methodist message Vol 116 No 6 • Jun 2014
The Methodist Church in Singapore
ISSN 0129-6868 MCI (P) 199/01/2014
Truthmin A new CD of “Offerings”
Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home A refuge, a safe haven, a future
Catholic Welfare Services Humble beginnings
Eye-openers on marriage Andrea Low is a volunteer contributor who is passionate about storytelling and travelling. A PR communications professional by day, she worships at Christalite Methodist Chapel.
t some point in our lives, we begin to have questions about marriage: What does it mean to me? When is the right time? How do I prepare for it? How do I know I’m ready? I jumped at the chance to learn more when the Methodist Message invited me to cover the “Marriage for a Lifetime” full-day conference organised by Barker Road Methodist Church (BRMC) this year. There, my boyfriend Darragh and I gained valuable nuggets of information and tips. We were accompanied by over 120 couples mainly from BRMC. The couples attending were of all ages; some were newlyweds, while others had been married for more than 50 years. The couple with the shortest courtship period of a month had gone on to remain married for 38 years! It was really eye-opening to see that there was no cookiecutter relationship, and that every relationship is unique.
Here are my seven key takeaways from “Marriage for a Lifetime”: arriage takes priority over all M other relationships, with the exception of that with Christ. The Rev Dr Gordon Wong, President of Trinity Annual Conference, drew Scripture references from Genesis 2, Ephesians 5 and Proverbs, to highlight the permanency of marriage and how it is one that takes priority over all other relationships – “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) iving two levels down from what L you earn is a good way to start when newlywed. Mrs Tan Loo Yeh, an active leader in marketplace ministry, shared insights on how to handle financial matters between a couple. My personal takeaway was the
Francis and Dorothy Chong re-enacting for conference participants their daily struggles before their marriage fell apart – setting the stage for God’s restorative work in their lives.
importance of not living beyond one’s means, and especially at the start of a marriage, it’s a good tip to spend two notches below what one can afford. en are like waffles, women are like spaghetti. M Focus on the Family representatives Gary and Joanna Koh spoke on the intricacies of positive communication, showing how men and women communicate differently. Men think like waffles: everything is compartmentalised and they are likely only able to focus on one topic at a time. Women think like spaghetti: each thought is interwoven with another thought, and they find it easier to switch topics quickly. Thus, there is a certain level of disconnect when men and women have a conversation. I ntimacy in a marriage lowers the risk of heart disease. Dr Fred Toke, Clinical Director of Celebrating Life Resources Centre, delivered an insightful and humorous session on the sensitive topic of intimacy. He noted that sexual intimacy in marriage included health benefits such as lowered risk of heart disease, weight loss, youthfulness and general alertness. Continued on page 20 ...
The Whole Church in the Whole World July 9 – 11, 2014
Trinity@Paya Lebar, 247 Paya Lebar Road Register by June 23, 2014
$100 per adult; $50 per student
egister as a group and get one complimentary ticket for every five R paying persons
Get Set–Reset–Go! From megacities to slums, marketplaces to the immense online world, mission fields are all around us. Our spheres of influence include our loved ones and greater community, as much as unreached people groups. Every member of the church – young and old, pastors and laymen, professionals and homemakers – can be mobilised to reach out to those in our spheres of influence for Christ. Collectively, with our many spheres of influence, we can do more as the Church. GoForth 2014 is calling Christians of all ages, ethnicities and walks of life to gather for three days of thought-provoking messages and discussions on topics such as: How can I e-vangelise in an online world? Are we prepared to be the church in the world? Will we Go Forth to be neighbours in our global village? The GoForth National Missions Conference is an interdenominational gathering held every three years. Conference attendees are equipped to be effective modern-day missionaries
through inspiring keynote messages, thought-provoking workshops and exciting evening rallies by leaders in missiology. Speakers include: Dr Samuel Lee, author of Blessed Migrants: A Biblical Perspective on Migration; Bishop Emeritus Dr Hwa Yung of The Methodist Church in Malaysia; and the Rev Dr Patrick Fung, General Director of OMF International. We need Christians to be present in every possible mission field in the world today to touch lives with God’s love. When the Whole Church of believers gets set, resets and goes forth – whether on an individual or collective level – we can reach the Whole World on a global level as modern-day missionaries. n
Sign up now at www.goforth.org.sg Organised by Singapore churches and mission agencies and coordinated by the Singapore Centre for Global Missions. For further enquiries, please contact the GoForth 2014 Secretariat at 6339-8950 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The official monthly publication of The Methodist Church in Singapore. Published material does not necessarily reflect the official view of The Methodist Church. All Scripture quoted is based on the New International Version, unless otherwise stated. Our address
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Let us have your views
Editorial Board Adviser and Publisher Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup, Chairman, Council on Communications Editor Ms Christina Stanley Assistant Editor Ms Grace Toh Sub-editor Ms Tan-Ngooi Chiu Ai Editorial Executive Ms Chia Hui Jun
Have something to say or share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and if appropriate, your contribution could be published.
A different approach Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2012. He has been a Methodist pastor for 29 years.
There is a fear, I think, that if we were to find a way that is neither left nor right, it would be seen as compromise – a word which has negative connotation to many.
t has been said that the church in this part of the world should be wary of the influence and infiltration of Western liberal theologies. I believe we should also include in that advisory the conservative dogmas as well. These divisions originate from the North American church scene. There, the church mirrors the bipolar political system. It is an either-or, for-or-against, win-or-lose, if-youare-not-for-me-you-are-against-me paradigm. For example, if you are not a Democrat, then you must be a Republican. If you are not a liberal, you are an evangelical (or conservative). In Europe on the other hand, politics is more coalitionist. Various political parties who were fierce rivals at the polls would be forced to come together to negotiate, and form the government. There are non-negotiables on which the parties would never compromise or surrender, but they would be willing to negotiate on other parts of the manifesto. In Chinese philosophy, we hear of the “Middle Way”. In some parts of South-East Asia, the traditional way we get along is by gotong-royong (communal spirit of cooperation). For us in Singapore, we must learn to wean ourselves from, and
therefore not be sucked into, the North American church polemics. This concern may be observed in a couple of areas. Polarisation is evident in developments on the LGBT issue. What is occurring here mirrors the North American scene. There are signs that the advocates of LGBT lifestyle here apply subterfuge to advance their cause, just a step before their more blatant Western counterparts. As most of our churches agree that the LGBT lifestyle is incompatible with Scripture, and are alarmed at the actions of the “pro” LGBT lobby, we have taken an “anti” stance. Such a posture results in some unintended consequences. Treating the LGBT lobby as enemies becomes a tool that can be manipulated to garner sympathisers for them. We also marginalise the very people we want to reach. It leaves little room for those struggling with gender issues to be more open to seek help. Can there not be another way by which to live out what we believe? Another area is that of inter-faith and inter-ethnic relations. If we allow the right-wing conservative North American mind-set to capture our thinking, it would lead us to perceive our neighbour who sports a beard and wears a different religious garb
as a possible terrorist. We would then shy away from openly relating with and having dialogues with them. We would stay away from them and hope they also stay away from us. We would then have built enclaves – “theirs” and “ours”. Let us be clear about one thing – truth is non-negotiable. But surely we can find ways through our differences where we treat each other with honour as human beings created in God’s image. There is a fear, I think, that if we were to find a way that is neither left nor right, it would be seen as compromise – a word which has negative connotation to many. To move out of this bipolar world, we must acquire more Christ-like imagination and wisdom. Forced to choose between allegiance to Caesar or Jewish nationalistic sentiments, Jesus came out with a unique answer: render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s (Mark 12:13-17). Loving your neighbour is nonnegotiable, even when he is your enemy. So Jesus tells us to bless, not curse him. As for the enemy who does not play fair, Paul counsels: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:20 ESV) Finding solutions this way is much more difficult than adopting a bipolar approach. It requires us to re-examine our long-held beliefs and convictions to see if we might have been wrong. It calls us to apply new strategies which have not been tested before. If need be, we must face our “enemies”. But when we do, we come out stronger. n
METHODIST MESSAGE • JUN 2014
Offerings to our worthy God Annabel Ang is a full-time youth worker with Trinity Annual Conference Youth Ministries (Truthmin), and worships at Pentecost Methodist Church.
