Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Is It Ok To Express - In Some Measure- Doubt, Anger, Disappointment, Complaint, Agony and Confusion?

Ajith Fernando, in his book, Jesus Driven Ministry - Crossway Books 2002 - talks about "Lament" as a supplement to praise and power in church life. Although this insight only covers 4 pages of a 272 page book, I found it quite enriching.

According to him the Church Growth mentality promotes praising God and celebrating the power of his works at the expense of lament. This does not give room for people to lament their sins or to share daily struggles and problems with others. It reduces the gospel to the level of a life enhancing product. This only reinforces an ambience which discourages people from sharing weakness and issues which might give the impression that there is something defective in the Christian gospel.

Fernando’s prescription is a reminder that the kingdom has not come in its fullness; on this side of eternity we are subject to weaknesses and frailties. Romans 8:23, according to him captures the essence of his position: the Christian although in possession of the first fruits of Christ’s Kingdom nevertheless groans inwardly as he waits the consummation of Christ’s work. We cope with a creation that is subject to frustration (Romans 8:20). Lament and groaning is part of the Christian response to human suffering and loss. He also mentions lament as a key theme in the Psalms, Lamentations Job etc.

Is he right? Fernando is on solid biblical ground. Space probably did not give him the opportunity to expound the biblical themes of lament and agony of our Lord as he approached Jerusalem, in the final week of his life, and his cry of dereliction on the cross. Old songs like, The Old Rugged Cross & At The Cross were part of a spirituality which helped people to configure their sufferings within the hope of Christ’s redemptive suffering. The lyrics of these songs broke our hearts; our sins were responsible for the Saviour's suffering.

C.S Lewis’s, A Grief Observed, and David Watson’s, Fear No Evil, are excellent examples of contemporary lament within a Biblical paradigm; Lewis was grieving over the death of his wife; Watson struggled with terminal cancer. Bible based lament helps us find the gift of God’s holy strength to move on. The Biblical witness is clear: Job’s wealth is restored after suffering catastrophic loss and the writer of Psalm 22 begins with lament and ends with praise. In the past 6 years news of clergymen who unexpectedly died in Singapore were not only a shock but also made me see the need for lament in times of sorrow and grief. One died in a car crash; the other from a massive stroke. Both left young families.

In Bolivia we minister to people who suffer on several levels: divorcees building a new life with their children; unexpected accidents which leave people maimed and dead; abuse in the family etc. Give space for folk to lament as they discover God’s sovereign care in the valley of the shadow of death.

On the other hand lament without a sense of Hope in the gospel quickly descends into self pity and morose self absorption. Hence the need to integrate our experiences, good and bad, in Christ. Our celebration is not empty triumphalism but one that is forged in the pain of failure. And our failure is never far from the Hope that is ours in Christ. David not only grieved but also picked himself up and moved on after a number of very painful events. He not only experienced the full consequences of his own failures but was also the victim of betrayal, persecution and abandonment. His psalms, a mixture of lament celebration and praise, become ours as we engage with the pain of our loss and frailty.

