LOAVES + FISHES
OCT/DEC 2013

MICA (P) No: 104/03/2013

The Covenant Community Methodist Church Magazine

Interview:
MGS’s...
Commune with God in the setting
of His natural provision

quiltsalad CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Michele Solmi CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Churc...
ROCKER_44 CC BY 2.0

CONTENTS
SANTA, CANDY CANES
& THE PARTRIDGE IN
THE PEAR TREE
The meaning of popular
Christmas symbols...
A REFLECTION OF
OUR LIFE JOURNEY
WITH NOEL
24

ALPHA
31

REGULARS
Ask Abigail 33
Crafts for Kids (pull out)
Crumbs 48
Good...
SANTA, CANDY CANES
& THE PARTRIDGE
IN A PEAR TREE?
GOH ECK KHENG
explores the meaning of
popular Christmas symbols.

8

An...
10

Santa Claus
The true story of Santa begins with
Nicholas, born to wealthy parents
in the third century in the village ...
ABIGAIL GOH

ince Lenard and I got
married, we have always
stayed with my folks.
We thought we’d move
out eventually but s...
(Clockwise from left) Harold
Tan, Lenard Pattiselanno,
Eli, Leanne, Zachery,
Kenneth Tan, Melanie, Lin.

(( WE HAVE

ALWAY...
Effective Social Enterprises
xxxxxxxx

helping

HANDS
AT WORK
By CHONG CHEH HOON

A social enterprise is an
organisation t...
(( CLIENTS

ARE PAID AN
HOURLY RATE
FOR THE PREPRODUCTION
PROCESS WHILE
THE SEWERS GET
THE PROCEEDS
FROM THE SALE
OF THE B...
products for the shop.
The Singapore Anglican
Community Service has a pop up
shop at CityLink Mall (B01-07A)
named MOSES w...
Ms Grace Ng comes from her
position as Deputy Director at
the Guidance Branch, Student
Development Curriculum Division,
Mi...
ANTON & DOROTHY CHAN

Grace, Love and Fellowship

S: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It
does not envy,...
John 3:16

Is 9:6-7

Is 7:14
26

27
To The Point
The Hope of Salvation

THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE

hope IN TROUBLED TIMES

1 Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and
F...
OZinOH CC BY-NC 2.0

n 27 April 2011, in a sombre voice, Noel told us that
he had to be admitted to
NUH. It was a moment o...
(From left): Christina, Nicole,
Noel, Nick and Michael.

(( In the midst

of all these, in
June 2012, Noel
was accepted
to...
(( God’s plans

for Noel was
hard for us to
comprehend.
Like many
parents who
had faced such
a storm of
life, we asked:
“G...
((THROUGH

THIS JOURNEY
WITH NOEL,
WE HAVE
LEARNT THAT
FORGIVENESS
AND ETERNAL
LIFE WHICH
CHRIST OFFERS
IS NOT A
REWARD BU...
Songs  Singers

FREDERICK J. WORK

Dear Abigail
I cannot recall any hymn about
Christmas stockings. Can you help?

ABIGAIL...
Food for Thought

RETREAT TO ADVANCE
BY TAN MING YING

Spiritual Retreat
27-29 March 2014
Pulai Springs Resort, Johor
Spir...
n 10 October 2013, I
took my first holiday
with God. It was the
first time going on a
spiritual retreat and I did not know...
News Bites
SLUGS  BUGS

When I heard about the Slugs 
Bugs concert coming to CCMC , I
was more excited than any student
in...
ABRAHAM
Abram lived in the city of Ur with
his father, his brother and his
nephew, Lot. Abram was married
to Sarai but the...
Loaves+fishes Oct-Dec 2013
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Loaves+fishes Oct-Dec 2013

