The Foreign Mission Committee of our churches appointed the undersigned to write once again concerning our labors upon the mission field in Singapore. In March the undersigned and Mr. D. Engelsma were sent by the Foreign Mission committee and our Doon Church as your emissaries to the Gospel Literature and Tract Society of Singapore. This group was formerly known as the Gospel Letters and Tract Department (G.L.T.D.). They are now a society registered with the government of Singapore and possess the right to sponsor a missionary from a foreign country. The fact that Mr. Engelsma was one of the emissaries in the spring of ’78 proved to be very helpful unto the establishment of rapport with the G.L.T.S. immediately at the beginning of our labors.
The G.L.T.S. has sixty young men and women members. All these members are unmarried, under twenty-eight years old, all were raised in pagan homes where the parents are either Hindus, Buddhists, or Chinese ancestral worshippers. These young people, of course, formerly accompanied their parents to the temples of the heathen gods to bow down in prayer and praise of these vain idols. But our God has delivered them from the darkness and wickedness of paganism and has called them into the fellowship of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Of that fact there is no doubt! Children of God they are.
These young people had been brought to the Christian faith through various unusual means. Outstanding is the witness of a public school teacher. The present core members of the G.L.T.S. were taught some ten to twelve years ago the Holy Scriptures by their public school teacher, who found time before school, after school, and at recess time to teach these pagan children the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. This little group gradually grew and today when the G.L.T.S. meets for worship there are about one hundred twenty persons in attendance. All are not members but they are there regularly to hear God’s Word and to worship with God’s people.
The G.L.T.S. is a society, not a church, even though it functions in many respects as a church. The G.L.T.S. does not have an ordained pastor, or elders, or deacons. This society is governed by a constitution and directed by five young leaders, which the society elected to lead her. Your emissaries stayed in Singapore from March 23 to May 1. We preached six sermons while on the island. Sunday morning at 10 a.m. we met for worship in their humble building on River Valley Road. The worship services generally were finished in two hours. These sermons were thankfully and attentively heard. They were receptive to the Reformed, faith. This receptivity was of God’s grace. Each Saturday afternoon from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. we met to discuss a speech which the undersigned delivered on various subjects which the leaders of the G.L.T.S. asked us to address. Each Wednesday evening at 7:30 they met for a prayer service. In addition to the above meetings the G.L.T.S. membership meets once a week in various localities throughout Singapore in small groups for Bible study.
Your emissaries were impressed with the deep interest the G.L.T.S. membership had in God’s Word. They were hungry! They peppered us with questions. They sought instruction; they had not come to argue. Not only were they concerned with gaining answers to personal questions, and solutions to personal problems, but they wanted to know specifically what this text or that text meant. They wanted to grow in the knowledge of God and of His Word. When we showed them from God’s Word the proper interpretation, they thankfully received our instruction.
I am especially at this time mindful of the young sister, who, as it became apparent through her questions, did not believe that the grace of God is an irresistible power unto the salvation of His people. She was convinced that the grace of God was merely a feeling or attitude of unmerited favor in God towards all men. She was so sweetly earnest in her contention. However, how pleasant and refreshing it was for me to hear her earnest and humble acceptance of the truth of God’s Word as we brought it to her. Another young lady asked us to distinguish and clarify for her the biblical expressions, old man and new man, regeneration and the rebirth, and the carnal mind and the flesh. Interesting, substantive, and important questions she asked. These questions reveal the searching mind and heart of a youthful saint. Others asked questions about the return of Christ Jesus and the millennium. One young person, with all the simplicity of a child, said to us: “Tell me about heaven.” I tried! I read to him from the book of Revelation and other passages. I felt terribly inadequate, for he wanted to see with his natural eyes and handle with his hands the realities of heaven. We had to direct his eye of faith to the covenant friendship that God has now established with us in Christ Jesus. Blessed work we were privileged to do on your behalf.