There are other interesting insights in Fernando’s book; next time you’re in a Christian bookstore, check it out.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH BISHOP MOSES TAY The Bolivian Beat launches a special feature today- interviews with global south christian leaders and their partners. More than one historian has said that the centre of Christianity is shifting to the global south – Asia, Africa South America and elsewhere. And our first interviewee, Bishop Moses Tay, represents this shift. He was the Bishop of Singapore and the first Archbishop of the Province of South East Asia. Bishop Moses represents a generation of passionate Christian leaders in Asia whose contributions reached global proportions. He also, together with others, began a movement which is stemming the tide of unchecked liberalism in the worldwide anglican communion. J. I Packer, in the 1990's once called the diocese of Singapore, under Bishop Moses' leadership, the charismatic capital of the anglican communion. Bishop Moses was the Lord’s instrument in facilitating our sense of calling to serve in Bolivia. 15 years ago, Bishop Moses, his wife Cynthia and I went to Bolivia & Peru to explore the possibility of building links with the Anglican Church in that part of the world. It was during this trip that Lord’s calling to serve in Bolivia was confirmed. In human terms I would not have had the opportunity to serve in Bolivia and this blog would not have existed if it was not Bishop Moses Tay’s decision to ordain me and to later open the door to Bolivia! Although retired he still serves the church in Singapore and loves playing grandad! Here is the interview: BB: How Did You Come To Know Christ On A Personal Level? MT: I came to know Christ early as a child through my mother's teaching and prayer and through a special prayer with a Chinese evangelist. BB: What Was The Most Memorable Moment In Your Life? MT: When I got married to Cynthia over 21 years ago! My first wife died after a brain operation for ruptured aneurysm about 2 months before I became the Bishop of Singapore in 1982. It was the most difficult period of my life because of my transition from work as a doctor managing a big hospital to become the Bishop responsible for work in 6 countries, with two teenagers needing care in bereavement. The way the Lord brought Cynthia is a story by itself. BB: The Biggest Challenge You've Faced In The Ministry? MT: Negatively, it was battling with Anglican Communion leaders who did not subscribe to biblical authority and biblical morality. Positively, it was the business of sending out missionaries from the Diocese! The owner of this blogspot is a happy story! BB: Who Are Some Of The Christian Leaders That Have Influenced You And Why? MT Firstly, it was my godly mother (a leader in her own right) who laid the foundation of faith and prayer. Secondly, it was the late Mr David Adeney, IFES General Secretary and later Dean of Discipleship Training Centre in Singapore, who encouraged me at a crossroad of my life. Thirdly, it was my predecessor Bishop B.I Chiu who led me in the things of the Holy Spirit and who influenced my appointment as his successor. BB: Any Wise Counsel For The Diocese Of Bolivia? MT: Wise counsel? I don't think I can do better than recommend Paul's counsel to Timothy in his two epistles. To that I would simply add:

(a) Obey and fulfil the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20) as you also obey the Great Commandment of love (Matt 22:32-40).

(b) Build up disciples on the one foundation of relationship with Jesus Christ so that in turn they may disciple others (2 Tim 2:2).

(c) Press on to know Jesus, and the power of His resurrection, and to share in His suffering (Phil 3:8-14). Thank you Bishop for the interview.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Preaching…Counselling…Praying For The Sick To Be Healed

It Does'nt Get Any Better Than This (well almost)!!

Yesterday I returned to the pulpit and preached my heart out on Pleasing God. It was great to be back in the pulpit; I shared extensively my furlough experiences and tied them to the sermon’s main theme. These days I preach inductively. It’s lively and holds their attention. The 3 point pedagogic style just doesn’t cut it in Bolivia. After the sermon we confessed the Apostle’s creed, sang a warfare praise song, took the offertory, interceded and said the collect. We closed the service with a praise song that fired everyone up. God’s people are blessed as heralds in the benediction and sent to the world as instruments of His blessing!

Evangelical churches miss out on the power of confessing the creed. Confessing the Creed is proclaiming the works of God against the principalities and the powers; in the midst of nihilism, unbelief, agnosticism, God’s people confess the gift of their mighty faith… We Believe In One God…This is the faith that not only pleases God but also overcomes the world. Many came up for prayer and ministry…all wanting to please the Lord in their lives. Ahh…the joys of the ministry!

At night I visited a very committed couple in the church. They’re in charge of the marriage ministry and never fail to attend our courses. He is running an import and export business. We shared our lives over tea and soda biscuits. Their children are doing well in school. God’s people always need encouragement!! Yup..its great to be back in the front lines of ministry!!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Machine Gun Counselling In A Bank!

Ministry happens anywhere in Bolivia. The lady helping me with a financial transaction at one of the local banks made some queries about Singapore as she looked at my identity card; she asked me questions about languages and culture. The conversation suddenly shifted to a domestic problem; her husband was not a Christian and was giving her a hard time because of her midweek cell meetings. The agony of her situation slipped through, "You are a missionary...what should I". She´s a stranger. Her marital problem is plaguing her mind; she´s reaching out for help. Maybe she was praying for the Lord to send someone. And I sort of turned up.

