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12 years on (GPS)

I was reminded by one of the 4 guys in our Guys Prayer Support (GPS) group that we began meeting 12 years ago. Being a significant number in the Bible, e.g. 12 tribes of Israel, Jesus’ 12 disciples, it has truly been a blessing and encouragement to continue to share and journey together as the 4 of us continue in ministry, family life, and overall discipleship with the Lord. Although we only meet up occasionally now, with family and ministry constraints, challenges, I appreciate these brothers deeply, and know that anytime we are able to share and know that they are there, supporting and praying for me and us all.

We arranged to meet over Zoom, as we are currently in 3 different countries (and timezones); it was truly a blessed time hearing from and praying for one another, marveling at what God has done in and through each of our lives, ministries and families. The earliest of us began full-time ministry 19 years ago, almost 2 decades! And some of us have known each other for 29 years (Sec 3)! Fun to track how we’ve aged as well (or not) 😉

All of us as disciples, leaders and full-time pastors/missionaries, need Pauls, Barnabas-es, and Timothys in our lives (cf. my previous post “Youth Ministry & Mentoring“); these are my fellow Barnabas-es, encouraging me along in faith and ministry.

See here and here for previous GPS posts.

Carey Nieuwhof writes on emerging divides and church splits which are probably already happening or accelerating (largely due in part to the Covid pandemic) or coming in the near future. Each of these (and collectively) will likely greatly influence and impact whether churches will be well-positioned, effective in accomplishing their mission, and thrive in the future post-pandemic world.

  • Online-optional vs. fully hybrid
  • Bringing people back vs. moving people forward
  • Judging vs. embracing (loving)
  • Ideology vs. gospel-driven

Read the full article here.

Lausanne Global Executive Director/CEO Michael Oh reflects on John Stott’s legacy on the centennial of his birth (20 Apr, 1921). Among his many key contributions to Christian theology, the church and missions, what stands out for me is his role in the birthing of the Lausanne Covenant and Movement in 1974, and his related book Christian Mission in the Modern World (1975), which has since been updated and expanded by Chris Wright on its 40th anniversary.

One of his books on preaching, Between Two Worlds, was required reading for my M.Div homiletics class, and spoke aptly to my own journey towards integrating life and theology. One of his famous catchphrases from the book was to hold the Bible in one hand, and the newspaper in the other. Perhaps nowadays it would be viewing your Bible app on your smartphone, and reading your daily newsfeeds off your tablet. The main idea was that as we prepare our sermons to preach, we are not only to exegete/exposite the biblical text, but also the culture and life realities that we are facing in the real world, here and now. It speaks also to the broader issue of contextualization, where text meets context, when the Holy Spirit illumines our hearts and minds to draw timeless biblical principles, and apply it to relevant contemporary issues in life and society.

Stott also has a TEDS connection. He frequently visited Trinity, preaching numerous times in chapel. TEDS was also the first American school to award Stott with an honorary Doctor of Divinity (DD) degree (1971). And for one term, the Fall semester of 1972, Stott even taught preaching courses at TEDS. Rolfing Library holds his desk, chair, bookshelf, robe, and personal books, in memory and tribute to Stott’s contributions and legacy (read here for more details).

US & the Covid war

One year ago (11 Mar), WHO declared Covid-19 as a global pandemic. Schools and businesses here in the States began shutting down the week of Mar 16th, 2020. A year on, here in the States, sadly we have now reached more than 30 million Covid cases (as of 27 Mar), and more than 500k Covid-related deaths (as of 19 Feb).

In the new POTUS Biden’s inaugural speech (20 Jan), he compared the then-405k Covid deaths to Americans who died in World War II. About a month later (23 Feb), he again compared crossing the 500k mark to Americans lost in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. Some news agencies have questioned the validity of his claims; see here for a good fact-checking article. Either way, the statistics are slowly moving up towards that 580k mark (update: now crossed May 11, 2021).