The earnestness and godliness of these young brethren and sisters is demonstrated in their Christian giving. Most of the members come from poor families. Many still are in school. But their offerings are generous. The six weeks we were there the offerings totaled as follows: March 18 – $278.60, March 25 – $306.50, April 1 – $527.10, April 8 – $522.85, April 15 – $317.00, April 22. – $317.20. They have a yearly budget of some twenty thousand dollars. These monies are used to cover the expenses of tract distribution, the purchase of good books, to help support two of their members who are preparing themselves for the ministry of God’s Word, and to pay the $241.00 rental fee for their meeting place.
Another Christian virtue evidenced abundantly among them was that enjoined by the apostle Paul in Eph. 4:32; “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Their love for one another was not the superficial kind of a plastic smile and phony sweet voice. But their love and kindness toward one another were the expressions of their sincere love of and unity in God’s Word, and their soft words were motivated by a mutual appreciation for the work of God’s grace among them.
The G.L.T.S. has experienced considerable difficulties in the recent past. After Rev. Slopsema and Mr. Engelsma returned from Singapore in April of 1978, approximately twenty members of the group left, because they disapproved of the continued Reformed emphasis in the preaching and teaching of the leaders. Those who were troubled by the Reformed emphasis in the teaching of the G.L.T.S. claimed that if one was committed to the tulip doctrines of the Reformed faith it would be impossible for him to engage in Christian witness unto others. One of the leaders of the G.L.T.S. felt duty bound to answer this allegation and thus wrote a position paper and distributed it among the membership. We want to quote some excerpts from this paper to let you read from one member of the group his concem for the truth of God’s Word and his willingness to apply Reformed principles to the work of Christian witness and missions. However, in all fairness to the reader, the G.L.T.S., and Quek Kok How (the author of this position paper), we must take note of the fact that this young brother expresses only his own views and does not write officially for the G.L.T.S. We quote the following with his permission.
“It is not my desire in this article to try to convince others of my convictions but it is in fact written especially for those who are already inclined to the Reformed doctrine or are unsure and are studying and seeking the truth. I will not deal with the questions whether Christ died for all men and whether God in His good pleasure desires all men, head for head, to be saved, but rather, how we shall present the Gospel after embracing these truths.
“Certainly, our witnessing and preaching cannot contradict our convictions. To go to a person and say ‘Christ died for you and he loves you’ is going to incur the opposition of our own conscience if we believe that Christ did not die for all men and that He does not desire the salvation of all men. Even those who are unsure, when they utter these words, their spirits may prick them, questioning their right to so boldly proclaim in their witnessing of the truth, something which they consider may be untrue.
“The question for us is ‘how then shall we witness?’ We are so orientated to saying ‘God loves you and wants to save you,’ ‘Christ died for you, wouldn’t you believe Him,’ in witnessing that to confront a lost soul without these words is unthinkable. If we have no universal atonement to offer for the decision of the sinner to accept or reject at the end of the conversation, it seems impossible for any evangelism-personal or from the pulpit. Yet we cannot just say that we will not witness and avoid the issue . . . the Lord’s command forbids us to partake in such folly. . . .
“Indeed the question ‘Who God Is?’ is sorely missing in evangelism today and I stress that without knowing God there is no salvation for ‘this is life eternal, that they may know Thee the only True God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.’ We have already seen that a conviction to sin is Godward and likewise is repentance, faith, yielding and following. The question is what God? Is it just the name Jesus Christ? Not everyone who calls Lord, Lord is saved. If we believe in the Jesus Christ of the rock opera ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ are we then saved? Can one call on the name Jesus having in mind an idol like the many one has at home and expect salvation? Can one add the crucifix to one’s trophy case of idols in one’s heart and escape damnation? Putting the doctrine of Limited Atonement aside, can we tell a person ‘God, loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,’ if the person has not the faintest idea that this is the God that made heaven and earth? Surely an idolater will think of his own idols with eyes, hands, feet, noses, which have no living function. An ordinary man-on-the-street may at best have F. impression of a benevolent fairy-God-Father who is so perturbed by man’s disobedience that he died for him. Dare we as ambassadors risk such a gross misrepresentation of our Sovereign? . . . We need not always follow this set pattern of expressing God’s attributes but I believe Paul makes it clear that we must impress upon the sinner the Great and Almighty God. It is pointless to proclaim to the lost that God is Love before first bringing to them the Great and terrible God. If we do, how will we show them that ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God’?
