cslmch.org.sg/donation.html


Welfare Services ¢ By the Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) Communications Team / Photo courtesy of MWS

Keen to make a positive difference in someone’s life or know someone who is? To find out more about job opportunities in MWS, please visit mws.sg/join-us or scan the QR code.

Jamie (centre), celebrating World Social Work Day 2020 with her colleagues

Why social service is more important than ever

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ith the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown continuing to bring uncertainty to our lives, we can be sure that there will be more disadvantaged and distressed people requiring social service support. For Methodist Welfare Services (MWS), the social concerns arm of The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS), this means an even more critical need to equip and strengthen our team professionally so as to serve the growing numbers of people in need. One important employee group in MWS is that of social workers. They are essential to lifting vulnerable families, youths and seniors out of various types of poverty through their work on the ground.

A Meaningful Career Ms Jamie Dela Cruz is a prime example of an individual who has stepped up to this task. Sparked by youth volunteer work she had done during her polytechnic days, Jamie discovered what she wanted to do in life while working as an accounting intern. “To me, a meaningful career is about working with people and building relationships. I could not imagine myself building deeper relationships in the finance industry! This spurred me to join the social service sector. “I like that MWS highly believes in trauma-informed practices and has

put in place support for new workers,” recalled the 25-year-old, who joined the organisation as a Social Worker in February 2020. Today, as an advocate for clients at MWS Family Services Centre – Yishun (MWS FSC – Yishun), she empowers them through co-constructing solutions and helps them overcome challenges. “I work with individuals and multistressed families. Some of the issues I’ve helped these families address include financial difficulties, family conflicts, abuse or violence, emotional issues with self-harm or suicide risks, as well as parent-child management and interpersonal issues. “A typical day includes meeting clients to conduct casework and counselling, adhering to documentation requirements, doing risk assessments and safety planning, and partnering stakeholders in the community,” elaborated Jamie. She is grateful for the supportive environment of training and supervision in MWS that allows her to thrive in her job. “At MWS, it is very important that we be equipped to meet competency standards. So we get sent for training in areas that are seeing growing concerns, such as how to better address family violence. I also attended induction training for six months, which helped me to understand my role in the FSC, learn how to use

various tools to aid in our assessments, and focus on the importance of self-care. These have helped me to be more competent and be able to manage the complexities of cases we handle.“ explained Jamie.

A Fulfilling Experience Jamie finds the work fulfilling in many ways, especially in being able to bring about positive outcomes in her clients and grow as a result. “After a session, a client spoke about seeing a shift in her life through the course of our working relationship. When I pointed out how important she was as an individual, she cried and thanked me as nobody had ever affirmed her existence before. I was encouraged by the impact I had made in her life and it reminded me of why I chose social work—to build and utilise our therapeutic relationships as a vehicle of change. These experiences have become my practice wisdom and have helped me grow as an individual,” she recounted. More importantly, Jamie’s experiences have opened her eyes to the critical role social service plays in society. “Our role is to help needy individuals and families cope with various challenges in their lives and link them to appropriate community resources. I’m thankful that my work contributes to building stable and resilient families in Singapore,” she concluded. METHODIST MESSAGE FEBRUARY 2021

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Missions ¢ By Team Puhada / Photos courtesy of the Methodist Missions Society (MMS)

Ccommunities rafting P

uhada began by the grace of God—it has never been about our human abilities.

Conceptualised in 2008 as a means for Thai women to earn a much-needed income for their families in Chiang Mai, Puhada supports mainly single mothers who face difficulties in making ends meet. These women struggle to find work that pays a decent wage and at the same time allows them to take care of their children and household needs. In fact, many of them earn well below the minimum wage set by the Thai government—a paltry 320 baht (roughly SGD14) per day. Beyond encouraging and praying for these women in need, the primary aim of Puhada was to help them out practically by finding jobs for them. Initially, several jobs were found and recommended to these ladies, but not many were suitable because of the women’s family circumstances. Another possibility would have been to buy food for them or give them some money, but that was unsustainable in the long run. Yet, the burden that God had placed in our hearts was too great to ignore.

