PASTORAL PERSPECTIVE

The killing that happened in River Valley High School on Monday was a tragedy that would’ve stirred many emotions in us—from disbelief to shock, from resentment to grief. This is an unprecedented incident in our national history, and none of us would have expected a young boy to be violently killed by his senior in school. When I first saw the news headlines on Monday afternoon about a boy who was allegedly killed in River Valley High School, I was in disbelief: Surely, something like that couldn’t have happened! Perhaps the boy is still alive, just badly wounded? We’ve always regarded our schools to be sanctuaries for growth and learning; long have we seen news of fatal school shootings in North America and never thinking we would encounter something similar here in Singapore. It took a while—and the corroboration of other news sources—for the shocking reality to sink in my mind.

 

As parents of young children, Abigail and I couldn’t help but feel grief and pity for the two sets of parents implicated in the tragedy because we know their lives would never be the same again. One would’ve lost a young son so suddenly and senselessly. Would they have known that morning would be the last time they bade farewell to him? Would they have expected him to depart from this life in such a brutal manner? The other would’ve to bear the shame of having a son who committed a brazen act of killing and battle the guilt of failing in their parenting. Did they do enough? Could they have done better? Regardless, what’s certain is that the incident brought about the end of cherished hopes and left them with only anguish and sorrow.

 

It’s difficult for anyone to make sense of what can only be regarded as senseless violence. We know the two boys weren’t acquainted at all—the older boy simply wanted to kill someone, anyone, and the younger boy was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. We now know the older boy was suffering from a long-term mental condition, but whether his actions were a result of that remain to be seen. Even so, that won’t justify anything—nothing justifies the taking of a life. Yet, the situation leaves us uneasy because there seems to be no one we can point fingers at and no one who can bear the brunt of the guilt. Could the older boy really be culpable for his actions if he has been mentally afflicted for a long time and was beside himself? We are allowed no neat resolutions.

 

Nor should we be tempted to give tidy theological explanations as consolations for such egregious evil. We all desire to justify or make sense of the evil we can’t square with a good and powerful God. Yet all too often, such rationalizations end up sounding callously glib or verging precariously on the blasphemous before the bare facts of evil. While we hope that such human evil will be transformed into something meaningful and redemptive by God, theologian Karen Kilby counsels that “we cannot even begin to imagine what that might be, to conceive of what could make meaningful, or understandable, or acceptable, the terrors that befall other people.” Perhaps we ought to refrain from rationalizing so quickly. Rushing into rationalization is merely avoiding confrontation with the sheer meaninglessness and senselessness of evil that emerges from a world of brokenness. Let’s not use our minds to lull our hearts into believing that evil has meaning and purpose, and is part of God’s programme. It doesn’t and isn’t.

 

Rather, we ought to give ourselves over to lament in the face of this tragedy. When we lament to God, we’re opening our eyes to evil, confronting it head on, and expressing to God our sorrows and frustrations with it. We’re telling him we can’t make sense of it and we’re asking him to deal with it in ways we can’t as finite creatures. Laments are often given short shrift in our prayer because we’re uncomfortable with acknowledging the egregiousness of evil in this world. Yet, if we consider the Psalms the “prayer book of the Bible,” then God clearly wants us to lament more because more than one third of the psalms contain laments. Certainly, lament offers us no real closure from our side—and indeed, it’s not meant to—but it offers us closure from God’s side, something that we can’t see but can only grasp by faith.

 

We know God didn’t deal with evil in the world by giving us good reasons for it and rationalizing it away. He dealt with evil by sending his Son Jesus Christ to suffer the meaninglessness and senselessness of it alongside with us in a broken world. Just before he died on the cross, framed for a crime he never committed, Christ cried out a lament familiar to him: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In the throes of his suffering, it felt as if God was absent. But most paradoxically, it was God himself (in the person of the Son) who made the lament, and with it he joined himself to the lamentation of every single human ever to have experience evil: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Who was it who raised a protest against evil but God himself? And so, Christ died.

