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Emotionally Healthy Spirituality(EHS): the wrpf journey

Peter and Geri Scazzero

Peter and Geri Scazzero

EHS: what is it all about?

It was three years ago in 2012 that our EHS journey began. Our signed up for the EHS conference held in Bethesda Bedok Tampines Church. Peter and Geri Scazzero were there to teach at the conference. Peter taught clearly about and important need in most churches: the need for emotional health and contemplative spirituality. The church has forgotten that part of maturing spiritually is being fully human and that includes emotional wholeness. And that is what the content of the EHS is essentially about: learning to be emotional healthy and to love well. Part of the ecology that supports loving well is learning to slow down and cultivate a rhythmic contemplative lifestyle.

EHS tools

EHS tools

The EHS tools

They have a package that can be used to introduce the EHS to the church. It comprises sermons on Sundays (available on-line), a devotional to be used to cultivate the contemplative spirit, a workbook and video for cell groups to use. Peter Scazzero’s book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is an also must read for those who are leading the cell groups and program. Except for the sermons and the devotional booklet which are available free online, the others can all be purchased from the Cru bookstore. When we did ours we received free about 12 videos and 20 workbooks which were leftover from a gracious Evangelical Free Church that had completed its program earlier.

These are the topics that the sermons and workbook dealt with:

  1. General Purpose and Introduction
  2. Problems of Unhealthy Spirituality
  3. Know Yourself to Know God
  4. Go Backward to Go Forward
  5. Journey Through the Wall
  6. Rhythms of Daily Office and Sabbath
  7. Grow Into an Emotionally Healthy Adult
  8. Develop a Rule of Life

More than a program

One thing we emphasized throughout was that EHS is more than a program. It is a journey.  It is a program that has a start and an end. It had systematic steps to get you to where it wanted you in order to fulfil the programs goals. Yet it was more than a program. It was an introduction to a journey – one that would take a lifetime to complete.

How it was introduced to church

The youth and the young adults were the first to launch into this. They did the program with the leaders of the youth and young adults’ ministry. It was a good faith formation as well as introduction to emotional health. This was later followed by the closure of all cell groups for two months so that all the cell leaders and their respective core team members could experience the program with the youth and young adult cell leaders facilitating the groups.

When all these leaders have experienced the EHS we went on to do a church wide in March 2015. There were seven sessions but we added an additional lesson to prepare the ground and give an introduction to the whole program. We also made use of two breaks where people were likely to be away on vacation to have breaks so that the congregation had time to reflect, and to catch up on the new things they have discovered. The cell leaders were trained and briefed before the program started, and at mid-point we conducted an evaluation. The program ended with a final evaluation and exploration of how we can follow up on a journey we had merely begun.

What was the feedback about the program

We gathered interesting program feedback from the leaders at mid-point. The people were struggling with the intensity of the program: the amount of reading, reflection and preparation required, and the depth of sharing required. Some were lost conceptually and were playing catch up most of the time. For young people it was difficult to look back at their short past but they shared freely and were vocal. The adults had a lot of past life and events to process but were not as open in their personal sharing. Most members did not do their workbook preparation. The program exposed many areas that the people needed to process with the Lord. We needed more pauses in the program for reflection and incorporation of new spiritual habits into their life. On the whole, everyone agreed that we could have gone at a slower pace and at greater depth so that the truths could get hold of people and reflection and life change could be deepened. Alternatively this is a survey, an introduction, and in the future we can spiral back to what we have learned: do workshops, retreats and sermon series that will help us revisit some of the practices, truths and things that impacted the people. One thing we did was to conduct a retreat using a movie and giving the people more time to work on the family genogram and to reflect on how their past upbringing affect their current behaviour, values and relationships.

Conclusion: a stirring among churches

There is a stirring among churches to embark on this journey. There have been pastors that have us asked about our journey. Whether from the Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican or whatever denomination, there is something in this program that will introduce important values and practices to the church. The church today is too performance oriented. The era of church growth ended years ago. Enlightened church pastors are thinking church health and have stopped dancing around the sacrificial altar of the numbers game. We need healthy churches that birth and grow spiritually healthy disciples. The EHS program is certainly a good way to introduce important truths and values that will seed for a promising harvest: churches that will model for us a healthy spiritual rhythm in its church life and that loves well in the community.

To find out more about EHS go to the source: http://www.emotionallyhealthy.org/

Chloe: my cute grand-daughter

S. Beryll, my sister, is with the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary in Darmstadt, Germany. Recently she requested pics of my grand-daughter, who is her grand-niece. I have asked her to get on Facebook for then she would be able to access what’s happening with her brothers, nephews and nieces and grand-niece. However, learning new internet stuff is a big leap for her. She reads my blog though. So I have prepared a video, which I originally sent her but she could not open it. So here is the video, sis.

By the way, S.Rubina visited us at home and spent some time with Juyoung and your grandniece. She was around for her parents’ birthdays and she had to make some arrangements for rapid response as they live on their own. It was pleasant to catch up with her.

S. Rubina with Juyoung and Chloe

S. Rubina with Juyoung and Chloe

Watching Arsenal live in Singapore

Watching Arsenal defeat Everton live in the National Stadium in the Singapore Sports Hub was a delight.

Where in the world can you pay SGD$49 and get two matches to watch. At 6pm Stoke predictably defeated a Singapore selection, and at 8pm we watched Arsenal brush aside Everton 3-1 in more earnest play. In England, a match between Arsenal and Everton would set you back over 75 English pounds.

Having an early dinner with Lewis

Having an early dinner with Lewis

Famous frog leg porridge at Geylang

Famous frog leg porridge at Geylang

I was treated to the match and a dinner by my friend Lewis. We had an early lunch at the famous frog legs porridge restaurant. Heard about it but it is the first time I tasted it. Really tasty, spicy and salty and over-rated. I was very thirsty during the match and that says a lot about the amount of taste enhancers inside the dish.

The stadium is less that a year old. I have gone to the former stadium for many a football match and many evangelistic events. This is definitely a wonderful upgrade. Bright with clear signage and a spacious pedestrian foyer that stretched all around the 23 stadium gates. We preferred the assignment of seats with back rest rather than the former free seating of wooden benches without any backrest. So even though we were already into the first half of the Stoke match we had our seats reserved. No need to go early to chope the best seats.

The National Stadium a sea of red: Arsenal fans

The National Stadium a sea of red: Arsenal fans

The whole stadium was a sea of red with only a small patch of blue where the Everton fans were. I love the retractable stadium dome roof. I love the coolness of the stadium artificially created with fine mist. I deliberately did not wear my Arsenal jersey as I expected it to be humid and sticky. I regretted not doing so. At least I wore the Arsenal cap. The football pitch did not look as beautiful as those in England but it looked acceptable. The excitement was palpable when the Arsenal players went onto the pitch for their warm up and when the game finally began. The game was more earnest and energetic than the earlier match. It looked like the teams wanted to win to give themselves a psychological booster. It was not as intense as what you would see in a real Barclays’ EPL match but it was pretty to the eye and for the most part entertaining. When the team you support wins you feel satisfied.