  1. 1. LOAVES + FISHES OCT/DEC 2013 MICA (P) No: 104/03/2013 The Covenant Community Methodist Church Magazine Interview: MGS’s New Principal Designate TAKING A HOLIDAY ALONE WITH GOD Christmas THE TRUTH BEHIND CHRISTMAS SYMBOLS Love and Passion: The Journey of Noel Chia FAMILY HERITAGE Social Enterprise: A New Way of Helping 1
  2. 2. Commune with God in the setting of His natural provision quiltsalad CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Michele Solmi CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Church Camp 2014 A WHOLE NEW WORLD GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN Frederick J. Work Go, tell it on the mountain, Over the hills and everywhere Go, tell it on the mountain, That Jesus Christ is born. While shepherds kept their watching Over silent flocks by night Behold throughout the heavens There shone a holy light. The shepherds feared and trembled, When lo! above the earth, Rang out the angels chorus That hailed the Saviour’s birth. Down in a lowly manger The humble Christ was born And God sent us salvation That blessèd Christmas morn. 2 Cameron Highlands 6-9 June 2014 Speaker: Dr Tan Lai Yong
  3. 3. ROCKER_44 CC BY 2.0 CONTENTS SANTA, CANDY CANES & THE PARTRIDGE IN THE PEAR TREE The meaning of popular Christmas symbols 6 learn to walk in jesus' steps Family CHRISTMAS HERITAGE DISCIPLE BIBLE STUDY 1 Wednesday nights, starting 8 Jan 2014, 7.30-10 pm 10 HELPING HANDS AT WORK Effective Social Enterprises 14 Interview: GRACE NG – CALLED TO EDUCATE 20 4 5
  4. 4. A REFLECTION OF OUR LIFE JOURNEY WITH NOEL 24 ALPHA 31 REGULARS Ask Abigail 33 Crafts for Kids (pull out) Crumbs 48 Good Things 42 Kitchen 45 Manga Hero 40 News Bites 38 SOAP 22 Songs & Singers 32 Food for Thought 34 To the Point 23 Promptness Barometer Punctuality of our congregation boils down to whether each of us is punctual. How many times did you get to church on time in the last quarter? A HOLIDAY WITH GOD Reflecting on making time with God Practise these tips regularly, especially on Sundays, so we can honour God with the time He has given us. 1. Make a commitment to arrive slightly ahead of time. 2. Plan for real world delays and give yourself time to spare. 3. Find creative ways to use pockets of time created by being early. 36 THE MINISTRY OF FOOD 44 NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS A Christian Perspective 46 6 Good and Faithful 12 11 Well done! 10 A bit more effort, please 9 8 7 Be consistent; don't be complacent 6 5 4 Prepare breakfast on 3 Saturday night 2 1 Get a new alarm clock 0 THINKING ABOUT GIVING Loaves + Fishes is published quarterly by Covenant Community Methodist Church Level 4, Methodist Girls’ School 11, Blackmore Drive Singapore 599986 Tel: 64669652 Fax: 64667470 Email: admin@ccmc.org.sg www.ccmc.org.sg MICA (P) No: 104/03/2013 Printed by Oxford Graphic Printers Pte Ltd EDITORIAL COMMITTEE Editor Rev John Benedict Foo Editorial Advisor BG David Koh Managing Editor Goh Eck Kheng Members Chong Cheh Hoon Lester Ng Contributors Anton Chan Dorothy Chan Michael & Christina Chia S Michael Houdmann Rev Khoo Kay Huat Peter Lock Leanne Patiselanno Kim Tan Mason Tan Teriya Tan Tim Tan Tan Ming Ying Rev Canon Terry Wong Miriam Wun ON THE COVER Lenard and Leanne Patiselanno with their sons, Eli (left) and Zachary. n these weeks leading up to Christmas, our thoughts are turned to giving. We are beginning to or are already busy with Christmas shopping, thoughtfully choosing appropriate gifts for family members and friends. For some, this giving extends to the less fortunate of society; we prepare comfort boxes and toys to help spread good cheer. As Christians, we are also deeply aware in the Advent season of God's gift of Jesus. On that first Christmas, God gave mankind his Son as a helpless little baby, human and vulnerable. By being one of us, he was truly Immanuel – God with us. And as a man, he remained with us, suffering death cruelly on the cross to bear the sins of the world, rose again from the grave, till he ascended into heaven. As much as we have received this greatest gift of all, we can and should desire to share it with others. "Go, tell it on the mountain," so the carol encourages and challenges us. Another aspect of giving to consider is what we can give to God. Perhaps the better perspective is to ask what God wants of us. We take this approach when we choose gifts. We ask, "What would my daughter like? What would please my wife?" So, this Advent, take time to be alone with God to ask Him what He would like from you. What is He calling you to do? Who may He want you to help? Which aspects of your life does He want you to resolve for His sake? As Mary chose to give what God wanted of her – to be the mother of Jesus – she became a blessing to all people. So, as you give to God, he will open ways for you to make a difference in the lives of others. That is a thought that gives sweet anticipation. Children feel that excitement when they feel and rattle gifts tagged with their names. God has a gift he wants from you, a gift that will in turn bless others and yourself – for as you give, so you will receive. May God bless you richly in the reading of this issue and so move you to want to be a blessing in the lives of others this Christmas! Rev John Benedict Foo 7
  5. 5. SANTA, CANDY CANES & THE PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE? GOH ECK KHENG explores the meaning of popular Christmas symbols. 8 Ann Gordon CC BY-SA 2.0 Is there any truth in things like CANDY CANES There are a number of accounts of the origin of the candy cane, including one which attributes it to a devout confectioner from Indiana, USA. He wanted to make a candy that would be a witness for Jesus, so he incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry and death of Christ in his new treat. The pure white of his candy symbolized the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus. Its hardness was a reminder of Christ as the Foundation of the Church and the firmness of God's promises. The candy maker made this candy in the form of a 'J', the initial of the name of Jesus. It also represents the crook used by the 'Good Shepherd' to save his sheep. For decoration, he used stripes of red to symbolise the blood which Jesus shed for us. Another similar account with a stronger ring of truth sets the origin in 1672, in Cologne, Germany. The choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral, wishing to stop the children in his church from making noise during the Nativity pageant on Christmas Eve, asked a local candy maker for some sweet sticks for them. In order to justify the distribution of sweets during the worship service, he asked the confectioner to add a crook to the top of each stick to help the children remember the shepherds who visited the new-born Jesus. Holly and IVY The prickly leaves of the holly represent the crown of thorns that Jesus wore at his crucifixion. The berries are the drops of blood he shed because of the thorns. That ivy has to cling to a support as it grows reminds us that we need to always cling to God in our lives. This symbolism of the holly is developed fully in the English carol, The Holly and the Ivy, that has been traced to 1710: The holly and the ivy, when they are both well grown, of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown. The holly bears a blossom as white as lily flower, and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to be our sweet saviour. The holly bears a berry as red as any blood, and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to do poor sinners good. The holly bears a prickle as sharp as any thorn, and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ on Christmas Day in the morn. The holly bears a bark as bitter as any gall, and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all. Jason Hickey CC BY 2.0 Garedening in a Minute CC BY-NC 2.0 Hannesseibt CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 It seems to be an open-and-shut case. Popular – some would use the word 'commercialised' – symbols of Christmas do not appear in Biblical accounts. That may be true, but many of them do originate from historical facts or legends that sought to inspire faith. Let's look again at the things commonly associated with a secular Christmas. Perhaps you will be surprised. Poinsettia Here is an old Mexican legend about how poinsettias and Christmas came to be associated: There was once a poor girl named Pepita who had no gift for the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve service. As she walked sadly to the chapel, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up. "Pepita", he said "I'm sure that even the smallest gift given from the heart will make Jesus happy." So Pepita picked a handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a little bouquet. Still, she felt embarrassed about the smallness of her gift. As she knelt to present the posey at the Nativity scene, the weeds suddenly burst into the bright red flowers of the poinsettia. From that day on, those flowers were known as 'Flores de Noche Buena', or 'Flowers of the Holy Night'. The shape of the poinsettia are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem. The leaves (yes, they are leaves), if red, symbolize the blood of Christ and, if white, represent his purity. 12 Days of Christmas The 12 Days of Christmas refer to the period that starts with Christmas day and ends on Epiphany (6th January). In 1979, a Canadian hymnologist, Hugh D. McKellar, invented the idea that the gifts are symbolic of the tenants of the Christian faith, and that the 'true love' of the song refers to God, the true love of the world. 9
  6. 6. 10 Santa Claus The true story of Santa begins with Nicholas, born to wealthy parents in the third century in the village of Patara, now in Turkey. Nicholas was raised as a devout Christian, and when his parents died in an epidemic, he obeyed Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Thus, Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. Candles Illumined candles represent Christ as the light of thre world. God is described in the Bible as “resplendent with light” (Ps 76:4) and “wraps himself in light as with storebukkebruse CC BY 2.0 day in between, a small red candle was positioned and lit. In this way, he created a visual aid to help the children count the days to Christmas, and draw their attention to the parts of the Christmas story. a garment” (Ps 104:2). As a result of sin, Adam and Eve, and all mankind after them, were banished from the presence of God and cast into spiritual darkness. God chose to deal with sin and reconcile mankind to himself by brining humanity “out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). This he did by entering the world as a man – as the baby Jesus. As the Gospel of John 3:19 records, “Light has come into the world.” Jesus himself proclaimed, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46). Jesus' death on the cross and his ressurrection on the first Easter, conquered sin and death and returned light to those who trust in him. Thus, it is appropriate that Christmas events be filled with lit candles as we celebrate Jesus, the Light of the world. Christmas trees A possible source of the Christmas tree is the German medieval religious play known as the “Paradise” play. It began with the creation of man, the narration of the first sin, and showed Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden – represented by a fir tree hung with apples (the symbol of sin) and surrounded by candles. The play closed with the promise of a coming Saviour. When religious plays were suppressed in Germany, the popular symbol of the Paradise play – the tree – made its way into the homes of Christians. By the 15th century, these trees were not only decorated with apples but also with small white wafers which symbolised the body of Christ. These wafers were later replaced by pastry cut into the shapes of stars, angels, bells, and other Christian imagery. The connection between the tree in the Garden of Eden and Christmas is profound and important. The first sin comitted in the Garden of Eden was disobeying God by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God addressed the consequences of this sin by becoming a man – Jesus – that we might be saved through his death and ressurection. Thus, trees play a significant role in the arc of the Christian story: The forbidden fruit, the eating of which brought sin into the world, hung on a tree. The act of salvation from sin was Christ cruxified on a cross made from a tree. Furthermore, when sin entered the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, all mankind were no longer allowed to eat of the tree of life. However, Christ’s work on the cross will give us “the right to eat of the tree of life” once again (Revelation 2:7). Brida Anderson CC BY 2.0 The 'eight maids a milking' are the eight beatitudes taught by Jesus (Matthew 5:3-10). The 'nine ladies dancing' are nine fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The 'ten lords a-leaping' are the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). The 'eleven pipers piping' are the eleven faithful disciples of Jesus. The 'twelve drummers drumming' are the twelve points of the Apostles' Creed. Melissa Gutierrex CC BY-SA 2.0 Xavier Romero-Frias BY