Jurong Outreach

"whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ."

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Character of a Christian

Webster defines character as “an individual’s pattern of behaviour or personality.”Each one of us has a different character—traits that make us different from anyone else.  WE can recognize these traits from the very start.  Christians are to have certain traits that make them distinguishable from those who are without.  Notice four character traits of a Christian.

A Christian loves.  “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” (1 John 4:7).  A Christian is a child of God, born of God, a son of God.  Being such, he is instructed to love because God loves us, and God is love.  We are to love God and man.  Jesus said,  “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God… Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:36-39).

It would be ludicrous for us to profess to be children of God and then hate our fellow man.  John said that those who do not love do not know God and those who say they love God and hate their brothers are liars.  You cannot love God and hate man (1 John 4:8) “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”  (1 John 4:20) “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”  It is very hard to love especially those who are unloveable; but God loves the unloveable and expects us to do the same.  We love God and man because He  first loved us and gave himself for us.  A trait of every Christian is love.

 A Christian forgives.  Forgiveness of our sins is the basis of our reaching Heaven.  However, we are given a condition for forgiveness: we must first forgive others.  Jesus said, “but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses, neither will  you Father forgive your  trespasses”  (Matthew  6:15).   Here Christ makes forgiveness of others a constant precondition of man’s forgiveness by the Father.  With Christ as our example and God as our strength, we must learn to forgive and forget.  The word “forgive” literally means to send away, to blot out, to obliterate.  God forgives and forgets our sins; we should forgive and forget the sins of the brother who sins against us.  How could we expect the love of God to sink deep into our hearts if  our hearts are so hard we cannot forgive others?  Forgiving others becomes much easier when we come to know the peace that comes from having our sins forgiven by the Father.  Be forgiving and be forgiven.

A Christian fights.  We may think of the Christian as a fighter, but the life of a Christian is a life of war—war against the evil works of darkness.  Paul wrote that we should put on the whole armour of God so we could withstand the fiery darts of the wicked

(Ephesians 6:13) “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  Then, he tells us how we can identify the enemy.  They are not flesh and blood; they are powers, principalities, rulers of darkness, spiritual wickedness

(Ephesians 6:12) “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities,against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

In short, anything that is contrary to the holy ordinances of Almighty God is an enemy of God and, therefore, our enemy because we are God’s children.  We fight them until we die or until Christ comes again.  We must be consistent in our battles.  We cannot war against sin today and then turn and allow it to run unchallenged in another situation.  If it is sin, it is an enemy of God and an enemy of the Christian.  We are marching in the battlefields with Christ as our commander, waging war against the unfruitful works of darkness, assured of a victory over sin in the last day when Christ returns with His mighty angels  “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;  When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”  (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10) but, until that day we must wage a ceaseless battle against sin, bringing the lost to Christ.

A Christian lives.  We are dead to the world but alive to Christ.  “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20).  “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21).  We live as Christians on this earth for Christ and His cause.  WE are dead to sin and to the world but alive anew in Christ, working for the furtherance of His kingdom.  Those who remain faithful will live forever.  “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

We love because Christ loves; we forgive because Christ forgives; we fight because Christ fights; and we  live because Christ lives.  These are the four traits of a Christian—four traits of Christ.  This is the character of a Christian.  Christian, are these your character?

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Getting our feet wet

“And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest).  That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city.  Adam, that is beside Zaretan, and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.” (Joshua 3: 15-16)

I.   God gives the command

1.   For the priests that bare the ark, it was necessary—commanded that they get their feet wet in the flooded banks of the Jordan. (Joshua 3: 9-13)

2.  Likewise, the Christian is commanded to get his/her feet wet in teaching God’s word (Matthew 28:18-20)

II. God’s Instructions are clear and concise

1.  God did not leave it to Joshua’s discretion as to how to cross the river Jordan. (Joshua 3:9-13)

2. Likewise, God has given us specific instructions in evangelism.

A. The child of God is told to “Go” (Matthew 28:19; Mk16:15)

B. The child of God is told to “teach the Gospel” (Romans 10:14-17; Matthew 28:19; Mark 16: 15), and no other gospel or philosophies of men. (Galatians 1:8-9)

C. The child of God must teach God’s word in its entirety.  (2Timothy 3:14-17; 4:2-5)

III.  God promises to be with all those who obey Him.

He promised to be with Joshua and Israel (Joshua 3:7)

He promises to be with us as well. (Matthew 28:20)

IV.  Satan will try to flood the Christian’s heart with those things that would prevent him from obeying God, from “Getting his feet wet in Evangelism.”

