Trekking, cycling and other pleasures

The Brompton goes into Chinese and Japanese Gardens

One person leaving the Japanese Garden was saying, They should not allow cyclists into the Chinese and Japanese Gardens. So unsafe. I went to the security guard to confirm if what I was hearing was true. Can cyclists enter the Gardens? I thought there was a rule that said we cannot? I have been stopped before. The security guard said, Yes you can now cycle in the Gardens. Later, my wife and I were walking out at the Chinese Garden’s exit at the Chinese Garden MRT side. I asked the security guard there, Can we cycle in the Gardens? Yes you can. What happened? I thought all along we cannot. The management made a decision this week to allow and we have been instructed to allow cyclists in, he replied.

Last week I was disappointed to see one thirds of the Jurong Lake Park Connector boarded up completely for upgrading works. Now there is some comfort in this piece of good news that we can cycle inside the gardens.

Here are some photos to prove this is for real but I do not know if this is temporary or permanent.

Near the Chinese Garden lake

Brompton in front of lake in Chinese Garden

In front of MuLan

Tern in front of MuLan

With a Chinese loyal prime minister or something

Brompton with some famous and loyal Chinese prime minister of the past

Brompton in front of main building of Chinese Garden

Brompton in front of main building of Chinese Garden

Tern in front of the twin pagoda

Tern in front of the twin pagoda

Confucius meets Brompton for the first time

Confucius met Brompton for the first time and advised it not to bid for any government tenders

Wefie on the bridge that joins the Chinese with the Japanese Gardens

Wefie on the bridge that joins the Chinese with the Japanese Gardens

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Book and movie reflections

“Unfolding His Story”: blogpastor’s book reflection

Unfolding His Story by Georgie Lee and Galven Lee

Unfolding His Story by Georgie Lee and Galven Lee

“Unfolding His Story” by Georgie Lee and Galven Lee tells the story of the Charismatic movement in Singapore through the flesh and blood of personal accounts and the skeleton of sound historical research. Like a kaleidoscope, the varied mini-narratives in the book form varied patterns and repeated colours from similar materials with the twist of time and circumstances. It is a must read if you want to gain prophetic insight into the times we are living in. You may not agree with the conclusion of the authors regarding the direction that the altars of the past are pointing to, but you cannot ignore this book.

I first met Galven in Dawson Place. He was an NUS history student doing research on the charismatic movement. My Hyundai Matrix was being serviced and he interviewed me to capture an account of the outpouring of the Spirit upon students that I was a part of. People had heard about the “Clock tower revival of ACS” but little was known about the outpouring of God’s Spirit upon students who were fasting and praying at the back of the science laboratories of Dunearn Technical Secondary School. Later I bumped into his father at a Love Singapore Pastors’ Prayer Summit. He was on fire about a school of discipleship that the FGB Gatekeepers have started. I did not know that at that time the idea for this book had already taken form. It was with some anticipation when I held it in my hands.

It is not follow a strict chronological account of the charismatic movement. In keeping with the living throbbing movement it seeks to describe, the best structure seems to be that of the authors weaving together all the testimonies of many witnesses who were called to the stand to recall their stories as accurately as they can remember them. Repetition, differing nuanced viewpoints and bias will inevitably be present in the integration of these stories, like in the synoptic gospels, but the discipline of historical research that forms the spine would keep that to the minimum.

I read the book during my Chinese New Year vacation in Bangkok. It was interesting, a page turner, and it helped me fill in the blanks in my knowledge of what happened, and I gained some insights as I reflected on what I read. Let me share several of the things I gleaned and some understanding of God’s ways I observed.

