Saturday, June 30, 2007


I mentioned the impending Jepsen campaign in one of my previous posts. Here is a picture of the campaign. Click here for the full story and more photos.

From 19 - 23 June the Anglican Church in Santa Cruz put together an evangelistic campaign and a seminar on healing for pastors and church workers/leaders. This is an exciting time in the life of the church because these activities were organised entirely by Revd Federico Bascunan and the local leadership.

Pray for effective follow up and for the Holy Spirit to further anoint and bless God's people to go and share the gospel in His Power.




I picked up this book at Miami airport and began reading it on a plane 34 000 above sea level on my way back to Singapore. It was, literally, a heavenly experience!

This is an outstanding work. Pope Benedict when he was Cardinal Ratzinger gave the impression of being a dry theologian and an inquisitorial figure. His writings as Pope however have shown the warmer side of his faith. His first encyclical was on Love. It was a simple look at the several levels of love and less scholarly when compared to the works of John Paul 2.

Benedict calls this book, "My personal search for the face of the Lord". His personal search, not based on mystical experiences, is firmly centred on the Christ. He finds Christ in Scriptures,using the redemptive historical method as an expression of his personal faith. It surely is an irony, for Protestants anyway, to find a Pope who knows how to plunge and extract the deep riches of Christ from the Bible. Several passages are read in the light of other passages which shed greater light on Christ - this is biblical theology at its best.

One of the highlights is his masterful defense of the traditional view of the Apostle John's authorship of the gospel of John. He dialogues with those who deny John's authorship and uses their insights to put forward his argument. He reads Christ into OT themes and brings alive NT in interesting new ways.

The only weakness in the book is the absence of biographical details of a personal encounter with Christ as he read the scriptures. How did his readings of scripture bring Christ into his life and change him? No answers are given. We'll probably have to wait for Benedict's personal biography (or maybe information concerning his conversion is out there somewhere...can someone enlighten me)

This is a great book and I heartily recommend it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


We are staying at an apartment in the west of Singapore: a place called Holland Village; so of we went to the nearest Anglican church - the parish of St James. We bumped into a few old friends, Khairon and Revd William Chee. After the service a young lady, Denise, walked up to my wife and spoke a little spanish; she worked in Youth With A Mission and has heart for Latin America.

Canon Terry Wong, vicar of the church and his wife Jennifer were very hospitable; they took us for lunch after the service and made us feel at home. Jennifer, medical doctor, is a very friendly person with an uncanny ability to make you feel at home. Canon James Wong, the Archdeacon from the diocese of Mauritius was also at the service. He is a friendly guy who speaks French, Creole and English. He is on sabbatical in Singapore.

The service was a non traditional mattins. Contemporary Praise & Worship coupled with prayers from the prayer book formed the basic format of the service. Most of the services in the diocese of Singapore would more or less resemble the one we experienced at St James. Although the music had no latin rythmns and some of the songs were not familiar, we felt at home. Terry spoke on the Christian In The Public Square. Some of his comments concerning unkown missionaries engaged in education and church development at the turn of the century in Singapore, spoke to me. We sometimes tend to forget that our work here and now would not have been possible if it was not for the extraordinary and sacrificial efforts of early missionaries.

After service we had lunch with Terry, Jennifer and Archdeacon James. The fellowship was priceless as we shared notes on what was going on in our lives; It was great to be back with the brethren in Singapore!!

Saturday, June 23, 2007


I begin a series of posts on the circumstances surrounding my journey in response to God's call to serve in Bolivia, South America. After 14 years of ministry in Bolivia, I sense its time, with the benefit of hindsight, to tell our story.

One more than one occasion, people, be they from Singapore or Bolivia, look dumbfounded when told we are serving in Bolivia as missionaries from Singapore.

Some Singaporeans say, "Wah so far ah...".

Some Bolivians say, "Wow.. you've come a long way"

And so I hope that these posts, of which, this is the first, will provide a context for those who've supported us all these years.