We left the stadium about 20 minutes before the end. How were over 50,000 people going to leave the stadium and get on the MRT? How long would that take? At least 2 hours. We were glad we left early. We were among the earliest kiasus to have boarded the train from Kallang MRT after a 20 minute walk from the Stadium.

Relieved and satisfied: a good evening.

Revelation adventure

I have started a series of sermons on the book of Revelation. I never thought that I would ever preach through such a puzzling book. A leader suggested it recently and my immediate reaction was that there were too many interpretations. A Bible study or small group discussion instead of the Sunday pulpit would be a better place to explore it. That was that. However, over a period of time something happened inside that I cannot fully explain. Like the tide, grace came in and I was ready to go for it. One reason could be the messages to the seven churches that I heard during the Turkey-Greece Bible tour. Another was simply a sense of the Spirit inviting me to get out of the safety of my Pentecostal boat and walk on expository waters over the long stretch. In addition, there was that inner freedom to delegate my other duties and to  focus on maximizing my spiritual gift of teaching/preaching.

I know that the easy portions of Revelation chapters 1-5 would give me about 3 months to examine the more difficult terrain beyond. Beyond are the lands of dragons, seals, trumpets, beheaded saints, pale horses and all kinds of strange creatures. This is going to be an interesting journey. I hope to blog a little about the insights I gained while preparing these sermons. I trust I am not biting more than I can chew.

Last Sunday I preached Revelation chapter 1 and sort of gave an introduction to the series. The who, why, what, where, how and when questions were answered in the course of going through the text. The real meat was the vision that John had of the glorified Christ. It was an overwhelming vision of a Christ John never quite knew. John lived with, touched, saw, talked to the Word made flesh, the meek Lamb of God, but this time he had a startling vision of great majesty and glory of a risen, exalted, fierce Christ who symbolically revealed Himself as the Sovereign and Judge (Rev1:13-17). It was so powerful that strength and energy left him and he fell dead like one electrocuted by Life.

We always have to stay in the creative tension caused by the opposite pulls of polar truths. In this case it was Christ as both Saviour and King/Judge. If we see Jesus only as the King and Judge, full of ruthless severity we will cultivate a spirituality that tends towards being Pharisaical – full of hypocrisy and hidden sin, or a self righteousness and a joyless religiosity and pride. If on the opposite end we see Jesus only as the Saviour full of gentle kindness always, we will develop a spirituality that tends towards that of the Sadducees – tolerant to if not compromising to the values, practices and spirit of the world. But if we view Jesus in his fullness as Saviour and King/Judge, we live in a creative tension that grows a wholesome discipleship after Jesus own heart. “Make sure you stay alert to these qualities of gentle kindness and ruthless severity that exist side by side in God. (Romans 11:22 Message).

Crazy costs of owning a used car

Looking at the online used cars market (sgcarmart) has been frustrating. Depreciation of used cars with one or two years left in their COE went at an average of $1,000 a month. This means I lose $1000 a month to own the used car. This is before adding the driving costs of insurance, road tax, petrol, repairs and maintenance. You wait and you wait and it does not get better. The prices of used cars went north. The costs of owning a used car in Singapore is crazy.

Was it ever like that in the past? I do not know. I drove a church van from 1985-2004, nearly ten years, so I never had to look at the car market. Only about ten years ago the church paid about $60,000 for a Hyundai Matrix. Today that amount is a wee short of paying for the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) – the permission to use a new car in Singapore for ten years.

But God answers prayer. He did say, Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and it shall be opened to you.

Help came to me in the grace I have received from God to cope with using public transport. I admit it is tough during peak hours in the MRT and I avoid this whenever I can. So I was able to take the train or the bus to the church office or to Trinity Theological College library. His grace and my umbrella and short sleeve cotton shirts were sufficient.

Help also came in the form of friends who went on overseas vacations for one to six weeks and let me use their cars – a blessed convenience indeed. Thank God for that. Once an American missionary, James Creasman went back to USA, and let me use his Toyota Picnic for several weeks since its COE had not expired and that covered a busy December period when I needed a car badly, bless his heart, and bless the Lord o my soul.

My champagne Nissan Latio for the next few months.

My champagne Nissan Latio for the next few months.

Help came recently through a cell leader and friend Sunny Chong. He had been actively helping me to look out for a used car. One of his colleagues Andrew had a Nissan Latio with a COE that runs till mid-November. His daughter bought a new continental car and transferred her Mistsubishi Lancer to him since it had two years of COE left to run. He wanted to sell his car to dealers and they gave him low prices. Sunny suggested he sell it to me for an additional sweetener. Throw in the transfer fees, insurance and the sums show a depreciation of half of $1000. I was thankful for this blessing. It is God’s answer to mysearch and prayer. Does God care about such down to earth matters? Yes the God who is attentive to sparrows, lilies and grass that grows and dries up on the same day does care about COE and second hand cars. And God cares for the big picture too of course – world peace, poverty, natural disasters and human conflicts – everything serious and global.

For now I am just thankful I can go into my Latio and drive to wherever I need to tomorrow. As to whether I should extend the COE by another five years or pay a ransom for an eight year old car or go back to public transport, I have put it in God’s hands. Today’s worries are sufficient, and I do not want to add tomorrow’s fears to today’s list of concerns.

Rev Dr Amos Jayarathnam: WRPF 2015 church camp speaker

The camp speaker was Rev Dr Amos Jayarathnam and the theme of the camp was “Faith in the Face of Uncertainties.” It looked like we had to face the uncertainties right from the beginning when the advance party stepped into the hotel. They had a jolt with what they experienced. One had problem with room lights and another had problem with the bathtub. Will the people be able to accept this in addition to the hotel’s jaded look and facilities?

Avillion Legacy in Melaka is not exactly our ideal hotel except that this time we wanted to get a 4 days 3 nights church camp package for under SGD$300 pax for about 130 people. The hotel’s decor and colours are very ethnic Malay. It took a day to get used to. We were disappointed with the inadequate facilities. The swimming pool was the size of a badminton court. The hotel is an inconvenient 15 minute’s bus ride from the main shopping and food belt.

Nowadays, even with a strong Singapore dollar the hotels in Malaysia play hardball and charge a premium for church camps. Most hotels charge from $350 to $400. There are many churches in Singapore wanting to hold camps in June, and Johor and Melaka are popular places because of the relatively short travel needed. The hotels know this. Maybe the next time we should look farther afield at places like Bangkok.