Firstly, God loves to use the most unlikely of people to glorify his name. Why was the Spirit poured out on secondary school students? Though they have time and energy, they have no power, position nor money to change the rusty machinery called church. Why was the Spirit poured out on Anglican clergy? They were drier than the bones lying in the valley of Ezekiel’s vision. And the two key persons he used: a mild mannered liberal Bishop, and a prickly social gospel minister. Yet the Holy Spirit saw what humans do not see: one was a stabilizer and the other a bulldozer, and both were needed for the spread of the movement. Then there was that multitude of bored, discontented, nominal, mid-life professionals and businessmen of denominational churches. When the breath of God went into them they became an exceeding great army. Finally even foreign talent were unlikely tools in God’s workshop: an Indian healing revivalist by the name of Edgar Webb; the ang mohs Brother Baker, white haired and mono-toned Rev Brian Bailey and long haired Rev Trevor Dearing.  You cannot help but see that it is God at work through these unlikely heroes.

Secondly, Georgie argued that the spiritual development of the church mirrored that of the development of a Singapore in its search of identity as it sought to shake free from colonialism, its rapid development, and its formation of external wings, and now a maturing and plateauing economy. This was a gem and his arguments were quite convincing.

Thirdly, he mentioned the interesting symbiotic and resistive relationship between the charismatic and Pentecostal movements. It was with refreshing honesty that this was raised in the book. I do recall that each group would avoid the events planned by the other group. The Pentecostals tend to look down on the new kids on the block even though it was their faithfulness to the full gospel that was no small factor in the beginnings and the early nurture of the charismatic movement in Singapore. However, like the elder brother in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, the Pentecostals generally stayed away from the charismatic party of fatted calf and joyful music that the undeserving denominational people were sovereignly blessed with.

Fourth, the authors rightly mentioned the three waves that revived God’s people and swept multitudes of Singaporeans into the churches. The first were the Pentecostals. The second wave was the charismatic wave. The third was the Third Wave. You get a better picture of what these are when you read the book. In addition there is a helpful glossary of these and other terms that are placed at the beginning of the book.

Fifth, the fruit of the outpouring of the Spirit can be seen in many new converts in many new small churches begun, in church extensions or plants, and in the rise of several megachurches in Singapore. This is fruit of breadth. The revival also spawned many missionaries and full time workers and pastors. Out of the revival that birthed the church I serve, I can easily count 19 missionaries and pastors and full time ministry staff. Many other clergy and pastors I have met in countless conferences share a similar participation in the charismatic revival. This is fruit of depth.

Sixth, the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship International (FGBMFI) was the platform that God used to rapidly spread the message of the baptism of the Spirit and the spiritual gifts for all. This platform was a catalyst for many great blessings. The organization’s incredible success bred its own decline.  As church members were strengthened and equipped by attending FGBMFI events and returned as revived members, their churches became more capable of doing what FGBMI did. Her revitalizing role suffered gradual erosion and she drifted into irrelevancy.

Seventh, the church today mirrors the maturing economy of Singapore. What is needed for the church to get out of the plateau is to make a paradigm shift and think kingdom of God and not merely local church. It has to focus on uniting to transform all the different aspects of society and culture. The FGBMFI has gone through a name change (now FGB Gatekeepers) to reflect their new cutting edge vision of wanting to transform and disciple all realms of society and culture.

What did I like about this book? It is interesting and chockful of facts and bits of history and testimony that helped fit in the missing jig saws in my understanding of what God did during the 1970s to 1990s. What happened at Jedburgh Gardens; and how the charismatic revival came to the Anglicans and Methodists; and who’s who in the leadership of the charismatic movement, were all puzzles that this book solved for me. It helped me connect the dots. It also gave a clue to the future. Connecting the dots of the past gives me a general sense of where the dots are prophetically pointing to. And of course I liked it that one of the many valuable photos in the book showed a younger me.

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Trekking, cycling and other pleasures

Brompton goes to Brompton Road and Ponggol Park

Finally we're at Brompton Road.

Finally we’re at Brompton Road.

A must have photo for keepsakes.

A must have photo for keepsakes.

