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Issue No. 34 30 Aug - 5 Sep 2010
Reflections on ‘Christian response to poverty’ by Simon Ting

Thanks, I appreciate your article.  You had mentioned the two ways that Christians can respond to poverty. Your observation that Singapore churches are giving well towards charities and missions is true.  This is true of Singapore as a whole, whatever religious affiliation.  We can see this in the generous giving towards causes like major catastrophes or local charities like NKF, Community Chest.

In addition, I would like to suggest a third, especially for Singapore Christians. Singaporeans in general are affluent since our country is prosperous. This would be true as well for individual Christians as well as for churches. We are able to give out of our abundance. At the same time, the taste for higher quality lifestyle is also growing.  Christians also want bigger or better cars or houses, more money, more spending on those things which you mentioned with respect to America. There is also more wastage.  In short, one word: consumerism.  Only ironically, it is not we who consume, but rather, are consumed by those very things we think we consume!  And as you remarked, the media and ads do not help very much.

In my TS211 course, we studied the doctrine of Creation and its implications for stewardship today. One that I came across, at the individual level (but a very impactful level), is that Christians should adopt a simpler, frugal lifestyle as opposed to a over-consumerist, extravagant, high-end lifestyle. The impact will be on both the environment (for whose natural beauty we praise our Creator, but whose polluted ugliness we are the chief cause) as well as for poverty (see e.g. "Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation", http://www.creationcare.org/blank.php?id=39).  It is one thing to say we are concerned for the poor and we give money to those causes, it is quite another to live a high-spending lifestyle as though there is nothing incongruent between the two. There is something incongruent/dissonant between what we say/do for others and what we do for ourselves, something that 'feels' inappropriate when we help the poor while our fingers are weighed with carats, our bags are sealed with LV etc. I am grateful that out of the many financial statuses in which the Lord Jesus could have been born in, He chose to identify at near the lowest common denominator. I don’t intend this comment to apply to every detail, specific decision with what we buy or consume or what threshold indicates extravagance. We can enjoy out of much of the abundance that the Lord has bestowed on us.  I have more in mind on the general pattern, life-style, and philosophy of living.

I found this article from the Complete Book of Everyday Christianity (by Robert Banks ad R Paul Stevens) helpful. http://www.urbana.org/complete-book-of-everyday-christianity/simpler-lifestyle

(Simon is a student of BGST and is working as a Civil Engineer.)

Chapel

Chapel speaker for 25 August was Dr Peter Teo from Mt Carmel Bible-Presbyterian Church. Focusing on Acts 8:1-8, he shared from his research and experience with about a dozen most Christian cities of China. Among them Wenchou being the most Christian, 1.54 million (21%), his research focused mainly on the ‘three-self’ churches in the area. Some of his findings are eye-openers to many of us. One of them is that the Chinese government is the best supporter of the church, in the sense that it allowed the church to reclaim their properties that were taken over earlier, and then there is absolutely no restriction on evangelism, training, preaching with loud microphones, and the mushrooming of the training centres for discipling and pastoral training.

Secondly, he observes that while traditional missionary sending countries, that is Western Europe (UK being the most prominent) and North America (US & Canada), have drastically diminished in their church growth (e.g.: US: 0.2%; Canada and Australia: 0%; UK: -0.02%), China has been experiencing 7% annual growth. His prediction is that China would be the next major country sending missionaries to the rest of the world, especially the Middle East and Africa. Then his challenge was that we should never give up sowing the seed as the early Christians did it relentlessly. We will never know what God can do with what is sown!

By the way more details on this are now available in his D.Min dissertation at BGST Theses collection!

Mr Tay Houw Jin from Youth Guidance (SYFC) will be our Chapel speaker on 8 September. Chapel begins at 12pm. You are welcome to join us.

TENT Module Courses Commencing in September

Coping With Stress (Tent Module)
Sep 7, 14, 21 (Tue 7.20 - 10pm)
Venue: Union Industrial Building
Facilitator: Mr Yam Keng Mun

Biblical Hebrews: Basic Research Tools
(BH214, 1.5cr)
Sep 20, 27; Oct 4, 11, 18, 25; Nov 1, 8 (Mon 7.30 - 9.30pm)
Venue: Zion BP Church  (4 Bishan St 13, Level 3, Room 3-08)
Lecturer: Dr Philip Satterthwaite
Location Map of Zion Bishan Bible-Presbyterian Church: http://www.zionbpc.org.sg/tnp/tnp-contact.htm

Old Testament Foundations I (OT101, 3cr)
Sep 28; Oct 5, 12, 19, 26; Nov 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
(Tue 7.15 - 9.45pm)
Venue: Union Industrial Building
Lecturer: Dr Augustine Pagolu
Location Map of BGST http://bgst.edu.sg/welcome-message/locate-bgst

The Counsellor as a Person: Self Awareness & Maturity in Christ (CO101, 3cr)
Sep 29; Oct 6, 13, 20, 27; Nov 3, 10, 24; Dec 1, 8
(Wed 7.15 - 9.45pm)
Venue: Prinsep St Presbyterian Church (77 Prinsep Street)
Lecturer: Mr Yam Keng Mun
Location Map of Prinsep St Presbyterian Church: http://www.pspc.org.sg/contactus/pspcmap.jpg

For more information on courses visit our website: http://bgst.edu.sg/courses-and-events

CHURCH-BASED LAY TRAINING MODULE

‘Hear My Son’: Proverbs 1-9 And Schooling in Bible Times
Sep 3, 17, 24; Oct 1 (Fri 7.30 - 9.30)
Venue: Mt Carmel BP Church (152 West Coast Road)
Lecturer: Dr Augustine Pagolu

News From Library

BGST Library will be closed on 4 Sep 2010 (Saturday) for BGST Family Day. Do take a break from studies to join us at the BGST Family Day!

family day 201
Map & Bus Numbers

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Tel: 6227-6815 Fax: 6255-3686 Email: bgst@pacific.net.sg
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