Rev. Kortering is a Protestant Reformed minister-on-loan to Singapore.

These words flowed repeatedly from the lips of missionary Paul. In both letters to the Thessalonians (I Thess. 5:25, II Thess. 3:1), as well as Hebrews 13:18 and others, he reminded the church of his need for their prayers. We do likewise. We reflect often upon the meaningful words of Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 45, A. 116: “God will give his grace and Holy Spirit to those only, who with sincere desires continually ask them of him, and are thankful for them.” Little wonder that prayer is indispensable for all spiritual progress.

The purpose of this article is not to discuss the theology of prayer for missions. That may well be profitable, but rather we want to acquaint you readers with specific needs so that you can pray meaningfully for the work in this part of Christ’s kingdom. We are encouraged to receive letters from school children and youth who occasionally assure us that they are praying for us. We trust this article will help them, parents, and also our Christian school teachers to pray specifically for the Singapore churches and their work.


1. The saints in the Evangelical Reformed Churches of Singapore carry a burden for the aged, usually one or both of the parents either of members or of friends. Most of these parents are steeped in idolatry and superstition. They are the “old generation” who worship their ancestors, who visit the temples to gain good luck from the gods, who associate every sickness or trial with displeasing their gods, and who blame their Christian children for this. As long as these parents are strong, most of them resist all attempts to bring to them the gospel of Jesus Christ. Very interestingly, as they get older and weaker, such resistance seems to decline in some of them. The burden of love increases from their Christian children, who want so badly for their parents to allow members of the church, who can speak their dialect, to come and visit with them. Both First and Covenant churches are giving more attention to this need and God is blessing these efforts. Pray for the salvation of parents as they are ministered to by the church. In first generation missions the reverse is usually true, God saves parents through the children, not children through the parents.

2. Covenant church has lost their use-permit for their church building. From the perspective of Christians, it seems the government is hurting Christianity by not giving use-permits to churches. The Muslims seem to build their mosques almost anywhere, as do the Chinese their temples. There are many Christian churches which are losing their permission to use their church buildings for Christian worship. Some, like FERC, have free-hold property in that they actually own their own land and have received permission to use it for Christian purposes without the need to renew. Such land is almost non-existent today and was very rare in the past. CERC bought their property with the need to renew yearly their permission to use it for Christian service. They received notice in May that they can no longer use it for that purpose and have to terminate such use in one year’s time. They have formed a building committee which has been searching for possible suitable land or building. Most of what they find requires a change-of-use permit, which seems impossible to get today. So, do pray that God may give them encouragement and direction to know what His will is as a congregation. Ideally, if the ERCS could have congregations at scattered key places on the island, active involvement of the members would be greatly enhanced. Even if we could worship in homes (something the present law forbids), it would be helpful. All these things seem to be impossible at this time. Even rented property is hard to find, but maybe the Lord wants to teach us to be pilgrims who have no abiding place on the earth.

3. The financial crisis is affecting the entire society, including the members of the churches. Pray that God may use this for His glory. True, we pray locally for our members who have been “retrenched,” i.e., laid off from work. Things are done a bit differently here. The government sits down with labor unions and works out an agreement how to lower wages, cut back working hours, and even adjust prices of merchandise in order to preserve social cohesion. This means less money, but at this point in time, most are still able to work. This financial crisis is affecting all of Asia, and businesses and banks are hurting. It is a time of pain, as Singapore is learning the hard way that life is not all success. Even though they may be number one, outside forces can quickly take it all away. There are evidences of complaining, worrying, showing dismay, as the dream of Singapore shows some tarnish. At the same time it is a good opportunity for Christians to speak of their faith to their neighbors. Pray that our members may seize this difficult time to show to others that life is more than money and success. We must look to the future, where moth and rust does not corrupt and where thieves do not break forth and steal.

4. We seek your prayers as we chart a course for theological training in S.E. Asia. This involves a number of concerns. First, we are much interested in making available to our own leaders and other students in Singapore, classes for their own benefit. The Theological Training Committee decided it is time to address the issue of Hyper-Calvinism. We are being accused of being such by some of the Bible Presbyterian Churches in Singapore and also by other churches in the countries where we are doing ministry. So the committee decided that we ought to have a series of evening lectures in December on this subject and that Pastor Lau should prepare them. Do pray for Pastor Lau as he prepares these studies.

