Weekly Bulletin

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)

  16 Jul 2017

Every true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ knows deep in his soul that it is his solemn duty from the Lord to pray for full-time Christian workers. Who among us would forget our Lord’s earnest words – “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2)?

Those words of Christ confirmed in my heart His call in 1982 that I may serve Him as a preacher of His Word. Since then, those words of Christ have also placed in me a deep desire to see many others also serving the Lord for the salvation and edification of souls. After my marriage, my wife and I prayed that the Lord would call our children to serve Him full-time according to His good pleasure. Both of us were so deeply convicted of the gravity of the need for more labourers in the work of the Lord that we could do no other but desire, pray and dedicate our children to the Lord for His service. We are grateful to the Lord for all, both in our church and elsewhere, who have been praying along with us for the same burden.

About two months ago, when our firstborn, Cornelius, related to us of his conviction of God’s gracious call to serve Him full-time, both my wife and I were overwhelmed with powerful emotions – unspeakable joy and also overwhelming burden. It is not possible in this brief note to describe all those feelings. As we praise God for giving the conviction to Cornelius, we pray earnestly that he will remain faithful to the Lord, that he may do all His good pleasure in the Gospel work. We are grateful to the Lord for Gethsemane BPC’s prayerful support, which we, as a family, have been abundantly receiving as we serve Him in this beloved church. Please read Cornelius’ testimony of call to full-time service below, and kindly remember him in your prayers that God would equip him with all grace and knowledge to serve Him all the days of his life.

My Calling

To my spiritual family in Gethsemane,

Ihave received God’s call to give my life to serve Him, and I am very sure of it. I am certain because I heard His call through His unmistakable Word. I tried to resist it, but the call was irresistible. With such an irrepressible call into the ministry, I must needs bid His call. During our prayer meeting on Tuesday (11 July 2017), I testified how God worked through His Word to:

  1. alter my perspectives towards consecration and God’s sovereignty;
  2. allay the fears I had towards my abilities and the demands of the ministry; and finally
  3. move me to accede to God’s call to serve Him full-time.

Today’s publication serves as a written and summarised testimony of how I came to know God’s will concerning full-time ministry.

The Specific Call and Its Context

“… but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8).

The context to this verse, found in 2 Timothy 1:5-9, deals specifically with Timothy, who is already a servant of God, serving alongside Paul. Timothy, however, needed spiritual strengthening, and Paul was God’s appointed encourager to Timothy. Just as Timothy was exhorted by Paul in v. 8, “be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God”, I hear the Holy Spirit’s convicting call to me through Paul’s words to Timothy.

My Circumstances

By the providential leading of God, He has earlier led me to two passages which prepared me for this final and third call in 2 Timothy.

Firstly, from 1 Samuel 1-2, my perspectives were altered when I learnt, from Hannah’s life, that the consecration of a child is an acknowledgment that God is the Giver of life. By consecrating Samuel, she was affirming her trust that God is sovereign, and that He will provide. From the life of Samuel, I was rebuked by his life of pure obedience. Never once did he murmur against the sovereign will of God, but obediently he served in the house of the LORD in Shiloh. His obedience was unquestioning; it was swift; it was unwavering; it was lifelong – the theme of obedience recurs in 1 Samuel and culminates in the famous verse: “… Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22b).

Secondly, from Ephesians 1:3-12, my fears of the ministry were adequately allayed when I learnt that all spiritual blessings are promised to me, and that the salvation I have in Christ Jesus is the security (or evidence) that I will be equipped with spiritual graces necessary for an effective ministry.

The Spiritual Strengthening

In 2 Timothy 1:5-7, Paul exhorts Timothy to remember the unfeigned faith of his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice. Timothy had personally witnessed their unrestrained service, and here Paul encourages Timothy to stir up the gifts in him for God’s service, with the lives of his grandmother and mother as living examples that God will be with him. Paul then reminds Timothy that God has not given him a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind. The vestiges of fear that resided in Timothy’s faith had to be eradicated with the remembrance of the faith of Lois and Eunice, and with the trust that God has given us the spirit of power, and not fear.

These passages were thus providentially given by God to prepare my heart to receive the call in 2 Timothy 1:8.

Qualification

I must qualify that the term “afflictions” in 2 Timothy 1:8 does not merely refer to the generic category of trying and painful encounters of every man, but the specific trying and painful experiences that meet the preacher of the Gospel. Paul writes to Timothy, using the singular second-person pronoun “thou”, thus directing his exhortation to Timothy and not to the body of believers at large. If Paul had intended the “afflictions” to refer to the broad experience every believer would face, he would have used the plural second-person pronoun “ye”. It is clear, from Timothy’s position as a servant of God, that the “afflictions” here refer specifically to the painful experiences that come with being a “partaker” or servant of the Gospel of Christ.

The Call Reaffirmed

Knowing that these verses refer specifically to the ministry of the Gospel, I am convinced that the LORD is calling me into the ministry. The LORD calls me to be like Timothy (a partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel of Christ), to suffer so that the truth of the Gospel may continue in the church and be preached to all; to preach the Word of God for the salvation of sinners and for the sanctification of believers; and to be an instrument through which the power of God – the Gospel – may work effectually to the salvation of many.

An Accompanying Promise

Afflictions notwithstanding, the LORD calls me to serve Him “according to the power of God”. That is to say, the afflictions of the Gospel will not exceed the power of God that He equips me with; there will be no affliction without the accompanying empowerment of God! This promise is assuring – that the spirit of power, which displaces the spirit of fear, will steer and propel me forward in the ministry, come what may.

May God be merciful to sustain me in the ministry, that I may be used effectively for the sake of the Gospel, and for His glory.

In service to God who has called me,
Cornelius Koshy

  9 Jul 2017

In View of the GBI Course on Eschatology

Christians live on earth with an anticipation of a “blessed hope”, which is spoken in Titus 2:13 – “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”.

The Christian’s hope of Christ’s return is called “blessed”. The word “blessed” denotes all the blessings of His divine presence (cf. 1 Timothy 1:11; 6:15). What a blessing it is to have such a hope! Eternal blessings await Christians at His coming. When He comes, we shall be eternally delivered from all the temptations and trials of this world, and shall enter into eternal sinless perfection, joy, bliss, rewards and glory. We live every day with that sure hope. So, we long for His return. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:8, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

There has been some debate as to whether “that blessed hope” and “the glorious appearing” of Christ are two different events, namely Rapture (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:6-17) and His return to this earth at the end of the seven-year Tribulation (cf. Revelation 19:11-21). But there is little in this verse’s context to suggest that Paul was distinguishing those future events in connection with Christ’s return. Paul was simply saying that we are looking for the blessed hope, which is the appearing of the Lord. Although we understand those events of Rapture and His subsequent glorious return to rule the world for a thousand years (cf. Revelation 20:1-10; Isaiah 2:1-4; 11; Ezekiel 37; Daniel 2:44- 45; 7:13-14; Zechariah 14) as distinct, Paul is here referring to the return of Christ as a whole, and not its various stages. The blessed hope is a fixed historical reality which we long for.

