Spring has just begun in Japan and the buds are starting to appear on the trees. Kyoto is now overflowing with visitors not only from around the world but also local tourists from other parts of Japan who have gathered to see the cherry blossoms. It is a beloved Japanese tradition called hanami (花見) or literally ‘flower watching’. Many companies will even reserve good spots in parks for their employees to have hanami picnics.


However, less important than the cherry blossoms are the flowers that can be found blooming in more humble circumstances that no one would spend time looking at.


These are the flowers that I often see growing out of the cracks in the sidewalks or along the road. Seeing them always make me smile as these flowers seem to sprout up miraculously, amidst harsh conditions without any signs they were planted or tended.


Before we came to Japan, we were often told that the country is a hard ground for the gospel. Others have even called it a ‘missionary graveyard’ for the many who have come and given their lives with little to show for it. Christianity has a long history in Japan and yet, it appears that the gospel has made little impact. With as little as 1% of the population officially Christian, the seeds seem to have indeed fallen upon hard soil. But is that really the case?


Kusatsu Church, where we are serving, is but one of 14 churches planted by WEC Missionaries in our 70-year history in Japan. Though the church is small, those who attend have been doing so faithfully for many years. Many of them come from non-believing families and travel some distance to attend the church. They each have a remarkable story of how the gospel touched their hearts and led them to believe and follow Jesus.


One person’s testimony that left a deep impression on me is that of an elderly lady who attends another church in Ritto. She told us her amazing conversion story of how the Spirit caught her attention as she heard hymns being sung while walking past a church. She immediately felt strangely warmed and though she did not know what was being sung, she felt peace that she had never felt before. Both she and her husband have devoted their lives to serving the Lord and one of their sons now serves as a Pastor. Her testimony and the many others we have heard demonstrate how the Spirit swept through the land, raising up the churches that stand throughout Japan today.


A more recent example is that of my Japanese friend (a father of Chloe’s ex-kindergarten classmate). Not too long ago he asked me why I chose to come to Japan as a missionary to which I explained that it was the Lord who had called me. He had been asking questions about the Bible and attending bible study with the kindergarten’s Pastor. It appears that he can sense the Lord has been calling him too and he is now searching. I hope and pray that he will accept the Lord’s invitation. It is stories like his that remind me that the Spirit is still at work calling people to Jesus.


Finally, whenever we speak to someone new, the topic will naturally veer towards our work. Once we explain, and against all expectations, they will often mention a member of their family, or someone they know who happens to be a Christian. These chance conversations remind me of how far the seeds have been sown. Like how the Lord can cause flowers to sprout up even in the crack of a concrete pavement, He can grow the seeds of faith in a dark and unbelieving world.


I think that the metaphor of a flower blossoming through a crack is an apt one for the churches of Japan. Though outwardly the soil appears hard, it is actually very rich and fertile, ready to receive the Gospel. Every believer is evidence of this and like a flower that has emerged from a seed of faith that sprouted despite all the harsh conditions. Like the beautiful flowers, surely the Lord who tends to them and causes them to grow, will do likewise for His church as His beloved children. Once we accept that, just like a flower, God is the one who brings growth to a church in His good timing, we can change our perspective about Christian work in Japan. So perhaps when we look to Japan, we won’t see it any longer as a missionary graveyard, but as a bountiful flower garden tended by a loving Gardener. The Lord never abandoned Japan, neither has His hand been absent. It may not experience the same explosive growth that has characterized other mission fields, but His handprints are evident, and the Gardener is still hard at work, giving growth to the seeds sown in faith.

Sean Tan (Missionary to Japan)
March 26, 2023

During my recent 6 months sabbatical, apart from being committed to worshipping at True Way once a month, my family and I decided to take this opportunity to visit different churches on Sunday mornings. After serving as a pastor for almost 22 years, I was hoping to acquaint myself with how other churches conduct their worship services and to learn about their discipleship and outreach endeavours.


Here, I must confess that it has been a rather mixed experience, especially in the initial months albeit there were also moments when I felt “liberated”. I reckon that one reason for such feelings would be that I have been so used to a certain routine on Sundays that I was totally unaccustomed to this newfound freedom. Given my transient status, no one from those churches I visited would be expecting me to show up regularly for their worship service. For the first time in my life as a Christian, no church leader from a church will be following up on my absence nor would any worshipper be passing remarks about my attendance or lack of. In fact, in some larger churches, no one noticed my family and I were newcomers even when we were in the sanctuary before the majority of worshippers arrived.