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Hence, we thought that if they could be provided with a job, they would be able to earn their own income and take care of their families in a more sustainable manner. In return, they would also be able to bless others. Having learned to sew at a young age, many of these women were already skilled in the art of embroidery and stitching. They were delighted to be able to put their talents to good use at Puhada. By the grace of God, He has continued to pave the way for Puhada on both the production front and the customers’ end, enabling us to offer high-quality products based on our customers’ needs. We thank God for all our customers, and brothers and sisters in Christ, for supporting Puhada since the very beginning. It humbles us to know how God multiplies the little that we have for His people and His ministries, and all we have to do is to continue to be faithful with the little that we have. May God continue to encourage us to spur one another on to love and good deeds. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Prov 17:17)


My name is Mae Pon, and I am a single mother of two sons. I also have an elderly mother at home whom I have to take care of. As I have to be home all the time, it is difficult for me to find a suitable job, hence leading to some financial difficulties. I have worked with Puhada since 2015. I thank God for the consistent work from Puhada, which has helped my family in the past several years. I also give thanks that the stresses of life are gradually being lifted from me. My elder son has graduated and is now serving God in church. My second son’s health has not been well in the past year, but he is stronger now, and is entering university next year.

My name is Puu. I am a part-time sewer with Puhada as well as a housekeeper for families. I thank God for being able to earn extra income from Puhada, especially in the early days when I separated from my husband, who was abusive and adulterous. My son has also been accepted into the foundation’s hostel and is able to study in a better environment now. My worries have lessened and I am beginning to be able to deal with my problems better, holding on to the hope I have in Christ.

ABOUT PUHADA : Puhada was started as a way for Thai women in Chiang Mai to earn a muchneeded income for their families. Many of them are single mothers who face difficulties in making ends meet. Visit puhada.com to view the products made by our ladies!

PRAY: •

Thank God for sustaining us through difficult times.

Pray for perseverance and faithfulness in the work we have been given to do.

Pray that our ladies and community will see and experience the genuine love and touch from God daily through working with us.

Pray that each of us in the team will be able to discern God’s direction, and walk in it together.

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You & Your Family ¢ Benny Bong has been a family and marital therapist for more than 30 years, and is a certified work-life consultant. He was the first recipient of the AWARE Hero Award, received in 2011, and is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.

Before the bridge is burnt

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o “burn one’s bridges” is a commonly-used phrase for a situation of no turning back from one’s commitment. For instance, when a general orders his troops to burn or demolish a bridge that they had just crossed, he is saying that there is no retreat—they have no choice but to fight the enemy or die. The phrase came to mind as I reflected on two men who came to me over the last month. Already separated from their families, both had been told by their respective spouses to prepare for divorce and that mediation was not an option. As I listened separately to these men, I realised that their wives had laboured over their decision for years and they had tried for some time to get their husband’s attention and response. After failing repeatedly, they had all but given up. When we tried to schedule sessions with the wives, one attended just to reiterate her intention to divorce while the other refused to come. Have these bridges truly been burnt? Or have the disappointed spouses hardened their hearts so as not to hope and be hurt again? What these men did or could have done earlier to avoid

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arriving at this point, apparently of no return, is what I want to examine. As you might have guessed, they were not too attentive to their wives and family. To be fair, both men were not indulging in their own recreational pursuits. They were mainly busy with work commitments. So absorbed were they with their work and maybe, in their mission to provide for the family, that other priorities were over-shadowed. Besides year-end holidays, there was no time to give to the family. Their families reported that even when time was spent with them, their fathers seemed distant and emotionally unavailable. In both cases, I focused less on what went wrong (there is a time and place for this) and more on what should now be attempted. My advice was to “leave no stone unturned” to make it clear that they got the message from their wives and children. To communicate this, they would have to use various channels such as other family members, close friends, pastors, etc, making sure these emissaries are acceptable to the other and supportive of both parties. The time for “saving face” and shame was over.