The prayer of the apostle John at the end of the book of Revelation should characterise every Christian’s hope: “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). Biblical Christian faith teaches us that “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13).

Do you eagerly long for Christ’s return? Many Christians, who are caught up in enjoying the good things of this life, neglect their preparation for Christ’s return. On the other hand, many other Christians, who are experiencing suffering or persecution, or who are more elderly and infirm, exhibit great enthusiasm and intense longing for His return. It is then necessary that Christians take great caution to avoid being entangled in the worldly affairs and failing to be ready for Christ’s return. To “be ready” for Christ’s return (Matthew 24:44), we ought to be faithfully obeying Him in the present, actively engaged in whatever work He has called us to. We must lead our lives carefully so as to hear Jesus saying, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21).

Do you know what the Scriptures say about the events of the future, especially things associated with Jesus’ return? The study of future events is often called “eschatology”, from the Greek word “eschatos” (ἔσχατος), which means “last”. The study of eschatology, then, is the study of “the last things”.

Christians are given a special privilege to know the major events that are yet to come. About the events which the Bible prophesies, we can have absolute confidence because God is never wrong and He never lies. We must know, for it is our “blessed hope”. Unlike the unbelievers, we don’t have to wonder how things will turn out. Although we cannot know everything about the future, God knows everything – and He has revealed the chief things that we need to know about the future in the Scriptures.

The course on Eschatology will be covering the following topics and more:

  • The Rapture
  • The Tribulation
  • The Millennial Reign of Christ
  • The Resurrections
  • The Eschatological Judgments
  • The Eternal State: Heaven and Hell

Only very few seats available. Please hurry to sign up!

  2 Jul 2017

Living in debt has caused not a few lives and families to be cast into horrible pits of disarray and troubles. Have you not seen heart-breaking news headlines, like “Debtridden farmers end life”; “Debt-ridden students opting for ‘sugar daddies’ to pay rent, tuition, etc.”? Before anyone casually responds by saying, “Well, those reports do not really show that loans and debts really affect people at large”, let me assert from anecdotal evidence and my counselling encounters that living in debt is a widespread problem that affects even Christians.

In recent months, I have had conversations with some youths who have been troubled by the burden of bank loans taken by their parents or by they themselves for their tertiary education. This phenomenon of our time is an omen of severe spiritual, financial, familial and social troubles that will oppress and wreck our people in the days to come.

Borrowing pressurises one into hurtful options

Under the intense pressure of debts, young people are increasingly becoming desensitised to and undiscerning of the perils of get-rich-quick offers from cunning men. Desperation to liberate themselves from the shackles of debts is pushing them to look for huge financial rewards. Many of them fall victim to rich, filthy men and women who, having offered enormous financial rewards, take advantage of their vulnerability. They abuse these obtuse youths for their carnal pleasure, and even endanger them for greater material gain. What’s more, some of those youths do not anymore think that such a lifestyle of loose morals is hazardous, and have even adopted for themselves ungodly living for greater material gain!

Certainly, not all debt-ridden youths have fallen into such dangers. Yet, many other kinds of hazards surround them. A young lady, who is a recent university graduate, tearfully shared with me of her many struggles because of the student loan her parents have taken to send her to university. While she desires to be married and be a homemaker, which is also the desire of her husband-tobe, the parents insist that she should not get married immediately, but that she should first focus on earning money to pay off the debt and then consider marriage and family life. Now, that would take years! Oh, the dreadful snare of debt that stops young women from fulfilling the divine injunction – “… that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Timothy 5:14; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:9; Hebrews 13:4a).

Debt is not only delaying some young people from getting married early in their adulthood, it also burdens those who enter marriage life. Many begin their marriage with loans and credit purchases to start off their life together in fancifully-renovated houses filled with expensive furniture, appliances, cars, etc. Lenders often require repayment of debts with their stipulated interests. Interests charged are often high, making it difficult to repay the loans quickly. Repayments of loans are even harder for the poor borrower, adding more trouble to the needy – hence the saying, “Need is a frying-pan, but debt is the fire.”

High financial burdens on borrowers drive them to live a life that is addicted to moneymaking, which soon negatively affects their spiritual pursuits and family unity. Worry and fear, arguments and quarrels, materialism and spiritual deterioration, and suchlike soon overwhelm them. Neglect of family relationships, children’s care, etc. soon bring about many sorrows in their lives.

Even then, sadly, many blindly believe that living on borrowed money is wise financial planning. However, according to the biblical teachings, it is a fallacious notion. Though the Bible acknowledges that the poor may be compelled to borrow in their emergencies, it does not encourage borrowing. More often than not, the Bible warns strongly against borrowing.

Biblical warnings against borrowing

The Biblical wisdom is that we “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another” (Romans 13:8a). Nowadays, many financial pundits will tell you that leverage – the use of borrowed money to buy assets for appreciation – is the way to prosperity. But be warned that such an advice is contrary to biblical wisdom. Absolutely nowhere in the Scriptures are we advised or commanded to use debt to accomplish God-given financial objectives.

Even if one is able to get interest-free loans from relatives or friends, the Bible forewarns of painful consequences. Borrowing money from someone is certain to change the relationship with that person. Proverbs 22:7 cautions that “the borrower is servant to the lender.” Even if one were to borrow money from parents or siblings or children, the relationship will soon sour.

So, the Bible warns us not to put ourselves in a surety situation. Proverbs 11:15 advices, “He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure.” Likewise, Proverbs 22:26-27 says, “Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts. If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?” In other words, if a person puts up security for another, he will suffer, but he who refuses to pledge is safe. The Biblical advice is that we had better not be a guarantor for others’ debts. If you’re in a surety situation, like having taken a student loan for your child, the Bible’s advice is that you had better pay it off and get out of it. It is very unwise to take a huge loan for any enterprise, without having the means to pay back.

Also, be warned that there is no promise in the Bible that God will bail you out of the unwise debts you have accumulated. Some Christians who unwisely borrow seem to think that the promise of Philippians 4:19 – “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” – would solve their debts. That promise is not a divine guarantee to cancel the consequences of unwise borrowing. Those who think that their decision to borrow money is an act of faith should know that God has never said that He will provide for His people’s needs through moneylenders. How sad it is that many Christians look to moneylenders as their provider! They have made moneylenders their god who would allow them to achieve all the desires of their hearts. Rather, the promise of God is that He will provide for all our needs (cf. Psalm 23:1), and not all our cravings and greed. The Bible teaches us that “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

Certainly, it is best to bear our troubles with much prayer, and overcome them through hard work and wise planning. Entering into debt, especially borrowing beyond our means to pay back, is unwise and can lead to more severe troubles. As much as possible, be debt-free.