Secondly, we believe that it is necessary that we prepare a Reformed Digest, in order that as churches we can develop in our theology and communicate this to others. Pastor Cheah is editor of this project and he is working to get the first edition out by November.

Thirdly, we believe strongly in the need to organize and begin our Bible School. We ask that you pray for this need because it is not only urgent, but also the most complex to realize. We have discussed various ways of how to organize this school, and over the years these ideas have been considered. Should we have a school operating here in Singapore on a semester basis and have students come here for studies? Should we have a school which teaches subjects on a modular basis, one subject at a time in a more concentrated manner? This would give us greater flexibility. Should we set as our goal to take students to Singapore, or should we set up a school here and have extension courses in the local countries in which we are doing mission work? Presently we are giving most attention to developing our courses as modules and teaching them in Singapore, and also using them as extension courses in other countries. This is the easiest way to begin. It is low-key and less demanding than to begin a full-time school. It is something which we can develop as we go along. It will allow us to instruct students both in Singapore and in other countries without having all of them come to Singapore, which has its own difficulties. I am convinced this holds by far the most significant long-range impact for the spread of the Reformed faith in this part of the world. It is this area also where the PRC and ERCS need to work together if we are to meet the demands which such a project require. Let us pray that God may guide us in the proper way as we chart our course.


Do pray for the saints in this difficult land. We must pray for them from two points of view.

First, many of them suffer because of oppressive government. The Chin State borders India, and any border state suffers because of insurgency. The students especially are becoming more active in causing trouble. Not too long ago they blew up an electric generating plant near Falam, where a large number of the URCM churches are located. They give the military some difficulty, and then slip into India for refuge. Due to this the military becomes very hostile to the local people. Though we do not know particulars from Chin, we read of some of these oppressions in the Shan State.

In May 1998, many villagers who had been forcibly relocated to Kho-Lam had asked permission from the SPDC (military government) authorities in Nam-Zang to go and work on the farms outside the village. One man, 45, and some 18 of his fellow villagers managed to get a pass from the authorities in Nam-Zang as well as permission from the commander of the local military camp at Kho-Lam, Capt Han Sein, to work on the farms about 4 miles west of Kho-Lam and they had been working on the farms from 14-5-98 until 6-6-98 when troops from IBZ46 shot at them from a distance. The villagers all ran away into the nearby forest without anyone getting hit and the soldiers left after searching the farms for awhile.

After awhile, a woman 30, and her uncle 40, presuming the troops had really left, went back to the farms with the intention to get their clothes and beds from the farm hut and return to the village. However, as they reached the hut, the soldiers came back and arrested them and beat (the uncle) to death. (The woman) was stripped of her clothes and raped many times before she was also shot dead in the hut. After that, the troops left the farms and went to Kho-Lam.

On 7-6-98 the villagers at Kho-Lam heard the news and became very worried, so that a villager who had relatives working on the farms about 4 miles south of the village went and warned them. On hearing about it, the farmers became so frightened that they all returned to the village. But when they were still about one mile away from the village they met the same SPDC soldiers coming from the village to search the area and they were arrested. Eight of them, including the one who came to warn them.

These farmers were taken to the military camp at Kho-Lam and tortured, also with electric shocks, until they lost consciousness for some time and one was beaten so hard that he later died in the camp. Twenty five village leaders and elders went to the troops and pleaded for mercy. Eventually, the soldiers agreed to release them on paying 15,000 Kyats for each. The villagers had been tied and locked up for 9 days before their release.

Secondly, due to many circumstances, one of which is poor governing, the economic situation in Myanmar has become critical.

The kyat was trading around 360 to the dollar on Yangon’s black market Friday (Sept. 11) but earlier crashed through the 400 mark in some parts of the country. The black market rate was around 150 to the dollar before Asia became embroiled in the economic crisis last July. The official rate is six kyat to the dollar but is almost totally ignored.

This affects the saints in the United Reformed Churches and Protestant Reformed Churches. It is becoming more difficult for them to travel to the conferences and seminars we sponsor. Due to the difficulties, we almost always hold them in Yangon (instead of our flying to Kale, which is closer to them). This requires them to walk many miles before they can get to the main road, and then they ride on the back of large trucks hauling commercial goods. I have seen them not even able to stand up straight for the first couple of days when they arrive in Yangon, they are so sore. Yet they come for the Word of God.

