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Scripture Memory: A Ready Answer.

VERSE : 1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

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O Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness 

19 July 2015

8am & 11am: Worship Service

Rev Charles Seet (Why Don’t We Speak in Tongues? 1 Cor 14:1-40)

6:00 pm Evening Service

Rev Quek Keng Khwang (Silver Hair, Silver Lining, Pro 16:31)

26 July 2015

8am & 11am: Worship Service

Rev Colin Wong (Unity without Diversity Produces Uniformity, 1 Cor 12:12-31)

6:00 pm Evening Service

Rev Calvin Loh (Exercising Self Control, Prov 16:32; 25:28)

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THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN MISSIONS (Part 10)

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

Robert Morrison

Robert Morrison was the first Protestant missionary to go to China, a noteworthy distinction considering the formidable obstacles confronting foreigners in that hostile land during the first half of the nineteenth century. His prayer had been that God would station him in that part of the field where the difficulties are the greatest, and to all human appearance the most insurmountable. His prayer was answered. He persevered for twenty-five years in China, seeing fewer than a dozen converts, and at the time of his death there were only three known native Christians in the entire Chinese empire.

Morrison was born in England in 1782, the youngest of eight children. While yet a young child, he was apprenticed to his father, who manufactured wooden forms used in shoemaking and repair. It was a hard life for young Robert, who was ever under the watchful eye of his stern, but devout Scotch-Presbyterian father, and there was little time for play. His “free” time was spent studying the Scriptures under the tutelage of a local minister.

At the age of fifteen he was converted, and in the next few years his interests turned to foreign missions – particularly as he read articles in missionary magazines. To be a missionary was his dream, but for one obstacle – his mother. There was a powerful bond of affection between them, and he bowed to maternal pressure, promising not to go abroad so long as she lived. The delay was brief. She died in 1804 when he was twenty-two years old. He never regretted his decision to wait, ever treasuring the opportunity he had to minister to her during her dying hours.

Soon after his mother’s death, Morrison went to London for ministerial training. He studied for two years and then applied to the London Missionary Society for foreign service and was accepted. The joy of being accepted was dampened by the attitudes of his family and associates. Why would a promising young minister want to waste his life in a heathen land when there were so many opportunities for an effective home ministry. Despite their arguments and pleadings, Morrison stood firm. China weighed heavily on his mind, and once the decision was made for him to go there, the door opened for him to study with a Chinese scholar living in London, his sailing being delayed in order to find a suitable colleague to accompany him.

A partner was not to be found, and so Morrison made plans to go alone; but obtaining passage to China was no simple task. The East India Company refused to take him. Finally, in January of 1807, nearly three years after the death of his mother, he set sail on an American vessel to Canton via the United States. While in the States, Morrison met with Secretary of State James Madison, who gave him a letter of introduction to the American consul in Canton. It was in America also, where Morrison had his oft-quoted conversation with the ship’s owner who sarcastically probed the young missionary: “And so, Mr. Morrison, you really expect to make an impression on the idolatry of the great Chinese Empire?” To which Morrison responded, “No, sir, but I expect God will.”

Morrison reached Canton on September of 1807, seven months after he had left England. It was only then that his real problems began. Further study of the Chinese language could be done only in the strictest secrecy; and his presence in Canton was under the constant scrutiny of the East India Company, whose officials prohibited any activity that in the least way bordered on evangelism of the Chinese. As was the case in India, they feared for their commercial ventures. To make matters worse, Morrison had little choice but to live in the high style of the company official, a waste that tried him sorely.

Loneliness, too, was a grievous trial. Working without a partner was difficult enough, but his lack of communication from home (despite regular mails) was inexcusable and caused him unnecessary depression. A year after his arrival he wrote to a friend: “I yesterday received your very welcome letter. It is but the second that I have received, after having written at least two hundred.” The reason for the dearth of mail from family and friends? They were too busy.

