Dear Brethren,

After attending the FEBC’s Golden Jubilee 50th Thanksgiving services last Friday and Sunday 21 and 23 September 2012, the memory of the late Rev. Dr. Timothy Tow filled my mind of how the Lord had used him so mightily in founding the Far Eastern Bible College in 1962 and also the Bible Presbyterian Churches in Singapore and South East Asia since 1950.

Rev. Timothy Tow baptized me in the year 1980 in Life BP Church. He was my first pastor and my mentor. His humility and love for the Lord and unceasing fervent zeal for God’s Kingdom are always my examples to follow. We have much to thank the Lord for this man of God. The Lord took him Home to glory on 20 April 2009. He served the Lord till his last breath and always shared to us there is no retirement in the service for the Lord. The Word of God in Hebrews 13:7 reminds us that, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

In the weekly article, I will share to you a summary that I have written of the autobiography of the book written by Rev Timothy Tow entitled “Son of a Mother’s Vow”. I will always be reminded by the challenge that Rev. Timothy Tow used to give us from Matthew 16:24, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” May every son and daughter of the BP Churches obey these words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to be His true and faithful disciple as our founding BP Pastor Rev Timothy Tow had demonstrated in his life!

Summary of the book “Son of a Mother’s Vow” Written by Rev. Dr. Timothy Tow


The book is an autobiography of the life of Rev. Dr. Timothy Tow, the founder of the Bible Presbyterian Church in Singapore and also the Far Eastern Bible College. It is a moving account of how the Author gave his life to serve God full-time and how God has used him for the extension of His Kingdom despite many difficulties and trials faced by the Author. The book tells us how it all began with the vow made by the Author’s mother for him to be a Pastor when he was born. God has prepared the Author for a great work ahead of him for the Truth of His Word and proclamation of the Gospel. The Author tried to run away from this high calling but God brought him back through the death of his mother and daughter. Indeed, the Higher Hand of God is beyond the ways and thoughts of men. On hindsight now to see how God has blessed and used the Author, Rev. Dr. Timothy Tow, who gave himself fully for the Lord is a great encouragement to all readers to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.

Reading the book will only cause the reader to give all the glory to God for His mysterious and wonderful work in the life of the Author and that through him, many thousands are saved by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and many churches established not just in Singapore but throughout the regions. Best of all, we see the establishment of Far Eastern Bible College which has trained many pastors in the ministry. The Author has great vision for God and tremendous perseverance and commitment for the work of the Lord.

The Author’s Roots & Childhood

The book began with the roots of the Author as early as 1815 through the missionary effort of William Burns in China particularly in Swatow. The Author has a godly lineage starting from his maternal great grandfather Tan Khai-lin who was the first convert of the English Presbyterian Mission to Swatow (1859). Thank God for another missionary from Germany, Rudolph Lechler, who ministered faithfully to the fishing village Iam-tsau which was the home town of the Tow’s clan. Then Tan Khai-lin was called to pastor the growing flock there.

The Author was born in Swatow in 1920 and had godly parents. His father received medical training at the Swatow Hospital and his grandfather was an evangelist of the English Presbyterian Mission. The Author’s mother loved the Lord and would teach all her children the way of the Lord and sing Christian songs to them. When the Author was born, which was an answer to the prayer of his mother for a son, she willingly gave him to the Lord to be a Pastor when he grows up. This promise to the Lord was told to the Author even as a young boy.

Due to the unrest in China with the revolution headed by Chiang Kai-shek, the Tow family finally decided to migrate to Singapore. The Lord used a sickness to the Author’s father to lead them out of China. This is indeed the Higher Hand of God at work as one would know the further development in China that would have many Christians killed.

After arriving in Singapore by sea, the Tow family then quickly settled in Senai, Johor. A rubber estate was bought and some workers were employed to tap rubber. The initial period was comfortable for the family. The Author’s mother is most concerned for the education of her children. She would want to send them to the best schools in Singapore. The Author was eventually admitted to Anglo-Chinese School. The Author and his siblings would stay with their grandfather, a Pastor, during school term in Singapore and only returned to Senai during vacation. There was great spiritual blessing living with grandfather who had regular family worship with them. When the Great Depression came to the world in 1929, the Tow family was in financial difficulty as rubber was not worth any value. God was good to provide them through the approval of the Author’s father to practice medicine.

