Held on 27 October 2018 at Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, the Reformation Service was graced by Bishop Terry Kee, pastors and members from the Lutheran Church in Singapore.
Pastor Reverend John Nelson who founded and shepherded many congregations of the Lutheran Church in Singapore delivered the message.
The title of his sermon was “Building a house that bears the Name of the Lord”.
Mrs Grace How impeccably translated the English sermon into Mandarin for the Chinese-speaking congregation.
Basing on Matthew 7:24-27, Pastor Nelson compared building a house that bears the Name of the Lord to the wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall.
If Christ is the rock, then who is the man who builds the house on the rock?
He is the person who hears Jesus’ words and does them. In contrast, everyone who hears these words of Jesus but does not do them is like the foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the floods came, the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell.
Pastor Nelson then directed us to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Here, our Lord draws our attention to the themes of love, forgiveness, service, healing and seeking the Kingdom of God as imperative to building the house that bears His Name.
Pastor Nelson asked the audience to ponder this question: “What do you love about the Lutheran Church?” The Lutheran Church in Malaysia exists for one purpose which is to tell the Good News to the people that the Lord loves them. The people in Malaysia heard the good news and spread it from the villages to the cities in Malaysia and to Singapore. The Lutheran Church of Singapore is a Great Commission Church. It fulfils Jesus’ command to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). It has planted churches and taken on missions in Thailand, Cambodia and other countries.
500 years ago, the Lord called Martin Luther to tell the people about Jesus Christ. As a Lutheran church that bears the name of Martin Luther, it is important to remember that we do not worship Martin Luther but that we worship Jesus Christ.
Jesus says: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32). We are free because we are in a father-son relationship with Jesus who alone is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
Therefore, as His children, we are free to build a house that bears the Name of the Lord together. Not everyone needs to be a missionary to do that but everyone is endowed with a special gift from the Lord.
With that, we only need to remain in the station of life that we are in and to quietly use our talents to build His house. Pastor Nelson shared a humorous metaphor of Jesus who tried to be like Tiger Woods when He was playing golf with Moses. Of course this would never work!
Pastor Nelson concluded his sermon by reminding us that Jesus Christ made a promise to be with us always. (Matthew 28:20) This is a precious promise for us to cling onto as we seek to build the house that bears His Name.
Lim Chee Peng showed a 13-minute video (see above) of his interview with the pioneers who co-laboured to build the Lutheran Church in Singapore and carried on with the task of building a house that bears the Name of the Lord. This same video was documented in a handy booklet entitled “Building a house that bears the Name of the Lord” which was distributed to the members in attendance.
The Lutheran Church in America undertook missionary work through the Lutheran Church in Malaya to build the Lutheran Church in Singapore. As a result, the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer was built in 1960. Subsequently, Queenstown Lutheran Church was built in 1966, Jurong Christian Church in 1968, Bedok Lutheran Church in 1981, and Yishun Christian Church (Lutheran) in 1985.
The pioneer members from Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer (Mabel Raj, Roderick Martin, Martha Lu, Wu Long Xiang and Chong Chee Meng) recalled that many Indians, Chinese and Bataks attended the opening ceremony of the church. Roderick recalled Pastor Nelson preaching a sermon on the theme, Logos and him referring to many scripture verses regarding life application.
The pioneer members of Queenstown Lutheran Church (Chong Foo Kong, Joyce, Richard and Rebecca Khoo, Rodney and Timothy Chow) admired the exemplary conduct of the church seniors, who were role models of godly character and values. They were enthusiastic to study the Bible and share the gospel. Before the church was built, the members met in a person’s house. The church often distributed corn flour and milk powder to the needy and even provided health care. Sports was also used to reach out to the community.
The pioneer members of Jurong Christian Church (Tan Swee Leong, George @ Ah Jiu, Thomas Tan, Admond Tan, Madam Lau Young Tin) recalled that the church did “industrial evangelism”. They organized recreational activities for migrant workers and shared the gospel with them.
The pioneer members of Bedok Lutheran Church (Charles Chang, David Wang and Manik) reminisced how they formed a core team to start church services in three languages. Many people who were converted during the Billy Graham Crusade became the first batch of members.
As for Yishun Christian Church (Lutheran) (Chong Fu Kiong, Shirley and Peter Cheng, James Lum), many of the members have worshipped there for four generations. On hindsight, its dialect service congregation grew very fast.
The Reformation Service gave us a chance to marvel at how our pioneers planted the Lutheran Church in Singapore. It also gave us a chance to witness the good works of Pastor Nelson’s contribution. Most importantly, we gained precious insights into how we can build the house that bears the name of the Lord. We pray that we will be committed as Christians to fulfil our responsibility in God’s mission.
~ Lanny Widjaja
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