Great is the Lord Mighty in power So rich is His mercy And strong is His hand “Day by Day” – Nigel Goh and Kevin Lam
ever have words rung so true. This past year, Truthmin has had the great privilege of putting together Offerings: You are Worthy, a CD project, comprising songs that have been lovingly written and sung by our very own Methodist youth. Throughout the entire project, we’ve been astounded by how good God has been! Doing something for the first time always brings its fair share of excitement, exhilaration and of course, trepidation. The experience of putting together a professionallyproduced CD of this magnitude was
no different. However, we clearly saw the hand of God guide us through the entire project – from choosing the right producer, singers etc., right down to the CD artwork. Over the years, we’ve had the great privilege of being privy to songs that have been birthed in our own Methodist youth ministries. We’ve seen first-hand how God has been moving in our churches. God gives gifts freely and He has given some of us beautiful worship songs. What better way to connect to God than with what has been authentically birthed from our own walks with God? One of the things that stood out clearly throughout the project was a sense of oneness. A coming together of like-minded people from different Methodist churches, whose sole aim was to see God be praised. The goal of this project has always been clear – to connect youth with God through worship music. We’ve seen first-hand how talented our youth are. Let’s continue to encourage them to express their faith through the gifts and talents that God has given. After all, that is what He asks of us – to bring an offering of praise unto Him. n
Support this Methodist youth project by: BUYING u the Offerings: You are Worthy CD at Trumpet Praise, SKS Books, and all good music stores. DOWNLOADING u a digital copy on iTunes or HaloMedia. LEARNING u the songs for use in your own church or small group. More details and music scores available at truthmin.com/equip/offerings
Let my life be an anthem of Your love Lifting You higher forever, Jesus Shine Your light, Let all the world see Show Your glory, Let all the earth sing As one we break through the darkness We will be Your witnesses So all may see and give God all the glory! “Shine” – Paul Ooi
Pictures courtesy of Truthmin
SAYS THE ETAC PRESIDENT
Endure or quit? The Rev R. Prabhu was elected President of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) in 2012 for the quadrennium. He is also Pastor-in-Charge of Ang Mo Kio Tamil and Seletar Tamil Methodist Churches.
Jesus endured the cross until death. Jesus was never a quitter. He is the supreme example of endurance.
while back, I was thinking about my friends who embarked on their journey of faith and ministry some 35 years ago. While I am glad to note that most are continuing on this journey, a few have wandered away and have quit serving God for various reasons, although it all seemed promising initially. The rate of attrition in full-time ministry is rising. People are giving up too easily. When faced with overwhelming challenges, quitting becomes an immediate and, in their minds, the only option.
When I questioned them on why they quit, there were a few answers that I came across. “The going is tough”; “pressures at work are mounting”; “opposition from others” (professional rivalry in Christian service?); “accumulated workload”; “disappointments and disillusionments” (I did not get what I wanted or expected); and much more. Then I asked them: “What is next?” They replied: “I am waiting on God.” I promptly asked them: “Did you consult God before giving up?” There was no response. Out of sudden anger and resentment, my friends made quick decisions to quit when they were in troubled waters. Likewise, many of God’s people have made those kinds of hasty decisions to quit. Elijah was depressed after a great victory on Mt. Carmel. He even told God: “I have had enough, Lord … Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” (1 Kings 19:4) Jonah was very angry with God when he said: “It would be better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:8) Peter said: “I’m going out to fish.” (John 21:3) They all went back to their comfort zones. Elijah ran to the wilderness, found himself under a juniper tree and slept. Peter went back to the sea. Jonah went out of Nineveh, made a shelter and sat under it. After the crucifixion of Jesus, Cleopas and the other disciple headed back to their own village Emmaus. When things went wrong, they shifted their focus from God to something else. In Paul’s words, some have “suffered shipwreck with regard
“… let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith …” Hebrews 12:1-2
to the faith” (1 Tim. 1:19), others “will abandon the faith” (1 Tim. 4:1), a few “denied the faith” (1 Tim. 5:8), and many have “wandered from the faith” (1 Tim. 6:10). Paul guarded his faith like a good steward (2 Tim. 4:7). The Hebrew-speaking Christians shifted their attention away from Jesus. The author of Hebrews exhorts them to fix their focus on Jesus alone. Jesus endured the cross until death. Jesus was never a quitter. He is the supreme example of endurance. He completed what the Master entrusted into His hands amidst all adverse circumstances. Fixing our focus on Him will enable us to carry out our responsibilities assigned by God. Those who looked to Him were radiant. In this way, God enables His children to handle even the biggest or the smallest of their cares. The author of Hebrews urges us to fix our eyes on Jesus. Fixing our eyes on Him will give us the right bearing and motivation to finish well. Friends, let us not give up. Instead, let us look forward, fixing our eyes on Jesus. n
METHODIST MESSAGE • JUN 2014
YOU & YOUR FAMILY
Caring beyond words 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 in 2011 and is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.
Our human instinct is to congregate around someone who is grieving, to show support and solidarity with their loss, and perhaps with time to get them back into the swing of things.
n oft-asked question is: “What can I say or do to help someone who is going through a time of grief?” We can all identify with the feelings behind that question, of awkwardness and being tongue-tied. Often, we search fruitlessly to find the right things to say, to bring relief or hope to our grieving loved one or a wounded friend. We tend to try to answer the unfathomable questions of “why”: Why did this have to happen? Why did God not intervene and act to spare us from this pain? Our human instinct is to congregate around someone who is grieving, to show support and solidarity with their loss, and perhaps with time to get them back into the swing of things. Admittedly, some of us may want to shy away from doing so, to avoid the unease of feeling helpless, or for fear that another’s sadness might trigger our own unfinished grief. Or perhaps we are present in spite of our own discomfort, only because we want to avoid being labelled as uncaring. But being present, what should one say or do? Job’s three friends in the Bible show us a negative example. They end up interrogating Job and trying to get him to own up to the wrong that he surely must have done to suffer such great misfortune. I suspect their inquisition was spurred by the desire present in all of us to understand the reason for bad things happening. We seem to think that if only we can understand, then perhaps we can accept the events. We hold on to the idea that things must make sense to us before they are allowed into existence. Perhaps we also have the notion that if we can understand why, we can do something in the future to prevent such things from happening again. Another negative example: Telling the grieving person to pull themselves together, be strong, not feel so sad, get on with life, not wallow in self-pity, and so on. Often, these statements are made with good intentions. However, no matter how well-intentioned and sound they may be, they produce very little good. On the contrary, they may leave the listener feeling judged, inadequate, and self-indulgent. To be fair, Job’s three friends started well. They came, gave their time and sat silently with Job. This
was not easy. Job must have been a terrible sight, being covered in ashes of mourning and boils from his many afflictions. They sat and said little, at least initially. This, we are now told, is the recommended response to show support to a person who feels that all that is meaningful in their lives is lost. The term “companioning” has been coined to describe this disciplined and measured response. Where needed and appropriate, practical help can also be offered. An elderly widow in grief remembered the silent gesture of a male visitor who brought a packet of chicken rice. She did not know who he was nor remember much of those few days, but the kindness of the act was not lost. After a time of silence, Job’s friends felt compelled to speak. We must consider this compulsion: If this urge is driven by our own needs, whether to feel that we are being useful or to break the atmosphere of anguish, they should not take precedence. We are there to comfort the grieving persons – it is their needs we should be attuned to. If what is required is silence, that is what we should give. This requires selfless discipline as we are often more sensitive to our own needs than to others’. The paradox of care is that the less we are hurried with trying to show care, the more it is experienced by others. The more time we give for the emotions of others to heal, the faster the healing process will be. n
TELL ME, PASTOR
Baptism In the first of a two-part series on the topic of baptism, we explore its meaning, and the “who, what, when” of baptism for Methodists. Part two will address infant baptism and other details.