Look at Jacob when he was about to meet Esau, his brother whom he had offended (Gen 32:20). Unsure if his brother was going to kill him in revenge, Jacob sent gifts ahead, not so much to “bribe” his way out but to show his contrition. I advised the men that, while doing all this, they had to persist and pray. Their wives and children may have heard many unfulfilled promises before and thus be sceptical as to whether anything would change. I have a word for those in the spouses’ position. I hope and pray that they will not harden their hearts. It is possible that in the depths of their disappointment, bitterness has choked off any remaining goodwill or feelings for their offending spouses. Finally, should the couple consider giving reconciliation a chance, I recommend working with a third party for support, guidance and accountability. Both sides need to know that real change can and indeed must follow to get through the crisis.


Hymns & Songs ¢ Judith Laoyan-Mosomos is the Director for Worship and Church Music at the Methodist School of Music, and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.

Help Us Accept Each Other HELP US ACCEPT EACH OTHER

(UMH 560)

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ach of us is unique. Our differences are marked by our race, culture, language, denomination and religion. These are manifested through our individual disposition, mindset and opinions on various contexts and issues surrounding our everyday lives. How do we navigate our lives with so many people different from us? Be it at home, work, church, or anywhere, diversity is just before us. At least once a week, we gather as a Christian community to express our faith and celebrate God’s goodness. Is worship a time or place when we can reconcile our differences? Diversity is an issue of worship. When we want to encounter God, that also means we want to encounter the people who are so different from us, all of whom God has made in His image—not just those we meet on Sunday, but also the rest of the week. We need songs to inform us about Jesus’ character and goodness; to form, shape and help us navigate through the week’s journey. The hymn “Help us Accept Each Other” is an example of a powerful hymn that teaches us to have grace and generosity with people who are different from us, or people whose opinions we might not agree with. Dr Michael Hawn, a renowned American church musician, theologian and lecturer, describes the hymn as one of the most powerful hymns on reconciliation and forgiveness composed in the last half of the 20th century.1

The hymn points us to Ephesians 4:25–5:2; summarised by N. T. Wright in his lecture on the Epistle to the Ephesians: “so you should be imitators of God, conduct yourselves in love just as the Messiah loves us, and gave himself for us, as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God.” 2

Help us accept each other as Christ accepted us; teach us as sister, brother, each person to embrace. Be present , Lord, among us and bring us to believe: we are ourselves accepted and meant to love and live. Teach us, O Lord, your lessons, as in our daily life we struggle to be human and search for hope and faith. Teach us to care for people, for all—not just for some, to love them as we find them or as they may become. Let your acceptance change us so that we may be moved in living situations to do the truth in love; to practice your acceptance until we know by heart the table of forgiveness and laughter ’s healing art . Lord, for today ’s encounters with all who are in need, who hunger for acceptance, for justice and for bread, we need new eyes for seeing , new hands for holding on: renew us with your Spirit; Lord, free us, make us one! Text: Fred Kaan, 1974 (Jn 15:12)

Here are two contemporary settings of the hymn that might be simpler to sing than the one in the hymnal. https://youtu.be/49zFSbxS37Y https://youtu.be/ANPim80beOA If you prefer the hymn setting but sung in a contemporary style, here is one from Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church. https://youtu.be/vp3WklXSAJ4 C. Michael Hawn, “History of Hymns: Help Us Accept Each Other,” Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church, June 2013, https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/ history-of-hymns-help-us-accept-each-other.

1

2 N. T. Wright, “Paul and His Letter to the Ephesians,” https://www.udemy.com/course/ paul-and-his-letter-to-the-ephesians/learn/lecture/9054450#overview

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Soundings ¢ Dr Roland Chia is Chew Hock Hin Professor of Christian Doctrine at Trinity Theological College and Theological and Research Advisor at the Ethos Institute for Public Christianity (http://ethosinstitute.sg)

Convicted civility

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refrain often heard in our world plagued with unceasing conflict is “let’s agree to disagree”. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to agree to disagree is to decide “not to argue anymore about the difference in opinion”. It is a declaration of a truce of sorts—a resolution by the parties concerned to leave the unsettled dispute aside for the sake of peace. To agree to disagree is therefore a strategy for conflict resolution, which requires the parties to tolerate their opposing positions. It is an acknowledgement that dissent does not have to lead to hostility. It is a pledge to be civil in spite of fundamental disagreements. And civility is seen by many today as the key to an un-murderous co-existence of the disputing parties. But what do we mean by civility? Civility is much more than superficial niceness and politeness. As James Calvin Davis explains, it is “the exercise of patience, integrity, humility and mutual respect in civil conversation, even (and especially) with those whom we disagree”. To this already impressive list of qualities we may add gentleness and kindness. The discerning reader will immediately notice that the virtues that make up civility are the very same ones that the Christian faith upholds. They are the traits that every disciple of Jesus Christ should aspire to possess. There are a number of New Testament passages that encourage Christians to conduct themselves with civility.