Pastor Richard Wong offered to bring me around the Ponggol Park and the Coney Island. He also requested that we search for a road in Jalan Kayu named Brompton Road. I am not fully initiated into the Brompton bicycle cult so I was thinking, What’s the big deal? He read my mind and went on to explain that he wanted to pose in front of that road sign and take some photos of himself with the Brompton bike. He had seen it in many Brompton Facebook groups and wanted to have some pictures too. It was near Ponggol, so I didn’t mind, though I was mildly amused by his enthusiasm.

So I picked him up at Potong Pasir and the two folded Bromptons fitted snugly into my Nissan Latio car boot. I keyed in the road and the Google navigation system brought us to Brompton Road. We could not find the road sign and had to circle a few times to finally land near the spot. We unfolded our bikes and took turns to pose and take pictures . I couldn’t believe I was doing this, posing in front of the Brompton Road sign with a Brompton bike beside me.

A late morning coffee with workers from Seletar Aerospace Park.

A late morning coffee with workers from Seletar Aerospace Park.

The Anglican Church of the Epiphany

The Anglican Church of the Epiphany

Later we rode around and stopped for coffee and pau at a rustic coffee shop opposite the Seletar Aerospace Park entrance. It felt like we were in the 1960s. We later rode around and I saw the Anglican Church of the Epiphany, that my friend Bishop Raphael Samuel and his wife Michelle served with in his early years of ministry several decades ago in the 1980s.

Waterpoint Mall is next to Ponggol River - cool.

Waterpoint Mall is next to Ponggol River – cool.

Punggol Marina Club in the background.

Punggol Marina Country Club in the background.

We parked the car at Waterpoint Mall which was along the Ponggol River. We pushed our bikes through the shopping mall ( you can only do this with a Brompton) and to the riverfront and began our burning hot ride under the overhead sun. It was nearly 11 am when we started off.

At the Punggol Promenade

At the Punggol Promenade

Beautiful promenade overlooking the Johor Straits

Beautiful promenade overlooking the Johor Straits

Most photographed gate of Coney Island

Most photographed gate of Coney Island

Lovely coniferous trees grow lushly on the island

Lovely coniferous trees grow lushly on the island

Nice open stretches with great vistas of the river

Nice open stretches with great vistas of the river

The reddish brown Halus Bridge in the background.

The reddish brown Halus Bridge in the background.

One day I would like to cross the bridge into Pasir Ris

One day I would like to cross the beautifully designed Halus Bridge into Pasir Ris

Pastor Richard knew the area inside out. We rode around the river all the way to the Ponggol Promenade and to Coney Island. On the way back we passed by Halus Bridge which links Pasir Ris to Ponggol. Richard knew which were the best spots for taking shots with beautiful background.

Beautiful public housing HDB flats by the river.

Beautiful public housing HDB flats by the river.

Green surroundings landscaped to catch the eye and to be easily maintained

Green surroundings landscaped to catch the eye and to be easily maintained

Reaching the Mall. It was a long loop.

Reaching the Mall. It was a long loop.

I was a satisfied Brompton rider.

I was a satisfied Brompton rider.

The HDB homes built about a stones’ throw from the river banks were beautiful and such real estate along a beautiful riverfront is rare at the prices that the residents bought them. Their value would probably double by the time they are able sell their properties.

One thing left to do: have a good lunch and talk shop.

One thing left to do: have a good lunch and talk shop at the Subway.

After the ride we had a Subway sandwich and coffee for lunch. We conveniently parked our bikes near where we sat and chatted in the wonderfully chilled shopping mall. Later, we folded our bikes, put them in the car boot and we were off again. It was interesting and fun. Although the sun bore down on us, I was glad I finally rode the Ponggol Park. Pastor Lawrence Koo, another pastor, who rides a Brompton, often bragged about Ponggol Park in his Facebook. I must agree with him that it is a beautiful park. Give it another five years for the young trees to grow bigger and shadier and it will be perfect.

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