  25 Jun 2017

There are some brethren among us who are facing destabilising problems, and excruciating pain and sorrow. Here is a WhatsApp message that I received recently:

“Hi Pastor Koshy, so sorry that I have to pull out of the Missionary Conference… due to post-shingles pain. It has been 67 days since I contracted shingles. S-virus is eradicated but post-pain persists. No improvement. Pain has been erratic – from a scale of 5/10 to 7/10 every day. Some relief (of a few minutes) every now and then from the GRACIOUS LORD, otherwise a throbbing or triggering pull. Night-pain is more intense but the Lord gives me 5-6 hours of sleep, though sometimes broken by pain. I have stopped taking painkillers as they don’t work on me. I endure the pain, often with crying.

My doctor said that shingles surfaced due to my weak immune system. Now, the nerves cut up by the virus are raw and are also trying to repair themselves by joining back. In so doing, they tug and pull. Now I understand fully what is “nerve-wracking”! Post-pain may take months or years to recover, depending on individual and age. There is no sign of improvement and I fear further weakening. I hope to listen to live webcast, if possible. Don’t call me as I will cry while talking to you. Nevertheless, I have become clearer in what it is to “count it all JOY when we fall into diverse temptations”, and what is meant by “the JOY of the Lord is my strength”. Still struggling to actualise it. I have also understood what you always say about God giving us His grace. It’s Him giving us His divine strength to go through our afflictions, right? I have been praying for you more often as I could not sleep sometimes. God bless.”

What shall we think in such times of afflictions? How shall we respond to our troubles? I would call your attention to the words of James: “Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11b).

Job was an exceedingly tried man. He endured his trials with patience. Job would not have manifested patience if he had not suffered his extraordinary afflictions. If he had not known such extraordinary sufferings, his fame would not have been heard down the ages.

Job was patient when all his ten children were killed without warning. Oh, to have patience amidst bereavements! He was patient when all his wealth was taken. Bearing all his losses patiently, he said in worship of the LORD, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). When his own body was full of boils (from head to toe), he patiently endured the tormenting bodily pain with which he was afflicted. Still, that was not the end of the agony he had to endure. Then there was also mental and emotional distress brought on by the conduct of his wife and friends. He was insulted when his wife tempted him to “curse God, and die”. And then Job’s friends, whom he later called “miserable comforters”, rubbed salt into the wound with their unwise remarks. In the midst of all these, he also suffered sleeplessness!

The patience of Job is held up as a powerful moral and spiritual example among men. If Job could remain patient under trial and affliction, why should we not be too? He was but a man; what was wrought in one man may be done in another. True, he had God to help him, but so have we. Like Job, we must patiently wait on the Lord for our deliverance.

Though Satan afflicted Job, God was with him through it all. God was not absent while His servant suffered. The unseen hand of God was sustaining and nurturing Job in the midst of all his suffering. The Lord was with Job right to the end of his trials. Thus, James could declare, “Ye…have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy”.

As it was with Job, the Lord in His mercy will see us through in all our trials. The Lord, who allows us to be tested, will also strengthen us to endure our afflictions. Such is the experience of all afflicted saints. We do well to remain patient under our trials, for the Lord is ever working in us to build us up as His patient, blessed children. Let us therefore submit to all His sovereign and gracious dealings with us in our trials.

  18 Jun 2017

AAs we commemorate the 14th anniversary of our Chinese Ministry, the words of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3:1 are fitting to be recollected and meditated on – “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you”. Here we see that Paul desired that the Word of the Lord will be spread unhindered. As the Gospel preachers dedicated themselves to be industrious in their preaching ministry, they also urged the brethren to support them with their prayers – “Brethren, pray for us”. Preachers labour to declare the Word, and the rest of the church co-labour with them in prayer for the advancement of the Gospel. No one in the church should be disengaged or withdrawn from the burdens of the Gospel work. All members of the church, young and old alike, ought to be prayerpartners in the Gospel-work.

“And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:21). All believers together form “the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:27). This mutual dependence is acknowledged by Paul in his request for the Thessalonians’ prayers. When the members co-operate with the preachers of the church with their prayers, the success of the church’s evangelistic efforts will be secured.

If the apostle Paul highly viewed the efficacy of church brethren’s prayer, who are we to think otherwise? This little word “pray” should be regarded as one of utmost importance to God’s blessing upon preaching. Paul’s most earnest request for assistance from the Thessalonians was that they would “pray”.

Both preaching and prayer are very important to all the ministries of the church. By prayer, we speak to God; by preaching, we speak to man on God’s behalf. By prayer, we receive God’s wisdom and strength to move men to God through Christ.

Brethren, pray earnestly for Pr Daniel Lim that his preaching of the Word of God in the Chinese ministry will turn many to God. Pray also for Pr Jeremiah Sim, who ministers to many of our Chinese-speaking folks through Gethsemane Seniors’ Ministry. May the Lord be glorified today as we thank God for His help through the past 14 years of Gethsemane Chinese Ministry.

Thanksgiving Emails From Our Missionaries

Hello Pastor Koshy,

I praise the Lord for bringing my family to the 5th Missionary Conference, especially when an ordeal almost prevented me from attending. When clearing the immigration checkpoint at the Manila airport, an immigration officer intercepted me and put me on hold. He then took me to his supervisor and started questioning me. They said that there was a warrant of arrest issued under my name. The officer asked me a lot of questions regarding my whereabouts. Thank God that they were finally convinced that the warrant of arrest was not for me. However, they told me that the case was about “car-napping”, and advised that I have to go to Antipolo (about 250 km from Dagupan) to clear my name and request for certification that I was not the person for whom the arrest warrant was issued. When I returned after the conference, I was reminded again by the immigration officer to get the clearance.

I praise the Lord for the lessons learned during the Missionary Conference. As I listened to the messages, I felt as if the events in Galatia were happening right before my eyes. It was as if I was literally part of that church and sitting in its pews. I thank the Lord for our preachers who expounded the Word of God. May the Lord help us to be faithful in His work.

Praise God for refreshing us. God’s Word and the fellowship of godly friends help us to press on with the work. Thank God for godly leaders and congregation whom we can emulate as the biblical pattern. I praise the Lord for raising godly men to guide the church to follow our Saviour.

Praise the Lord also for the monetary gift given to us by the church, and for providing for us through the church and the Session members. I would like to ask permission to use the money to buy a second-hand car. We need a reliable car if we are planning to conduct Bible studies in San Fernando. I am planning to sell my current car (which is very old) so that with the added love gift, we can get a better car. Our current car not only breaks down frequently, it is also not air-conditioned. We normally travel to the homes of the brethren to conduct Bible study immediately after our lunch. And under the very hot sun, the ride can be very uncomfortable. My plan is to buy a small car to use to move around, especially to help us with long journeys that would take several hours.