A. The flood of fear—Satan wants us to be afraid to teach others about Christ.  He tries to make evangelism a frightening thing by creating misconceptions about it in the minds of Christians everywhere.  Some misconceptions are:-

1. You have to go far away from home to be involved in evangelism.—On the contrary, often times the most effective             evangelism is not accomplished by speaking to the masses on foreign soil.  It is done at home, work or school, sitting across dining room tables sharing a meal, one soul at a time; friends, co-workers, neighbours, family.  Don’t let Satan deceive you into thinking you are ineffective if you do not  teach in some foreign country.  While such is necessary and commanded, it is not the only form of evangelism.

2. I do not know enough to teach someone else.—Satan wants us to doubt our knowledge and ability to teach others.  While we will never know the answer to every question we may be asked, we must understand that there comes a time in every  Christian’s life when we ought to be teachers.  (Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 3:15) at the very least, the child of God ought to be able to share with others the plan of salvation, and the hope we have in Christ Jesus.  If we cannot do this, then perhaps this is where we need to begin our personal study of God’s word.

B. The flood of doubt—Satan wants the child of God to doubt that God will do what He has promised to do.  God has promised to be with us, but Satan wants us to feel alone and afraid.  Satan doesn’t want us to remember passages such as (Philippians 4:13)  “I  can do all  thingsthrough Christ which strengtheneth me.”   He magnifies our weaknesses in an effort to shrink our courage.  The child of God’s only defence against Satan in the word of God, for he hath said, I will never leave thee,  nor forsake thee.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper,and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.  (Hebrews 13:5-6)

C. The flood of procrastination—Satan is the originator of Procrastination.  He loves to deceive man into always assuming there will be a tomorrow.  Forgetting that tomorrow is no guarantee.  (James 4:13-17)   Procrastination in evangelism is a sin.  It is a choice not to do today what we know we ought.  It is arrogant to assume there will be a tomorrow.  Teaching the lost should take precedence over all else.  This point is well Illustrated in Jesus reply to the man who asked to put off following Jesus until he buried his father.  Jesus told him to,  Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:60)   Stressing the importance of setting cares of the world aside and putting God first. (Matthew 6:33)

Getting our feet wet in evangelism is a command requiring both faith and obedience.  The child of God must continually resist Satan’s attempts to flood our hearts with fear, doubt and procrastination.  We must have the faith of Joshua, and the priests who were willing to get their feet we at God’s command.  When we obey God we know that HE will be with us and HE will do all that He has promised.

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Peter: From Ordinary to Extraordinary


Peter was an ordinary human being. He was just another face lost in the multitudes, eking out a living by the sweat of his brow and the ache in his body. Perhaps, like many of us, he once had a dream when he was a young boy. Whatever happened to that dream, if there ever was one, was forever lost to us. By the time we meet him, he was a weathered, tough fisherman; a veteran of the trade he had probably known since birth and had learned from his father.


One day his brother, Andrew, came running to him in excitement. “We have found the Messiah (John 1:41)!” Peter followed his brother to meet this man, who “looked upon him, and said, Thou art Simon the son of John: thou shalt be called Cephas (which is by interpretation, Peter).”


Together with others, Peter followed Jesus to a wedding at Cana. Whatever thoughts he had of this possible Messiah up to that point was quickly challenged when he witnessed the water turned to wine. Now, he believed (John 2:1-11). Not many days later, at the Passover, Peter watched as Jesus drove the merchants and animals out of the temple in a display of pious fury. He heard the words from Jesus’ lips: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (John 2:13-19)!” What did Peter make of this man now?


It seemed that soon after the Passover, Jesus dismissed the band. Peter went back to his fishing. After a few weeks of excitement, it was back to a mundane existence – work, worry and weary – fretting over bread & butter issues.


One morning by the lake of Gennesaret, Peter and his fellows were washing their nets after a night of fishless toil. Hungry. Exhausted. Frustrated. No fish, no income. A familiar face stepped into his boat. It was Jesus, the miracle worker. He asked Peter to put his boat out “a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the multitudes out of the boat (Lu 5:3).”


After he was done teaching, Jesus turned to Peter with a strange request. “Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught (Lu 5:4).” Jesus, a carpenter, a landlubber, telling him, Peter the fisherman, to fish? Although he was tired, Peter “answered and said, Master, we toiled all night, and took nothing: but at thy word I will let down the nets (Lu 5:5).”


