A month ago, our family attended my cousin’s wedding banquet. Since we were in town and it was the school holidays, we thought that we should take the opportunity to bring our girls on an outing after the banquet. So we ended up at the National Museum. Now, the last time that my wife Angie and I went to the National Museum was eons ago – even though PSPC is just a stone’s throw away! At the National Museum, we found out that there was an exhibition entitled “Genesis” by world-renown photographer Sebastiao Salgado. This exhibition showcased 245 black and white photographic works taken at over 30 different destinations from 2004 to 2011. They presented powerful images of planet earth and its intricate association between mankind, animals and the environment. They also depicted beautiful landscapes, seascapes as well as the extraordinary wildlife and tribal people groups found in far corners of the world; this exhibition is free admission and will run until 27 July.
At the exhibition, I remembered seeing photos of tribal people living in the African wilderness. Apart from the seemingly “strange” customs such as body modifications (e.g. inserting lip discs) and scarifications (i.e. the intentional scarring of one’s body to create patterns), there were photos featuring tribal religions and practices. As I was looking at the photo of a group of tribal witch doctors, I felt a heaviness of heart – as though God was asking me, “How will all these tribal people know the Gospel of Jesus Christ if God’s people do not go and reach out to them with the truth?” – Romans 10:14-15 says, “14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” If Sebastiao Salgado could travel unto the ends of the earth to take these photos, shouldn’t God’s people – who are entrusted with the Gospel of truth and life – have an even more compelling reason to travel unto the ends of the earth to reach these people?
At my sermon on Pentecost Sunday (8 June), I mentioned that when the presence and power of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples (Acts 2), they overcame cultural and linguistic barriers by proclaiming the wonders of God in the foreign languages of the pilgrims who were gathered at Jerusalem. For far too long, PSPC has been a monocultural and monolingual congregation consisting mainly of upper-middle class and English-speaking congregants. How can the Gospel of Jesus Christ be proclaimed unto the ends of the earth if PSPC remained locked in by cultural and linguistic barriers?
Today, we begin our annual Missions-in-Focus (MIF) month to raise missions awareness, educate and inspire us towards worldwide evangelization. It is also in this MIF month that we officially launch our Myanmar outreach and service. This has been a remarkable journey that our sovereign God has led us on since late 2013. He has brought together a series of factors that converged together, allowing us to discern the vision to start a Myanmar service, e.g. (1) Bringing Mary Chhuani – a Mizo who is burdened for Myanmar outreach – to join our Pastoral Team; (2) Socio-economic changes that resulted in the rapid influx of Burmese migrant workers into Singapore; (3) PSPC’s proximity to Peninsula Plaza which is also known as “Little Myanmar” and (4) Bringing Moses – who is Mary’s own brother – to come to study in Singapore Bible College under PSPC’s sponsorship; his presence here will support the Myanmar outreach and service. Having issued the challenge for the Myanmar ministry on Easter Sunday (20 April), I am heartened to see a group of co-workers responding to the challenge to serve as teachers, facilitators, befrienders, etc. This ministry must continue to be fuelled by the fervent prayers of God’s people.
Recently, Angie showed me a prayer letter written by her friend who is a staffworker from Singapore Youth for Christ (SYFC). This staffworker had spent some time serving in Myanmar and I will like to share with you what she had experienced: “I was in Myanmar in late April and my primary role was to train the Christian teachers all over the country who are volunteers in our Word Place Ministry. I was with a group of eleven teachers from various villages and who have different level of English proficiencies. I was especially encouraged by one of the ladies, M (name is abbreviated), who despite the fact that she was pregnant, travelled for hours to the centre for training. M shared with me how she came to volunteer with the Word Place Ministry. Before this, she worked in a Christian household in Singapore for a couple of years. Every Sunday this family will bring her along to church and she will be with the kids in Sunday School. Sundays after Sundays she will hear the Bible stories and she became more interested to read the Bible for herself. Upon returning to Myanmar, she decided to reach out to the children in her community and that is when she started volunteering with the Word Place. Do pray for teachers like M, who are very earnest in their learning that back at where they are they can use the Word Place Ministry as a means of outreach to the kids.”
I am heartened by this sharing because what we do here and now in this Myanmar outreach and service is an obedient response to the divine mandate for PSPC to make and build disciples of all nations by the power of the Holy Spirit: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Amen.
Rev Darryl Chan