Wiki Commons According to McKellar: The 'partridge in a pear tree' is Jesus who died on the cross. In ancient times a partridge was often used as mythological symbol of a divine, sacred king. The 'two turtle doves' are the Old and New Testaments - another gift from God. Doves also symbolise peace. The 'three French hens' are faith, hope and love - the three gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 13). The French hens can also represent God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The 'four calling birds' are the four Gospel books. The 'five golden rings' are the first five books of the Bible also called the Pentateuch. The 'six geese a-laying' are the six days of creation. The 'seven swans a swimming' are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:8-11, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4:10-11). He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. When the Roman Emperor Diocletian ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. After his release, he attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 when the Nicene Creed was adopted. He died on 6 December, AD 343 in Myra. Many stories and legends have been told of Nicholas' life and deeds. One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. He had no money for their doweries, and they were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. On three different occasions, Nichloas tossed a bag of gold through an open window, which were said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fireplace to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Santa Claus. Christmas wreath Christmas wreaths hark back to advent wreaths which were first used by Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808–1881), a German Protestant pastor who pioneered urban mission work among the poor. One of Wichern's many acts of social service was the founding of a home for destitute children in Hamburg. In 1839, Wichern began to use a wreath as a tool to teach the children about the approach of Christmas. For each Sunday of Advent, he lit a large white candle in a wreath made from a cart wheel. For every other 11
  7. 7. ABIGAIL GOH ince Lenard and I got married, we have always stayed with my folks. We thought we’d move out eventually but since Zachary, 6 and Eli, 3 came into our lives, we quickly abandoned that plan in favour of staying put! It is a rarity these days for two generations to live under one roof, much less three (such as our case), and we are grateful to be able to have the children grow up close to their grandparents. Bringing them up in my childhood home also means there is always good company and willing babysitters! The blessing of having the children live with the grandfolks is even more apparent when Christmas comes around. Christmas is hands-down our household’s favourite season and the one we collectively live from year to year. Even though it’s forever summer in Singapore and Jack Frost is nowhere in sight, there’s still a discernable change in the air as the year draws to a close. Everything seems to slow down a little, we start feeling more sentimental and the desire to be with our loved ones seems more pressing than ever. In our home, Christmas officially begins after the American Thanksgiving for the simple reason that my mum starts decking the halls around that time. Somewhere in the end of November, the yuletide decorations come out of storage and the house resembles Santa’s workshop as my mumslash-decorator-extraordinaire decides where everything should go. While Christmas carols sung by the crooners of decades gone by play in the background, every hand in the house, small and grown, works to put some bit or bauble in place. The 'scent of Christmas' provided by Yankee Candle wafting in the air makes this event less like work and more like play. Up goes the Christmas quilt, hand-made by mum, mounted on the wall, along S FAMILY Christmas Heritage Leanne Pattiselanno 12 (( CHRISTMAS IS HANDS-DOWN OUR HOUSEHOLD'S FAVOURITE SEASON AND THE ONE WE COLLECTIVELY LIVE FROM YEAR TO YEAR. )) with all the crafts and handiwork amassed over the years from our many trips to visit relatives in America. Each piece is treasured for the memories tied to it and the loving care in which they were selected (by mum), packed (by dad) and trucked home. The stockings are carefully hung in their place complete with a photo of each corresponding family member’s first Christmas photograph. Our electrician is booked way in advance to make sure the fairy lights draped on the archway of our gate and on the frangipani trees are set up in time. Since my sister and I were little, we always looked forward to see what new Martha Stewart-esque ideas our mum had for trimming the tree and getting the house all gussied up. It is no different for my boys since each gets wide-eyed in excitement when the first signs of Christmas descend on our house. God gifted my mum with a creative imagination and a great eye, so the house always looks spectacular. The recent decade has seen her up the ante in transforming our living room into a visual masterpiece. For the years we had weddings, there were butterflies in the tree, and when babies were born, toys were the theme. Those in-between years, our tree has donned everything from peacock feathers to birds to sunflowers. Mum makes it work! While interior décor remains my mum’s area of expertise, I sadly did not inherit that gene. However, in recent years, I have been able to put my personal stamp on family tradition by way of the hearth. Before Eli was born, Lenard, Zachary and I lived in Barcelona, Spain, for two years while Lenard completed his MBA. It was in España that I discovered my inner-Nigella and came to love experimenting in the kitchen. Being able to cook and feed my family brought me great joy but I was even more thrilled to 13
  8. 8. (Clockwise from left) Harold Tan, Lenard Pattiselanno, Eli, Leanne, Zachery, Kenneth Tan, Melanie, Lin. (( WE HAVE ALWAYS MAINTAINED THE TRADITION OF SANTA'S VISIT EVEN THOUGH THE ADULTS KNOW IT IS ALL A RUSE. )) 14 finally be able to contribute during the holiday season after we settled down again in Singapore. In the month of December, it is not uncommon to host up to five or six gatherings including our family dinners on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve. Leading up to party season, I work through each meal plan, dog-earing the recipes to try out and figuring out the ingredients for our dinner-table mainstays. The menu is typically a balance of American tradition (turkey, ham, cranberry sauce, stuffing and the like) and local goodies (satay, mee siam, and more). While outsourcing is a necessity, I always make it a point to make the stuffing and accompaniments myself. In addition to our main meals, our oven is kept very busy with batches and batches of fresh brioche, cakes, cookies and other sweets to be served as dessert, given as gifts or eaten just because no one can say "no". Decorating sugar cookies has become something the boys really look forward to so I make sure to have some stashed in the kitchen as post-dinner entertainment for the younger bunch while the adults have their meal and catch up over drinks. No one is in a hurry to end the festivities, unless, of course, it’s Christmas Eve and the children are expecting a visit from jolly old St. Nick. Zachary in particular makes sure he hits the sack as early as possible because he believes it’s a surefire way to get Christmas Day to come quickly and come it does! We have always maintained the tradition of Santa’s visit even though the adults know it is all a ruse. Even after my sister and I knew that Santa was make-believe, we still loved the anticipation of not-Santa’s visit as much as our parents still enjoyed feeding into the fantasy. Just as we put out cookies and milk plus freshly cut grass in our Christmas stockings (for the reindeer, of course) for years of our childhood, my children now do the same. The awe painted on their faces when they see the empty glass and plate and squeals they elicit at the sight of the mountain of presents is a gift in itself and wellworth the effort of conducting this covert operation! But. As spectacular and dazzling as all these traditions are, is Christmas’ meaning to me and my family defined merely by special foods, a be-decked tree in the living room or even a plump guy in a red suit? Is Christmas not Christmas when you strip all that away? Do the traditions we keep demonstrate to those looking on God’s amazing act of perfect love that first Christmas morning? Having been brought up in a Christian household and having gone to a Christian school for 12 years, I was always able to give a Sunday School textbook answer to the true meaning of Christmas. Now that I have two precious children who are slowly forming their idea of who God is and who He ought to be to them, I find myself asking these questions more seriously and thoughtfully as the year winds down. I recall Romans 12:2 calling for us to “not be confirmed to this world”. As believers, what sets us apart during the holiday season that demonstrates how truly amazing God’s gift and sacrifice really is? How can I show my children and to others how Christ has completely changed my life if I honour Him at Christmas by doing what everyone else does? I’ve found my heart stirred with a frantic desire for them to look past the fancy packaging of “commercial Christmas” to see the bigger picture – that “… God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. As they grow with each Christmas season, my prayer is that God will grow the seeds we as parents lovingly plant into our children’s hearts and that by our actions, they will come to love the Lord our God with all their heart, soul and mind. We pray that as they mature, they will see with new eyes what it means to receive this gift and what God wants us to do with it. This Christmas let us all experience with our families how God can use us as His salt and light to share the good news of what happened that Christmas morning. Leanne is a self-confessed Christmas enthusiast married to a sports lover, and mummy to two active little boys. (( DO THE TRADITIONS WE KEEP DEMONSTRATE TO THOSE LOOKING ON GOD'S AMAZING ACT OF PERFECT LOVE THAT FIRST CHRISTRMAS MORNING? )) 15
  9. 9. Effective Social Enterprises xxxxxxxx helping HANDS AT WORK By CHONG CHEH HOON A social enterprise is an organisation that applies business strategies for a social cause. Its primary aim is to maximise improvements to human, environment, healthcare, education and so forth, and is not driven by profits to benefit the owner or shareholders. Hence, the commitment to the diverse social causes and its goals is the driving vision behind the business. Any surpluses that result from the business are reinvested to achieve higher social objectives. In the Christian context, social enterprise is aligned to the call by God to help the poor and needy. Consider the following verses – Zechariah 7:9 "This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another”. Philippians 2:4 "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Isaiah 25:4a "For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat…." Galatians 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." In Singapore, social enterprises follow the four broad models listed in the table below although increasingly, there are hybrid ways in which social enterprise can operate. A Plough-back-profit Model The objective of these social enterprises is to generate profit to fund the social programmes of their affiliated or parent charities. This helps VWOs or charities reduce their reliance on donations and enhance their financial sustainability. 16 Subsidised Services Model These social enterprises provide subsidised services to needy and/or disadvantages clients, and charge commercial rates to mainstream customers. This ensures that the people who could not usually afford certain services have access to such services to improve their quality of life. Work Integration Model The Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs) provide skills training and/or employment opportunities to the needy disadvantaged (i.e. those who have higher than usual barriers to employmemt, such as ex-offenders) as a means to reintegrate them into society and encourage them to be self reliant. They give an opportunity to people who may not find employmement on the open market. Social Needs Model These social enterprises are designed to serve society's social needs or address certain social issues. These issues can include community bonding, family bonding and racial harmony. Supporting a social enterprise helps to further a social cause by enabling funds to be channelled directly to its beneficiaries – such as the marginalised sub-groups in societies. It also provides them with a platform to voice social concerns and to advocate for changes that can impact the betterment of its people, environment and issues. Sustainability for social enterprises can only happen when citizens come alongside to endorse its message, products and services. It's a meaningful and satisfying way to reach out to help the needy in society. On the following pages, we feature a few social enterprises that you might go to for gifts this Christmas. (( IN THE CHRISTIAN CONTEXT, SOCIAL ENTERPRISE IS ALIGNED TO THE CALL BY GOD TO HELP THE POOR AND NEEDY. )) 17