Thank you for your love and care.

Praying always that we will faithfully serve our Saviour,

Pr Donald and family

Pastor’s Note: The elders will soon consider Pr Donald’s need for a vehicle; may all our readers pray how we can help with this need in Pangasinan. Meanwhile, let us pray that the Lord’s leading will be upon our church leaders to study the matter and provide appropriate support for the Gospel work of Pr Donald and family.

Dear Pastor,

Greetings in our Lord’s blessed Name from Cebu, Philippines! We arrived safely here in Cebu on Sunday afternoon (11th June) – just in time to prepare for the evening service. Praise God!

I thank the Lord for the privilege to attend the 5th Missionary Conference as it has brought manifold blessings upon me and, I believe, upon everyone who attended. It’s such a joy to see and fellowship with the brethren I knew way back in my FEBC student days; to fellowship with fellowlabourers in the work of the Gospel; and to meet the new ones in the church. Praise God also for the time of learning more of God’s Word from various preachers, as well as from your pastoral care and counsel for us preachers in reminding us of the great responsibility of handling the Word carefully.

Thank you very much for praying for us.

Respectfully,
Rev Reggor

  11 Jun 2017

Thanksgiving

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Through the Bible Witness Web Radio (BWWR), the power of the Gospel preaching has been brought to the hearts of many people over the past 10 years. BWWR resounds long after the preacher has descended the pulpit of Gethsemane BPC and also of sister churches. (Please read the short words of thanksgiving below, from some BWWR listeners. Praise the Lord that the message that Pastor preached in 2011 – “The Prayers of Apostle Paul” – continues to work even 6 years later in the hearts of those who heard it for the first time.)

From Singapore

I had always been looking to listen to Christian radio online. And it’s always so hard to find. I was glad when I came across this, and it’s something so close to home, thank you.

Please continue to bring His message to Singapore and the rest of the world.

BWWR’s Reply

We are glad that you find our broadcast useful and you are tuning in. We pray that we will continue to increase and publish more good and edifying Christian materials for our listeners worldwide. Appreciate your prayers for this ministry, and do continue to tune in!

From Singapore

What wonderful programmes on BWWR!

I love to turn on the radio whenever I can. It is so comforting and I found peace by listening to it.

Thank you so much for your hard work.

God bless!

BWWR’s Reply

Praise the Lord, it is always a pleasure to hear from our listeners, and we are truly thankful for this opportunity to declare God’s truths through this channel.

We broadcast many sermons, messages and music that will minister to Christians and encourage them in this life’s journey to press on upward and forward for the Lord.

May His name be praised and magnified!

By the way, if you have been blessed by our broadcast, the ladies, men’s and youth weekly programmes are available for “on-demand” listening on our website, and available for listening at any hour of the day.

From Australia

Hi, I have been listening to the web radio recently and would like to know how to share a particular message with a dear sister in Christ. I can’t seem to find it in the search column.

The title is “The Prayers of Apostle Paul” (2 Cor 12:8-9) preached by Rev Prabhudas Koshy. Please advise.

BWWR’s Reply

The message you hear on our radio is not for download; however, we would be happy to send it to you personally for the edification of other Christians. I’ll find it in our archives and send it to you asap.

Our Goal

This ministry – to publish the truths of the Gospel throughout the world with clear, faithful preaching – is a great duty that the Lord has entrusted to Gethsemane B-P Church. Everywhere, there is a great need for the pure Word of God to be heard. It is not just at the time of the 16th-Century Reformation that the battle for truth was fought. We are at another “dark age” of Christianity. Christians today are lost in a sea of false preaching and are confused about what Christianity ought to be. Many do not have access to Biblical preaching throughout the world, and this includes Singapore, as one of the emails received indicates.

All the more then should we do our Gospel duty by sounding out the Word of truth. That is why the BWWR motto is “Preaching the word of God and edifying the body of believers”. BWWR makes every effort to sound out the message that Jesus saves, and there is no other way, no other Saviour, no other Rock on which to build our lives but Christ. As long as such Internet technology exists, we can utilise it to propagate, defend and teach the truths of the Gospel, even unto the next generation.

Our Plans and Challenges

Praise the Lord that towards the end of last year, the Lord provided us the means to upgrade our Bible Witness Media Ministry recording system, with the ability to produce better quality music. So in addition to preachers’ faithful preaching, more men, women, youth and children must join us to sing and play hymns and spiritual songs, read the Scriptures, and contribute to various BWWR programmes. Everyone can do his part to publish the glad tidings of the Lord Jesus, that sinners may be freed from their despondency and filled with the hope of Christ.

Thank God for Bro Eric Delina who has completed his FEBC theological studies and can now fully devote his time on our Internet ministries. Praise God for some brothers who are working on the Bible Witness app to make it more functional. Please also pray that we may be able to keep our web radio “virus-free” to run our programmes, as we do encounter threats from hackers who are on the prowl to destroy websites like ours. The BWWR ministry is in its 11th year; however, we are not functioning as effectively as we desired to do in the work of the Lord. In order to overcome our shortcomings and produce a better quality web radio broadcast, we need more skilled co-labourers, especially those who are willing to give their lives and talents to the Lord in full-time service in media ministry.

More upgrading of audio equipment, computers, servers, software, etc. are needed in the coming months and years for improvements. We pray that God will bless us with more funds and skilled co-labourers.

Dear brethren, this Gospel door is open to us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It was set up to publish words of exhortation and comfort to needy souls throughout the day, and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as He commanded: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Ours is a small work, but may God be pleased to grant us increase in the days ahead, that millions of lost souls in the world who are hungry for the Word of truth will be fed.

  4 Jun 2017

Every biblical doctrine is a blessing to those who believe and apply it fully in their lives and ministries. Our Lord Jesus said, “Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:28). God’s truth profits everyone who believes and obeys. Isaiah the prophet said, “Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit… O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea” (Isaiah 48:17-18). God’s truth (regardless of differing opinions), if adhered to passionately, will provide great blessings to the soul. They who believe and obey the truth of God’s Word can be expectant of glorious eternal blessings – “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:24).

Every doctrine of the Scriptures is to be received and practised. So, the doctrine of separation, being a clear teaching of God’s Word, must be upheld. Nonetheless, many reject it as an unpleasant, burdensome, useless doctrine. Some refer to it as a “minor doctrine” or “non-essential doctrine”. However, this doctrine is the very channel of divine blessings. Furthermore, it also acts as a shield against errors. To practise the doctrine of separation is to secure the pure and glorious divine blessings for our souls and for our churches.

The Bible records very vividly the blessings that God promises to those who separate themselves from sin, worldliness, false doctrines, false teachers and disobedient Christians.

Separation keeps our souls and congregations from the filthiness of sin.