For example, Paul exhorts the Christians in Rome to “Live in harmony with one another. […] If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all” (Rom 12:16, 18). In a similar vein, the apostle instructs his protégé, Titus, “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy towards all men” (Titus 3:2). Although civility is a widely accepted and prized virtue, it nonetheless has its detractors. These sceptics believe—and for good reason—that in contemporary society, civility can all too easily fall prey to the tyranny of the culture of political correctness. In the face of pervasive falsehoods and gross injustice, to agree to disagree—they point out—is no different from turning a blind eye. It is tantamount to complicity. And when this happens, civility is very quickly transformed from virtue to vice. Civility becomes the means by which lies are tolerated and injustices condoned. It is therefore extremely important to clarify the relationship between truth and civility. Christian civility should never be practised at the expense of truth. Neither should civility be used as an excuse to water down the truth, to remove its sting and make it less offensive. In the 16th century, the great humanist Desiderius Erasmus accused Martin Luther of violating the standard of civilitas by his politically incorrect language (Luther had labelled the pope a heretic). This is how Luther replied:

“If you understand the gospel rightly, don’t think that the matter can be done without revolt, offence and unrest. You can’t turn the sword into a feather. […] The Word of God is a sword.” Luther has a point. If we read carefully the New Testament passages that deal with civility, we will notice important nuances balancing civility and truth. Writing to the Christians dispersed throughout Asia Minor, Peter exhorts his readers to “honour all men” (1 Pet 2:17). But, as Richard Mouw has perceptively pointed out: “‘Honouring’ here means having a regard for someone’s wellbeing. Not that we are simply to give people what they ask for or tell them only what they want to hear. The apostle is not prescribing convictionless civility.” In his letter to Timothy, Paul urges his protégé to teach the Word of God with unfailing patience. Yet, in the same breath the apostle warns the young pastor about church members who have “itching ears”, “who will not endure sound doctrine”, but are constantly searching for “teachers to suit their own likings”. Paul admonishes Timothy never to pander to his congregation’s whims and fancies by compromising the gospel. He instructs Timothy to continue preaching the unadulterated truth of God’s Word, and, if necessary, even to rebuke them (2 Tim 4:1–4). Christian civility can never be practised apart from the truth. It must never accede to the dictates of political correctness. This is because genuine Christian civility is always a convicted civility.

1 James Calvin Davis, In Defense of Civility: How Religion Can Unite American on Seven Moral Issues that Divide Us (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 159. / 2 Quoted in Teresa M. Bejan, Mere Civility: Disagreements and the Limits of Toleration (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2019), 23. / 3 Richard Mouw, Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP, 1992), 44.

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METHODIST MESSAGE FEBRUARY 2021


TRAC Bible Matters ¢ Bishop Dr Gordon Wong was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2020. He served as President of the Trinity Annual Conference from 2013–2020. This response to the question below is in his personal capacity.

Why do Bible translations differ? Unless otherwise noted, the italics and bold font in the verses below have been added to highlight differences. Abbreviations used for the various English translations are listed at the end of this article.

W

hy do Bible translations differ, and which Bible translation should I use? This article outlines several reasons contributing to differences between Bible translations.

expression considered appropriate and comprehensible to their readers (in the 20th and 17th centuries respectively). The NIV omits any interjection that might highlight the surprise element.

1. Substance and style

Similar considerations underlie the different translations of Judges 14:18.

Translators must decide how to convey the substance and style of each sentence. Compare these three translations of Judges 13:5. NIV (1984): because you will become pregnant and have a son. ISV (1995): because—surprise!—you’re going to conceive and give birth to a son! KJV (1611): For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. The substance of the sentence is not in dispute. However, each translator’s decision on what style best conveys the substance results in observable differences. In the statement that promises the birth of a son, the ISV (“surprise!”) and KJV (“lo”) convey an element of surprise, each choosing an

NIV: If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle.