What could I possibly say to encourage her...there was no time to build a pastoral relationship;there were people behind me waiting their turn. So of I go like a machine gun, "Win his respect...He allows you to go to church on Sundays...that´s a plus point...obey him if he does'nt want you to for Tuesday midweek cell meeting...Christ want's your marriage to work...Its a difficult the Lord...I know of men who've come to Christ through the patience and prayers of their believing wives". Marriage is divine institution; we need to do whatever we can to make it work. She smiles and nods her head. I pick up my bank extract and walk away; the man behind me steps up and takes my place. And life goes on!!

Hey ministry is exciting!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

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Michelle and I have been married for almost 21 years; Yup that's her next to me. We were married in the old Church Of Our Savior at Prince Charles Crescent, Singapore. The children involved at the wedding have grown up. Our page boy, Teofilus, recently got married; his sister, Teonna (my god daughter) was one of the flower girls; she is happily married lady with a baby! Teorine, the other flower girl is a teacher in Sarawak, East Malaysia.

My wife is good looking classy lady. She's into worship and the creative arts - music, dance, silk painting. Where to get such a mix in a woman? We are very very different; complementing each other can be joyous, frustrating and rewarding.

So would I recommend marriage? Yes, marriage is a good thing; its challenges have constantly brought us to the foot of the Cross. Without Christ there can be no happiness in marriage; He sustains and keeps couples together, be they Christian or not. Don't forget, marriage was embedded as part of God's creation in Genesis. That's why marriage is a universal cultural phenomenon. Man's disobedience however has sadly left a trail of marital misery. Its painful when couples split. Its also very exciting to see couples rebuilding their marriages in Christ. There is hope always in Him.

Can't take the other half for granted. Your spouse is like a little plant in a pot. Make sure the plant is well watered and protected from bugs of resentment every day. To the guys... just love your woman; work at trying to please her. To the gals...just hug him and stand by your man!

This lady is carrying her sick child over a bridge (puente paile in Santa Cruz) which was blocked by protesters. Cars, lorries and in this case an ambulance were prevented from passing through the bridge. So this brave mother got out of the ambulance, carried her baby and walked across the bridge. The baby was breathing through a mask; some good samaritans volunteered to carried the oxygen tank that may have kept the baby alive.

The daily newspaper, EL DEBER (THE DUTY in english), carried this dramatic photo today in the front page; the social agitators were criticized for not allowing the ambulance to go through the bridge.

Blockades trigger social change in Bolivia. The president of Bolivia, when in the opposition, brought the country to a standstill, on more than one occasion, to change government policy. Other groups in various parts of the nation have followed suit; they cordon of bridges, roads and sometimes even walkways to get the attention of the authorities.

Can blockades be justified if the cause is righteous?

Sunday, August 13, 2006



One of the most excitng events of 2006 was the Provincial Youth Camp! We are stll reaping the fruit from this groundbreaking event! The youths are still on fire; there's and upbeat "lets-get-on-with-the-ministry" atitude in the church. Praise the Lord!

Here is an excerpt from Michelle´s (my wife) report concerning the camp:

The theme of the camp was "¡Aviva el Fuego!" ('Fan into flame' the gift of God... - 2 Tim.1:6). The main teaching, devotionals, were based on 2Timothy - very appropriate texts for the young people.There were 4 different workshops to set us all on fire - Leadership,Spiritual Warfare, Worship, Evangelism. The opening sessions by Shawnee Lyons (our Bishop's wife) led us into a much-needed discovery and assessmentof our spiritual gifts and ministries. We had the priviledge of having the great Alf Cooper (Anglo-Chilean evangelist) as our main speaker. ALL WHO ATTENDED THE CAMP, NOT ONLY THE PARTICIPANTS BUT ALSO THE LEADERS AND ORGANIZERS WERE BLESSED OUT OF OUR SOCKS AND MINDS!!! From the first eveningof the talks, youth were dedicating their lives to Christ, being restored,the move of the Spirit was so powerful, no one got away untouched in one wayor other... Throughout the week-long camp, lives were being healed, therewere miracles, signs and wonders, deliverance, inner healing, - you name it!!! Every night there was a special visitation of the Lord, the HolySpirit was present in a myriad ways... IT WAS MIND-BLOWING NOT ONLY TO BE MINISTERED TO BUT TO BE ABLE TO MINISTER 'OUT OF THE BOX'!!! The youth fromthe youngest to the oldest were ministering to each other and even to their leaders.

