ISSN 0129-6868 MCI (P) 044/11/2021 Vol 124 No 8 AUGUST 2022 Faith and Politics The army I serve: From soldier to pastor MP Lim Biow Chuan \"I wear my faith on my sleeve\" Roe v. Wade: What does the Lord require of us?
Editorial Board Contents Adviser and Publisher / Bishop’s Message / Dr Anthony Goh / News / Chairperson 3 TRAC WSCS Breakthrough in the VUCA World Council on Communications 5 WFCMC 8th Missions Conference Communications Manager 8 TRAC Young Methodist Leaders Conference 12 PLMC Conference Lynn Tan / Feature / Managing Editor 14 Lim Biow Chuan—I wear my faith on my sleeve Alvin Tay 16 Rev Lai Kai Ming—The army I serve Editor 18 Roe v. Wade—What does the Lord require of us? Lianne Ong / Opinion / Sub-editors 22 Soundings: Christians and the State Lucy Cheng / People / Janice Khoo Tan Chiu Ai 24 Donald Leow—Missions by media 33 Terence Chua—Our Wesleyan heritage Proofreaders / Outreach / Kenneth Lee Christabel Tan 27 Counselling isn’t only for crises 28 Politics and Christian Missions The official monthly publication of The Methodist Church in / Worship / Singapore. Published material does not necessarily reflect the 30 A patriotic Christian? official view of The Methodist Church. All Scripture quoted is / Relationships / based on the English Standard Version unless otherwise stated. 32 You and Your Family: Legacy of wrath 70 Barker Road #06-04 Cover photo by Singapore 309936 Wesley Loh (Memphis West Pictures) 6478-4793 | 6478-4763 Special thanks to Fairfield Methodist Secondary School message.methodist.org.sg www.methodist.org.sg communications@methodist. org.sg fb.com/Methodist.SG @methodist.sg @methodistsg Have something to say or share? Email us at [email protected] Design & Production by Londonbob Design Printed by Adred Creation Print Pte Ltd
Bishop’s Message Bishop Dr Gordon Wong was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2020. He served as President of the Trinity Annual Conference from 2013–2020. In politics, be the salt of the earth Have you heard of Obadiah? Yes, life in politics can be pretty dangerous! Illustration by Caitlin Low Obadiah? Who was he? So, who was Obadiah then? He was King Ahab’s office administrator. Like the You can read Obadiah’s story in 1 Kings 18. He served President’s Chief of Staff, or Permanent Secretary in under the terrible administration of Israel’s king Ahab the Prime Minister’s Office. and his ruthless wife Jezebel. You mean he was directly involved in politics and How could a devout believer in God serve under government? such a terrible political administration? Indeed he was. And the Bible says he was “a devout It must have been tough for him. But the Bible says believer in the LORD”. that because of his position, Obadiah was able to save the lives of many by warning the prophets But I thought devout believers are never involved in about the plans which Ahab and Jezebel had devised politics. to arrest and silence them. You thought wrongly. The Bible highlights several Sort of like, God’s secret agent for good? devout and courageous believers who were very influential in politics. You could say that! Or we could say what Jesus said: he worked like the salt of the earth. Salt is invisible Like Joseph! when rubbed into the meat, but it preserves what is good and protects against decay. That's right, the Joseph in Genesis who became Prime Minister in Egypt, and steered the country Praise God for salt! through a seven-year economic crisis. Don't forget Daniel, Babylon’s prime minister in the days of King Yes, and let us praise God for politicians who seek Nebuchadnezzar. to do good for many, whilst ever under the threat of being thrown to the lions! The same Daniel who was thrown in the lion’s den? Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the LORD. While Jezebel was killing off the LORD's prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) 1 Kings 18:3-4 NIV August 2022 Methodist Message 1
Coming up 2 Methodist Message August 2022
News By Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) Women's Society of Christian Service (WSCS) / Photos courtesy of TRAC WSCS Breakthrough in the V U C A World ambiguity complexity uncertainty volatility Some Viruses, wars, runaway inflation and Dr Cheah Fung Fong, TRAC Vice-President, exercises natural disasters are part of our daily was the first speaker. Her message, entitled before the diet of news. Add our complex human “Behold, I will do a new thing,” was based relationships and financial and health on Isaiah 43:14-21. She emphasised that settling challenges, and we get a Volatile, Uncertain, in seeking breakthroughs, we need first down for the Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world. to remember who God is: our Redeemer, the Holy One, our Creator and King. He is next talk sovereign and in control of this VUCA world. Secondly, we are to release the past—be How do we break through such chaos? they trophies and successes in days gone by, or the hurts, unforgiveness and bitterness This was the theme of this year’s Trinity we harbour. Thirdly, we are to receive God’s Annual Conference (TRAC) Women's Society grace in the ordinary activities of daily life. of Christian Service (WSCS) conference: With eyes of faith, expect the unexpected “Breakthrough in the VUCA World”. After from our God who is preparing a “new three years since the last on-site VUCA thing” for each of us. Lastly, recognise God’s conference, great excitement and joy filled purpose for our VUCA experiences. Each the worship hall of Toa Payoh Methodist breakthrough is for his praise and glory. Church (TPMC) when nearly 300 ladies Thus, have faith that God works in ways we gathered on 25 June. Nearly every TRAC cannot see or expect. church was represented, joined by sisters from other Annual Conferences and non- Mrs Janette Chong’s talk on “Raising an Methodist churches. unexpected gift” roused laughter and sympathy as she shared experiences of Conference coping with one child with Attention speakers and Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and another with Asperger's Syndrome. Through TRAC WSCS it all, God has taught her to trust him President, more fully and transformed her to being more patient and even-tempered. She Ms Neo Lay Tin concluded that God sometimes places (second from “Goliaths” in our lives for us to find the right) “Davids” within us. VUCA 2022 kicked off with a welcome by Mrs Grace Lim never expected a fish head Rev Benjamin Lee, Pastor-in-Charge of meal to cause a near-death experience TPMC, and an opening prayer by TRAC when a tear in her oesophagus required two WSCS President, Ms Neo Lay Tin. To prepare operations and prolonged hospitalisation. hearts for God’s Word, Crystal, Amanda and This incident led her to realise that God had Kaeyan of Paya Lebar Methodist Church led preserved her for a purpose and to seek us in a time of worship. his plan for her life. The Covid-19 pandemic also turned her jet-setting lifestyle into a Zoom world, where she has connected with hundreds of people across more than 40 countries through the Freedom in Christ ministry. God has also used her passion for disciple-making to touch many. August 2022 Methodist Message 3
Breakthrough in the VUCA World After a short break, Dr Victoria Lim led wants, communing and identifying the ladies in breathing and relaxation with him teaches us to listen and obey. exercises. Refreshed, we were ready And as we declare his Word, we align to listen to an extraordinary testimony to his will. by Ms Hannah Chun. Imprisoned for drug offences, she had her first child As the conference drew to a close, behind bars. The pain and shame the altar was opened for ministry. spiralled into a vicious cycle of more Many ladies responded to the call drugs and cover-ups. Eventually, God and gathered to be ministered to. spoke to her through John 3:17. Like More than four hours had flown the prodigal son, she felt she came by. Challenged, encouraged and from a pigsty. Yet, our Heavenly Father hopeful, the ladies departed to seek welcomed her with open arms. It was breakthroughs in their VUCA world. not an overnight recovery. By God’s grace, she has persevered and now The VUCA 2022 organising committee ministers to ladies, locally and abroad. is thankful to God for his guidance and provision of inspiring speakers. Worship Rev Irene Thung then spoke on TRAC WSCS is also grateful to TPMC team from Micah 2:13, which reveals God as “Ha and the pastors for hosting the Paya Lebar Poretz”, the One who breaks open the conference. Methodist way. Spiritual breakthrough begins when we have radical faith, identify To God be all the glory! Church ourselves as God’s beloved children and grasp the power of prayer. Rather than going to God with a wish list of
News By the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) Communications Team / Photos courtesy of Joshua Khoo, Kong Kum Cheong and CAC Living a missional legacy World Federation of the Chinese Methodist Churches 8th Missions Conference | 9-13 June 2022 (top) Praise & Worship led by worship team from Hong Kong (bottom) Sermon by President Lam Chun (right) and interpreted by Rev Timothy Ang (left) (right) Overseas Conference Bishops, Presidents and representatives Every Missions Conference, participants from Chinese Methodist Churches from around the world gather physically at the host country for a lively and vibrant meeting. This was what happened in Hong Kong in 2017 and should have happened in Singapore this year. However, as effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to be felt, the 8th Missions Conference (8MC) became the first World Federation of Chinese Methodist Churches (WFCMC) Missions Conference to be held online. As many brothers and sisters in Christ were unable to travel to Singapore, they joined us online. There were 1,200 registered participants, and many non-registered participants who joined segments of the 8MC that were open to the public. While most of the conference programme was held online, the Opening and Closing Services and the keynote addresses took place August 2022 Methodist Message 5