In 1993, Michelle, Elijah and I packed our bags, uprooted ourselves and went to Bolivia with the full support of the diocese of Singapore. I was licensed as a Diocesan Missionary. Bishop Moses Tay called the clergy together to pray for us during the Synod service, a week before our departure. I especially remember Canon Alan Cole's prophecy of how my family and I would rediscover God's presence in the ordinary moments of life in Latin America. Alan was right, doing long term missions is impossible without the graces necessary to find the Lord in the seemingly ordinary components of music, politics etc of a foreign culture.

The events and circumstances leading up to this decision more than 14 years ago have never been told in its entirety. And so...

The story begins...believe it or not with a schoolboy enthusiasm of the Amazon jungle. The Amazon was to me a massive, under explored region of jungles, lakes, rivers and all sorts of creepy crawlies, wild animals; it spoke of adventure and mystery. The Amazon through its tributaries runs through Bolivia not unlike the highways of a modern 1st world city. Going there was a silly adolescent dream. A part of my inner wiring was already pointing toward South America.

I received Christ when I was 14 years old after reading the Bible - a gift from my mother for my confirmation. At the age of 17 I went to see a lecturer at the Singapore Bible College about the possiblity of studying theology with a sense that my future lay in the Lord's hand to serve Him. He wisely told me to work out my faith in the world. I joined the Navy several months later; my personal walk with the Lord was not consistent and I backslided on more than one occasion.

After six years, my contract with the Navy ran out; I came to the conclusion that it was time to make a U turn in my life and return to the Lord. It was a significant point in my life...


Yup we're back.

The flights from LA to Korea and then Korea to Singapore were ardous but welcome cuz we're on our way back to our 2nd home.

Settling in normally takes about 2 weeks:

- coping with the jet lag is tiresome as our inner clocks try to differentiate between day and night; our bodies reel & sweat profusely from the humidity;

- new oils and spices roil our stomachs;

- walking with the masses in stations and malls hurries you along;

- finding the nearest hawker centre, bank and train stations, from where we live, involves lots of walking & observing;

- we look to the right and left more than once when we cross roads cuz Singaporeans drive on the right.

and dozens of other stuff...

Yup we're back!!

On your right is a view of the Singapore skyline.

Monday, June 18, 2007



- Flying From Bolivia Thru The US To Singapore -

We normally take a break in Southern California and spend some time with my sister, Rebecca and her husband, Jim during our long journey from Bolivia to Singapore. Staying with them for a couple of days is a welcome rest in between long and tiring flights.

This time around they took us to a popular tourist destination, Yosemite. And so of we went to this protected natural reserve. It was a fascinating experience: the incredible sights & panoramic view. A half day tour of the place was the highlight; Bill Fontane, a seasoned guide was driver as well as tour guide; he gave us a running commentary of Yosemite's history, the fauna, flowers, sequioa trees, the various mountains, landscapes and waterfalls. Bill's voice sounded like something behind those TV wildlife documentaries from the 60's. He is very eloquent in his commentaries and explanations; Yosemite, coloured by his insights, comes alive. Its quite obvious that the man loves his job.

The stars at night provide a stunning perfomance for those willing to lift their heads to gaze at the sky.

God has shed his grace on thee, America.

Tonight we continue our journey from Los Angeles to Dallas; and then its the big one: a 14 hour flight from Dallas to Korea; we then endure a further 5 hours from Seoul to Singapore.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


We are preparing for our trip back to S'pore.

These are busy moments for us: packing, saying our goodbyes, buying souveniers, writing notes, doing our budgets, balancing our accounts, briefing house sitters, fixing iron grills to windows, closing our internet and phone accounts, paying all outstanding bills, packing our bags etc..

And we will probably remember to do something important on the day before the flight!

Friends, we fly this Thursday morning and will spend some time with my sister in California before leaving for Singapore.


Probably not...but read on..there might be exceptions..


Some governments are not too enthusiastic about any kind of dissent, not even from their own citizens. In cases like this...missionaries should know their place and guard their testimony.

On the other end of the spectrum are countries where freedom of speech and assembly are commonplace. In such circumstances there might be a place for missionaries to help the national church put forward its case against impending legislation or a movement which is clearly at odds with biblical principles.