  10. 10. (( CLIENTS ARE PAID AN HOURLY RATE FOR THE PREPRODUCTION PROCESS WHILE THE SEWERS GET THE PROCEEDS FROM THE SALE OF THE BAGS. )) 18 SEMBAWANG FAMILY SERVICE CENTRE Banner Bags PROJECT SFSC is committed to assisting its clients attain eventual selfsufficiency. One pressing issue for clients who are home-bound because of child- or elder-care responsibilities, especially the housewives from low-income families, is the need to work towards self-reliance and feel empowered by generating some income for the family. It was with this need in mind that SFSC embarked on the Banner Bags Project with the guidance of CCMC in 2010. Used event banners donated by organisations such as NEA and People’s Association are transformed into lovely bags of various sizes and designs, catering to customers’ different needs. For example, during last year’s SFSC Sunday, many of the smaller banner bags were snapped up for use as Bible carriers! Organisations like Woodlands Evangelical Church and Methodist Girls’ School have placed orders for banner bags to use as goodie bags or door gifts for their events. The SFSC clients’ role in this project is to take up the duties of cleaning, selecting and cutting out appropriate portions of the banners, and finally to sew them into bags. Clients are paid an hourly rate for the pre-production process while the sewers get the proceeds from the sale of the bags. SFSC currently has five committed sewers. One of them, Ms Irene, shared: “I’m grateful for the flexibility this programme as I’m able to work at my own pace and schedule while juggling family commitments. The additional income earned goes a long way to supplement my family’s expenses. Also, I get to milk my creative juices when choosing the material and coming up with design for the banner bags. This Banner Bags Project is indeed very rewarding.” Banner Bags, especially the bigger ones, are useful for delivering gifts to families and friends. Call 67547050 or email admin@sfsc.org.sg to get the bags. TeddyThotz ‘n’ OneKind This home-grown social enterprise produces quirky and creative handcrafted products. They range from unusual teddy bears to common everyday things made so creatively that they become special and uncommon. What’s different about this enterprise is that everything that it sells is hand-made and homemade by individuals and families. This practice is deliberate as TeddyThotz’s mission is to harness the talents of the ordinary and disadvantaged people to generate business and income for them. The result is a unique range of creative and quality handcrafted products that are socially meaningful at the same time. These include an adorable collection of hand-crocheted owls, rabbits and hoody bears; brainy bears and textile doggies made from lovely fabrics; and bears and bunnies made from recycled jeans. Other popular products include beautiful hand-painted earrings and artistically shaped wire art bracelets and rings. The makers of these products are working mothers, housewives, farmers, rural folk, and crafters. TeddyThotz’s evergreen favourites are it’s traditional items made by the elderly which often elicit a feeling of nostalgia among customers – patchwork blankets in many designs and sizes to choose from, beansprout husk pillows and bolsters, and the traditional children’s game, Five Stones. TeddyThotz’s products are available at Path Market, a social enterprise bazaar at VivoCity, Level 1, Lobby A to C area, from 14 to 23 December, 11am to 10pm. Find out more at facebook. com/teddythotz.sg and teddythotz. blogspot.sg. (( WHAT'S DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS ENTERPRISE IS THAT EVERYTHING THAT IT SELLS IS HAND-MADE AND HOME-MADE BY INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES. )) The Singapore Anglican Community Services This umbrella organisation runs three social enterprises: The Mother and Child Project, MOSES and Something Old Something New (SOSN). The social enterprises are non-profit making and were set up to enable clients to have an opportunity to earn an income, be encouraged in their journey of recovery and to raise awareness of social issues like mental illness and spousal abuse. Dr Sally Thio, then Director of Hougang Care Centre, asked Ms Anna Tsang, a fashion designer, to help set up Something Old Something New in 1997. It started as a vintage store. Currently, there are three outlets located in Simei Care Centre, in Bedok North and in Pasir Ris, which are run as thrift stores providing employment opportunities for clients. At the same time, the items on sale are reasonably priced to bless lower income families and many foreign workers. SOSN runs a flea market and a garage sale every year at Simei Care Centre. At SOSN, clients are taught to evaluate and sort donated items, arrange them and shelve them for display. Clients with higher capabilities price items and work as cashiers. SACS runs a sheltered workshop named MOSES (Members Own Social Enterprise Services) which produces corporate gifts and gifts for sale at retail outlets. It began in 2006 and operates from Simei Care Centre. MOSES aims to create sustainable training and work opportunities for people with mental illness in their journey to recovery. MOSES thus becomes a bridge to rehabilitate and integrate them into the community. At the MOSES Workshop, clients improve their motor skills and learn Art and Craft making. 19
  11. 11. products for the shop. The Singapore Anglican Community Service has a pop up shop at CityLink Mall (B01-07A) named MOSES where items from all three social enterprises are available. Contact details for SOSN and MOSES are as follows: SOSN www.sosn.sg SOSN Simei 10 Simei Street 3 Tel: 6781 8113 (Augustine Tham, ext 1306, for donation of items) The Mother and Child Project produces a wide range of products for the home, clothing and jewellery. It was birthed in 2005 at a crisis shelter when Anna Tsang decided to marry both her passions – working with disadvantaged woman and fashion design. She started to train disadvantaged women to sew and make a range of products which she designed. Many of these ladies were single mothers, retirees or women recovering from psychiatric illness, and their newly acquired skill became their source of income. Initially, Anna faced challenges in finding material for the ladies to sew and work with. She and her supporters scavenged for remnant cloth and donated materials. Hence, some of the items sold by Mother and Child Project are patchworks or use fabrics upcycled from denim jeans and jackets. There are also high-fashion reversible jackets and skirts with sleek lines and structure. Her first design was a tissue pouch. She went on to conceive 20 the bestselling cheerful Samsui and Peranakan women as doorstops, paper weights and card holders. By providing sewing contract work under the Mother and Child brand, the project provides homebased work for disadvantaged mothers and their children in Singapore so that they can become economically self-sufficient. Efforts are made to ensure that a large percentage of money earned from each product goes back to these women. The aim is to empower women-in-need with a regular income while allowing them to take care of their children. By helping one mother, an average of four people are helped as most of these women have two or three children. These mothers are trained in sewing, assigned work according to their level of skills, and are paid above market rates. Befriending services are also provided to meet their social needs. Over time, many of the women regained their confidence, managed their family situations better, and found higher paying jobs outside the programme. Some of them have even taken up the design of new SOSN Bedok Blk 89, Bedok North St 4, #01-91 Tel: 6242 9248 SOSN Pasir Ris Blk 534 Pasir Ris Drive 1, #01-266 Tel: 6582 2335 MOSES 10 Simei Street 3 Tel: 6781 8113 Website: www.moses.com.sg Email: enquiry@moses.com.sg OR peterpoh@sacs.org.sg After more than 50 years of aid to Africa, there has been no significant change in the poverty landscape. Economic data shows that though aid has increased, the GDPs of the recipient countries have decreased. There is therefore no direct relationship between aid and poverty reduction. In my opinion, business and enterprise is a better, if not the only way, for long-term sustainable transformation and poverty reduction in developing countries. To be clear, there will always be a role for aid in meeting humanitarian, short-term crises. But for long term, sustainable transformation, aid is not the solution. Here, I highlight two issues that are seldom discussed in poverty reduction. In developed countries, the small medium enterprise (SME) sector contributes more than 51% of GDP, while the informal sector – like home-based business – contributes 13%. In developing countries, this is reversed with the informal economy contributing more than 47%. With such a large informal sector from which no taxes are collected, no wonder governments in developing countries have to depend on aid to run essential services. Increasing the tax base is the way out of poverty, and the way to enlarge the tax base is through enterprise-creating jobs. Since the backbone of the economy in developed countries is the SME sector, activities that do not enlarge this sector condemn the country to poverty. To address this, we need to build the ecosystem to develop and grow SMEs. I believe that enterprise-building can also address the human social issues that come with poverty. Investments can be made with the intention not only of a financial return, but also a social and an environmental return by building commercially sustainable SMEs that create jobs, empower the poor to improve their livelihoods and address their social and environmental issues. Poverty is a complex problem. Its causes are multifactorial, but we have focused for too long on these causes. Perhaps we should spend more time focusing on the causes of wealth creation and economic development. This is the journey we need to take from aid and philanthropy to enterprise. a world view BY KIM TAN Pictures show Kuzuko Lodge, a social enterprise safari game park in South Africa. (( business and enterprise is a better, if not the only way, for longterm sustainable transformation and poverty reduction…. )) Kim Tan is the founder chairman of SpringHill Management Ltd (UK), a fund management company in biotech and social venture capital investments. He is also a board director of companies in Malaysia, India, the UK, South Africa and the USA. 21
  12. 12. Ms Grace Ng comes from her position as Deputy Director at the Guidance Branch, Student Development Curriculum Division, Ministry of Education, to assume the role of MGS Principal starting from 16 December 2013. Ms Ng is no stranger to the MGS culture and ethos. A Christian, she first taught at her alma mater, Paya Lebar MGS, before being promoted to Vice-Principal in 1997. She was then appointed Principal of Juying Secondary School before a stint as Superintendent for a school cluster. Ms Ng has played a significant role in shaping the schools and places where she has been in charge, setting clear goals and directions, and nurturing those she works with. Loaves+Fishes conducted this short interview with Ms Ng. Why did you become a teacher? I think it was really God’s calling. He knew way ahead the person I am and my inherent strengths and how being a teacher would allow me to reach out to young lives. GRACE NG: Called to Educate INTERVIEW BY GOH ECK KHENG 22 What is the one thing that you will never tolerate in a student? The lack of integrity. To me, integrity is an imperative – a must have – without which, society, organization, family and relationships will fail. Our young must understand the importance of it. What is your strongest memory of your school days? I have very good memories of my school days. Till today, they remain etched in my mind. The teachers… my CCA experience… being a part of the NPCC… chapel… cheering, and running for my house on Sports Day, are but a few. What is important is that these experiences made me feel a part of my school and that I belonged there. My loyalty and love for my alma mater had its genesis from these innocuous activities and experiences of school life. Who was the teacher that made an impact in your life, and how so? It must be Ms Ruth Ho, my Secondary 3 History teacher who impressed upon me the importance of good communication and pronunciation. She would use every teachable moment to illustrate or show us how a word should be pronounced. Till today, I continue to make a conscious effort to hone my skills in this area. out the best in them and help them grow. When our people grow, the organization improves and our children will be the beneficiaries. Every single child has the potential to become someone we can be proud of. How do you spend your free time and weekends? Weekends are reserved for church and family. In my free time, I do some sports and also browse the social media to keep up with what’s happening. It's also having time alone, for me to recharge. (( EVERY SINGLE CHILD HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME SOMEONE WE CAN BE PROUD OF. )) What do Singaporean parents misunderstand and least understand about education? This is only based on my interaction with parents I come across and may not be representative. Parents tend to focus their energies on the attainment of outcomes by their children. Inadvertently then, the focus would be on the outcome/ product and little on the process of learning. Education is a life-long endeavor and every experience good or bad, tough or easy, can provide pivotal learning for our children. If parents, teachers and all involved in the lives of our children can see the inordinate potential of teachable moments to educate, then our children would truly be educated in the real sense of the word. What foundation principles have you gained from your years of teaching, school management, and work in the Ministry of Education? People are key. An organization is nothing without its people. Bring What is your favourite verse in the Bible? I have a couple but at this point of time, my top of the charts must be Psalm 90:16-17 Let your work appear to Your servants and your glory to their children And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us And establish the work of our hands for us: Yes, establish the work of our hands. What is a good way of preparing the hearts of children for the start of a new school year? I would like to do some of the following: • Prepare the children psychologically, and help them look forward to the new experiences that can come with a new year, like new friends. • Pick a song that they can hum on their way to school. • Pray for them and do pray with them. 23
