Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ:
We greet you again in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, We give thanks unto God for His continued abundant blessings upon the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ which He has given to us. Our Heidelberg Catechism teaches us in one of its most beautiful Lord’s Days: “The Son of God from the beginning to the end of the world, gathers, defends and preserves to Himself by His Spirit and Word, out of the whole human race a church chosen to everlasting life. . .” (Lord’s Day 21). It is indeed a particularly great joy to witness this on the foreign mission field. What a glorious thing it is that the Lord calls His elect from heathen nations out of darkness into His marvelous light and so gathers His one universal catholic church unto everlasting salvation and glory. Let me tell you again some of the most significant new developments here in Singapore.
The focus and center of our work continues to be matters relating to the organization and establishment of the church here. We together with the members of the G.L.T.S. continue to look forward with eager anticipation to the day when a Reformed Church will be established with us in Singapore. We are thankful that things are progressing smoothly and in a settled routine way toward this goal. The G.L.T.S. has now elected a commission of elders and deacons which has as its primary purpose the study of our Three Forms of Unity. The outcome of the elections was a commission of four elders and two deacons. These brethren will, the Lord willing, be ordained as the office bearers of the church at the time of our organization. Every Tuesday evening this commission receives from your missionary instruction from the Reformed Creeds. We are thankful that these weekly classes are not only attended by the members of the commission but also by a goodly number of other interested brothers of the G.L.T.S. We decided to begin our study with the Belgic Confession. We will not need to spend a lot of time studying the Heidelberg Catechism. As I have told you before, each Saturday there are two groups of members of the G.L.T.S. receiving instruction in the Heidelberg Catechism. I teach the older members of the G.L.T.S. at the Adult Fellowship. Brother Francis Quek teaches the younger members at the Youth Fellowship. So the majority of the members of G.L.T.S. are receiving instruction in the Heidelberg Catechism. In the Adult Fellowship we are now almost half way through the Catechism. Expectations are that the commission will take about nine or ten months to study the creeds, after which time, the Lord willing, we shall be ready to organize the church. This will probably take place some time in May or June of next year.
I cannot tell you what is happening at all of the different meetings which we have in the G.L.T.S. Let me just highlight some of the more significant ones. Our worship services are always well attended. There is faithful attendance by the members and there are almost always visitors brought by various members.
Every Lord’s Day afternoon we have the pre-baptism class in our apartment. This class is attended very faithfully by eleven members ranging in age from 18 to 25 years. Nine of the members of this class are preparing for baptism. Two members have been baptized before (prior to our coming to Singapore) and desire to be better instructed in the faith. We have about twelve weeks of instruction left for this class, after which we will have met for a total of about twenty weeks. The Lord willing we shall then again have the blessed experience of a special baptism service for these young people.
On the evening of each Lord’s Day we gather together for what are called “tape hours.” At these tape hours we sing and pray and listen to tape recorded sermons. Presently there are four such tape hours meeting simultaneously in various localities of Singapore. We are listening to many of our Protestant Reformed ministers as well as some from other denominations. Work is going on finally to establish a second worship service on the Lord’s Day. This is the ideal goal to strive for. However, there are several problems associated with the holding of a second worship service. One of them is that the place where we presently worship is a Kampong, which means that, there are many residents living on the other side of the thin walls of the- place of worship. It is feared that instituting a second worship service on the Lord’s Day will aggravate the residents of the Kampong into making complaints against us to the authorities. To appreciate fully this situation one almost has to see the circumstances of our place of worship. Anyway, as long as no one makes complaints against us we are permitted to use a Kampong for our worship services. However, should there be several complaints it would be possible that the Singapore government would forbid us to use our present place and that would we would be left entirely without a place to hold our worship services. A second problem is that many of the members of the G.L.T.S. must travel for an hour or longer by bus to get to our worship services. There are strong parental objections for some of the young people to their being away from home all day Sunday. If these members would come to two worship services they would have to spend four or more hours just traveling. The four tape hours are nearer to the residences of the members and this makes it possible for more of the members to attend. How this will develop in the future remains to be seen. The situation of course would change somewhat if we by God’s grace could acquire our own place of worship. There has been some talk about circuit preaching, in which I would go to one of these tape hours each Lord’s Day to preach. Presently we rejoice at the blessed fellowship we enjoy from week to week at these “house churches.” We are thankful that we can hear the preaching of the Word of God through this means. One of the tape hours is regularly at our apartment.
Every Thursday evening there are various “cell groups” throughout Singapore. These cell groups are groups of members and visitors that meet for Bible study and prayer. We also have one of these cell groups in our home. This group was started especially for the residents of our apartment building. Presently there are a few residents of Pacific Mansion who regularly attend our cell group as well as several members of the G.L.T.S. We are studying the book of James.
Next month (November) will be a busy and exciting month for us. During the first week of the month I have been asked to give a series of three speeches on the Five Points of Calvinism to a group of Singapore University Students. Some of these are members of the G.L.T.S. and some of them are not. This is in part still a fruit of the lectures given here by Prof. Hoeksema. I have been asked to deal specifically with each of the five points, explaining their meaning and proving them from scripture.
In the middle of the month we are going to have another week-long retreat. The G.L.T.S. regularly has two such retreats every year. These retreats coincide with the school vacations of the members. This varies for the different members. We as Protestant Reformed people are probably surprised that there are two such retreats every year. Again we must remember that the members of the G.L.T.S. do not have all the blessings of Christian fellowship that we have in our homes and other places. They yearn after Christian fellowship with one another and count these retreats as an especially great blessing. The theme of next month’s retreat is “Take Time to Be Holy.” I have been asked to give a series of five messages on this topic.
This past Monday was a national holiday in Singapore. On this day the G.L.T.S. organized a mass tracting session. A group of the members distributed tracts and invitations to the worship services and Sunday school classes, to the homes in the neighborhood. This is in keeping with the tradition of the Gospel Literature and Tract Society. This is difficult work and involves many of the members. It. affords opportunity occasionally for members to get into homes to share the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I was just interrupted in my writing of this report by a phone call. One of the members of the G.L.T.S. called to tell me about the persecution he is presently facing in his home. It seems that he just told them now that he had been baptized two years ago in the G.L.T.S. His parents became very angry with him. He is the only Christian in the family and his whole family is against him. He is presently a university student and his parents are threatening to remove him from the university. They see Christianity as a Western religion and they believe that it often comes with Western teachings in the universities.
Another young man has been trying to bring his sister to our worship services. They both have been experiencing a lot of persecution in their homes. Their parents are threatening to cast them out of the home if they continue to attend Christian worship services. Pray for the many hardships which the young Christians of the G.L.T.S. must face. I could tell you of many more such situations. I urge again upon our Protestant Reformed Young people to appreciate the Christian homes which you have. Be thankful for them. Use the Christian training you have the privilege of receiving from your youth up. To whom much is given, much is required.
While most of you in the U.S. are presently in the midst of winter and are experiencing cold weather we here in Singapore continue to have very hot and humid weather (always in the high 80s). It seems to strange to us that there are really no seasons at all here. The temperature remains very much the same all year around. Also the rainfall is very much the same although we are told that there is some increase in rain during the months of December through February.
We cannot end our report to you without expressing to all those who have written to us in the past weeks our hearty appreciation. Since the time of Prof. Hoeksema’s encouragement in this paper we have received floods of mail. Your letters are a great source of joy and encouragement to us. We thank God for them.
Your Missionary in His Service
Rev. Arie denHartog