Appreciating What We Have
Grace Church 47th Anniversary
By Rev Tan Eng Boo
A church anniversary is always a good time to be reminded of God’s faithfulness. I have been in Grace church since 1977 and I want to praise the Lord for His grace in sustaining this work for the past 47 years. Looking at Grace church today, we may think that the church isn’t growing since the congregation has remained small. Far from it! God has blessed this work since its founding by the late Rev Timothy Tow, one of the two founding fathers of the B-P Church.
Grace church was a pioneering work in the Eastern part of Singapore. As I recall the words of the apostle Paul,
“Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation” (Rom. 15:20 KJV),
I also remember that Rev Tow had a heart for pioneering work and he did plant new churches in Singapore and beyond our shores. Grace B-P church was one of the churches that resulted from his efforts.
From the day Grace church was founded, we had a good number of people who came forth to help establish it. We must always remember God’s people who have contributed to this work. The apostle Paul showed us by example when he honoured those who were a part of his pioneering missions and church planting work. In Romans 16, he named those people.
We remember the late Dr Tow Siew Ai who gave this building to be used as a church. She gave us the title deed to the property in the 1980s. She was always present at all our anniversaries till her home going. We also want to remember the late Rev (Dr) Patrick Tan who took on the role to pastor Grace church till my Ordination in 1981. Rev Patrick Tan was a church planter who went on to establish New Life BPC. Yet another person that we should remember is the late Rev Lin Tah Mon, the first pastor of Grace Mandarin Service (1978). He was a court interpreter before taking on this task.
Rev Tan Choon Seng was with us in the early days of pioneering work and the Lord led Grace church to start a daughter church, Shalom BPC (1981). We did so because Grace was growing fast and her sanctuary was filled to the brim. We soon had a second daughter church, Gethsemane BPC (1988), with Rev Das Koshy leading it.
Thank God for faithful Elders, Deacons and Deaconesses
I am thankful to the Lord for faithful men and women who served with me in the Church Session. Let me add that there are no perfect church leaders but faithful men and women of God who will put their hands to the plough and say, “I am with you, Pastor, through thick and thin.” I cannot pretend to say that everything went on fine and well in the service of the Lord with these brethren. As long as we are sinners in this world, there is no perfect church leader and Session. We are sinners saved by God’s grace and led by the Lord to do His most wonderful work. I say this is the most wonderful work, because we are together in “His Majesty’s Service.”
Yes, we stumble along the way, but we learn and press on. Thank God, the church grew and it was God who gave the increase.
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Cor. 3:6).
And after all that we have done for the Lord as His servants in the Session, we should echo the words of Luke in
Luke 17:10: “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
These were the only elders we have had throughout our 47 years. The late Elder Willie Seah (1976), Elder Mah Chin Kwang (early 80s), Elder Seah Soon Huat (2003) and Elder Victor Goh (2019). Elder Mah was with Grace church till 1988 when Gethsemane was started. Both Elder Soon Huat and Elder Victor took on the eldership roles, and as you can see from the time frames above that between these men are many years apart. I am most careful when it comes to recommendinga deacon to Session for the post of eldership. This is one of the most humble and lowly post a lay person can be appointed to in the church. Yet, it is the most honourable service to God’s people.
“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Pet. 5:1-3)
Deacons and Deaconesses:
Do you know that Grace church had three deaconesses so far? Sis Catherine Ng, Sis Katherine Kho and Sis Tay Guay Hiah. It has been long overdue for Grace to have one or two more deaconess again. Ladies, is the Lord leading you to be a part of the leadership in Grace Session?
“In Acts 6:1-4, though the actual term “deacon” is not used, certainly we can see a biblical pattern here for the work of deacons. Notice that certain qualified men were chosen when a definite need arose, and their primary function was to allow the pastors to be free to carry on the spiritual ministry of the word of God and prayer.” (David W. Cloud)
I am thankful to the Lord for these church leaders who have been a blessing and have been a great help to me in managing the physical building of the church as well as in the different ministries in church. I have seen the humility of most of these people who may be a “somebody” in society, yet they want to be servants of the Lord, ready to serve tables (Acts 6:2, 3). I am also thankful to God for the Session members whose main goal is to build Grace church. That should be the only agenda!
May the Lord continue to bless our church with godly and humble leaders.
I am also thankful to the Lord for many lay persons who have served the Lord behind the scenes through the years. You may not stand out in service but what is done for Jesus, God will bless.
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matt. 25:40).
Blessed 47th Anniversary
May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!