Update from Preacher James Tan
The break in Singapore over the months of December-January has passed quickly! It had been a well-occupied season with a series of back-to-back events: church camp, Kemaman mission trip, Christmas week, and two weeks of reservist.
I am thankful to the Lord, for all the “spiritual appointments” during this busy season. It was less of a break of rest, but one of service. I am also thankful for being able to enjoy the fellowship amidst all the church activities, and in getting to know some of you better.
I am thankful for the church camp, where I was able to adjust back, in a very comfortable environment (probably the most comfortable hotel I have ever been in!), with much spiritual feeding and fellowship. The Kemaman mission trip too was a blessing, especially seeing how the team was able to minister to the children. The Christmas meetings and carolling came as a pleasant surprise to me when I realised that almost the entire church participated together, carolling, evangelising in the rain, bringing loved ones, and filling up homes. Being able to see both young and old, and entire families coming together to serve the Lord is a most wonderful thing.
It was very encouraging especially, to see the youths serving actively on the mission trip, and even leading the church during carolling! The recent additions to the choir, and seeing youths and members attending the FEBC classes have certainly been encouraging to the heart. May the Lord help all of us to continue holding forth the Word of life together, near or far!
“Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3-4)
The college has 83 students currently. For this semester, I am teaching the subjects of: Galatians, Acts of the Apostles, Hermeneutics (Interpreting the Bible), and Theological Research and Writing. Although I was two weeks late due to my reservist commitments (the college opened on 9th January), I thank God for help in being able to catch up, and prepare along the way.
Pray that the students will be able to take their studies seriously, and to be genuinely convicted by the good doctrines taught here. Last year, a student remarked pointedly during his homiletic practice: “If you want to hide something from an African, hide it in a book”. Many of the students, and people here do not fully appreciate good teaching and are very prone to influence from the charismatics, or even cults. While they might have a strong, simple faith and love in the heart, it is left unguarded, undiscerning, and susceptible to all kinds of influences.
In a recent assignment for Theological Research & Writing, I tasked the students to draw a mind map on “Pastoral theology”, and to my disappointment, a good number of their mind maps were filled with points on administration, growth, leadership and management, but very little on the ministry of the Word. Some are more interested in managing a church, and growing it like a business, rather than ministering the Word to the people. We do pray and hope that they will not just study merely for the sake of the certificate, but out of a genuine love for God’s Word, seeing the essential need to minister the Word of God to the people.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Proverbs 29:18)
BCEA : Pray for more students to come in the following semester, this year’s intake has been quite small so far (7 students). Pray also that the Lord will continue to provide for the college here. BCEA Tanzania has suffered a lack of electricity for the past two weeks.
Government : Due to bureaucracy, my work permit is still in process after almost half a year. The national elections are coming up soon in August/September, pray for the stability of the nation.
Drought : The government has just declared this to be a national disaster. More than half of the country faces rain shortage and some areas are hit by famine. While the public water supply here is being rationed, we are thankful for an uninterrupted water supply from the borehole in our compound.
Strikes : The doctors’ and nurses’ strike has been ongoing for three months. Public health care has been very limited. Even as I write, a student had just came to report of a loss in the family due to the lack of treatment.
WHEN LOVE DIVORCES DOCTRINE AND UNITY LEAVES TRUTH (IV)
By John C Whitcomb
Love Protects the Flock
Did the Lord Jesus encourage His disciples to listen sympathetically to other religious leaders of that time? Did He suggest that they needed to have exposure to different religious viewpoints to broaden their understanding of the options available? The answer is given in Matthew 7:15 where the Lord says, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.” The Lord Jesus also said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees . . . ” (Matthew 16:6). In other words, “Do not dare submit yourself to their teaching, for their contaminating, poisonous influence is absolutely deadly.” And yet we are told today by neo-evangelicals that we should both teach and study in liberal (or semi-liberal) universities and colleges of theology.
But now listen to Matthew 10:34 where the Saviour says, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth.” There is one thing worse than division and that is peace with compromise. Truth is infinitely more important than unity. “I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foe shall be they of his own household” (Matthew 10:24-36).