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Scripture Memory: Confessing Christ.

VERSE : 1 John 4:15 “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness 

8 November 2015

8am & 11am: Worship Service

Rev Quek Keng Khwang (Commendation of Co-Workers, 2 Cor 8:16-24)

6:00 pm Evening Service

Rev Charles Seet (Iron Sharpens Iron, Prov 27:17)

15 November 2015

8am & 11am: Worship Service

Rev Eric Kwan (Winning the Spiritual War, 2 Cor 10:1-6)

6:00 pm Evening Service

Rev Quek Keng Khwang (As Bold as a Lion, Prov 28:1)

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THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN MISSIONS (Part 15)

(Extracted from Jerusalem to Irian Jaya – A Biographical History of Christian Missions, by Ruth A. Tucker)

Amy Carmichael

Amy Carmichael’s 35 books detailing her 55 years in India made her one of the most beloved missionaries of all time, and her own self-effacement and truly sweet and genuine personality has placed her in that rare category of “too good to be true” individuals.

Sherwood Eddy, a missionary statesman and author, who knew her well, was deeply impressed by the “beauty of her character”; and character, according to Eddy, was the key to successful evangelism. “Here is the point where many a missionary breaks down. Every normal missionary sails with high purpose but as a very imperfect Christian...His character is his weakest point.... It was just here that Miss Carmichael was a blessing to all who came into contact with her radiant life...Amy Wilson Carmichael was the most Christ-like character I ever met, and ... her life was the most fragrant, the most joyfully sacrificial, that I ever knew.”

Amy received her “Macedonian call” in 1892 at the age of 24, and the following year she was in Japan. She eagerly jumped into the work, but like so many missionaries before her there were disappointments. The Japanese language seemed impossible to her, and the missionary community was not the picture of harmony she had envisioned. After 15 months as a missionary, Amy became convinced that Japan was not where God wanted her, so without even notifying the Keswick Convention, the mainstay of her support, she sailed to Ceylon.

Within a few years after Amy arrived in southern India she moved to Dohnavur and became involved in the work that her life is remembered for – saving temple children (particularly girls) from a life of painful degradation. The sale of children as temple prostitutes to be “married to the gods” and then made available to Hindu men who frequented the temple was one of the “secret sins” of Hinduism, and even some of the foreign missionaries refused to believe it was as prevalent as Amy claimed. Some believed she was wasting her time searching for children who did not even exist.

But Amy would not be deterred. Through the help of converted Indian women, who in some cases scoured the country as spies, she slowly began to uncover this terrible blight. Though she was not alone in her campaign (Indian reformers were also outraged by the practice), she confronted tremendous opposition. More than once she faced criminal charges of kidnapping, and the threat of physical danger was always present. Nevertheless, Amy persisted in her rescue operation, and by 1913, twelve years after she began her controversial ministry, she had 130 children under her care. In the decades that followed, hundreds of children were rescued and housed at Dohnavur.

Dohnavur fellowship (as her organization became known) was a unique Christian ministry. The workers (including Europeans) all wore Indian dress, and the children were given Indian names. Foreign and Indian staff members all lived communally. The children were educated and physically cared for, and special attention was paid to the development of their “Christian character.” To critics who charged her emphasis on physical needs, education, and character-building was not evangelistic enough, Amy responded, “....one cannot save and then pitchfork souls into heaven.... Souls are more or less securely fastened to bodies...and as you cannot get the souls out and deal with them separately, you have to take them both together.”

Amy sacrificed all for Dohnavur Fellowship and expected her co-workers to do the same. Years before, while in Japan, she had come to grips with the prospect of remaining single the rest of her life. It was a difficult struggle and on that she was unable to write about for more than 40 years – and even then she only shared it privately with one of her “children,” whom she was admonishing to follow the same course: “On this day many years ago I went away alone to a cave in the mountain called Arima. I had feelings of fear about the future. That was why I went there – to be alone with God. The devil kept on whispering, ‘It’s all right now, but what about afterwards? You are going to be very lonely.’ And he painted pictures of loneliness – I can see them still. And I turned to my God in a kind of desperation and said, ‘Lord, what can I do? How can I go on to the end?’ And He said, ‘None of them that trust in me shall be desolate.’ That word has been with me ever since. It has been fulfilled to me. It will be fulfilled to you.”

That others should follow her in forsaking marriage and a family was to Amy a practical as well as a spiritual commitment. Dohnavur Fellowship needed staff members who could give themselves wholly as mothers and spiritual counselors to the children. And it was for that reason that she formed the Sisters of the Common Life – a Protestant religious order for single women. It was a voluntary association, originally made up of Amy and seven young Indian women who were not bound by vows, but who could not remain in the order should they at a later date decide to marry.

For Amy, the Sisterhood was in part a spiritual and mystical alternative to married life. Single women now had a “family” to cling to and a feeling of belonging, instead of being plagued by loneliness and the unending hope of marriage in the future. A mystical union with Christ compensated for the absence of physical love, and Amy and her “sisters” testified of a deep satisfying peace.

In spite of the Sisterhood and the sense of unity it fostered, Dohnavur Fellowship, like other Christian organizations, faced internal as well as external problems. Though Amy often wrote in vague terms and avoided specific details, she did allude to times of friction within the Fellowship, and she herself suffered from recurring bouts of anxiety and tension.

So Dohnavur was not the idyllic utopia some visitors claimed it to be, but it was a remarkable organization developed and carried on by a remarkable woman. Though her final 20 years (following a serious fall) were spent as an invalid, Amy continued to write books and to plead for the cause of her dear children. She died at Dohnavur in 1951 at the age of 83.