WFCMC 8th Missions Conference on-site, with the help of Queenstown Chinese (top) Rev Khoo Cheng Methodist Church (QCMC) and Toa Payoh Hoot stepping down from Chinese Methodist Church (TPCMC), allowing participants in Singapore to enjoy in-person his 25-year role as the fellowship. WFCMC General Secretary and “passing the baton” to We were encouraged by Conference Bishops, Presidents and representatives from overseas, Rev Dr Su Chii Ann who travelled to Singapore to participate in the 8MC, despite the risks and inconveniences (bottom) posed by the pandemic. Announcement for the 9th Mission Conference The Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) in Singapore welcomed our overseas guests Host Region and with local food during their short stay here. Handover of Missions CAC President Rev Dr Gregory Goh, District Superintendents and guests gathered at Conference Flag TPCMC or the nearby eateries to enjoy delicious meals and fellowship before tuning in to the online conference together. President Lam Chun from The Methodist Church, Hong Kong, kicked off the conference with a message on “Passing On & Receiving
(left) Conference participants at Queenstown Chinese Methodist Church (top) Council members at Toa Payoh Chinese Methodist Church, with overseas members joining over Zoom the Baton”. He noted that the legacy of At the Closing Service, Rev Dr Goh spoke faith is not a one-off event and that it about “Methodist Missional Life of Holiness”. ought to be developed into a culture of He said that while the Methodist Church the church. As we pass on or receive the involves itself in a lot of social concerns such batons of ministry, we should also impart as running schools, hospitals and other social the conviction of succession, ensuring that services, the Methodist mission is not about the baton continues to be passed on and social concerns and the value of social actions received. Towards the end of his sermon, per se. Behind these activities and at the heart President Lam Chun highlighted that God of the Methodist mission lies a deep love for has a different plan for each of us where no God, as well as the personal and collective two people walk identical paths. Those who striving towards sanctification. He emphasised receive the baton are not to blindly follow and that the Christian life is a missional life where imitate, but rather to internalise the spirit of one life should and will impact another the experienced and to seek renewal and the through the pursuit of holy living. Lord’s guidance for the path ahead. Plenty of time and heart went into the Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon preparation and running of the 8MC and delivered three keynote talks at the we thank God for his faithful and sovereign conference. He shared the importance of guidance through it all. We give thanks also being one with Christ and one with each for the speakers, pastors, church staff and other before we can be one in ministry to all volunteers who contributed to the event. the world. He began by reminding us that we—the branch—need to be fully dependent Echoing what President Lam Chun expressed on God—the true vine, for apart from him, we at the Opening Service, we pray and hope that could achieve nothing of lasting significance. this conference has benefited everyone who BE Dr Solomon asserted that it is precisely participated and that their experience will in the God-given diversity of gifts that the have an impact on their ministries. Christian community is called to replicate the unity of the Trinity. He reiterated in his final You can watch parts of the conference at keynote talk that only with one heart and one http: //tiny.cc/8mcyoutube mind can we attain missional unity. August 2022 Methodist Message 7
News By Rev Allan Lee, Young Methodist Leaders Conference (YMLC) Committee / Photos courtesy of YMLC 2022 Media Team photographers, Matthias Ho, Hazel Heng, Joash Lee, Shimone Kow, and Rachael Koh Worshipping together in-person for the first time in two years YMLC delegates engaging current TRAC leaders in the forum 21st Young Methodist Leaders Conference What should the Methodist Church look like in the future? “Welcome to YMLC! Have you been prayed for?” However, personal renewal was only a small part of the YMLC. Since its inception, YMLC has These greetings filled the atrium of Wesley sought to raise the next generation of leaders Methodist Church as youth leaders from in the Methodist Church. With that in mind, Methodist churches arrived to attend the 21st the theme for this year’s YMLC, “Re:Inspired: Young Methodist Leaders Conference (YMLC), Imagining God’s Methodist Vineyard for the the first in-person YMLC since the pandemic. Future” invited delegates to consider the question, “What should our Methodist Church For Glennis Ooi from Christalite Methodist look like in the future?” Chapel, it was for a time of connection, renewal, and being refreshed in the Lord. She recounted, The purpose of this was to challenge and “Before YMLC started, I was struggling with my inspire our delegates to consider the future faith and almost lost my faith. I told God that of the church and their roles, and also to if Christianity is for me, speak to me at YMLC. remember our Wesleyan heritage. Long story short, he worked in so many different ways to show me that even if I’m undeserving The first plenary kicked off with a look at of God’s love, I’ll find my way back to him. God “Traditioning into the Future”. Rev Dr Bernard works in many ways and will never forsake us.” Chao discussed how the early Methodist 8 Methodist Message August 2022
The forum between current and future leaders of TRAC was moderated by Rev Dr Mentors praying with delegates who Bernard Chao (far left). On the panel were (from left to right) TRAC Vice-President responded to God’s call Dr Cheah Fung Fong; TRAC President, Rev Stanley Chua; TRAC Lay Leader, Mr Henry Tan; and District Superintendent for District 4, Rev Dr Edwin Wong movement began as a “future-facing tradition of the limitations with the Methodist system, that started with and grew with innovation”. In he made it clear that “Despite our limitations particular, he noted innovations in five areas: and weakness as a Church, we can still grow spirituality, social concern and social justice, and that is proof that God has not left The liturgy and worship, evangelism and missions, Methodist Church in Singapore.” as well as organisational leadership. This resonated with Bryan Ho of Cairnhill Having seen what God had done in the Methodist Church, who shared that one of his past, the second plenary focused on the greatest takeaways from YMLC was that “The question, “What is God doing in our Methodist Methodist Church was not built upon the work churches?” of any one man, but by the Holy Spirit. Even the greatest work of man could not match Taking the bull by its horns, TRAC President up against the smallest work of our Almighty Rev Stanley Chua began by asking delegates God—this we have seen in the undying passion a bold question: “How many of you have ever of our Young Leaders for Christ over the last 22 thought about leaving the Methodist Church?” years through the presence of the Holy Spirit.” In response, it seemed as if nary a hand remained unraised. Going on to address some The greatest highlight was undoubtedly August 2022 Methodist Message 9
ACS (International) ACS (International) Singapore is a Building Through Belief, this school of choice provides distinctive international secondary school open to all Singaporeans • Exceptional examination results, strong value-added achievement and an all-round & other nationalities, offering an holistic education all-round English-based education for students aged 12 to 18 years • 50:50 mix of local and international teachers who uphold the dual Methodist ethos leading to the International General and ACS heritage Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and the International • Small class sizes with overall student-teacher ratio of 8.7 : 1 Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP). • 40 different CCAs – 16 Sporting, 12 Visual and Performing Arts, 12 Special Interest Groups Senior Leadership Team • Over 200 formal student leadership positions • Scholarships for four Singaporeans to undertake the IBDP Mr Gavin Kinch Mrs Tan Siew Hoon Achievements include Principal Vice-Principal • Students with perfect score of 45 points in IBDP Mr Christopher Hayward Dr Kristopher Achter • 23 “Top in the World” awards in IGCSE examinations over each of the past twelve years Vice-Principal Vice-Principal • Students accepted to Oxford and Cambridge universities for the past eight years For more information, please contact Joseph Ng or Serene Lim • Admissions to top universities in the UK, the US, Australia and Singapore at +65 6472 1477 or • PSLE and GCE ‘O’ Level students obtaining outstanding value-added examination results [email protected] for the IBDP and improved pathways to good universities • Successes at national level in Athletics, Touch Rugby, Debating, Orchestra, Volleyball, Taekwondo, Ice Hockey, Fencing, Swimming, Artistic Swimming, Rhythmic Gymnastics and Wushu.