It was a real ROCKING TIME! As in the camp, we sang, danced, praised God with all our strength and mind and soul... and believe me we were all really and still are physically exhausted, so it was a work of the Spirit! A Pastor from Panama preached a powerful sermon on Ananias and Sapphira (definitely not an easy text!) We all feel a bond in the Spirit to pass on what we have received during the time of laughing, weeping, persevering, empowering in the Spirit this past week. It is contagious and is spreading like wild fire!!! Praise God!!! May this be the beginning of great revival, evangelism and discipleship for all our countries and this wonderful continent!

I am so encouraged to see so many of our youth - Alvaro, Alfonso, Julio Bascuñan, Gabriel, Sisy, Olguita, Gigi, Zulma, Andrea Rojas, Julio Cesar, Marisol, Nathaly, Karla, Gerardo, Andres, and Elijah, our son, being set free into their calling and giftings. this is but the beginning of so much more to come! Please keep us and the youth in our churches and other countries in your prayers - you and all our overseas partners have a very important roll to play in all of this and we desperately crave your intercession and prayers.


Friday, August 11, 2006



Who are the present day heroes in Bolivia? Certainly not the corrupt rich who exploit her endlessly!

The heroes in Bolivia are those who struggle to make a living; some of them are only children. This is a tribute to one of them. Her name is Alejandra; she sells tamales – a soft, boiled corn cake wrapped in dry banana leaves.

My first conscious memory of her was about 7 years ago. She was 14 years old, carried tamales in a bag, rode her bicycle around the neighborhood and shouted at the top of her lungs “tamales, tamales”.

Our part time secretarial help, Vanessa, always bought tamales from Alejandra in the afternoons. She would cycle to the fence near the church and Vanessa would dutifully buy tamales for tea. One day Vanessa fell sick and didn’t come to the church office. Like clockwork Alejandra appeared in the afternoon and began shouting without stopping - Tamales, Tamales; I was busy at my desk and hoped that she would simply leave. She did not. I went to the window, looked stern, waved my hands angrily and urged her to go away; she fled on her bike!

A few minutes later the Holy Spirit stirred my consciousness with a discipling moment: Alejandra was not an unpleasant interruption to my work but the embodiment of consistency, diligence and labor – the Godly virtues we were trying to facilitate in our people. She returned minutes later; quietly hoping that Vanessa would appear. I saw from the corner of my eye; walked out of my office and approached her looking very apologetic and kindly. It seemed to work because she looked relieved and broke out into a smile. We began conversing and it wasn’t long before she told me her story. She sold tamales to help pay some of the bills at home: her brother’s education, her father’s medical bills etc. Bolivia depends on persons like Alejandra. I invited her to our Saturday breakfast programme and encouraged her to attend the church.

Alejandra is part of a common third world phenomenon: adolescents and children who work to support their poverty stricken families. These kids, and not the Brad Pitt clones, are truly our modern day heroes! They work hard because of loyalty to their families: mum, dad and their siblings are not there for their convenience but are companions in the common struggle for daily survival. A times they are not recognized for their efforts nor are they treated humanely by family members. But they soldier on anyway! They are not only Bolivian heroes but ours as well!

Thank you Alejandra for enriching my life.

Thursday, August 10, 2006



We’re back in one of our “homes” – Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Our other “homes” are Singapore, Penang and HEAVEN. The dogs, mosquitoes and ants gave us a warm welcome.

The flight was delayed because one of the passengers checked his bags in with the flight and mysteriously disappeared; He did not take the flight. The rules are clear: if the passenger does'nt turn for the flight, his bags are removed from the plane. So they had to rummage through all the baggage and take out the bag that belonged to the missing person.

