“ A bruised reed He will not break”
Fruits of Encouragement - Interview with PFS Client Roberto Borja rently working in an IT solutions company as a support manager. I am living with friends and my family is in the Philippines. How did you benefit from the in-prison programmes run by PFS? The counselling sessions by PFS helped me to get closer to God again, and the Bible studies helped me to learn more about God, His qualities and power. I learned so much, though I thought I knew the Bible well. I was wrong. Because in every session, I would learn new things about the Lord Jesus.
oberto DG Borja is a client with Prison Fellowship Singapore (PFS). Below is an edited interview with him about his experience with the ministry:
Could you share with our readers more about yourself and background? My name is Roberto, and I am 45 years old. I am a Filipino who has been living in Singapore for 13 years. I have been a Singapore permanent resident (PR) since 2005. I am cur-
How have you benefitted from the aftercare programmes and support groups run by PFS? Attending the Thursday PFS support group meetings has been part of my Christian life. I always look forward to meeting my brothers to study the word of God and learn from one another through sharing. The dedication of the staff and volunteers is truly inspiring. They are one of my encouragements to continuously come for the support meetings. Of course, seeing my brothers and having fel-
lowship with them are my inspirations as well. My week is not complete if I miss one Thursday meeting. But most importantly, worshipping God, learning the word of Lord, and growing together spiritually with my brothers are the greatest benefits one could get. I faithfully come for the support groups so that I would also be able to encourage my brothers, especially those newly released from prison.
My PR is under review. If, by the Lord’s will, I am able to stay in Singapore, I would still continue to work, help my family back home and serve the Lord in my church here in Singapore. I have my plans but may the Lord’s plans prevail in my life. I leave my future and everything in the Lord’s mighty hands.
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A Message From Our New Chairman, Dr William Wan
What are your plans for the future?
PLEASE MAKE YOUR CHEQUE PAYABLE TO:
Praying for the ministry Offering jobs or introduction to prospective employers Donating a monthly contribution of $ ____________________ Please send me a GIRO application by mail. Donating a one-time contribution of $ ___________________
A Quarterly Newsletter | Jul – Sep 2013 | MICA (P) 142/08/2012
I want to personally thank Mr. Jeffrey Chew for tirelessly coming on Thursdays to teach us - thank you for your dedication. Also to Mr. Peter Lim - your testimonies and sharing inspire me a lot, and you are an encouragement to me. And to PFS staff and volunteers - thank you all so much for your hard work and dedication.
BLESSING PRISONERS, EX-PRISONERS & PRISONER FAMILIES I WOULD LIKE TO GET INVOLVED BY ():
Dr William Wan was elected Prison Fellowship Singapore Chairman at the 2013 Annual General Meeting. He is currently the General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement.
y interest in prison ministry harks back to the late 1960s when I was a law student at the then University of Singapore. During my senior year I did a research paper on recidivism (repeated or habitual relapse into crime) for Prof. Tommy Koh. I attempted to show that religious counseling in the prison context contributes significantly to the successful rehabilitation of offenders, and thereby reduces the rate of recidivism. When I graduated and started my law practice, I helped incorporate Christian Rehabilitation Ltd, the predecessor to Prison Fellowship Singapore. The original board comprised Puthenpurakel John and Seet Poon Soo. This was to complement and support the longstanding chaplaincy ministry of the Rev. Khoo Siaw Hua, who was appointed to that ministry by the Methodist Church of Singapore in 1953. The late Rev. Henry Khoo from Evangelical Free Church and Elder Seet Poon Soo from Frankel Bethesda played major roles in the fledgling ministry as did Rev. Dr. Quek Swee Hwa from the Bible-Presbyterian Church and Elder Goh Ewe Kheng from the Church of Singapore, to name a few.