What happened next was beyond Peter’s expectation. The catch was so large he had to call in help from James and John, his partners in the fishing industry. The sheer weight of the catch was tearing the nets and sinking the boats (cf. Lu 5:6-7). Was Jesus smiling as he watched the astonished fishermen yelling and straining at the nets?


A realisation dawned on Peter. This was no mere itinerant preacher in his boat. This was a holy man. This was, as Andrew had told him, the Messiah – the Anointed One of God. Peter had previously believed at Cana. This was not the first miracle he had seen Jesus performed. But this was the first performed for him. This was personal. God had taken notice of a poor, ordinary fisherman.


He sank to his knees. In a tremulous voice, he said to Jesus, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord (Lu 5:8).” He realised his unworthiness to be in the presence of Jesus. His divine power and force of personality had arrested Peter. The burden on his heart far outweighed the fish in the boats. His heart was broken.


Jesus looked upon Peter with what must have been compassion. In a gentle yet authoritative voice, he said to the trembling fisherman, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men (Luke 5:10).”


Peter, the ordinary fisherman, from that moment began his training to become an extraordinary fisher of men. On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, Peter once again let down his net. This time, though, the net was the gospel of Christ and the catch was not an abundance of fish but an abundance of souls. Peter was no longer fishing for fish to feed his family, but fishing for souls to the glory of God.


The Son of God took notice of an ordinary fisherman, looked beyond his uncouth exterior and transformed him into an extraordinary soul-winner. Peter was a man entangled in weaknesses. He was impulsive, bullish. But his encounter with Jesus broke him.


“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit (Psa 34:18).” The Lord can make us useful servants too when we surrender to His will. The question is: are you willing for your heart, hardened by sin and pride, to be broken? You decide.


“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do (Heb 4:12-13).”


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Bearding Lions and Slaying Giants

I love King David. What a hero! He was certainly one of the most beloved characters in the Bible. I mean, here was a man after God’s own heart yet his imperfection was blindingly glaring just like any of us. But his greatness, more than his leadership and bravery, was his humility to repent and confess when his sin found him out.

Let us revisit an episode in the life of this extraordinary yet very human king and learn the faithfulness of the Lord toward His own. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4).”

David had earlier spared Saul’s life for the second time (1 Samuel 26:1-12). Who would blame David if he had killed Saul? After all, Saul was the aggressor here. David, though, chose to conduct himself with honour yet again. But in spite of Saul’s repentance (1 Samuel 26:21, 25), David pondered the possibility that one day he might die by the hands of the mad king (1 Samuel 27:1).

What? He who slain ten thousands thought that he who slain thousands (cf. 1Sa 18:7) would eventually get him? Put yourself in David’s sandals. If you were him, what would be your response? Would you pack up and run?

God delivered David from wild animals.
Imagine facing up to some of the most fearsome beasts. No, not in the protection of a zoo. If your instinct is like mine, you too would scream in terror and run as fast as your human legs and adrenaline could carry you. Usain Bolt couldn’t run fast enough to catch me! David, however, fronted up to these animals. Step aside, Bear Grylls.

“And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him (1 Samuel 17:34-35).”

God delivered David from Goliath.
Goliath needs no introduction. Neither does Shaquille O’Neal to NBA fans. Now get this: Goliath is bigger than Shaq. That’s right. Shaq measures 2.16m in height. Goliath? A whopping 2.74m. Not even Andre the Giant (the late pro wrestler) at 2.24m could match Big G. Shaq would look up at Goliath (Andre, too), never mind puny shepherd boy David. No wonder the Bible tells us that “when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance (1 Samuel 17:34).”

And what did this rosy-cheeked, handsome boy say? “The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine (1 Samuel 17:37).” In what must be the greatest upset in history, “David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him (1 Samuel 17:49-50).”

‘Beasts’ and ‘giants’ in our life.
Certainly God delivered David out of insurmountable odds many times. What we see here is more than heroism and human high drama. We see the faithfulness of God in action. When he was on the run from Saul, David looked back over his life and took comfort that his God was mighty to save. Psalm 54 is proof of his dependence on the faithfulness of God.

We face our own ‘beasts’ and ‘giants’ in the forms of trials and temptations. At times they might appear as frightening as lions, bears and behemoths that could easily slam-dunk us through a basketball hoop, but they will work to our advantage. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (James 1:2-4).”

We can be assured that God will keep us when we remain faithful to His word. “But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:3-5).”