How can we impress upon the sinner that the wrath and anger of the God of Righteousness and Judgment is upon him for his sin if he does not repent, if we start off with the God of love? The truth is that without the wrath fearfulness of the God of Judgment, the grace and love of God, lose their significance and we can scarcely appreciate them. Judgment for sin is that which inflicts the mortal wound while grace is the balm. If we apply the balm, even the death of our Lord for sin, before exposing the wound, the balm loses its value and the receiver may even deem it cheap. . .. Let us come to the realization that Christ did not die to save us from the devil, who has no power over our soul, but from the wrath of the Living God, which wrath would consume us if not for Christ our Advocate. . . .
Very often we are afraid to point out the sin of idolatry to an unbeliever in fear that he will say we are arrogant and condemning other religions, which in their minds are equal to Christianity. But brethren, have we forgotten that our God is the only true God? The very point we need to bring out is that our religion is not equal to others, our God is above all gods. We must never leave our hearers with the idea that our God is like unto an idol. Evangelism in this present world has deteriorated to the stage that one need not forsake his idols to become a Christian. We hear of Christians speaking of certain ‘converts’ ‘saved’ at certain rallies who have not yet been ‘convicted’ to stop praying to idols. Counselors need to tell counselees sometime after their conversion to stop their idol worship. Is our evangelism bringing forth grotesque hybrids holding joss-sticks in one hand and a Bible in the other? Is salvation possible for one who still clings to idols just because he has ‘accepted Christ.’ Nay, it is not ours to accept or reject Christ for what He is but His to accept us in spite and despite of what we are or to reject us because of what we are. Ours is only to receive Him just as the clay receives the shape the Potter so desires. Clay has no power to accept nor to reject the Potter’s will. We need to come as needy sinners without hope nor power to redeem ourselves and as the Word is declared to receive it with gladness rather than be as one on bargaining ground with God to accept Him should we find Him appealing. This incidentally is irresistible grace in operation. It is Her who ‘worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.’
Brethren, let us remember the Thessalonians who ‘turned to God from idols to serve the Living God.’ I. Thess. 1:9
From the above quotes we gain an appreciation for this young (twenty-one years old) brother’s convictions and we marvel at the fact that just some eight years ago he with his pagan parents bowed down to the gods of Buddhism. It is truly amazing how the Lord has drawn His own unto Himself in Singapore and revealed to them the truth of His Word.
Thankfully the Foreign Mission committee reported to our Synod that it was the desire of the G.L.T.S. that we send as soon as possible a missionary to labor among them. Besides this call for help they informed us of their vision: “We also want to add that, it is the longing and vision of the leaders, as we see that there exists in these parts of the world no strong witness of the Glorious Gospel once delivered to the Saints embodied in the Reformed Truth, that the Lord may raise up here such a witness. We desire for the Church in our midst a strong foundation established upon the Apostles and the prophets with Christ as the Chief Corner Stone, that we may act as a center where the True Light of God’s Word may in future reach beyond the shores of Singapore to neighboring South-East Asia, and where men of God may be trained for such ministry. We believe you as the Protestant Reformed Churches to be God’s provision for us in His grace to help us -do His will.” (From the call letter addressed to F.M.C.)
Our Synod of 1979 granted this request of the G.L.T.S. Our Synod further appointed our Doon, Iowa congregation the calling Church. The ponderous ecclesiastical machine is slowly but surely beginning to roll. It is the prayer of the undersigned that the Lord will lay it upon the heart of one of His laborers to take up this work among his people in Singapore, who have sought our help.
On behalf of the Foreign Mission Committee and the Doon congregation we ask for your prayerful and enthusiastic support in this work, which is of God in Jesus Christ and which has been laid upon us as reapers in His Harvest.
Reverend Marvin Kamps