Mission Report – September 2023
Preacher James Tan
College Updates

“They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even for ever.” (Psalm 125: 1-2)

It was at the start of Term 2 when we wrote previously in May and we are now 3 weeks into Term 3 which started on 4th September. Our teaching subjects for the current term are: General Epistles (James), Theological Research & Writing, Major Prophets (Isaiah), Theology of Worship [for James, 10 credit hours]; and Through The Bible III, Biblical Separation, Elementary Greek III [for Shermaine, 8 credit hours]. In these last days when false teachings are prevalent, we pray continually that the Lord will keep us faithful in teaching and granting our students the conviction in the Truth of His Word.

The political situation is somewhat stable, however there is the occasional wave of “organised protests” from the opposition party, which are uncontrolled mobs causing destruction. These would usually happen whenever there are price hikes for fuel and food which would affect the cost of living. By God’s grace and provision, the college continues to press on despite the economic situation.

The college expects to hold a graduation service on 25th November and this year, we look forward to visitors from True Life B-P Church, especially Dr Jeffrey Khoo who will be speaking at the graduation service, God willing. It has been years since a Singaporean team has visited us in BCEA. Thus, the thought of receiving brethren from Singapore is joyous news for all of us in the faculty. Especially for ourselves, it feels as though a slice of ‘home’ is coming to us. We are surely elated. May the Lord grant a blessed time of mutual encouragement and fellowship in the Truth!

The college is also expecting to tighten up security by building new fences around the campus compound. This is due to a security breach which occurred in the previous months. A resident in the compound had been providing help to a certain street boy over the past year in his own ministry. At times, the boy would even spend the night in the resident’s house for shelter. Thus, to see a teenage boy around this resident’s house was not an unfamiliar sight. It was trusted that every resident would be careful with guests which they invite into the compound. However, in late July, the boy stole 2 bags of PA equipment from the resident’s house and even drove off with the resident’s car. He was so sure of getting away that he carried out the plan in the mid-afternoon while many were walking around. It was daylight burglary! The boy got involved in a minor traffic accident and was found in police custody. With this first arrest, the boy was released after a firm warning. Notwithstanding, 2 weeks later, the boy stole from the house again. After hours of examining the CCTV footage, he was found to have entered the college from the back on a Sunday morning, while we were busy in the church. He had made a hole in the fence of the neighbouring compound, squeezed himself through the bars of our fence, strolled across our campus and broke into the same house again. The boy had used his time of personal “rehabilitation” under the resident’s care to plan and survey the compound and our activities.

Thankfully, the boy was later found and arrested. He has since been charged in Juvenile Court and is currently serving a 3-month sentence. We are reminded that it is only Christ and the Word that can truly save and transform a person, not mere physical kindness and provision and neither punishment alone. Would this boy be like the dying thief that mocked Christ, or the other who believed in Christ? Would he return with a vengeance upon release? God forbid. Nonetheless, while plans are in place to build a more secure fence around the compound, it is still our trust that God is the One who protects. We truly thank God for protecting everyone in the compound, especially the little children in our midst! Despite the 2 burglaries, there was no physical harm to anyone, Psalm 125:1-2!

Campus Church Updates
“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” (Romans 12: 4-5)

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Indeed, we saw it true during the vacation period (21st July – 3rd September). Home visitations and a Vacation Bible School were organised again as part of the Sunday School ministry. We thank God for the provision of co-labourers and the blessed experience of serving together as the body of Christ in the Campus church.

The home visits were carried out over 2 days (18th and 19th July). Again, we targeted the homes of children who often attend our Campus church alone. The purpose was to learn more about their family background and spiritual needs at home. Across the 2 days, we went to 4 different neighbourhoods surrounding the college and were welcomed into 10 homes. There is a story to tell of every household but two will be shared in this report.

The first child we visited was Shalline. We had planned to visit her home during the previous vacation but it was cancelled last minute by her mother. Thankfully, we managed to catch her at home this round. Shalline has always been rather well-dressed when we see her on the Lord’s Day. She is also slightly on the plump side, leading us to assume that her family would in better circumstances than others. The first impression of her house, although dimly lit by a small television screen, was neat and tidy.

Mama Shalline was also jovial when speaking to us. However, during the time of prayer requests, we learnt that she has been struggling with alcoholism and violence from Baba Shalline. The situation has gotten worse progressively and affecting household finances. There was little we could do except to give encouragement from God’s Word and to pray.

Right before we left, the electrical supply of the house was cut off. The Lord laid a burden to gift a small amount to Mama Shalline. The reminder to her was that God watches over us and is a very present help in trouble (Ps 46: 1-3). These days, to see Shalline on the Lord’s Day, we thank God for His continual protection over her. Despite the trying circumstances, we pray that God will keep her in Him.

This round of home visitations also brought us to a “far-away” place (an hour’s walk away). A group of 10-odd children would usually come late on Sundays. Often, they would miss Sunday School which begins at 8.45am and only arrive at the church after 10am, being late also for the Worship Service. When asked, their reason for being late was always: “we are coming from a far place”. Thus, we were determined to find out exactly how far they were travelling from and how we may encourage their parents to send them earlier on Sundays. The journey to their homes was indeed much further than usual. They were living next to a vast coffee plantation. Their parents were labourers at the coffee processing plant. The whole area was known as “Maroni”. We confirmed that the parent we communicated with for arrangements, was a church member (Mama Anne) who had been “missing” for a season on Sundays. We later learnt that it was Mama Anne who had encouraged the children to attend our campus church. Since their parents are usually all at work at the coffee plantation, the children are not only very independent but close knitted as a group. They go everywhere together and no one gets left behind. Even Anne would refuse to depart without the rest. The schoolteachers also had a similar complaint of this group’s late-coming!

Even if Mama Anne gets Anne ready very early on Sundays, the children would eventually begin late on their walking journey to our college after waiting for every child in the group. There is little Mama Anne can do in terms of urging other parents, since Sundays to them is a day of physical rest for the children. We saw the efforts of Mama Anne and encouraged her to try continually, for the sake of the children’s spiritual needs. From the visit, we learnt of the challenges and have become more understanding towards the late-coming of children from Maroni.

However, we still pray that the Lord will move the hearts of both parents and children, that we may see these children early on Sundays, with a love for God and His Word.

The Vacation Bible School was conducted from 23rd to 24th August (8.30am – 3.30pm). The theme was a continuation of, “The Fruit Of The Spirit” (Galatians 5: 22-23). In this VBS, the 5 lessons were on the virtues of “faith” and “meekness”. The Lord brought 125 children to join us in the learning of God’s Word and we are thankful for each one of them. Since we were on the virtue of “faith”, the first lesson of the VBS was focused especially on the Gospel message – having faith in Jesus. The theme song was the “Wordless Book Song” and the craft was a “Wordless Book Worm”. The children were also taught that if they have trusted in Jesus as their Saviour, they were to also trust in Him continually throughout life’s circumstances. The learning of Galatians 5:22-23 does not end with the VBS. The series will continue during the monthly Saturday Children’s Fellowship. God willing, we look forward to completing this series in the month of November. 

Please pray with us that the children will believe in Jesus as their personal Saviour and live out their Christian lives under His Lordship! Truly we thank God for enabling all hands that laboured hard for both the home visitations and VBS. Thank God for our “little village”