Greetings to you in the name of the Sovereign God and Savior Jesus Christ Who is pleased to gather His church out of all nations of the world. Let me tell you again something about how the Lord is doing this through our ministry as your missionary here in Singapore. It remains evident that the Lord is pouring out a very great blessing upon the preaching of the gospel here. We are amazed by the response to the preaching of the gospel. The numbers at our worship services continue to grow. The saints are growing in their knowledge and love of the Reformed faith. The work is a real joy and blessing for us. We are overwhelmed by all of the evidences of love and appreciation that we are receiving from the saints here. We are certainly being very well taken care of and lack nothing. We receive all of this too as evidences of love for the gospel which we have the great privilege to preach.
It is especially since our Christmas Day worship services that we have seen a significant increase in numbers. At this worship service there were more than 140 in attendance. Ever since that time, each Lord’s Day we have seen an average of 130. Last Lord’s Day we had the greatest number ever, over 150. The increased numbers in attendance at the worship services means that almost every Lord’s Day there are some that must sit outside of our place of worship because of lack of space inside. We are very greatly in need of a new place of worship. To date we have not been able to find this. A committee of the G.L.T.S. is very busy searching.
At the same time it is a great thrill to see capacity audiences each Lord’s Day. Several new people are attending our worship services regularly as well as being involved in other activities in the G.L.T.S. We are always amazed by the fact that the sole means through which new people come to the worship services is that of personal invitation and encouragement of the members of the G.L.T.S. While we certainly believe that it is through the instrumentality of the preaching of the gospel that Jesus Christ is pleased to gather His church it is evident again and again that the members of the church have a vital part and calling in the work of the gathering of the church. The church grows through the zealous witness of the saints and the living testimony of their lives as they go forth from the preaching of the gospel. That is how it was in the New Testament Church. That is how it is here in Singapore.
On the Lord’s Day of January 18 we had another very special Lord’s Day as we witnessed the sacrament of Holy Baptism. We had the unusual and blessed privilege of administering the sacrament of Holy Baptism for eleven brothers and sisters in the Lord. All of these youthful saints have received about twenty weeks of instruction in Christian and Reformed doctrine. All were personally examined by the leaders of the G.L.T.S. in our presence. All made public confession of their faith by answering the five questions in our baptism form at the worship service. Several of these young Christians made this confession of faith and received baptism in spite of strong opposition and persecution in their homes.
Plans are to begin another class for baptism and membership in the G.L.T.S. in the next few weeks. There are several persons who have already indicated desire for such a class. There is still a good number of people who regularly attend the worship services and other meetings of the G.L.T.S. who are not yet baptized. All of these people are going to be confronted by the .leaders and myself in the next few weeks. The command of our Lord Jesus Christ is not only to preach the gospel but also to baptize all those who believe.
The increased attendance of course also increases the amount of work. There is always especially an increase in the amount of pastoral work. There is a very great need for pastoral work on the mission field. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ often has the greatest effect when it is brought directly and personally to the specific needs and problems of the saints. The youthfulness of the saints here increases the need for pastoral work. They face many of the same problems that the young people in our established churches face. But they have no Christian father and mother to turn to. They face the added problems that come from having pagan homes and from having to suffer persecution in these homes. In fact, there is so much pastoral work here that it is impossible for your missionary to do this all by himself. There is much that should be done but that just does not get done. It is for this reason that we continue to pray that the Lord will send us an elder and his wife to come over and help us. What these youthful saints need is someone who can serve as a kind of spiritual father and mother to them.
