Presbyterian Missions Weblog

Final Day in the Island Nation

Posted in Singapore,Uncategorized by lenpine on May 3, 2008

My final day in Singapore was a good opportunity to get to know this vibrant city-state a little better. Jack and Angie are excellent guides, and after a leisurely morning we caught the MRT train towards downtown. There, we took a leisurely walk past historic colonial era buildings and monuments as we headed for our objective, Fort Canning and the Battle Box. Our path took us along the Singapore River, past the spot where the founder of modern Singapore, Mr. Raffles, first stepped ashore nearly 200 years ago. We watched river taxis begin their day quietly puttering up and down.  Though only mid-morning, the temperature was already in the mid-30s with high humidity. Every breeze was a blessing! Most of the shops and restaurants along the waterfront were closed at that time of day, but the colors and views were nevertheless delightful.

We eventually reached Fort Canning, which is situated at the top of a hill. A short, steep climb up the staircase took us to a gorgeous walk through the tropical forest that now surround the old British fort.

 The entire grounds are now a national park. It was here that the British established the entire Malaya strategic command during WWII. Underground at the top of the hill is the “Battle Box” – a bunker best known as the place where the decision to surrender Singapore to the Japanese was made on February 15, 1942. As a result of that surrender, British and Australian POWs were moved into the mainland jungles to build roads, bridges, railways (remember “Bridge Over the River Kwai”?) to aid the Japanese advance. Many never returned. It was an interesting and sobering reminder of realties of war in a fallen world so often motivated by greed, lust for power, and cruelty, as well as the nobility that often is never seen unless such circumstances exist.

We were joined for lunch at the fort by Mr. John Chin, chairman of Life BP Church’s Missions Committee, and had a great time of fellowship and preparation for a meeting later in the evening with the Committee as a whole. Afterwards, he dropped us at Sim Lim Electronics Centre, which is nothing short of techie heaven. The entire building id dedicated to electronics shops. If you can plug it in, you can find it here at wholesale prices that you can often get even lower by bargaining. I needed a few odds and ends, and came away with good stuff at great prices thanks to Jack and Angie, who know how to negotiate in Chinese!

We returned home in time for a brief meal and then I was off to my meeting with the Missions Committee. Life Church has a long history of missions outreach; indeed, every BP church in Singapore (all 40 or 50 of them) can trace its lineage back to Life either directly or indirectly. So I was a little curious as to what wisdom I could possibly bring to their discussion about the future of their works in the region. Bu leadership changes at Life have been used of the Lord to raise up a fresh and earnest group of men and women who are seeking to reevaluate their policies so that the legacy of faithful outreach and missions will continue even more strongly. It was a great nohor to converse with them, answer questions, and enjoy the knitting together of hearts in the common love of the work of the gospel. The three hours went by quickly!

The day wasn’t over yet, as I still had to pack, and sleep didn’t happen until after midnight. It was a short night, as I had an early flight out in the morning. I had a lengthy layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a first for me. It is one of the most beautiful settings for an airport that I’ve seen. The morning mist clings to the terraced hills and jungle all around, stubbornly fighting the morning sun’s attempts to clear it away. Infinite shades of green stretch out into the mist. I wished that I had just a little more time to just take off and do some exploring before the next leg of the journey on to Phnom Penh. Perhaps another time….

Arrived in Phnom Penh safely, and was greeted by Rev. Mark Baldwin at the airport. We had a great day today, touring the city, getting a feel for potential church planting sites, and just getting caught up. We finished it off with a wonderful traditional Khmer meal at a restaurant on the Tonle Sap River called the Titanic…why, I don’t know, as the décor is about as traditional Khmer as you could wish for. As we waited for our meal to arrive, we watched a rare storm come in upon us (this is supposed to be the dry season, but it has been cooler and wetter than it has been for many years), loving the feel of the breeze after the heat of the day. We had to retreat from the patio due to the rain, and the skies just opened up, complete with lightning. It was great. We caught a ride home in a tuk-tuk, a cart pulled by a small motorcycle, and enjoyed the cool air some more.

Tomorrow, we head for the spiritual and historical center of Cambodia – Siem Reap, and the Angkor Wat temple complex. I’ll be writing you again from there. In the meantime, please pray for our time together this week; safety in travels about the country, and guidance for our decisions regarding expanding the work of Christ in Cambodia.


