In an island country of some 5.5 million people, located over 8,000 miles from the nearest PRC, is a congregation of nearly 190 members that earnestly desires Protestant Reformed preachers to come to preach and teach. As all in the PRC know, at the end of 2017 Rev. Andy Lanning accepted the call to a congregation in the USA, leaving our sister congregation in Singapore vacant. Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC) loves the truth preached in the PRCA. When they became vacant, the session immediately began working with the Contact Committee towards obtaining another pastor. After considering all the options, it was thought best to return to the “Minister on Loan” (MOL) concept that had worked so well with Rev. Lanning. The 2018 Synod of the PRC approved the concept and appointed Grandville PRC as the calling church for the MOL. The earliest that an MOL could be established in Singapore and actively fill the work of the ministry is December of 2018. The actual date of arrival obviously depends on the Lord’s calling a man to the work.
In the meantime, the Contact Committee has been actively seeking to fill the pulpit and catechism lecterns of our sister congregation. Emeritus minister Rev. A. denHartog and his wife Sherry have enthusiastically worked in CERC for over seven months. The undersigned will take the next five Sundays. But starting August 26, other ministers are needed to preach in CERC.
The need for ministerial work is obvious. Covenant is a relatively young congregation, established in 1986. The elders are first generation Christians. The congregation has a desire and continual need for instruction. They have a solid catechism program and this instruction of the youth is vitally important, especially in a land where a Christian school is not available and might not be for years. The need for instruction in the congregation also arises out of the blessing that God continues to lead people to CERC from various religious backgrounds. Many of these visitors become regular attendees and they join pre-confession classes in order to understand the Reformed faith.
The Protestant Reformed Churches have a hearty affection for all her sister churches, also the vibrant congregation in Singapore. As a denomination, the PRC demonstrates that love in its willingness to facilitate a minister serving full time in CERC, something for which CERC continually expresses heartfelt gratitude.
Now the individual churches have opportunity to express their love for this sister congregation. Love gives, and gives when it is not always easy or convenient. Local congregations can give their pastors to serve for some weeks in CERC in her vacancy. It may inconvenience the congregation—disrupting catechism, society, and family visitation schedules. But the local congregation is urged to demonstrate this love for CERC. I assure you, Covenant ERC will recognize your kindness and generosity, and thank God for it.
A measure of CERC’s appreciation is evident in her intention to finance all the travel and living expenses of the visiting ministers. It is immediately plain that this undertaking may well be a significant burden for this small, self-supporting congregation. They are willing even to pay for the expenses of the minister’s wife when he preaches for a minimum of three Sundays. Consider, however, that this could cost close to $1,000 per Sunday—a heavy load.
It would help CERC much if consistories would allow their minister to stay for a longer period—four or five weeks perhaps. And then, what about the cost of the wife’s travel? In years gone by (I testify from personal experience), ministers in the PRC commonly left wife and family for four Sundays to work oversees. These days, the churches have started sending wives with delegations when it serves the good of the work overseas. However, the benefit for a wife accompanying her husband to CERC is the minister’s, not much our sister’s.
And I wish to drive home the point that it is a benefit for your minister to work in Covenant. Early in my ministry God gave me opportunity to preach and speak in Singapore and later in Ghana. These trips shaped much of my view of the church universal and of missions and certainly enriched my understanding. It was good for my ministry. I trust that the congregations that I served benefited from that work overseas, and the benefits are ongoing yet today in my service to the churches in various ways.
I repeat, your minister’s experience of working in Singapore will benefit your congregation. Having his wife accompany him will strengthen the experience and increase its long-term value. So, what I am suggesting is that your congregation not only be willing to release your pastor to work in Singapore for some weeks, but also consider financing all or part of the wife’s travel expenses. You will not regret it. CERC will have the preaching and teaching that she so earnestly desires. And your pastor will grow, for the benefit of your congregation and the Protestant Reformed Churches as a whole.