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Discouragement is an emotion common to all of us, regardless of one’s ethnicity, cultural and/or religious backgrounds and upbringing. A misleading thought and surely one that has caused much grief among the children of God is that we are immune to trials and tribulations. This is not the case; we learn certainly from the book of Job that sufferings befall the righteous and wicked alike.

What is discouragement? To put it simply, it is to find one in a state where courage, hope and confidence so essential to face the challenges of life are lacking or missing. Discouragement, when not dealt with, could lead to further complications: physical illness, lack of appetite, inability to sleep well, loss of interest in usual activities, withdrawal, etc. Discouragement is a very real and present part of life but with awareness we can prevent it from overtaking us.

There are many causes for discouragement, and no two persons experience it quite the same. Some of the common causes are the following:

Threats to one’s well-being, whether physical, emotional or mental.
David experienced discouragement when his son Absalom staged a rebellion against him and he was forced to flee Jerusalem. “LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God (Psa 3:1-2).”

Loss of health, security, property, loved ones, opportunities, etc.
Job was depressed when he lost everything. “After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. And Job spake, and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived… Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?… For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest… (Job 3:1-3, 11, 13).”

Unmet expectations.
The disciples had very much expected Jesus to restore Israel to its past glory.
When Jesus was arrested, their courage left them and they fled. “…Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled (Mat 26:56).” They were actually hiding in fear when the resurrected Lord appeared to them. “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you (John 20:19).”

When discouragement comes as a result of sin, the only remedy is repentance. Realisation of sin ought to generate godly sorrow, the awareness that it is God whom we first and foremost sinned against. Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of (2Co 7:10) and repentance and confession of sins are conditions for forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9).”

We can better deal with discouragement by altering our attitudes.
Much discouragement happens because we are overly sensitive, overly concerned about our feelings. Some may stop serving or even quit the faith because his or her feelings are hurt. It is a form of creeping pride to put our feelings above Christ and the cause. Put Him first and others second, serve the Lord and other people.

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he (Pro 23:7).” Be careful what goes on in our minds and what intellectual food we partake. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Php 4:8).”

Be realistic. Things cannot possibly happen as we’d like them to every single time. It also takes time to resolve problems and difficulties. Be realistic and patient with yourself and others.

Remember the Lord cares. Jesus our Lord gives us assurance of His care. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me (John 14:1).” “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1Pe 5:7).” We read earlier in Psalm 3 about David’s discouragement. But in the same psalm David went on to say, “But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about (Psa 3:3-6).”

Hold fast to the end. Peter encourages the saints in times of trial to hold fast. Look toward the coming of the Lord. “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls (1Pe 1:6-9).”

Our caring Father provides a way out for us. We have no reason to allow discouragement to defeat us. Lean on Him and trust in His promises. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1Co 10:13).”

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My first trip to the mission field

First of all, I thank bro. Ee for the opportunity to visit various churches of Christ in the Philippines. What moved me was during bro. Ee’s Preacher and His Work class, he mentioned that I should go with him and visit the brethren there. Both sis. Sharon and bro. Yong Yaw had warned me about the hot weather and to drink only bottled water. My idea of the Philippines met my expectations when I arrived in Manila.

Together with bro. Ee, sis. Sharon, Anna, Alison and myself, we visited Banaoang church of Christ, Poblacion West Umingan church of Christ and Fronda church of Christ. Our brethren there were very hospitable. They showed us around and prepared meals for us.

The lectureship was titled “In All Things Showing Yourself To Be A Pattern Of Good Works” (Titus 2:7). We met a number of Four Seas College alumni namely, Joann Medez, John-John Medez, Rachel Bianca and Arnel Miranda. Joann, John-John and Arnel are already proving themselves to be active gospel preachers. I guess the instructors of Four Seas College will be proud of them. We met up with bro. Tommy Nyau at the lectureship.

After the lectureship at Kabankalan, we visited Mansilingan church of Christ. I taught a youth Bible class on the subject of prayer. I guess that preparing material for a Bible class is one thing, but it is entirely a different ball game to present the material in front of a class. I struggled to make the lesson interesting and hoped the youth understand what I was saying. I guess my struggle was evident when I became down with sore throat too that very day! I need to thank bro. John-John for taking
me to the hospital.

