Missions then, missions now:

ETAC Board on Missions Thanksgiving Service 2021

Missions then, missions now

The Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) Board on Missions held a thanksgiving service on 10 April 2021: “Missions Then, Missions Now”. It was a hybrid service with some participants on-site and others on Zoom. It was a time to praise God for His faithfulness to ETAC and to hit the “pause button”—to be still and remember what the Lord has done, and to look forward and prepare for the changing nature of missions in this century.

Our Beneficiaries

We screened videos from missions partners from India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Myanmar about how they have been impacted by our collaboration and ministry. From food donations to the establishment of schools, we saw God’s hand in every initiative, project and ministry we have done in these countries and how God has used our conference to serve these nations. Yet, as the participants saw pictures and heard conversion testimonies, it was a reminder that still, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. This is not a time to sit down and rest, but to get up and work.

Dialogue with Our Leaders

During the service, our leaders shared how the missions ministry has impacted their lives, how it has marked seasons in their walks with God. Our former Board of Missions Chairperson, Tamilkodi Arthur, shared how she heeded God’s call to serve in the missions ministry at a young age. She recounted the times she personally saw people accept Christ and live radically transformed lives for Christ. She also recalled how she has seen first-hand the persecution faced by believers in other countries.

Rev Jeremy James, the conference Youth Director, shared how the mission trips always remind him of what Jesus asked Peter in John 21:15: “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” Rev Jeremy mentioned that missions are, for him, a “litmus test” to ensure that his love for God is not determined by material possessions but what Jesus did on the Cross.

Lastly, I recounted my first conference missions trip to Jaffna, Sri Lanka, in 2012. I remember people yearning to receive Jesus into their hearts. Their hunger for God, amidst all of their difficulties and pain, made me examine my own heart—“Why am I not as desperate for the Lord?” Back home, I did not see people who were as desperate for God and that helped me see that every land is a missions field, whether overseas or in our own churches.

We ought to live our lives as a living sacrifice unto God, bringing glory to His Name and displaying His love and kindness wherever we go.

Missions Now

Our guest speaker, Dr Violet James, challenged the congregation to step out in faith, be it for short- or long-term missions. However, with the ongoing pandemic, she encouraged the church to pray, give and find creative ways to continue missions work. She suggested involving young people and giving them avenues to use their gifts in technology to bring the message of hope to the ends of the earth. Sharing from Matthew 5:13–16, she spoke of how the world needs the disciples of Jesus now more than ever before. Even here in Singapore, we ought to serve our neighbour.

What lies ahead

As the world remains affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference will have to look for creative ways to continue missions work. The world may be in a state of lockdown, but His Word knows no boundaries. Hard work is our responsibility, “heart work” is God’s.

May we never cease to spread His love.

Elisha Amalraj Philip is the Vice-Chairperson of the ETAC Board of Missions. / Photos courtesy of the ETAC Board of Missions