The practice of baptism stands for several affirmations: the forgiveness and washing away of sins by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ; burial and resurrection to new life in Christ; and having the power of the Holy Spirit poured out on believers.
The Rev George R. Martzen is a United Methodist clergy and missionary under the General Board of Global Ministries. Currently assigned to the Chinese Annual Conference in Singapore, he is a pastoral staff of Paya Lebar Chinese Methodist Church.
Pastor, what exactly is baptism? Baptism is an initiation into the Church and in relationship with God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. It has several important layers of meaning – it is a sacrament and a means of grace, which is an outward sign through which we receive God’s goodness. Baptism and Holy Communion are the two sacraments recognised by the Methodist Church, as Christ himself participated in them. The practice of baptism stands for several affirmations: the forgiveness and washing away of sins by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ; burial and resurrection to new life in Christ; and having the power of the Holy Spirit poured out on believers. I’ve already accepted Christ. Do I still need to get baptised? Yes. Allow me to draw an analogy – the sacrament of baptism marks a public and ritualised entrance into the Church – much like how one would enter a building via a main doorway, versus through a window. Through this biblical and historic practice, the church affirms your salvation, and declares your commitment to Christ. After all, Jesus’ command to his disciples – and all of us today – is to make disciples everywhere and baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. How do I know if I am eligible for baptism? You are, as long as you’ve been introduced to the Gospel and desire to publicly commit to renouncing sin, acknowledging God’s strength to overcome evil, and confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Can I get baptised at any time? Baptism is permissible when you’re ready. Like in Acts 8, the Ethiopian eunuch requested baptism after Philip explained the Gospel to him. Philip then baptised him at a stream. Nowadays, baptisms are usually conducted during festivals like Pentecost, Christmas, and especially during Easter, because baptism symbolises dying and rising with Christ.
How do I prepare for my baptism? Attend your church’s preparatory or membership classes. These usually cover Christian doctrines, our Methodist heritage and the history and the meaning of the sacraments. You should also pray, read Scripture, reflect and even fast, with spiritual guidance and in moderation. Where should I get baptised? Baptism should take place during church service at the usual place of worship, witnessed by the congregation. There are two exceptions. One, if baptism is by immersion and the church lacks that facility, it can be done elsewhere with congregation members around, and the baptised persons presented to the congregation the following Sunday. Two, the pastor can baptise those who are bedridden in their homes or hospital rooms, preferably with church witnesses present. What is expected of me after baptism? You’re expected to live out the vows made, according to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In the Methodist Church, baptised adults are confirmed – with the prayer for the Holy Spirit to work in you – and become a member of the Methodist Church and local congregation. You’re encouraged to serve in your church, after your membership vows to support the church’s ministry through your prayers, presence, gifts and service. If you’re a parent getting your child baptised, please enrol your child in Sunday school. Confirmation and membership are postponed until your child is a teenager. n
Picture courtesy of Methodist Missions Society METHODIST MESSAGE • JUN 2014
Freedom begins with a school The Rev George Barathan is an ordained Elder of Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference who has been seconded to serve with Operation Mobilisation (OM) in Canada. He is the British Columbia (B.C.) Representative of Dalit Freedom Network and lives in Richmond, B.C., with his wife Janet. He has been serving with OM since 1972.
ihar, the poorest state in India, is home to 15 million Dalits – traditionally known as “untouchables”, and some of the world’s most marginalised and impoverished people. Almost 90 per cent of Bihar’s population live in rural areas with little access to basic services such as healthcare and education.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”
Proverbs 31:8-9 (NLT)
Half of the children in this region drop out of school by grade five and many end up in bonded labour and human trafficking. For the children of Bihar, life is an unending struggle just to survive. At the age of 21, God instilled in me a vision and passion for the North Indian state of Bihar, known as the “graveyard of missions”. God opened the door for me to visit Bihar for the first time 16 years ago. On two occasions we provided basic medical care for poor women living in remote villages, many of whom had been abused, exploited and treated as next to nothing. Through these clinics we were able to show them kindness and hope and communicate to them that they were made in the image of God. A few years later we built several small churches in villages for believers to gather and worship God in freedom. Our Good Shepherd Schools in Bihar are helping Dalit children discover new hope for their future. These boys and girls are learning, not only how to read and write, but also that they have significance and value. By providing an Englishbased education with a biblical world view, we are giving entire families and communities the knowledge and tools to break the cycle of poverty, for themselves and for future generations. Freedom for the children of Bihar begins with a school.
More recently, my passion has been to share the story about the Musahars, who are also known as the “rat eaters” because in their poverty they hunt and eat field rats. About two million of them live in Bihar and they are considered probably the lowest sub-caste groups among the Dalits in the social order – certainly one of the most exploited people in the world today! They are extremely poor and their children very often go to bed hungry. There is no electricity in their villages, the roads are unpaved, there is inadequate clean drinking water and they are completely cut off from the rest of society – an average Indian would not even step into their village. These landless people often depend on the mercy of the upper caste for field work. Their children are trafficked to major cities of India with promises of a better future only to find themselves forced into child labour or prostitution.
In 2012, with the help of Canadian partners, we built a school with four classrooms in a village where 80 per cent of the children are from Musahar background. This is exciting because an education will give them the opportunity to achieve their dreams and move forward in life. We hope it will break the cycle of poverty amongst a people who have been so neglected and show them that God loves them. We are now seeing small fellowships springing up in different villages. Their love for God is evident in their faces as they worship Him. In the midst of adversity, God is at work among the Musahars! Why should we be concerned for the Musahars? Because this is the heartbeat of God, to care for the poor, the needy, the rejected, homeless, widows and orphans. When we do this, we reflect His character, and the fragrance of the Gospel is spread throughout the earth. n
The Rev George Barathan (centre, in checked shirt) works to raise awareness of the plight of the Musahars, particularly the children.
If you were born a Musahar… • You have a one in 100 chance of attending school • You live apart from the rest of your village so that you don’t “pollute” other villagers with your presence • You earn less than $1 a day • Over 95 per cent of people in your community are landless labourers • If you are a girl, you are likely to be trafficked or married off before 15 years old • 85 per cent of your Musahar family suffer from malnutrition • Your village has no electricity, proper roads or sanitation • You daily experience discrimination, ridicule and abuse simply because you were born a “Musahar” Picture courtesy of the Rev George Barathan
SAYS THE PRESIDENT WELFARE SERVICES
ACE-ing ageing Adeline Huang and Chuang Bing Han are Communications staff at Methodist Welfare Services.
t is good that my mother now has a place to go, instead of staying alone at home. Here she can stay active and keep her mind and body occupied in a safe environment, and I feel less worried to go out and find work,” said Ms Tay Chai Gek, 51, who accompanies her 80-year-old mother to Charis ACE in the mornings for tea and Rummikub games. Charis Activity Centre for Elders (Charis ACE) is the latest centre launched by Methodist Welfare Services (MWS), in partnership with Charis Methodist Church. It is the fourth MWS centre which serves seniors (the other three are Bethany Methodist Nursing Home, Christalite Methodist Home, and Wesley Seniors Activity Centre), meeting the needs of Singapore’s greying population. Already, 10.5 per cent of Singapore’s population is 65 and above, according to the 2013 population trends published by the government, and experts expect this segment of the population to double by 2030. In Geylang, where Charis ACE is located, one in every eight residents is a senior. Solving loneliness and inactivity Seniors are at a stage of life where their social networks are becoming smaller, noted Mrs Jenny Bong, Group Executive Director of MWS. “They stop working and may lose their friends at work. They are also more likely to have mobility issues, limiting how often and how far they can leave their homes without assistance. And in their old age, their spouse and friends may pass away,” she said. As more and more seniors live alone, they may become socially isolated, which can lead to depression and other mental or emotional problems over time. In fact, many whom we spoke to at Charis ACE were “empty-nesters”. Some, like 73-year-old Madam Chua Ee Kheng, signed up as a member at Charis ACE when it opened in March this year. Every morning, she leaves her HDB flat for Charis ACE to meet up with neighbours, enjoy some morning exercises and exchange stories over tea. “This is better than idling alone at home,” remarked the recently-widowed Mdm Chua.