Back in Singapore, I think that I have been taking far too many things for granted. For example, our air-conditioning, clinics, toilets with flushing system, bright lighting at night, clean water etc. We really need to sit down and count our blessings. Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every
perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Finally, I pray that Mansilingan will have a physical church building soon. As Paul also visited various churches to encourage the brethren there during the first century, this purpose of encouragement is still
necessary today.
– Zeng Jun Ming

These twelve days I have spent in the Philippines are not ones that will be easily forgotten. I have been told that our presence there was
encouraging, but I feel that I have been more encouraged than anyone else by the dedication and faithfulness of the Filipino brethren. (1Th 1:3) Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father

The language barrier posed quite a few difficulties for us. Some
brethren from the rural areas spoke little to no English, and even those who did had their local accents and pronunciations. For my ladies’ class at Kabankalan, a sister had to translate a summarised version of my lesson after I had finished so the audience could understand more fully. But smiles, hugs, kisses on the cheek and warm handshakes — these transcended language. What I remember most about the mission trip was the warmth, kindness and hospitality of the brethren there, that made the Philippines for me a home away from home and gave me a sense of the true universality of God’s family, that our Christian
fellowship and love could reach across geography and nationalities and cultures. Col 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

I had to teach an impromptu children’s class one afternoon at Fronda COC while the church leaders had their meeting. Even though I was flustered and unprepared for the lesson, and I had to ask the help of Sister Rowena to translate my English into the local dialect, the children were the most attentive and engaged I have ever had the pleasure to teach. Here is fertile soil ready for the planting of the seed of the Word of God. I hope that in addition to our focus on evangelism and

conversions, we might also channel some of our resources to the
children’s ministry in the Philippines, which is sorely lacking in teachers and teaching materials, especially those in their local dialect or

The bible lectureship at Kabankalan was very much of an inspiration and encouragement to me. Having only been to local Fourseas
lectureships and Chinese Asian Bible lectureships, it was new
experience for me to attend one in the Philippines. There was no
air-conditioning or cushioned seats or tables or catered buffet lunches, but the zeal and commitment of the brethren were obvious to the
observer. It was awe-inspiring to watch the Kabankalan ladies
personally prepare individual meals for more than 200 attendees of the lectureship. And I am so thankful to the brethren who approached us, greeted us and made conversation with us despite their doubts about their English-speaking ability.

It was also a joy for me to meet once more the Fourseas students I had known during their studies here in Singapore. Sister Rowena, Sister Rachelle, Brother Arnel and Brother Joann were excellent hosts. They took us to tourist spots and local attractions and from my conversations with them I learned much about the Filipino culture and the state of the church and its work there. It was also encouraging to meet many young brethren who confided in me their plans to attend Fourseas college in the future. It is not an easy choice for them to make: to sacrifice their studies and careers in order to come all the way to an unfamiliar foreign country to train themselves up in the word of God in order to become a better servant of His. I am deeply encouraged that they can set their priorities straight and make this difficult choice in their lives. Mt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

I highly encourage all the brethren here to make time in their schedules to take part in such mission trips that Jurong organises in the future. Although it may seem like a daunting endeavour at first, it is truly a valuable life experience that broadens your perspective, strengthens your faith and changes you in ways that you cannot imagine.

– Alison Tee

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The Children of the Congregation Need Your Prayers

Parents brought little children to Jesus, that He should put his hands on them, and pray (Matthew 19:13). Though the disciples rebuked them1, Jesus received them. Doubtless the disciples thought the Lord was too busy to take time to pray for children, but Jesus was not too busy for children or prayer. He loved children and sometimes called them to Him (Matthew 18:2-5). On this occasion He said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14), evidently honoring the parents’ requests to pray for them.

We also have the privilege to set a child on God’s knee and ask for His blessings. Like Abraham, we can pray, O that Ishmael (insert any child’s name here) might live before thee! (Genesis 17:18) and God will hear (17:20). Like Jacob, God wants us to bring our children to Him in their youth (Genesis 48:9). Like Hannah, we can take our children to God’s temple (1 Samuel 1:24), and leave them in His care. Like David, we can beseech the Lord for the child (2 Samuel 12:16)2, and pray that our sons and daughters will be given a perfect heart, to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for the which I have made provision (1 Chronicles 29:19; cf. Psalm 72:1). David’s wise prayer includes two worthy points: (1) Pray for children to be faithful (keep thy commandments); (2) Pray for children to be useful (to build the palace).

Our children can be changed through prayer. It is good to provide food for children (1 Timothy 5:8); it is good to cook for them; it is good to make up their beds and wash their clothes; it is good to play games with them and talk to them; it is good to go for walks with them and take them to the library and McDonalds; but it is better to pray for them! Is it not ironic that people who get worked up over the issue of prayer in public schools may seldom utilize the opportunity to pray for schoolchildren, against which there is no law. Pray with them when they are underfoot in the daytime; pray for them when they are asleep at night.

