THE season of Pentecost reminds us that the fruit of a conversion to a life of faith in Jesus Christ is a community of love.
We see this in the account of Pentecost as recorded in Acts Chapter 2:42-47. About 3,000 people who heard Peter’s message and believed him were led into a new lifestyle:
“They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need. They worshipped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day, the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.”
After their encounter with the council of all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law in Jerusalem, Peter and John led the believers into a time of prayer.
We read in Acts 4:31-35:
“After this prayer, the building where they were meeting shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. And they preached God’s message with boldness. All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had. And the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s favour was upon them all. There was no poverty among them, because people who owned land or houses sold them and brought the money to the apostles to give to others in need.”
The fruit of being filled with the Holy Spirit was the act of caring and sharing in the community of believers. Through their lifestyle, they were a beacon of light which drew many to our God of Love.
At Pentecost, God poured His Holy Spirit on the believers and they were led to form a community in which the needs of each one were met through mutual care and concern. The example of the early disciples was a very practical demonstration of the power of God’s love.
Christians are called to be a blessing
We are living in an increasingly materialistic and individualistic society in which it is difficult to fight against the forces of greed and selfishness. Money seems to be the bottom line of many of our decisions and we are tempted to think that it is money that makes the world go round.
We forget that we are living in God’s creation and it is His love that keeps the world from destruction.
The modern world is in dire need of a Co-operative Community in which each person puts the interests of others before self by the power of the Holy Spirit. It has been said, “the need of the world is that a great company of people so live that they will remind others of the Lord Jesus”.
As Christians we are therefore called to be a blessing to the world when we have been blessed by God. But the greatest threat facing Christians is worldliness.
Jesus died on the cross to set us free from worldliness so that we can truly live the abundant life that God wants us to live. We are called to be a community of believers which is so radically committed to Jesus and to one another so that we will be a beacon of light in a world enslaved by greed, lust and fear.
In 1996, the Council of Christian Social Concerns felt led to form the Methodist Co-operative Society on the basis of Acts 4:32-35. The mission of the Methodist Cooperative Society is to promote a lifestyle of co-operation through caring and sharing.
As individuals, we have little economic power but we will have considerable economic strength when we pool our resources together.
In June 2005, the Methodist Cooperative Society was mentioned in The Straits Times as a “hybrid of social purpose and business”. It was cited as an example of a co-operative with imaginative ways to make money as it runs a casket company and provides catering services.
It was mentioned that the cooperative had paid out 10 per cent in dividends and bonus shares to its members over the past three years.
NEED FOR A CO-OPERATIVE COMMUNITY
‘We are living in an increasingly materialistic and individualistic society in which it is difficult to fight against the forces of greed and selfishness … The modern world is in dire need of a Co-operative Community in which each person puts the interests of others before self by the power of the Holy Spirit.’
However, profits must not be the bottom line of the co-operative. It is the provision of affordable and cost-effective services for the benefit of everyone. The formation of the Hosanna Bereavement Services was not by our human planning but through the leading of the Holy Spirit.
When the door was opened for the co-operative to run a casket company, we felt that we needed to do more than just sell caskets and funeral services. We saw a need to minister to bereaved families in their time of grief and to ensure that they are not financially burdened by the funeral expenses.
The Methodist Co-operative Society also has a Common Good Fund which can be used to help members in need. The co-operative has been giving out bursaries and scholarships to children of our members who need support.
The co-operative movement requires us to surrender our independent spirits and to recognise our need for interdependence. It is not by might nor by power but by the Spirit of God that we will be able to fulfil our mission as Christians to make visible our care and concern for one another.
Dr Patrick Kee is the Chairman of the Trinity Annual Conference Board of Outreach and Social Concerns.
Long-awaited event to be a blessing to Hakkas
MARK your calendars. The long-awaited Hakka Blessings event is going to be held at Hakka Methodist Church in Evelyn Road, off Newton Road, on Aug 26 from 5 pm to 7.30 pm.
For years, Gospel rallies in various dialects have been held, except in Hakka.
A combined effort by different churches from the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC), and churches from other denominations, the event is set to bring the Gospel to the Hakka-speaking community in their own language.
It will begin with praise and worship, to be followed by a message by the Rev Wen Yong Shen, a Hakka preacher from Taiwan.
After that, everyone will proceed to the church’s multi-purpose hall where Hakka food will be served. There will be some programmes and games as well.
A Hakka choir has been specially formed to sing for the occasion.
Preparations for this Gospel Rally began in January 2006 with a committee comprising CAC pastors, a Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) pastor, Hakka Methodist Church members, Bukit Panjang Methodist Church members, a Women’s Society of Christian Service representative, a Trinity Theological College lecturer, Baptist Church pastors and Newton Life Church representatives. This was the nucleus of the Hakka Ministry.
A common vision of the committee is to share the good news of Jesus Christ to unchurched Hakka friends and relatives.
Expecting to see at least 300 people, the committee hopes that all brothers and sisters-in-Christ will grasp this opportunity to bring their Hakka friends and relatives to the Hakka Blessings event.
Those interested in attending can call Hakka Methodist Church at tel: 6256-2225 to register. Registration and a dinner coupon will cost $5.
The Rev Chin Yan Chong, Assistant Pastor of Hakka Methodist Church, said: “We have faith that God is going to bless the Hakkas in Singapore in a special way.”
Alvin Hoi is a member of Kum Yan Methodist Church
NCCS elects new team of officials
BISHOP Dr Robert Solomon has told Christians that “we have to find ways to better communicate and share the Christian perspective on society, life, and truth in a credible way”.
He said this after he was elected President of the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) at its annual general meeting at the Garden Hotel on April 20, 2006.
He also expressed the hope that members of the NCCS would “network together” and be ready to give a Christian response to national issues when asked to do so by the Government. He said “… what we need to do now is not just wait for them to consult us, but to have our response early and ready. We also need to be more proactive and influential in the process”. Bishop Dr Solomon, who succeeded Archbishop John Chew as President of the NCCS, will serve a two-year term. The other officers elected at the meeting were the Rt Rev Phua Chee Seng (Presbyterian) as Second Vice-President and Mr Daniel Chan (Methodist) as Honorary Treasurer. As the Immediate Past President, Archbishop Chew (Anglican) assumes the post of First Vice-President.
The NCCS is an association of churches which includes as members the Anglican Diocese of Singapore, The Methodist Church in Singapore, the Presbyterian Church, the Lutheran Church, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, the St Thomas Orthodox Church, the Salvation Army, the Assemblies of God, the Evangelical Free Church, Church of Singapore, and many other independent churches and Christian organisations such as the Bible Society of Singapore and Trinity Theological College.
Lim K Tham is the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Singapore.