On the Lord’s Day

Posted in Singapore,Uncategorized by lenpine on April 27, 2008

Today was a busy and blessed day. I spent it with Jack Sin and the congregation at Maranatha Bible Presbyterian Church here in Singapore. I preached and sang in the morning service, enjoyed lunch on the church grounds with the congregation, and then presented a seminar in the afternoon on the Call and Cost of Discipleship. After a brief rest, I had the privilege of a wonderful meal (prawns, lots of pepper crab, fish, and loads of delectable goodies to accompany them all) and fellowship with three couples from the church for a long, relaxed, and satisfying end to a precious day of fellowship and worship.

Worship at Maranatha is quite similar to the style that we are used to in the States. The Singapore BP churches all began when Dr. Timothy Tow returned to the island after being trained at Faith Theological Seminary and started Life BP Church in 1950.  The brethren here still cherish the relationships that have developed over the years with their US BP brethren. It is a blessing to be among such brethren, who hold fast to the truths of the Protestant Reformation, and whose hearts burn with passion for souls who do not know the blessings of a relationship with the Lord Jesus.

It was a hot day here, even the local folks said it was more so than usual, and I’ve about run out of juice. It was the kind of day where you look for shade, and I found some under a coconut palm next to the church, so I thought I’d take a picture of it for the blog. More to come tomorrow after a day on the town!

The Beauty of Singapore

Posted in Singapore,Uncategorized by lenpine on April 26, 2008

Arrived in Singapore more or less on schedule last evening, greeted as I landed by lush green gardens dotted with flowers, palms, and manicured lawns lining the runway. It’s a little cooler here than in India (about 30c when I landed at 5 pm, compared to 42c in Delhi), but much more humid, so it feels almost the same to me.

Singapore is an amazing city, noted for its cleanliness, no chewing gum ordinance (see prior item), strict laws against drug smuggling (mandatory death penalty with no extradition), and cosmopolitan mixture of Chinese, English, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Indian cultures. Huge highrises downtown, and apartment buildings everywhere help house everyone nicely, and the traffic flows along with less (apparent) chaos than in India. A friend in India told me with a smile several times, “India has everything, it just is not in order!” Here, it’s in order.

The first “order” of the day was to meet my dear friends, Jack and Angie Sin. They are keeping me at their flat in what I now consider to be my room, since this is my fourth visit here. Let me tell you, there’s not a B&B anywhere that can do any better at making someone comfortable and welcome. I’m going to have to avoid telling about all the great stuff they are feeding me, or you’ll think that all I do here is eat! Well, OK, we went out for steak last night, and Angie prepared homemade laksa, which is a spicy soup that is a great favorite of mine, for lunch today. Oh man, was that good. The Lord just keeps the culinary blessings that he started in India coming my way.

After an easy morning of getting oriented for the weekend, we headed off this afternoon to the mother church of the Singapore BP world, Life BP Church. We held the afternoon conference there because of the size of the anticipated gathering. The conference was called “Father God or Mother Earth? A Christian Response to the Ecological Crisis.” One of the pics, above, is of the large flyer they designed and printed up for distribution. I had the privilege of the pulpit as I spoke, and the 250+ people had the opportunity to ask questions of a panel after my lecture and tea time. Anyway, the questions were good, and I was joined on the panel by the Rev. Dr. Jack Sin and the Rev. Charles Seet. Dr. Sin pastors Maranatha BP church and Rev. Seet is pastoring Life Church. Rev. Isaac Ong chaired the panel discussion. It was a blessing to join with the congregation in singing hymns at various times trough the afternoon. The Singaporean believers love to sing praises, and they do it with great zeal.

The seminar was just about three hours long, and afterwards I had the privilege of — you guessed it — eating again! We went to a little Chinese restaurant not far from the church and enjoyed a wonderful dinner there with a number of the pastors and a gentleman who is preparing to study for the ministry. It was a blessed time. I also had the privilege of providing some light entertainment for the brethren as they enjoyed my exasperating attempts to devour a large prawn still in its shell with chopsticks and a spoon. It took a bit to dismantle it, but I did it eventually. Seemed to work off some of the calories, so all in all it was a success.

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day at Maranatha, preaching, teaching, and singing. (Probably will eat again, too.) I put in a picture of the congregation as it was last summer, since I probably won’t get one of everyone tomorrow. Hope to get more pictures from the services, fellowship times, and afternoon seminar on discipleship. If I can scrounge a couple from someone who took some at today’s meeting, I add them later to this post.

As always, thanks for your prayers. God is so good to me.