We arrived at about 9am. It’s hot and dusty in Santa Cruz; there’s a new entertainment joint with some fast food restaurants nearby; the roof is thatched and the place looks, from the outside, like a huge hut. Our interior clocks are still on Singapore/Malaysian time. So we don’t sleep in the early hours of the morning because we’re still in “afternoon” mode. It takes about a week for our inner clocks to adjust to Santa Cruz time.

Thanks for all your support and prayers.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006



We left Singapore on a Sunday; All Saints Church prayed for us during the service and sent us out with the Lord’s blessing. The preacher spoke on God’s people in exile; a very appropriate message for Elijah, Michelle and myself.

Here we are at the airport in Inchon, Korea on a stopover; the journey from Singapore to Bolivia is long and energy sapping. We left Changi Airport, Singapore at about 0100 in the early morning. We normally return to Bolivia knackered i.e. worn out, exhausted. Korean Airlines are attentive to the needs of their passengers; the leg room is spacious; cabin space for hand luggage on top of the passenger seats is very generous; although they don’t speak much English, the cabin crew smile and are generally helpful.

We’ve just arrived in the US and are spending the night in Los Angeles; tomorrow we fly to Miami and then arrive in Santa Cruz. Bolivia. Elijah and I went to 2 malls; their built horizontally and the shops are spread out over larger spaces. We prefer the Singapore malls; they´re vertical and are more diverse. America is a BIG country; their people are huge (some of them obese!); their food servings are enormous and their cars are not what you’d call petite. We went to Barnes & Nobles: bought a magazine and a book on creative writing and picked up the latest copy of The Atlantic.

The kind folk at Barnes & Nobles called us a cab. The not so kind folk at the taxi company did not send a cab after saying that they would. Getting a taxi was a trying experience; the yellow cab company saved the day. They sent one after a 10 minute wait. Most Americans have cars; buses and taxis are NOT the major mode of transportation unless you're in a busy city.

Tomorrow we fly to Miami…catch you then!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Have you ever been retrenched? Its a devastating experience but not necessarily the end of the world!

It’s NOT the most pleasant of experiences to be told that you’re not needed anymore; not especially after more than 20 years of faithful service. Seems that the new owners have plans to restructure the company; they’ve other priorities; you don’t fit into their plans; your experience is not an asset but a liability. You’ve been declared redundant. So out you go. They put a smile on their faces, invite you to work elsewhere and wish you the best. No words of appreciation and no attempt at offering you another job elsewhere in the company; no attempt at trying to retrain you. It’s all forgotten: the sacrifices, the long hours, the prestige you brought to the organization, the dignity of always speaking well of your bosses. You’re simply not a priority Why you? You’ve received good performance reviews by some of the other bosses. But their views don’t matter. You’re just a victim of the “big picture”. Deep down inside you feel betrayed.

Jesus was different. He did not forget the disciples who abandoned him in his hour of need. He sought them out after his resurrection and restored them to their position as apostles. Jesus stuck by his people. He did not retrench them. Praise the Lord!

This National Day I salute all those who are facing the impact of retrenchment. God bless you. I salute your courage. Don’t give up and dwell on what has happened. Do what is necessary to get back on your feet. May the Lord open the eyes of your faith and awaken the goodness of His mercy in your heart. Majullah Singapura!!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Michael Green, distinguished anglican author/theologian calls for an even handed approach to this thorny subject at virtueonline.

Should Christians support Israel?

Surely we need to be more discriminating and look both at the facts of the current war with Hizbollah and at the claim that scripture compels Christians to be pro-Israeli. I am not pleading that we take a pro-Arab stance, but that we renounce polarization and try to see God's perspective on it all. Justice The main thrust of the OT prophetic message is that God is a God of justice,and judges his own people for inujustice. Remember Naboth's vineyard. Israel has established hundreds of Naboth's vineyards on Palestinian soil. It continues to confiscate, week by week, more Palestinian land on the West Bank. In 1947 when the newly-born State of Israel came into partial possession of the land which Palestinians had held since the seventh century, the Palestinians were left with 47% of the land. Now they have a mere 19% or so. What would you feel if someone came and forced you out of your home and took posession of your house and garden without compensation? And then there is that infamous wall. It cuts through the town of Jesus' birth, separating Palestinians from their fields and employment. And now that the wall is almost complete Israel is busy confiscating Palestinian land on the Jerusalem side of it.