  13. 13. ANTON & DOROTHY CHAN Grace, Love and Fellowship S: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. O: It is impossible to practice such love. God's kind of love is directed outward toward others, not inward toward ourselves. It is totally unselfish, and it goes against our natural instinct. A: Pray and ask God for His kind of love to be manifested in us. But we need to be humble and obedient. 24 A: Grace reminds us that each day is lived by the mercy of God. We are always loved by God no matter how others treat us. And to enjoy this grace and love we must walk in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The theology of grace, love and fellowship with one another come from the Trinity. May we be blessed as we truly embrace his grace, his love and communion with the Holy Spirit each day. P: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for your grace which allows us to enjoy the love of our God, our Father. O: People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire. (Job 5:7) A: We need to study the Word in order to better understand the painful truths in life. Listen to God's counsel, and apply it to ourselves. P: Lord, help me appreciate all the painful lessons in my sinful life on earth. Knowing that if I'm faithful till the end, you will restore all good things to me in your eternal kingdom gs PETER LOCK Love O: This is a common closing prayer or benediction we hear at the end of Church service. The trinitarian benediction prayed by Paul is for us to rejoice with, aim for restoration, agree with one another, and live in peace. We are sinners saved by the grace of The Lord Jesus who loves us and paid the price for our sins on the cross. The love of God has been poured on us because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. The communion of the Holy Spirit is to help us to fellowship with God. Why did Paul pronounce the benediction in the order of grace, love and fellowship? S: Job 5:17, 18 “But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin. For though he wounds, he also bandages. He strikes, but his hands also heal." si n CCMC MEMBERS ARE APPROACHING THE MILESTONE FIRST YEAR OF USING THE SOAP FORMAT FOR DAILY DEVOTIONS. WE ENCOURAGE THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE A DAILY BIBLE READING PROGRAMME TO TRY SOAP. as many will confirm, it is easy, meaningful, and life-transforming. S: 2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of The Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. TIM TAN No such thing as bad karma es P: Gracious God, you have given us an impossible task. We earnestly seek your help to set aside our own desires and instincts, so that we can give love while expecting nothing in return. Help us to walk in fellowship of the Holy Spirit to love one another, to rejoice, to aim for unity, and to serve the Church to which we belong. Bl Worship Him in awe and reverence. C hr is tm as HUBBLE SOAP MASON TAN Spiritual food S: Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ O+A: We are called to lead a balanced Christian life for our body, mind and soul. The Scripture is God breathed and provides our daily manna. We cannot read the Bible in an erratic manner. P: Lord, we thank you for Your daily bread. We praise You. Amen. 25
  14. 14. John 3:16 Is 9:6-7 Is 7:14 26 27
  15. 15. To The Point The Hope of Salvation THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE hope IN TROUBLED TIMES 1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. Psalm 27:4-5 One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. Hope Romans 8:24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? Titus 1:1-2 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. by PASTOR KHOO KAY HUAT hope for the future 1. Apply glue carefully to the top, bottom and right sides on the blue border. Glue together. 2. Use a hole puncher to punch out the holes on the top of this side of the calender. 3. Thread a ribbon through the holes and make a bow for hanging. 4. You are now ready to open each peforated box as you countdown the days to Christmas. Box designs from http://littletree-blog.blogspot.sg/ Nativity characters from http://madebyjoel.com/ 28 WHY WE HOPE Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. TO ASSEMBLE YOUR ADVENT CALENDER Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. God Does Not Lie Numbers 23:19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Proverbs 23:18 There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. God is Our Strength & Helper Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. God is Our Portion Lamentations 3:24 I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." God's Word Brings Hope Psalm 119:49 Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. God's Wisdom Brings Hope Proverbs 24:14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Hope in God Purifies Us 1 John 3:3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Deuteronmy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Hope Is A Result Of Character Formation Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 29
  16. 16. OZinOH CC BY-NC 2.0 n 27 April 2011, in a sombre voice, Noel told us that he had to be admitted to NUH. It was a moment of great anxiety and fear and Mike texted our small group, Blest West Too, for prayer support. The next day, the oncologist told us that Noel had a very big malignant mediastinal germ cell tumour (yolk sac type), and from the CT scan, the size of the tumour was 18.3 x 18 x 12.6 cm, and it had compressed his left lung. The success rate of chemotherapy treatment for germ cell tumour, we were told, was 50/50 – but the oncologist did not reveal that the success rate for yolk sac type is very low. We were totally devastated and asked God why. However, instead of giving in to fear, we turned to the Lord for help and prayed for his healing grace. Rather than looking at the cup as half empty, we saw it as half filled. Noel started chemotherapy immediately. Each course of chemotherapy lasted five days and each cycle was for a period of three weeks. Usually after the first week of chemo, we walked in Bukit Batok Nature Park so that Noel could gain his strength. It was also a time when we would 'prayer walk' to ask God to heal Noel completely, for the effectiveness of the chemo drugs, and to minimise the side effects of chemo. Our cell group gathered around to support us in prayer, brought fruits and food for Noel and encouraged him. Noel bore the whole process of the four chemo cycles very well and he never complained of pain, side effects etc. Each night before we left the hospital, we prayed for God to heal him and to send his angels to encamp around him to protect him. After four cycles of chemotherapy, the cancer marker dropped from 12599 points to 10 points (normal was <15 points) and we were elated. The oncologist then O n el A reflection on our life journey with by Michael & Christina Chia 30 arranged for surgery to remove the tumour on 18 August 2011. After six hours of surgery, we praised God that the whole operation was a great success. After six days, Noel was discharged as he regained his health quite fast. We had prayed constantly, believing that God was with us and that He would never leave us nor forsake us and He has great plans for Noel as in Jeremiah 29:11 – "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." We were so assured that God would heal as things were generally going smoothly. On the advice of the oncologist, Noel continued another two cycles of chemo until 1 Nov 2011. However, in mid-December 2011, there was a relapse as the marker went up again and the oncologist then proposed stem cells transplant with three cycles of high dosage chemo. The dosage of the chemo drug was three times higher than the norm and Noel had to be isolated for 63 days over this whole period in view of his low or nil immunity. He suffered much side effects. We had earlier wanted to delay the treatment as we wanted to celebrate his 21st birthday which was on 3 Feb 2012. However, the doctor advised us to commence treatment as soon as possible. God answered our prayers for the extraction of stem cells as Noel managed to extract sufficient stem cells for the transplant even though his bone marrow had been badly affected by the earlier cycles of chemo. On 29 Jan 2012, we celebrated Noel’s 21st birthday in advance and had a party at home – the doctor had permitted him to go home for a short break. Noel had suffered so much; confined to his hospital bed and subjected to intensive medical treatment. We thanked God for all (( each night before we left the hospital, we prayed for god to heal him and to send his angels to encamp around him to protect him. )) 31
  17. 17. (From left): Christina, Nicole, Noel, Nick and Michael. (( In the midst of all these, in June 2012, Noel was accepted to NTU to read Engineering. We prayed that this would be the sign that God would heal him as he has given him great plans for his future. )) 32 His provisions, and the One Community Youth (OC) and friends for making this celebration possible. The OC had to wear face masks because of Noel's low immunity but the happy and special day was a very enjoyable and memorable time for Noel. It was also very meaningful for him and a testimony of God’s goodness and love for Noel. On 3 Feb 2012, his 21st birthday, the nurses also celebrated Noel's birthday in his hospital room. After the high-dose chemo, Noel's medical condition improved. We thanked God and were very hopeful of full recovery. Yet, a month later, the marker went up. Noel went through blood test and PET-MRI/CT scan but he did not complain. Mike shared Psalm 59:16 with Noel: "God is our refuge in time of trouble." It was a difficult time for Noel. He went for further chemo, two rounds of radiation and another surgery of his hip bone area. Each time we prayed together, we would try to remind him that “God is faithful and God is good”. Though we did not understand, we just had to trust in His plans for Noel. In the midst of all these, in June 2012, Noel was accepted to NTU to read Engineering. We prayed that this would be the sign that God would heal him as he has given him great plans for his future. The doctors and radiographers had scheduled his radiation in the morning; we arrived at the hospital before 8 am and completed the radiation before 8.30 am and then we sent him to NTU for his studies. In all, Noel went through 16 cycles of chemo, two operations and two rounds of radiation. He had never complained of pain nor did he refuse treatment because of the side effects. Even when the nurses could not find the veins for the chemo treatment, he would just bear the pricking stoically. Unfortunately, in Sept 2012, the oncologist advised us that there would not be further chemo treatment as it was not helping and the disease was spreading. Noel texted Kim Pong (OC mentor) and Supra (a brother from Cornerstone Community Church who had been praying for him) and asked them to pray. When Kim Pong asked how he was, Noel replied that he felt at peace though sad. Noel continued his studies and attended lectures daily in NTU and even studied for exams when his health and strength were deteriorating. Noel went for his first OC camp on 7 to 9 Dec 2012 even though he was suffering as he was experiencing shortness of breath and was very tired. He was very encouraged when the OC youths and pastors prayed for him so fervently. On the night of 8 Dec 2012, the power of the Holy Spirit was experienced in an amazing way! OC was empowered! So many youths and at least four pastors prayed for healing of Noel. Noel felt the warmth of the Holy Spirit working in him! Hallelujah! By His stripes, Noel was healed! When Kim Pong asked all to stand