In spite of the restrictions placed on him, Morrison’s residence in Canton was not a wasted period of time. Soon after he arrived he located two Roman Catholic converts who were willing to tutor him in Chinese, though they so feared the authorities that they carried lethal poison with them in order to end their lives quickly and avoid the torture they would surely suffer should they be found out. Morrison studied with them and began compiling a dictionary and secretly translating the Bible. So impressed were the East India Company officials with his dictionary that less than eighteen months after he arrived they offered him a position as a translator. Although Morrison was distressed at having to succumb to secular employment, he knew that such a move was the only way he could come to terms with the company, and the generous salary was a further inducement.

At the very time that Morrison was negotiating with the East India Company, he was also negotiating a significant change in his personal life. After a brief courtship, he married Mary Morton, the daughter of an English doctor who was living in China at the time. Women were not allowed in Canton, so Morrison arranged to live with her in Macao, a Portuguese colony, six months a year and spend the rest of the year in Canton working for the East India Company. In Macao he found the Roman Catholics more restrictive than the company officials had been in Canton.

Morrison’s early years of marriage were not happy ones. His separation from Mary, as well as her ill health and spiritual condition, contributed little to Morrison’s well-being. To a friend he confided: “Yesterday I arrived in Canton…I left my dear Mary unwell. Her feeble mind much harassed…My poor afflicted Mary, the Lord bless her…she walks in darkness and has no light.” Mary’s condition did not improve for a time, but in 1815, six years after their marriage, her ill heath obliged her to return to England with their two small children.

After a six-year separation, she and her children returned for a brief and joyful reunion before she died unexpectedly in the summer of 1821. The following year Morrison painfully parted with his nine-year-old Rebecca and seven-year-old John. He sent them back to England “to be brought up in a plain way; but above all things to be taught the fear of the Lord…”

Morrison’s long separations from his wife and children, as depressing as they were, had allowed him precious time for Bible translation, a task that he carried out with tireless energy. He resented the time he had to devote to the East India Company (though that very work greatly expanded his knowledge of the language), always considering himself first and foremost a missionary of the gospel, though never openly so.

His first convert (coming seven years after beginning his missionary career) was baptized “away from human observation” so as to avoid the wrath of both the British and Chinese officials. How well he knew that his very residence in China was at the mercy of the East India Company. This was seen in 1815 when his translation of the New Testament was made public. He was promptly ordered dismissed by company officials. Although the ordeal caused Morrison anxiety, the dismissal was never carried out. His work proved to be indispensable to the company.

That the East India Company would be irritated by Morrison’s translation work was to be expected, but that other Christians would resent his labours caused him additional anxiety. How unfortunate it was that there was to be bitter competition in the effort to translate the Bible into Chinese, but such was the case.

In 1806, before Morrison even arrived in China, Joshua Marshman, Carey’s colleague at Serampore, had begun to study Chinese with a view to translating the Bible. When Morrison heard of Marshman’s plans in 1808, he immediately wrote to Serampore but never received an answer. Marshman apparently wanted to be remembered as the first to have translated the Bible into Chinese. There was a sharp rivalry (though never expressed to each other personally), including an unfair accusation of plagiarism against Marshman by some of Morrison’s colleagues.

In the end, Marshman won the race, but it was a Pyrrhic victory. His translation, according to his own son, “was necessarily imperfect,” to be valued “chiefly as a memorial to his missionary zeal and literary perseverance” and, it might be added, stubborn pride. Morrison’s translation, which was thoroughly revised before printing (and thus, delayed), was considerably better; and Morrison rather than Marshman is generally remembered for pioneering the translation of the Chinese Bible.

After completing his translation of the Bible, Morrison returned to England in 1824 for his first furlough in more than seventeen years. Though often ignored while he was in Canton, he found himself a celebrity in England, continually besieged with invitations to speak. Morrison was concerned that his ministry have more depth than the usual one-night stands accorded to missionaries, so he offered lecture series and language lessons for those who were truly interested in serving in China. So burdened was he for missions and for women’s work in particular that he organized a special class for women in his own home.