Without the need for accountability, it did not take me long before I began toying with the option of taking the easy way out. You see, while I do believe that the gathering of believers on the Lord’s Day is commanded by God and has been the established practice of God’s people (Acts 2:42, Hebrews 10:23-25), alas, there were two or three occasions where I succumbed to joining a live-stream service.


On those Sundays, it was convenient to simply switch on the laptop and enjoy the comfort of worshipping at home. The thought of having to brave heavy downpours enroute to church or dealing with the inertia of exchanging pleasantries with strangers after a tiring week (of tending to sick children, etc) proved to be somewhat overwhelming. I was easily swayed by the many pull factors to remain at home instead of leaving home to stand alongside other believers in offering praises unto God.


Hopefully, none of you who are reading this perspective would think that a lack of accountability is something desirable. Let me just say that to remain in such a state of affairs where a Christian is not accountable to anyone would be to the detriment of one’s spiritual growth. Since it is God who has assigned church leaders with the responsibilities of shepherding believers and keeping watch over our souls (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13), it would be unwise for any to wilfully neglect this aspect of our lives. As much as one may need time to prayerfully consider which local church to commit to, prudence requires us to set boundaries and a dateline.


Evidently, learning to submit ourselves to God’s appointed leaders is a needful exercise in obedience to God and humility towards fellow believers. To linger in limbo where we have no one keeping a lookout for us not only puts us in danger of losing our spiritual zeal but also increases the risk of us becoming spiritually proud.


Indeed, Christian discipleship is not merely about one’s spiritual experiences and relationship with God. Instead, it has always been about a way of life in the context of community – both in the local church and the world. When we commit ourselves to gathering with others to worship God on Sundays, we are doing so as unto the Lord as well as living out God’s call for us to love our neighbours. After all, if there is no opportunity for one to interact regularly with other worshippers, how can we demonstrate love to people? How will we be able to grow in sanctification if we do not get to serve others and learn to consider their interests above ours (Philippians 2:4)?


Even though the Lord has graciously ministered to me and my family during those Sundays when we stayed at home, I am mindful that we would be missing out on what is ultimately needful and vital for our spiritual growth if tuning to live-stream services becomes our norm. In the course of visiting churches, I am now even more convinced that our gathering for worship has to be more than just about the songs we sing and the sermons we hear.


Yes, there is always room for improvement and churches can learn from the best practices of others. But as disciples of Christ, we are not supposed to be consumers evaluating and enjoying a “product” that others have faithfully laboured to offer unto God on Sundays. We are to be a spiritual family, sharing a bond of love and imitating Christ in his example of self-giving service (Ephesians 5:1-2, Romans 12:1-2). Hopping from one church to another or replacing in-person attendance with online viewing is neither virtuous and an inadequate substitute for partaking the means of grace.


When my family and I started visiting churches, it was admittedly a breeze to blend in and slip out unnoticed after the service was over. There was little risk of getting entangled with interpersonal conflicts or being misunderstood when a smile or a nod in the lift or carpark would suffice. But it also meant that there was little to look forward to in terms of fellowshipping with others. We were also missing out on the encouragement and prayers we would otherwise have received from those whom we can share our lives with.


Given that we were not plugged into the life of a church, we could only observe what is going on during their worship service. Usually, things would appear to be fine. In some churches, those on duty were truly “professional” in carrying out their roles. Looking from the outside, we easily forget that a church is a spiritual family consisting of people who will not always get their act together and will always be in need of God’s grace and transformation by the Spirit.


As my family and I return to worship at True Way, I am reminded that while there are hundreds of churches here in Singapore, in God’s eyes, there is only one Church. This Church is the bride of Christ whom he has shed his blood for (Acts 20:28). Thus, the local church which the Lord has sovereignly placed me in is one whose well-being I am to zealously seek for. And thanks be to God, I know I won’t be alone in this endeavour. For there are many others whom I will have the joy and privilege of serving alongside with who are just as compelled to do so to the glory of God until Christ comes again.


*Note: During my sabbatical, I signed up for a module on Christian Ethics at Trinity Theological College. I gained good insights from the assigned readings and enjoyed my weekly interaction with my classmates. Although there were some ministry matters that required my attention and my DG continued meeting regularly, the sabbatical was a refreshing break. I got to spend more time with my family, to exercise and in further self-study and contemplation. One of the fruit of this extended time-off is a DG bible study material on Missions that I hope to be sharing with our church in due time.


God is truly good and sovereign in his timing. During this period, there were some health concerns on the home front, particularly with regards to my father-in-law’s post-surgery recovery and mobility issues. Being on sabbatical meant that I could provide more support to Sharon and help out with errands and family commitments.