When we practise biblical separation against the sinful pleasures of the world, we will be able to purify and protect ourselves from all the sins of the world. In Ezra 6:21, we have a great example of this when “the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat” and partook of the Passover. The same truth is found in Revelation 18:4, where a call to separate is given – “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins.”

Separation helps us to be like Christ.

In Hebrews 7:26, we are told that Jesus Christ, being “such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners”. All Christians are to be like Christ; and to be like Christ, they should separate themselves from sin and sinners, just as Jesus did. Of course, this does not mean we should avoid befriending sinners to share the Gospel. Rather, the practice of biblical separation is calling us not to partake in their sinful activities. To be like Christ in this world, separation is necessary.

Separation from ungodly people and their activities helps us to delight in God’s Word.

This is the message that we read in Psalm 1:1-3, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Ungodly friends can often be a distraction and hindrance to a Christian’s obedient life. So, separation from close affiliation with ungodly people will rid us of distractions which steer us away from God’s Word.

Separation helps us to be worthy servants of God.

To be a faithful and good minister of God’s Word, we must refuse to tolerate erroneous doctrines and philosophies. The apostle Paul’s words to Timothy highlights this truth – “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness” (1 Timothy 4:6-7).

Separation helps us to be delivered from God’s wrath against unrepentant sinners.

Revelation 18:4 affirms that separation will deliver us from sin and also its aftermath – “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”

Separation assures us that God will receive us.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17). Though the world and compromising Christians may reject us, the Lord will receive us. Romans 15:7 teaches us that whomsoever Christ receives, He receives to the glory of God. What a blessing it is to know that those who are separated from sin and false doctrines are vessels of God’s glory!

Separation guarantees the presence and fellowship of God.

To those who will not be unequally yoked with unbelief and sin, the Lord promises that “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16b).

Separation guarantees the abiding love and care of God.

To the separated Christians, God promises in His Word that “I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17b-18). Truly, those who will separate themselves for the glory of God are promised His unceasing fatherly love and care.

  28 May 2017

All honour and glory be unto God for sustaining the existence and work of the Gethsemane Seniors’ Ministry all these years. God’s compassionate love and care have been lavished upon the Seniors’ Ministry throughout the past 12 years.

Indeed, when the Seniors gathered together to commemorate the 12th Thanksgiving Service held at Aloha Changi Chalet on 17 May 2017, joy overflowed from the hearts of many who have been looking forward to witness the goodness of the Lord through that meeting.

On that joyful morning, we arrived at the chalet at 9.30am amidst much laughter and excitement. Not surprisingly, the splendid view afforded by the chalet, which was located along the coastline, added to the pleasant mood of anticipation.

Having settled down, our morning devotion began at 9.40am with the praising and worshipping of God. We then had the privilege of listening to Rev Wee Eng Moh, who exhorted us on “The Gravity of Life on Earth” from Psalm 90, which teaches us to number our days. This was followed by the sharing of testimonies by three seniors, namely Sis Magdalene Lim, Sis Tay Soo Thian and Mdm Ang Tua Moi. (You can read their testimonies which are also published in today’s bulletin.) Mdm Ang also presented a song after her testimony. After which, we proceeded for some light refreshments, coupled with a time of Gospel-sharing with our invited non-believing friends and loved ones.

After our refreshments and Gospel-sharing session, the seniors settled back in preparation for the second devotion. Elder Mah led us in the lusty singing of spiritual songs before the preaching of God’s Word by our beloved Pastor Koshy from Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, whereby we were exhorted that we must fear God and keep His commandments.

After a sumptuous lunch, the seniors had a “friendly” competition in games, where they were divided into four groups and had 2 long hours of challenging activity. Truly, thank God for His sufficient grace that granted the elderly folks the strength and the privilege to enjoy such experiences without any harm and injuries! As Elder Mah and Preacher Daniel Lim gave out the prizes, there was loud applause from all the seniors, as everyone had enjoyed the activities.

We praise God that in this ministry, many have been nurtured and encouraged by the Word of God. For that reason, they are grateful and thankful and have been contributing by serving Him with zeal and enthusiasm in various aspects of service. In particular, we also see God’s provision being displayed when many of the elderly gave cheerfully with their contribution of money and food to this event.

Indeed, God’s grace and mercy have been showered upon the Seniors’ Ministry through this Thanksgiving Service. Mention must also be made of the brethren from the Gethsemane Care Ministry, who have been a great help to assist the uncles and aunties in the chalet. Thank God for such brethren who labour in the Lord to serve others.

And may this anniversary service impress upon our seniors to remember their Creator to worship Him and be steadfastly devoted to Him while they still have breath. As the psalmist exhorts, “All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah … O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved” (Psalm 66:4, 8-9).

Mdm Magdalene Lim

Thank God for enabling me to attend the Gethsemane Seniors’ Fellowship 12th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service and I want to testify of God’s loving kindness and tender mercies as follows:

  1. Thank God for a successful operation in removing my breast cancer.
  2. Thank God for the prayers, encouragement and help of brethren in the church.
  3. Thank God for giving me joy and peace.

When I discovered a lump in my right breast in March, God is the first person I confided in. I prayed, “Lord, You know what I am going through. I won’t be afraid, I would be brave with joy.”

When the report showed that the lump was malignant, my first thought was: “Let my family members quickly receive the Lord as their personal Lord and Saviour.” My second request to God was: “May the money I receive from my insurance be channelled to the church building fund.”

Truly, when a person is sick or encounters a crisis in life, he or she becomes closer to God. I know I am not the only person who is suffering. I believe every person at some point of his or her life will face some sort of tragedy. Whether it be family issue, sickness, financial need, or whatever affliction, if we listen to His words (knowing God is with us) and are willing to do His will, there will be joy and peace.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this world is not our home. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, then there is joy in everything. All glory be to God!

Mrs Poon (Tay Soo Thian)

My heart is filled with thanksgiving to God, having been with Gethsemane Church for the past 12 years. In 2004, my daughter was baptised and this was the first time I came to know of this church. During the first year, whenever I heard the gospel message being preached (John 3:16-18), my heart was warmed and moved. I realised my life purpose is to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour. Upon receiving Christ, my heart was filled with joy.

I myself was baptised in 2005. However, in my daily life, I often encountered many struggles and temptations. I sometimes found myself going back to my old ways of living and falling to my weaknesses. I often prayed to God for help, and He delivered me. Each day I would pray to the Lord and He gave me strength to overcome my troubles and weaknesses.

In 2010 when I went for my usual medical check-up, I was told that there were cancer cells in my body. However, I felt no fear because I have already believed in the Lord and He has saved me. While undergoing several treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I would pray for grace to go through and the Lord helped me each time I turned to Him. During the time of treatment, God’s Word was my best medicine, which enabled me to even comfort my family members because of their worry for me.

Jesus is my life’s best gift. I thank God for choosing me, a lost sheep, and for giving me hope of eternal life. With thanksgiving to God, I resolved, whether in good or bad times, that I will live and trust God, and not murmur. Truly, in God there is peace and renewing life. All thanks and glory be to God.