 

However, God the Father heard the cry of his Son, and on the third day raised him up by the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s resurrection demonstrates that our laments aren’t for naught; they aren’t merely cries into a void. While God may seem absent in the face of evil, he hears all our laments, and he laments with us. In the resurrection, God has shown that he has “kept count of [our] tossings; put [our] tears in [his] bottle” (Ps. 56.8) and he will one day act decisively to “wipe every tear from [our] eyes” (Rev. 21.4). For Christians, lamentation expresses the hope we have against hope, that even though we can’t quite fathom how it can be so, no human tragedy is beyond the power of God’s love to heal and transform. It’s trust that though we have no answers, God himself will provide an answer to all human tragedies when death is finally swallowed up in victory and evil is no more.

 

Until then, we are allowed to lament. Nay, we should lament—we must. As long as evil remains with us, lament must remain on our lips. So now we lament together, in solidarity with all who are in pain because of this national tragedy. As Christians we come before God on behalf of our nation to lament. We bring before God those mixed emotions which constitute our grief: numb disbelief and sad bewilderment; the bitterness of anger; the deep sense of loss; and our helpless and vulnerable feelings when confronted with meaningless and senseless evil in this broken world. We lament over the death of a young boy, a life taken all too quickly; we lament over the brokenness within the older boy, for the evil that has overcome him; we lament over the lives of two families irrevocably marred by an act of evil; and we lament over the trauma which the other students, staff, and parents had to go through. May all who’re drawn into this tragedy find their ultimate closure in Christ. And may our lamentation move us to more kindness, compassion, and empathy that we may breathe the love of Christ into a broken world. Amen.

Pr Png Eng Keat
July 25, 2021

Let your cry comes to the Lord your God! Will He hear your cry? During this COVID-19 pandemic, many are crying to the Lord of the Universe. Does He hear these cries? We may not know what God is doing in this world and how he is going to do, but we know that in His perfect timing, He will act. We also know that God is Sovereign and Supreme. He is in control, and He does not make mistakes. Nothing that has happened comes as a surprise to God! God is aware of what is happening. For me, the most comforting words are these: “God knows what He is doing.” For me, I will still trust Him and lean upon Him because I know that He is faithful and good. There is still this question, and it remains: “Does God hear your cry?” Let us look at the Word of God, the Holy Bible, and see how God dealt with His people when they cried to Him.

 

In the book of Psalm, we can learn several such incidences. In Psalm 18, we were told how David responded to God when God delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. In verse 2, he declared that: “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” He rested in the faithfulness and goodness of God. For David, God protected him from harms and hurts, provided strength and shelter for him and preserved him alive. In verse 6, we know that David cried to God for help when he was in distress. Did God hear his cry? He mentioned that God heard the voice of his cry from His temple. His cry reached His ears! In verse 18, he mentioned that the LORD was his support in the day of his calamity. In verse 28, he mentioned that it was God who lighted his lamp and the LORD his God lightened his darkness. Isn’t it wonderful to trust in this wonderful God? God does hear the cries of His children, His beloved people! It is God’s prerogative to act and respond. We just need to wait and be patient for His visitation and His intervention.

 

In Psalm 34:4, we know that David sought the LORD and He answered him and delivered him from all his fears. Similarly, when we seek the LORD earnestly, He too would answer us and deliver us from all our fears. In verse 6, David mentioned this: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.” Similarly, we, who are God’s children, when we cry to the Lord our God, we know that He hears us and will save us out of all our troubles. In verse 19, we are comforted that though we encounter many afflictions, the Lord our God will deliver us out of all of them.  

 

In the book of Exodus, we can also learn of such incidences. In Exodus 2:23-25, we saw what happened to the people of Israel. They were distressed because of their slavery. They groaned and cried out to God for help. Their cry did reach God’s ears. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God and God heard their groaning. God knew what they were going through. God did remember His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In Exodus 3:7-10, we learnt that God told Moses that He saw the affliction of His people who were in Egypt and heard their cry because of their taskmasters. God knew that they were suffering and been oppressed in the hand of their taskmasters. God told Moses that He was sending him to Pharaoh that he may bring His people out of Egypt. God chose Moses to deliver His people out of the hand of their oppressors. God did hear their cries!