Rev Edwin Wong
March 12, 2023

Have you ever found yourself in such a regretful situation that you would want to beat yourself up?


It could be losing your temper at someone who loves you very much – yes again! Due to your illness, you have become less patient and more demanding even though you know you should have treated your care giver better.


It could be squandering away an opportunity to share the Gospel. A door has been flung wide open but just as you reason to yourself why it may not be so appropriate to share, that opportunity slips away only to make you feel bad about your own cowardice and hesitancy.


It could be returning to the addictive habit which you want to kick and have been making progress, but in a moment of weakness you fall right back in again and you want to kick yourself instead!


It could be making a bad decision which not only affects you adversely but also has ripple effects on your family and even the wider community.


You cry out, “Will I ever be forgiven?”


We thank God for his pardon each time we sincerely confess our sins before him. In Christ, we already have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. More recently, I have been thinking about Lamentations 3:23 – “God’s mercies are new every morning”.


It is such a relief to know that God gives mercy for each new day. It is being replenished every morning; it will therefore not run out.


The prophet Jeremiah lamented over the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians because of God’s judgement over his wicked and idolatrous people. Jeremiah expressed his sorrow over the spiritual condition of his country but at the centre of his lament, he also expressed his hope for God’s mercies to be shown again.


Even in the darkest of times, God remains faithful and he will not cast off his people forever. His steadfast love never fails and every day and every morning, a new batch of mercies are made freshly available for us to access.


The most sinful person can therefore still find hope in a God who is willing to forgive anyone who comes to him in repentance.


Therefore when we sin, we sincerely pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” We can then begin each day with a clean slate without being encumbered by the failures of the previous day.


We are in the midst of the season of Lent. This is a time for us to deliberately remember and respond to the sacrificial death of Christ. It is a time for us to reflect on our own offence – a frighteningly evil heart, mixed motives, hypocrisy, un-forgiveness, revenge, lust, envy, greed, pride – what wretchedness, what depravity!


Yet we are overwhelmed by God’s mercies, overwhelmed by the cost of our pardon, the sacrifice on the cross, our forgiveness, our freedom – how undeserving, yet how privileged!


To ask God to have mercy is to ask God not to treat us as our sins deserve, but to ask God for mercy is also to ask him to have pity on us, to show us compassion, for he knows our frame and remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:13-14).


When blind Bartimaeus, a beggar, heard that Jesus was passing by, twice he called out to Jesus to have mercy on him. He wanted Jesus to heal him, which Jesus did, thus showing him compassion.


Some of us may have to wake up to a new day anticipating hospital appointments, needles and scans; some wake up wondering how they can last another day given their debilitating illness and all the accompanying aches and pain; some wake up staring into the ceiling and knowing that the rest of the day is no different because they are bedbound.


Some wake up worrying whether they have the energy to care for a loved one who does not recognise them anymore; some wake up crying because the grief of losing someone very dear just refuses to ebb; some wake up not wanting to get out of bed because they know they are going to have a difficult day in the office.


Isn’t it comforting to know that God’s mercies are new every morning? However difficult the day ahead may be, God has compassion on us. He knows our plight; he empathises with us; he gives us grace upon grace, strength upon strength to face the challenges of each day.


Someone said, “The dawning of every new day could be seen as a symbol of God’s light breaking through darkness and his mercy overcoming our troubles.”


How do we access God’s mercies?


First, we read his Word because in it contains the attributes and actions of God, the Gospel of Christ and the promise of the Holy Spirit as our comforter, advocate and seal.


Second, we pray and commit the day to the Lord, especially concerning those things that are outside our control. By doing so, we are throwing ourselves at God’s mercies.


Third, we step out into the day in faith and expectancy, always being mindful of the presence of God in our lives. He will neither leave us nor forsake us; he’s a very present help in trouble.


Fourth, maintain a thankful heart. Thank God for the gift of a new day. Look out for blessings great and small as we move through the day. As we lie down in bed, look back at the day and thank God for his mercies, and then we can look forward to the following day where his mercies anew will be made available to us once again.


And when the storms swirl and rage
There are mercies anew
In affliction and pain
You will carry me through
And at the end of my days
When Your throne fills my view
I will sing of Your mercies anew

(Taken from the 3rd verse of the song “Mercies Anew” by Sovereign Grace Music)

Rev Lee Kien Seng
March 5, 2023

Hebrews 6:19 “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul …”


In 1883, a man named William Alexander Smith was concerned that many of the youths in his time were living their lives without hope. This resulted in many picking up bad habits and being influenced by bad company.


As a Sunday School teacher in his church, William Alexander Smith wanted to bring hope to these youths and so he started a program to reach out, encourage and develop these teenagers through activities like outdoor camping, foot drills and physical training.