TRAC Young Methodist Leaders Conference the forum between the young leaders and The final day gave delegates an opportunity current TRAC leaders. A panel comprising to connect with delegates from the inaugural Rev Chua, Vice-President Dr Cheah Fung YMLC. This took the form of a recording Fong, Lay Leader Mr Henry Tan, and District 4 featuring Rev Dr Isaac Lim, who had first Superintendent Rev Dr Edwin Wong engaged mooted the idea of bringing together young delegates in a time of dialogue. leaders as the next generation of leaders in the Methodist Church, and a panel of YMLC alumni. Lynette Quah from Paya Lebar Methodist It was somewhat poignant that delegates of the Church shared, “I appreciated the invitation 1st YMLC prayed for delegates of the 21st YMLC, to craft the future of our Methodist Church painting a picture of one generation of leaders together and even challenging traditions that passing on the torch to another and inviting our may not have worked well. It was heartening to young leaders to be co-workers in God’s Church. see the young people as well as the older people come together, united by a love for our Church As YMLC concluded, we left not only having and a desire for the Methodist Church to grow.” been fed by the Lord, but also with a renewed sense that having seen God’s hand at work in There was also a time for delegates to Re:Align, our history, we know that it is he who had kept as Rev Reuben Ng challenged the conference and sustained us. We could go forth assured to be obedient to God’s call on their lives and that God was not done with the Methodist serve him regardless of the circumstances Church yet. The question is, will we continue each faced. This was followed by a time of to carry the Wesleyan flame and heart of commitment and prayer. Methodism in this generation? The mentors—all TRAC pastors—had set aside Check out three days of their time to journey with our young leaders during the conference. As Pastor the YMLC Instagram account Joseph Chean remarked, he had never seen any other church or denomination send their @ymlctracsg pastors to serve as mentors for young leaders. “Perhaps this could be said to be an ‘innovation’ for more snippets and pictures by the Methodist church today,” he said. from the conference. The team of YMLC Mentors, all of whom are TRAC Pastors, led by Rev Wendy Tay (standing, 6th from left), Chairperson for YMLC 2022 August 2022 Methodist Message 11
By Paya Lebar Methodist Church Communications Team / Photos courtesy of Paya Lebar Methodist Church From 16 to 19 June 2022, the inaugural PLMC (top) Rev Edmund Conference saw more than 1,000 attendees at Chan, English the English, Mandarin and Children’s Tracks. The Track keynote Conference was one of the major events in celebration speaker of the 90th Anniversary of Paya Lebar Methodist Church (PLMC). With the theme of “Tapestry - Generations (left) Rev Dr Unbroken”, it featured many prominent and gifted Chern Hock Chye, speakers to meet the diverse needs of the attendees. Chinese Track In the spirit of the Conference’s theme and the call keynote speaker for fellowship and communion, the programme included an array of decentralised bonding activities for (bottom) Rev everyone. Nicholas Choo, Children's Track The co-chairs of the Organising Committee, Jonathan speaker Lim and Angela Lim, shared about the conference theme and a deliberate move to involve young people in the committee. “At PLMC’s 90th Anniversary, we wanted to honour the different generations in our church. God is the master weaver, and the church is his loom. He weaves his tapestry by uniting believers together in our love for him and his people,” Jonathan said. “It is our desire that the Conference will be a platform to raise the next generation in our church. These young people are precious gems and we want them to be more engaged in church and establish their roots with the rest of the church family, for church to be relevant to them,” Angela said. Some of the participants were asked what spoke to them most and what their takeaways were. Here are some of their responses: Conference organisers 12 Methodist Message August 2022
“For me, “Dr Tam and Isaac Ong a central theme was one of were inspiring. surrender—Surrender help someoneTehffemicyiereaensTmuctyhroineeabydeneevhnddeecrlehmpyfmfeteehdcatitromnikvgbeseeannlicweokcsteiosltrlaoidlniognngeto. achieve their dreams.” my dreams, desires and fears. Surrender my children. I constantly struggle with the question of whether I am surrendering or giving up. It is my hope and prayer that all who attended the conference and have been called to surrender will find encouragement in knowing that they are not the only ones struggling, and to reach out to trusted brothers and sisters who can pray alongside them.” Su Mei Lenden Allen Cheng “The topics were relevant and I’m glad the church was able to address sensitive topics through a truthful and loving discussion. The sessions deepened my understanding of God’s design and helped me embrace his love for us as his creation. With the many reminders I got from the conference, there is a greater need for obedience, too! God wants our availability over our ability.” Rianna Charisse Cardano not too youngI“Fwraoms atshsuerCedontfheartenIcaem, bonding“The to help in church.” Christian Chua the yyToaounhunidansgnagrCldceeaotlaeiennvvdndfiaeegtrrtniahesetgnsewitcwnoyeaogetsouhrfvrneoegergctra-rhaynaeeliartlms--etehifedtrv.eh”eeabesryhti.ng Sally Seow August 2022 Methodist Message 13
Feature Lianne Ong is the Editor of Methodist Message. / Photos courtesy of Lim Biow Chuan and Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church “I wear my faith on my sleeve” MP Lim Biow Chuan shares what it's like to be a Christian in the public eye Lim leading worship during Good Friday service this year The path to Christianity The youngest child in a Taoist family, he attended a reading programme as a child in a neighbourhood Baptist centre. “The seeds were planted then but I remained a Taoist until I was in university,” Lim says. As Singaporeans, we have certain principles It was his friends in the Law faculty and Raffles ingrained in us from our schooldays, Hall at the National University of Singapore thanks to National Education—“No one owes who were instrumental in leading him to us a living”, “We must uphold meritocracy Christianity. They frequently invited him to and incorruptibility” and “We must preserve attend the Varsity Christian Fellowship or to racial and religious harmony”. Our multi- go to church. Lim became a Christian in 1986 ethnic, multi-religious social fabric has been so during his third year as an undergraduate. carefully built and the peace we enjoy should never be taken for granted, we are often reminded. Mutual respect for other religions is codified into law and the government, and regularly enforced. Has this made Christians in our political Lim meeting arena err on the side of caution and be less with his open about their faith? When thinking of constituents Christians in Singapore politics, some names often come up—Speaker of Parliament, Tan Chuan Jin, who often shares about his faith in his social media posts and Mayor for Central Singapore District and MP for Jalan Besar GRC, Denise Phua, who is well-known as a disability advocate. Another parliamentarian who readily declares “I became a Christian because I needed God’s his Christian faith is Mr Lim Biow Chuan, 59, help. At that time, I was struggling with my MP for Mountbatten SMC, who has served studies, wondering whether I could make it in various leadership roles in Ang Mo Kio through University or not. But many Christians Methodist Church (AMKMC) since the early showed me kindness and care—I guess God 1990s. “I wear my faith on my sleeve,” he says put me in the right place at the right time,” matter-of-factly. A quick Google search will he says. He attended St. John’s-St. Margaret’s unearth incidents where he stuck his neck out Church with his friends as it was just around in sharing his views as a Christian. the corner from Raffles Hall. 14 Methodist Message August 2022
After graduation, he attended the 7.30 a.m. As a Christian thrust into a public role, has he service at Wesley Methodist Church, which had to walk on eggshells when interacting was near his home at Rochor Centre, and with the public? “Being in the public eye, eventually joined its Young Adult Fellowship. there’s less privacy but it comes with the After a few years, Lim and his then fiancée territory. Whether you’re a church leader or a decided to start afresh at another church. politician, it’s the same—people do observe you They married and settled in AMKMC and have and you have to live up to certain standards.” been there ever since. Hence, he falls back on these basic Christian The young lawyer caught the eye of the MP tenets: “Love God and love others as yourself. of his constituency, Dr Lee Boon Yang, who Do so by showing love, care and concern suggested that he serve the community for all through your actions.” Lim sets out to with his legal skills. He was appointed to the look after the vulnerable in the constituency Town Council and the Community Welfare and by assisting residents who need his help Committee in 1989. Thus began Lim’s journey during Meet-the-People sessions. as a grassroots volunteer. Lim also makes it a point to attend functions Busy with building his legal career and organised by other religious groups, such grassroots activities, he started serving in as Taoist or Buddhist groups, an act that is church leadership only in 1993. His wife, Mdm always appreciated by the organisers as they Woon Cheng Yee, was then serving as the know that Lim is a Christian. treasurer and he joined her in the LCEC. Does he face awkward situations during Entry into the political arena these social events? Lim says he always In 2005, he became AMKMC’s lay leader. Just explains to organisers before the event that as he was settling into the role, Lim was asked he is unable to hold joss sticks as a Christian. to stand for the 2006 General Elections. “The However, he partakes in meals with them People’s Action Party (PAP) leadership was and extends greetings to the devotees. Each looking for someone who had served in the time, the organisers have always respected grassroots for many years, and I fit the