to sing the last song at the close of the session, Noel was able to stand! God was amazing! God was awesome! We were also very encouraged that Nick, our younger son, was singing and praying as well! Noel’s last days were difficult as he could not sleep at night due to shortness of breath. The week before he passed on, Chris was sleeping in the same room to look after him. One night, at about 4 o'clock, Noel looked at Chris and said, “I love you, mummy”. Chris hugged him and told him that she loved him too. That Saturday afternoon, while we were praying together, Noel prayed in a loud voice to thank us for looking after him and he prayed that God would look after us. We were very touched by Noel’s love. Mike assured Noel that he should not feel bad because God first loved us and he has to love and take care of him, more so because Noel is his son. On Sunday, Noel dressed for church but as he stepped out of his room, he sat down. He did not have the strength even to walk. He cried as he so much wanted to go to church to worship and to give his offering. He then passed a note of a big value to Mike to give as offering to God. Noel waited for his sister, Nicole, (who was studying in Manchester University) to come home during her vacation break on the night of 18 December. That day, at 5 in the evening, after two bags of blood transfusion, Noel asked to have Bible Study with the OC youths in our home. Though he had to use an oxygen mask and was very tired and uncomfortable, he was attentive and wanted to know more about God. In retrospect, God was gracious to allow Noel to spend his last hours on earth in fellowship with his OC friends. According to his friends, the song Still touched Noel’s heart. In Psalm 46:10: God says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Surrender to God On 19 Dec 2012, as Noel was feeling very uncomfortable with shortness of breath, he agreed to go back to hospital. He asked the doctor if there could be further treatments (whether radiation or chemo) to fight the disease. That night, our friends from Faith Methodist Church’s Intercessory House of Prayer came to worship and sing praises to God and to minister Holy Communion to Noel. Chris stayed overnight in the hospital. Noel was not able to sleep well over the previous week and the nurses gave him morphine to help him rest. Finally, he was able to sleep but he had to sleep while sitting cross-legged on the bed with his head on the table. After four hours of rest, at about 4 am, he woke up feeling much refreshed and he asked for his prayer cards and iPad. Pastor Peter Wong visited Noel in hospital at about 7.30 am on 20 Dec 2012. He saw Noel was still having his devotions and reading the scripture cards. Noel was still praying in his last hours on earth. Pastor Peter encouraged Noel to trust God and told him that even Lazarus was raised from death. Noel was still hopeful that God was going to heal him and he was determined to fight on, despite the pain, tiredness and difficulty inbreathing. By noon, Noel’s condition had deteriorated so quickly. We did not know why this happened. In the midst of pain in our hearts and through tears, God gave Mike the courage to share with Noel Psalm 23:6 “Surely [God’s] goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” and Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers . . . will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Mike said to Noel that if it was God's will to call him home to be with him, he should just go as God would take care of him and God has provided a room for him in heaven. Mike further assured Noel that he should not worry about us as God would take care of us and he (Mike) would take care of mum, his sister and brother. It was very hard to surrender our beloved Noel whom we shared 33
  18. 18. (( God’s plans for Noel was hard for us to comprehend. Like many parents who had faced such a storm of life, we asked: “God, are You there? Are You Real? Why didn’t You answer our prayers?” )) 34 our lives with for at least 21 and a half years, not counting the 9-plus months in his mother’s womb. In hindsight, it must be the Holy Spirit who gave Mike the courage and God’s wisdom to share about eternity with Noel. At one moment, while seated on the bed, Noel asked for Chris’ arms to support his head. Mike withdrew his arms thinking that Noel wanted only his mum to support his head. Noel pulled his arms back! We knew that Noel indicated that he really loved us and forgave us of our mistakes and wanted to be reconciled with us! Noel refused to increase the dosage of morphine and tried to keep awake to meet his three National Sservice buddies for the last time. Noel had great difficulty in breathing after noon. We were really helpless. His three friends finally came after 1 pm. About this time, Mike saw that Noel was struggling very hard to breathe. After what he called the “first breath”, Noel closed his eyes and Mike thought he was leaving us. He opened his eyes again and said: “I am not going". After the "last breath", with his eyes half closed and struggling to breathe, Noel said to us: "I saw Jesus. He is waiting for me. I am going now." Noel then closed his eyes and collapsed into Mike’s arms. Helplessly, Mike held Noel’s right hand and felt he was still warm and we fervently prayed that God could grant a miracle to heal Noel. The staff nurse (who is a Christian, and who had sung and prayed with Noel in the morning) also confirmed Noel’s parting words to Chris. Noel clearly had a strong desire to live and fight on but when he met Jesus, he surrendered to Him. Our beloved son, Noel, had fought the good fight! We thank God that Noel had 'spiritual eyesight'! We truly could not have imagined that Noel, our beloved son, a strong and healthy young man who joined NS in 2010, whose friends called 'gentle giant' because he was 1.86 metre and weighed 96 kg was gone. He was looking okay on 19 Dec 2012, albeit tired, and yet the next day, was gone. God’s plans for Noel was hard for us to comprehend. Like many parents who had faced such a storm of life, we asked: “God, are You there? Are You Real? Why didn’t You answer our prayers?” But Noel confirmed it for EVERYONE. He shared a rare glimpse into eternity. What a precious legacy, affirmation and blessing he left for the living, in particular us. It was like Jesus' last moment as a man on earth as recorded in John 19:30: “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” When Noel saw Jesus and knew that the Lord was waiting for him in heaven after his last breath, Noel surrendered to the arms of the Lord! During the wake, Mike’s mum comforted us, saying that Noel's parting words were from the Lord Jesus to us as the words were very clear and distinct. Going Through Life's Storm and experiencing the Grace of God Throughout the 20 plus months of Noel's illness, we could see that God was gracious to Noel and to us. Noel’s faith had grown and deepened. We had hoped that with fervent prayers by so many friends, pastors and ourselves, Noel would be healed physically by God. James 5: 15 says: The prayers offered in faith will make the sick person well. At times, we had doubts whether there was lack of faith on our part. Like most people confronted with pain and suffering, we asked God many questions and cried to Him: Why did God allow such a disaster? What wrong had I done? What sin had I committed against the Lord our God? We searched frantically for answers. We told God that we will ask the whys when we are in heaven but the most important thing was to heal Noel. We went to many healing services to pray for God’s mercy and His healing hands to reach out to touch Noel. We prayed that Jesus would reveal His face to Noel to embrace him as He would embrace a lamb and to heal him. Jesus did appear to Noel and healed him spiritually and walked with him through the valley of death so that Noel would not be afraid. This life storm really tested us and is still testing our faith in God. As of now, we cannot truly say that our faith has grown stronger and deeper. No doubt our faith was shattered. We prayed and cried a lot through those 20 months. Mike shared with our small group during the 'Thanksgiving, Reflection and Prayer' led by David and Soon Leong on 4 January 2013 that the intensity of his prayers and cries to the Lord were far more than that for the past 50 years before Noel was diagnosed with the disease. We really could not understand why a healthy young man like Noel had to suffer so much. In the midst of all the pain and suffering by Noel, Mike often asked: “Does God really love us?” He was reminded of Romans 8:32:“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” Mike recalled how the speaker in a healing service that we attended in middle of 2011 described vividly what it was like for Jesus to be pierced by the thorns of the crown and the nails. God gave up His Son to suffer and die on the cross for us. God still loves us! On 19 March 2013, Pastor John Benedict Foo preached on 'The True Older Brother'. The sermon reminded Chris of the question: 'Are we worshipping God for what He can do for us or are we worshiping God for Who He is'. Where is our heart? Chris was angry at God as she felt that God should answer our prayers as we have been 'good'. The prayer of confession that day reminded Chris that she was reluctant to set aside her hurts, her anger and disappointment. In the prayer of thanksgiving, she was reminded that 'all things come from You and with gratitude, we return to You what is Yours.' We are stewards of our children. We love them but we know that God loves them more. We thanked Jesus for coming to Noel as it helped to remove our feelings of guilt – whether we should have done more for Noel medically or emotionally or spiritually. We knew that this was in His plans. On 13 March, Chris attended the Women’s Breakthrough weekend organised by Covenant Evangelical Free Church. She had prayed that God confirm that He was in control and that He was the First and the Last and the Beginning and the End. During the quiet time that very afternoon, God revealed to her in Revelations 22:13 that He is "Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." In heaven, there is no more tears and no more suffering. It is the land of perfect holiness, and therefore of complete security. Noel is therefore safely with Christ Jesus and in His arms. Conclusion In the book 10 reasons to Believe in a God Who Allows Suffering, the author concludes: “You are not alone if unfairness and suffering of life leaves you unconvinced that a God in heaven cares for you. But considering again the suffering of the One called by prophet Isaiah (Isa 53:3). Think about His slashed back, His bloodied forehead, His nail-ripped 35
  19. 19. ((THROUGH THIS JOURNEY WITH NOEL, WE HAVE LEARNT THAT FORGIVENESS AND ETERNAL LIFE WHICH CHRIST OFFERS IS NOT A REWARD BUT A GIFT to all who put their trust in him. )) 36 hands and feet, His pierced side, His agony in the Garden, and His pathetic cry of abandonment. Consider Christ's claim that He was suffering not for His sins but for ours. To give us freedom to choose, He lets us suffer. But He Himself bore the ultimate penalty and pain for all our sins (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:24; Roman 10: 9-10).” Through this journey with Noel, we have learnt that the forgiveness and eternal life which Christ offers is not a reward for effort but a gift to all who put their trust in Him. We must therefore pray more so in times of pain and suffering. E.M. Bounds once said "...the prayers of God's saints are the capital stock of heaven by which God carries on His great work upon earth". It involves us partnering God. In The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, the learned author said: “Life is a temporary assignment.” Job 8:9 reads, “our days on earth are as transient as a shadow”. Rick adds, “Compared with eternity, life on earth is extremely brief. Earth is only a temporary residence”. Philippians 3:20 states, “… our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Chris”. Noel is in heaven where the Lord Jesus lives! When Mike asked our youngest son, Nick, how he felt about our loss, he had a philosophical way of describing it, akin to a life game: There are 2 levels. We are at level 1 (i.e. on earth). Noel is at level 2, the pinnacle (i.e. the heaven in eternity). We have learnt and are still learning to go back to the basics and the Truth in the Scriptures to know that even though Noel was not healed physically, he was healed spiritually. God is still faithful, a redeemer and He loves us. Noel went into distress in Chris’ womb and, by the grace of God, Noel was delivered safely through Caesarean operation. During the late evening hours outside the Mt Alvernia Hospital chapel, Mike prayed and thanked God for the safe delivery and the safety of Chris and for the gift of Noel. Chris asked God to help her to be a good steward to raise Noel. God allowed us to share our lives with Noel for over two decades. Though, like many parents, we had many expectations and hopes for our son’s life, but, at the end of it all, God is Noel’s Heavenly Father and He is the Master and Mike knows, as Noel's earthly father, he must yield to God’s will for Noel. Noel, you were truly a fighter and God’s warrior. You were and