Rev. Titus wrote me recently, “Now our electricity situation is very bad. We get it in ration. And any time it can be cut off. I really miss you, especially whenever I am down with the struggles of my country.” We are saddened also that, due to the involvement of some recent public demonstrations which included Americans, the military government’s suspicion of Americans has increased. The ERCS decided that it is best that I not go to teach the next seminar in November, but that Pastor Cheah go again. Be much in prayer that God may continue to bless this instruction, so that they may grow in the knowledge of God’s Word and their love of the sovereign God.

Pray for these saints that they may not be overcome in their difficult situation and that they may ever look to God for His protection and care. Pray also that the churches here may be sensitive to their needs and do all we can to help them as brothers and sisters in Christ. Our deacons are actively involved in helping them with their orphanages and old people’s homes as well as individual poor. God has placed in our midst a brother and sister from the Philippines who in the past have assisted the poor in Vietnam. They offered to help us by going to Myanmar to assess how to teach the people to live off the land as best they can and how we can help them set up some sort of way in which they can earn a little money for themselves and not be dependent on outside money.


Following our trip to India in April we have received a flood of letters and requests for books and financial help. Brother Stephen writes,

Regarding the seminar, I am communicating all people, I am sending to some of them the Xerox copy of first page message in the magazine, Standard Bearer. I have put a name for this issue that is, “Oh! Oh! Food to Soul.” I will sent you one just for your knowledge to know what I am doing. I communicating and fellowshipping with our people in our area in Theni, Periyakulam, and in upper hills…. People told me that they received booklets and letters from you. They are very much happy about that. I am sending a long list of people so that you can communicate them.

He is asking for financial assistance so that he can send material to these people on a regular basis to help them grow in the Reformed faith. He also wants very much to continue to have more teaching seminars in his area.

Also from southern India, Brother Y. Paul Raj writes,

At present I stay at my home spending all my time in getting myself ready to be trained by you sooner. Some times I go for mission work and some charitable work. Frequently I meet Ps. Stephen and discuss more about our P.R. faith. And also our Lord always enables me to work at a village nearby my village. Right from the beginning we preach things according to our PR faith. When I look around I see most of the ministers who mislead the people according to Pentecostal Spirit. Most of the people are being captivated by false doctrines. As I see this I am greatly disgusted and pray the Lord to establish a P.R. Church in India.

He is a young man who is willing and available to be trained to become a pastor. Both he and Pastor Stephen are much interested in our sponsoring a work in India. So pray for these brothers and their ministries as well as the ERCS as we plan some course of action for them.

Recently we also came into contact with churches of the Diaspora in Nepal and India. Especially in Nepal they are doing work in areas in which there is no other Christian church around. In a recent letter to me, Brother Pallab wrote,

I am staying a place called Mahendranagar, in Jnakpur, which is 430 kms. away from Kathmandu. This place is a small town, but this is a center place for the local people…. We are only about one year old church. This church is started its work on last year only and thus far one person has accepted the gospel of the grace of God and become baptized. We have selected this place because there were no church for this locality which is the house for half million people. Another lady of 38 is preparing for baptism now. Every week there is 18-20 people attend our church regularly. We are working in a completely unreached area of Nepal. We are holding the Reformed faith and we are not compromising with any other things. Perhaps by the grace of God we are the only Reformed church in Nepal…. As you have shown interest in Nepal and India it is very good for us to have your fellowship with us in order to grow in God’s Word. We are a very few churches in India, we are not that much popular. Many people do not know about us. I hope you will come to Nepal then you will know more about the churches in Nepal and India. As my four and half years in Nepal, I have found that there is almost 99% charismatic Christians in Nepal. It was very difficult to find a Reformed man in Nepal. Thank God that He has helped us to start a Reformed Church in Nepal.

Our hearts are greatly encouraged by the financial support of our people and also by saints outside the Protestant Reformed Churches. With the funds, we have ample means to do this work as the Lord allows us time and manpower. Just pray for the ERCS that we may make good decisions as we evaluate all these opportunities to further the glorious truth of the sovereignty of our God.