In 1826, after two years in England, Morrison returned to Canton, accompanied by his two children and his new wife, Elizabeth. He continued his translation of Christian literature and his clandestine evangelism; but his time was not his own and there were increasing demands for him to serve as a negotiator between the conflicting commercial interests of England and China, which eventually culminated in war.

In the midst of his busy schedule, he fathered four more children and was increasingly burdened by family responsibilities until 1832 when he tearfully saw his wife and children off to England. The company work continued to be demanding, and Morrison laboured until his strength was gone and his frail constitution could take no more. It was a depressing time but it did not last long. He died in China in 1834 before word came that his family had arrived safely in England. His death coincided with the forced departure of the East India Company from China and with the death of another great missionary pioneer, William Carey, who had died less than two months earlier in India.

                                                    (To be continued)

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Results of Scripture Memory Verse Programme Review Exercise No.2

We congratulate the following who have achieved  a score of 70% and above:

1. Adrian Teh Tian Xin

2. Angela Tan

3. Annette Kunst-Teh

4. Betrand Lam

5. Carina Teh

6. Chan Sok Kheng

7. Charmaine Low

8. Chloe Saw Li En

9. Claire Tan

10.     Daniel Tan

11.     Ebenezer Chiang Min Xue

12.     Faith Kristiani Boy

13.     Fidelia Beatrice Alvina

14.     Hannah Koh

15.     Ian Liu

16.     Iris Loe

17.     Isaac Yoong

18.     Jariel Kwok

19.     Jennifer Goh

20.     Joelle Heng Wee En

21.     Johannah Koh Mei Choo

22.     John Woon

23.     Jotham Lim Jia Liang

24.     Joyce Ang

25.     Lee Jing Jing

26.     Leong Li Peng

27.     Leong Sow Mun

28.     Leslie Tan

29.     Mark Liu Liwen

30.     Michelle Ng

31.     Nicholas Lim Song Ping

32.     Nigel Teh Tian Li

33.     Ong Phei Hong

34.     Ong Zhong Liang

35.     Ooi Ziyang

36.     Patrick Kok

37.     Rachael Kwok Wei Yan

38.     Ryan Cheung Hao Han

39.     Samuel Quek Yixin

40.     Sharon Quek

41.     Sim Yen Hua

42.     Tan Khoon Lee

43.     Tan Kwee Mui

44.     Tessa Teh

45.     Thaddeus Ho Yee Chong

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1) Girls’ Brigade: Students from the GB company of Sembawang Secondary School will be coming to Life Church next Sunday. You may wish to support them by filling up their donation cards for GB Fortnight at the front porch just after both morning worship service.

2) Music Ministry requires musicians to play for evening wakes (when they occur) and music score transcribers urgently.  Those who are able to commit to help, kindly contact Bro. Daniel or Sis. Hui Chuien for more details. Transcribers can help from home.

3) Church Camp 2015 Messages CD & Photos DVD are available at the Front of Sanctuary after 1st & 2nd Services TODAY & 26/7/15. Thereafter, get the CD/DVD from RTL Office after Services time. CD/DVD at S$1/- per copy. Camp Messages only are available in the Church Website.

4) Coffee Table Ministry urgently needs 3 more volunteers each for the following timings from 0830-0945 or 1030-1130. Those who can commit, kindly contact Daniel  for job specs. We thank all our loving church members who have faithfully contributed food to this ministry.  For hygiene reasons, kindly contact Sis Amy by mid Wednesday of every week to arrange for proper handing over of food on Sunday.

5) The family of the late Mrs Seow Chong Pin expresses heartfelt thanks to pastors and friends of Mrs Seow and the family, for their love, support and prayers during their recent bereavement.

Preaching appts: Rev Wong at Thai Service, 2.30 pm

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

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11