Methodist Church

Ministry among the ethnic Indian migrant community

As Christians, how should we view the various people from aboard who have come to the shores of Singapore to work and live? Singapore receives these immigrant friends to this beautiful land as fellow Asians who will contribute their skills and talents to the country and in turn be blessed. Those who come aspire to work well and stay here to earn their living. Singapore, the land of opportunity, becomes a home and a safe haven for many of them.


Factors such as a new work environment, friends from other nations, a diverse community, a wide selection of food and various shared social practices inspire them to adjust and adapt quickly to living in Singapore.


Today, we see most of these precious friends with yellow helmets almost every day all over Singapore. They leave their homes at a considerably young age in their early twenties and come here to make Singapore their home for at least the next few years. They sweat and slog under the hot sun but with joy on their faces.


God opened doors for Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) to serve them, especially friends from India and Sri Lanka. Our ETAC churches have reached out to Tamil, Telugu and Sinhala-speaking communities over the past two decades since 1992. During this period, pastors pioneered the work and mobilised leaders to share God’s love with them. The ministry among Indian nationals, particularly those working on shipyards and construction sites, has had a significant impact in the lives of these people.


How are ETAC churches reaching out to these friends who are right at our doorstep? Tamil Methodist Church at Short Street (SSTMC) ministers to the foreign Indian working community and reaches hundreds of Tamil-speaking friends. The Singapore Telugu Methodist Church (SGTMC) reaches out to them in their dormitories and invites them to picnics and special celebrations during public holidays.


When it comes to their work-related issues, the Telugu church helps them communicate with the authorities to solve issues amicably, extending confidence and comfort to these brothers in Christ. The churches in ETAC also stand with them as a pillar of support in their health- and work-related issues which at times can be very sensitive. In doing so, we communicate a message: “We are with you – caring for you.” The sole intention is to share Christ’s love in action.


To enhance these workers’ skills and talents, the ETAC churches have initiated many special training programs. SSTMC, SGTMC, Ang Mo Kio Tamil Methodist Church and Seletar Tamil Methodist Church have embarked on training, education and helping equip this working community on a regular basis with English, computer and personality development classes which have greatly blessed them.


Being in a foreign land where there is no direct supervision of how they spend their money, SSTMC and SGTMC have taken care to guide those in the church fellowship to be good stewards of money, to save and spend wisely while guarding against harmful influences. We have seen many of them become mature and responsible individuals, such that after returning to their hometowns, they built decent houses, settled in well with their families and contributed to building their society.


God has blessed the ministry among the Telugu and Tamilspeaking friends in a marvellous way. Hundreds of them have come to know the Lord. Many were baptised and more have expressed their desire to do so. Some have gone back to serve the Lord full-time as pastors and evangelists in India. Some have moved to other countries for better jobs, equipped with better skills and with Christ in their lives.


SGTMC which began with three members in the year 2000 has grown MINISTRY PROFILE The Rev Anil Samuel is Pastor-in-Charge of Singapore Telugu Methodist Church. considerably. The Telugu church now reaches out to thousands of Telugu friends who work not only on shipyards and construction sites but also in the IT and engineering industries. Many families come to church to worship, and the children’s and women’s ministries are thriving.


A vibrant Tamil Evening Fellowship, which gathers to worship God on Sunday evenings at SSTMC, reaches out to many. Our hope is to see the fellowship grow into a congregation.


More outreach initiatives are in the pipeline, mobilising ETAC churches to pray and reach out to these precious lives, meeting their social and spiritual needs. A new counselling initiative SEVA (Serving all with dignity and love) has begun at Westlite Dorm at Mandai Estate in partnership with the Methodist Welfare Services. We hope to reach out to many more dorms with God’s help.


We strongly believe that God has placed us in this strategic location ‘for such a time as this’ to make a difference for His kingdom. ETAC is committed to care for these precious working brethren, respect them, love them like Christ loved us and bring them to the saving knowledge of Christ Jesus. We look forward to working with more churches and agencies in this crucial ministry.

In addition to profiling local churches from our three Annual Conferences of The Methodist Church in Singapore, we also begin profiling ministries. As we come to have a better understanding of each other’s history and ministry, we may discover more opportunities to forge cross-church partnerships and collaborations.

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The Rev Anil Samuel is Pastor-in-Charge of Singapore Telugu Methodist Church.