bill.” his wishes and simply appreciate the fact that he does not disdain their practices. “People Initially, Lim was torn about entering respect you if you respect them,” he says. politics. Would he be able to fulfill both roles? He consulted AMKMC's then Pastor- Today, Lim serves as the chairperson of in-Charge (PIC), Rev Stanley Chua (now AMKMC’s governance committee and the TRAC President). “I wanted to be sure that joint management committee. His weekends Rev Chua had the support he needed as a are filled with either church or constituency PIC from the lay leader, not one who was events, so balancing and prioritising his time too busy with work.” is key. Living life in the public eye can be tiring, but he is grateful to have the support They concluded that if Lim were to step down of his wife and two daughters, Samantha from church leadership to run for elections, and Rebecca. Church time is also family it would send the wrong signal. “It would be bonding time. saying politics comes before God, and God shouldn’t take second place,” Lim recalled. To Christians in the marketplace, he has these words of encouragement: “We all “At the end of the day, I felt that if God had have influence in our place of work and in called me to both roles, and I was going into the community space. If we behave in a way them with a willing heart to serve, then God that shows our Christian discipleship and would provide and lead. I just had to follow.” our faith, then others will say, “Wow, your religion makes you someone that I hold in With Rev Chua’s encouragement, he stood high regard. I want to know more about your for election in the Marine Parade GRC. The faith.” Always pray and ask yourself: Is this PAP won in an uncontested walkover and Lim what God wants? If yes, then do it to the best became a Member of Parliament. of your ability.” August 2022 Methodist Message 15
Feature Rev Lai Kai Ming is a pastor at Barker Road Methodist Church. Prior to the pastoral ministry, he served as an infantry officer in the Singapore Armed Forces from 1991 to 2000. / Photos courtesy of Rev Lai Kai Ming Onward, Christian Soldier The army I serve Rev Lai Kai Ming I learnt that the powers given to me were a solemn responsibility, not a weapon of ego. Idid not expect to receive an overseas education, much less to serve full-time in the Once, a recruit almost lost his life because, Singapore Armed Forces. But both were gifted as I realised later, I cared more about my to me not long after I entered National Service performance than the welfare of my soldiers. in 1988. With a government scholarship, my In my next appointment as an instructor future seemed determined. Yet God had in Officer Cadet School, I was firmly taught other plans. First, I became a Christian and that even if only one man out of a hundred was baptised within three months of my managed to stay awake during my instruction arrival in London. Second, I received “the (due to lack of sleep) I must still give of my call” six months later while watching the late very best to him. It was during this period that John Stott preach at St. Martin-in-the-Fields God gave me the spiritual gift of teaching so (Trafalgar Square). Me, a pastor? But how, that I could communicate effectively with my Lord? I had another two years of studies, and trainees. I had never been a public speaker then an eight-year bond which I could not (even in private, I’m known to be quiet!) and afford to break—be it financially or morally. this was the tentative beginnings of my “Wait” was the reply. And so I waited. preaching vocation. I returned to Singapore in 1991 with a view Perhaps the most important lesson that God of becoming a pastor one day. Meanwhile, I used the military to teach me was that of would serve the Lord while I served my nation. humility. Three incidents come to mind. The Little did I know that God was using my years first was when a lance corporal wrote me in army fatigues to prepare me for my decades (then a captain) a letter telling me how bad in priestly robes. As a platoon commander, my men-management skills were. The next lesson came in the form of a verbal rebuke by a fellow Christian who was my sergeant in the scouts (recce) platoon. In short, he chided me for a disregard of safety regulations in my zeal to impress my superiors. The third humble pie was served to me one afternoon when I was a staff officer in the Ministry of Defence, about a year before my bond ended. A female colleague who had taken issue with my work ethic, which to her lacked compassion for others, said to me, “Are you sure you want to become a pastor? I’m not really sure you would make a good one.” Till today, I hold these and numerous other experiences close to my heart—grateful that God had used many to tame this proud war horse. 16 Methodist Message August 2022
And so here I am. We read that Abraham speedily summoned 318 “trained men” to pursue the Elamites, I left the SAF in 2000 and entered the pastoral thereby rescuing Lot and his household. ministry three years later. Although I was Throughout the Bible, the ethics of military never involved in any physical war, my decade service is not questioned. It was assumed in the military has readied me for wars that that every nation, even Israel, needed to matter for eternity. defend herself from enemies and oppressors. Most battles in the Old Testament resulted If you are a parent of a son, having read my in deaths (e.g. 2 Samuel 18:6–7). On rare testimony this far, you might be asking, “Must occasions, we read of “just war” practices military service be the mandatory way for that pre-dated the Geneva Convention (2 my son to serve the nation?” Or if you are a Chronicles 28:8–15, referencing Bishop Dr young man awaiting enlistment, you might Gordon Wong’s recent AldersgateSG sermon). be wondering if it is right for a Christian to participate in military service––which could, in In the New Testament, neither Jesus nor unfortunate circumstances, require the killing Paul, or any other biblical writer, disparaged of human life. military service. Instead, Jesus praised a Roman centurion for his faith (Matthew 8:10) while Peter Our Methodist Social Principles contain the baptised the household of another (Acts 10). following statements with regard to “The Christian and military service”: Not only was the “soldier” not frowned upon, he was often used as a metaphor to describe 1. We believe that, in general, war goes the Christian and his journey of faith. For against the teachings and example instance, Paul describes Epaphroditus as a of Christ and that the influence of the “fellow soldier” (Philippians 2:25). In Ephesians Church should be on the side of every 6, Paul called upon believers to put on the effort seeking to remove the seeds of “whole [military] armour of God”! Jesus war. In the event of widespread threats to himself, hours before his arrest, instructed his peace and justice, war may be supported disciples to sell their cloaks and buy swords as a last resort. if they did not have one (Luke 22:36). Why? Because we live in a fallen world, and self- 2. The Methodist Church teaches respect for defence and God’s divine protection are not civil authority that is properly constituted. mutually exclusive. It encourages both love of country and of all people. It believes that the security and Dear parent, as far as God’s Word is concerned, defence of the country is the responsibility your son is fulfilling an honourable duty by of every able-bodied citizen. doing National Service (NS). Dear soon-to- be-enlisted brother, see your call to NS not as These principles are consistent with what something regretful, but as an opportunity to the Bible teaches about military service and serve God with dignity and distinction. God citizen responsibility. An early example of has called us to be His witnesses. Why not let military service amongst God’s people was the military camp be the ordained place to when Abraham’s nephew Lot was taken shine His marvellous light and love (1 Peter hostage by the king of Elam (Genesis 14). 2:9)? In light of the current Russia-Ukraine war, let us be reminded that military service Rev Lai when is ultimately an act of sacrifice for the people he was a and the country we care about. Platoon Commander, 1993 (front row, 6th from left) August 2022 Methodist Message 17
Feature Rev Dr Nathanael Goh is the Associate Pastor at Sengkang Methodist Church. What does the Lord require of us? On 24 June 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States of America reversed the decision in Roe v. Wade. At the risk of oversimplifying a complex legal discussion, the case of Roe v. Wade affirmed in 1973 that the fundamental “right to privacy” enshrined in the United States Constitution included a right to abortion. This landmark ruling has now been overturned by a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court judges. In short, they ruled that abortion is not a constitutional right falling within the “right to privacy”.1 In anticipation of the 2022 decision overturning Roe, 13 US states had passed so-called “trigger laws” that would severely narrow the circumstances under which one could opt for a legal abortion. After the 2022 decision, other states have sought to legislate bans on abortion, triggering legal battles as supporters of the right to abortion sought injunctions to block these laws.2 18 Methodist Message August 2022
