Raphael Samuel: Singapore missionary becomes the Bishop of the Anglican Church in Bolivia

Bishop Samuel, Michelle and Elijah
Bishop Samuel, Michelle and Elijah

Good friend

The Bishop of the Anglican Church in Bolivia is a good friend of mine! We did theology together in Trinity Theological College. As a student he was a sharp and creative thinker, good at thinking provocative abstract ideas that stretch your theological world to the edge. Together with Rev Benedict Muthusamy, we were pals who had long teh tarik sessions about theology, society, politics and …..our lecturers. The charismatic movement was very strong in some of the Anglican churches and for field education he served in Church of our Savior.

I was his bestman when he married Michelle at a wedding at Church of our Savior. Rev Derek Hong was one of his heroes and the officiating minister, and I distinctly remembered how the reverend wore hip jeans and moccasins under the Anglican whites and how the wedding was saturated with worship and prophecies. The venue was the old chapel at Prince Charles Crescent.

Missionary call

After our graduation we met regularly to encourage each other and share about our respective ministry and struggles. When our seminary classmates were in town I made arrangements for class meetings. I remembered it was a big decision when Raphael and his wife Michelle decided to answer the call to Bolivia. The prayers, the deliberations, the anxieties about adaptation and their son, Elijah. I thought they displayed courage that could only come from receiving God’s call and promises. You can read the whole story of the process of answering the call in “Going to Bolivia” in his blog.

When he came back for furlough we always meet for fellowship and it was an opportunity to bring back as many of the classmates as we can together.

Consecration of Bishop Samuel
Consecration of Bishop Samuel

Proud of him

I feel so proud, so pleased for him that he has become the bishop. It is not the prestige or status that it confers on him. Nor is it the often unnoticed fact that the Diocese of Singapore has produced two minority race Indian bishops in a Chinese dominated clergy – a credit to the diocese. I feel that with his knowledge and experience and intelligent reflection from years of parish work both in Bolivia and Singapore, he will certainly do a good job of it. He has a clear idea of what needs to be done and he has the passion and contextualization skills and competencies to succeed. The Bolivian diocese and the wider church there will only benefit from his being in this leadership position at this juncture. Glory to God!

TTC alumni news update

Here is an extract from the Trinity Theological College alumni news update:

Our congratulations to Rev Raphael Samuel (BTh 1985) and his wife, Michelle Lee Hock Sim (BD 1984) on Raphael’s election as the Bishop of the Anglican Church in Bolivia, South America. The consecration will be held on 12 May 2013 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

The Bishop Elect of the diocese of Bolivia, Ven. Raphael Samuel, is a Singapore clergyman sent by the Diocese of Singapore to serve in Bolivia. He and his wife, Michelle are the longest-serving missionaries in the Bolivian Anglican Church.

Raphael, a Singaporean Tamil, was born in January 16th 1957. He was raised in a traditional Anglican parish and received Christ when he was a teenager. He hails from several generations of Anglicans and was educated in a Methodist school. After formal studies, he joined the Singapore Navy in 1974, after which he responded to the Lord’s call to serve in the Anglican Church in 1980. At this juncture, a life-changing experience of the Holy Spirit, left a deep and lasting impression on his life. As part of his preparation for full-time ministry, he studied theology for 4 years at Trinity Theological College, where he and Michelle met. The communal setting at St Peter’s Hall, an Anglican institute for ministerial training in the campus at Trinity, served as an integral part of his formation as a priest in the Anglican Church.

The Straits Times reported his consecration HERE.