In the process, he slowly built up their confidence and instil in them character traits of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline and Self-Respect. His work slowly became what we know today as The Boys’ Brigade (BB). As he continued with his work and was thinking about a motto for the Boys’ Brigade, he was encouraged by the Bible verse in Hebrews 6:19 (KJV) which say, “We have this (hope) as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.”


The verse reminded him that those who are discouraged or feeling hopeless can find their hope in Jesus Christ. He thought about the youths he was working with and the words “Sure and Steadfast” (retaining the older spelling of the word) became the motto for the Boys Brigade since then.


Similar to BB, the Girls Brigade (GB) was formed with the purpose of reaching out to troubled girls and their varied activities and programs were aimed at helping girls to become mature Christian women. The GB program follows four themes: Spiritual, Physical, Educational and Service. These words spell SPES which is Latin for Hope. “Seek, Serve and Follow Christ” became the motto for the Girls’ Brigade later on.


It is encouraging to note that both BB and GB movement have their roots in the Christian Church. Both began as an outreach ministry to troubled youths pointing them to the hope they can find in Jesus Christ.


In Singapore, BB and GB are recognized internationally as uniformed youth organisations and recognised by the Ministry of Education of Singapore as a Co-Curricular Activity in the schools.


To continue their spiritual links with the church, every BB and GB Company has a sponsoring Church that cares and provides:

  • spiritual care & nurture through her Christian Education/ Character programs
  • support for the ministry & activities of the BB or GB Company – both financially and help through volunteers from the church


Since it’s humble beginnings, we give praise to God that both BB and GB are still actively involved in the transformation of young lives till today.


Having previously served as a BB Officer and Chaplain in another BB Company, I am most encouraged to see the lives of many boys being transformed during their time with BB. Some of the boys who were deemed hopeless in school would somehow choose BB as their CCA. Perhaps they thought that BB meant “Bad Boys” and it only made sense for them to be part of this group.


And while the BB Officers, volunteers and teachers do struggle initially with some of these so called ‘bad boys’, many of them turned out ok and went on to do well in life. I would always tell my BB boys that I am first their friend, and then their officer. I would share my life stories with them – my days as a bad boy in school, my painful family background and how the Lord saved me and gave me hope. And I would encourage them that they too can find hope in God in their life journey.


By God’s grace, some would come to trust in the saving grace of our Lord Jesus and join the community of the sponsoring church. Others in God’s good plans would later go on to serve together with me as fellow pastors, elders and deacons in the church. Undoubtedly, the boys would have had many opportunities to hear the gospel and experience God’s love during their time with BB. We pray that in God’s good time, the seeds planted will grow and bear fruit.


A few days ago, Eld Chung Horn recently shared with me an old edition of True Way’s newsletter – Together which featured a write up of our ministry with the 94th BB Company in 2010!


In it, Lim Kwang Yang who was a BB Boy and serving with 94th as an BB Officer since True Way adopted the BB ministry shared this: “My involvement has given me a beautiful new opportunity to share my life with the boys.”


Indeed, this ministry in BB is about sharing our lives – our new life that was transformed when we found our hope and anchor in Jesus.


There is a common joke among those in the BB that if we injured ourselves and bleed, our blood will be blue – blue because of the big influence and impact that BB has in our lives.


Since 2010, True Way has had the wonderful privilege of sponsoring the Boys’ Brigade 94th Singapore Company in Nan Hua High School. There is certainly much we must give thanks to God for as we experience his faithfulness to our BB 94th Coy and the close relationship BB 94th Coy shares with the church.


Over the years, 94th BB Coy has been commended by BB HQ as well as Nan Hua High for the many awards and competitions we have excelled in. More importantly by God’s grace, when we look around True Way, we see boys who were from the 94th BB Coy. Some are still actively involved with BB while others are faithfully serving in various ministries of our church.


We have much to thank God for these individuals and how as they come through BB as youths, they have now matured to being faithful servants of the Lord. Indeed, BB is such a wonderful ministry that God has given to befriend youths, be a guide or mentor to them and ultimately to share His endless love with them.


Come this 19 March, the 94th BB Coy will be having their annual Enrolment and Dedication Service once again onsite at True Way. This is after a hiatus of past few years due to Covid.


During this special service for both the Company and the sponsoring church, the new recruits will be enrolled, awards and promotions will be given out, and our Chaplain, Rev Edwin Wong will dedicate the boys and the Company into God’s good care. As part of their enrolment, some of the boys will also present a special item as well.