GNB: If you hadn’t been ploughing with my cow, You wouldn’t know the answer now.

The NIV rendering has provided what has been called a “formal equivalence” of the meaning of the words. The Hebrew word for “riddle” used in the second line rhymes with the Hebrew for “my heifer/cow”. GNB abandons any formal equivalent to the Hebrew words for “my riddle” and introduces instead the very different “answer now” to create a rhyme with “my cow”. (This has been called “dynamic or functional equivalence” as opposed to a word-by-word “formal equivalence”.) METHODIST MESSAGE FEBRUARY 2021

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TRAC Bible Matters: Why do Bible translations differ?

Should conveying the stylistic rhyming function take precedence over providing the formal substantive meaning of the words in the original? Bible translations differ because translators answered this question differently in different verses.

2. Modern sense and sensitivities a) Modern sense: Ancient terminology Translations differ on whether to express the Bible’s ancient terminology (formal equivalence) or substitute a (functional or dynamic) equivalent for the modern reader. Matthew 14:25 NIV 1984: About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake.

NIV 2011: Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake.

First century Roman terminology divided time from sunset to sunrise (approximately what is our 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.) into four “watches” (6 to 9 p.m.; 9 p.m. to midnight; midnight to 3 a.m.; 3 to 6 a.m.). The 1984 NIV retains the ancient Roman terminology (“fourth watch of the night”) but the 2011 edition uses a modern phrase (“shortly before dawn”), as does the CJB (“around 4 o’ clock in the morning”).

b) Modern sensitivities: Gender-neutral language In many 21st century societies, the use of gender-neutral language is considered a mark of sensitivity and respect for women. This is reflected in the fairly consistent adoption of gender-neutral pronouns in NIV’s 2011 edition. Isaiah 33:15-16 NIV 1984: He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hand from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil—this is the man who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. His bread will be supplied, and water will not fail him.

NIV 2011: Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder and shut their eyes against contemplating evil—they are the ones who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. Their bread will be supplied, and water will not fail them.

Registration at our Columbarium Office (Level 5) Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm (Closed on Public Holidays). Tel: 6479 8122 HP: 9670 9935 or Fax: 6479 6960 Email: veronicalowjmc@yahoo.com.sg


3. Idioms and puns The way a translation resolves the tension between a formal (dictionary) or functional (dynamic) equivalent is obvious in the treatment of ancient idioms and word play (puns). In modern English, we sometimes use “heart” as a metaphor or idiom for our feelings. “You have moved my heart.” Ancient Hebrew and Greek would more often use terms relating to one’s intestines (bowels) to convey feelings and compassion.

The uncertainty in Psalm 35:13d is not the formal (or dictionary) English equivalents to the Hebrew words. Those can be rendered simply, as with the KJV, “my prayer returned into mine own bosom”. But what does it mean to say that one’s prayer has returned to one’s own bosom? We do not know. The translator, therefore, must either do as KJV has done (i.e. make no attempt to clarify) or provide modern readers with a reasonable guess, as in the following translations. • NIV: my prayers returned to me unanswered

The 1611 KJV offers the formal or dictionary equivalent term “bowels” for the ancient Hebrew and Greek metaphor “intestines” in several verses. Here are some (for us, quite amusing) examples: •

KJV Philemon 1:20 Refresh my bowels in the Lord.

The young lady in Song of Songs 5:4 longs for her lover, and says—in the KJV (and Hebrew)—“my bowels were moved for him”.

KJV Philemon 1:12, Paul says: “Thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels.”

Instead of the formal dictionary equivalent word “bowels”, most other translations choose a functionally dynamic equivalent such as “heart” for the verses cited above. The same Greek word for “bowels” is used in Matthew 9:36, and we may be thankful that on this occasion, KJV decided against the rendering: When Jesus saw the multitudes, his bowels were moved! (Instead, KJV tells us that Jesus “was moved with compassion”.)