We did not have any full-time staff. Everyone was a volunteer. We visited prisons, conducted chapel ser- vices, led bible studies, offered counseling and other services to the inmates. Upon their release, we helped them integrate into churches, find employment for them and disciple them into Christian maturity. I took in a couple of them into my law firm as staff. Our primary objective was to represent Christians from different churches. God was good to us and gave us several trophies of grace. One of them was Rev. Neville Tan, the author of Iron Man and New Iron Man. He is still involved in pastoral ministry and he and members of the church he pastors are involved in prison ministry. After an interval of several decades, the Lord has seen fit to bring me full circle back into this ministry. God’s timing cannot be less than perfect as PFS seeks to restore its original vision of serving the Church in her ministry to those involved in, incarcerated for and affected by crime. That is the overarching raison d’être for PFS. It does not and should not exist apart from engaging the Church and facilitating her ministry in this area. It is therefore most appropriate that we became an associate member of the National Council of Churches. Our goal is to be the facilitator and handmaid of the churches in inspiring and motivation their members to minister to inmates and their families. To that extent, we are dependent on committed volunteers to do the ministry. It is through the individual volunteers that inmates who are released will find their way into the churches and be re-integrated into society. The staff at PFS will function as trainers, facilitators and coordinators for the prison ministry. In short, this is your ministry. We invite you to support it with the generous giving of your talent, time and treasure to re-establish the original vision of the transformation lives through Jesus Christ, of those broken by crime. Your support will help PFS be an effective instrument in galvanizing Christians from 1
all Churches to be involved in making a difference to inmates – one at a time – for the glory of God. Own this ministry and flood the prison population with the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through your prayers, your participation and your gifts. !"#$%&&%'(#$') Chairman - Prison Fellowship Singapore
STAFF TEAM Programme Manager - Tan Choon Huat Operations Manager - Pauline Ruth Chin Incare Coordinator - Bruce Lim Aftercare Coordinator - Lee Wing Yew Family Care Coordinator - Adeline Wong Ministry Staff - Jeffrey Neo, Emily Tan, Peter Lim, Jensen Lee Finance Executive - Winnie Bong Administrator - Doreen Kwa Resource Development Executive - Daniel Chee
BOARD MEMBERS Chairman - Dr William Wan Directors - Mr Edward D’Silva, Ms Melissa Kwee, Mr Timothy Wong, Rev Timothy Khoo Company Secretary - Ms Alexandra Ip
OUR VISION Prison Fellowship Singapore engages churches and the community to have compassion for prisoners, released prisoners and their families, and to transform their lives from brokenness to wholeness.
Three Generations of Heart Work
Goh Ewe Kheng, Goh Chuan Iau & Joshua Teo
addy is not at dinner tonight because he is in prison again.” This was the standing joke in the family of Mr Goh Ewe Kheng. For Goh Ewe Kheng, now 88, volunteering at least once a week as a Christian religious counsellor with the Singapore Prison Service for the past 57 years had been so much a part of his life that he persisted in continuing his volun-
teering duties despite getting on in age, until his weakened physical state forced him to stop volunteering in 2011. “I stopped volunteering because I couldn’t walk anymore, if not, I would have continued volunteering,” said the elderly man. Mr Goh’s strong determination to guide inmates on their spiritual journeys over the years had also inspired his son, Goh Chuan Iau, and grandson, Joshua Teo, to join him as Christian counsellors as well. Chuan Iau, who is currently residing overseas, remembers helping his father in the old Changi prison chapel as a teenager. “I have
always admired him for his dedication and passion in helping the inmates to change and be useful to society. He was an inspiration to me not only as a volunteer for prison, but to use whatever resources and blessings that God has blessed us with to be a blessing to the less fortunate.” Joshua, too, was inspired to follow in his grandfather’s and uncle’s footsteps. “When the whole family is involved, it strengthens the core of the family and the core of society,” says the youngest volunteer in the family. The story was first published in the book - “Many Hearts for Home – Stories of Home Team Volunteers”. Reproduced with permission from Home Team Volunteer Network. Photo by Gabriel Lau, Home Team Volunteer Network
PFS Care Club - Not Just Another Social Progamme
or many, Care Club is just another structured programme for children who are affected by their parents’ incarceration. But for me, Care Club is a place of intervention and restoration to wholeness. My father was imprisoned when I was a baby and eventually sentenced to death. Thanks to God’s mercy, he received Christ while he was in prison under the ministry of late Rev. Khoo Siaw Hua, the first Honorary Prison Chaplain for the prisons. When I was young, there were no services like Care Club. I was placed in the care of my uncle’s family as my mum had to work several jobs a day to support both of us. I grew up not knowing my father and not having my
mother with me. Life has not been easy. I quietly bore the shame of being fatherless while yearning for love and acceptance from people around. I struggled with feelings of being unwanted and unworthy. My studies were a struggle as well. My mum often commented that my results were “tiew geng ko”, Cantonese for “barely pass.” A teacher at my school had requested to talk to my mum, suspecting that I had autism as I was very quiet and did not share much in school. My life was darkness until I accepted Christ while in my 20s. I thank God that my life has changed over these years and how it has now been filled with the joy and fulfillment of serving Him. I know I
have a Heavenly Father who loves me for who I am and accepts me for who I was. I also know my past would have been very different if I were to be in Care Club during my younger days, a place where I could know who Jesus is and where I could find love and acceptance with the positive models of faith and learning. Isaiah 42:3 says “A bruised reed He will not break.” I want to bring this message of hope to children in similar situations to my own and see how God works in all these precious lives too. The God we serve does not condemn but brings brokenness to wholeness. By Adeline Wong
Adeline Wong - a PFS Staff Interview
deline Wong is the Family Care Co-ordinator for Prison Fellowship Singapore (PFS.) Here is an edited interview with her about how she became involved in the ministry:
Why was your father sent to prison? What did your mum tell you about him? He was imprisoned for drug trafficking. My mum did not share much with me until I found some articles online few years ago. When I was young, mum would tell me to lie about my dad’s death should anyone ask and to just tell them he died of sickness.
