Features, Highlights

A tale of two ‘siblings’

How Faith and Queenstown Chinese Methodist Church walk in faith and inherit their Father’s blessing

ASTORY was told of two “siblings” walking in faith, to tell of the love of their Father and bid others to go to Him.

They welcomed their neighbours in a makeshift shed built on muddy soil, the foundation on which their grown-up years were to be laid, and 42 years on, they continued to inherit their Father’s blessing in that area called Tanglin Halt, telling of His love in the ways they knew how.

A Humble Yesterday The shared history of these two “siblings” – Faith Methodist Church and Queenstown Chinese Methodist Church – is well encapsulated by Mr Edmund E, Local Church Executive Committee Chairman of Faith Methodist Church:

“Brick by brick, prayer by prayer, the foundation of Faith Methodist Church and Queenstown Chinese Methodist Church was laid and built 42 years ago. This swampy land once covered with weeds was changed into a sanctuary where songs of praise were raised and words of thanksgiving were uttered to our Lord God Almighty.”

Started in 1966, Faith and Queenstown churches serve the areas of Tanglin Halt, Queenstown and Commonwealth. By God’s grace, their first church building was completed in 1967.

As the community around the churches was rapidly developing, the idea of redeveloping the old building was first mooted in 1992 in anticipation of future growth as well as to cater to the expanding ministries and outreach efforts.

The $12-million redevelopment project commenced construction in 2002 and was swiftly completed in December 2003.

Amidst throngs of excited people, Bishop Dr Robert Solomon conducted the Consecration Service for the new church building at 400 Commonwealth Drive on Jan 17, 2004.

At the consecration, leaders of the two churches gave thanks to God for His gift of a building, and continued praying and working on raising funds to finance the shared property.

A Jubilant Today 
As much as it is a story fraught with challenges, it is also one that tells of faith and fortitude, laden with God’s grace and mercy.

On Jan 19, 2008, almost exactly four years after consecrating the building, God completed yet another chapter in the history of these two churches. That day, several hundred people of faith witnessed the dedication of the church building by Bishop Dr Solomon.

Also present were Chinese Annual Conference (CAC) President Rev Khoo Cheng Hoot and Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) President Rev Dr Wee Boon Hup as well as Queenstown Chinese MC’s Pastor-in-Charge, the Rev Yeung Hin Fai, and Faith MC’s Pastor-in Charge, the Rev Kow Shih Ming.

In his welcome remarks, the Rev Dr Wee shared two lessons in the context of building the church. First, he reminded that the people of God are the temple of the Holy Spirit – a building of brick and mortar is neither the temple nor the place where the Holy Spirit lives. He exhorted the two congregations to grow in the holiness of God through the presence of the Holy Spirit, and to translate this into social holiness by reaching out to the community around the church.

Second, he urged the churches to grow in believing that God would provide for their needs. He said: “The fact that you can dedicate this church building soon after the building was completed is a sign that God has been faithful in providing for our financial needs … if we have been able to see God provide to meet our needs financially to see this building up and done with, surely we can see that God would be faithful to us as we obey Him in other challenges …”

Members of the two churches united their hearts in thanksgiving as the Bishop presided over the Dedication Service and unveiled the plaque that bears testimony to the grace God has bestowed on His people.

A Purposeful Tomorrow

The message from the Bishop bore an affinity and tone of warm familiarity. His opening words were: “It is a joy to be here this evening with you. In a sense it completes my journey with you as Bishop … I remember that I was here for the Ground-breaking, Top-up Ceremony, Consecration and now Dedication Ceremony. Four times!”

As one who has witnessed God’s hand at work in the two churches over the years, he addressed the people using the Scripture passage of 1 Peter 3:8-22, emphasising verse 9: “… you were called so that you may inherit a blessing”. We were called to receive and pass on God’s blessings, not only as a church, but also as individuals.

Against this background, the Bishop painted the purposeful, biblical future for the Church with three Greek words found in Scripture: Marturia, Apologia, Diakonia.

Marturia is the root of the present English word “martyr”. Nonetheless, in the biblical context, it also means “witness”.

The Bishop reminded the congregation that Christians have been called to be witnesses for Jesus Christ: “Witnessing is not a programme, but a lifestyle. We do witnessing because we are witnesses. Nothing is more important than being a witness for Jesus. We must be living testimonies for Jesus …

We do this not only as individuals but corporately as a church.”

The second word Apologia comes from 1 Peter 3:5: “ … Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” From Apologia comes “apology” in English, but in Greek it means “to defend our faith”.

Amidst the increasing challenges in our times, the Church must remember it is called to the ministry of Apologia.

The Bishop commented that Peter is not only writing to Bible specialists – every Christian ought to know how to speak to people about Jesus and to defend his faith.

The third word Diakonia gave birth to the word “deacon” in English and embodies the meaning of “service” in Greek. Peter wrote in verse 13: “ … be eager to do good.”

The Bishop shared that doing good is not just an institutional or programmatic event, but also a personal and individual responsibility. Using an analogy taken  from the well-known parable of the talents, he exhorted all to use the gifts that God has given to bless others.

Indeed, God has called His people to be witnesses, apologists and servants. As Christians worship in any church building, they can be assured that the Lord Jesus’ eyes are upon them, His ears attentive to their prayers, so that Jesus will be proclaimed to every one who comes in, and His name will be honoured and glorified.

Noelle Tang Shuk Yee is the Communications Manager of Faith Methodist Church.