What fell short in terms of facilities was made up for by great organization and the spiritual program. The organizers were young people: Huile and Tian En, with the steady and experienced hand of Ai Choo. I like it when there is an intergenerational team: “the young men and the old shall be merry” (Jeremiah 31: 13). This strict herding of youth from the adults is a sad homogenization that does more harm than good for the church. It may spur numerical growth in a few cases, but in most situations, it starves the church of the rich transmission of values, and the model loses the synergies that can be gained in an all-age congregational setting.

Rev Dr Amos Jayarathnam preaching the message

Rev Dr Amos Jayarathnam preaching the message

Mindmapping on the side for the primary school but others enjoyed it too

Aileen Goh mindmapping on the side for the primary school kids but others enjoyed it too

Lunch with Pastor Thomas, Pastor Amos, Agnes and Mark Chua

Lunch with Pastor Thomas, Pastor Amos, Agnes and Mark Chua

Rev Dr Amos is not new to us. He was in the WRPF family in the early years of his faith development. Now he is an internationally recognized prophet. He spoke on the theme in three sessions. His main point was that we need to learn to trust in God’s true character even in the face of circumstances and evidence that shows it is opposite. When things are uncertain, God is faithful and does not change. He spoke as one whose faithfulness and loyalty to God has been proven and tested. What he preached was seared into his life at great sacrifices, uncertainty and tears. Thus he was able to impart faith and courage and conviction. On more than one occasion, he risked his life and his family and was willing to die for the Lord. God saw that and entrusted him with great gifts and anointing. Despite that he is a very gracious, unassuming, and respectful man of God.

His God-given gift to give personal prophecies that were mostly accurate is priceless. Typically they described a person’s gifts and strengths and gave specific advice on pitfalls to watch and encouragement along the lines of their placement in the body. So typically after the message the campers went forward for prayer and ministry. Later we had to give out numbers on paper to campers as there were many more who had not been prayed for and he offered to pray for everyone.  After the message we dismissed all but the 20 persons to be prayed for in the queue. By the time we finished on the third and last session it was about 2pm and most have gone off for the free and easy shopping afternoon.

In the end it was a memorable camp and most went home contented and encouraged to have been blessed with the strong messages preached, and each with a personal word from the Lord as bonus. They enjoyed the shopping and the durian pig outs. For me the personal prophecy affirmed my role as spiritual father in the church, and affirmed and watered the idea of writing books.

Ubike: best value for money foldable bike?

I have been in conversation with him about folding bikes. He owned a mountain bike before but wanted to get a foldie. He researched Brompton, Dahon, Vert, Jazz and other foldable bikes and went to the bicycle shops to examine. His conclusion is that the Ubike is the best value bike in Singapore at the moment.

Brompton and its long tradition was certainly an attractive option. However he is one who is not into brands and will look at comparisons with an objective eye. He finally bought a Ubike citizen selling at SGD$980 for one main reason: it gives him the best value for the buck.

For one thing he found the Taiwan manufacturer is a tried and tested maker of durable bikes for many cities in Europe. This is their foray into foldable bikes and they won an award for design. The parts are Shimano and can be easily upgraded or replaced, unlike the proprietary Brompton. It came with mud guards and a rear rack. It has over 20 gear shifts. It’s frame is aluminium and when folded it can be pushed like a wheel barrow. Best of all you can actually buy 3 Ubikes for the price of one Brompton.

Sek Hong and me at the Promenade

Sek Hong and me at the Promenade

So when Sek Hong bought the bike I was eager to have a look and try it out. He came over from Holland Road and from my place in Jurong we cycled to the Jurong Lake Park Connector. I showed him the promenade, the fountain, passed by the entrances to the Chinese Garden and the Japanese Garden, and passed the view of the Jurong Country Club golf course.

At the end of the one way route, I tried out his bike. The bike aesthetics were good: paint, colour, the frame, the handlebars and tyres. The ride was smooth, effortless and quiet. There is no suspension but for recreational riding on the park connectors this does not pose a problem at all.

He was bowled over by the scenic and breezy ride. “I don’t know why you bother to ride the Ulu Pandan PCN when you have such a pleasant ride here.” “Yes there is no need to, but I do it for variety and to eat at Ghim Moh or Teban Gardens.”

Breather between church camps

Enjoying a breakfast of Foochow fishball noodles at Yong Peng

Enjoying a breakfast of Foochow fishball noodles at Yong Peng

Singapore plated Porches parked in front of the shop makes for good advertisement

Singapore plated Porches parked in front of the shop makes for good advertisement

It was relaxing to have a welcome break between two camps. I really needed it.  In one camp I was the speaker and the other was my church camp where I had to do the first and last sessions. My wife and I and two other couples went to a high end condominium in Kuala Lumpur City Center, at one of the couple’s invitation. We left on Sunday at 6.30 am to avoid any possible traffic jam and thank God there was none. We stopped at Yong Peng for a fishball breakfast but as it turned out we were not the only Singaporeans. There were about 25 Porches parked in front and next door at the petrol station and along the street.

Long leisurely home made breakfasts in the apartment

Long leisurely home made breakfasts in the apartment. Clockwise Annie, Sunny, Janet, Tat Loong, Jenny, Kenny.

One of the views from the condo bridge conjoined to Renaissance Hotel

One of the views from the condo bridge conjoined to Renaissance Hotel

Waiting while others get their spectacles done

Waiting while others get their spectacles done at Sungei Wang

Eating by the streets of Chinatown

Eating by the streets of Chinatown

The usual fare at the night pasar malam

The usual fare at the night pasar malam

We reached Kuala Lumpur around 1230 pm. The apartment was as beautifully furnished as a five star hotel. We enjoyed our stay in the apartment with its unblocked city views. We had leisurely breakfasts and night snacks and long chats. In between these we walked and shopped and ate. It so nice not having to think or decide – just follow the flow. We used the Rapid KL monorail but walked most of the time. Only once we took the cab after a long tiring day. Shopping was fun because one Singapore dollar went for $2.75 ringgit.  At Sungei Wang, I got myself a Braun Buffel spectacle frame with lenses to correct my astigmatism and short sightedness for $138 ringgit. There is no way I can get it at this price in Singapore. No way. The food was reasonably priced due to the exchange rate. We had a good seafood meal at Petaling Street, their “Chinatown”, and that was a tourist area.

By the time we left on Tuesday morning we were reluctant to leave but satisfied and thankful. We gelled well and set our minds for Melaka for the church camp.

