The Methodist Church in Singapore has had a long history of missions and is itself the product of missions. It has received abundant blessings, and for close to 130 years, has forged a rich spiritual, educational and social heritage.
It was on the foundations of this very heritage that the Methodist Missions Society (MMS) was established in 1991, led by the Rev Dr Clarence Lim. The story of how it developed as the first home-grown denomination-based sending mission organisation in Singapore and its integral role in Singapore’s calling as the Antioch of Asia is now told in a new book, Blessed to be a Blessing.
The book is authored by Dr Robbie Goh, a professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the National University of Singapore and a member of Cairnhill Methodist Church.
Dr Goh said writing the book was a “labour of love” and was important to him in human terms. It was something special since he loved doing missions and it took him out of his comfort zone. He paid tribute to Juliette Arulrajah who “did a lot of work” in helping him to complete his latest book.
In the book, Dr Goh wrote on page 28: “To see what Antioch might mean to some of the evangelical churches in Singapore, let us look at a 2008 article for an evangelical newsletter, where Edward Pousson points to Singapore’s demographic qualifications as Antioch: a link between East and West, a multi-racial, multi-cultural urban centre, a thriving, growing, missionary-sending church.”
Indeed, the book charts the journey of MMS through the years as it went about its main business – that of spreading the Gospel in countries across Asia: from Thailand to Indonesia, to Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, Laos and East Asia. Much of this business was about strengthening horizontal and vertical connections, so that the “business” belonged properly to the entire community of believers, all participating in various roles.
The MMS has approached each of the different mission fields strategically, in order to deliver relevant benefits to each respective community. Far from taking a cookie-cutter approach, MMS sensitively customised the message of the Gospel with considerable social investment, finances, expertise and manpower while leveraging on Singapore’s resource deployment, professional expertise and the benefit of Asian cultural insights in relatively unreached areas.
Blessed to be a Blessing was launched at an Appreciation Tea which MMS hosted for its volunteers on February 15, 2014. It was an apt occasion as MMS honoured more than 80 volunteers who have served in various capacities and have contributed much to what MMS is today – a catalyst for life-transforming change through the Gospel.
In his meditation, Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup reminded all present: “This is a good time to check our motivation as volunteers, lest we slip into an entitlement mode.” Taking from the exhortation in Romans 12:1-8, he added: “We need to examine ourselves, whether our motivation has changed over time. Our attitudes may change and may no longer be what it was before.”
A timely reminder, and well encapsulated in the slogan put up as part of the Appreciation Tea: “Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God.”
Book cover courtesy of the Methodist Missions Society
“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God.”
BUY * Blessed to be a Blessing from the Methodist Missions Society at $10 a copy.
For more info, contact MMS at firstname.lastname@example.org
Christina Stanley is the Editor of Methodist Message and has been a member of Wesley Methodist Church since 1987. This article was written with input from Juliette Arulrajah and KC Yuen.