 

In Nehemiah 9:27-28, it was mentioned that when the Israelites sinned against God, God gave them into the hand of their enemies who made them suffer. In the time of their suffering, when they cried out to God, what happened? God turned a deaf ear to their cries. No! God heard them and provided saviours who saved them from the hand of their enemies. This was done according to God’s great mercies. When the Israelites did evil again, did God abandon them? Yes! God gave them into the hand of their enemies again. According to God’s mercies, when they turned and cried to God, God heard them and delivered them. From this, we learnt that God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8)

 

Let me at this point shares an acronym which means a lot to me. The acronym, “C. R. Y.”, is “Christ Remembers You!” To me, this is very re-assuring to know that Christ Jesus remembers me, and He knows what I am going through. I have my own struggles and I am trusting God to deliver me from them all. I need to overcome my weaknesses and to work diligently on my strengths. I need to constantly remind myself how great is my God and how gracious is He. When I cry to Him, He does hear my cry. When the Spirit of God speaks to me, I will readily listen to Him. Recently, God has taught me this virtue: “Humility.” In 1 Peter 5:6-7, I am instructed to “humble myself.” I will humble myself under the mighty hand of God. I will cast all my anxieties on God. I know that at the proper time, He will exalt me. Amen. I will keep on calling upon God and crying out to God for He will not reject me but receive me willingly and warmly. When I cast all my cares upon Him, I am assured that He, my gracious and loving Heavenly Father, will care for me. Amen.

 

“Does God hear your cry?” – I believe that God does hear your cry. Let us wait upon the LORD and worship Him the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. In God’s perfect Will and timing, He will visit and intervene!

Preacher George Ang
July 18, 2021

We are most comfortable with people who look like us and think like us. We are not very comfortable with frequent changes. I found myself a bit stressed out when we almost had to move to a new place again in May. Changes are not pleasant and most of us like to stay put.

 

My two children are on a long school break and I have realized that having a routine or a schedule works for children and parents too.  When there are changes, it can be disruptive if not planned well. So much of what we do entails going through the same routine and it keeps us sane. But changes can be good too.

 

When I think about the people who came to Singapore 140 years ago to set up The Presbyterian Church in Singapore, I cannot help but think about the changes they had to go through. It must have been tough to leave their routine, people, country and even their comfort zone to arrive in Singapore.

 

We remember:

Rev Benjamin Keasberry who chose to stay in Singapore in 1843;

Mr Tan See Boo who came from China to start the Chinese work in 1862;

Rev John Cook who came from Scotland and founded the Synod in 1881;

Allan Anderson and Margaret Dryburh who began Presbyterian school.

 

We are able to celebrate this occasion because someone dared to leave the comfort zone. If they had all remained where they were and ministered to their own kind, we won’t be where we are today.

 

This reminds me of the people who were at the Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. Jesus had earlier said that the gift which His Father promised would come. They were told in verse 8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The people who were gathered there dispersed to different places. When the spirit of God came upon them, they left Jerusalem with a new vision. If these people had chosen to stay where they were in Jerusalem and ministered to their own kind, the global church would not have been born. The Global Church- in which The Presbyterian Church of Singapore also belongs to, can be traced back to Jerusalem.

 

When God’s spirit moved, the people moved out of their comfort zones. They were willing to go to another kind, another people, another country, to share the good news with people who were different from them. These people who do not look or think like them. This is the power of the gospel. It moves people to go to new places, to embrace others who are not like us, to live and suffer among others, to leave our homes, families and even our countries for the sake of the gospel.

 

Today, we are able to celebrate this auspicious occasion in the comfort of this nation because the movement of people which started in Jerusalem reached our shores. We are the recipients of the work done by others who have gone before us.

 

What can we do today? What is the spirit of God telling us to do? We all may not be called to leave our homes, country or even our workplaces but where we are, can God use us? Christ’s great kingdom does not come in huge conquests but in little deeds. We can sow the seed wherever we are and God will do the growing. Are we willing to do it?

 

Psalm 105 exhorts us to praise God for His mighty acts of redemption in history. But it does not end there. After praising God, we are to tell others around us what He has done in our lives. We are not to stay silent! Sometimes we may remain silent because we are shy or too scared but when we don’t speak about it, the good news stays silent. The good news is not about us but about the saving power of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we declare that God is helping us everyday, we are telling others about God.

