THE presence of a handful of Telugu-speaking workers at the Tamil Methodist Church in Short Street has led the church to start a Telugu Ministry.
Telugu is one of the regional languages spoken by the people of Andhra Pradesh in India. In recent years, IT professionals and port workers from Andhra Pradesh have been coming to Singapore in search of jobs. Among them are Christians from various denominations.
There are about 6,000 Telugu-speaking people in Singapore.
At the beginning of last year, a handful of Telugu construction and shipyard workers started attending the Foreign Indian Workers Fellowship at the church on Sundays. They neither knew Tamil nor English.
Initially, the church tried to translate the messages in Telugu with the help of a Telugu worshipper. They began to ask God to provide an opportunity to praise and worship God in Telugu. The church understood their problem and advised them to meet separately in the Social Hall. Thus began the Telugu Ministry in April 2000.
The initial leadership was provided by Mr Barnabas who went back to India in April last year. But they needed someone to teach them and guide them spiritually.
Growth of the ministry
God heard their prayers. In September 2000, God sent some Telugu believers among them who could teach and guide. The Lord brought more friends and some of them were from a non-Christian background.
Three of them accepted the Lord and were baptised in April last year.
Most of the Telugu worshippers are men. In recent months, a few Telugu families have joined in the worship. Once a month they join the Tamil Group for communion service.
A team of Telugu worshippers has taken the responsibility of leading this ministry under the guidance of the pastors.
It is believed that this is the first Telugu Group worshipping exclusively in Telugu. In April last year, the Telugu Fellowship celebrated its first anniversary. More are slowly joining the group, and now, close to 50 gather for the Sunday worship.
Worship time was regularised with specific time for songs, testimonies, messages and announcements.
An additional Prayer Time (6 to 7 pm) was introduced to encourage people to spend time with God and pray for others’ needs.
Fellowship groups have been formed at construction sites of the workers and near their hostels. Counselling and care are also provided.
As the congregation is increasing, new Bibles and song books are purchased.
The Telugu Fellowship has plans to hold a combined worship service with the Tamil worshippers once in three months.
God’s word is being preached to non-Christian Telugus. Five more of them are ready to be baptised. Most of them are Hindus.
he Tamil Methodist Church is now looking for a full-time worker who can give pastoral care to this group of people. Its vision is to establish a church among the Telugu-speaking people who will in turn reach their own people in Singapore.