How old were you when he died? Do you remember him at all or were you too young? How did his death affect the family? My mum only realised that she was pregnant when she fell sick after knowing my dad was arrested. The trial took about two-to-three years before he was hanged. Hence I was about two-years-old and too young to remember him. I only know many people said that I look a lot like him and, coincidently, I was born the same month and day as him. I believe God has given my mum a new lease of hope to a new life ahead. They have always wanted to have a child but mum was unable to conceive during their six years of marriage. As a result of his death, mum had to put me in the care of a relative from when I was born. She had to work several jobs a day to earn a living. She started living alone with her friend in a rented HDB flat. She visited me usually at night or would bring me back to her place over the weekend. Our relationship was not close as she was more a disciplinary figure during my younger days. Many times, I would rather not go home with her. Mum was struggling financially. With her hectic hours of work, she also did not have many friends.
Growing up, did your friends know about your father? Did you have any other friends who also had a parent in prison? Would that have helped? Friends did not know much about my dad as I myself wasn’t very sure of what happened. I did not know of any other friends who were of a similar background. I believe it would have helped. Because of my background, being told to lie or hide and not being told what happened to dad, I grew up thinking that it was a very shameful background. I was also often compared with and compared myself with other friends or cousins.
I wanted to be an encouragement to those who have laboured many years in prison ministry but see no fruits and also to be able to minister to those who have similar background to me.’’ How did you handle the shame you felt when you were a child? Did people tell you that you were unworthy because of your father? I kept everything to myself and was very quiet in school with few friends. And when at home, I would often fight for attention with my two older cousins. Nobody told me that I was unworthy but I grew up feeling that I was nobody’s child and felt unwanted. I was often compared by my mum with my cousin who had better school results and was better behaved too. I felt I was no-good and good-for-nothing. How did your new faith in Christ change the way you felt about yourself? I realised that I am a child of God and I have a loving Father who values me and love me sacrificially and unconditionally. I am precious
and I am no longer alone but God hears my prayers and has great and wonderful plans for me. I felt convicted to restore my relationship with my mum, hence I initiated to move back to stay with her a few months after my water baptism. What made you decide to come to work for PFS? I was a church worker for about four years. Before that, I was in other jobs. Amazingly, I was approached by Poh Leng (of Prison Fellowship International) about the job vacancy (in PFS’s Family Care Ministry), a position of which I was unaware. We met each other while I was volunteering in Care Club last year. During that time, I was seeking God’s guidance about my new season of serving Him as I was going through a three months full-time course in my church. And it was also after that, I realised my dad was actually ministered by the late Rev. Khoo Siaw Hua (Rev. Timothy’s grandfather) when he was in prison. As reported in the news, my dad remained calm when the sentence was passed, definitely a result of the assurance of his salvation as he accepted Christ through Rev Khoo’s ministry. To me, working in PFS is Godled. I wanted to be an encouragement to those who have laboured many years in prison ministry but see no fruits and also to be able to minister to those who have similar background to me, to bring hope and to see God’s transformation in their lives. What is your role with PFS? What do you do there? I am the Family Care Co-ordinator for the Family Care Ministry. I am primarily responsible for planning, developing, implementing and managing the programmes and activities for children, spouses and parents of inmates. We have regular support groups for the children (in the Care Club) and women (spouses/ mothers of inmates and also ex-inmates.)