Johanna Veenstra

Perhaps the most striking aspect of single women in foreign mission was the status the profession conferred to otherwise very ordinary women. This was also true in certain cases with men, but not to such a great extent. A man had to excel. He had to attain some kind of distinction in his missionary service to be rated a “missionary hero,” but a woman, particularly a single woman, became a “heroine” just by having the courage to strike out as a foreign missionary pioneer. Such was the case with Johanna Veenstra, who in many ways is representative of the vast army of single women who went abroad after the turn of the century.

Although the temptations of riches and worldly pleasures did not entirely pass Johanna by, she was a serious youngster, and church activities in her Christian Reformed Church consumed much of her leisure time. It was while attending a Baptist church that Johanna was converted – a decision her mother and pastor no doubt wistfully wished might have taken place in her home church.

After her conversion she became involved in lay missionary work, and at the age of 19 she enrolled at the Union Missionary Training Institute in New York City, to prepare to become a city missionary. Before she graduated, however, she was challenged by the needs of overseas missions and consequently applied to the Sudan United Mission (SUM), an undenominational organization committed to stopping the spread of Islam into Black Africa. Because of a mission policy, Johanna had to wait three years until she was 25 to begin her overseas service, so in the interim she moved back to Grand Rapids. Here she worked with a city mission and took further schooling at Calvin College, where she became the first woman member of the Student Volunteer Board. Before sailing to Africa (via England) she went back to New York City for medical training and graduated from the mid-wifery course.

Johanna’s assignment under the SUM involved pioneer work at Lupwe, not far from Calabar (where Mary Slessor had served so faithfully not many years before). The station at Lupwe was new and consisted only of a few unfinished and unfurnished huts with dirt floors. But Johanna adjusted to the very primitive conditions quickly. The white ants were an annoyance, but she took them in stride: “When having an evening meal, here were those creatures, in swarms, sticking fast in hand, dropping in the food – and I concluded a plague was upon us. There was no ‘shutting’ them out because in these native huts we have no ceiling.” The rats too, were bothersome, but she refused to complain.

The expectations placed on her were high, and if missionary work was not as romantic or fulfilling as she had dreamed it would be, she never hinted that she had second thoughts: “There has never been a single regret that I left the bright lights of New York City, and came to this dark corner of his vineyard. There has been no sacrifice, because the Lord Jesus Himself is my constant companion.”

Johanna’s hard work, like that of most single women of her day was to set up a boarding school to train young men as evangelists, a school that enrolled as many as 25 at a time. Though it was a time-consuming project, she still found time for medical and evangelistic work. Sometimes her treks into neighboring villages lasted for several weeks at a time, with alternating periods of success and failure.

Johanna’s usual means of transportation from village to village was a bicycle, but it was slow and very tiring peddling uphill in rough terrain, especially considering her tendency to be overweight. She secretly envied some of the male missionaries who were moving about in relative ease on their motorcycles, and so after her second furlough in 1927 she returned to Africa with a new motorcycle. Her matronly appearance no doubt made for a curious sight as she began her motorized journey inland over the bumpy trails, but no one could question her pluck. Despite her initial enthusiasm and determination, she soon discovered that “dirt-biking” was not her niche. Less than 40 miles out, she unexpectedly hit sand and was thrown from the bike. Badly bruised in body and spirit, she sent for help and resigned herself to go back to peddling.

But during the 1920s and 30s while Johanna was pouring her life into Africa, there seemed to be no outward feeling of resentment. Her medical work was particularly appreciated, and it was considered a privilege to attend her boarding school. It was thus a great sorrow to the people of Lupwe and neighboring villages when they received word of their missionary’s untimely death in 1933. She had entered a mission hospital for what was thought to be routine surgery, but she never recovered. (To be continued)

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LF/MF Combined Meeting

Venue: Beulah Multi-Purpose Hall

Date:  14 Nov 2015, Sat.

Time: 7pm - 9pm

Speaker: Rev Lee Hock Chin

Topic: Marriage: Renewing a life-long commitment

Dinner will be provided from 6pm – 6:45pm at Beulah House Rm 1-5. Please message Sis Lilian Lim by today if you need dinner.

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1) The annual Youth Fellowship Camp will be held on 14-18 Dec 15 at Life BPC premises. All youth who are 16-24 years of age are encouraged to join! Theme: Faith Unfeigned. 2 Tim 1:5). Speaker: Elder Ng Beng Kiong. Signup at tinyurl.com/LifeYFC15. Registration closes on 29 Nov.

2) 5 more traffic wardens are needed on Sundays to form 2 groups to do alternate month duty.  If interested to serve, please contact Dn David Tan.

3) The Annual LTF Camp will be held from 7th-11th Dec 15. All teens who are 11-17 years of age are encouraged to join! Register in front of the Sanctuary. For enquiries, please contact Matthew Sim  or Elder Lim Ching Wah .

4) Infant Baptism on Christmas Sunday, 20 Dec 15. Parents who intend to have their infants baptised must register by 16 Nov 15. Please email church office giving child’s name, date of birth and parents’ names and contact.

5) Catechism Class for Easter Baptism on 27 Mar 2016 commences on 13 Dec 15 at Beulah Centre Rm 2-1, 9.40am. Please pre-register by emailing to church office or filling up the form available at the front counter. Those seeking baptism, reaffirmation of faith and transfer of membership must attend the catechism class. Closing date: 6 Dec 15.

Preaching appointments: Rev Seet at Thai Service, 2.30pm.  Rev Wong in Cambodia, 7 to 11 Nov.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25