The Vow Fulfilled

God sent a mighty revival in the person of John Sung to Singapore in 1935. It was at one of the revival meetings that the Author was moved by the Holy Spirit to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. There was great joy in his soul as his soul was set free. During the 2-week revival campaign, many souls were saved and they were changed with a new desire to read the Bible and pray. Evangelistic bands were formed and the Author enlisted cheerfully. During a message by Dr John Sung for “whole-time consecration”, the Author gave his life to the Lord. He remembered the words of his mother to him to be a Pastor when he grows up.

However, as the Author continued in his education, he met a failure in his studies at tertiary education even though he was the top student in ACS in the Senior Cambridge exam. The Author then took up training to become a government interpreter and worked in the Supreme Court. During this time, the Author married his first wife Nancy Loh Lan Yin. After the Japanese world war, the Author forgot his promise to serve God fulltime and instead made application to study law in London. On the eve of his departure to London, he received a telegram that his mother had gone Home to be with the Lord. The Author had to delay his trip to London but was still determined to go to study law. However, 5 weeks later after his mother’s death, he received another telegram from his wife that his baby daughter was in hospital for an operation. The baby died after the operation. These 2 deaths brought the Author back to “life” as he was totally shattered. He recalled his mother’s vow and then resolved to give himself to God.

Instead of studying law, he would be going to China to study theology and God led him to Nanking to study under Dr. Chia Yu Ming who was a champion of fundamentalism. After one year of study, God open a door for the Author to study in Faith Seminary in USA. God provided the needs of the Author and his family throughout his studies and led him to receive the right theological trainings. It was in Faith Seminar that the Author imbibed the spirit of the 20th Century Reformation under the ICCC banner which opposes all forms of modernism and liberalism under the WCC banner.  The Author graduated from Faith Seminary in May 1950 with the degree of Bachelor of Divinity.

When the Author returned to Singapore, he was invited to pastor the proposed English Service of Life Church Prinsep Street. God also raised up Quek Kiok Chiang who shared in his vision for the 20th Century Reformation movement. Finally, the Author fulfilled his mother’s vow as a Pastor after 4 years and 6 months of her death. The Author’s only regret is that he could not tell his mother that he is a Pastor now. The Author was also ordained by the Philadelphia Presbytery of the BP Church, USA in the ICCC Geneva Congress before his return to Singapore.

Pastoral Ministry

The Author started the new English Church with 2 important principles: (1) separation from doctrinal and ecclesiastical apostasy and, (2) absolute dependence on the Lord for financial support. The English service was inaugurated on 20 Oct 1950 at the Life Church, Prinsep Street with a core membership, including children, of about 40 to 50. When it comes to the financial support for the Pastor, the Lord has always met his needs even when the Church was small initially. The Author has always taught the Church to be evangelistic to obey the Great Commission. In the mission field, he and a few like-minded brethren like Quek KC and Hsu CT would go forth to Malaysia to preach in the various cities. Through the missionary effort, contacts were made and new churches in Malaysia were established. This led to the formation of a missionary society.

It was challenging and tough for the Author to start the new Church but God blessed the Church with increase in number and correspondingly the stipend for the Pastor. One key challenge was to maintain the separatist stand of the Church. The Church fought for the withdrawal of the Presbyterian Chinese Church from the Malayan Christian Council (MCC) which was linked to the WCC. However, the motion was defeated at the Synod. Therefore, Life Church English service decided to withdraw from the Synod and in order to distinguish from the Synod Churches, the prefixed Bible was added and the Church was called Life Bible-Presbyterian Church.