Promoting physical and emotional wellness in seniors Charis ACE has a wide range of tailored programmes to engage seniors and encourage interactions. Seniors can participate in daily morning exercise sessions, or sign up for ukulele classes. The centre’s interior space is cosy and inviting, and includes a variety of facilities for its members. A multi-functional “kopitiam”, cooking and learning space leads into an activity area for hosting indoor sports and games. An IT corner, an equipped gym, and a karaoke room complete this centre, creating a social and recreational club ambience where seniors will feel warmth and a sense of belonging. All these are aimed at encouraging “active ageing”, which the World Health Organisation defines as a process of enhancement, where individuals will enjoy better health, autonomy, independence, quality of life, continued engagement or participation in society with dignity, as well as optimal care. The benefits of a physically active and socially engaged lifestyle are manifold; regular exercise alone can improve one’s mental, physical and emotional health, as well as life expectancy. 74-year-old Mr Goh drops in at Charis ACE almost every morning for coffee and to read the daily papers.
A group performing with ukuleles at the Charis ACE open house. Ukulele classes are among the activities seniors can enjoy at the centre.
Speaking in Mandarin, he praised the friendly atmosphere and opportunity for social interactions. “Coming here sure beats the loneliness of just staying at home alone, plus I get to play ping-pong with Mr Teo!” he laughs, referring to Charis ACE Manager, Mr Teo Khoon Seng, who is also the Social Concerns Chairman at Charis Methodist Church. Opportunities for seniors to help seniors On top of regular activities, Charis ACE also offers opportunities for seniors to volunteer. Mr Teo has plans to offer a varied range of excursions, activities and learning courses for the community, while mobilising seniors as volunteers. “We want to provide an opportunity for seniors to help seniors,” he says. “Volunteers are welcome to come and help us with the running of activities. You could teach singing, or conduct IT courses, or simply befriend people. Volunteers can become members and vice versa!” n
VOLUNTEER u at Charis ACE. Contact Mr Teo Khoon Seng at 6842-0498 or email email@example.com DONATE u towards the enhancement of seniors’ lives at Charis ACE. Email Methodist Welfare Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Ms Bernadette Sandra at 6478-4709.
Table tennis is another activity that members can look forward to at Charis ACE.
Pictures courtesy of Methodist Welfare Services METHODIST MESSAGE • JUN 2014
Jurong Tamil MC:
Rallying pre-believers in Jurong The Rev Philip Selvan Abraham is the Pastor-in-Charge of Jurong Tamil Methodist Church (JTMC). Pastor T. Jeevanantham, who co-wrote this article, is supply pastor at JTMC.
o you recall the evangelistic rallies popular in Singapore in the 1970s and 1980s? The most well-known was of course the Singapore Billy Graham Crusade in 1978, but did you know that Jurong Tamil Methodist Church (JTMC) was also right in the thick of the action then? JTMC was itself started by Pasir Panjang Tamil Methodist Church in a member’s home at Taman Jurong, in 1975. A large number of migrant workers from Malaysia and India resided in the surrounding areas during that period of time, while they were working at the Jurong Industrial Estate. In order to reach them, the fledging church held a number of evangelistic rallies where many were saved and baptised. Tamil Methodist Church (Short Street) came forward to support the new church, and with the appointment of supply pastor Mr JCD Pandian (later ordained as a pastor), the outreach ministry grew and the church was constituted in January 1977. It was also during this period of vibrant evangelism that a youth from JTMC, then known as Philip Abraham, pledged himself to full-time ministry. It is significant then that things have
Jurong Tamil Methodist Church (Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference) 2 Tah Ching Road, S(618744) Sunday service: 5.30 pm (Tamil) Contact: 8182-9595 or email email@example.com
come full circle, with the Rev Philip Abraham appointed back to JTMC as Pastor-in-Charge since 2013. This will be his 25th year of serving as a pastor. All Glory to God for raising workers for His harvest! The church’s evangelistic strength continues even till today. Our Evangelism Committee is involved in “friendship evangelism”, visiting residents in nearby blocks and distributing tracts in the past few years. We are also gearing up for evangelistic rallies which will be held at our venue at Jurong Christian Church on August 1 and 2 this year, organised by the Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference Board of Evangelism. The Social Concerns Committee is actively involved in seeking those who are in need and helping them in the community. One of the main ministries of JTMC is our monthly visits to Christalite Methodist Home, which have been going on for the past few years. We engage the residents by sharing stories of Christ’s life and inviting them to share with us their needs for prayer. JTMC currently has a membership of 83. The church has moved location four times in our history of 37 years. Now, we thank God that Jurong Christian Church has offered us a space to lease longterm for worship in their new re-
Jurong Tamil Methodist Church members faithfully visit Christalite Methodist Home residents every month.
building project, expected to start in January 2015 and to be completed in December 2016. Raising funds for our contribution to this project is a great challenge. We have planned a fund-raising carnival to be held at Jurong Christian Church on August 23, where we aim to raise $30,000. Do support our fund-raising efforts, and kindly uphold us in your prayers. n
SUPPORT u Jurong Tamil Methodist Church’s fund-raising efforts u Attend their carnival on August 23, 10 am to 5 pm, at Jurong Christian Church, 2 Tah Ching Road. PRAY u for the upcoming evangelistic rallies in August u for JTMC as it continues to reach out to and rally pre-believers in the Jurong area.
We continue our series of profiling local churches from our three Annual Conferences of The Methodist Church in Singapore. As we come to have a better understanding of each other’s history and ministry, there may be opportunity to forge cross-church partnerships and collaborations. Pictures courtesy of Jurong Tamil Methodist Church
Sacred space texts and the sacred music of the Church, these visual images tell the great story of human salvation. Together, they provide the visual and the aural dimensions of Christian worship. But the use of space is significant even for churches that are not very steeped in liturgical architecture. How the furniture is arranged in those churches point to their theological orientation lmost sixty years ago, the Romanian philosopher Mircea and emphasis. For instance, the centrality of the pulpit in many Elaide perceptively noted that certain physical spaces in Presbyterian churches signifies the importance of preaching in many traditional religions are regarded as sacred. the Reformed tradition. However, modernity with its corrosive secularism has robbed The significance of all this should never be underestimated us of this sacramental view of reality. The toxic influence of because the relationship between the worshipper and the space or modernity has rendered material reality opaque, and has reduced environment of worship is complex. it to a state of utter banality, incapable of either embodying or The place of worship provides the believer with what may be revealing the sacred. best described as an embodied history of devotion. The gathering The modern de-sacralisation of reality is seen acutely in its space is important because it marks the temporal separation of concept of physical space. Under the conditions of modernity, the Christian community from the world outside. The church many evangelical churches have not only lost the sense of sacred building is the place where the believer prays, confesses his sins, space, but may even find such a notion troubling. receives the bread and wine, performs the liturgy and sings his Christians must take the concept of sacred space very seriously, faith. Put differently, it is the place where the Christian worships especially that space where the worship of the true God together with others in the God is conducted. This is not only because community of faith. of the obvious fact that the Church must In addition, the accumulative gather at a certain place for corporate experience of using a particular church worship. building for existentially significant rites Christians must also take the notion of passage – baptisms, weddings, funeral of sacred space seriously because of the wakes – is truly profound and enduring. fundamental doctrine of the Christian Faith, But what about churches that conduct namely, the Incarnation. In the Incarnation, their Sunday worship in commercial the second Person of the Triune God took up buildings of which they do not have human flesh and entered into our time and exclusive use? To be sure, something space. He became a specific human being important is lost in such arrangements. (Jesus of Nazareth) who lived in a specific However, Christians who have to use time and place (first-century Palestine). such premises can take comfort in the fact The Incarnation is important for the early Church also had to meet at the our reflection on space because it shows homes of its members. The Church was that space can be the location of divine not allowed to have properties of her own encounter and therefore the bearer of because Christianity was looked upon with profound meaning. Space is important suspicion (religio illicita). because throughout Scripture, God and But the Church never had real humanity always meet at certain places, difficulties with this, thanks to her whether it be in the desolate wasteland or unique theology of space. For the Church the splendour of the Temple in Jerusalem. understands that when she gathers at a How space is organised for worship is “Soundings” is a series of certain place for worship – whether it is equally important for the Christian Church. the cathedral or a cinema hall – that spatial essays that, like the waves of The interior spaces of traditional context is no longer ordinary, profane Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches space. It is transformed spiritually into a sonogram, explore issues in are usually heavily ornamented. society, culture and the church sacred space, kingdom space, because of Worshippers are surrounded with stained the holy presence of God. n in light of the Gospel and glass art, icons, statues, and wall frescoes. Together with the reading of the biblical Christian understanding. Dr Roland Chia is Chew Hock Hin Professor of Christian Doctrine at Trinity Theological College. He worships at the Fairfield Preaching Point in Woodlands.