Agape Methodist Church camp: walking the ancient paths of prayer

Agape Methodist Church wanted to introduce their members to the spiritual disciplines. Their ministry staff member Jeremiah Singh remembered how I introduced the lectio divina and examen to their church group two years earlier in another church camp. So they invited me to lead their retreat. When I met Rev Vincent Goh, and immediate kinship bound us as we were among a handful of pastors who have done the Ignatian 30 days silent retreat. We were on the same wavelength and talked the same language. We met for fellowship a few times before the actual church retreat from 11 June to 13 June in Pulai Springs Resort.

View from the hotel

View from the hotel

View from my room

View from my room

Meeting point at the church worship hall at Yung Ching

Meeting point at the church worship hall at Yung Ching

The meeting point was at Agape Methodist Church at Yuan Ching Road, formerly an NTUC Club building directly opposite the now defunct Tang Dynasty theme park. The church partnered with the Lakeside community services to lease the building and reach out to the surrounding households of the Jurong West area. The Chinese congregation and English congregation went together to Pulai Springs but each had different camp speakers and so did the children’s church.

Ice breakers that got Chinese and English congregations to mingle and play

Ice breakers that got Chinese and English congregations to mingle and play

Agape Methodist Church is a family church. The members were warm, friendly and easy going. I quickly felt at ease and relaxed with them. I enjoyed their fellowship and got to know people during the several meals we had together. Quite a number of the members were founder or pioneer members who were with the church from the beginning when it first started as a preaching point of Faith Methodist Church. One of the members that I renewed acquaintance with was Jason Foo, someone I knew from before, who still has fire in his heart for missions.

Singing to the Lord before the talks and practice sessions

Singing to the Lord before the talks and practice sessions

The hotel gave the church a hall that could seat 800

The hotel gave the church a hall that could seat 800

Rev Vincent doing holy communion at the last session

Rev Vincent doing holy communion at the last session

There were six talks with practice sessions or group sharing and prayer. I was pleasantly surprised that I had been thoroughly prepared for this camp. I must confess it had not been so at other times when I did camps for other churches. I was thus pleased with my sustained effort in preparations. The topics covered spiritual practices like slowing down, silence, lectio divina, and examen (the review of the day). The big picture topics covered the “Six stages of the life of faith” and “Journeying through the Wall.” I enjoyed doing all the talks and the practical sessions that followed. It was fun to facilitate these practical sessions and see people take to the different ancient paths of prayer. I could see that they too enjoyed trying out these “new” paths.

I told them many Christians are in a large stuffy room with numerous windows of prayer. But most have opened only a few of them: intercessory prayer, petition prayer. Naturally the room is stuffy. More windows of prayer need to be opened so that the wind of the Spirit can freshen up our stuffy church lives. I believe they understood this vivid image and began to open some of the other windows. They had a good introduction to the disciplines and I trust they will go on to incorporate some of these means of grace into their lives. I was pleased that the young people were eager and open to learning such ancient ways. The Lord bless and empower them.

It is really sad that though the Christian church was one church in the first thousand years and it had many good as well as bad traditions, but some of the good traditions (including these ancient ways of prayer) were rejected and thrown out the door together with the bad traditions by the Reformation.

I left the retreat tired from doing six sessions in a three days two nights camp but gratified that I have deposited something worthwhile that can be followed up on by the church members themselves with the continued support of the leaders. May Agape Methodist Church continue to be the friendly and compassionate church, and rooted in the rest and love of God.

J I Packer said, “It has often been said that Christianity in North America is 3,000 miles wide and half an inch deep.” It is the same with the Singapore church and we do need ancient paths of prayer (and persecution) to help us deepen our lives.  How wonderful it would be to do something similar for other church camps too.

Rev Vincent Goh (Ps in charge), myself, Rev Mee Hee, Jeremiah, and Stanley

Rev Vincent Goh (Ps in charge), myself, Rev Mee Hee, Jeremiah, and Stanley

Fifany: a new word

I have minted a new word from the Sunday pulpit: “fifany”. This is the season of Pentecost. So over the last few Sundays we have been preaching about the Holy Spirit and people’s encounters with Him. We planned a series of sermons that will cover Acts 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10. Last Sunday I was preaching Acts 8, about what happens when the Holy Spirit comes, as seen through the eyes of Simon the sorcerer. I mentioned to the church that the word “simony” comes from this story. Simony is the buying of religious office and positions. Bribes are given, lands are given, money is given and in exchange someone gets appointed a bishop, or archbishop or some other position of power and influence. During the dark ages such positions yielded power and wealth and thus are coveted. Simon the sorcerer saw the Holy Spirit’s amazing power given with the laying of hands and it so impressed him he wanted to buy that
God given grace from the apostle Peter and John. Peter scolded him, “To hell with your money! And you along with it. Why, that’s unthinkable—trying to buy God’s gift! You’ll never be part of what God is doing by striking bargains and offering bribes. Change your ways—and now! Ask the Master to forgive you for trying to use God to make money. I can see this is an old habit with you; you reek with money-lust.” Then I mentioned about “fifany” – in FIFA the world’s federation of associations that control international football. In FIFA bribes were used to buy votes so that a country could host the World Cup.  Everybody suspects it but now the FBI from USA is investigating it. The country least interested in football is going to do the rest of the world that is crazy about football a very big favour: catch the crooks and surgically remove the cancerous organs. I wish them success. Remember this word: “fifany”.

Sabah quake: Pray for TKPS

Mighty Kinabalu in the background

Mighty Kinabalu

The Sabah earthquake and the tremble of mighty Mt Kinabalu shocked and struck many chords within me. I love trekking that mountain. As a pastor I have led three church groups (20-40 members each time), of young people and families mainly from eleven years old to over fifty. To hear of news of the Sabah quake and the deaths of young climbers aged 12, and teachers of Tanjong Katong Primary School is deeply sad and disturbing. I was a teacher before, and I am a parent too, and I understand to some extent a parent’s heartbreak for I have lost a child before.

The pointing of fingers have started. People blaming the “angmohs” for disrespectfully posing naked and peeing on the sacred mountain and invoking the wrath of the gods. People blaming the school, the Ministry of Education and impersonal policies and decision making processes. Parents blaming each other and themselves. This is not the time for all these. Not the time.

Writer Ovidia Yu posted this in her Facebook:

So long as we live, they too shall live,
For they are now a part of us,
As we remember them.

Poet, writer, artist, social commentator Gwee Li Sui posted a haiku on Facebook:

Haiku to the Sabah Quake Victims
———-
As you sought to reach
the sky, it rained down boulders.
Nature has wronged you.

A church member Cynthia Koe posted in her Facebook:

In times like this it is not about what to say but what should not be said.

A time like this is a feel moment not a word moment. A listening moment not an encouraging moment.

Mourning takes time and a hand to hold not a ” aww, it is ok” hug time. Let them share their loved ones’ stories and lets hear with tears as they say their last goodbyes.