On the bright side, 152k vaccinations have been administered so far, but we still have a long way to go, amidst 2nd and 3rd waves/spikes of Covid variants both here and worldwide. Do continue to pray for the Biden administration, Covid taskforces, and especially the frontline healthcare workers battling daily.

Real-time Covid data tracker, statistics here (CDC).

(PC: PWC, VA)

#gettheshot #TogetherAgainstCOVID19 #wearwatchwash #dontgoviral

10 years #tohoku311

Today is the 10th anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake of Japan on 11th Mar, 2011, the most powerful earthquake (9.1-magnitude) ever recorded in Japan, triggering a triple disaster – earthquake, tsunami, & nuclear power plant meltdown, resulting in over 15k deaths, 6k injuries, & 2.5k people missing across 20 prefectures.

In memory of #tohoku311, here are some ministries that have been involved with tsunami/disaster relief & reaching the Tohoku region with the hope of the gospel, & Japan missions:

Be One (Tohoku Aid) – a group of inter-agency missionaries across Japan serving the Tohoku region after 3.11
Nozomi Project – faith-based social enterprise in Ishinomaki, using shards from broken pottery from 3.11 to create jewellery, helping women who lost loved ones with sustainable income (Nozomi means “hope” in Japanese; their motto is “beauty in brokenness)
3.11 Iwate Church Networknetwork of churches & organizations serving the damaged churches & community in Iwate Prefecture
English Presbytery Japan Mission (EPJM) – Started by the EP Singapore, small mission teams are organized almost every month for 1-2 weeks involved in disaster relief, community engagement, gospel ministry

Japan Prayer Group (JPG) – monthly prayer group (1st Tue) @ OMF Singapore, praying for Japan & OMF missionaries

#tohoku311 #2011tohokuearthquake #prayjapan

ACS Founder’s Day

Today (1 Mar) marks the 135th anniversary of the founding of Anglo-Chinese School by William F. Oldham (1854-1937) in #Singapore. Some interesting facts:

  • Oldham was an India-born British-American Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church (forerunner of UMC) & a Missionary Bishop for Southern Asia. He also founded the first/oldest Methodist church (Wesley) in Singapore. He died & is buried in Glendale, California.
  • The early years of education of #JosephSchooling (Singapore’s first/only #Olympic gold medalist in swimming) were at ACS.
  • ACS is mentioned as the alma mater of several characters in the #CrazyRichAsians trilogy; the author Kevin Kwan also studied there.
  • The school motto “The Best is Yet to Be” is from Robert Browning’s poem “Rabbi ben Ezra” (1864).

#thebestisyettobe #tbiytb #acs135

 

I attended an insightful public lecture by BGST on the increasingly important topic, “Is a digital church a real church?” The speaker was Dr Peter Phillips, Director of Research at Center for Digital Theology, Durham University. For those interested, an M.A in Digital Theology is now being offered.

This is my desire to honour You
Lord, with all my heart, I worship You
All I have within me, I give You praise
All that I adore is in You

Lord, I give You my heart
I give You my soul, I live for You alone
Every breath that I take
Every moment I’m awake
Lord, have Your way in me

© 1995 Reuben Morgan | Hillsong

It’s been more than half a year since the Covid-19 pandemic has forced schools to move to remote learning, both here in the States as well as in Singapore around mid-March to April. Two articles I came across gives us only a small glimpse of how great a challenge and impact social inequality and disparity has on society and the implications for Christians and the church. In a Straits Times (ST) article (18 April 2020, Venessa Lee & Stephanie Yeo), titled “How home-based learning shows up inequality in Singapore,” three families were interviewed and featured, discussing the struggles of children face with home-based learning (HBL), especially those coming from low-income families with multiple siblings.

How home-based learning shows up inequality in Singapore (Credit: ST Alphonsus Chern)
View full article »

A newly launched initiative by Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, Resilient Church Leadership (RCL) hosted a webinar on the new physical and digital nature of ministry, termed “Phygital,” especially in this post-Covid era, with Eddie Copeland, Nate Bush, and Mindy Caliguire.


(Facebook video here)

Read more about RCL here.

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