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Making missions a vision for children

Making missions a vision for children
The team that produced Clean Hands, Pure Hearts and Beautiful Feet

Daniel could not wait to tell the story of his recovery to others. As he shared his story, some who had knowledge of sorcery told him, “Even if you had died after two weeks, your God is still a great God, because this type of sorcery is so powerful that the day it hits you, you will die!
– Clean Hands, Pure Hearts and Beautiful Feet, p69

Planting the seeds of The Great Commission

When Joseph Schooling won Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal in swimming in 2016, it set off more than just a wave of euphoria in the country. The young swimmer’s life story and how he managed to make his personal childhood dream of being an Olympian a reality also caught the imagination of Bishop Kuan Kim Seng of The Diocese of Singapore.

Bishop Kuan made a phone call to Lawrence Ko, the National Director of the Singapore Centre for Global Missions (SCGM), who was quickly convinced of the need to instil God’s vision for missions in the minds of young children—to create the same kind of drive in them to spread the Gospel as the one Schooling had with his Olympic pursuits.

That is how the idea of publishing a children’s book with true stories from the mission field was conceived.

First published in 2017, Clean Hands, Pure Hearts and Beautiful Feet features 10 stories in a 120-page hardcover book. It contains the accounts of 10 Singaporean missionaries serving God and spreading the gospel in a plethora of mission fields from the Amazon jungles in Bolivia to familiar countries like Hong Kong and Japan.

The stories are about the experiences that the missionaries have encountered in their respective fields, experiences that children in Singapore would seldom encounter. For example, a troubled man who was rescued from a suicide attempt, to a life and death battle with indigenous occultic practices. In all these stories, the overarching theme is God’s love and ability to save.

Lawrence hopes that through the book and its stories, children and even adults in local churches would appreciate that there are many Singaporean missionaries who are no less on fire for the Lord than their foreign counterparts who often headline Christian news from the mission field.

Hands to write and illustrate the stories

When Lawrence embarked on this idea to publish a children’s book about missions, the first task was to find a writer. SCGM had not published such a book before.

Flora had served for a year as part of a missionary team on board a ship with OM Ships International (a maritime outreach organisation).  When she returned to Singapore in 2016, Lawrence happened to be preaching at her home church at Bedok Lutheran Church. Their chance meeting kickstarted the project, which became the 34-year-old’s first foray into writing for a young audience.

It proved to be quite a challenge but the process of recording the stories and meeting with the missionaries were memorable experiences for her.

Among the 10 stories that were captured in the book, Flora recalled the experiences of the missionary couple, Daniel Jesudason and Wei Lei, who served in the remote areas of Papua New Guinea. Another highlight was the account of Mei Ching who stood up to soldiers at gunpoint in the course of her dental ministry amongst war refugees in South Asia

“Daniel and Wei Lei’s story is just amazing not for the fact that they chose to live amongst an unreached community in an extremely remote location, but that Daniel actually helped developed the indigenous community’s language into a system of alphabets and then proceeded to teach the villagers their own language so that they can read the version of the Bible that was written in their own tongue!”

“As for Mei Ching, if you have met her in person, you would have never guessed that this pint-sized, frail-looking woman… would fearlessly confront Taliban soldiers in order to protect her neighbours during her ministry in Afghanistan,” added Flora.

Flora was soon joined by another writer, Emily Soh and illustrator Jearn Ko. Together the trio would complete the book in just 13 months from conceptualisation to print—which included interviewing, writing, illustrating and editing.

“Jearn really went the extra mile in creating the beautiful illustrations you see in the book,” Lawrence told Methodist Message. “He researched the varied locales that the missionaries served in and then translated the vibrant colours, context and cultures into his drawings.”

A resource for parents and Sunday Schools

Lawrence hopes that the book will serve as a valuable learning resource in the various children’s ministries and Sunday schools in churches islandwide. “Parents can also use the book as devotional material with their children,” said Lawrence. He also hopes that the book can be adapted into other forms, saying that SCGM is greatly keen to work with local churches and other Christian organisations.

“I would love to adapt the book in its current form into one that is suitable for pre-schoolers. I see the book being able to be presented in a smaller-sized format for little hands, in simple sentences,” added Flora who is also a mother to a young child.

Illustration from the book
Courage to Reach and Rescue
Clean Hands, Pure Hearts and Beautiful Feet

Clean Hands, Pure Hearts and Beautiful

Written by Flora Man & Emily Soh

Illustrated by Jearn Ko

Published by Singapore Centre for Global Missions

Clean Hands, Pure Hearts and Beautiful Feet was produced as a follow-up from the 2016 National Christian Children Ministry conference organised by SCGM in partnership with the 4/14 Window movement, TRAC Board of Children Ministry and The Diocese of Singapore.

Clean Hands, Pure Hearts and Beautiful Feet is currently available on the SCGM website and retails for $20.

Jason Woo is Communications Executive at MCS Comms. / Artworks courtesy of Singapore Centre for Global Missions