Amos 8:2 offers another example. Amos 8:2 NAS: He said, “What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the LORD said to me, “The end has come for My people Israel. I will spare them no longer.”

NIV: “What do you see, Amos?” he asked. “A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered. Then the LORD said to me, “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.”

NAS has used the formal dictionary equivalents to the Hebrew words for “summer fruit” and the “end”. What is lost in this translation, however, is the pun or rhyme that exists in these two Hebrew words (qaytz and qetz). NIV provides a dynamic or functional equivalent to the Hebrew pun by substituting the English words “ripe fruit” and “the time is ripe”.

4. Unknown idioms and words Other translation differences occur because it is not known how ancient readers understood certain ancient phrases or idioms.

• ESV: I prayed with head bowed on my chest • HCSB: and my prayer was genuine • TNK: may what I prayed for happen to me!

5. Punctuation The most ancient manuscripts of the Hebrew and Greek Bible did not include punctuation marks. Translators sometimes differ in their judgement as to where to include, for example, an English comma or question mark. In Acts 26:28, was King Agrippa telling Paul that he was almost persuaded to become a Christian (KJV, NAS, NJB) or was he asking a rhetorical question to the effect that he was nowhere close to being persuaded (NIV, ESV, NRSV)? Acts 26:28 NAS: Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.”

NIV: Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

Similar differences occur in the Hebrew Bible over the question of question marks. Hosea 13:14 NIV: I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.

NAS: Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death?

Differences over where to place a full stop or comma also account for translation differences. In Romans 9:5, does Paul equate the Christ as the God who is over all things? Romans 9:5 ESV: To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

RSV: to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen. METHODIST MESSAGE FEBRUARY 2021

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TRAC Bible Matters: Why do Bible translations differ?

6. Textual Variants The materials on which the original texts of the Bible were recorded have perished. By God’s providence, several ancient copies have been preserved up to our day. When comparing these ancient hand-written copies with one another, it is hardly surprising that there are—what we could call—typographical differences. The term that scholars use is “textual variants”. These variants (or variations) mean that a translator must decide which variant to translate! Textual variants are, therefore, another reason that Bible translations differ.

contrast, KJV translators opted for different variants found in other ancient texts referred to as Kethib and Vulgate. In this particular verse, the vast majority of English Bible translations have opted for the same textual variant as the NKJV, i.e. the joy has been increased!

For example, was joy increased (NKJV) or not increased (KJV) in Isaiah 9:3?

Jesus’ parable in Matthew 21:28–31 of two sons who respond, and act, differently to their father’s request, provides a very interesting variant. 1 Whilst the main point of the parable is unaffected (viz. active obedience is more important than the confession of one’s lips), there are variants in whether it is the first or second son who finally obeys. Compare the different translations offered by the 1977 and 1995 translators of the NAS.

Isaiah 9:3

Matthew 21:28-31

KJV: Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy.

NKJV: You have multiplied the nation And increased its joy*;

NKJV translators have included a footnote for modern readers:*Following Qere and Targum; Kethib and Vulgate read [not increased joy].” This footnote informs us that there are textual variants for this verse, and NKJV translators have opted to translate the variant as found in the ancient texts referred to as the Qere and Targum. In

NAS 1977: A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, “Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ “And he answered and said, ‘I will, sir’; and he did not go. “And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, ‘I will not’; yet he afterward regretted it and went.

NAS 1995: A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ “And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. “The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go.


Which Bible translation should I use? Every translation provides a valuable service to readers unable to read the ancient Hebrew and Greek Bible. One main reason why translations differ has to do with whether they aim to provide readers with more formal, literal translations or more functional, less literal equivalents. (Sections 1, 2 and 3 above have offered some examples of these differences.) The differences caused by textual variants (section 6 above) may also guide your choice of translation. Some translations include more footnotes to alert the reader to these textual variants; other translations aim at readers not likely to have much interest in knowing this extra information. So, which translation is best depends on the need one hopes to meet. Translators usually indicate their translation principles in the Preface and Introductory Notes. As a (very) rough guide, I would characterise the following translations in order of being more formal (literal) to more functional (less literal): KJV, NAS, ESV, NIV, GNB, MSG. A (also very) rough guide for footnotes (from less to more) would be MSG, KJV, GNB, NIV, ESV, NAS, ISV, NLT. More important than the question of which translation to read is the habit of actually reading any available translation of the Bible.

