Panoramic views at Fremantle and the King’s Park

viewing the marina from the Round House, Fremantle

Jenny, Anne, Penny

alfresco at the Kailis'

Genteel Fremantle

Fremantle is not another city of Western Australia, as I had thought. It’s part of larger Perth. It’s only 20 minutes away by freeway. Anne Brinkman, a Penang lady married to a Caucasian, kindly offered to bring us around. She was a former tourist guide. So how blessed can you get. The buildings were old colonial. Well conserved, they had a genteel, timeless aura about them. The pace of life in Fremantle seemed even slower than in Perth city. There’s even a Notre Dame University there, some kind of twinning program perhaps with the one in USA.  We lunched at Kaili brothers Fish and Chips and shared a tasty seafood platter. Victory Life Centre

Margaret Court a pastor?

Later in the afternoon, we went up north and were introduced to pastors Alan and Angie Wells, from Victory Life Centre. The unique thing about this church is that it is helmed by former tennis woman professional Margaret Court. She dominated women’s tennis in the 1970’s and 80’s, winning a total of 62 Grand Slam titles. Frightening. Now she’s the senior pastor of the thriving Australian megachurch.

Nancy, Jenny, MargaretWalking in the King’s Park

Nature and space and weather is what makes Perth so refreshing a place to Singaporeans. The King’s Park is huge but I only saw the touristy part of it. Nancy brought us there and we walked around the grounds and over the treetop walk and went back to the outskirts of the city for a fantastically authentic Hainanese chicken rice. Later, we had a great time of fellowship at a cafe in a huge shopping mall.

resting in the shade

solid steel and glass treetop walk

Faith Community Church: a Bible-teaching, migrant church in Perth

the auditorium of a Baptist school/college

Welcomed warmly by the Senior Pastor Benny Ho into the foyer of a Baptist school’s auditorium, we engaged in some small talk and quickly made arrangements to meet after the service. There was a sizable crowd in the auditorium when the service began,  but like in Singapore, latecomers streamed in even as people lifted hands in worship.

worship at Faith Community Church, Perth

A migrant church

Looking around, I saw that the congregation were mainly people of my age with about one third or more youths and young adults. There were less than two handful of Caucasians. Most worshipers were ethnic Chinese. This is an English-speaking migrant church in Perth. Most had come as immigrants from Singapore and Malaysia, led by the Lord, or seeking better and fairer opportunities for their children’s education, and a more satisfying work-life balance.

Being a migrant church, one of the unique strengths of Faith Community Church is that new migrants get referred here and the church is very effective at helping migrants settle into Perth and assimilate into the fellowship. Easily people get fitted into such a helpful and well-networked community.

Pastor Benny Ho

Detailed and relevant Bible teaching

The worship gave way to the teaching of the Word and this is where Faith Community Church excels. Pastor Benny delivered a masterly exposition of Haggai chapter 1, the beginning of a series of messages. This is my third or fourth time hearing him speak and he certainly lives up to his reputation as a good expositor and teacher of the Bible. It was clear and relevant. His detailed and interesting Bible teaching has in no small way contributed to the recent surge in the church’s numerical increase.

Surprise, surprise

Later I met Benny to make an appointment for lunch and to my pleasant surprise I heard that Rev Dr Norman Wong my friend would be in Perth on Monday. So we did lunch together and they gave me some good advice on a difficulty the church I served was facing. These guys are experienced, unassuming and effective pastors whose wisdom and opinions I respect. I was not disappointed with the informal consultation.

Forget about retirement

An interesting aside was meeting Norman’s father, Mr Wong, I called him. He’s 88 and he’s still working. He’s had open heart surgery but looked healthy and still played golf. He said thankfully, “Every day I am still alive is a bonus!” An accountant by training, he still sat on the boards of several listed companies. Mr Lee Kuan Yew would have been happy to use him as an example of working into your old age.

Former church building now used for Chinese Service

Road-trip to Busselton and Margaret River

Michel and Soo Kin with Andrea, mother and AnWen

Over a decade late

They gave us lots of love and air time. Of course, my wife and I were grateful to them. Their invitation to us had expired a decade ago, but what was there to lose in asking. After all the promotion flights were already booked. So my heart leaped when we saw Michael and Soo Kin at the Perth airport.

The weekend came and went so fast I thought I was still in Singapore. Sorrento Beach, Soo Kin’s surprise birthday dinner, worship at Faith Community Church, and Rod’s birthday barbecue. It went past like a cool Perth breeze.

Don't ask me about the price of the red Suzuki or you may want to emigrate too!

Road trip to Busselton

Michael and Soo Kin brought us on a road trip to the great south west region of Western Australia. This is as big as Johor, as Western Australia is so huge you could put in the UK, Germany, and Japan in it, and still have leftover space for Philippines. But most of it is desert or bush land and rich minerals underneath.

Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse

God's creation always perks me up!

We caught signt of whales migrating(not to Singapore- too stressful!)

Smitten by blue

Never saw so much blues in my life. The Indian ocean, the Swan river, the Mandurah esplanade, the clear blue skies: they reach out and hold your senses hostage whenever you look their way. Smitten with scenery and freshness you cannot buy or bottle, nor have to pay for, we surrendered to the Naturaliste Cape, the Mandurah foreshore, the Busselton jetty, Yallingup beach and the small towns of Busselton and Margaret River. People were polite and friendly and were not competing or rushing to be first to the queue or carpark lot. How many public campaigns did they have to reach this level of courtesy and civility? It must have come from knowing they have plenty of resources and time.

Whale surprise

The Lord surprised us when He answered my prayer to be able to see whales migrating along the coast. Though they were but water spray from the nozzle and black specks in the vast distant blue ocean, it thrilled us, and filled our hearts with praise. The Lord is generous in His kindness towards us, giving us not only what we need, but also what we wish for.

Yallingup-huge waves, surfer's mountain

Picnic lunch at Yallingup lookout - you can actually sleep in the shade on the grass!

Wise vineyard

longest in southern hemisphere- Busselton Jetty

Polished arrows

We had devotions in the morning, not because I was a pastor, but because we wanted to. Sweet times of reading scriptures, sharing and praying together before we went out for the day. We talked a lot about our lives, about missions and church, about life in Australia, our families. Michael and Soo Kin are like polished arrows that the Lord had polished over the years of walking by faith, and they have such a passion for the poor, needy and powerless in Cambodia and Philippines. They have pioneered and networked with key indigenous leaders in these countries and are doing significant work in those countries. Michael often repeated his mantra, ”It’s all by prayer, it’s all by prayer.” When we begin praying, things start opening up and opportunities come our way to join God in His work.

We had a whale of a time!