What she said is true and it inspired me to write a Haiku on my Facebook account:

Not the time for blame
But for tears and holding hands
For grief to mend hearts

So it was good that the Tanjong Katong Primary School opened it grounds for its school community to grieve.

It was good that the Ministry of Education mobilized its counselors to help survivors and classmates of the departed to grieve and process the trauma.

It was good that the government declared a day of mourning today: flags flown at half-mast, a minute of silence at all South East Asia Games venue before the start of events.

We need to pray for TKGS and all the bereaved families. It will be very very painful for them in the coming months. No, years.

RIP: Fellow Singaporean hikers who lost their lives in Sabah quake

RIP: Fellow Singaporean hikers who lost their lives in Sabah quake

Keeping quiet

A quiet evening at the Jurong Lake promenade

A quiet evening at the Jurong Lake promenade

I had been preparing the messages and workshops for a Methodist church retreat in June. It is a preached retreat to introduce fervent evangelicals to a few spiritual disciplines and spiritual formation. The topics include Slowing down, Silence, The six stages of the life of faith, Journey through he wall, The review of the day (examen), Devotional reading (lectio divina). I was preparing the talks, the Powerpoint and collecting material. Then I chanced upon this beautiful poem in Chee Soo Lian’s Facebook entry. As is often the case, the Lord has his way of bringing suitable materials to help me teach. This is a poem by Pablo Neruda, Nobel prize winning poet and writer. In one of the sessions in the preached retreat I will lead the people into a great silence or grand silence -  a lengthy period of keeping quiet usually practised in the monastery. Imagine young people doing this! I will use this poem as a summons to launch the grand silence.

KEEPING QUIET
by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Wedding photos at Jurong Lake Promenade

Wedding photograps at Jurong Lake

Wedding photography at Jurong Lake promenade

These days some couples take their wedding photographs overseas in Malaysia, Bali, Korea, Taiwan or even in Europe. They believe the  quality is better, or the setting unique, or they get more value for their money. Other couples totally dispense with the pre-wedding photograph session  because it is troublesome. They opt for simplicity. It was interesting to see  this couple have their photos taken at the Jurong Lake promenade on a Monday evening. Why, I wonder? Is it scenic? Are they foreigners who find the promenade unique? Is that place special to the couple?

Singapore’s high speed rail terminus in Jurong East

The Jurong Country Club will be the site for the terminus of the high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. This 67 hectare plot of land has been acquired by the government. This was announced recently on Monday, 11 May 2015.

The high-speed rail project has been in the works since September 2010. Official agreement from both countries came in 2013. It made sense as it would increase options of travel modes between the two cities. At a speed of 300 km/hr it would take an hour and a half for the trip. Currently travelling by road takes 5 hours; by railway it takes 7 hours; by plane it takes about 4 hours (including travel to airport and check in and other procedures). Most people welcome the option of a high-speed rail. But what will it mean to have the terminus at the intended location for people who live in Jurong East?

Jurong Country Club and Science Centre and the green belt beyond the foreground of a school.

Jurong Country Club and Science Centre and the golf course beyond the foreground of a school.

The Jurong East and Lake area has been earmarked as the second business district of Singapore. Altogether it is the size of the Marina Bay business district. Already there are five shopping malls, one large hospital, one hotel, two condominiums (still being built), and the older International Business District. Some government ministry will be occupying the office towers above one of the newer malls. Roads are also being built and widened in anticipation of increased traffic congestion. It will be very congested when all the plans are realized and the people occupy the offices and hospitals and hotels, and when the high-speed rail starts operation in seven years. What will it be like with the high speed rail terminus situated at the Jurong Country Club?

For one thing it will be sad for the members of the country club as they have to leave by November 2016 and after investing heavily in redoing the greens recently. I hope they get compensated well, but it is always difficult to satisfactorily compensate fond memories and intangibles like prestige and status. But then golf courses are enjoyed by the privileged not the majority. And though I enjoy the luxurious slice of green from my apartment window, and the peace and quiet and low density of their land usage, I must agree that for Jurong East to be a second CBD, the golf course looks like underutilized space. It was only logical that the terminus be located there and its surrounding land be developed into valuable mixed recreational, hotel, residential and office space. The development of Singapore is marked by the tears of many landowners.

A few friends told me that this would raise the values of residential property around the development, including mine. However this is nothing to yam seng about because it is mere paper gain for those of us who will be living in our apartments over the long term. Even if you sell it to realize a profit, where do you go to live, since living in a continually dynamic and progressive environment can be quite heady.

Panoramic view of Jurong Country Club golf course from the Jurong Lake park connector

Panoramic view of Jurong Country Club golf course from the Jurong Lake park connector

From my cycling of Jurong Lake park connector, I now get to enjoy a serene piece of green – the golf course. Sadly this will be replaced by buildings and other infrastructural development for the high-speed rail. I have to start savouring this green stretch across the lake and say my goodbyes before the golf course is taken over.  In addition, the view from my apartment will change too as new buildings tower over where the country club now stands in stately dignity. Well, that’s life in Singapore. Unblocked views are never guaranteed.

Two pastors cycle park connectors in the west

Pastor Richard Wong posing with his Brompton and with Chinese Garden in the background

Pastor Richard Wong posing with his Brompton and with Chinese Garden in the background

It began with a dream. Pastor Richard Wong of Singapore Canaan Christian Church messaged me that he had a dream that both of us cycled together on 11 May when his wife was away on vacation. My reply to his interesting dream was, Why not? 11 May would be a Monday and I had my day off every Monday. We arranged to meet at 7am at the Chinese Garden MRT taxi stand.

From his home in Potong Pasir, he took a cab with his Brompton foldable bicycle in the boot. For him it was a journey to the west. He arrived too early at 6.30am and had to wait. On the other hand my home was a 5 minutes ride away. Once we met we were on our way to a whole day of riding under the sun, and fellowship in the Lord.

At jetty of Jurong Lake PCN

At jetty of Jurong Lake PCN

Since Richard came all the way at some cost, I felt I must show him all the lovely park connectors (PCN) linked with Jurong East. The first PCN I took him on was the Jurong Lake PCN, a return trip of about 10 kilometres. There were many scenic spots for nice photographs and we took time to pose and shoot. He was quite impressed.

Next in my plan was breakfast, and I led him to Teban Gardens, to a coffeeshop next to the hawker centre. This coffee shop served good coffee and had a Malay stall that sold fragrant nasi lemak and a popular 50 cents curry puff. The coffee shop also had an Indian stall popular for their roti prata and their nasi beriyani. We had a leisurely breakfast and chatted about things I now cannot recall. Thumbs up to the breakfast and we moved off to link up to the next park connector.