As our Boys together with their families will be joining us for this service, do take this wonderful opportunity to show our Christian love to our “guests”. Help to make them feel welcome in True Way in small ways like greeting them with a smile and making them feel at home.


Let us pray for the Enrolment Service and ask God to warm the hearts of all who are coming and to warm our own hearts towards reaching out to them. And as we sing our praises to God, as His Word is shared, as we interact with the Boys and their families, may they see the sure and steadfast hope we have in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rev Stanley Soh
February 26, 2023

Couples around the world just celebrated Valentine’s Day on 14 Feb. Valentine’s Day is celebrated and named after St Valentine, a Roman saint who lived in the 3rd century. He is the patron saint of courtly love, epilepsy sufferers and beekeepers!


Scholars believe beekeeping has been around for many centuries, even as early as 2400 BC in Egypt. Apparently, it is common to find apiaries (beekeeping) in monasteries, convents and missions as part of its curriculum. There could be many benefits attached to beekeeping other than just harvesting honey. As a beekeeper said, “The keeping of bees is very tied to the contemplative”. In this fast-paced world, such slow and quiet work might be hard to come by. And this hobby has made people appreciate God’s design and human responsibility for one another and creation-care. Most of us would have heard the phrase, “If there are no bees, there will be no food” because they are crucial for pollination- an important process in the food production chain. 


Accounts* of the busy yet short life of the bees triggered some thoughts this week. Bees work together in groups and apparently have a language, a dance, a wiggle to tell each other where the flowers and new hives are. In winter they keep warm by beating their wings and to ensure that no one is outside for too long, they take turns. (*sourced from various articles and sites)


It is a valuable lesson on the importance of community and the need to take turns lest we all burn out. It is not uncommon to hear stories of how people eventually burn out because there was no one to rotate with or help them. This reminds us of the structure we have for church leadership (Elders and Deacons) where leaders are elected for a term of 3 years after which they need to rest for a period before they can return to serve. Those who have served for two terms continuously are required to rest longer. This practice is not unique to our church or human beings as we learn from the life of the bees. It reflects the design of our creator and maker who put such things in place. Taking turns refresh one another and keeps the wheel turning.


Romans 12: 5 tells us “So we, though many, are one body in Christ.” It is God’s design that all of us, the church work together as the body of Christ. We all have a part to play however small it be. We might not think much about our role, but it could be a life saver for someone in ministry. It could be as simple as helping to take attendance for the DG for a season; arranging the chairs on a Sunday; volunteering to be teacher assistant in the Sunday School for a term; or even stepping in to clear the holy communion elements after a service. They all contribute to the life of the church.


Not only are bees wonderful example of teamwork, they also teach us about the importance of communication. According to research, a certain dance and a certain wiggle can convey a certain message to one another, and it is crucial for the survival of the whole group. If a wrong message is conveyed, the whole hive could be in trouble. Good communication is key to establishing firm foundations for almost everything like marriages, projects, ministries, DGs, church etc. The only way we can communicate better with one another is to understand each other’s dances and wiggles! How do we do that?


A lot of assumptions can be created when we do not fully understand or know someone well. We could well be interpreting the actions/words in a very different way simply because we do not know the person well. When we get to know each other better, we will be in a better position to not only understand but be able to even tell when help is needed. We live in a community and Christ has commanded us to love one another. Romans 12:10a says “Be devoted to one another in love.”  We cannot love one another if we do not know one another.


Another lesson we can learn from the life of the bees is that they make collective decisions. When a bee returns and dances vigorously, it means they have found a new place to gather the nectar or even a new location to build the hive. Over time, if other bees dance in the same way, they make a collective decision to follow the lead. If the dance dies away over time, a decision is made to go elsewhere. Such is the beauty of collective wisdom. Church leadership makes decision likewise through collective wisdom. This is crucial to the health of the church as each leader is given a chance to voice out their opinions and concerns. Romans 12: 10b says “Honor one another above yourselves”.


And the last lesson we can learn from the bees is that they all work together. There are no consumer bees in the hive so there is shared ownership and responsibility by all the bees. They have different roles and not all the bees do the same job. A beekeeper said, “As a bee develops, they do different jobs. There are nurse bees, housecleaning bees, guard bees, foragers. It’s everybody doing their part and everybody working together in complete harmony.”


No wonder they are called busy bees. Likewise, the health of the church depends on each of us. Scripture tells us that we all have gifts with which we can help one another and build the church. We are all to ‘bee’ each other’s keeper even as we continue to serve Christ through the body of Christ. May we do so to the glory of God from whom all blessings flow!


Romans 12:4-8

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Pr Loliro Sani
February 19, 2023