Abbreviations used for different Bible translations CJB

Complete Jewish Bible

ESV

English Standard Version

GNB

Good News Bible

HCSB

Holman Christian Study Bible

ISV

International Standard Version

KJV

King James Version

MSG

The Message

NAS

New American Standard Bible

NIV

New International Version

NJB

New Jerusalem Bible

NKJV

New King James Version

NLT

New Living Translation

NRSV

New Revised Standard Version

RSV

Revised Standard Version

TNK

Tanakh (New Jewish Publication Society Translation)

1 It may suggest that some copies of the Bible included a stage of reproduction through an oral tradition rather than a completely hand-written process. But that is another debate!

The views expressed in this article are personal and may not reflect the official position of The Methodist Church in Singapore. This version of the article has been edited for brevity. A full version of the article can be found at http://www.trac-mcs.org.sg/

index.php/resources/bible-matters?layout=edit&id=270

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News ¢ Melvin Dineshraj Balakrishnan is the General Conference Treasurer of The Methodist Church in Singapore. He worships at Barker Road Methodist Church.

What does being a Methodist mean to you?

B

eing a Methodist means that I am part of a large and exciting movement that believes that Christ died for all of humanity, and not just for a select group. This simple truth

brings meaning to what John Wesley’s famously said: to “do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can”, as there is hope for all. A Methodist is then called to be a conduit of love for those around us. That is why we place strong emphases on social concerns,

rishna eshraj B alak Melvin Din

n

charitable works, helping the less fortunate and staying inclusive. Being a Methodist also reminds me of the great musical legacy that we have inherited. It is said that Methodism was born in song. Charles Wesley’s wrote more than 6,000 hymns, including “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing”, and “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”. There are others like the 8,000 others by Fanny Crosby such as “To God Be the Glory” and “Blessed Assurance”. It is because of this rich musical history that our services can be a fine balance of eloquent traditional hymns as we honour the past and contemporary songs as we embrace the new.


FEBRUARY

Looking Ahead ¢

Scan to see events online!

X-CULTURE_DIGI 20 Feb 2021 (Saturday), 9.30 to 11.30 a.m. Live online workshop via ZOOM Register at tinyurl.com/x-Culture-Digi. Registration is free. x.Culture.Digi@gmail.com

Come, hear, interact and explore how you can realistically start and enhance your missions ministries over the Zoom platform as “cross-cultural ministries” from the Singapore Methodist community share their journeys in various nations in the past few months involving and engaging children, youths, millennials, professionals, church leaders and seniors! Who should come? • Pastors and church staff • Missions and ministry leaders • Marketplace ministers • Professionals • Young adults and youth

MARCH

Organised by Methodist Missions Society in partnership with CAC Board of Missions, ETAC Board of Missions and TRAC Board of Missions

FRESH EYES ON ONLINE TOOLS FOR CHILDREN’S MINISTRY 6 Mar 2021 (Saturday), 10 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. Live online workshop via ZOOM Register at bible.org.sg/fresheyesonline. Registration closes 26 Feb 2021. $10 per participant 6304-5286 (Joyder Ng)

Following the successful NextGen online conversation held last October, we now present Fresh Eyes on Online Tools for Children’s Ministry—a workshop on the use of online platforms such as Flippity and Wordwall to create interactive learning games. This is a fresh and fun way to engage children by grabbing their attention and holding it for the duration of class! Participants will also get the chance to create simple games on the online platforms during the session. ZOOM details will be released closer to event.

MARCH

Organised by The Bible Society of Singapore and Evangelical Alliance of Singapore

ETHOS CONVERSATION 2021: RELIGION AND POLITICS IN SINGAPORE 20 Mar 2021 (Saturday) 9.45 a.m. to 4.15 p.m. Bible House (7 Armenian St, Singapore 179932) if situation permits or via ZOOM as an alternative Register at ethosinstitute.sg/conversation2021 Attendance is free. Registration is required. Love offering will be collected. 6304-3765

In 2018, the government made some amendments to the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act (MRHA), a Singapore statute which was enacted by the Parliament on 9 November 1990. What are these amendments and how will they impact the ministry and mission of the churches in Singapore? What is the relationship between religion and politics in Singapore as set out by the MRHA? Does the separation of religion and politics imply that the Church has no role in public debates and that religious leaders have no right to comment on societal issues?