New outreaches began to spring out from Life BP Church to Zion, Sembawang, Galilee, Jurong and Carmel through faithful members who laboured there and God’s provision of the land and building. Life Church’s policy is decentralization and this led to the growth of the many BP Churches in Singapore and beyond. The Author has also the vision for Life BP Church to have its own building fund and to found a Bible College. The Gilstead Road land was granted by the government for the building and God moved the hearts of the people to give. In order to prepare for the founding of the Bible College, the Author left for a year’s study in Faith Seminary for his Masters degree in Sacred Theology. The Bible College would be located at the site of the new Life BP Church at Gilstead Road. In April 1962, the foundation stones for the College and Church were ready to be laid. FEBC was open on 17 Sep 1962 with 3 students. Life BP Church moved to the Gilstead Road premises on its 12th Anniversary in 21 October 1962. The Lord provided all the needs with the cheerful and sacrificial giving of His children.

Personal Testimony

The Author shared candidly of his personal experience in the death of his first wife and daughter in the car accident on the way to a Bible camp on Cameron Highlands. The faith of the Author in accepting this tragedy from the Lord for a higher purpose was most encouraging. Many lives were changed and consecrated to the Lord from this incident. The Author remarried after 15 months to Ivy Tan whom the Lord provided as a help meet for his ministry. The Author also shared of his children and how God has blessed each one of them to be faithful to the Lord.

The Author also related the difficulty to maintain the separatist stand in which he was opposed by the Church session for his firm stand against Billy Graham. When the relationship was stretched to breaking point, the Author decided to take 5½ months’ vacation leave away from Singapore. God led him to spend the vacation as a short term missionary to Israel. This blessing of the knowledge of Israel and the contacts in the land later led the Author to lead many teams to visit Israel beginning 1983.

The Lord also honoured the Author with the invitation by Faith Seminary for him to teach a year in the Seminary in 1978/79. The Lord also enabled his family to be with him in the stay in USA.

Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and into all the World

The Author related the extension of God’s Kingdom into the neighbouring countries and then into all the world. This was in obedience to the Great Commission and it was wonderful to see God opening the doors and His faithful servants willing to commit to serve and contribute in all these ministries throughout the world. The early years were ministry efforts into Malaysia from Batu Pahat to Muar River. The mission field then went further into Indonesia in which a Gospel boat was built for them. Gospel outreaches then went further to Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Philippines, Laos, Brunei and Vietnam. FEBC graduates have been a good link and support to these countries. There was also the call to start the BP Church in Australia and London. The story of Kemaman and Kuantan was also shared to learn how God opened the doors for this new ministry in Malaysia.

Besides relating the overseas outreaches, the Author also related the formation of various local BP Churches that came out from Life BP Church e.g.. New Life, Tabernacle, Maranatha, Berean etc. Details were shared on the acquisition of the land in Woodlands for New Life BP Church and how God provided all the needs at the last moment. Another project for the Lord in acquiring the Beulah House was told in great details. Again the Lord did not fail to provide all the needs of this new place for extension of Life BP Church and FEBC. Another project of the Mersing campsite was also mentioned in the Lord leading the Church to acquire it. An interesting story of the Bookroom was also shared in which we learned how it becomes FEBC Bookroom today.

Challenges ahead for the BP Church after 2000

The BP Synod was dissolved in 1988 following disagreements in the separatist stand. Some BP ministers are sympathetic to the Charismatic movement and do not believe tongues have ceased. Some even questioned the truth of the Bible in the Genesis account.

A major challenge to the BP Church will be her firm stand of the KJV Bible against all modern English versions. The deception to use the corrupted Westcott and Hort text instead of the preserved TR text has penetrated to all the modern English version bibles including NIV. The Premillennial Return of the Lord Jesus Christ is also another key doctrine of the BP Church.


The Author shared his life testimony in a very intimate way to challenge all readers to occupy till the Lord Jesus’ return. The Lord has led and used the Author in a tremendous way and he is indeed a man of God, specially called by the Lord in our time and generation to earnestly contend for the Faith and to proclaim the Gospel far and wide. The sons and daughters of the BP Faith ought to be grateful to Rev Dr Timothy Tow and to thank God unceasingly for his life given wholly for the Lord.

Elder John Leong