Lunch with Tung Ling Friends

I cannot remember how we got together but my first contact with Rev Dr John Sim was through Facebook years ago. I had learned that he took speaking engagements whenever he was in Singapore visiting his in-laws, so I invited him to preach in our church in early 2019. John and I were in the second batch of Tung Ling (1979), when it was situated at the Church of Singapore, Marine Parade mother church. We then caught up with what happened in our lives over the 36 years gap. For me I had been pastoring in World Revival Prayer Fellowship all that time. For John, it was back to ministry with Canon James Wong in an Anglican parish, followed by training in Christ For the Nations Institute (where he got to know Marguerite, another of our course-mates), further studies, another stint with the Anglicans, and furthering his studies still more till he had two Masters’ degrees and a Doctorate from Princeton Seminary and Fuller Seminary. It had been adventure after adventure, school after school, until he finally landed in Vanguard University for two decades of faithful ministry as co-ordinator, then registrar, then instructor in digital pedagogy and adjunct professor. He is probably the most theologically educated among all of Tung Ling’s alumni.

John asked if I had contact with any of our Tung Ling Bible School course mates. I only knew of one and that was Benjamin Foo, who after Tung Ling went on to theological studies in Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He returned and bacame a bi-vocational pastor who also worked as Executive Vice President of the Singapore Exchange (SGX). I bumped into him when I was a guest preacher at Geylang Evangelical Free Church (which is in the building next door to where the church I attend is). He is currently an Elder there, a speaker and author of two books. I remembered we had a few lunches together the three of us.

Then it was John who linked us with Marguerite in our Whatsapp chat group. I remembered her but we have all more or less lost contact with each other. She is low-profile and has to remain so because of the ministry she co-founded with her husband, which provides Bible and ministry training for indigenous workers in unreached countries around the world. 

Since John came back for a short visit, we took the opportunity to have a long, long lunch fellowship at Orange & Teal at Rochester Mall. I could not locate it and had to ask a security guard outside some car park. The magic words I used was, “Do you know where Chee Soon Juan’s restaurant is?” Immediately he pointed me in the right direction, and told me to use the escalator up. We had a great time catching up and talking about our families, our ministry, US politics and culture, the Ukraine war, covid-19, and as folks over 60s were sure to talk about: health matters and remedies.

John could not preach in Singapore this time because he would need to apply for a work permit to preach in churches here and that would be too onerous. The church would miss his preaching but I got to fellowship with him, Marguerite and our lunch sponsor, Benjamin. I was energized and encouraged as I left for home after lunch. How lovely to be among such godly, faithful and humble leaders. How lovely for brethren to live in unity. It is like fragrant oil coming down on Aaron’s head down to his feet. Altogether a wonderful, refreshing time.

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