GOING TO BOLIVIA 5
The Lord uses people to facilitate His plan in our lives.
Rev Ted Newing was such a person. Ted, warden of St Peter’s Hall in the early 80’s, was a lean, silver- haired Australian with an Irish background. He received my application, interviewed me extensively and pushed my papers through the various committees. His support for my application, in more ways than one, was invaluable.
Ted attended morning and evening prayers at St Peter’s diligently and shared the Eucharist with students of the hall. His Old Testament lectures helped us see the literary structures behind lengthy biblical passages. I caught him at the tail end – the last 3 years – of his ministry in Singapore.
His departure left me wondering if our paths would ever cross.
By God’s providence our common passion for South America brought us together 7 years later!
Ted Newing returned to Singapore as General Secretary of SAMS Australia!
I will never forget his moving narration of Allan Gardiner’s (founder of the South American Mission Society) martyrdom at a clergy meeting in Singapore. The then Bishop of Singapore, Moses Tay had invited him to share with us the work of SAMS. His sharing did not appear to have had an impact on anyone, except me. One clergyman said that mission to South America was considered not practical. I suspect however that Bishop Moses gave Ted the opportunity to talk to the clergy because of an interest to develop links with South America.
I immediately cornered Ted after the meeting and we agreed to catch up over tea the next day.
We met at someone’s home over Earl Grey tea. I wasted no time in sharing with him my interest in Latin America. We knew each other and I felt safe in opening my heart to him. He listened intently. Ted Newing was the first person I spoke to at length about my sense of calling to serve in Latin America; I sounded discouraged because no one seemed to show any interest in following through with Ted’s presentation. He was however reassuring,
Not to worry, Raphael…seeds have been planted; in God’s time they will bloom, he replied.
He gave me a copy of Phyllis Thompson’s biography of Allan Gardiner and encouraged me to continue praying and to not give up on my dreams.
And true enough the seeds he planted grew into a sturdy oak tree.