The pastors initiated some pastoral care when we found that a number of men were between jobs. They were mainly professionals in manufacturing, retail, finance and service industries. We formed a WhatsApp chat group with Wai Tuck as a co-ordinator. We called it Men In Transition. We met them for prayer and meditation (lectio divina), sharing, and meals periodically.
Last week Tom Cannon and I met them for a few hours of reflection on their vocational history. We got them to draw a timeline and reflect on the high and low points of their years of working life. We asked them to ponder how God was present in their careers, using Old Testament Joseph’s timeline as an example. It opened their eyes. Then Tom led them in a lectio divina on the passage Isaiah 43:1-7. This was followed with a time of sharing their reflections. We listened to their stories of pain, victories, struggles, weaknesses and wrapped up everything by bring these to the Lord in prayer. The Lord was present to impart peace and comfort.
Then we proceeded to The Ranch for a $10 set meal. Lovely morning; wonderful fellowship! To do work that encourages, enlightens and give hope to people you care about is such a satisfying thing.
I was looking for someone who could expand the congregation’s vision of how God is present and active in the creative arts to reveal His glory and power. I found such a person in Aaron Lee, an award-winning poet, bi-vocational pastor-lawyer, and a leader in the arts ministry. I first got to know him through Facebook. Later I got to know his wife, Namiko Chan– again on Facebook, and found out she was an award-winning portrait artist, and a Hula dance teacher. They are together the founders of Laniakea Culture Collective.
Sunday sermon: Made in the Image of the Master Artist
I invited them to take the Sunday morning message and the afternoon workshop. Aaron preached a message of how we are made in the image of the Master Artist and how we needed to submit to the ongoing work of the Master Artist as He shaped our broken lives into something glorious. The masterly and creative and precise use of words and videos were evident in his sermon. After all what do you expect from a wordsmith?
Kit Chan: I should have recognised her
I thought one of his guests looked like Kit Chan but she did not look like the glamourous Kit Chan seen on TV and the news. I could now see why the Jews had missed the Messiah – they had misconceptions of what the Messiah would be and do. The congregation was as clueless about her identity. And I lost a chance to get a picture with her.
A creative gift
After lunch, Aaron and Namiko-Chan began their workshop with an interesting piece of Hawaiian culture. They presented a makana (gift, or ho’okupu “token of honour”) to the host, WRPF church, represented by my wife and I. It looked like banana leaves and flowers tied with straws. It was actually lovingly made the night before with ti leaves and some flowers. Inside the leaves were five stones – a reminder to actively “play” throughout our lives.
Enthralled by their stories
Then they shared their journey in the arts. The congregation was enthralled by their stories of how they were called and mentored into their ministry in the creative arts. Namiko’s story of how the Lord led her into learning the hula from a Hawaiian master, and how God used their 10,000 Profiles project to serve the orang asli were reminders of how God leads and uses us with our unique gift-sets.
During the workshop, Namiko got the whole congregation involved in expressing a prayer song in movements of our hands and arms. Then she gave her hula dance interpretation of the same song: it was anointed and captivating. I sensed the presence of the Lord conveyed through the dance.
After a short break, Aaron gave us some tips on creative journaling. Doodling is one the interesting items on his list. There is hope for those who dislike writing. They can doodle! We ended with an open-ended exercise in journaling, a fitting closure to the workshop. For some, their journey has begun with this workshop, I hope.
Mind the gap
One takeaway for me was Aaron’s portrayal of the challenging gap of a lack of mutual acceptance and appreciation between the church and creative artists. Will creative out-of-the-box artists feel comfortable in a church that values respectability, conformity and acceptability? What would it take for a church to be more friendly for people of the creative arts to thrive in the church community?
The new face of FGBMF Singapore
Full Gospel Business Gatekeepers Singapore: this is the new name of what was once the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship Singapore ( FGBMF Spore). They were celebrating their 40th anniversary together with the launch of a book titled: UNFOLDING HIS STORY. The dinner celebration on 2nd September was well attended at Fullerton Hotel with most receptionist and volunteers manning the tables under 40 and most people attending the event over 50 years of age. On the stage that night the old and young represented the future of this middle-aged organization injected with a new zip in its movements. This partnership of young and old, hand in hand, is the new face of a miraculous but God-supervised transformation (or as businessmen would term re-invention) of the mid-lifer that was FGBMF Spore. From dry bones to mighty army
The FGBMF Spore was at one point dehydrated and lacking vitality, if not moribund and breathing its last breath: words I dared not use if the organization was still like that today. It was like an organization that had lost its way. They had done their God-given mission so well that the churches they touched were so strong they did not need the organization’s help any more. Their heydays were in the 1970s and 1980s. They were the bearer of the transformative experience called the baptism in the Holy Spirit. As people touched by the Lord returned to bless and strengthen their own churches, the role of FGBMF Spore became like the remains of a charcoal pit, covered with glorious ash, but needing some stoking for the fire to be reset. They needed a new purpose and that was found in the outworking of the theology of the kingdom of God in the world, the marketplace. Once a valley of dry bones, it’s now an inter-generational army infused with a clear mission and strategy. Thus they have changed their name to Full Gospel Business Gatekeepers Singapore to reflect the new mission. Some FGBMF national organizations in other countries are coming to Singapore to catch this fire too.
Unfolding His Story: new book
The highlight of the celebration was the launch of an interesting book titled UNFOLDING HIS STORY, written by a father and son team, Georgie and Galven Lee. It is the story of the charismatic movement in Singapore with a special eye on the contribution of the Anglican Church and FGBMF Singapore. Even though the writing team directly involved was father and son, it was a pleasure to see the whole Lee family, including the mother and daughter, involved in the production of this book.
I remember being interviewed by Galven Lee, one of the authors. He was then a NUS history research student with a voice recorder and notebook. I shared with him what I knew of our story in the meta-narrative of the charismatic revival of the 1970s. It had to do with many students of many schools being filled with the Spirit. Our little story started with the Holy Spirit pouring out his power upon a group of students behind the science labs of the lowly Dunearn Tech Secondary School, along Bukit Timah Road. What began as students speaking in tongues behind the science labs became a crying revival and finally became the church, World Revival Prayer Fellowship. This not insignificant event was mentioned in the book.
At my table, I sat beside Rev Michael Teh, the vicar of Chapel of the Holy Spirit, an Anglican church that was planted as a result of the spiritual renewal among the Anglicans in the 1970s. We had a nice chat and could connect easily. He is the pastor of the church which originally started in the Lee family’s home. The fellowship was good and so was the food and service but later during the meal I had cold Coca Cola spilled over me. I left for the restroom to clean up and on the way back to my table there was the apologetic head waiter and the waitress apologizing profusely and offering free dry cleaning service. Wished they offered me a free night’s stay at the hotel with breakfast. Good thing I was wearing a Mandarin collar long sleeve not a jacket. It was a long but enjoyable night.
May the Lord continue to bless the FGB Gatekeepers. I have nothing but good things to say about them now and what they have to offer to churches. If you wish to learn more about how they train people to make disciples in the marketplace you may want to read this blogpost I wrote earlier about one of their programs.
THINE IS THE GLORY, THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE.