Report on Singapore

Beloved in our Lord Jesus Christ: 

Greetings from Singapore in the name of our Sovereign Almighty Lord God and our Faithful Savior Jesus Christ. By the time you read this report it will be more than five months since the time of the organization of the Evangelical Reformed Church here in Singapore. With thanksgiving unto the Lord we report again to you that the Lord continues to bless and prosper His church here and also our work as your missionary. The church continues to grow in the knowledge of the Reformed faith which we believe is the wonderful truth of the Word of God. We also see evidence of the fact that the Lord continues to add unto His church such as should be saved. 

As the young church develops there is always greater need for a deeper understanding of the doctrines of the Word of God. There is a growing need to be certain that these doctrines are indeed the Word of God. As in all parts of the world so also here in Singapore, the church is confronted by many false doctrines, many worldly philosophies and heathen religions. There is need to defend the truth of God against all of these. We continue therefore to be busy with many classes of instruction as well as Bible study groups to search out the Word of God. As your missionaries we are giving instruction in the Belgic Confession every Lord’s Day morning. In the past we studied the creeds, especially for the purpose of preparing the leaders of the G.L.T.S. to be office bearers in the church. Our present purpose is to bring the other members of the church to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the creeds. 

Throughout the week there are a number of Bible study groups led by various members of our church. We also have a weekly Bible study in our apartment which is attended by 10 to 12 people and where we are studying the book of I John. 

Every Saturday there is a Youth Fellowship (Y.F.) for the younger members of the church and an Adult Fellowship (A.F.) for the older members. Elder Tan Kok Leong is teaching the Y.F. from the Heidelberg Catechism. Instruction at the A.F. is given by all the elders of the church in rotation. I am usually asked to give a message at the A.F. about once per month. I have been asked to speak on some very interesting subjects as suggested by the committee in charge. The topics included; “The Christian’s Attitude Towards Other Denominations,” “The Christian Attitude Towards Sex,” “The Practical Implications of Calvinism.” 

The most exciting of all the classes that we have is our new pre-baptism class. On March 14 five adults were baptized. On April 18 we started another pre-baptism class. We were quite overwhelmed when twenty-four people signed up for this class. Five of these young people are presently baptized members of our church and attend this class to be better instructed in the truths of the Christian faith. All the rest of the members of this class regularly attend our worship services and desire to prepare themselves for confession of faith and baptism and thus to join the church. It is an unspeakable joy and privilege to teach these young new Christians in the first principles of the Christian faith. For most of them this is the first formal instruction in Christian truth they have ever received. 

Since the time of the organization of the church we have had three infant baptisms. In the next few months, the Lord willing, two more infants will be born to members of our church. On March 27 we had another wedding in our midst. We now have seven married couples. As you can imagine, all of this is changing the character of the church considerably. The Lord blesses His church each time there is a marriage and each time a new infant is born. Sometimes in the U.S.A. we are not as profoundly conscious of this fact as we are in a church of the character of the E.R.C.S. The youth of the church of Jesus Christ certainly add .a particular blessing to the church, especially when they use their youthful vigor and strength zealously in the service of the Lord. Each time there is a marriage in the Lord in the church the Lord adds strength and stability. Marriages are particularly a great blessing for the church here because the new homes established become centers where the young people of the church who come from pagan homes can go for comfort and encouragement. Each time the Lord gives infants to the church there is hope for the future of the church as the Lord fulfills His covenant promises. 

The month of June as usual will be an especially busy month for us. During this month we will have the annual church camp which is similar to our Youth Convention in the U.S.A. The theme of this year’s camp is “In Sweet Communion Lord with Thee.” This theme, you will recognize, is taken from our Psalter and is based on Psalm 73. This Psalter number has become a great favorite in the church. I have been asked again to give a series of five messages on the camp theme. The Lord willing, this will be the last time I will have to do this by myself. Next year we are hoping that there will be two ministers to speak at the camp. 

The new consistory, or session as it is called here, continues to learn many new things by experience. Session meetings are held every two weeks and most of the meetings are very long because of all the matters that must be dealt with. The session is learning what it means to have proper oversight over all of the work of the church and also over the lives of the members of the church. We are especially happy to see the serious view they have with respect to the oversight of the sacraments. The session is also learning by experience some of the sorrows and great hardships of the work of the office-bearers of the church of Jesus Christ, especially those connected with members who walk in impenitent disobedience to the commandments of the Lord and must be admonished and disciplined. 

One large project which is presently being worked on is the matter of starting another worship service. We have long hoped for and worked towards the beginning of another worship service. In the past, for various reasons, this was never realized. The session has now made the decision to start another worship service as soon as possible. Plans are to hold this worship service in another location in Singapore. The reasons for this are as follows. For various reasons it would be very difficult if not impossible to hold another worship service at our present place of worship. There would be a great advantage to holding second worship services in another place in Singapore. We would be able to have a witness in another community and be able to work ultimately towards the formation of another congregation. We see several indications of the Lord’s providence which constrain us to move in this direction. We see the urgent need to spread the Reformed Faith in Singapore as widely and as faithfully as the Lord gives us opportunity and the means. We see the Lord blessing us by adding numbers to our present congregation and therefore see the wisdom of eventually starting another congregation. Thirdly we are looking forward to the return of brother Chin Kwee from the U.S.A. and to his ordination to the ministry. The Lord willing, we shall then have another minister and preacher of the Word in our midst. Therefore we should expand the work of the church. Not the least of these considerations is that we should have both myself and the newly ordained minister preaching the Word at least once every Lord’s Day. It is certainly true that the Lord is pleased to gather His church chiefly through the means of the preaching of the Word. 

Preparations are being made for the calling and ordination of brother Lau Chin Kwee to the ministry. These preparations include preparing a short examination of the brother to convince the session and the membership of the church of his qualifications for the ministry. All of this is quite exciting for the E.R.C.S. The church eagerly anticipates the ordination of their own pastor. 

We are continuing our labors of preparing other brothers for the work of the ministry in the church. Two brothers are presently being instructed by your missionary. Hopefully brother Chin Kwee will also be able to help in this work when he returns. One of these brothers, Jaikishin Mahtani, who is an Indian young man, we are hoping to send to our Seminary in the U.S.A. in 1983, the Lord willing. 

The greatest of our physical needs continues to be the matter of obtaining a new place to hold our worship services. We have told you in the past of the great difficulty in finding such a place. At the beginning of the year we thought we had found a suitable place and had even paid a down payment on this place. However, in the providence of the Lord it was later discovered that this property would be affected by a road-widening project listed in a government gazette and slated to take place in the next five years. The lawyer advised not to go ahead with the purchase. A number of other places have been considered since that time. All proved for some reason to be unsuitable. Presently we are considering another three-story building, but the present asking price is really more than the church can afford. 

Our family is all well. We now have three children in school. This year all of them go to the morning session of classes. They are all becoming quite Singaporean, especially in their manner of speech. Our home continues to be very busy with many meetings and visitors almost every day. Every Lord’s Day morning our home is being used as a nursery for all of the new infants in the church. We are looking forward to a furlough in the U.S.A. sometime in November. By then we will have been here for almost three years. The time of our furlough was chosen to coincide with the school vacations here.

We covet your continued prayers for us and for the church of Jesus Christ here. We always greatly appreciate those who write letters to us.