Mdm Ang Tua Moi

It is by the Lord’s grace that I was able to attend the Seniors’ Fellowship 12th Anniversary after being “home-bound” for more than 4 months.

It all began with my 80th birthday thanksgiving celebration this year on the 15 of January. This was the Lord’s answer to my prayer to have a gospel outreach to all my unbelieving friends and relatives through this celebration.

However, I never expected that 3 days after this occasion, I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, which had spread to my liver and lung! Despite such sudden news, the Lord filled my heart with peace and even joy. I am contented that the Lord has blessed me with many years of good health, allowing me to live to such an old age. I am ready to go home to be with the Lord to enjoy the bliss of heaven forever. Hence, I thought I would just wait on the Lord for my homegoing without further treatment.

However, the oncologist encouraged me to receive chemotherapy after checking that my cancer cells were very responsive to chemotherapy and my body was very fit to receive such treatment, which would help to remove the tumours in my liver and lung. I prayed to the Lord to grant me His grace and strength to undergo the treatment if it is His will, and to heal me if He wants me to serve Him and testify for Him. However, I also prayed for the Lord’s will to be done and to grant me an easy homegoing if it pleases Him to take me home.

The 4 months of chemotherapy were very difficult for me, having to cope with many side effects and great discomfort of my body. When I went through the 9th chemotherapy session, it was so unbearable that I was close to giving up. I thank the Lord for sustaining me with His grace through the prayers of pastors, elders and many brethren, as well as encouragement from His precious Word, hymns and spiritual songs. I experience the love of Christ through all these, despite much bodily suffering.

I was scheduled to undergo 18 sessions of chemotherapy. However, after completing 12 sessions, a PET-scan was done to determine the result of the treatment thus far. To my delight, the scan result showed that all the tumours and lumps have amazingly disappeared! I am very thankful that He has granted me healing.

Indeed, life is fragile, transient and full of uncertainty but with Christ as my Saviour, I am assured of the certainty of my salvation and the blessed hope of eternal life. I thank God not only for healing me, but most important of all, for saving me so that I am spared from the damnation and suffering of eternal hell. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Psalm 23, my favourite psalm, has always comforted me and kept me through the darkest moments in my life. Truly, it is blessed to have Jesus Christ as my Shepherd and I am not a lost sheep anymore. Now, if anyone has not received Christ as your Saviour, I urge you to do so without further delay, so that you will receive the salvation grace of Jesus Christ like me and be blessed with the hope of eternal life.

  21 May 2017

Scripture clearly teaches us that the remedy for the onslaught of carnality is preaching that confronts sin with burning words and bold rebuke. Consider the preaching of the prophet Isaiah. In the very first chapter itself, Isaiah delivered a startling rebuke of sin. Isaiah denounced the Israelites’ sacrifices as hypocritical! He boldly declared that God despised their oblations, the incense, their holy days and feasts. Then in no uncertain terms, he told them that God would not hear their prayers because their hands were full of blood. Again in that chapter, he denounced them for oppression of the poor, for their rebellion against God, and for their spiritual harlotry. He was unflinching when he remarked that not only did their princes run around with thieves, with everyone looking for bribes, but also that the leaders did not give honest protection to widows and orphans. And that is only one example out of many with regard to the preaching of Isaiah. He preached gallantly against sins!

Consider Nathan, the prophet who rebuked David. He is a fine example of a God-honouring preacher who preaches curtly against sin. Even King David’s royal pomp was no hindrance to his preaching against sin. So Nathan boldly preached a sermon, using a parable to show the wickedness of David’s sin. Then when the anger of David was aroused against the hypothetical rich man who had taken his neighbour’s little ewe lamb, Nathan with crushing and powerful effect pointed his finger in the face of King David and said, “Thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). Nathan showed David his horrible sin of murdering Uriah in order to take his wife, Bathsheba. Nathan did not fear the royalty of David. Therefore, he stood up for God and openly denounced David’s sin.

Consider John the Baptist. He sharply rebuked sin. He did not try to be tactful and mild in his rebuke. He firmly said to the Jews, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:7, 8). He made no exception for the Jewish leaders either. He told them they would be hewn down like fruitless trees to be cast into the fire of hell! He was just as bold when he confronted Herod the king, and told him plainly that he had no right to take his brother’s wife (Matthew 14:3, 4).

Consider the preaching of Stephen. Acts 7 tells the story of his rebuke of the sins of the Jews. He loudly declared to them, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it” (7:51–53).

Though many more of God’s servants can be mentioned, let us for our consideration look at just one more preacher, the apostle Paul. On his first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas came to Paphos. When Elymas the sorcerer withstood them and tried to keep Sergius Paulus, the deputy ruler of the country, from being saved, Paul faced him, and being filled with the Holy Ghost, said, “O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10).

Preachers who refuse to preach against sin – for fear of being negative – certainly do not follow the pattern of these great men of God. However, those who do preach against sin run the unwanted risk of hurting the feelings of their carnal hearers and making some of them angry, as well as causing frustrations in the crowd. But they are faithful to God and to the Bible.

As much as preachers are called to preach about God’s love, they are also called to preach against sin. The Lord Jesus loved men, and loved sinners enough to die for them, but how He hated sin! Remember how He made a whip to drive the traders from the temple, overturned the tables of the moneychangers, and scattered the money on the stone floor! Preaching ought to be like that sometimes. With holy boldness, preachers ought to hate sin and expose it.

Jesus preached against sin! He preached against covetousness; He preached against unbelief; He preached against adultery or even looking on a woman to lust after her. He preached against holding grudges and said that if men do not forgive, neither would the Father in Heaven forgive them. He said to the Pharisees and scribes, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44). Men hated Jesus because He preached against sin. May God forgive us preachers, who do not preach like Jesus, because we fear the anger of men.

Today, we need preachers who refuse to be influenced by the sophistry of the popular preachers who refrain from preaching against sin. Truly, preachers ought not to be cowards. They must be courageous to rebuke from the pulpit, as well as privately, if need be. The preacher who never has a word to say against immodest apparel, drunkenness, adultery, lewdness, covetousness or blasphemy is a dumb dog who cannot bark! He is a Balaam preaching for profit. He has fallen into the snare of the fear of man. We need unequivocal preaching against sin – against particular sins. May God give us many youthful, vibrant and fearless preachers everywhere who will speak for God against the carnality that invades churches of our time!

  14 May 2017

Our 5th Missionary Conference is drawing very near. In just about three weeks, about 255 participants will gather together in Kuching (E. Malaysia) for the event. May all glory be unto our gracious God, who has called us and guided us thus far.