 

May the holy spirit empower us to move out of our comfort zones; embrace others who are not like us; go to a people who may be different from us and be willing to suffer and change for the sake of the gospel so that others may also have the chance to commemorate like us today.

 

“By faith the church was called to go
In the power of the Spirit to the lost
To deliver captives and to preach good news
In every corner of the earth”

Pr Loliro Sani
July 11, 2021

What happens to us after we die? Recently, a sister asked me this question after the church service, and I thought it might be good to provide a short answer to that question here. This is a question that would have been on the mind of every human to exist since none have passed through the doorway of death and return to tell their tale. Of course, some have stood at the doorway and peered in—those who had come close to death and have had Near-Death Experiences (NDEs)—but no adventurer who cross the threshold returns. Life after death is shrouded in thick darkness and is a source of anxiety to the living: who knows what would meet us there? Therefore, myth stories about the afterlife and rituals dealing with death are part of every human culture. They ease existential anxiety by giving meaning to death or details about the afterlife so that reluctant adventurers may depart in peace and kin of the departed may be comforted.

 

Surprisingly, Scripture refrains from speaking too much about the afterlife. If you are expecting a concrete description of it then you would be disappointed: we find only abstract notions and figurative imagery in Scripture. However, these are sufficient for the church to posit a two-stage afterlife. The first would be the intermediate period between our deaths and “the resurrection on the last day.” The second would be after the resurrection. The New Testament (NT) speaks of the resurrection as an event before the final judgment where the dead will be raised with new bodies, while those who are still alive will have their bodies transformed. This resurrection event is what “splits” the afterlife into two stages.

 

Between our death and our resurrection, we do not cease to exist but continue existing in a disembodied (bodiless) form. When Christ was dying on the cross, he said this to the believing bandit crucified next to him: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Of course, the immediate question would be, where is this “Paradise?” Laying aside this question for now, what we can be certain from Christ’s words is that he and the believing bandit would live on in some manner in Paradise after dying on the cross. Whether you call this kind of existence soul or consciousness, it is something immaterial (non-physical) but essential to humans (making up the core of who we are) that perdures after death. Hence, physical death is not the end to our existence.

 

So where is Paradise? The word “paradise” has its origins in Persian, and it originally referred to “a part of domesticated nature, a garden or a park where the king or another lord can rest or go hunting.” Here, it refers to an Edenic place where the righteous dead reside in a blessed state, not unlike the Elysian Fields in the Greco-Roman myths. This same idea is also reflected in Christ’s parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31), although the word “paradise” is not used.

 

In this parable, Lazarus, a poor man who endures much suffering in life, ends up in the kolpos of Abraham where he receives comfort (Luke 16:22). What is the kolpos of Abraham? In Greek, kolpos may mean the anatomical chest, hence most translators render the phrase as “Abraham’s bosom” or simply “Abraham’s side,” implying that Lazarus ended up with Abraham in the afterlife. However, this translation is problematic because Abraham’s kolpos becomes plural in verse 23 (kolpoi)! Surely Abraham has only one chest‽ Most modern translations resolve this problem by simply ignoring the plural.

 

However, one scholar suggests that a more plausible translation may be “the vale of Abraham,” since kolpos also can mean a space enclosed by mountains, like a valley or vale. This means the kolpos of Abraham is not anatomy but spiritual geography; it is Paradise, the place where the righteous dead like Abraham go, and where the believing bandit will follow Jesus to. In verse 23, the rich man simply sees Lazarus wandering around the different spaces in Paradise, hence the plural. This translation is more plausible since “the vale of Abraham” is contrasted with hades, the place of torment where the rich man went.

 

It is not appropriate to conclude too much about the afterlife from this parable since stories like these are not meant to be literal accounts but serve to make a point. Here, Christ is not lecturing his hearers on the afterlife but exhorting them to be generous to the poor. Moreover, since we will not possess bodies in the interim between our deaths and the resurrection, we will certainly not be physically sauntering in gardens like Lazarus in the parable.