Enjoying breakfast at Teban gardens coffee shop

Enjoying breakfast at Teban gardens coffee shop

We rode up a beautiful and well designed bicycle overpass that connected the Teban Garden estate PCN to the Ulu Pandan PCN. The bitumen overpass was built with beautiful steel railings and with a comfortable gradual gradient without any bumps. No expense was spared to make it aesthetically impressive and functionally efficient. Richard remarked that the authorities built a lovely bicycle overpass. I agreed wholeheartedly.

Ulu Pandan PCN

Ulu Pandan PCN

The Ulu Pandan PCN was a straightforward bicycle and joggers trail and by the mid-morning time that we used it, we were under the hot sun. We rode hard and we rode fast most of the time until we reached the Ghim Moh temporary hawker centre. What relief it was to be out of the sun and to have a cold soya bean drink. Had a leisurely chat. Soon we were riding hard and fast to the Bukit Batok PCN with the objective of seeing Little Guilin.

This time we switched bikes. I rode his Brompton, the “BMW” of foldable bikes, and he rode my Cronus Earl 3.0. Bikes have their distinct voice as the wheels turned. The rider may not be able to hear it clearly, but is able to hear other riders’ bike humming by. My bike that he rode does not have a nice voice. It sounded cranky, like it had some loose nuts and bolts that needed tightening. Earlier when he rode the Brompton, I could hear the click click click of his wheels: the sound of British engineering.

At Little Guilin in Bukit Gombak

At Little Guilin in Bukit Gombak

Waiting for the MRT at Gombak station

Waiting for the MRT at Gombak station

By the time we reached Little Guilin the sun was overhead and the sunlight was too harsh for photography but we managed to redeem our photos with editing tools.

Inside the first coach of MRT train with foldable

Inside the first coach of MRT train with foldable

We were punctured by then and we decided to take the MRT from Gombak, which was next to Little Guilin, to the Jurong East MRT. Neither of us have used the MRT with our folding bikes. There are a few conditions for riding the MRT with a “foldie”. First, it must be outside peak hours, from 9.30am to 4.30am. Next, your foldie must be within the stipulated size. Next, you have to use the elevator and enter the first or last coach. This would be a first for us, and I entered in first, as my bike looked bulkier. If I was turned away, we could cycle back together. As it turned out it was no bother and we located the lift and used the first coach. What a liberating experience.

We ended in Jurong East MRT for lunch. Lunch we Redhill fishball noodles at the Isetan supermarket food porch. After that he visited my home for coffee. It was a satisfying day. We made Pastor Richard’s dream come true.

What would Jesus say to Amos Yee?

Amos Yee Pang Sang (Chinese: 余澎杉; pinyin: Yú Péng Shān; born October 31, 1998) is a Singaporean YouTube personality, blogger, and former child actor. In late March 2015, shortly after the death of Lee Kuan Yew, a former Prime Minister of Singapore, Yee uploaded a video to YouTube criticizing Lee and compared him with Christianity. As a result, Yee was arrested and charged for the “intention of wounding the religious feelings of Christians”, and also separately for uploading an obscene image of Lee and Margaret Thatcher. Both charges fall under the Penal Code. A third charge, later stood down, was under the Protection of Harassment Act, which accuses him of “making an online video containing remarks about Mr Lee that offended people who viewed it.” Yee was initially released on bail on the condition that he not comment or distribute any content online while the case was still ongoing, but Yee refused to obey the conditions of his bail. Yee’s trial, which took place on 7 to 8 May 2015, attracted much public interest.  The court found Yee guilty on 12 May 2015.[9] It will announce the sentence on 2 June 2015. (Wikipedia).

Social media reactions have been vociferous and polarizing; with some vehemently defending his right to freedom of speech, while others as decided that he needs a good smack on his head, which somebody actually gave to him.  A summary from online news stated, “A self-employed man was sentenced to three weeks in jail on Monday for slapping teenage blogger Amos Yee outside the State Courts last month. Neo Gim Huah, 49, was charged in court on Monday”.

Amos Yee on his way to courtI feel for the parents of Amos Yee, and what they had to go through. It must be tough, very tough for both of them. I do pray the Lord will strengthen them with power to endure, and the grace to walk with their son on this path of burning coals.

Which leads me to ask a simple question, What would Jesus say to Amos Yee?  With people entrenched in polarized positions sniping each other, what would Jesus, the icon of Christianity that Amos Yee condemned, say to him?

I posed this question on Facebook and these are some replies I received from pastors and other friends in the comment boxes: “You are forgiven. You are my beloved.”  “I am going to your house for dinner.” “Whoever shall deny Me before men, him also will I deny before My Father in heaven(Matt 10:33).” “Jesus would say to Amos : ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’(Luke 9:23).” “I am going to your house for dinner.” “Repent”. “The prodigal son comes home.” “Love edifies.” “It’s tough. I know. Come with Me.”

As we all know the gospels reported how Jesus had different ways of handling different ones. He handled Nicodemus the religious seeker one way, and even another religious seeker, the rich young man, another way. The Samaritan woman and the woman caught in adultery were both given mercy. Jesus handled Zaccheus the tax-collector and the demon oppressed man from the Gadarene in another way. He treated each according to what he perceived was their deepest need or greatest blockage.

The Pharisees and Sadducees, religious groups in Jesus’ time, who should have known better, but were arrogant and self-righteous, were the ones who received his most severe public rebukes. Does Amos Yee belong to this category of self-righteous religious prigs? I think not. So a severe reprimand would not be what Jesus would have said to him.

Is Amos Yee someone who craves for attention and fame? It does seem that way. He said so himself. He was a young actor. He wanted to be famous and turned to You Tube with his talents to get the fame he wanted. To stand out in social media, you have to be different: brilliant in your ideas (think Ted Talks), performance or entertainment value (think Gangnam style); or contrarian, radical, non-conformist, and extreme in your opinions. He chose the latter.

So what would Jesus say to Amos Yee? Would he say to Amos Yee what he said to Saul of Tarsus? Maybe so. I could be wrong but perhaps Jesus, the risen Lord would say this to him: “Amos, Amos, why do you oppose Me. It’s tough isn’t it, this path that you have chosen? There is a better way to greatness. It’s the path of service. It’s looking out for the interests and needs of others and finding solutions to help them. Humble, hidden and loving service is the path for you, Amos. I have been watching over you quietly with love and compassion, not with hate and condemnation. I accept you, and feel for you and I want what’s best for you. Trust and follow Me.”

Preaching like cooking for family

A good balance for everyone at the dinner table

A good balance for everyone at the dinner table

The sermon is preferred differently by people of different temperaments. The sanguine (the “I” in the DISC) will like messages with moving stories embellished with dialogue, and content with relational elements. The phlegmatic (S) needs sermons that reassure, comfort and encourage them constantly. The melancholy(C) prefers to dive deep into analysis, interpretative details and arguments about the Biblical text. The choleric (D) will want to be challenged by a sermon calling them to do things that produces results and make a difference, and have sure-fire practical steps of action.

