Moderator's Comments - Posted 13 June 2016
I am about to come home after nine weeks away: three weeks in the US and England, speaking at Bible by the Beach in Eastbourne, at the Sussex Gospel partnership and at a church plant, Christ Church, Southampton. Three weeks with Maxine at PIM's invitation in Alice Springs, Darwin and with APWM in Timor Leste. Three weeks together in Johor Bahru, Malaysia,just across the border from Singapore, for the annual camps of three Singaporean churches, who come to Malaysia to take advantage of the favourable exchange rate.
- God is doing His work through His word. In each place God's people are being nourished by the Gospel being focal and by preaching which respects the Word, by seeking to be accurate,
and respects the hearer, by seeking to engage and apply the truth.
- In each church plant there was an expectation that numerical growth would take place,and planning for it when it actually happened. Romans 1:16 was often quoted, we are God's coworkers, we preach,and God will call those who are His( Acts18:10).
- There is no substitue for close pastoral care. Whether it was the 50 at the Darwin Presbyterian camp or the 400 at the Crossing Church camp from Singapore, these congregations are being closely shepherded.
Rob and Jeanette Duncanson are involved Pastors, it was a joy to see the care they had for their people. At the larger Crossing, much of the care is done through the many community cell groups. Sheep need shepherding, it goes without saying, so it needs to be said.
- Gospel work is worthy of support. The work of APWM in Timor Leste is outstanding. There are 20 Presbyterian congregations, each with its own evangelist, and there are 10 ordained ministers, exercising national oversight. This is a growing, faithful work and APWM provides one third of the monthly stipend for each of these church workers. I am told that the reserves of this Fund are being run down, by this monthly distribution, this work is a strategic use of your funds, the average national monthly wage is $120 and the APWM contribution to each worker is $30-40. Please give generously to this Fund.
- I attended the session at camp,where the minister of the Crossing, Denesh, a former financial journalist with the Straits Times, reviewed the past year and spoke of plans for 2017.
He said that Singaporeans have been characterised as materialistic, lacking generosity, self centred and in the words of founding PM, Lee, complainers. Denesh gave example after example to show how the Gospel was transforming people, so that none of these traits were characteristic of the Church. However he urged his people to go on resisting the world and continue to be transformed as the Gospel renewed their minds.
This reminded me of the first century sermon, Hebrews, which assures us that when we come to Christ, we have arrived at our journey, and yet at the same time we are to strive to enter in,
don't drift, run, endure and draw near!
Placing exhortation alongside of encouragement, does not lead to a response of legalistic duty but of gratitude for all that we have in Christ.
I think I am better at exhortation than affirmation, the Crossing review was a good reminder to me , that exhortation and encouragement ought to be Siamese twins.
I close with exhortation and encouragement from Hebrews:
'Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,and let us run with perseverance the
race marked out for us'.
'But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful,assembly, to the church of the
firstborn whose names are written in heaven.You have come to God the judge of all men...to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word
than the blood of Abel'.