Although this is ostensibly a matter Still, even though complex situations may of American law and bioethics, it has surround the act of abortion, compelling nonetheless resulted in widespread global us to offer a nuanced pastoral response, condemnation on one hand,3 and celebration the moral ground seems unassailable: the at the reversal of what was deemed to be most basic of all God-given rights is the an unjust ruling on the other.4 According right to life. Since life begins at conception, to Christianity Today, evangelicals have all abortions—even those performed on the been “most opposed to abortion”.5 Whether most compassionate grounds—terminate justified or not, Christians are seen as the life. The MSP affirms the Christian doctrine main drivers of the anti-abortion movement. that all life is sacred.10 The overturning of Roe I briefly outline in this article how we thus deserves our praise, if for nothing else may respond to the decision to overturn than to help lessen the number of sacred Roe, through postures derived from our lives that would otherwise be lost to elective Methodist Social Principles (MSP), organised abortions.11 through the lens of the famous verse in Micah 6:8-9 (NIV): “He has shown you, O Love mercy: Loving those who mortal, what is good. And what does the struggle Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”6 The MSP wisely calls Christians to prayerful inquiry in situations where abortion might Act justly: Loving the unborn be contemplated, and to seek appropriate counsel.12 Underlying the MSP’s response to abortion is the theological belief that “life begins Here is a salient reminder that abortion, even at conception”. Therefore, “we… do not if it amounts to as grave a sin as murder, is subscribe to abortion except on medical not unforgivable. It is the responsibility of grounds.”7 The German pastor-theologian the Church to foster an environment where Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: people struggling with abortion might have a genuine encounter with the reconciliation “To kill the fruit in the mother’s womb and forgiveness bought for us at the great is to injure the right to life that God cost of Christ’s own life. Christ, the Lamb of has bestowed on the developing life. God who was slain, has proved decisively that Discussion of the question whether a legally sanctioned acts of deliberate killing human being is already present confuses do not have the last word in God’s kingdom. the simple fact that, in any case, God In the numerous motivations for abortion, I wills to create a human being and that agree with Bonhoeffer that the guilt often the life of this developing human being lies with the community as much as with the has been deliberately taken. And this is individual. That there are people for whom nothing but murder.”8 abortion feels like the only way out, is cause for society’s repentance. Yet, Bonhoeffer goes on to acknowledge some compelling reasons why one might We must not lose sight of the humanity be forced into undergoing an abortion. At of those who have opted or might opt for one point he even says that when abortion abortions. Both the mother and the unborn is a deed of despair, “guilt falls often more child have dignity and sanctity before the on the community than on the individual”.9 August 2022 Methodist Message 19
Roe v. Wade: What does the Lord require of us? face of God and pregnancy binds them of Roe, O. Carter Snead observes: “Roe and both in inextricable bonds. We need to its progeny have wounded the nation in a heed the words of O. Carter Snead, who way that is even more relevant now; Roe rightly describes the pregnant woman as eliminated the need for us to talk to one a “vulnerable, dependent member of the another in the political sphere in a way community, who is entitled to the protections that has real and concrete meaning for the and support of the network of uncalculated laws and policies that bind us… We need giving and graceful receiving that must to re-learn how to talk about abortion as a exist for any human being to survive and precondition of self-governance.”16 flourish”.13 Since we hold that every woman who is pregnant should bear responsibility for what is sometimes an unchosen obligation, then she too, by virtue of her pregnancy, is an unchosen obligation that binds the body of Christ to respond to her vulnerability and need. These unchosen obligations do not end with childbirth. The networks of uncalculated giving and graceful receiving are vital throughout the human life span.14 Walk humbly: Loving before we speak One more disposition is necessary in any Christian response to Roe. The MSP calls on churches to provide safe counselling spaces to guide and offer support for anyone who “has had or may be contemplating abortion”.15 The MSP is not calling on us to baptise abortion, whether in individual cases or in the realm of public policy. Rather, we are reminded that even when we oppose abortion on moral and theological grounds, we are still called to love our neighbours. This should guide us to genuinely love people enough to suspend our instinctive rush to judgement. We must understand that talk of restricting or banning abortion will genuinely feel like a loss. The surety of our moral position should not result in hardness of hearts for the many caught in the web of complex personal, social, legislative and political issues surrounding abortion. In his reasoned commentary on the overturning 20 Methodist Message August 2022
To engage in conversations about morality, laws 1 “US Supreme Court overturns and policy requires both moral confidence and an landmark Roe v Wade abortion ruling” intentional humility on our part. To walk humbly with https://www.channelnewsasia.com/ our God is also to walk humbly with those whom world/us-supreme-court-overturns-roe- God loves. This posture of humility applies both to wade-abortion-rights-decision-2769261 our response to all whose personal histories are intertwined with abortion, as well as to the broader 2 “Abortion: What does overturn of Roe Christian response to Roe. The reflections of Nigel v Wade mean?” https://www.bbc.com/ Biggar on how Christian ethics should be applied in news/world-us-canada-61804777 public are salutary: 3 See, for example, “World leaders react “To look before one thinks and speaks is simply to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision an expression of love. To speak in love is to to overturn Roe v. Wade” https://www. speak with the intention of benefiting, and we cbsnews.com/news/supreme-court-roe- cannot expect to benefit what we have not v-wade-abortion-rights-international- taken the trouble to understand. And in order response/ to understand particular human beings in their concrete predicaments, it is not enough 4 “Goodbye Roe v. Wade: Pro-Life to hoist one's prejudices over them. An ethicist Evangelicals Celebrate the Ruling who is Christian should want to follow his Lord They’ve Waited For” https://www. and Master in loving the world. And if he would christianitytoday.com/news/2022/june/ love the world, he will play pastor before he roe-v-wade-overturn-abortion-supreme- plays prophet. For the only people a prophet court-ruling-pro-life.html has the right to prophesy against are those he has first cared to make his own.”17 5 Ibid. The moral ground is clear even though our 6 New International Version, 2011. understanding and experience of the ramifications of this watershed moment in American history will vary. 7 Methodist Social Principles, “The Opposing abortion on moral grounds is not hoisting Sphere of the Family”, §4b. prejudices. However, as Biggar points out, we should first be a pastor to those struggling with abortion and 8 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics, ed. Ilse Tödt the reversal of Roe, before we play the role of prophet. et al., trans. Reinhard Krauss, Charles C. Our response should be born out of loving conviction. West, and Douglas W. Stott (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005), 206. Conclusion 9 Ibid. In responding to the latest developments on Roe v. Wade, these three postures—doing justice, loving 10 Methodist Social Principles, “The mercy, and walking humbly—are exemplified in the Sphere of Social Well-Being”, §4c. advice articulated by our MSP. It is my prayer that Methodists in Singapore will embody these virtues 11 It is also fitting to point out that bestowed on us by divine grace—a grace that has to call abortion “birth control” is come to bring light, not heat, to a polarised world. painfully accurate – it is not a form of contraception, but rather “controls” birth by ending its possibility. 12 Methodist Social Principles, “Family”, §4b. 13 O. Carter Snead, What it Means to be Human (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press: 2020), 180. 14 Ibid., 180-182. 15 Methodist Social Principles, “Family”, §4c. 16 “Opinion: Roe was very bad for America. The court gives us a chance to reset” https://edition.cnn. com/2022/06/24/opinions/court- decision-roe-was-very-bad-for-america- snead/index.html 17 Nigel Biggar, Behaving In Public: How To Do Christian Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011), 112. Emphasis added. August 2022 Methodist Message 21
Soundings Dr Roland Chia is Chew Hock Hin Professor of Christian Doctrine at Trinity Theological College and Theological and Research Advisor at the Ethos Institute for Public Christianity. Christians and the State In his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul It is on the basis of this fundamental insight carefully instructs his readers on how of the Reformers concerning the State that Christians should regard the State when he theologian Emil Brunner could write that: writes: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority … the Christian recognises the State, except from God, and those that exist have which exists whether he will or no, and been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1). whose peace and authority he “inherits” as a gift of God, as a divinely salutary “Therefore,” the apostle adds, “whoever means of discipline; to adjust oneself to resists the authorities resists what God has the State and to accept it is both an act of appointed, and those who resist will incur discipline and an act of repentance.2 judgement” (Romans 13:2). This, however, does not suggest that the That this injunction is meant for every State itself is somehow exempt from Original Christian is clear from the context. As the Sin or immune from its dire effects. New Testament scholar C.E.B. Cranfield explains: “In its context ‘every person’ is Theologian Helmut Thielicke clarifies that ‘every Christian (in Rome)’. The phrase is “the State, when it restrains evil, is not emphatic. No Christian is to imagine himself aiming at sin itself—in whose representation exempt from the obligation indicated.”1 it has a share—but simply contesting the excesses of selfishness. It resists the This passage is the locus classicus of the selfishness which is inimical to order.”3 New Testament’s teaching on the nature of the secular governing authority, the basis for The State, like the rest of creation, is fallen. a Christian theology of the State. That God has brought it into existence and given it a specific role does not imply that it According to Paul, the State was instituted possesses some intrinsic quality that allows by God to serve a specific function, which is it to surmount her fallen condition. Rather, it to reward the good and to punish evildoers signals God’s unmerited grace. (Romans 13:3-4). This has led the Magisterial Reformers of the 16th century such as Martin The fact that the State is fallen, sinful and Luther and John Calvin to develop their imperfect implies that Romans 13 can never understanding of the State in light of the be read as an injunction for Christians to primordial fall of man. submit themselves unquestioningly to it. For the just State of Romans 13 could become The State, the Reformers argue, exists the demonic State of Revelation 13. as a sign of the fact of Original Sin. Put differently, it is because human beings are The State becomes demonic when it sinners—fallen and sinful creatures—that blasphemes God by demanding Caesar is society needs a State in this form to maintain to be worshipped, and when it makes war some semblance of civility and order. 22 Methodist Message August 2022