METHODIST MESSAGE • JUN 2014
CHEN SU LAN METHODIST CHILDREN’S HOME
For theA children refuge, a safe haven, a Gerardine Nonis-Yap is the CEO of Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home. A social worker by profession, Gerardine joined the Home in 2005. She worships at St Vincent de Paul Church.
F Children are encouraged to express their creativity in the Artist-in-Us programme.
or the past 46 years, our children have come to us from extremely difficult and challenging family backgrounds, such as abusive environments, single parent with financial problems, and one or both parents suffering from mental or physical illness. Children are prone to be left on their own, neglected and often skipping school. The decision to place these children in our Home is often a last resort. The Ministry of Social and Family Development, Family Courts, Social workers and Family Service Centres work very hard to explore ways and means to keep families together, often seeking the support of the extended families. It is only when these options run out that the children are entrusted into our care, typically for an average of four to five years, with a mandatory six-monthly review to determine the possibility of family re-integration. For every child who comes to us, there is always an unhappy story. Our role is to try and turn their “story” around, and to launch them to become happy and responsible adults of faith grounded in Christian values. We like the outlook of one of our residents, a 14-year old, who quoted from Kung Fu Panda: “Your story may not have a happy beginning, but that does not make you who you are. It is the rest of your story, who you choose to be.” n
Sports activities are one way to help the children build up their physical stamina.
“Your story may not have a happy beginning, but that does not make you who you are. It is the rest of your story, who you choose to be.”
future Nineteen-year-old KL, one of our residents, has just applied to the National University of Singapore after completing her ‘A’ levels. She shares her story with us.
’ve been living at the Home for almost 10 years now. My Dad left my three brothers and me when I was just seven. We were Malaysian citizens, and my mother was uneducated. This put great pressure on my mother, both financially and emotionally. She slipped into depression. “We had no relatives here, and were forced to live in harsh conditions after my father left. I remembered starving during the day, as my mother could only afford giving us a slice of bread for breakfast, and provide dinner on a meagre amount. It helped that our school, Geylang Methodist Primary School, placed us on the Financial Assistance Scheme. “My brothers and I were admitted to Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home because of our dire circumstances. I was nine then. “The Home has not only provided for my physical and emotional wellbeing, but has also given me an extended family. I really do cherish the good and ‘bad’ times with my fellow friends residing in the Home. The good memories remind me that although we do not have riches, we have been overwhelmed with love and understanding from our peers and staff, as well as the generous and benevolent volunteers who visited us. “On the other hand, the ‘bad’ times have helped us to grow up, and learn to give and take. This has helped strengthen our friendships and our decision-making processes. “The Home has also seen to the needs of my mother – they are ever-ready to give her a tender listening ear, and provide endearing and encouraging counsel whenever she falls into a depressive episode. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude even as I write this testimony. God has always been watching over us. Now I know why I never felt lonely even in the early days, which were dark and bleak. He had been with me all along. His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts. “Yes, He never promised us smooth sailing, but what He definitely has promised us is a safe landing. This is the one thing I am always reminded and reassured of.
General Office 202 Serangoon Garden Way, Singapore 556057 Tel: 6285-4941 Fax: 6285-4942 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.cslmch.org.sg Visits to the Home are by appointment only
• Established by the Chen Su Lan Trust and Wesley Methodist Church in 1968.
• The Trust, which donated the initial plot of land and
$100,000, was set up by the late Dr Chen Su Lan, one of Singapore Methodism’s most distinguished leaders and who was also a physician, anti-opium fighter, philanthropist and social reformer.
• The Home today houses 86 children, aged five to 21 years old, with some requiring special needs attention.
• The children are mainly from single-parent and low-
income families which are not able to provide proper care and nurture.
Programmes and activities for the children include: n Emotional Development with each child assigned a social worker. n Spiritual Development through Bible study, youth fellowship and Sunday school, and a dedicated Chapel of Love to give the children a sacred place to worship. n Academic Development through the support of volunteers, paid tutors and the recent recruitment of an Education Manager to focus on each child’s progress. n Youth Development that provides youths with holiday job opportunities and participation in sports. n Youth Leadership through the newly-formed Youth Council modelled after 1 Timothy 4:12 for members to lead by example to help the younger children. n Alumni Development through on-going contact and ties with children who have been reunited with their families, including providing study grants where needed.
Pictures courtesy of Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home
METHODIST MESSAGE • JUN 2014
PAGE FROM THE PAST
Saved for dedication Dr Tong Hoo Ing contributes to Methodist Message as a volunteer writer. A retired neurologist, he also volunteers with the Bethany Methodist Nursing Home. He worships at Wesley Methodist Church.
rawing a monthly salary of less than $200 was what saved Pastor Chan Wah Teck’s (CWT) life during the Japanese occupation of Singapore. The Japanese had rounded up and detained male Chinese adults – those earning more than $200 were then taken away and killed. Subsequently, CWT shared in his oral history tapes*, 100 frail and elderly persons from among the 1000-odd detainees were to be released. CWT pleaded with the warden to be released, as he had a young family. By God’s grace, the warden acceded to his request although CWT at that time was certainly not frail or elderly. The remaining 900 were then transported by lorry to a site in Upper East Coast Road, where they were forced to dig their own graves before execution. CWT said “God saved my life” and subsequently dedicated his life to God’s work. Both he and his wife were already attending Geylang Chinese Methodist Church (Geylang CMC) at the start of the war. During these war years, CWT ran Saturday Bible classes for between 80 to 100 children in his neighbourhood. After the war, he preached alongside the church’s pastor, the Rev Chew Hock Hin at the Straits Chinese services which were held in Malay. As the congregation grew, CWT suggested starting a preaching point in Bedok. The Rev Chew agreed and appointed CWT and his wife in charge of the Bedok Gospel Work, as the preaching point was then known. They used an attap hut in Padang Tebakar for their worship services. Eventually this preaching point grew from 15 to almost 100 members, and Bedok Gospel Work became the full-fledged Bedok Methodist Church (BMC) on a piece of land purchased by The Methodist Church in Singapore with generous donations by church members. The building was completed in 1952. CWT served as pastor of BMC for 36 years. Today it has a membership roll of 1250. CWT first came to know the Lord when an office colleague introduced him to the Epworth League (the forerunner of our Methodist Youth Fellowship) in what was then Telok Ayer Methodist Church.