We can pray for faithful couples (or ourselves) who desire children to have them (Luke 1:13). Prayers for children are frequent in the Bible. They were offered by men (Genesis 25:21), by women (Genesis 30:17; 1 Samuel 1:11), and by those who wish a family well (Ruth 2:12; 1 Samuel 7:9). An intercessor can start with the infants (Luke 18:15), and pray for each child in the congregation. It would be appropriate to pray by name for the children in our Bible classes, in our communities, and, especially, those who do not have Christian parents.

Manoah wondered aloud at the announcing of Samson’s birth, How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him? (Judges 13:12b). His entreating prayer was one most parents have uttered: O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born (13:8). We can learn how to pray for our children by studying how Jesus prayed for His children (disciples): He prayed for Peter: ,that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren (Luke 22:32). The worst tragedy that could happen to our children is not a bad car wreck or crippling disease. It is not to be cut off in their youth. The worse thing that could happen is for them never to gain faith in God, or, having gained it, to lose it. About the time they go to college, all parents fear that they may prove to be a rock heart which have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away (Luke 8:13), or a cluttered heart that allows thorns to choke the spiritual life out of them. We fear that they will go out from us because they had not really been of us (1 John 2:19). We fear that some false teacher may overthrow their faith (2 Timothy 2:18; Romans 16:17) or that a root of bitterness will spring up, defile them, and cause them to fail in the grace of God (Hebrews 12:15). We can that this will not happen (and we can start years before they move away).

Jesus also prayed for His children: I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil (John 17:15). The world is the great enemy of our youth. It tries to press its mold upon their fashion, speech, habits, recreation, and attitudes (Romans 12:1,2). It seems innocent, but puts one at direct odds with God (as His enemy, James 4:4). We can help throw a protective armor around our youth by our prayers. In the context of the Christian armor, we are told to pray ,always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:18).

Jesus prayed for His children, ,that they all may be one, (John 17:21). We should pray that the children we love will become and remain one with God. We can pray that they believe in the one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5); remain in His one church (Ephesians 4:4; 1:22,23), forbearing one another in love while endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2), remembering we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:25), stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27), be of one accord, of one mind (Philippians 2:12), exhort one another daily (Hebrews 3:13), be all of one mind, having compassion one of another (1 Peter 3:8), and have fellowship one with another (1 John 1:7). To take inspiration from Paul’s inspiration: We can pray that they become a member of the one body, be filled with the one Spirit, have confidence in the one hope of their calling; always submit to the one Lord, always stand for the one faith after having submitted to the one baptism, and never disappoint the one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God (Colossians 4:12)

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The Married Couples of the Congregation Need Your Prayers

We should pray for new marriages. 

One preacher lost his train of thought at a wedding and closed it with the wrong prayer. He said, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. It is true that many couples enter marriage without under-standing what is required of them to make is work. Some put more planning into the wedding than the marriage. We should pray for these couples to have wisdom (James 1:5), patience (James 1:3,4), determination (Galatians 6:9), dependence upon God (Proverbs 3:6-10), and abiding love (1 Corinthians 13:1-8). We might do well to use the fruit of the Spirit list as a template – each of these would make a stronger home (Galatians 5:22,23). Actually, we should start praying for the young people of our congregation when they begin dating. There would be fewer broken homes if more prayers ascended for guidance in the selection of a companion. 

We should pray for marriages that are in trouble. 

The Bible presupposes that even Christian couples will sometimes have marital trouble (when one spouse is not a Christian, or is unfaithful, the likelihood increases). When trouble comes, a couple might consent to not share the marriage bed for a while, during which time they give themselves to fasting and prayer. Then they come together again (1 Corinthians 7:4), lest Satan tempt them to find satisfaction elsewhere. We do not always know when a couple is going through a time of discord, and should not try to find out , but if someone confides in us, asks for the prayers of the church family, or if it is common knowledge, or even if you just suspect it, it would be appropriate to pray for them. 

We may pray for marriages that are not in trouble. 

Prayer is supposed to be an integral part of marriage. Peter explained that husbands should take pains to act in such a way that prayers with their wives ,be not hindered (1 Peter 3:7). We should pray for our own marriages, of course, and can go the second mile and pick out some happily married couple and pray for them to be even happier. Things are not always as they seem, and prayer just might make a difference. 