JULY

Organised by ETHOS Institute for Public Christianity

D6 FAMILY CONFERENCE 2021 30 to 31 July 2021 (Friday and Saturday) Faith Methodist Church, 400 Commonwealth Drive, S(149604) d6family.sg (Registration opens Jan 2021) fb.com/d6familysg family.min@bible.org.sg 6304-5286

D6 is based on the principles of Deuteronomy 6 and it urges the church and home to work together to implement generational discipleship within the churches, homes and families. The objective of D6 Conference is for the attendees to understand how they can best apply the principles of Deuteronomy 6 in their lives in order to pass on a spiritual legacy for future generations. The D6 Conference 2021 is a place where parents, pastors, church and ministry leaders can look to be equipped with practical next steps and strategies in discipling the next generation. Organised by Sower Institute for Biblical Discipleship.


THINK ¢ Kwok Wan Yee is currently serving as Local Preacher in Charis Methodist Church and also in Discipleship & Nurture (D&N). She is also serving as a member of the CAC Executive Board, and as a CAC delegate to the General Conference Executive Council and General Conference. / Photo courtesy of Kwok Wan Yee

Kwok Wan Yee (middle) with incoming Conference Lay Leaders

Reflections of a conference lay leader

F

rom 2014–16, I was Vice President of the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) of The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS), and subsequently was elected as the 2017–20 CAC Conference Lay Leader. I have just stepped down as Conference Lay Leader for the next Quadrennium. During my tenure as Conference Lay Leader from 2017–20, my focus was on raising the capabilities of the lay leaders in our local churches, and building closer relationships amongst the lay leaders of our 17 CAC churches, to support one another and to build a stronger and better CAC. By encouraging communication and open discussions, lay leaders can pray more meaningfully for each other’s churches and rally support through manpower or donations. For example, we rallied behind the Fundraising Dinner for Punggol Preaching Point in 2018, and also encouraged stronger participation in CAC programmes such as the annual CAC May Day Seminar by the Board of Laity and the annual Day of Prayer for Families by the Board of Family Life. To effectively represent the laity, the Conference Lay Leader also sits on the Conference Executive Board (EB), the Boards of Appointments, Nominations, Finance, Human Resource and the

General Conference (GC) Executive Board. I was also elected to the GC Executive Council and the General Conference, as well as acting as CAC’s Lay Representative to the Inter-Annual Conference Structural Review Task Force led by Bishop Dr Chong Chin Chung. Through these various discussions, we represent CAC’s participation in the various inter-AC dialogue and display the spirit of One MCS. We also opened our lay leadership training programmes to the other Annual Conferences and it was especially enriching to learn together with the Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) and Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) leaders, for example in the Local Church Executive Committee (LCEC) Induction Programme, which was described as “kilat” (excellent) by Kim Seah, the TRAC Conference Lay Leader. We now have training for Nominations Committee, Pastor-Parish Relations and Staff Committee (PPRSC) and Lay Leaders. With the support from the Executive Board, I also urged the setting up of the Same-Sex Attraction (SSA) Task Force to educate, equip and engage pastors and lay persons. We organised systematic training for pastors and laity. It will need an inter-disciplinary approach.

The Conference Lay Leader needs to have their finger on the pulse of the members so as to lead more empathetically. For example, the Conference Lay Leader could join in the Lay Ministry Staff Retreat and also find opportunities to get to know all the pastors better, and to love them as you love your own pastors. An important role for the Conference Lay Leader is in the Board of Appointments, where we are able to focus on matching the needs of the local churches with the talents of the pool of pastors. As leaders, we often face situations that are grave and complex where our secular experiences will be an inadequate reference. At such times, only Christ, the Way, can bring us peace. Seek the Lord always and stay close to Him. May God bless you in all you do in His name!

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Cor 15:58 NIV)