 

Be that as it may, when the parable is considered along with Christ’s promise to the believing bandit, it does suggest that the experiences of the faithful and unfaithful will be different in the intermediate state. This assumption is not unwarranted because the faithful are united with Christ in life and death. “[In] the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13)—the body of Christ. Therefore, we are “united to the Lord” in one Spirit (1 Cor. 6:16) and “neither death, nor life… will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-9). Hence, Paul had no fear of dying because he knew death would not separate him from Christ. Rather, he welcomed it because he knew he would experience blessed consolation from Christ (Phil. 1:21-3). The same cannot be said for those who die without Christ. 

 

Of course, the dead would not remain disembodied forever since we are meant to be embodied creatures. In the second stage of the afterlife, we will receive our resurrection bodies. “The hour is coming,” Jesus said, “when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-9). As for those who are alive, their bodies will “all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:51-2). The resurrection bodies are spiritual bodies that are imperishable, while our present bodies are perishable. As one commentator puts it, “resurrection for Paul is not a simple resuscitation of the sort of material body one has in the fallen world, but a radically different kind of life.” It is “a kind of life not bound to death or to the irrational faculties of crude nature, inherently indestructible and incorruptible… stronger, more vital, more glorious than the worldly elements of a coarse corruptible body compounded of earthly soul and material flesh.” In other words, it is a completely different kind of bodily life impervious to sin, death, and suffering, yet bodily, nonetheless.

 

How would Paul have known this? That’s because Christ is the first person to be resurrected— “the first fruits of those who have died” (1 Cor. 15:20). While Paul did not personally encounter the resurrected Christ in the body, he would have heard the accounts from the Apostles and some of the five hundred early believers who did. We have their experiences recorded for us in the gospels: the resurrected Christ appeared and disappeared at will (Luke 24:31; 36); he passed through closed doors (John 20:19); his outward form was different from before (John 20:14); he ate (John 21:15); and wounds of crucifixion remained on his body, yet in a non-life-threatening way (John 20:27). Strange as it may be, such is the spiritual body that Christ possesses after his resurrection. It shares similarities with his physical body, but is, at the same, radically dissimilar. This is also what we shall possess at the resurrection.

 

Not only will our bodies be transformed, but creation itself will be transformed as well, “set free from its bondage to decay” and obtaining “the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). There will be a “new heaven and new earth” (Rev. 21:1) similar to the previous one, but at the same time radically dissimilar because it will no longer contain threats to human life: there will no more natural disasters, diseases, predators, pests, etc. In other words, whatever evils we now experience from the natural world will cease and there will be creaturely bliss.

 

Certainly, much more can be said about the afterlife, but space only permits thus. I hope this sketch suffices as a summary of what Christians believe about the afterlife. In my experience, death and the afterlife are taboo subjects in many Asian cultures, because they are sources of anxiety for the living. As the limit to human experience and existence, thoughts of death inevitably stir up angst or dread. Yet as Christians, we celebrate the death of a man every week in our liturgy! We hold death before us, not so much because we have an odd penchant for the morbid, but because it is only through death that we have life in Christ. This is the cruciform paradox of our faith. Through Christ’s death, God subdued death and removed its sting. So, while it used to be dreaded as the terminus to our existence, a deadly foe of humanity, death is now metamorphosis, and we are all chrysalids[*]. We do not forget that while our baptism is a baptism into Christ’s death so we may live in newness of his resurrection life, it is also an anticipation of our own deaths through which we will receive the fullness of life in the resurrection. In Christ, death is now but a passage to life everlasting.

[*] The pupa stage of an insect enclosed in a cocoon before metamorphosing into a butterfly or moth.

Pr Png Eng Keat
July 4, 2021

Tomihiro Hoshino is a well-known painter and poet in Japan who also happens to be a Christian. When he was young, he excelled in gymnastics and after graduating from university was employed as a high-school PE teacher. However, while doing somersaults one day, he landed on his head and could not get back up. After being rushed to the hospital he was told the bad news that he was now paralyzed from the neck down.

 

While in the hospital, he became fully dependent on the nurses and his mother to do everything for him, including turning his body so that he wouldn’t develop bed sores. As a young man who was used to doing whatever he wanted all the time, this was a devastating blow to him. At times he would feel so overwhelmed with sorrow that he would want to cry but would stop himself as he had no way of wiping away his tears.