We had many concerns about the funds needed to support all our preachers and invited guests to gather together. However, His bountiful provision through the generous, and even sacrificial, giving of many has helped the fund to reach S$46,565/-. This amount is very close to our targeted sum of S$50,000/- and will help us to meet much of our needs.

It is yet another marvellous proof of the truthfulness and goodness of Christ’s words in Matthew 6:8 that “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Oh, how precious indeed is this assertion of Christ regarding the sweet omniscience of God’s loving care of His people!

The expression “your Father” depicts the privileged relationship that we now have through Christ’s saving work on the cross, and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Our Saviour tells all His redeemed to look up to God and address Him as their Father in heaven. God is not the Father of all. His Fatherhood is based upon our acceptance of His Son. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

Christ asserted that the Father “knoweth” all our needs. He points us to His Father’s foreknowledge and omniscience, which are the oft-mentioned attributes of God throughout Scripture. No personal details of your life – past, present, or future – is beyond His knowledge. Nothing escapes the eye of Him whose mercy covers our lives from start to finish.

Now, “what things ye have need of” is a phrase that refers to the Father’s knowledge of what we need, and not our own estimation of our needs. Whether the needs are material or spiritual, He has a thorough knowledge of them all. And because of His omnipotence, He can meet any need according to His riches in glory. How comforting and assuring it is to believe that before our lips can recite our need, our loving Father is on His way to meet it!

Jesus said that our Father knows our needs “before ye ask him”. Before we enter God’s presence with our plea for help, He knows the burden upon our heart. Our needs are real, and His knowledge about them is perfect. When the two meet, relief is ours. Let us, therefore, rest in the joy that our Father in heaven is the One from whom nothing is hidden, and through whom all good things flow.

What an antidote to all our anxieties did our Saviour give us! So, as we serve Him, let us leave all our cares with our loving Father in heaven. Let us not worry about tomorrow, but continue to serve our God faithfully, believing more and more (even in the midst of trials) that He will take care of us.

Like as a father who cares for all his children, one by one, according to their individual needs, God will take care of His every child individually. He is aware of each one’s needs, and He knows them as no one else knows them. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him” (Psalm 103:13). Truly, He will grant us appropriate care according to our needs. Let us all be assured always of the appropriateness of His paternal care.

Gethsemane Bible Presbyterian Church of Ethiopia

Dear Session of Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church, Singapore,

Heartfelt greetings in the blessed name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

It is with a heart full of gratitude that I write to you praising God for what He has done through your sacrificial service for the furtherance of God’s work in Gethsemane B-P Church of Ethiopia. The Lord has sustained our church and provided for it for the past 11 years through many and different trials. Now, we are preparing to hold a combined service of the church’s 11th anniversary thanksgiving service on 20th May 2017 at Alemgena.

Moreover, we will have the commencement programme of the 2nd graduating class of Gethsemane Bible Institute. Nine of our trainees in the full-time programme will be graduating with Diploma of Theology. We will also have two adult baptisms and four transfers of membership on this occasion. Therefore, we praise God for your constant prayers and support of God’s work in Ethiopia.

The Gethsemane Children Ministry is also going on well. The children are taught spiritual truths besides normal academic curriculum. We are reaching out to the parents of the children also. Please pray that God may use the dedicated service of His people to bring these precious souls to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The work in the Addis congregation is also going on well, primarily through the labour of Preacher Engida. The members are more committed now to worship and serve the Lord. We thank God for His enabling grace upon the work in GBI, Ethiopia, where we conduct full-time, evening class and distance programmes. May our gracious God richly bless you all. Please pray that the different ministries will be effective in edifying and equipping God’s people for the work in the Lord’s service.

Once again, I would like to express my gratitude to Rev Koshy, all the leaders and members of Gethsemane for sacrificially supporting and constantly praying for God’s work in Ethiopia.

Yours in Christ,
Rev Ephrem Chiracho
(on behalf of Gethsemane BPCE and GBI, Ethiopia)

  7 May 2017

The Lord was pleased to use His servant – the late Pr Dominino dela Cruz, Jr (husband of Sis Sharon and father of Nehemiah) – to establish a mission church in Bogo, Cebu, the Philippines in 2008. In the following year, another mission church in San Antonio (which is a nearby village where he grew up) was also inaugurated. Despite the many trials and oppositions encountered, our missionary and the two congregations stood steadfast and pressed on. He served joyfully together with his family for 3 years, before the Lord called him home on the Lord’s day, 7 July 2013 to his eternal rest after a hard-fought battle against cancer.

Elder Eliezer Ortega, who was then taking care of The Gethsemane Care Ministry in Cebu City, an outreach to former drug addicts and offenders of the law, yielded to the Lord’s call to lead the much-saddened flock. He was commissioned on 28 July 2013. Together with his wife, Sis Arlaine, they moved from Cebu City to serve in Bogo, leaving their three children behind in Cebu City. They have been serving faithfully since, amidst the increasingly difficult and demanding work.

Mission Bogo 2017, which aims to encourage our missionary and the brethren in Bogo and San Antonio, was the fourth in a series of mission trips initiated by our Gethsemane Encourager’s Ministry (GEM). Over the past 2 years, similar mission trips were made to Cebu City, Pangasinan and Kuching. By God’s grace and leading, the Lord provided a strong team of 28 brethren from our midst (that included 5 young children) to serve and fellowship with brethren of our mission churches in Bogo and San Antonio from 27-30 April 2017.

All praise be unto the Lord for this large team, which accorded many blessed opportunities to preach and teach God’s Word to unbelievers, and to fellowship with the saints. With much grace and help from the Lord, the team was able to, in the short space of three and a-half days, visit 9 homes, have a full-day DVBS, including an “oral hygiene” instruction class in both Bogo and San Antonio, as well as conduct 3 evangelism sessions in Bogo and the areas around San Antonio and Libjo, where many tracts were distributed and the Gospel shared. All of these were held concurrently. The team also had the joy of being able to co-labour and participate in the combined Prayer Meeting held on Friday evening in Bogo, as well as the Worship Service on the Lord’s day, where our Pastor brought the Word.

Mission Bogo 2017 is different from earlier mission trips in several ways, besides the size of the team. This mission trip, though initially planned for March 2017, was rescheduled to take place just before the Philippines churches’ Combined Camp (planned to be held from 1-4 May 2017), as suggested by Pastor Koshy and Rev Reggor Galarpe, pastor of the mission church in Cebu City. This provided another opportunity for many brethren to serve and be blessed by the teaching of God’s Word during the camp, where Pastor Koshy was the camp speaker. A total of 17 brethren from the mission team stayed on for the camp. Pastor and Sis Carolyn, as well as Pr Dennis Kabingue and his family extended their mission visits in the Philippines further in ministering to the brethren in Bohol and Davao/Cebu City respectively, by arriving a few days prior to the arrival of the other mission team members on 27 April 2017.