We may pray for marriages that have broken apart. 

The grass is not always greener, and some later regret being hasty in divorcing. Since divorce is not God’s plan (Malachi 2:14-16; Matthew 19:6), and remarriage is unscriptural for at least half of those involved, wouldn’t it be better for a union that God recognized to be restored? God allows the innocent party to put away a mate, and even remarry, but He does not command it (Matthew 19:9). Provided both parties are willing to work at it, a marriage can build back a stronger structure on the ashes of the previous one. Just as a bone heals itself so strongly in a fracture that it will never break there again, some homes are stronger after a breakup, than they ever were before. 

God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you, (1 Samuel 12:23b) should be written across the exits from our church buildings. Samuel’s promise, I will pray for you unto the Lord (1 Samuel 7:5), should often be heard in our foyers and parking lots. Samuel actually regarded intercession as part of his official duty (10:22; 12:19), and deemed neglect a sin (12:23). Do we treat prayerlessness as a sin against those who need to be prayed for? He could get so grieved over the people of God that he cried unto the Lord all night (1 Samuel 15:11). Can I? Paul, being a man of prayer, went to find others who believed in prayer (Acts 16). They met daily by the riverbank. Prayer is our greatest weapon against the devil. Paul had begun his Christian life on his knees (cf. Acts 9:11). Jesus spent whole nights in prayer (Luke 6:12). Whenever a man loses faith in prayer, he has lost his greatest element of power. Queen Mary declared she feared the prayers of John Knox more than the armies of her enemies. Though neither were New Testament Christians, they both believed in the power of prayer. Certainly we have greater belief in it!

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The Homes of the Congregation Need Your Prayers

Abraham was praying for Lot and Sodom when they were not praying for themselves (Genesis 18:23-33). Jesus was praying for Peter when did not know to pray for himself (Luke 22:32). Who do you know who could use some prayer? Does he recognize it enough to spend any time on his knees? Is she even in a praying relationship with God? Do you have time and inclination to do some interceding? Paul exhorted that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty (1 Timothy 2:1,2).

A parent-teacher discussion group wondered what students could do after dismissal each day. Playgrounds, youth huts, bicycle trails, canteens, and even a student center with a paid supervisor were all suggested. Finally, a practical grandmother quietly said, Couldn’t they just go home? Something is wrong when children don’t want to go home. Something is wrong when they don’t really have a home (most have houses – perhaps very fancy ones – but that is not the same as having a home).

The local church is only as strong as the families that compose it. It cannot have qualified leaders without strong families (1 Timothy 3:1-10; Titus 1). Its works of hospitality (1 Peter 4:9), education of children (2 Timothy 2:2), care of the aged (1 Timothy 5), evangelism (Acts 18:26), and benevolence (James 1:27) are all carried out easier when strong homes are present. If a family suffers, the Family suffers (1 Corinthians 12:26).

If a marriage breaks apart, it strains the union of the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 4:2-6). If a non-Christian husband discourages his wife, the spiritual temperature of the entire congregation goes down a few degrees (Romans 14:7; Revelation 3:15-17). If children make mistakes and let evil win their hearts, it reflects badly upon their Father’s household (Luke 15:13; 1 Timothy 3:15). Conversely, if husbands and wives are happy, they will likely support more church activities and bring a happy disposition with them. If children feel secure because of constant parental love and discipline, they will cause few problems for their Bible teachers. If parents ask students about what they learned in class, and reinforce lessons with daily devotionals and good example, then teachers will enjoy seeing the fruits of their labors each Sunday morning.

If your congregation has none of the former situations, and all of the latter, then your time might be better spent in something besides inter-cession. But if there are divorcees among the members; if some parents stoop under the burden of rebellious or unfaithful children (Proverbs 10:1; 17:25); if a few mates seem to tolerate each other instead of rejoice with each other (Proverbs 5:18); if some children miss more classes than they attend (Ecclesiastes 12:1; Hebrews 10:25), and terrorize their teachers when they do, then you could do a service by going to God in prayer.

The Widows and Widowers of the Congregation Need Your Prayers.

The loss of a spouse of many years may be the most difficult event in the lives of about half of us. A part of pure religion and doing good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith includes care for those in such situations (James 1:27; Galatians 6:10). The God who claims for Himself the title of,a father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, (Psalm 68:5) will certainly honor those who prayed for the fatherless and widows. Those who are to plead for the widow (Isaiah 1:17) in earth’s courts, should also do plead for them in heaven’s courts. It is appropriate to pray for good health – for ourselves and for others. Samson prayed for strength (Judges 16:28) and John prayed that Gaius would mayest prosper and be in health even as his soul prospered (3 John 2).