still is our good boy and son. Surely we will meet you in heaven one day, and you, together with many loved ones who had gone before us, will be at the Heavens’ gate to welcome us. In the meantime, we have to say grudgingly, “Goodbye. See you, son. Love you and miss you Noel, Dad & Mum.” David Lloyd-Jones in a book adapted by Nancy Guthrie said, "(We) may not understand what is happening to (us); it may seem, to (us), all wrong. Trust (ourselves) to Him. Believe when (we) cannot prove. Hold on to His constancy, His justice, His eternal purposes for (us) in Christ. Regard these as absolutes, which can never be shaken, build (our) case logically upon them, remain steadfast and unshaken, confident that ultimately all will be made plain and all will be well." Michael and Christina Chia are members of CCMC. How the Course Works The emphasis is upon exploration and discovery in a relaxed and informal environment. Each session begins with a meal. This is a chance to get to know others participants. Then there is a short talk which looks at a different aspect of the Christian faith each week. This is followed by a time of discussion in the small groups where everyone is welcome to contribute their opinion, ask questions and discuss with the rest of the group. What is Alpha? The Alpha Course has been running for over 26 years.It began at Holy Trinity Brompton in central London, United Kingdom in the late 1970s. The Alpha Course spread during the 1990s internationally as more church and groups found it a helpful way to answer questions about the Christian faith in an informal setting. There are now over 60,500 courses worldwise in 169 countries. Who is it for? It is for everyone interested in discovering what Christianity is about and to explore the meaning of life together. People attend Alpha for a wide variety of reasons - some want to investigate whether God exists; others are concerned about what happens after death. Some have particular questions about faith that they would like to discuss; there are those who want to understand other peoples’ beliefs or would like to explore the purpose of life. Many guests have never been to church, others may have attended church occasionally. The course is based around small groups of 8 to 12 people, hosted by one or two leaders who facilitate and encourage discussion. The composition of members of each small group remains the same for the duration of the course so they can get to know each other, continue discussions and deepen friendships. The whole course lasts for 10 weeks, and each session is about 2 hours long. Alpha at CCMC CCMC's Wtness and Evangelism Committee will be running an Alpha Course every Saturday from 22 February to 3 May 2014. How to participate If you are interested in attending or bringing a friend, please fill in the form and sbmit it to the Information Counter on Sundays or mail it to: Covenant Community Methodist Church, The Alpha Course, c/o Jospeh Lim, Level 4, Methodist Girls' School, 11, Blackmore Drive, Singapore 599986. REGISTRATION FORM Name: Dr / Mr / Mrs / Ms ………………………………………… Age: [ ] > 20s [ ] 20s [ ] 30s There is no charge for attending the Alpha Course. [ ] 40s [ ] 50s [ ] < 60 What topics will be discussed? Besides the sharing of personal stories and a talk on "Is there more to life than this?", topics are: Who is Jesus? Why did Jesus die? How can I be sure of my faith? Why and how should I pary? Why and how shouldn I read the Bible? How does God guide us? Who is the Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit do? How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit? How can I make the most of the rest of my life? How can I resist evil? Does God heal today? Why and how should I tell others about the Church? Occupation: ……………………… Contact: [H] …………………………………… [M] …………………………………… Email: ………………………………… If invited, may we know by whom? Person's name: ...……………………………………… Person's mobile no.: ...……………………………………… [ ] I am seeking to know more about Christianity. [ ] I am a Christian 37
  20. 20. Songs Singers FREDERICK J. WORK Dear Abigail I cannot recall any hymn about Christmas stockings. Can you help? ABIGAIL GOH GO, TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN Carol Dear Carol, I certainly can: While shepherds washed their socks at night... BY GOH ECK KHENG ((The song exhorts us to proclaim the gospel. )) 38 The origin of the words and tune of Go, Tell It on the Mountain is unclear, although it is generally accepted that it originated in the United States as a spiritual sung by the slaves of the deep south. The carol is widely said to have been collected shortly after the American Civil War (1861–1865) by John Wesley Work Jr (picture left), an African American from Nashville, Tennessee. The choir director had begun to collect the songs of freed slaves to help his church members better understand their ancestors. However, William Studwell, a professor emeritus from Northern Illinois University, recognized as one of the foremost experts on Christmas carols, thinks otherwise. Studwell is of the view that the carol was written by Frederick Jerome Work (1880-1942), a black composer, teacher and scholar, and uncle of John Wesley Work Jr. Studwell believes that the latter arranged and popularized the song. Go, Tell It on the Mountain was first published in 1907, but the carol was little known until the 1920s when the Fisk University Singers performed it. The college was where John Wesley Work Jr studied and taught. He also founded the Fisk Singers that presented the songs he collected and published. The carol steadily gained popularity because of its driving rhythm and its spirited call to Christian action. The tune and lyrics soon moved to the forefront of popular music, and has since been recorded by a wide variety of famous singers including Mahalia Jackson, Simon Garfunkel, Peter Paul Mary, Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton, James Taylor, Anne Murray, Garth Brooks and and Sheryl Crow. It's title was also used by James Baldwin as that of his semi-autobiographical novel about the church as a source of repression and moral hypocrisy, inspiration and community in African-American society. The 1985 film adaptation of Baldwin's book by Stan Lathan also used the same title. Said Studwell: “Most carols of the 20th century are not so enthusiastic. This is more like some of the older carols, like Joy to the World or O Come All Ye Faithful in that regard.” The carol begins with its simple refrain that is drawn from Isaiah 52:7 - “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” The song exhorts us to proclaim the Gospel – tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere – that Jesus Christ is born. Bobby Gilles, worship leader, song writer and Christian communicator, has highlighted the effective use of adjectives in the carol. Humble Christ; Lowly manger. Blessed Christmas morn. The words work together to proclaim the desired message. The folksy, fun meter of the verses gives it a different feel from traditional hymns and carols. It makes the carol exciting and attractive. It is the perfect vehicle to tell the story of the Nativity and encourage the telling of its significance to all mankind. SOAPing, Abigail ASK ABIGAIL Dear Abigail, I wrote to you some months ago about getting my girl into MGS. You said then that being a CCMC member does not give extra priority. I understand that the school will have a new principal soon. Has the priority policy for P1 registration for CCMC members also changed? Hopeful Dear Hopeful, I know the principal designate's name is Grace but, no, CCMC members will not be given extra grace for school admission. Love and Peace, Abigail Dear Abigail, Christmas is coming and I haven't started shopping for gifts. Help! Presently Panicking Dear Presently Panicking, See pages 14-18, and 42-43. Enterprising Abigail Dear Abigail, I want to prepare a traditional Christmas dinner for my family this year and don't know if the appropriate bird to serve is goose or turkey. I remember from my favourite Charles Dickens story, Christmas Carol, that Master Peter Cratchit and the two younger Cratchits went to fetch their Christmas goose from the baker's oven. However, when the Pilgrim Fathers landed in America and discovered loads of big-breasted fowl that could feed more than 10 people, turkey became an Americvan tradition. The Lebonese serve turkey, as do the Irish, Canadians, Mexicans, Australians, of course the Americans, and even the Islandics! But the Austrians, Danes, Germans, and British (who also claim turkey as traditional) serve goose. Looks like the world is as confused as I am. OCD Foodie Dear OCD Foodie, It's sauce for the goose and sauce for the gander. But if you serve turkey to your guests, they'll gobble. (Waiting for your invitation) Abigail Dear Abigail, Next year's church camp is in Cameron Highlands. I really want to go as I have never missed a camp but I am concerned about the long and winding road. Giddy Dear Giddy, Here are some travelling tips: 1) Imagine you are going to your favourite ski resort. 2) Praise the Lord with worship songs as you travel upward. 3) Remember that Moses climbed Mount Sinai on foot. 4) Travel by 30-seater luxury coach. 5) Use the gently curving route from Simpang Pulai. 6) If you insist on taking the old Tapah road, practice by driving up and down multi-storey car parks. Don't let the venue put you off from a mountain-top camp experience! Climb every mountain, Abigail 39
  21. 21. Food for Thought RETREAT TO ADVANCE BY TAN MING YING Spiritual Retreat 27-29 March 2014 Pulai Springs Resort, Johor Spiritual Director: Dr Chia Wen Chien with Kristy Ng Times of extended retreat give us a chance to come home to ourselves in God's presence and to bring the realities of our life to God in utter privacy. This is important for us and for those we serve.... On retreat we rest in God and wait on him to do what is needed. Eventually we return to the battle with fresh energy and keener insight. ~ Ruth Haley Barton -------------------Action and contemplation are very close companions; they live together in one house on equal terms. Martha is Mary's sister. ~ Bernard of Clairvaux -------------------One must not always think so much about what one should do; but rather what one should be. Our works do not ennoble us, but we must ennoble our works. ~ Meister Eckhart 40 Spiritual retreats are a time away from our normal activities to be reacquainted with God, to examine the priorities of life and to make concrete and practical resolutions for improvement. Retreats can be a powerful step toward personal conversion. They are generous commitments to friendship with God who delights to be with his family. Before Our Lord began His public ministry, He spent 40 days in the desert praying and fasting as a way to prepare for the important work ahead (see Lk 4:1-13). Those were days of retreat. During His three years of public ministry, Jesus would sometimes invite His disciples to come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while (Mk 6:31). Again, days of retreat. When Jesus entered forcefully into the life of St. Paul, He directed him to rise and go into the city, where he would be told what to do. For three days St. Paul neither ate nor drank, preparing himself to receive the spiritual direction of Ananias (see Acts 9:1-9). Those, too, were days of retreat. Every invitation to retreat is an invitation that calls us home. Home to refresh, to rest, to recreation and to restoration and renewal. Home to peace and serenity and affirmation. Home to hope and friendship and openness. Home to acceptance and intimacy and joy. Coming home, home to God. A spiritual retreat is simply a matter of going into a separate place to seek God and Christian growth in a disciplined way. Retreat offers us the grace to be ourselves in God’s presence without self-consciousness, without masquerade. Retreat provides the chance to be both physically and spiritually refreshed. It is the blessed opportunity to spend time generously in the presence of God. In such a time, God helps us to empty ourselves of cares and anxieties, to be filled up with Love and Wisdom that restores and renews us. Approach the retreat with openness and simplicity. Come with your expectations and desires but have an openness to receive grace in unexpected ways. Making a retreat requires a certain kind of trust. We need to trust the Spirit. We don’t know what God has in store for us but we are open to risk what we will find out because we know that He desires only the best for us. We come in simplicity to leave behind the clutter and attachments that have made our journey home so difficult or stolen our attentiveness from our Divine Lover. Register with Yeo Hwee Lan hweelan.yeo@ccmc.sg Be still, and know that I am God… Pslams 46:10a Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her, From there I will give her her vineyard, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.There she shall respond as in the days of her youth as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. ~ Hosea 2:14-15 41 41