We are very thankful for the large amount of work which the leaders of the G.L.T.S. do. They also take a great part of the pastoral work. Though they are not yet officially office bearers in the church they perform very much of the labors of office bearers. We long for the day when these brethren can be officially ordained as office bearers in the church. We need this. It is our conviction that the apostle Paul very soon ordained office bearers in the church because he saw how greatly the church needed them. The Lord has raised up in the G.L.T.S. men who are well qualified to be office bearers. We believe that a foreign mission needs office bearers. From the start the work of the church on the foreign mission field must be carried on by the saints whom the Lord gathers. The Lord Jesus gathers the church as a local and autonomous church. We believe that when the Lord gathers His saints on the mission field He also equips and qualifies men to be office bearers. These men then serve from the beginning to lead and guide the church into the truth of the Word of God. In all of our labors we therefore give as much of the work as possible to the leaders of the church here, we allow them to make as many of the decisions for the church themselves as they are able to make. As missionary it is my calling to give leadership and instruction to faithful men whom the Lord has called to lead the church.
The G.L.T.S. continues to grow and increase in the knowledge and love of the Reformed Faith. We are impressed by two things in this connection. On the one hand it takes a lot of patient labors to nurture those who are babes in Christ unto maturity. The saints here are all youthful, and many of them have been Christians for only a few years. Not too many years ago they knew nothing at all of the Word of God. Imagine yourselves in such a state. We as Protestant Reformed people have almost all had the blessed privilege of being instructed in the Reformed Faith from childhood on. We have had hundreds of catechism classes, many of us have heard thousands of sermons. Imagine now how much instruction it takes to come to the state of being mature Reformed Christians. It is a great joy and privilege for me as your missionary to nurture these young saints in the Reformed Faith. In many cases I have the privilege to be the very first one to give to these saints instruction in the doctrines of the faith. We do not therefore labor with those who have developed in apostasy, as is often the case on the home mission field. We labor with new saints of God. As is always true in the church, errors can easily arise. Also new Christians can be led astray by false preachers and false doctrines. There are many of these in Singapore also. Yet there is a difference between those who have for a long time gone the way of apostasy and those who first come to the faith and are led astray.
The second thing which we are impressed with is the eagerness that there is in the G.L.T.S. to learn. They are conscious of being young in the faith. They know they have a lot yet to learn and they desire to learn this. The various Bible classes and catechism classes are always made lively and exciting because of the many questions that are asked. It is very often the case that one does not get through the material that he had planned because of the many questions that are asked. Throughout the week we often get phone calls from members of the G.L.T.S. who want to know the meaning of this or that passage of scripture. Some of the questions are not easy to answer and I often have to ask for more opportunity to study the questions before I give an answer. There is just no end of subjects that are faced. It makes me so often wish that I had more time to study this or that area more carefully. Always one must come up with Biblical answers. We often find that we take doctrines and practices in our church so much for granted that we do not give enough thought to the Biblical foundation for these doctrines and practices. So we are driven again and again to the Word of God and we must learn these Biblical foundations anew.
On January 1 we rejoiced at the occasion of the engagement of another young couple who are both members of the G.L.T.S. We are now giving instruction to this young couple in the scriptural teachings on marriage, using as our guide the book on marriage by our Rev. Engelsma. This couple will be married in May, the Lord willing. It is always a blessing for the church to have a marriage take place in her midst. This is especially true for the G.L.T.S. We can very much see that our married couples give the G.L.T.S. strength and stability. We find that the Chinese are somewhat slow, by our western standards, to marry. Perhaps this is even more so in the G.L.T.S. than in Singapore in general. The young men are quite shy to get on with the business of finding a life partner. This has caused some problems. They need instruction and encouragement on the whole matter of the importance of establishing Christian homes.
I have taken many occasions already to give instruction in the truth of the covenant and the importance of Christian homes for the church. I have emphasized that the church continues as God is pleased to gather His elect along the lines of continued generations. Thus the G.L.T.S. must understand that the true church must be established not only with them personally but also with the families which the Lord in His providence will give to them. It is obvious that also the precious scriptural truth of the covenant has a large part in the preaching on the foreign mission field.
This article is again getting rather lengthy so I must stop here, though I could tell you much more. Let me close with an expression of appreciation to all of you who have remembered us in the recent season of the year with prayers and cards and letters and gifts. We are much encouraged by all of these and give thanks unto the Lord that our denomination is so vitally interested and concerned about our work here.