I had known CWT – fondly called “Pastor Chan” – for more than 30 years, 14 as a member of BMC. I admired him for his humility, friendliness and down-to-earth sermons which he delivered with perfect diction. Though he had no formal theological training, I believe that he was filled with the Holy Spirit as he drew solid insights from the Bible. His son George described Pastor Chan as “a kind man”, loved by all his parishioners. Pastor Chan was kind to all he met – young and old, poor and rich. I had never heard him utter a harsh word or expletive. Mr David Liow, a stalwart of BMC and a confidant of Pastor Chan, shared: “Pastor Chan was a family man. He laboured in God’s vineyard with his wife and family; he had an exceptional memory and could remember the names of all the church members. “He was a man of prayer and would lead others in intercessory prayer every Friday in the church sanctuary. Every Lunar New Year, Pastor Chan would visit as many parishioners as he could.” While serving at Geylang CMC, CWT continued working in the Singapore Municipality as he shouldered his pastoral load. Coping with both his secular workload and pastoring a growing flock was tough going. After prayerful consideration, he quit his job in 1948 and devoted all his time and energy to the church. As he no longer had any income, he was given an allowance of $300 a month by the church. He found God’s work rewarding and enjoyable, even as God looked after the needs of his family. Pastor Chan retired as pastor in 1982, but continued to serve the church as ad-hoc preacher until his health declined. He passed away on June 6, 2003, leaving behind his son George, daughter Grace Gan, and their families. The life history of Pastor Chan is one of dedicated service and winning souls for Christ, similar to that of the Apostle Paul whose ministry he espoused. At the end of his life, it would have been fitting for him to echo Paul’s words: “I served the Lord with great humility and with tears” (Acts 20:19). n
* CWT’s oral history tapes are kept in the Archives & History Library of The Methodist Church in Singapore.
“He was a man of prayer and would lead others in intercessory prayer every Friday in the church sanctuary. Every Lunar New Year, Pastor Chan would visit as many parishioners as he could.” Picture courtesy of Pastor Chan Wah Teck’s family METHODIST MESSAGE • JUN 2014
HYMNS & SONGS
The indwelling of the Spirit, expressed Come Down, O Love Divine Come down, O Love divine, Seek thou this soul of mine, And visit it with thine own ardour glowing; O Comforter, draw near, Within my heart appear, And kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing. O let it freely burn, Till earthly passions turn To dust and ashes in its heat consuming; And let thy glorious light Shine ever on my sight, And clothe me round, the while my path illuming. And so the yearning strong, With which the soul will long, Shall far outpass the power of human telling; For none can guess its grace, Till Love create a place Whereivn the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.
Words: Bianco da Siena, d. 1434; Trans. Richard Frederick Littledale, Jr., 1867 Music: DOWN AMPNEY, North Petherton
Judith Mosomos is Acting Director of Worship and Church Music at the Methodist School of Music, and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.
here are quite a number of unfamiliar but beautiful hymns in The United Methodist Hymnal. We may want to add them to our congregation’s repertoire. Consider UMH 475 – “Come Down O Love Divine”. It is a Latin hymn written by Bianco da Siena in the early 1400s. In 1867, it was translated to English by Dr Richard Frederick Littledale, an English priest who discovered the hymns of Bianco da Siena. The hymn was popularised when it was placed to the tune DOWN AMPNEY – composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams, it was named after his birthplace, a small village in Gloucestershire, England. The hymn begins with an invocation, calling the Holy Spirit to descend and kindle upon the singer’s heart a sense of devotion. The flame, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, is used here to create an image that expresses the singer’s deep desire to be united with God. Bianco, the author, enlightens the singer with medieval church teaching on spirituality. This is the “threefold way” – purification, illumination and union. This is the journey that one experiences before he or she is united with God.1 One can be led through such a journey by singing the hymn. First, the singer expresses an ardent wish to be purified. O let it freely burn, Till earthly passions turn To dust and ashes in its heat consuming When our earthly wants are “burned” and rid from our souls, we are purified.
The singer continues: And let thy glorious light Shine ever on my sight, And clothe me round, the while my path illuming The singer entreats the Holy Spirit to keep the light shining so that his or her path may be illumined in this journey on earth. The singer goes on to sing of a deeper yearning – a yearning to be united with God. And so the yearning strong, With which the soul will long, Shall far outpass the power of human telling Believing in the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, the singer is overwhelmed and is beyond words to describe this experience. And as the singer waits… For none can guess its grace, Till Love create a place Wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling. By the Holy Spirit’s indwelling the singer is united with God the Father. But this happens only by God’s grace and love. May this hymn breathe in us a new perspective to reflect on our journey in life. n Visit www.hymnary.org/text/come_ down_o_love_divine for scores and sound clips.
S ee Bruce Hindmarsh, “Come Down, O Love Divine”: Christian Spiritual Formation Through a Medieval Hymn, in Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care, 2010, Vol. 3, No. 1, 79-87. Available from: ATLASerials, Religion Collection, Ipsich, MA. Accessed April 29, 2014.
METHODIST MESSAGE • JUN 2014
Unity in Spirit & Service
Catholic Welfare Services:
Chia Hui Jun is Editorial Executive with the Methodist Message. She worships at Foochow Methodist Church.
CWS lives up to the scriptural principles it was founded on – the spirit of the Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the spirit of the Good Samaritan to help those who have fallen along the way.
The Methodist Message seeks to raise awareness of the spectrum of needs, healthcare and social welfare services that are available in Singapore run by various faith-based organisations. In this issue, we start with a feature on the “action arm” of the Catholic Church in Singapore. Picture courtesy of Catholic Welfare Services
he Catholic Welfare Services (CWS) remains true today – 55 years on – to its humble beginnings. It began in 1959 through a simple food relief programme for the poor – and today, it continues to serve between 170 to 280 daily meals comprising rice, vegetables and meat to the poor, sick destitute, unemployed needy and their families at the CWS Hub located at Waterloo Street. Regulars include 45 to 50 elderly persons. The free meal initiative, called the Doulos Project, is in partnership with the Sacred Heart Church. It is only one aspect of the CWS’ Food Relief Programme which reaches out to more than 50 institutions, and includes the giving of supermarket vouchers, dry food items and cash grants. The lonely often come in for a chat at the CWS Hub, and the homeless are welcome to rest, although they cannot stay the night. This is just one of the many ways that the CWS lives up to the scriptural principles it was founded on – the spirit of the Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the spirit of the Good Samaritan to help those who have fallen along the way. CWS staff and volunteers work towards helping clients to be self-sufficient, and to discourage a “welfare mentality”. CWS has grown to be the “action arm” of the Catholic Church in Singapore, initiating, assisting, coordinating and carrying out social services to alleviate poverty and distress among the people of Singapore, regardless of race or creed. “To promote human dignity” is the first of their four-fold mission statement, and this is especially found
in the outlook of the CWS staff and volunteers who are committed to discouraging a welfare mentality and helping their clients become self-sufficient. For the frail and sick elderly, destitute and disadvantaged CWS addresses the needs of the elderly in varying circumstances – from the frail and sick elderly, to the destitute and the disadvantaged. Five Homes run by CWS meet these different needs – St. Joseph’s, St. Theresa’s, Villa Francis, Gift of Love and St. Vincent. It is not all gloom and doom at these Homes. Villa Francis Home for the Aged was built to house the aged, impoverished and sick in a more cheerful environment, as these people used to be kept in ad-hoc shelters little better than chicken coops during the 1960s. After moving to its new Yishun premises in 2013, the Home can now accommodate 238 elderly residents, up from 139 residents previously. A focused and low-intensity rehabilitation programme helps residents regain maximum mobility so that they can return home to live as independently as possible. There are also tentative plans to expand St Joseph’s Home, from 139 beds to 350 beds. It provides both nursing and palliative care, and is run by the Canossian Sisters, staff and volunteers. Safe harbour for troubled women and their children CWS also partners with Marymount Centre who operates the Good Shepherd Centre, a half-way house for women who are ex-drug addicts and ex-prisoners, as well as victims of domestic violence and abuse, with no place to go. Good Shepherd offers healing and hope, and shares with them the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.