 

Soon after being admitted, he was visited by a friend who he had known from his university days. While staying in the same dormitory, Tomihiro had noticed that this friend was a Christian as he would say a prayer before each of his meals. Now hearing that Tomihiro had been hospitalized the friend had rushed down to see him. Shortly after his visit he sent Tomihiro a Bible as a present.

 

After many months in the hospital, Tomihiro began reading as there was nothing much he could do. One day out of curiosity he asked for the Bible and came upon the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 11:28~30. 

 

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

Immediately he was struck by these words and wished that he could get to know this gentle person named Jesus and be held by Him in His arms.

 

Over time, the Lord also revealed to Tomihiro truths about his own character. He began to realise that all his life he had only cared for his own selfish gratifications. Despite working hard to gather accolades and achievements in the past, even now paralyzed and crying out for pity from his loved ones, he was still the same self-centered person deep down inside. As the Lord cast a light into his heart, he gradually became aware of his sinfulness and the need for a Saviour in his life.

 

As he lay in bed day after day, Tomihiro realised that while he may be bedridden, there were still things that he could do. Despite being unable to move his body, his mind was as sharp as ever and he began to observe the things around him more keenly. Visitors would often leave gifts of flowers at his bedside and he marveled at their God-given beauty and studied them endlessly. Eventually he decided that he wanted to capture their beauty in painting.

 

Despite all the odds, he eventually mastered writing, drawing and painting by holding pens or brushes in his mouth and over the years published multiple book collections of his art and poetry. With renewed purpose, his hope began to encourage others and to point them to good news of Jesus. Over the years his work has been exhibited all over Japan and there is even a museum dedicated to his artwork in his hometown in Gunma Prefecture.

 

Since April, Hooi Yin and I have been interning under Ps Takahashi at Kusatsu Church in Shiga Prefecture. Due to the Covid situation in Japan, many church activities are still on hold and so Ps Takahashi has been conducting lessons for us remotely via Zoom. Part of our lessons include reading and discussing Tomihiro’s story, a book that Ps Takahashi recommended to us.

 

In reading his story, I was greatly encouraged by Tomihiro’s testimony and touched by how the Lord had changed his life. At the same time, I couldn’t help but marvel at how God uses even the smallest of things for His glory.

 

People have often remarked that there are very few Christians in Japan. While that may be true, even the presence of one Christian, like Tomihiro’s friend, can result in others being led to Christ. Many Japanese Christians have shared how their decision to follow Jesus came about, not because of some profound act of God but rather from a small gesture of kindness that left a lasting impression.

 

Furthermore, during this season of Covid, many people may feel, like the bedridden Tomihiro, that their freedom to do whatever they want when they want has been rudely stripped away. Be it in the office, in our families, or even in the church, many things that we had planned, or wanted to do have suddenly become impossible to. However, by focusing solely on what we cannot do, we may become overcome by despair and fail to see that which we can do.

 

Sometimes all it takes is to stop everything and look carefully for something that we can do and to then commit the results to the Lord. Much like the little boy who offered up his 5 loaves and 2 fishes to the Lord, the Lord then blessed and multiplied his humble offering using it to miraculously feed many thousands.

 

I cannot help but see this in the life of Tomihiro Hoshino. Through the great tragedy of his accident, he lost his old life but was given a new one instead. God has blessed him greatly since and to this day he continues to serve the Lord with great joy and purpose.

 

If you search for his name on the internet, you’ll find many examples of his artwork online. While simple in form, the paintings are so beautifully rendered that it is hard to believe that they were so painstakingly painted ‘by mouth’. Many include a short poem reflecting his thoughts, written in his distinctive style and bearing deep insights into the human condition. Many Japanese Christians know of him and we’ve noticed postcards bearing his art pinned up at the entrances of churches that we have visited; a vivid testimony to how far he has come from his first days lying helplessly in a hospital bed.

 

May we too, humbly offer up our own tiny efforts, feeble as they may seem in the world’s eyes, for the Lord to bless and multiply so that others in turn may also be blessed and come to know the Lord.

Sean Tan (Missionary in Japan)
June 27, 2021