For many in the mission team, the opportunities to serve alongside our brethren in the kitchens and meeting halls of the two churches in Bogo and San Antonio, as well as in travelling to and fro from our hotels to the church premises and to homes in remote rural areas, were enriching and blessed experiences. The ready smiles of brethren and non-believers that we encountered during evangelism were heartwarming. The warm welcome we received in the early hours of 27 April from Rev Reggor, his family, Eld Eliezer, his wife, Bro Allan and his family at Mactan Airport, Cebu set the tone of brotherly love that we continued to receive during our short stay. Through Bro Allan’s contacts in the airport, the 31 large pieces of communal luggage – comprising Pastor’s devotionals, Bible Witness magazines, tracts, etc. weighing more than 300kg, together with the team’s personal belongings – were accorded special consideration through customs. We were able to get out of the airport without any of our luggage subject to close examination. May the Lord be praised for His providence.

The Lord is to be praised too for the protection and safety of the team throughout all our travels from/to the airport and hotel, walking on unfamiliar roads and riding in small motorcycle cabs to the church in Bogo, with several brethren having to ride these cabs to and fro between Bogo and San Antonio (a distance of 10 km)! Though it was an interesting experience to 7 members of the team, it was nevertheless a somewhat risky and uncomfortable pillion-ride at the back seat on motorcycles across small unpaved, bumpy paths – sometimes even at the very edge of a steep slope – to visit a brother’s home. The Lord was good to also grant good health to all in the team, without anyone suffering severe illness.

I am certain that the mission trip has opened the eyes of the team to the needs of our brethren in Bogo and San Antonio. More than their physical needs, there is a dire need for spiritual encouragement and strengthening. May the Lord use brethren who have been given this glimpse of the lives of our brethren there to encourage them in the Lord, especially our missionary Eld Eliezer and his wife, to stay steadfast and to persevere for the Lord Jesus’ glory.

  30 Apr 2017

Though a detailed report would be submitted to the church by the mission team upon their return, I thought it would be good to write to you a few things that God has enabled us to do thus far. As I write this very brief report, the mission team is already into its second day of ministry here in Bogo. Yesterday (i.e. on Thursday), the team members were divided into different groups to engage in street evangelism and home visitations. Today, while some are conducting a one-day Gospel programme for the children, others are engaging in street evangelism and home visitations.

Before the arrival of the mission team, Preacher Dennis and family have visited Davao City and ministered the Word to his contacts. Over the last weekend, he preached to about 50 people who had gathered on the excellencies of Christ from Hebrews 1:1-4. We thank God that Pr Dennis was able to conduct a three-day preaching visit to Davao. Let us pray that the Lord will be pleased to bless this effort with lasting results to all eternity.

By God’s grace, my wife and I were enabled to visit Bohol island. Our main ministry was to our mission church in Tagbilaran City. Preacher Edsel Locot has been ministering in this place for about 11 years. We are very grateful that the Lord has kept His servant (Pr Edsel) strong and determined in the work of the Gospel, though the church has often been shaken by the departure of many who had earlier joined the church. The world exerts tremendous pressure through temptations and trials upon those who come to the church. Certain vices – gambling, drugs, fornication and adultery – are very rampant among the people of this island, and they are often the cause/s of the falling away of many.

I have gone to the city’s prison to visit a man who has been arrested for drugs and is repentant. He has been regularly visited and ministered to by Pr Edsel. This man had been a member of the church, but was lured into drugs again. Even though the preacher had repeatedly warned him, he denied his sins and secretly pursued them. It was a very high-risk “thrill” that he was pursuing, especially as the Philippines’ president, Rodrigo Duterte, has declared war against the drug-dealers and abusers! This man was dancing with death. He could have been easily shot dead by the anti-drug officers. He barely escaped being shot, and was arrested and placed in jail. The condition of the prison is extremely miserable. Pr Edsel was able to obtain a special permit for me to visit the prison with him. We exhorted the man to bear fruit of repentance while he is in the prison, by living out a life of good Christian testimony. I was glad to know that he is committed to live a renewed life as a Christian.

The small congregation of our church in Bohol has about 20 worshippers (including children). Most of them are economically poor. However, they rejoice in the Lord and His Word. I preached to them last Lord’s Day, as well as on Monday and Tuesday nights, based on 1 Peter 4. One young lady of the church also brought her colleague, who was a Catholic, to hear God’s Word. She came for two nights and testified of her interest to know more of Christ and the Bible. She expressed her desire to come back and attend the church activities. Let us pray that the Lord will soon open her heart to receive the Lord Jesus as her Saviour.

On Wednesday, Carolyn and I left Bohol (by ferry) for Cebu, where we were received by Rev Reggor Galarpe and family. We attended the Cebu congregation’s Bible Study and prayer meeting that night. I preached during this meeting from Deuteronomy 33:29 on the topic, “Happy art the people of God”. The meeting was attended by 40 over church members. We praise God for the opportunities to fellowship with many of the leaders and members of the Cebu congregation. Their steadfastness and zeal in the Lord are truly commendable – truly, let us praise the Lord for their continued walk with the Lord!

Our Debt of Love

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).

As Paul begins to exhort the brethren concerning the debt of love that Christians owe one another, he said, “Owe no man any thing”. So can we borrow money? The Bible allows lending and borrowing in times of real need (Deuteronomy 15:7-8; Psalm 37:26; Exodus 22:25). But it discourages us from being in debt, for a man’s debt would make him subservient to the lender (cf. Deuteronomy 15:6; 28:12, 44; Proverbs 22:7). The Bible also warns against taking responsibility for the debts of others (cf. Proverbs 6:1-5; 22:26-27). It is a sin to borrow and not repay (cf. Psalm 37:21). God does not want us to be under obligation to any because of unsettled debts.

Nevertheless, we must deem loving one another as our permanent debt and duty to others. This is not the first time Paul talked about love in his epistle to the Romans. In Romans 12:9-10, he described love as thus – “Let love be without dissimulation… Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love”. So, we must recognise our debt of love.

We are spiritually obliged to love everyone as our verse says, “love one another”. Love must be extended, without discrimination, to all and sundry in the church and everywhere. Love is a debt which can never be settled. Even though we have been daily showing kindness to others, yet our debt of love can never be fully paid as long as there is an opportunity to do good.

How much do we owe others? As much as we love ourselves (cf. Romans 13:9b; Matthew 19:19; 7:12; Ephesians 5:28-29), and as much as God has loved us (cf. John 13:34-35; 15:12-13). Remember how God loved us when we were His enemies (cf. Romans 5:8)? That is how we ought to love others.

Paul also told us the reason for the debt of love – “for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law”. Some think that the law and love are contrary to one another. Actually, they are in harmony with each other. Only by loving others can one be fully obedient to God’s moral laws. Galatians 5:14 says, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” James identifies loving others as the royal law – “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well” (James 2:8). Love helps us to fulfil God’s law. True love helps us to uphold the righteous laws of God.