New NCCS President elected Christina Stanley is Editor of the Methodist Message and has been a member of Wesley Methodist Church since 1987.
Former resident Lizada shared, “I thank God for sending me to the Good Shepherd Centre, where I received so much love, care and respect... they turned my nightmare into a miracle.” For youths at risk and the intellectually disabled CWS-BT YouthReach, a joint outreach with Boys’ Town, reaches out to youths at risk through street outreach and a drop-in centre. And for adults with intellectual challenges, Hearts@Work provides vocational training and employment opportunities, to empower them to live and work independently to their highest potential. CWS’ Leadership Role Former CWS Chairman Brother Emmanuel SG said: “We have been in discussion with Caritas Singapore on CWS involvement at the proposed Agape Village, where Catholic charities will offer social services to those in need.” Scheduled to open in 2015, Agape Village, spread over 4,200 sq m of space in Toa Payoh, will physically house all seven charities and services coordinated by Caritas Singapore, the social arm of the Catholic Church in Singapore, under one roof to enhance their collaboration. Bro Emmanuel said that CWS will take on the role of lead case manager. n
ur Bishop, the Rev Dr Wee Boon Hup, was elected President of the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) on April 29 this year for a term of two years at the Council’s Annual General Meeting. He succeeds the Bishop Terry Kee of the Lutheran Church in Singapore. The NCCS – made up of major Protestant, independent and non-denominational churches in Singapore, including churches from the Bishop Terry Kee, the outgoing President of the Orthodox tradition – exists to present a united National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS), witness. thanking the NCCS for its support during his term. NCCS members subscribe to a common Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup (far right) is the newlyelected President of NCCS. Seated far left are Elder belief: The Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the Richard Chong, Executive Secretary, and Mr Lim K Bible as the supreme standard of Christian faith Tham, Honorary General Secretary. and practice, evangelism and one-ness in Christ being our priorities, and that God revealed his purpose for humankind in Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. In his address as outgoing President, Bishop Kee recounted some challenging issues that confronted the NCCS during his term. These included the performance by Lady Gaga in Singapore which many Christians considered blasphemous, LGBT issues, churches seeking more public worship space, and mediating between leaders of other faiths and our member churches. He thanked the NCCS for the support he had received from the Executive Committee, Secretariat and member churches. Bishop Kee will continue to serve on the Council as one of the Vice-Presidents. On his election, Bishop Dr Wee shared with the Methodist Message: “I am humbled by this vote of confidence, and pray that I would be worthy of this privilege. I am grateful to my predecessor, Bishop Terry Kee, who during his term of office has provided excellent leadership in guiding the NCCS through difficult issues and challenges. “With a membership of close to 250 churches and associate members, the NCCS is well-placed to shape Christian public opinion through mutual consultation and action, and to bring it to bear on the multi-faceted issues of the day. I believe we can do this through standing united, and being obedient to our calling as the disciples of Jesus Christ.” As he begins a two-year term, Bishop Dr Wee solicits prayer from member churches and Christians in Singapore for the responsibility entrusted to him. n
Picture courtesy of the National Council of Churches of Singapore
METHODIST MESSAGE • JUN 2014
Eye-openers on marriage
... continued from page 1
I t is possible to raise seven kids in Singapore. A lively panel discussion covering the topic “God’s Priorities for a WellBalanced Life” featured speakers the Rev Henson Lim and Serene, parents to seven homeschooled children, alongside workplace minister Mr Choe Peng Sum and his wife Evelyn, and Mr Jamie Lee and Ms Violet Lim, the founders of Lunch Actually, a well-known dating service. I learnt that it is possible in modern-day Singapore to have seven children and homeschool them, while juggling ministry and home. It got me thinking – how many children would I like to have? od has the power to heal all wounds. G The final session was an intimate sharing by Francis and Dorothy Chong, whose marriage had once failed due to infidelity, but was eventually pieced back together by God’s grace. Francis and Dorothy bared their hearts, sharing their experiences, hurts, struggles and finally healing. Now, they run a ministry of restoration in broken families and conduct marriage counselling. My takeaway: in God’s eyes, there is beauty in the broken, and He can heal all wounds, and use all experiences to impact others in a positive way. I t’s not about the big day, it’s about what follows after. After an informative and engaging day of talks and activities, the Rev Malcolm Tan, Pastor-in-Charge of BRMC, wound up the session by citing how young couples spend months of sleepless nights planning for the
ng erence by renewi closed the conf Married couples . e” her “for a lifetim vows to each ot
wedding day, but place less emphasis on preparing for life together after the big day. It was a good reminder for me for the future. The day closed with all married couples being invited to renew their marriage vows. Darragh and I were moved not just by the vows spoken, but how they were delivered. We saw wives dabbing their eyes, and husbands embracing their wives, sharing an appreciation that a marriage is for life, through the good and bad times. I personally admire how steadfast and faithful many of the couples are, and how they have weathered years of life together, with God as the guide in their journey. n Pictures courtesy of Barker Road Methodist Church
Hakka Methodist Church Invites dynamic and motivated individuals to join us as: CHURCH OFFICE MANAGER Responsibilities: • Supervise office administrative staff and caretaker • Keep a full set of church accounts • Provide secretarial and administrative support to the Pastors’ Office • Provide administrative support to assigned ministries of the church • Supervise the updating of the church website • Assist in the organisation of church events and courses • Supervise and coordinate maintenance and repair work of the church, and work closely with the Property Management Committee Chairman.
Requirements: • Singapore Citizen or PR • Polytechnic diploma or equivalent • Proficient in MS Office applications • Qualified Bookkeeper (accounting background) • Ability to work independently and a good team player • At least 4 years of working experience, preferably in Singapore • Bilingual in English and Chinese Please email your detailed resume to the Chairman of the Pastor-Parish Relations and Staff Committee, Mr Oey Liang Hien, at email@example.com
Closing date: 30th June 2014 • Only shortlisted applicants will be notified.
SAYS THE PRESIDENT HOME
Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church Dedication
‘The building of the church continues’ Christina Stanley is Editor of the Methodist Message and wrote this report with valuable input from Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church leaders.
onstituted 1978. Land purchased 1979. Church built 1981. Church redeveloped 2012. And on March 29, 2014, representatives from the three local conferences in Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church (AMKMC) – the only tri-Conference Methodist church in Singapore under one roof – declared: “By God’s grace, this Building Redevelopment has been completed. All necessary approvals have been secured and all debts incurred have been paid”, with Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup leading the Act of Dedication of the church with the words: “Let us dedicate this building and rejoice in its holy use.” For AMKMC, this was a significant milestone in several ways – funds were successfully raised, the redevelopment was completed on time and on budget, and all debts were repaid within a year of physical completion. Truly, all glory to God, for His abiding faithfulness. The 99-year leasehold land for the church was purchased in 1979 through action of the General Conference. Mr Kim Seah, Secretary of the Trustees of The Methodist Church in Singapore, explained: “Dedication is very significant, as it marks the true completion of a building project. Consecration is preliminary, to allow services at the site after TOP (Temporary Occupation Permit). It is only after all approvals relevant have been obtained and all debts incurred have been paid, that dedication is possible.” The three local congregations from the three Annual Conferences – Chinese, Emmanuel Tamil and Trinity – operated the common facilities at AMKMC through a Joint Management Committee (JMC) which was set up in 1981. The JMC appointed a Church Redevelopment Committee to look into space requirements way back in 2003.