A couple of years ago, the Bolivian congress, under the influence of liberal minded elements from outside the country, were about to pass a bill that would liberalize sexual activity amongst young people and promote the gay, lesbian, transgendered agenda. The christian church reacted strongly, especially in Santa Cruz; marches were organized; forums were organized; discussion groups sprung up.

A town hall meeting was organized to discuss the bill. Close to 700 people signed up to speak (they had 2 minutes each or maybe less) at a local indoor stadium. Christians were mobilized to attend and speak against the proposed bill. We joined in heartily. It was a noisy and non violent meeting where everyone were given a chance to speak up.

We also participated in a massive signature campaign against the impending legislation. Many christian groups, including the anglican church marched joyously in the streets expressing their disagreement to the bill. I was also interviewed by a local TV station.


The carnival like atmosphere made the experience a positive one. The congress finally decided to shelve the bill thanks to peaceful Christian activism. Some missionaries, in helping this movement, were not passive observers but active participants, albeit in a supportive role, against this undesirable legislation.

The case cited above however is a little unusual and does NOT represent the norm.

I would argue instead for missionaries to evangelise and disciple a solid national leadership committed to the overall well being of the nation; a leadership mature enough to facilitate, when the situation calls for it, peaceful and creative dissent.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007



Conversations, especially during informal occasions, tend to veer into politics. Bolivians are a chatty lot...and sooner or later missionaries will be expected to make some sort of a comment.

The present government has broached some issues with provocative statements and bold policies; yup...there's a lot to talk about these days!

Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, recently, severely criticised the judiciary and accused supreme court judges of corruption. He stirred a hornets nest. Lawyers and judges are going on a one day strike. Corruption, however is rife in the judicial system. Is it any wonder that the president's statements resonate amongst the populace? Political discussions can sometimes get quite heated when folk begin to take sides.


I try to keep a respectful silence until someone asks me for my opinion; there have been times however when I get into the fray and say my piece. I've learned to exercise self control, avoid vitriolic comments, stay close to the facts, try not to take sides, respect the current government and to also express a christian viewpoint whenever necessary. If a particular government policy or action collides with the christian faith, then I respond clearly and firmly without rancor. People expect nothing less from their christian leaders.

A degree of discretion is important because I represent the church and being a foreigner forces me to not be impulsive or incite folk against the elected government. We are called to honor the emperor and pray for governing authorities. A missionary is not a smart-ass-know-it-all but a foreigner, an invited guest, whose task is to bless the nation through his work in the church. He or she, especially if they are new missionaries, should listen intelligently and understand social issues & customs before trying to venture an opinion.


On a personal level, I have generally not avoided conversations over difficult social issues. I've been here for 14 years and people expect me to not only have certain convictions but to also share them. Its a welcome challenge because these informal times provide opportunities to not only listen to people's fears & opinions but to also react compassionately to what's going in the nation.

Yup...missionaries should be wise, be it as a listener or a contributor in any conversation.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


A Cold Winter In Santa Cruz!

Temperatures have dropped dramatically in Santa Cruz; we are experiencing a very cold winter. At night it can get as low as 14% celsius; this is a dramatic change because temperatures hover between 25 to 30%. In some areas its even dropped to 9%.

The weather in Santa Cruz is normally humid and hot; folk here are normally very lightly clothed. We rushed for our mothballed wollens as the cold began to descend upon us suddenly about 2 weeks ago.

The photo on the top is a half way home for those abandoned and without decent housing; they're wrapped in blankets under the vigilance of a security guard. A warm place with blankets and some hot food is a matter of life and death for the homeless in Santa Cruz.

Friday, June 01, 2007


Elijah's graduation was a once in a life time experience for us; he's our only son.

The first item on the programme resembled a wedding service: parents walking down the aisle with their graduating son or daughter.

Michelle accompanied Elijah {the girls were accompanied by their dads and the boys were with their mums}. Words of encouragement, prepared by the parents were read out as the graduating students entered the auditorium with their parents.

Elijah recieved his diplomas from one of the directors of the school board.

The prinicpal's message, songs, prayers made it an unforgettable night. A reception with light snacks for family
and friends was held after the ceremony.