The PSPC Church Theme for 2018 is “Equip Holistically, Serve Faithfully”.
In order to introduce congregants to the wide spectrum of ministries in PSPC
as well as to encourage more congregants to come forward to serve,
we will feature the testimonies of co-workers on a monthly basis.
During this Missions-in-Focus month, we feature the ministry of the
Missions Committee through the sharing by Andrew Aw who was the former Chairman.
Congregants who are keen to find out more about missions
may approach Rev Kelvin Chen ([email protected]).
Missions-centric Churches Grow
When I was assigned to the Missions Committee in 2008, Rev Ridge Orr had succeeded Elder Derek Chan as Chair. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I dove into the nuts and bolts of Missions planning and support on a wave of Kingdom-building fervour. This lasted for approximately three months. The rest of the past ten years have been a coming to terms with one’s own inadequacies and dealing with the sober realities of planning and supporting cross-cultural Missions. The half-way mark of this year’s Missions-in-Focus Month would appear to be a good time to share some personal thoughts on PSPC’s Missions work with a few examples.
Missions is not just ‘doing’ evangelism cross-culturally or overseas
“Missions” is sometimes taken to be a direct offshoot of “Evangelism”, only exported overseas. Helpful definitions are provided by the Lausanne Conference to the effect that Missions aim is “to form a viable, indigenous church-planting and world-changing movement” (Lausanne 1974) and these are to be “self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating” (Venn and Anderson). Taken as a whole, Missions seeks to bring the Kingdom of God into the lives of the unreached. This entails both the social and humanitarian aspects of sharing God’s love in addition to holding out the Gospel message of salvation. PSPC’s adoption of the Ming “Little Flock” (a people group in Indonesia) has been an education in this respect. Wary of the well-known pitfalls of dependency and paternalism, we have encouraged and facilitated a quilt-making business, a duck farm and a goat-rearing scheme over the years. The last, and current, scheme is tootling along and was introduced to us by Care Channels, whose Director - Pastor Yeoh Seng Eng - will address us on the last Sunday of MIF Month. PSPC’s faithful support and encouragement has allowed the pastors of the Little Flock to set up preaching stations in two nearby villages and set up an ad hoc network consisting of regional churches for mutual support and coordination. The children and youth have not been forgotten. The Ming School Fees scheme is collected regularly and PSPC set up a Ming Scholarship and Vocational Fund which has supported three of their number through tertiary education in order to contribute to their community through service and as role models. Elder Evelyn Loh’s tireless championing of this ministry has made “Ibu Evelyn” the first person to know of any developments in this community.
Members would have noticed that over the previous three MIF Months, and conveyed forcefully by Dr Andrew Peh last week, that there has been an emphasis on Missions “in our backyard/on our doorstep”. Mr Lawrence Ko from SCGM and Dr Phillip Marshall from SIM drew our attention to the massive migration trends to urban centres that have brought the harvest field to “our doorstep” and Drs Tan Lai Yong and Goh Wei Leong from Healthserve (who drew a mention during last week’s sermon) and others have shared the needs of these migrant populations. Indeed, today’s speaker - Dr Calvin Chong - may draw on the time he spent at Healthserve during his sabbatical as well. Are we seeing a shift from “sending out” to “sending into” local unreached populations? Is there going to be confusion over whether it is Missions Committee, ED.com or Love in Action who will take on this challenge? My own opinion is that the cross-cultural aspect of Missions in regard to language barriers and cultural intelligence is distinct from – for example – foreign students who are familiar with English/Mandarin and can access and appreciate the efforts of our Creative Arts ministry or the SMU Host Family scheme, and this leaves our ministries free to concentrate on their area of expertise without concerns about overlap.
This is a developing and encouraging area and the example of the Mizo Christian Fellowship of Singapore – rattling the roof tiles with their singing every Sunday afternoon – is instructive. Starting with a group of eight in Balestier, they asked PSPC for premises to worship in when their congregation reached seventy members. Now they number over three hundred and drew eight hundred and forty attendees to their Christmas Outreach party! They fully or partially support five missionaries to Mizoram and quite neatly fit into the “three-self” model of Venn and Anderson – self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating. PSPC has been privileged to witness their growth and we are responsive to their requests for support, including budgeted funding for regular visits by Pastoral Staff to keep them scripturally sound. They provide a very present opportunity to “cross the road” and demonstrate the inclusiveness of the Body of Christ. It would be remiss not to mention the liaison work done faithfully by Pr Mary Chhuani over the years. A slightly newer initiative – two years and counting – is the Myanmar Outreach (now renamed the Hello Class) led by Mary and Dn Colin Koh. Offering a combination of life skills training and English lessons, it has gone beyond its original Myanmarese focus onto other ethnic groups of immigrant workers.
Growing a Missions-centric church
A favourite book of mine is Michael Griffith’s “Ten Sending Churches”. As the title suggests, it illustrates the positive effects on the life of various churches (in contrast to the oft lamented decline of the Western church) that adopt a single-minded focus on supporting the cross-cultural spread of the Gospel. This can take place in PSPC if members adopt a similar focus as a result of a personal journey of discipleship, Missions education and exposure, participation and – God willing – commitment to service. Personal discipleship is not within the remit of the Missions Committee but we aim to cover some of the other aspects. To this end, MIF Month, hosting and facilitating the Kairos and the Perspective courses, organizing and conducting the Northern Thailand exposure trips, promoting other English Presbytery and Missions Agencies trips and providing a trip reimbursement subsidy of $200 for members, financial and prayer support groups for our field workers are part of this education and exposure strategy. We are praying that more members will prayerfully seek to learn more about Missions through these avenues and participate in Missions-centric activities. As an example, Missions Committee is especially thankful for members like Grace Lee who on her own initiative started the monthly Missions Prayer Meeting and continues to devote her time and energies to it.
Growth comes from successive generations taking the baton from the previous one and running on with it. The Northern Thailand exposure trips will be in their ninth year come December and last year saw almost 60 members and Lighthouse youth participate. Their testimonies attest to the value of face-to-face encounters, the ability to link the environment to the needs and the pre-trip preparations that strengthen bonds and focus minds. Elder Justin Lee has developed this ministry and we are praying for a new generation of Missions-minded members, and leaders, to emerge. A number of exciting support partnerships in Northern Thailand are being forged which are good examples of modern Missions thinking. One of them is the Bui Project run by Greg and Rose Blok for Wycliffe Bible Translators. They have worked with local translators to craft fifty-four key stories that contain elements of the Gospel message and the work is almost complete. The next stage is to port these stories over to a phone app which will increase the reach of these stories throughout that language group. As we support these dedicated field workers by resourcing their efforts and praying for their work and protection in a dark and hostile environment we gain Missions learning and partnership in Kingdom building in return.
This Missions-in Focus Month, let us allow the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts once again with compassion for the unreached near and far.
Afternote by Rev Darryl Chan: The Session and EDC express our thanks to Andrew for serving as Missions Committee Chairman for so many years. He continues to serve in the Missions Committee which is now chaired by Eld Derek Chan. As we focus on missions, may we also remember the Missions Committee in prayer as well.