It would be worth the time to use the church directory to list all those who have lost mates. Call or go see each one when you have an opportunity and ask them what they would like for you to mention in prayer; or, just probe in conversation to ascertain what is on their minds and then write down ideas when you leave (before you forget). One might then use that list once a week as a memory tool to help in both family and closet prayers. When we finish praying, we should do our part to answer the prayer, too. John wrote, My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18). A simple card, call, or cake can mean a great deal. A visit leaves a lingering memory that breaks a day’s monotony. Remember, it is always a good idea to pray with fellow Christians before parting company.

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Prayer is not always the answer

The Bible teaches that prayer is important (Luke 18:1; Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Timothy 2:1), but it also teaches that there are times when prayer is inappropriate. When Moses prayed that God would change His mind about punishing Miriam, God told him to quit praying and accept the consequences of sin (Number 12:13,14). Prayer won’t change some things:

If I commit sexual sin, prayer may remove the guilt, but it will not restore my purity.
If I am unfaithful to my mate, prayer cannot remove the fact that I have committed adultery, and my spouse can put me away (Matthew 19:9).
If I am promiscuous and contact a disease (e.g., AIDS), prayer will not miraculously remove the disease.
If I as a parent waste precious years of training and molding my child into the image of Christ, it may be that one day I’ll pray that they’ll come back, and I won’t be able to get them back.
If I gossip against someone, I may pray, and be forgiven, but those words will not be unheard.

God told Joshua to get rid of the sin in the camp, and then pray (7:10). Jeremiah was told not to pray for rebellious Israel (7:9,10, 16; 11:14). God told Cornelius (Acts 10) and Saul (Acts 9,22,26; cf. 22:16), in effect, stop praying, there is something else you need to do in order to be saved.
But often prayer is the answer. How can we encourage more prayer at the grass roots level? It needs to start with elders, deacons, and preachers. When we first set the example, we can say with Paul: Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). While one does not talk of his personal, private prayer life, neither can he hide it. Members can tell which elders and deacons pray. Listeners can discern if the preacher has spent any time on his knees that week. It just shows. Paul wrote, likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid (1 Timothy 5:25).

Once the example is being set, preachers should give emphasis to prayer from the pulpit and in church publications. A congregation can also put in place some public prayer sessions beyond the opening and closing prayers. One that works well is to ask all who want to pray for the church to come a half hour before the Sunday morning Bible class. Choose an appropriately sized room (don’t meet in the auditorium because others coming in will disrupt the prayers). Designate one man as the leader. Any who have prayer requests who will not be there can call him ahead of time. When the meeting starts, he quickly takes additional re-quests from those present. Write them down – perhaps on a marker board. Let all male Christians who desire to lead a prayer, do so each Sunday. If there are several, ask each to pray a short prayer. If there are too many, then rotate prayer leaders from week to week. The session is also open to women and children, of course. One does not have to lead the prayer to pray effectively. Some churches ask the sisters to write cards to those who were mentioned in prayer that day. These cards can be passed around and signed by all present. (Those shut-in their homes or hospital rooms with little to do will pass the time trying to decipher all the names and, perhaps, trying to place all the faces.) This is much more personal than just the name of a church with a note saying, We are all praying for you.

Some churches are going back to Wednesday prayer meetings. These can be done monthly, quarterly, or on the Wednesdays preceding Gospel meetings and other special events. They should be carefully planned and not just left to whoever shows up to pray for whatever comes to mind. Those who will lead prayer should be informed beforehand. To avoid too much duplication in the service, ask each man to pray for a particular part of the work or event. With a Gospel meeting, for instance, one man could pray for the preacher, another for those who are not yet converted, another for the wayward, another for the songleader and song-service, another for the congregation, and so forth. Incidentally, it is hardly coincidental that the church stopped growing in our country about the same time Wednesday night prayer meetings went out of vogue.

We have plowed no new ground in this study. We have scaled no unvisited peaks of divine Truth. Most preachers have preached such sermons at fairly regular intervals. But have we implemented these ideas into rubber meets the road, day-in-day-out church programs? Has our methodology matched our theology? Do we practice what we preach?

Augustus Caesar is said to have found Rome a city of wood, and left it a city of marble. If the congregation where we worship is a city of wood, let’s start praying – and working – and see if in ten years it is not a city of marble.