BIBLICAL GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY

Issue No. 34

8 - 14 September  2008

Reflection

Dr Kenny Tan(The following was initially written as a reflection paper for the course “Vocation, Work and Ministry” – the procrastination spoken of in the opening paragraph reflects how lazy the student was and how gracious the faculty was. Incidentally the paper has not been graded yet.) – Dr Kenny Tan

The procrastination had lasted long enough. There was only so much that one could reflect on before it became a lame excuse for sloth. However, as lame as it may sound, the procrastination did do me some good as the last few months have been akin to a life-changing, paradigm-shifting experience for me as I reflected on what vocation, work and ministry meant to me.

The romance of service” – This is how I would term my initial view of the traditional understanding of full-time ministry. After all, was it not conventionally taught over the pulpit that the highest form of worship and service one could give as a child of God was to enter into full-time ministry, as a preacher, pastor or missionary? Did we not call Charles Spurgeon the “prince of preachers”? I had not heard of any ‘prince of businessmen’ before.

So, when I decided to quit full-time doctoring three years ago to go into bible school, I was filled with the romance of service, where I thought I was pursuing the highest calling any Christian could make. It really didn’t help that this notion was accentuated by well-meaning Christians who patted me on the back and told me what a sacrifice I was making for the kingdom! With two and a half days freed up from conventional work, I was filled with excitement of how I would fill them up with church ministry and activities. What’s more – I would do it for free!

The reality of service” – Romance quickly gave way to reality the longer I spent at the church office, and the more time I interacted with those I sought to emulate. Peering into the faults of my leaders at close range became disconcerting and discouraging; experiencing a lack of encouragement and affirmation for ‘sacrifices’ made me question the ‘rightness’ of my choice. Was I truly called to full-time ministry?

What made it even more difficult was the fact that I still retained a part-time position in the hospital which meant that I was still in contact with former medical colleagues. It became increasingly difficult and bruising to my ego to see my colleagues, and worse, my juniors promoted to more senior positions. It became very easy for me to start calculating the opportunity costs incurred and comparing my position in life with those of my contemporaries. Worse, I started to have a complaining attitude towards what I happily chose in the first place …

The repulsion of service” – This disappointment with my romantic view of service drove me to consider other options that began opening up. A friend from medical school approached me to helm a medical service overseas (my mind wandered to the recoverable lost dollars as well as a chance to ‘minister’ to the locals); another offer to a teaching position came (my mind wandered to the prestige of an academic career as well as a chance to ‘minister’ to the students).

I seemed to be able to justify a move back where I came from, where I didn’t have to cost the cost so much. After all, I would still be an influence – and this soothed the guilt. Little did I realize that romance had died under the weight of reality, leading to an ungodly and self-seeking attitude.

Father, let me be weak that I might loose my clutch on everything temporal. My life, my reputation, my possessions, Lord, let me loose the tension of the grasping hand.” –Jim Elliot
 

(To be continued in the next issue.)

Introducing Our Council Members

Sample ImageMR LIM CHIN KENG is one of our longest serving Council members. He is married and has a son who is in the legal profession, and a daughter who just made him a proud grandfather (see announcement below). He serves as an Elder in Yio Chu Kang Chapel, a Brethren church of about 400 members. Currently he serves as Chairman of the Board of Elders.

Chin Keng is a retired banker and used to be deeply involved in overseeing the personnel matters of BGST. Recently he was tasked with the chairmanship of a new committee to develop BGST's links to its members and to churches in Singapore. Chin Keng has also actively worked in BGST's numerous fundraising projects and an encourager to staff and Council alike. 

He is happy to be involved in BGST, both in Council and as a student. His only lament is that though willing to learn, he finds it hard to recall. 

Introducing our Recent TENT Graduates

Ms Doreen Yeo Hwee Keng 

Doreen was a teacher with the Ministry of Education (MOE) for ten years, teaching both primary and secondary schools before resigning in December 2007. Since then, she has been an adjunct teacher with MOE and a freelance drama teacher. She joined Discipleship Training Centre as a full-time student in July 2008, pursuing a Graduate Diploma in Intercultural Studies. She hopes to go to the mission field in two years’ time. She has been actively involved with the Young People Ministry in various capacities since 1991 in Church of Singapore (Marine Parade). She is now a Youth Advisor there, and is also serving in her church’s Mission Board as a committee member. Her current life verse is taken from Psalms 40:8 &16: “I desire to do your will, O my God ... May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who love Your salvation always say, “The LORD be exalted!”

 

Weekly Highlights

Chapel This Week. Chapel speaker for 10 September will be Rev Edwin Lam of FOMOS. 

Chapel summary of 3 September "Why do you do what you do?" Our chapel speaker, Andrew Lee began his reflective sharing on servanthood with this enigmatic poser. Who do we serve even as we like to be called servants of God? Do we serve for money, for security or for popularity? He shared honestly and unflinchingly about the subtle temptations and pitfalls when we are engaged in service and ministry. Do we serve in a ministry for money? Do we stay in a ministry because there is nowhere else to go? Do we study for a degree in BGST so that we can go back to our country to get a good job? Do we exploit ministry resources in the name of serving God? He closed the reflection by reading from Job chapter 1, especially focusing on a question, "Does Job fear God for nothing?" (Job 1:9)

"Do you serve God and fear God for nothing" he asked in his closing statement. A searching question indeed. Do we? Do you?

Announcements

We rejoice with our Council member, Mr Lim Chin Keng (introduced above) and his wife Meow Keng. They were duly promoted to grandparents with the birth of Zachary on 24 Aug 2008. Together with Zachary’s parents, Caleb & Julia Woo, they praise God for His wonderful provision.
  
Amendments
Please note that correct dates for Residential Retreat for Spiritual Retreat: Nature, Purpose & Dynamics (ECF504) should be Nov 21-23 not Nov 28-30.

On 4 September 2008, BGST Council Chairman, Dr Toh See Kiat, left for Tyndale Seminary in Canada to pursue an MTS (Master in Theological Studies). We wish him the Lord’s blessing in all his endeavours. In Dr Toh’s absence, another Council member, Mr Andrew Chua will be the Acting Chairman with immediate effect, until Dr Toh’s term as Council Chairman ends in March 2009, or until he finds a new chairman. Please pray with us on this. We shall be introducing more of Mr Andrew Chua in our next issue.
 
Wanted:
A 3-room flat for Dr Pagolu & family by 1st October; preferred area – West Singapore.

31 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088454. Tel: 62276815 Fax: 62276816 
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