JMC Chairman Mr Anton Moses said: “As the only Methodist church in Singapore with three conferences under one roof, we have had our fair share of challenging moments. But whenever there were disagreements, we chose the path of love and care to resolve them. This has worked very well for us – and today, we have achieved an amicable and harmonious working relationship across the three churches. To God be the glory!” Mr Lim Biow Chuan, Chairman of the Church Redevelopment Committee, said: “We presented a report to the JMC in 2004. The plan was to double the built-up space from 31,000 square feet to 65,000 square feet, to include more classrooms and three worship halls. “The initial estimated cost was $18 million, with each local conference to raise a specific amount. It was a long and challenging journey. But God has been good to us every step of the way. Generous members, friends and well-wishers came forth to help with the fund-raising, and so did our sister churches. Prayer warriors under-girded our efforts right through. Yes, there were occasional hiccups and disagreements, but we have built stronger bonds across the three conferences, as we laboured together to rebuild God’s church.” In his sermon at the Dedication Service, Bishop Dr Wee reminded the congregation that now the church building is completed, the “building of the church” continues through the building of its people, as people of worship and as living sacrifices. A timely reminder to every one of us, as we each seek to build one another up through God’s Word and a prayer life that looks outside of ourselves. n
Picture courtesy of Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church METHODIST MESSAGE • JUN 2014
Discovering God “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork” Psalm 19:1 Leong Kwok Thye is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.
The glory of the burning sun, Reflected in the gleaming water; Declares the majesty of One, Who is Creator and Sustainer. The waves in the boundless sea, Rolling ceaselessly onto the shore; Declares God’s eternity, Of time past and forevermore. The countless stars in space, Extending into infinity; Declares God’s wondrous grace, Reaching out to all humanity. We behold Your glory, Lord, In things that we can see; Help us through Your living Word, To discern Your love and majesty!
June Joining the Colours of the Bible art competition
Until Jun 13 (Friday)
Engage your whole family in the Scriptures and participate in this first-ever combined art competition held in Singapore and Israel. Bring the feasts and festivals in the Bible to life with art; stand a chance to win attractive prizes and an opportunity to have your creative efforts showcased in an exclusive exhibition! All visual art mediums are accepted, including painting, sculpture, print, drawing, craft and textile. Two winners (representing Singapore and Israel respectively) will be picked from each age category (under 7; 8-12; 13-16 and Open), and top prizes include round trip air tickets to Israel, an iPad Mini, and tickets to Universal Studios Singapore, Singapore Zoo, and River Safari. Jointly organised by The Bible Society of Singapore and The Embassy of Israel. Send in your entries by June 13.
For more info, visit www.coloursofthebible.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 6337-3222.
Attending Hokkien Gospel Sunday 厦语福音主日
Jun 29 (Sunday), 11 am 六月二十九日，早上十一点 TA2 Sanctuary, 61 Wishart Road
Invite your family and friends to hear the Gospel in Hokkien. The Rev Eric Lau from Logos Christian Church will speak on “Welcoming the Day of Celebration”. All are welcome. 请邀请亲友来听福音，圣道基督教会的牧师刘友升的讲题是“迎向欢庆的日子”.
Organised by Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church 卫理公会直落亚逸礼拜堂.
For more info, call 6278-1323 or 6324-4001.
Signing up for Restorative Reintegration Prison Ministry Conference
Aug 2 (Saturday), 8 am – 2 pm
Trinity Christian Centre, Trinity@Paya Lebar, 247 Paya Lebar Road, Level 4 Chapel This conference is for churches, ministers and volunteers with a God-given burden for prisoners and their families, to gain deeper insights into prison ministry. Organised by Prison Fellowship Singapore. Register by July 2. Fee: $40 per person; group rates of $35 per person in group of 3 from same church. Early-bird rate of $35 for individuals before June 2.
For more enquiries on registration, call 6475-6136 or email email@example.com
Registering for STEPS For A Cause Runathon
Aug 30 (Saturday), 3 – 7 pm
Punggol Waterway Park, along Sentul Crescent Road STEPS is a charity run organised by youths from the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) for the third year running, to encourage awareness of social issues and compassion in fellow youths and the general public. This year, the organisers aim to raise $120,000 from the event, with all donations pledged to needy families under the Methodist Welfare Services’ Walk with the Poor Programme. Sign up to run, invite a friend to join, or make a donation. All donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Singapore Government as part of the Care & Share Movement, a national fund-raising and volunteerism initiative by the Community Chest, in celebration of Singapore’s 50th year of independence in 2015.
Organised by CAC youths. Register by June 30 at www.stepsrunathon.com
METHODIST MESSAGE • JUN 2014
Why we love superheroes Debbie Ong is an Associate Professor in the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law and specialises in Family Law. She is a member of Pentecost Methodist Church and has been serving in the Methodist Welfare Services ministry. Debbie is married to Victor, a lawyer. They have three happy children.
aptain America and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hit our cinema screens most recently. Last year, The Wolverine and Thor thrilled audiences. Superheroes represent the idealised virtues that we want in ourselves, our spouses, or our leaders. More than that, they represent the overcoming of weaknesses by virtues of selflessness, commitment and courage. Superman was sent away from his planet, an alien alone on earth bearing the burden of saving a world that was not his. Spiderman is the misunderstood hero who selflessly makes choices to do right despite being unappreciated and viewed with suspicion. Batman suffered the tragedy of witnessing his parents murdered, but rises above his dark roots with the dedication to condition his mind and body to battle evil. Superheroes mirror our desire to achieve good despite a thorn in the flesh. We identify with having responsibilities and burdens that come with some pain. The “everyday heroes” reported in our local news media have similar stories of selflessness and overcoming tragedies. Last year, a young man gave up his slippers to a shoeless elderly woman on a bus and sprinted barefooted on the sun-scorched pavements back to his hostel. The kind act warmed hearts and stirred spirits. But more recently, in an article published on the BBC website, the author lamented that MRT commuters in Singapore did not offer
her assistance when she felt faint from morning sickness. What do we expect from the State when we highlight such conduct? The Law offers protection from harm: criminal law punishes immoral acts that cause harm while civil law allows provision of compensation to victims. But the law in general does not criminalise omissions or compel positive acts to confer benefits on others. For example, there is no legal duty to save a stranger from drowning or render aid to a fainting woman. Is rescue to be encouraged? No doubt it is, but it is not enforced as a legal obligation; instead it is encouraged through public education, perhaps a change of culture, role-model examples and inspiring others. It is the perfect arena for the Christian to be Salt and Light: “You are the salt of the earth … the light of the world ... let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16) How might we THINK on a few aspects of everyday life that provide opportunities for humble superhero feats? The Superhero, we have observed, may be the imperfect person who rises above his or her weaknesses to fulfil a purpose. He or she focuses on the triumph of good and not the adulation of the people. The longing to watch the Superhero be victorious is the same longing in us to see good being done every day. Doing good pleases the Lord and bullying provokes His anger. He has said: “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused...” (Exodus 22:22-24) Which Superhero can we be in the home? The one who forgives his grumpy family member for harsh words and brings peace and forgiveness to the home? Or the one who shows consideration and compassion to the domestic helper, remembering she has left her own family and support base behind to earn a modest income? Or the one who provides care for the elderly parent who can be demanding or even unreasonable? The superhero in the home is the unsung hero, whose acts are not seen but who certainly pleases the Lord. Outside the home, can we make a conscious effort to befriend those who are left out by society because they are poor, lack social skills, or are just different, or to give time to children who lack loving parents? Can we be just a little more patient? The issue of being gracious is almost clichéd, yet our fast-paced lives can cause us to fail to THINK about how much more gracious we can be in so many little ways. n
Methodist Message is an official publication of The Methodist Church in Singapore