with the people of God. History has indeed produced 1 C.E.B. Cranfield, Romans: A Shorter many examples of such anti-God States that have Commentary (Grand Rapids, abused the authority that God has given to them. Michigan: Eerdmans, 1985), 320. The submissive obedience of Christians to the State 2 Emil Brunner, Divine Imperative: A therefore can never be absolute—it must always be Study in Christian Ethics (Louisville, a conditional and qualified submission. This is clearly KY: Westminster Press, 1947), 446. articulated in the Augsburg Confession: 3 Helmut Thielicke, Theological Christians, therefore, must necessarily obey their Ethics. Volume II (Philadelphia: magistrates and laws, save only when they Fortress Press, 1969), 252. command any sin; for then they must rather obey God than men (Acts 5:29) [Emphasis added].4 4 Quoted in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (Grand Cranfield similarly notes that there must be Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1966), exceptions to Paul’s injunction in Romans 13:1 Vol III, 16, 17. when he writes that “Paul is enjoining no uncritical obedience to whatever command the civil authority 5 Cranfield, Romans, 321. may decide to give…” Christians are required to obey civil authorities “so far as such obedience does not August 2022 Methodist Message 23 conflict with God’s laws…”5 Christians are to obey civil authority only insofar as it does not require them to disobey God. Thus, if the State commands what God forbids, or forbids what God commands, then Christians no longer have a duty to obey the State. At the end of the famous story about paying taxes to Caesar (Mark 12:13-17), Jesus made this remarkable statement in reply to the Pharisees, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s”. Jesus’ injunction clearly encourages Christians to be loyal to the State, but at the same time it sets limits to that loyalty. Simply put, while the Christian may give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, he must never give to Caesar what belongs to God! This command therefore rejects any attempt to absolutise the State or any earthly power and authority. For to do so is to treat the State as divine— it is to allow it to usurp the place of God. Put differently, to do so is to commit the treacherous sin of idolatry.
People Terence Chua worships at Living Hope Methodist Church and is studying at Trinity Theological College. / Photos courtesy of Donald Leow Donald Leow Missions by media Once Upon a Time with Donald Leow When it comes to missions, we usually Unfortunately, GNPI closed in 2007. But all was think of church volunteers going abroad not lost. “It’s been said that when God closes on short-term mission trips and full-time the door, he opens a window,” Donald says. “In missionaries living among the natives. Donald my case, it was never a window—that would Leow, a movie-maker, however, calls himself a mean having to climb! It was always a wide- “media missionary”. open door!” This door was an invitation to fill a Senior Producer position in a production Growing up in Singapore, he discovered his company in the United States—the filmmaking passion for films while volunteering at Great capital of the world—and so Donald and his Joy Media Center (GJMC) in the 1980s as a family moved to the USA. teenager. GJMC screened movies in churches on weekends as a form of evangelism. Often, a In 2012, Donald started his own production church leader would speak after the movie and company, StoneTable Films, together with a Donald was struck by the responsiveness of the business partner. audience. “I saw the impact of what a movie could do,” he recalls. Films about everyday experiences In the last decade, Donald has produced Filming an outdoor church service scene four films. His latest film, released on 24 June, Once Upon a Time in Mongolia is a Fuelled by what he saw, Donald embarked romantic comedy that tells a story of love in on film production work. With GJMC, Donald recognisable forms—parental, romantic, and was involved in the production of Blessed divine. Prior to this, Donald produced Badge Family—a six-episode television programme of Faith (2017), Touched by Grace (2014) and about Singaporean families. In 2003, Donald For the Glory (2012). Badge of Faith tells of filmed his first production with Good News the inspiring true story of police officer Bryan Productions International (GNPI), The Source of Lawrence, in an era of anti-police sentiments Love, a Hong Kong-based feature film starring in the USA, and Touched by Grace casts actress Deborah Sim. Amber House, who has Down Syndrome, in a story about bullying. Although the themes of his films vary, they have something in common. “All my movies feature everyday conversations with common people addressing a common issue,” he says. Mention Christian faith-based movies and inspirational films like War Room, Courageous and Fireproof come to mind. Donald’s stories are different. 24 Methodist Message August 2022
“I don’t sense that my calling is to tell stories to believers Once Upon a Time specifically,” he shares. “Rather, I want to tell stories that impact non-believers.” in Mongolia Missions in the filmmaking process After her mom dies, Mya finds an old Behind this heart for missions is a conviction, to paraphrase Blaise photograph that sends her to Mongolia Pascal, that there is a God-shaped void in every man’s heart that only in search of her long-lost father. Along God can fill. Donald hopes to awaken that longing with his movies. the way, she saves a young widower’s daughter, and in gratitude, he (Bataa) Donald's films can be likened to “short-term” mission work. Targeted agrees to help her in the quest. at the unreached, Donald intends his films to be a lighthearted avenue for Christians to reach out to their non-believing friends, Their journey through the gorgeous hoping they can spark faith-based conversations. countryside brings them through horse racing, archery and wrestling contests, “I want Christians to be able to bring their non-Christian friends to debates about God, dead end leads and watch my movies and not be embarrassed about it,” says Donald. “It ultimately falling in love. There is one was partly for this reason that Once Upon a Time in Mongolia was problem, however. Bataa has already produced as a romantic comedy.” been pledged to another woman in an arranged marriage. The “long-term” aspects of Donald’s mission occur behind-the- scenes through his efforts to train others in media production. Will Mya find her father? Will Bataa “Today, there is a team in Mongolia equipped with professional gear go through with arranged marriage? to do media production,” Donald says. “They are producing excellent Can they live happily ever after? All material. I am so proud of them.” these questions are answered in this romcom located this side of the Great Now that they are trained, these Mongolian Christians are Wall of China. better poised to be financially independent and are equipped to produce more work—both Christian and secular content. “If the Where team can make a living from production and, on top of that, serve God, why not?” Donald says. “If any organisation, including those you can catch the movie from the West, needs filmmakers in Mongolia today, this team is Private screenings are available the one they go to!” till the end of 2022. Where needed, Donald adapts to the cultural context of his locale Contact in his media missions. While filming a scene for Once Upon a Time in Mongolia, he conceptualised an outdoor service to showcase EagleWings Cinematics Mongolia’s beautiful landscape. This was a foreign concept to the hotline at 9848 7777 Mongolians but he strove for it anyway. Yet, in filming another to book entire hall(s) scene, he honoured the Mongolian practice of designating specific areas in the gers, which are traditional tents commonly found in 10 days in advance of event. Mongolia, for different genders. August 2022 Methodist Message 25 With his mission firmly in mind, Donald hopes that they bring about opportunities for interaction between people. “I don’t think of a movie as an end in itself. I think of it as a vehicle for evangelism.” “Someone still needs to drive it.” Cast and crew of 'Once Upon A Time in Mongolia'
14 METHODIST MESSAGE, JULY 2013
