. Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ:
Greetings in the name of our blessed God and Savior Jesus Christ upon Whom we rely entirely and in Whose service we stand. Many of the readers of theStandard Bearer have expressed special appreciation for the news articles we have written on Singapore. We are happy and thankful for the interest in our work that this evidences. We are thankful also for all of the many prayers that are offered on our behalf. We are thankful that our work continues to prosper under the blessing of the Lord. We witness the Lord building His Church by His mighty and wonderful power. To Him alone belongs all the glory.
Though we have written to you several reports of our work in Singapore it seems that there are always enough new things to tell. There are always many exciting things going on. Day after day our lives are filled with activities. Our home is constantly the center of meetings and visits of members of the G.L.T.S. Many weeks there is a meeting at our home almost every evening of the week as well as several on the Lord’s Day. Our supper table is also often shared with guests.
Let me report to you on what we presently consider the three most exciting meetings, besides of course the worship services on the Lord’s Day. All of these meetings take place on the Lord’s Day. Early in the morning of the Lord’s Day we have five Sunday School classes. Your missionary teaches one of these classes. We give instruction in the Old Testament. Each Lord’s Day we study one chapter of the book of Genesis. Attendance at our class alone is usually about thirty. There is especially a great keenness for the study of the Old Testament. For most of the members this is all very new. They are eager to learn the truths of the covenant and of the wonderful works of the Lord in days of old.
The second of these classes is our new prebaptism class. This is now the third of this kind of classes that have been held since our coming. We rejoice to see seven people in regular attendance. As we have told you before, it is especially exciting to teach this class because it usually involves teaching the first principles of the Christian Faith to new saints who have never before heard them. It is a rare joy and blessing to see these youthful saints grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The third of these classes is what is called the commission meeting. The commission is composed of a group of the leaders of the G.L.T.S. who will, the Lord willing, become the office bearers of the Church. The chief task of this commission is to study our Three Forms of Unity for their eventual adoption as the creedal basis of the newly organized church. What is especially encouraging about these meetings is the fact that many besides the members of the commission attend these sessions. In fact, these meetings are probably the best attended meetings in the G.L.T.S. This fact alone is an indication of the interest in the study of the Creeds. Presently we are studying our Belgic Confession. We had originally hoped to finish this study in a few months. It is evident however that this is quite impossible. There is so much discussion at the meetings that we are progressing quite slowly. Because of the need for instruction in all of the doctrines of the Christian Faith as contained in our creeds we are convinced that going slowly is absolutely necessary. There is a great desire to know and understand. In our last two meetings we discussed the doctrine of the Trinity as it is taught in Articles VIII and IX of the confession. This doctrine, as you know, is a very difficult one. One would not normally expect, however, to spend two long sessions discussing this subject. Yet, because of the great desire to know and understand the truth of the Trinity and to see its significance for the Christian Faith, it was necessary to have two class periods. Each of the classes last two hours. We wish that all of our Protestant Reformed people could sit in on some of these meetings and experience their excitement.
We have also been busy again making the preparations for our coming June Camp Retreat. We have told you about these camps before in previous articles. The theme that was chosen for this year’s camp is a truly beautiful and significant one: “I Love Thy Kingdom Lord.” Your missionary has again been asked to give five messages on this theme. This camp will be held at a seaside resort in Malaysia or Singapore.
We have told you before about how the leaders of the G.L.T.S. take part in the work of the church. These brothers essentially do the work of the office bearers in the church. We see these brethren growing rapidly as the Lord is equipping them for the offices. More and more of the pastoral work is being done by the leaders, and much of this is being done very well. Attendance at the worship services is carefully supervised. New visitors who have attended several meetings are usually visited by two of the leaders. Members who are absent from the worship services for several times are also visited and encouraged and admonished as necessary. Those who have problems and are in distress are visited and counseled. We have also been working on preparing the leaders for the diaconal ministry. Because of the poverty of some of the members of the G.L.T.S. we are really in immediate need of the ministry of mercy. We experience more and more how essential the work of the office bearers is. Often we in our established churches take all this so much for granted.
We want to bring to you two great needs of the mission field in Singapore. The greatest need is to be organized and instituted as the church of Jesus Christ. We long for this to take place absolutely as soon as possible. The second great need remains the obtaining of a new place for our worship services. We have been seriously considering a very suitable building that could be used both for a pastor’s residence and a church building. The price of this place is more reasonable than any we have looked at thus far. However, the price is still very high in relation to our available funds. It is evident that the members of the G.L.T.S. are ready to make very great monetary sacrifices for a church building. This is especially true in light of the very low incomes that these young people receive by comparison to Western standards. Even with such large sacrifices we cannot however come near to the total needed to purchase the property under consideration. It is proving very difficult to make a loan from the bank. To appreciate the greatness of this problem one must know the housing situation in overcrowded Singapore. One does not just go down the street and rent a hall for worship services like we can often do in the U.S. This is very difficult if not impossible. We are waiting for the day when we shall be evicted from our present place of worship, because this kampong is going to be demolished to make room for urban redevelopment. We have learned by experience that this can happen within one month’s notice. Humanly speaking, at this point, if this should happen we would be left entirely without a meeting place. We trust however that the Lord will provide this for us also. We ask you to remember this in your prayers.
We had a very unique opportunity to visit some of the homes of our members just recently. During the celebration of the Chinese New Year, which takes place in February, it is custom to go visiting to friends and relatives. Most of the homes are very open to receiving visitors during this time of the year. Even Western people and Christians are received into the home. We visited altogether ten different homes. This gave us a new appreciation of the circumstances under which our members live. Many live in conditions that by our standards would be abject poverty. None live in beautiful, spacious homes like we do in the U.S. All of the homes we visited were very evidently pagan, and we saw many idols and shrines to heathen gods. Some of our members live in very cramped quarters with many other members of larger families. Many do not have rooms to themselves, and it is easy to see how very difficult it would be to find a private place to read and study the Word of God. The only opportunity that some of the members have for this is very late at night or early in the morning when the rest of the members of the family are sleeping. What an amazing thing it is that our God has called these young people unto Himself out of these pagan homes. Because of the financial hardships of the families many of our young people must give a large part of the salaries they earn to support their families. Family allegiance is strong, a thing which is commendable. However, this makes all the more difficult the break that is necessary for the Christians to make from their families. Our visits left us again with the overwhelming impression of how greatly blessed we are with material abundance in the U.S. At the same time, the blessing of the Lord is not bound up with abundance of possessions.
Our God continues to supply all our needs, not only through our regular support from the churches but also through special love gifts from our denomination and from the members of the G.L.T.S. Thanks be unto the Lord.