Report From Singapore

By the time this article appears in print almost a half a year will have gone by since we had opportunity to visit some of our churches on our furlough. It was a real joy to be back in the U.S.A. for a while and to be able to speak on the Lord’s work here in Singapore. We were much encouraged by the evident interest and excitement about the mission work in Singapore that we found among our people. We trust therefore also that you will be interested in hearing again about the progress of the work. It is proper that you should be interested since the work which we by the grace of God are doing here in Singapore is the work which the Lord has given to our churches as a whole. We are sent out and supported by you and labor on your behalf. We hope that our reports in the Standard Bearer will give you a sense of the reality of this. 

The Lord continues to bless His work and His church here in a most unusual and wonderful way. Surely there are also hardships in the work. The saints here are by nature sinners, even as saints are in the U.S.A. There are disappointments. There are those who come to the church for a time and then suddenly fall away again. There are also members of the church who struggle with sins in their lives and they need to be admonished. Probably the greatest problem we continue to face is the one of young men and young women seeking partners outside of the church. This often causes great sorrow and grief when relationships have to be broken for the Lord’s sake and when great sacrifices have to be made. These situations usually require a lot of pastoral labors on the part of the pastors and elders of the church. We say all of the above because we do not want to give the wrong impression in our reports that the church situation here in this respect is different from that in our home churches in the U.S.A. The wonderful thing however is that the Lord prospers and blesses His church in the midst of all her weaknesses and sins. We witness some of the most wonderful evidences of the Lord’s blessing when He delivers and preserves His people from their sins and when He abides faithful when we are often so weak and sinful. 

On the positive side the Lord causes His church here to continue to grow and increase both in numbers and in the knowledge and conviction of His Word. For the church of Jesus Christ the Lord’s Day is always the great high point of the week. On the Lord’s Day we now have two regular worship services. In the morning we have a worship service at our regular meeting place in the kampong on River Valley Road. This place is usually called here RVO. It received this name in the early days of the Bible society and stands for River Valley Outreach. At the morning worship service the attendance averages about 150 people. One of the most significant developments lately at this worship service is that we now have regular preaching according to the Heidelberg Catechism there. We, as your missionary family, are especially happy that the session has agreed to this type of preaching. It is true that the church must be instructed in the doctrines of the Word of God in a systematic way and she must learn and know her creeds. This, by the grace of God, will make the church strong. In the evening of the Lord’s Day we have a second worship service in another location in Singapore called Toa Payoh. This worship service is held at a premise that is rented from a Presbyterian church. This service is specially orientated for mission work in this area of Singapore. The location of this place is very good since it is right in the midst of one of the largest housing estates in Singapore. That means there are literally thousands of people living within short walking distance in row upon row of high apartment buildings. The church is actively engaged in mission work in Toa Payoh, trying to get new people to come to our worship services there. The sermons preached there are usually more simple and basic so that people who have never before heard the Christian faith can understand them. Many of the members of E.R.C.S. are actively involved in going through the housing estate to encourage people to come to the worship services. This, we are experiencing, is hard work. It is more difficult than encouraging people to come to the morning worship service at RVO. Presently attendance at the Toa Payoh Mission averages between forty and fifty. Most of these people are members of our church but we also rejoice to see some new people coming from the immediate area. The objective of this work is to preach the Reformed Faith in Toa Payoh and ultimately, the Lord willing, to establish another church there. Presently Pastor Lau and I are alternating preaching at RVO and Toa Payoh. I am sure that many of you would be quite eager to join one of our worship services and especially one where Pastor Lau was preaching. We would of course like it very much if you could. Most of you will have to be satisfied with this report. Pastor Lau is developing into a very good preacher. It is a thrill to hear him preach the Reformed faith which we so love and to hear also the evident influence of our Seminary in the U.S.A. in his preaching. 

In addition to the two worship services on the Lord’s Day we also have three “house churches” that meet in the evening in various locations in Singapore. These are small groups of the members of the church who gather together for Bible study or for listening to tape-recorded messages. We have told you about these before. These “house churches” meet the needs of people who would have great difficulty in coming to the Toa Payoh Mission for various reasons. Because of the smaller size of these groups they also enjoy rich and close fellowship, and as such can serve for great encouragement to the members of the church. 

On the Lord’s Day we are again having pre-baptism classes for those seeking baptism and membership in our church. We rejoice to see about sixteen young converts coming to these classes. Pastor Lau is teaching these young people from the Heidelberg Catechism: In a short while they will be ready for baptism. This class has been going since last November. This class meets at our apartment because of lack of facilities at RVO. 

One of the most exciting things going on in the church presently is the spate of weddings coming up. Within the next several months we will have eight weddings. All of these weddings are between members of our church. What a joy to see this. The Lord continues to raise up Christian homes in our midst. By the time all of these young couples are married we will exactly double the Christian homes of our church. Pastor Lau and I are sharing the opportunities of officiating at these weddings. Actually, all of these weddings will be solemnized by the state and confirmed in the church. According to the last word from the government, Pastor Lau will not be able to get a license to marry until we have at least 350 members and a church building of our own. The weddings in E.R.C.S. are very large occasions because all of the members of the church are usually involved. They usually include practically a whole day of festivities ending in the evening with a large wedding dinner. 

We received good news from the Singapore government recently. They finally approved the registration of our church. We had been trying to obtain this approval ever since the institution of the church. We experienced some difficulties because of the objection of the government to certain sections of the constitution of the church relating to limiting voting and the holding of office to the male members of the church. They finally did approve even these sections of the constitution. Now that we are officially registered with the government the running of the business of the church will all be so much easier. I cannot go into all the details of this but let me say that there are great advantages to being registered with the government as a church. 

We are looking forward to sending another brother from here to our seminary in the U.S.A. for ministerial training. This brother is from an Indian family. His name is Jaikishin Mahtani. For the last year Pastor Lau and I have been preparing Jaiki for seminary by giving him some instruction in what we in the U.S.A. would call pre-seminary courses. We hope that by doing this his stay in the U.S.A. will be shortened. Jaiki will be marrying a Chinese girl who is a member of our church, Peh Gek Hong. They will together be going to the U.S.A., the Lord willing, some time in July. Many of you will probably have opportunity to meet them. According to plans they will be in the U.S.A. for three years. 

Let me conclude with a few things about our family. We now have four children in school. Because of the fact that schools here operate on a shift basis two of our children go to school in the morning and two in the afternoon. That means a lot of disruption of the family life schedule and it seems we are either sending off or picking up children all day long. They all seem to enjoy school and are progressing well. Sherry is busy among other things with practicing her organ playing, since she has been asked to play for almost all of the coming weddings. These weddings will all be held in borrowed churches since we do not have proper facilities for them at the kampong. We have some budding organists in the church but as yet none who are able to play for weddings. Our home continues to be a busy place. We regularly have seven meetings a week here besides “pre-seminary classes,” and many times people from the church come for counseling or just for social visits. In all things the Lord blesses us and sustains us in His grace and mercy. Our work is a great joy and filled with excitement. We covet your continued support through prayers and letters.