Never before has Singapore seen such an overwhelming outpouring of grief and gratitude. Many if not all of us in Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church (PSPC) can identify and even resonate with the sadness and sorrow at the passing of founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Equally, we can echo and endorse the great gratitude people feel for what he has done for this country and all who are able to make a home and a living here. Much has been said and written about Mr Lee Kuan Yew and much more will continue to be said and written. Even before he passed away, we witnessed the flood of feelings our people had for him, indeed an impressive image of appreciation, affection and admiration. Naturally, good wishes for his recovery were aplenty and abundant.
Accordingly, we in PSPC wish to express and record our prayerful and heartfelt condolences to our Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong and the Lee family as well as our feelings of grief and gratitude. While we have many common thoughts and feelings with the rest of Singapore and especially with fellow Christians and churches, we in PSPC have a fairly unique feature. Our PSPC family or membership is wide-ranging in age and background. Our many older members can share, indeed testify to, their experiences of Singapore life over the years. We are also glad that at this time PSPC can join the rest of Singapore to honour and remember Mr Lee Kuan Yew though our BB/GB Enrolment Parade and Service. We are thankful that we have LG (Ret) Winston Choo who has been so much one of us here as well as someone who has served so closely with the late Mr Lee. General Choo’s presence and participation is truly significant and symbolic. Our Enrolment Parade and Service has thus served also to be our response as we bid farewell to the late Mr Lee and pledge ourselves to serve Singapore and her people.
As Christians, we can and indeed should bring another dimension at this time. Mindful of our precepts and practice regarding gifts and the Giver, we should set the tone in always giving God all glory, praise and thanks for the blessings He bestows on us through various means, including the government He installs for our benefits. Many have observed that the great growth in our economic wellbeing, peace, prosperity and progress of our country has been in step with the phenomenal growth of the church in Singapore. Church history tells us of the growth of the early church due to the good infrastructure provided by the Romans.
It may indeed be a good exercise and experience for us as individuals and groups such as family, ministry, cell group or fellowship group to discuss and count these many blessings, naming them one by one. Areas for reflection and discussion could include all our educational opportunities and challenges, manpower situation and needs, including use and training of foreign talent. Issues such as globalisation, multi-lingualism, environmental, family, health and financial questions could be fruitfully discussed and of course prayed through.
We can also learn much from Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s example of wholehearted passion and commitment, dedication and dynamism to serve his country and people. His personal values and ethics, including his work ethic, have been legendry. In reflecting about his life, many naturally wonder about his eternal destiny. As Christians, we rest in the judgment of our perfect and sovereign God who knows the hearts of every individual. We know for sure that multitudes of Christians both here and elsewhere have been much in prayer for him and his family. We also rejoice that a few of his family and others close to him must have not only prayed for him but also took every opportunity to witness to him. Another promising episode was his sharing about how committed he was to meditation. He further went on to share in one of his memoirs that he had found the Christian term “Maranatha” very useful for meditation (this is an Aramaic expression in 1 Corinthians 16:22 that is transliterated into Greek; it means “Our Lord has come” or “Our Lord, come”) – more so than other words he had used. Many Christians prayed that more than the usefulness this term provided in meditation, the use of “Maranatha” could evolve into an expression of longing or a prayer; such longings and prayers are usually wonderfully answered.
May I also share that an ideal way to express our gratitude for the legendary life and legacy of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his commitment and contributions to Singapore would be for us as Christians to also be fully committed to Singapore and her people, including those who are here from other countries. As Christians, we do that through the power of prayer and His Holy Spirit and all His resources. As we emulate much of what we can learn from Mr Lee Kuan Yew, we can do so with an added dimension of being undergirded and grounded by God’s Word. We may not have the unique, unsurpassed, well known and admired high intellect of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, yet we have all the resources of the Lord Almighty. In so serving, we not only in our way also remember and honour Mr Lee Kuan Yew, but also glorify our God.