By the Methodist Welfare Services Communications Team / Photo courtesy of Methodist Welfare Services Counselling isn’t only for crises It helps prevent them Timely preventive counselling can help Suzanne* and Mark* have been arguing over Preventive counselling should take place when how he meets his buddies for drinks after we are aware that there is a problem but find work. From her perspective, he is prioritising that it is still manageable enough to discuss his friends over her. Suzanne is frustrated and work through amicably. about how little they communicate, and suggests that they go for counselling but One sign could be how often the same Mark refuses. Feeling hopeless, she is seriously argument comes up or how easily we lose our considering divorce. temper. Children and adolescents also show signs that they are not coping well when they Stories like Suzanne and Mark’s may seem verbalise stress or fears, frequently cry over familiar. Individuals often consider counselling high-stakes events such as national exams, have only as a last resort, after they have failed regular nightmares, or lose sleep or appetite. to resolve problems on their own or when problems affect their work or relationships. Help is at hand Covid-19 has forced families to be together for long hours, exacerbating seething tensions. Families remain the closest support system for The past two years have also seen rising many in Singapore. Preventive counselling and numbers of divorce applications and reports therapy can strengthen families to weather of family violence. Incidentally, more people in another crisis like Covid-19 in the future. Singapore have also sought counselling. Methodist Welfare Services (MWS) recently introduced the Strengthening Families Should we only seek help when we are close to Programme@Family Service Centre (FAM@ breaking point? FSC) initiative. An initiative of the Ministry of Social and Family Development, trained Social stigma of getting therapy counsellors, family therapists and social The reluctance to seek help early might have workers at MWS FAM@FSC provide services something to do with the social stigma long and support to couples and families with early associated with counselling, that seeking risks and stressors. therapy is a sign of weakness. Know someone who may benefit from this? But if we thought about our physical health in Find out more by visiting the same way, is it a sign of weakness to see a doctor when we are unwell? Or should we mws.sg/centre-location/famfsc/ consider medical treatment only at the brink of collapse? *Names used in this commentary are pseudonyms. This article is adapted from a commentary penned Perhaps it is time to look at counselling as by Yeow Ming Zhen, Head of Strengthening a form of preventive or supportive care too, Families Programme@Family Service Centre at rather than purely remedial. If conducted Methodist Welfare Services, and first published in before problems fester, counselling can ChannelNewsAsia.com build up mental resilience and possibly avert interpersonal crises. August 2022 Methodist Message 27
Prof Dennis Lee serves as Area Director in Methodist Missions Society. He is a Visiting Professor with Copenhagen Business School, a Fellow with Singapore University of Social Sciences, and an alumnus of Regent College (MTS '88 & MDiv '89). He worships at Kum Yan Methodist Church. On 2 April 2020, Akinyemi O. Alawode The word “politics” may be used positively published an article “Politics in Christian or descriptively as “the art or science of Missions”1 in which he states that Christian governing”, but unfortunately it often carries a missions and politics each have different negative connotation. goals, and asserts that “there has always been a conflict between politics and Christian A variety of behaviours are employed in missions where politics seeks to play a politics, including promoting one's own views controlling role…”,2 resulting in hurt to the and interests, negotiating with others, making mandate of Christian missions. He further laws and policies, and exercising influence or asserts that politics does no good to the work force directly or indirectly. People often form of missions and recommends steps to be parties, formal or otherwise, to represent their taken to avoid politics in Christian missions. views and interests. Whether it is intentionally This may not be an uncommon view. done or not, “social manipulation to secure and maintain influential positions” is also But can politics and Christian missions political behaviour. ever be kept separate? If not, what should Christian leaders do? And how should mission On the other hand, Christian missions are organisations, missionaries, and church organised efforts to spread the good news members behave in the face of politics? of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ to the unreached. They involve sending In his article, Alawode defines politics as the individuals and groups across boundaries, acquisition of power, control and manipulation most commonly geographical boundaries, in any society, group, organisation and to evangelise and plant churches while also providing for other needs of the society leadership. Politics (Greek: Πολιτικά, politiká, being reached such as education, medical or other social services. The goal is to fulfil the 'affairs of the cities') is the set of activities Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19- that is associated with making decisions in 20 and is well summed up by the apostle groups, or other forms of power relations Paul in Colossians 1:28 (NIV): “He is the one among individuals, such as the distribution we proclaim, admonishing and teaching of resources or status.3 For Harold Lasswell, everyone with all wisdom, so that we may politics is about “who gets what, when, present everyone fully mature in Christ.” and how”.4 And David Easton calls it “the authoritative allocation of values for a society”.5 For the love of Christ compels us. Paul even Aristotle’s rather kindly view was that “to be uses a political metaphor to describe our political… meant that everything was decided engagement as Christ’s representatives in the through words and persuasion and not through violence”.6 28 Methodist Message August 2022
ministry of reconciliation—we are, he says, How should mission organisations, “ambassadors for Christ”(Greek: ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ missionaries and church members οὖν πρεσβεύομεν) (2 Cor 5:14,18 & 20). respond? The corollary is, when (mission) practitioners Politics and missions are inseparable encounter laws, constitutions, policies, or Politics and missions are inseparable, given regulatory requirements that seem to impede that politics is the way that people living in mission mandates or practices, their tendency groups make decisions. It is about the making is also to focus on hierarchical decisions and of agreements between people in order to be view them negatively. Instead, what does able to co-exist in tribes, communities, cities, Scripture teach us? or countries. Paul exhorts the church in Corinth to be In everyday life, the term ‘politics’ refers to the subject to the governing authorities… “for ways that peoples in countries are governed, there is no authority except from God, and and to the ways that governments make rules those that exist have been instituted by God. and laws. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed and those who So as long as there are human institutions— resist will incur judgement… for the authorities whether externally in the form of governments are ministers of God” (Rom 13:1, 2 & 6). of countries (with their laws, regulations, and policies) or internally within organisations, Furthermore, he wrote to Titus to remind churches, mission agencies (with their the church “to be submissive to rulers and constitutions, regulations, and policies)—we authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for will unavoidably engage with politics. every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle, and to show What should Christian leaders do? perfect courtesy toward all people” (Tit 3:1-2). Very often, when (external) government or (internal) organisation policies impede These may be hard instructions to obey, or appear to impede mission mandates especially in democratic societies that place or practices, leaders and policy decision a premium on individual rights and freedom. makers adopt the mindset that policies must But they are the Word of God. prevail, and practitioners should comply. The emphasis is therefore on the hierarchy May God grant us the courage to change the of decision making. For Christian leaders in things we can, serenity to accept the things decision making however, what should the we cannot, and the wisdom to know the biblical emphasis be? difference.7 The biblical imperative is found in Micah 6:8— God has shown humanity what is good! What does the Lord require? To practise being fair, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with him. August 2022 Methodist Message 29
Worship Justin Chan is a Programme Executive at Methodist School of Music, Worship & Church Music Department. As a reformed rock musician, he believes hymns and heavy metal can co-exist for the glory of God. A patriotic Christian? Ihave sometimes found patriotism and my Far from ignoring or being indifferent about Christian faith incompatible. Songs, both the political landscape, Paul reminds us to new and old, about eschatological hope be active intercessors, keeping our leaders in provide rich imagery of our destiny when we prayer regardless of religious background so are finally with the Lord, but also, sometimes that they may be instruments of justice and inadvertently, promote dissatisfaction with righteousness, which pleases God. our current state of affairs.1 Indeed, no earthly government will surpass the majesty and Stanza 4 looks to the future, but unlike other perfection of the Son of God (Isaiah 9:6). But songs, we are not whisked straight to heaven. alas, while we are still part of this earthly We have heard it preached that “at the name home, how do we balance such tension? of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to composer Jusuf Kamadjaja demonstrate the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10- through their song “From Many Shores” 11). However, perhaps not many of us have that there is a Christian approach towards a imagined what it may look or sound like if Singaporean patriotism. The song addresses that were to happen here in our land. different aspects of national identity—history, community-building, vocational aspiration— With the simple line, “let every street and under the sovereignty and grace of God. It heartland”, it is a very sobering reminder that recognises that God is the ultimate source the name of Christ must be echoed beyond of all things we get to enjoy, even the land the four walls of our polished churches. Where which we call our home. We thus praise God is Christ’s name in the coffeeshops, the wet who has mercifully nourished, protected and markets, and the void decks? This is where blessed our nation. the refrain pulls it all together, galvanising Christians to be faithful witnesses, blessed to Noteworthily, stanzas 2 and 3 turn our be a blessing unto others near and far. attention towards our earthly neighbours with whom we share the land. As the apostle There need not be a dichotomy between Paul instructs, “First of all, then, I urge that being a faithful Christian and being a loyal supplications, prayers, intercessions, and countryman. As the song demonstrates, our thanksgivings be made for all people, for faith in Christ informs our patriotism to be kings and all who are in high positions, that good countrymen, where we are required “to we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). humbly with [our] God” (Micah 6:8 NIV). 1 “This World Is Not My Home” (A.P. Carter, 1931) and “Heaven” (Chris Tomlin, 2010) are good examples of casting the eyes of the believer to the eschaton, but in my analysis, also promotes dissatisfaction with where we currently are. 30 Methodist Message August 2022
