Monday, September 03, 2007


Going To Bolivia 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5

1991 was a turning point.

My time in All Saints as Pastor was coming an end. Although I was their longest serving pastor, I knew that the Lord was leading me to another part of the vineyard. He was giving me insights and thoughts which were related to God’s wider plan for Michelle, Elijah and I.

The next step, I sensed would probably involve me leaving Singapore. Was the Lord asking me to pursue theological studies overseas? The only other unexplored dimension was a calling to serve Him in Latin America. And that sounded like a pie-in-the-sky idea. My personal conviction of remaining in the Anglican Church had also not waned. All these thoughts were bumping into on another in my heart. Integrating them on a human level seemed an impossible task. I felt overwhelmed. Thinking about these matters was frustrating because there seemed to be no visible opportunities or clear signs to chart a new course. What on earth was He up to? It can be quite stressful to understand the Lord’s ways!

I went to a Tuesday clergy meeting in May 1991, burdened by weight of figuring out the Lord’s will for myself. We met at the South Transept in St Andrew’s Cathedral. I took a seat near Bishop Moses Tay. A Caucasian man was seated on his right. He turned out to be Rev Greg Blaxland, the national director of the Anglican work in Bolivia. Sy Rogers, a counselor trained in the area of homosexual reparative therapy was the other guest. Sy was the first to share and he did an interesting presentation on homosexuality from a Christian perspective response.

Greg Blaxland’s sharing was simple, short and straight forward. He talked at length about Bolivia and its challenges. His comments about Bolivian self esteem spoke to pastoral heart. Bolivia had lost most of its wars and gave up huge tracts of land to neighboring countries. Greg closed his sharing with a Macedonian call for help. Bolivia needed trained clergy to serve as missionaries in Bolivia. He looked at us earnestly and then placed a stack of calling cards at the edge of the table. We were invited to take his card at the end of the meeting and speak to him. In all my years of attending clergy meetings, this was probably the first time someone made an appeal to the clergy to pursue a missionary calling.

Joy In My Heart
Greg’s words made my mind swirl and heart beat faster. I was overwhelmed and excited; it was as if an invitation had been extended to board the train of the Lord's eternal purpose. Although I was caught totally off guard by Blaxland's appeal I knew the door to Latin America was beginning to open ever so slowly. It was tempting to speak to Greg and take his greeting card. I felt however that it was still premature to go public; Michelle, my wife, needed to be filled in first.

The clergy meeting ended at about 11 .15 am. I wanted to leave quickly, go home and start sharing with Michelle.

I left the Cathedral with joy in my heart.


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