BCEA Kenya by Preacher James Tan

The second half of the previous semester was rather eventful, and all in all, by the mercies and grace of God, He has kept us still.

Thieves in the Night
The college suffered a break-in on the final day of exams, something that has not happened for the past decade. The break-in occurred in the middle of the night, at around 3am, through a point of weakness in the college’s fences. The college’s hired security guards were somehow restrained by the thieves. However, as the thieves ambushed a male student heading towards the toilets, his cry for help alerted the guard dogs, and the commotion woke the rest of the students, causing the thieves to flee. The student suffered a small cut, and thankfully, the thieves’ plans were thwarted without causing any further harm or loss.

The fences were strengthened with barbed wire the next morning, and the security guards were changed due to their ineffectiveness, and possible collaboration with the thieves. This brings the exhortation to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 3:3 to mind, “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”

Such illustrations are no longer imaginary, when one encounters a real life example of it, a rare occurrence perhaps in Singapore. Our disappointment was not so much with the thieves, or the break-in, but rather, the ineffectiveness of the watchmen, who were subdued without a sound! Perhaps they were never true watchmen to begin with.

Work Permit
Thank God for the provision of the work permit. It has just been approved on 3rd May, after almost a year of waiting. I was called for an interview in late April, and after the previous bad experience in 2013, it was certainly a nerve-wrecking morning. So far, I am the only missionary in the college that was called up for an interview, and perhaps, it is because of how rare we Singaporeans are in this part of the world!

It was a 4-hour wait before we were quickly ushered to meet a senior officer. Along the way, our college administrator was quietly asked to “give something” by a junior officer. However, this was ignored by us. A few administrative questions were asked, and by God’s grace the senior officer did not ask for anything else, except briefly commenting in Kiswahili, ”let him go and preach”, before signing the documents. It was all over in just 5 minutes without any further trouble.

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1). It has been a long trial of waiting this past year, facing multiple delays, having to resubmit documents “misfiled”, or “mishandled” by the departments. Having a just and fair government, is not one to be taken for granted. Over here, there is the constant frustration of trying to help, but facing a lack of response or receptivity. Believers in Singapore have little excuse not to take full advantage of the peace, justice and security in the nation for the Lord’s work.

A Personal Note
We are very privileged as Singaporeans. People are often shocked at the “power” of our passport (as recently reported in the news), of how we can move freely without much hindrance, while other nationalities have to apply for visas and pay a hefty charge of 50 USD as they cross the border. I will often have to wait for a little while as the customs officers consult others on what to do with a Singaporean passport (upon realising that I am not from China). They would often return with a visa stamped, without any further questions. We have been given great advantages in mobility and language, being decent speakers of English (or Singlish). We are able to adapt to most foods and cultures because of our diversity in Singapore, yet how many would use such for the Lord’s purposes?

The common trend today seemingly, with cheaper air travel, is that many would use such advantages for leisure or work (though not wrong by itself), but so little for the Lord’s work, be it near or far. The world has a good word for it, “wanderlust”, and while one might have explored much of the world, how much of the Lord’s work has one witnessed or experienced? Is there no pleasure to be found in witnessing what the Lord has done? I write as frankly as I can, with the hope that some may be called into the Lord’s fields too. Just as the Apostle Paul took advantage of his Roman citizenship, and the good Roman roads, let us not lack in taking advantage of the conveniences that the Lord has given to us.

BCEA Tanzania, April-May
The “break” in BCEA Tanzania for the whole of April had been a busy and fruitful one. I was able to teach another intensive English course, and helped in several other subjects as well. Moreover, I was also given the privilege to preach in the daily chapel services, and on the Lord’s day services. We are much thankful, as the electricity had been restored, and the walls being built around the compound had prevented any serious flooding from the heavy rains.

The graduation service last Saturday (6th May) saw two graduates, who God willing, will proceed on for further studies in BCEA Kenya. We also had the opportunity to take a short trip up to Tanga, about 8 hours drive away, to visit two mission stations, one of which is established by a BCEA graduate. Thank God also for this short time of co-labouring with our FEBC brethren, Dr Park Seung Kyu, Judah Pallangyo and Joseph Amoz. Do continue to remember them and their families as well.

Prayer Items
BCEA : The college has just opened on Tuesday, on 9th May. There are still others who are travelling back, and new students who have yet to report. Pray that the students will be disciplined, serious, and responsible in their calling, duties, and studies. While the college provides a work scholarship to help clear their school fees, some are not willing to work, or not able to sufficiently finish clearing their fees. Pray also that the Lord will continue to help and guide the faculty.

Country : The national elections are coming up soon on 8th August, pray for the stability of the nation. Many foreigners will be leaving the country in the months around the elections, as the embassies will usually issue travel advisory warnings. Political activity is on the rise, there are still strikes ongoing in certain regions, and the economic situation is affected by it. Thank God for the arrival of the rains, and the restoration of a stable water supply. It is currently the “long rain” season from now until June.

Personal : This semester I will be teaching the book of Romans, Hebrews and the Ten Commandments. While I have less credits than the previous semester, pray also for the management of additional responsibilities in the college and the cam-pus church. I am currently in charge of a church fellowship group, and teaching the Sunday Adult Bible Study using the book “Fundamentals of the Christian Faith” published by FEBC. Pray too also for physical and spiritual strength.