From Many Shores © 2004 Robert Solomon & Jusuf Kamadjaja (12 August 2004) 1 From many shores you gathered, our fathers, mothers all And gave as home this island, so precious though so small They toiled and built our nation, as You blessed them with grace O God of our salvation, we seek Your holy face Chorus: Bless Singapore our home with peace, and make us a blessing, to the nations near and far, we worship You our King, may everyone know who You are! 2 We’re many tongues and colours, teach us to live as one Bless all our dreams and labours, in all Your will be done Help us to honour, cherish, all that is good and right Let all Your people flourish, as we live in Your light 3 We pray for all our children, our leaders, workers too That we would all be open, to trust Your word as true Let righteousness and justice, Your mercy and Your love Be found in home and office, as we each other serve 4 We know our strength is in You, our future in Your hands Our nation Lord come renew, come heal and bless our land Let every street and heartland, echo the name of Christ To every heart and home extend, Your love Your grace Your light August 2022 Methodist Message 31
You and Your Family Benny Bong has been a family and marital therapist for more than 30 years, and is a certified work-life consultant. He was the first recipient of the AWARE Hero Award, received in 2011, and is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church. Legacy of Growing up as male children in their households also accorded them some wrath privileges and little responsibility. While their sisters were expected to help cook and The similarities among three clients struck clean, the boys got to study or play. A sense of me recently. All three are men. All three entitlement carried into their adult lives. are capable high achievers with respectable jobs. And all three have issues with managing To try to explain my clients’ propensity to use their anger. violence as something that they internalised from observing their fathers’ behaviour would Sadly, these issues have seen them lash out be an oversimplification. After all, they were and hurt family members. Although one has raised in homes where Christian values and shown flashes of his impatience to colleagues, teaching were emphasised. They all attended their displays of anger have mainly been Sunday school and later, Bible seminaries directed at their families. All three men in preparation for full-time ministry. I found recognise that their angry and violent that they held the notion that what they behaviour is wrong and have struggled to had experienced was correct and not to be control it for years. questioned. On becoming heads of their own households, they felt their role was to lead and the family’s to obey and follow. Deviation and disobedience had to be corrected. Using physical punishment for correction was acceptable and justified. One other similarity caught my attention. All three are intelligent, talented individuals with high expectations of themselves. Their exacting standards are also applied to their family members, with “failure” to match up looked upon as their personal failures. These demands on self and family only exacerbate stress and make for a toxic environment. In such a tinderbox of emotions, it does not take much to spark a raging fire of anger and abuse. Looking at this rather small sample of three, These men are perpetuating a pattern of what are some things we can learn? behaviour learned from their fathers. Their fathers may well have gone through the same For one, they had witnessed their fathers use negative experiences. The fathers’ legacy of violence against their mothers and themselves. wrath was probably not intentional—they may One saw knives and a chopper being drawn. in fact have thought they were doing the right The others saw hitting, slapping and objects thing to prepare their children for life in a tough being thrown at home. Accompanying the world. The examples of these three show that it violent behaviours was verbal and psychological is so easy to live our lives on wrong ideas. abuse—put-downs and insults which made others feel small and insignificant in their If your growing-up experiences mirror those presence. All reported that their fathers were of these men, the good news is that you can domineering and ruled the home with an iron break free from the negative legacy. Get help, fist. Their fathers justified their control by their work with a counsellor and pray with your position as the head of the household and their pastor. We can be set free from destructive making all the major decisions as being in the patterns of the past. Stay tuned for next family’s best interests. month’s article when I shall cover some ideas on how to break free. 32 Methodist Message August 2022
Terence Chua worships at Living Hope Methodist Church and is studying at Trinity Theological College. / Photo courtesy of Terence Chua Our Wesleyan heritage Being a Methodist means that God though far can also be being inspired by a founder experientially near, that joy can who believed tradition was to be holy and holiness can be respected but not slavishly be joyful—I’ve found all this to followed, who embraced be true. innovation but did not do so mindlessly, and who freely It’s comforting knowing that pursued Christian perfection I am always within God’s without being burdened by sovereign grace, whether any expectation of achieving before or after believing in perfection in this life. Christ, that everyone I know and love—believing or not—fall It means being a part of a within this sovereign grace, and tradition that believes in that God’s sovereignty and our equipping the lay, seeks personal freedom are both real. authenticity and sincerity That holiness may simply be a in communities and principle within, a simple pain to relationships, and passionately feel sin near. And that a faithful desires to extend God’s life can be good enough even if goodness to all of society. we still make mistakes. Following Charles’ hymns, Amazed by God’s love and John’s sermons, and Aldersgate, awakened to the fact that my it’s been said that Christian heart is free, what remains is faith can be both supernaturally to simply rise, go forth, and strange and personally warm, follow Him. by Kopikaki team
CALM OVER CHAOS SERIES 17, 19, 24, 26 August 2022, 10.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. via Zoom Register at https://fathers.com.sg/programs/calm-over-chaos-series/ $10 per workshop / $30 for the complete series The Calm over Chaos Series touches on the emotional aspect of motherhood, in particular the area of mum guilt and stress. While we may not always be able to control our circumstances or even what we feel, we can learn how to better cope with them. By understanding and managing our emotions first, we can then model healthy ways to ride the emotional waves from day to day and guide our families through theirs. Organised by Mums For Life ME, A MISSIONARY? 27 August 2022 (Saturday), 9.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. via Zoom Register at https://tinyurl.com/MeAMissionary Free Me, a missionary? What qualities do missionaries need? What are the ministries they do? How do I prepare myself and my family spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially to go on to the cross-cultural field? Explore these questions via ZOOM so that you can be better empowered to be a missionary or to send others to cross-cultural fields. Sign up now! Hear some leaders share their experiences in serving cross-culturally including financial considerations, family matters, and the fundamentals of preparation like connecting with one's home church and training. Organised by Methodist Missions Society TRINITY THEOLOGICAL COLLEGE OPEN HOUSE 2022 31 August 2022 (Wednesday), 8.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. Trinity Theological College, 490 Upper Bukit Timah Rd Register at ttc.edu.sg/english/OpenHouse2022 Considering a theological education? Come join us for lectures, and worship at our chapel. You can also dine with our community, tour our campus, and interact with our faculty and students. Organised by Trinity Theological College THE GARDEN OF EDEN: CHRIST’S CREATION, OUR CARE 9-10 September 2022 Katong Presbyterian Church Visit https://creationcare.sg/conference/ to buy tickets $15 per person / Concessionary rate of $5 per person for students and NSFs In the past decade, there has been a global shift towards environmental sustainability, nature conservation, and a rising generation of young people who wish to live in a more sustainable world. How should Christians respond in such a time? Should, and if so, how can the Church address and lead in the push for sustainable development in a devastated world? Does caring for creation have anything to do with the gospel? This conference will serve as a gathering place for Christians to explore and be equipped with a biblical understanding of Creation Care as well as to be inspired and empowered to express this in their churches and in society. Organised by Creation Care SG
Read the Text Version
ISSN 0129-6868 MCI (P) 044/11/2021 Vol 124 No 8 AUGUST 2022 Faith and Politics The army I serve: From soldier to pastor MP Lim Biow Chuan \"I wear my faith on my sleeve\" Roe v. Wade: What does the Lord require of us?