What are the Palestinians supposed to do? They tried non-violent protests against the wall. Nothing happened. They took Israel to the international court of justice, won their case, but nothing happened. The ruling is ignored and the wall keeps being built. Where is justice? There can be no justification whatever for their suicide bombing, and the rockets being fired into Israel indiscriminately. They must be resolutely condemned. But surely these are the tactics of the weak who are utterly frustrated. TerrorismIt is common to call Hamas and Hizbollah terrorists, and so they may be. But there was no Hamas before Israel invaded Palestine in 1967. There was no Hizbollah before Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. If the label of 'terrorist' be applied to Palestinians, let it be applied too to American Indians fighting back when whites pushed them off their land, or to the French resistance for killing German occupying forces in World War 2. It is the inevitable reaction by the powerless to aggression. Proportionality There is no doubt that Hamas and Hizbollah provoked the present conflagration by capturing one and two Israeli soldiers respectively. But the violence of Israel's reaction has persuaded all the world leaders apart from the US and the UK that an immediate cease-fire must be called. The destruction of Gaza's water and electicity supply, and the devastating laceration of sourthern Lebanon have had incalculable effects on the civilian population and cannot be explained away blandly as 'collateral damage'. Half a million people are refugees in Lebanon as the country collapses around them. Some 480 Lebanese have been killed, most of them women and children, compared with 42 Israelis. One of your correspondents is rightly concerned about "murdered and butchered Israeli men, women, and children" but fails to mention that, on average over recent years, for every one such Israeli, four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli tanks, missiles and helicopter gunships. As for innocent children killed, they include more Palestinians than Israelis (the statistics are clear). In the past month in Gaza, one Israeli has died - and 140 Palestinians! And if it be said that Iran and Syria are arming Hizbollah, the same is true of America and Britain arming Israel - even, it is reported, accelerating the shipment of sophisticated bombs in reply to Israel's current urgent request. Biblical prophecy There are two major interpretations of biblical teaching about the restoration of Israel to its original land. One is advocated by the widely influential Dispensationists (who have only been in existence for less than 200 years). It argues that the promise of the land to Abraham is not conditional upon obedience but stands for all time. It maintains that OT prophecies of return and restoration were partly fulfilled by the return of the Jews from the Exile, but have been fulfilled once again since the return of some Jews to the land in and after 1948. The creation of the State of Israel is seen not only as a sign of the faithfulness of God and the fulfilment of OT promises, but as a pointer to the imminence of the Second Coming. The other and much more historically reputable way of looking at it is by Covenant theology - one covenant of grace with Christ at the centre. The Abrahamic covenant and all the OT prophecies and promises have to be interpreted in the light of the coming of the kingdom of God with Jesus. The OT must be read through the spectacles of the NT. This is how the NT writers interpreted the Old. Nowhere in the NT do we find any suggestion that the Christians looked forward to the establishment of a Jewish State or the rebuiliding of the Temple as part of God's plan. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the gospel spread to the Gentile world. The very phrase 'the saints' is applied by the NT writers no longer to Israel but to the people of God both Jewish and Gentile, who belong to Jesus.According to this view, the return of the Jews to Israel in 1948 is theologically irrelevant. This is not the place to debate these two interpretations, but their very existence, both of them upheld by reputable scholars, should caution us not to give an unthinking support to Israel on theological grounds. We need to avoid the bipolar perspective, so common on this subject.

As Christians we should not be 'pro-Jew' or "pro Arab' but even handed in expressing any judgments wemake in this most difficult and complicated situation, where both sides are guilty of atrocities. Should we not ask ourselves not 'What is my nation's policy?' but 'What is God's perspective on this?'