This alone presents a challenge to the preacher. Can he add elements to target each of these unique temperament preferences in most sermons if not every sermon? Such a sermon would then have to have a moving story or relational element added if the text is not a narrative. It would have to be positive, comforting and encouraging. Based on a text that is not ignored, the sermon has to arise and be systematically built up from a careful interpretation of scriptures that include nuances and alternative interpretations. It would also have to point to a lack, gap or need in the hearers so big they would be motivated to want to do something about it. It would have some practical steps of plugging the gap at the end. This is a tall order and when you consider the many other roles and responsibilities of a small church pastor it appears almost impossible to do this consistently over a long period of time.

Feeding the church is like feeding a family. Every child has different preferred, or favourite and despised dishes. It can be so opposite and impossible. One prefers rice, another rather eat noodles most of the time. One hates fish because of the bones inside, others love whole fish and find the Dory too bland. Most love curry but one has the runs when she eats spicy. So like any smart mother, the pastor has to plan a balanced menu of sermons of different kinds: topical series that are easily digestible by most; sermons for special occasions like Easter or missions Sundays or anniversaries; deep book studies of Old and New Testament; and standalone sermons that addresses some challenge that the church or society is facing. And major on what the apostle Paul majored, “We preach Christ and Him crucified” – the finished work. Furthermore, church members, like family, have to learn to understand and embrace this variety of approaches out of love and respect for other family members. Church is family and this is what family does.

Biblical Turkey & Greece Pastors’ Familiarization Tour 2015

Hagia Sofia: church turned mosque turned museum

Hagia Sofia: church turned mosque turned museum

Gymnasium at ancient Sardis (city of one of seven churches in Revelations)

Gymnasium at ancient Sardis (city of one of seven churches in Revelations)

Beautiful chapel that celebrates Lydia's conversion in Philippi (Greece)

Beautiful chapel that celebrates Lydia's conversion in Philippi (Greece)

Packed itinerary

We landed at dawn and began with a one day tour of Istanbul. It was a wet, windy and cold day. However we toured the main tourist sites and still managed to squeeze in an hour of shopping at the grand bazaar in the late evening. We visited the ancient ruins of the cities where the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation once existed. They are all in modern day Turkey. Then we crossed over to Greece by bus and visited holy sites, ancient ruins and museums in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth. From Athens, we flew and transited at Istanbul, and flew back home.

We stayed at eight hotels in ten days. That should say something. It meant living off our suitcase. It meant early morning calls that mercifully became sane morning calls in Greece. It also meant being on the road on average about 2 hours between sites. We all expected it as this was a familiarization tour and they were trying to give us a sampling of as many different religious sites as possible within the limited time-frame. This survey would then help us to choose from a wide range what we think is suitable for ourselves if we want to lead a tour from our church in future.

The group picture taken at ancient Laodicea

The group picture taken at ancient Laodicea

Personal highlights of the tour

The fellowship was wonderful. There were 39 participants in all – mostly pastors from different denominations and background. There were Methodists, Baptists, Assemblies of God, Independents, Brethren, Presbyterians, Anglicans, and Vietnamese Alliance. As there were about 25 meals we had together I got to hear many inspiring stories of pastors, and how they were called and what their churches were about. A few of these pastors had successful careers. But they heard the call and became pastors in mid-career changes.

Fellowship over meals

Fellowship over meals

Baked fish

Baked fish

Salads

Salads

Soups

Soups

Lamb cuts and other meats

Lamb cuts and other meats

Sweet desserts

Sweet desserts

Old friend Pastor Richard  & Nancy Loh of Queenstown Baptist Church

Old friend Pastor Richard & Nancy Loh of Queenstown Baptist Church

Renewed fellowship with pastors' prayer group leader Rev Sng Chong Hui and wife Irene

Renewed fellowship with pastors' prayer group leader Rev Sng Chong Hui and wife Irene

The ladies enjoyed the fellowship

The ladies enjoyed the fellowship

Pastor Ezekiel giving the devotion at site of Lydia's conversion at Philippi

Pastor Ezekiel giving the devotion at site of Lydia's conversion at Philippi

Naturally the pastors were deployed to give devotions at the major sites. It was edifying to hear God’s messages to the seven churches in Revelation come alive with probing relevance and power across the centuries. I was blessed. For me it was like a personal invitation from the Spirit to look more deeply at the book of Revelations and consider preaching it through in the church. The book lit up like a burning bush.

Sela, boss of tour company humouring us in the bus

Sela, boss of tour company leading us in the WI-FI equipped bus

Excellent informative guide telling us about ancient Ephesus toilets that St Paul probably used!

Excellent informative guide telling us about ancient Ephesus toilets that St Paul probably used!

This subsidized tour was well organized and packed. The tour guides that were handpicked for us were very good in terms of their expertise, people skills and humor. The Bible Society of Singapore and the Omega Tours and Travel did a thoughtful job of planning all these and selecting the local tour companies to partner with. We had our meals at restaurants and most breakfasts and dinners were in above average hotels. Not sure about the cuisine, but I preferred the Turkish meals to the ones in Greece for the greater variety. There were salads in every meal and I never ate so much vegetable in any ten days of my life till now.

Short cut on the ferry to and from the European and Asian parts of Turkey

Short cut on the ferry to and from the European and Asian parts of Turkey

At Parthenon, ancient temple dedicated to goddess Athena, in Athens acropolis

At Parthenon, ancient temple dedicated to goddess Athena, in Athens acropolis

Admiring ladies hairstyles in the Acropolis Museum, Athens

Admiring ladies hairstyles in the Acropolis Museum, Athens

If I were to plan a pilgrimage/study tour for the church I would concentrate on Turkey. I would do the Istanbul bit, fly to Tarsus, get lost in the Cappadocia caves, do the seven churches circuit, and have a day cruise to the island of Patmos (part of Greece). Such a pilgrimage/study tour would focus on the book of Revelations and the relevance of its message to us. I feel the Revelations tour can be impactful. And add some restful elements like staying to linger an extra day in a city, and having some fun shopping or hot air ballooning. Adding Greece in would be too much. Have a separate pilgrimage for Greece, probably with a missional slant.

My favourite sites: the ancient Ephesus site, and Parmukkale“cotton castle” in Turkey; and the Meteora in Greece.

