I WAS PRIVILEGED to join a team from the Methodist Missions Society to Timor-Leste from Sept 27 to Oct 1 this year. It was a most fruitful fact-finding and relationship-building trip.
Timor-Leste as a missions field is ripe. It is a young nation with many needs including health, infrastructure, industry, education and agriculture. On a spiritual level, although it is predominantly a Roman Catholic nation, many villages still subscribe to a mix of Catholicism and animism.
Singaporean missions in Timor-Leste can make great contributions in the areas of skills equipping, medical training and knowledge transfer, creating industry and championing unity through community building. There are opportunities for educating and grooming the young generation.
On a spiritual level, discipleship, mentoring, and studying or training in knowledge of God’s word should be priorities. Faith must come alive among the Timorese in order to bring about transformation of the community. In addition, modelling unity among Protestant churches as well as between Roman Catholic and Protestant churches can be a very powerful witness in the land, and bring about a “new spirit”.
The potential for growth is immense. Timor-Leste is currently an oil- and resource-rich country and the world’s youngest democracy. If there is stability in the land, it can grow tremendously in the coming years as it plugs into the global economy. Also, government experts there have a wealth of experience and a good plan for national development. That is where missions can find its niche, to be an effective bridge to facilitate national development.
The situation brought to my mind the story of Ezra, Nehemiah and Zerubabbel in the post-exilic era. The Jews were given resources by the Persian Government to go back to Judah to rebuild the temple in the land. In the same way, I see an opportunity to do the same in our partnership with the Timorese Health Ministry, using the resources from the Timor-Leste government to build up their healthcare system.
After gaining acceptance for partnership at a national level, a missionary would then have to gain acceptance at a local level.
Relationship-building is of paramount importance for any mission effort in Timor-Leste, and learning the local language is vital to that cause.
A clinic setting is most ideal for this as it allows relationship-building between doctor and patient, allows the doctor to assess community needs, learn the local dialects, and also to counsel and give good advice when warranted. This relationship-building at a local level can be a springboard for Bible study and discipleship groups to form and can sow the seeds of revival at personal and community level.
Gaining favour with local authorities can then open the door for short-term teams to do community work and learn about missions. Timor-Leste is a great place for grooming short-term missionary teams because of its unique challenges. Many lessons on unity, social concern versus evangelism, community development versus church-planting, rich-poor divide, and being an effective witness can be drawn from short-term trips to Timor-Leste.
At the same time, the short-term mission teams can contribute positively by bringing resources, skills and expertise, and empowering the locals (and blessing the missionaries).
Lastly, partnership with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the ground can be very useful to our cause. Our idea of starting a hostel for students may find a launch-pad in the already-established Hope orphanage. Our education programme can be modelled after the Learning Centres in the Timorese cities of Dili and Gleno.
This would be best achieved with a Singaporean on the ground to build
relationships and partnerships with NGOs and locals. Let us pray for someone with vision to plant in this community for the long term.
Dr Linus Chua is the Chairman of the Aldersgate Methodist Church Missions Sub-committee.
The Jolly Jingle Carnival 2011
Come and have fun, re-living the Grinch’s tale as we remember and celebrate the greatest gift of transforming love given to us all. Dec 24 (Saturday), 4 pm to 8 pm Venue: The Methodist Church of the Incarnation (MCI)
Enjoy delicious food, fun games (human-sized foosball), a mini musical, and the Grinch’s House for brave souls.
For more info: Call 6765-2209 / email firstname.lastname@example.org / “Like” The Jolly Jingle Carnival page on Facebook.
A Christmas Eve celebration
This is an event for all ages with Christmas programme, food and fun activities.
Dec 24 (Saturday), 6 pm to 9.30 pm Venue: Trinity Methodist Church (Trinity MC)
For more info:
Email email@example.com Other upcoming events by Trinity MC are available at http://www.tmc.org.sg/highlights.html
An outreach opportunity; celebrate the birth of our Saviour with your family and friends, with buffet dinner and carolling.
Dec 24 (Saturday), 7 pm to 10 pm Venue: St Patrick’s School, 490 East Coast Road
Tickets: $20 (Free for children aged six and below)
For tickets and info: Call Christ Methodist Church office at 6345-3934