  22. 22. n 10 October 2013, I took my first holiday with God. It was the first time going on a spiritual retreat and I did not know what to expect. There were nine of us, including our facilitators, Chia Wen Chien and Kristy Ng. In a convoy, we made our way across the border to Pulai Springs. On entering the resort, we immediately sensed how serene the place was. Pulai Springs had set aside a room for our sessions at their activities centre. The view was great. There was a golf course that took over the scenery. It was the perfect setting to spend valuable time reading and meditating on scripture. That Thursday felt quiet and not busy at all – very suitable for us to start our sessions on deep breathing. Yes, that’s right: breathing. I came all the way to JB to learn about breathing? I decided to let go and went with the flow. Yes, taking in deep breaths and learning how to breathe in and out slowly. Listening to my breathing helped me accomplish a few things. O A HOLIDAY WITH GOD Reflecting on making time to be with the Creator. MIRIAM WUN 42 Breathe in, breathe out. It helped to calm my soul. Breathe in, breathe out. It helped me to take a moment. Breathe in, breathe out. It helped me to be in touch with myself. I was to discover that this would help in getting us back in solitude with God. Something that I don’t do enough, with work and other commitments. The group met every morning, afternoon and night. We went through various exercises to help us meditate on the Word. Wen Chien and Kristy were great in facilitating the sessions. Trying to explain what we went through is difficult but I will try. There was one exercise called Lectio Divina. It is a contemplative Bible study method that has been used for over 1500 years. You experience God by meditating on scripture in as much time and space as you need. You get to contemplate the words in the scripture text while in the arms of God. First, you begin with the reading aloud of a short scripture passage, followed by meditating on a word or phrase that you are drawn to. Then by asking for a response by God and asking Him where He is leading you to. This ends with a prayer to help you remain in silence as He reveals Himself to you. Each message is personal and relevant to each of us. or any activity that will help you to relax. On the last evening of the retreat, the group gathered at a point of the golf course. We each had prepared an ‘altar’ with stones that represented issues or events in our lives. We had to stack the stones up in a pile to visually represent that God is rebuilding our lives from the rubble. After that, we gathered together to offer God a prayer of thanksgiving. It uplifted the group and brought us close together with God. The message that we each received is personal and from God. For me, I left the retreat feeling rested, blessed and knowing how much God loves me. From this, God reminded me to savour all the lovely things around me, and I’m (( I LEFT THE RETREAT FEELING RESTED, BLESSED AND KNOWING HOW MUCH GOD LOVES ME.… I REALIZED THAT I WAS ABLE TO BRING THIS BACK AS I CAME HOME. Imaginative Bible reading is slightly different, and yet helps us to experience God in an equally meaningful way. It helped me to experience the story and personally hear and see and touch Jesus. Through this method, you get a deeper understanding of the story from the Gospels. You get to imagine yourself as a participant in the story, like the smell, sights and sounds. Then as the story is read, you look out at what God is trying to say to you. At the end, you are to take the ‘feel’ of the experience and present it to God and ask God what it means in your life. All this is done in a quiet spot that you have found for yourself. At the end of the exercise, you go for swim or a walk, )) not talking about the good food and Teh Tarik from the resort, but appreciating the sights of nature surrounding us, the sounds of the chirping birds, and the touch of the dew-drenched grass. Since then, I realized that I have brought this home. Everything is a blessing from Him and I plan to savour the many blessings that He has put in my way. Miriam is a worship leader in the 9 am service. 43
  23. 23. News Bites SLUGS BUGS When I heard about the Slugs Bugs concert coming to CCMC , I was more excited than any student in my CK class. On 27th October, the MGS chapel was so crowded that my friends and I had to go on the 4th floor in order to sit together to watch the performance by Randall Goodgame. Randall Goodgame is an American singer and songwriter from Nashville, TN. He has written songs for other artists, including the highly popular show, Veggie Tales. The audience sang, clapped and danced along. The songs told us that God made everything in this world, even slugs and bugs. The songs were so fun and silly. During his performance, he told us about Choir 39. The members consist of kids aged 9 to 12 from Africa. They were all pulled straight out of poverty and had either lost one or both of their parents but amazingly each and everyone of these kids are filled with happiness and joy. Hearing this made me feel so lucky and grateful for what I have in Singapore. By Elizabeth Fang 44 44 WELCOME BABY JADON Ps Kin Yew became a father for a third time, and Janine and Joyanne proud big sisters, when Pamela delivered Jadon on 9 November. At 8.13 am, Wendy Yeap, who had been keeping watch for the good news sent a text message announcing the safe delivery. Later that morning, Betty Wee, our church secretary, followed through with details, stating that the baby's birth weight was 3.06 kg. These messages, however, was just the tail end of a series of SMS that began the day before. At 9.10 am on Friday, 8 November, Wendy wrote: Please pray for Pamela now. She is about to give birth to Baby Jadon. At 9.48, Ps Kin Yew messaged: Just settled admissions. Contractions every 5 minutes… Estimate arrival = today afternoon. Just had a wonderful time of devotions with Pam. Than at 10.42 he messsaged again: … he's really taking his time…. Praying for patience, peace and endurance for Pam. At 4.45 pm, Wendy sent this message: Looks like Baby Jadon wants to go to Movie Night :) And so he did, in utero, for Pam checked out of hospital with Ps Kin Yew that evening and went to watch Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story in the MGS auditorium. After the show, the pending mum and dad returned to the hospital at midnight. As it turned out, they would have less than two hours sleep as Jadon decided that it was finally time to make his appearance. At 7.45 am, Ps Kin Yew texted: Baby Jadon is almost here :), followed by a picture of the baby all swaddled up at 8.05 am. What a birth story! Jadon will no doubt hear it again and again. We congratulate the Ling family for the new addition and praise God for the safe and remarkable delivery. MGS PRINCIPAL POSTED TO MOE HQ The principal of Methodist Girls' School, Mrs Shirleen Ong, will end her six-year tenure with the school on 15 December 2013 to be Director, Education Technology Division in 2014. During her watch, MGS received numerous awards, including the Outstanding Character Development Award (2009-2013), the Outstanding PARTNERS Award (2010-2015), the National Education Development Award (2010-2012) and the Schools’ Green Audit Orchid Award in 2012. In addition, the school also received the Best Practice Award for Teaching and Learning, the School Distinction Award. MGS reached many significant milestones under Mrs. Ong’s leadership. The school started its Integrated Programme in 2013, which leads to the International Baccalaureate at ACS (Independent). MGS Secondary was also established as the Centre of Excellence for Language Arts in the West Zone, while MGS Primary was awarded the Programme for School-Based Excellence for Language Communication. MGS also established its Centre for Ethics. Another major development is receiving the approval from the Ministry of Education to construct an Integrated Sports Complex which will feature a 50 m swimming pool and a practice pool. Mrs Ong has championed many causes that enrich the life at school while cultivating a fruitful partnership with parents, alumnae and partners such as social services and non-profit organizations, both in Singapore and overseas. OC LEADERS RETREAT TO ADVANCE On Saturday, 12 October 2013, a group of youth leaders from One Community came together and spent a day at Changi Cove for their annual Core Leaders' planning retreat. The day was set aside for the OC leaders to get to know one another better, discuss goals for the coming year and identify some specific activities to achieve the goals. One of the key goals addressed was how OC would be aligned to the CCMC church vision Covenant Community. In their discussions, the News Bites youth participated actively, and witnessed many enthusiastic young leaders coming forward to share their ideas about how each of the leaders could impact the youth community and its respective ministries. Clearly, this retreat had offered a great opportunity for the youth leaders to bond and discuss how OC can play its part in contributing towards the development and achievement of CCMC’s vision. In the first steps to achieve this vision, two areas of focus for the coming year was identified: establishing a prayer ministry in OC, and growing the youths in discipleship through its Life Groups. Through the new prayer ministry, the aim is to grow the OC into a prayerful community, and forge a foundational pillar of prayer on which its ministry will stand upon. In addition, the Life Groups ministry (of similar structure to Small Groups) will be streamlined as an avenue for discipleship by growing through the Word, and fellowship with one another. With these as first steps forward into the year ahead, OC trusts that God will continue to shape it into a warm and flourishing community of God-loving and people-loving individuals. The year ahead will be another exciting one for OC, and the leaders will pray for much more fireworks, showers of blessings and sacred anointing to come upon the One Community. 45
  24. 24. ABRAHAM Abram lived in the city of Ur with his father, his brother and his nephew, Lot. Abram was married to Sarai but they could not have children. Abraham’s father took his family and set out for Canaan but, instead, settled in Harran. [Gen 11:27-31] God told Abram to go to Cannan where He would make him into a great nation and bless him. So, Abram went, and took Lot and Sarai with him. [Gen 12:1-8] Three men visited Abraham in the presence of God. One of them confirmed that in a year’s time, Sarah would have a son. When she heard this, Sarah laughed because she could not believe that she and Abraham could have children in their old age. [Gen 18: 1-15] CANAAN Manga by GILLIAN GOH When there was a famine in the land, Abram decided to go to live in Egypt. On the way, he told Sarai to say that she was his sister because he was afraid that the Egyptians would kill him and take his wife away. [Gen 12:10-17] Abram and Lot returned to Canaan and they became very rich. Their large flocks of livestock used the same pastures. To avoid quarrels, Abram decided to part ways with Lot, allowing Lot to choose where he wanted to go. Lot chose to go towards Sodom while Abram went towards Hebron. [Gen 13] HEBRON God told Abraham that he will destroy Sodom because it was a sinful city. Abraham pleads with God to spare Sodom because Lot lived there. God promised that if just ten righteous people was found in Sodom, he would spare the city. However, not even ten righteous people could be found, and God destroyed Sodom. [Gen 18:16-33, Gen 19: 1-29] SODOM There was a war in Sodom and Lot was taken captive. Abram raised an army and succeeded in saving Lot. After his victory, Abram met Melchizedek, the King of Jerusalem and the priest of God. Melchizedek blessed Abram. [Gen 14] The word of God came to Abram in a vision and confirmed the giving of the promised land and told Abram that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars. Abram and God then made a covenant. [Gen 15] Sarai asked Abram to take her servant, Hagar, as his wife. When Hagar becomes pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. However, when Sarai mistreated Hagar, Hagar ran away. An angel told Hagar to return to her mistress and to name the son she would give birth to 'Ishmael'. [Gen 16] When Abram was 99 years old, God changed his name to Abraham, which means “a father of many nations”. God also gave Sarai a new name – Sarah. God promised that Sarah would give birth to Abraham’s son. [Gen 17] Abraham settled in the land of the Philistines and, once again, claimed that Sarah was his sister. The king of the land wanted Sarah but God warned him that Sarah was married. [Gen 20] ABRAHAM SARAH A year later, just as God promised, Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac. On the day which celebrated Isaac’s weaning, Sarah saw Ishmael mocking. She therefore asked Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. Abraham was sad, but when God assured him that through Isaac his descendants will be counted and that Ishmael would be made a nation, he sent Hagar and Ishmael away. [Gen 21:1-21] Some time later, God tested Abraham. He asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, the angel of the Lord stopped him. Instead, Abraham sacrificed the ram which he found caught in the bushes near by. For his obedience, Abraham was, once again, promised numerous descendants. [Gen 22]

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