Taking a selfie at Ephesus ancient library ruins

Taking a selfie at Ephesus ancient library ruins

Ephesus amphitheatre

Ephesus amphitheater

Pamukkale: cotton castle World Heritage site

Parmukkale "cotton castle": a World Heritage site

Soaking our feet in the mineral water supplied by hot springs

Soaking our feet in the mineral water supplied by hot springs

Natural hotsprings and beautiful terraces of carbonate minerals

Parmukkale: natural hot-springs and beautiful terraces of carbonate minerals

Monasteries built on top of rock formations - cool

Meteora - Greek Orthodox monasteries built on top of rock formations - cool

Monks and nuns in those which permit visitors and tourists

Monks and nuns in those monasteries which permit visitors and tourists

How heavy loads are carried up in the old days

How heavy loads were carried up in the old days

FGB MDM School: Making Disciples in the Marketplace

53 delegates from 6 countries

53 delegates from 6 countries

Praying for "Papa" Khoo

Praying for "Papa" Khoo

The FGB Making Disciples in Marketplace School

My daughter and I took a taxi and arrived at Changi Cove for a 2pm registration on a Saturday. I have been hearing about kingdom and the marketplace. During a recent Israel holy land tour we dropped by Mt Carmel and visited Peter Tsukahira’s ministry centre. He talked about the kingdom. The next year in 2013, Peter was the main plenary speaker at the Love Singapore Prayer Summit and he enlarged on the same theme. At the same summit, I met Georgie Lee who shared passionately about FGB Gatekeepers and their training camp. In 2014, Benny Ho called together a roundtable for pastors and marketplace leaders to have a dialogue. I met Georgie again and he invited me to attend a Making Disciples in the Marketplace (MDM) School. After some prayer I decided to attend it from 7-10 March 2015.

An evening for foreign delegates to see the city skyline

An evening for foreign delegates to see the city skyline

There were 53 participants from six countries including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, and Indonesia. My daughter and I were so tired we both took an afternoon nap, and woke up late for the first session. What a way to start. The sessions were back to back and intense. There were fifteen sessions in all: five sessions every day: two in the morning; two in the afternoon; and one at night. We were well fed with good food and tea breaks before and after every session. Here are some takeaways from the 3 day school.

Blogpastor’s five key takeaways

Firstly the truth that there are many teachers and not many spiritual fathers, and fathers are what we need above teachers, systems, strategies and methodology. The key difference and distinguishing mark of the father is love, love, love. The spiritual father loves authentically. Teachers do not. Many excel in explaining or expositing, few love well, love fully and truly. I felt weird when they kept calling Khoo Oon Theam “Papa”. With time, I saw that they were affectionate in their relationship with him. They had received a lot of love from him. They naturally called him Papa Khoo. The Catholics got it right. Their priests are called Fathers not Reverends. Fathering is an excellent image of Christian leadership. I saw that in Khoo Oon Theam. Of course I don’t know him well enough, but I could see a genuine mutual affection amongst the FGB team and him. The bottom-line is love after all. Elder John of the Bible knew it. Eagle saints know it. So does “Papa” Khoo.

Secondly, the vision of discipling must go beyond the individual, as in most models, but must embrace transformation of comprehensive aspects of society. It is a vision that goes beyond one nation to globally reach all people groups.

Speakers praying and imparting to delegates

Speakers praying and imparting to delegates

Thirdly, I learned that most Christians fly below the radar’s detection range. They live moral lives, and try to do their work well, keeping their heads down, be inconspicuous and stay out of trouble, rather than choose to seek change so that God’s name is glorified. They would not upset the peace nor confront injustice nor wrong. MDM School advocates and empowers God’s people to activate God’s salt and light in the workplace. It gives them a sense of purpose in what would occupy a large chunk of their lives in terms of effort and hours: the workplace. Suddenly the gospel is seen to be highly relevant and not compartmentalized conveniently in some weekend activity. The school has a structure and process that works for FGB Gatekeepers and they have assembled quite an experienced and influential group of committed leaders or “elders” from the marketplace.  It is for us pastors to re-shape it for the local church.

Fourthly, I believe this vision has revitalized the Full Gospel Businessman (FGB) of yesteryear. The FGB played a pivotal role in spreading the charismatic experience and message in the 1980’s and 1990’s. This role of seeding the denominations and churches had resulted in the leaven leavening the whole lump except for a few exceptions like the Bible Presbyterians, the Presbyterians and the Chinese and Malayalam churches. Then with the churches renewed the FGB seem to have gone into a season of hibernation, a dark night of the soul if you would like. The good news is they have come our purified and deepened in vision and this is sparking interest among FGBs in other countries. They have seen a fire in the East and it has thawed their hearts and they are travelling long distances to catch the fire for their own people.

With Galven who did a definitive history of the charismatic movement

With Galven who did a definitive history of the charismatic movement

Fifthly, I liked it that they were serious about inter-generational impartation and mentoring.  There was deliberate and intentional discipling and coaching of younger leaders. A few of them in their thirties led part of the sessions with their mentors who are in their sixties. It’s wonderful to behold. Seeing parents and their young adult son working together in the ministry is heart-warming. An example was to see Georgie and Evelyn Lee, who are leaders in the movement, with their son Galven, who was there to facilitate. Galven was researching the charismatic movement of the 70’s in Singapore. I first met him when he was doing research for his studies in NUS.  He interviewed me as a witness to the revival in Dunearn Technical Secondary School. Out of that revival, World Revival Prayer Fellowship was born. He obtained a first class honours student conferred jointly by NUS and the National University of Australia. His thesis traces the history of the charismatic movement in Singapore. At last we have a rigorously researched piece that withstood academic standards of the highest order.

As a student of educational methodology and curriculum, I do see that some tweaks are needed but even as it is the MDM School can impart enthusiasm, the spirit, the dynamism of the vision. Catch the heart of the vision which is actually a spirit of fathering and apostolic initiative. Seek to contextualize it for your church or workplace situation, for it has to be contextualized.

Cycling the Marina Barrage

The view from across the barrage.

The view from across the barrage.

Eric and me at the Marina barrage

Eric and me at the Marina barrage

Central business district in the background.

Central business district in the background.

On a bridge with the Merlion behind

On a bridge with the Merlion behind

It was 7.45 am. We folded the two bikes, one a Tern Link, the other a Cronus Earl 3.0 onto the Daihatsu. The back seat had to be folded to put the two foldies in. My neighbour drove to Marina Barrage. From there we rode off all around the Marina Barrage and the reservoir in front of the city skyline. It was a stunning, beautiful and pleasant ride. It was a sunny day but a light breeze made it pleasant and I got so caught up with the panoramic views and ease of biking around that I forgot about the sun. At the end of it all we ate roti prata at the hawker center near the barrage. It had been a good three hours and a half. What a stimulating day! For this reason, I bought foldable bicycles.

View of CDB

View of CDB

Met other Christians and tried out a Brompton owned by one of them

Met other Christians and tried out a Brompton owned by one of them