May 5, 2024

Gethsemane Seniors’ Ministry 19th Anniversary Thanksgiving Report

Written by:
Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy

Written by Pr Jeremiah Sim

The Word of God says in Psalm 106:1, “Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Indeed, with much thankfulness and gratefulness to God for His unfailing mercy, love and care to the brethren in the Gethsemane Seniors’ Ministry (GSM), we rejoice with an overflowing exultation to commemorate GSM’s 19th Anniversary Thanksgiving, in conjunction with a retreat which was held at Evergreen Laurel Hotel, Penang, Malaysia (17th-20th April 2024). We thank the Lord for a total of 61 participants. 

The Lord’s providence and help towards us were evident from the beginning of the planning of this Anniversary Thanksgiving Retreat. Behind the scenes lay laborious, careful efforts in the planning and logistical preparations. For that, we thank God for brethren who had laboured with much love and unity in the smooth execution and running of the whole event. Our sincere appreciation to  those brethren who had taken time off from their work to join us and render their sacrificial service in this retreat.

The day arrived for our departure on 17th April at Singapore Changi Airport. There were 3 groups of participants travelling at different flight timings. We could see that our seniors were excited as many had to get up exceptionally early on that day to make their way to Changi Airport. With the Lord’s enabling aid, the brethren, who were assigned to lead and care for their respective groups of seniors, safely and smoothly brought them to Penang Airport and then to Evergreen Laurel Hotel, as well as saw to their safe return to Singapore after the retreat.

It was encouraging to see quite a few of our seniors prayerfully trusting the Lord and attending this retreat in spite of their frail health. We witnessed the Lord’s goodness in taking care of each and every one of them. This brings to our remembrance, Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” 

We had a blessed time studying and learning God’s Word on the theme, “A House Built to Last”, taken from Matthew 7:24-27. Pastor Koshy exhorted us through his 5 messages to dedicate ourselves to serve the Lord fervently, even in our old age. Pastor enlightened us that we are likened to the wise and foolish builders, who see a need to build their houses. Both the wise and foolish builders build differently, though they would face the same rains, floods and winds. Truly, what houses we want to build would largely depend on our responses and attitudes. The wise builder digs deep into the foundation, invests his time and energy to trust and depend on the solid rock and persevere to the end. However, the foolish builder makes a fatal error, lives a superficial or pretentious lifestyle (being complacent / compromising), and did not stand firm in his belief, so much so that he cannot withstand the trials and tribulations in life. What a timely message to encourage us to focus on the Lord Jesus in building our spiritual house, that we may not become weary and despondent  in the face of various trying circumstances in life! We pray that our Seniors would cling strongly to the Lord’s promises, and be wise builders in building their spiritual lives to last, and leave a legacy for their loved ones and friends. 

Throughout those 4 days, the seniors put into practice what they have learned by encouraging one another in the Lord and extending their hands of fellowship. Many of them were helpful, cared for and assisted those who were feeble and not so mobile. Certainly, we thank the Lord for His protection throughout in our travelling. Truly, “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength” (Isaiah 40:29). All praise be unto God!

Testimonies from Seniors' Retreat Participants

Lee Kim Lei

‘A House Built to Last’ – that’s the theme of our Seniors’ Ministry Retreat (taken from Matthew 7:24-27). Thanks be unto the Lord for using Pastor Koshy to teach the 5 lessons which are clearly organised and expounded.  From the passage, an important lesson was drawn from two different builders – one wise and the other foolish. In the building of a house, it is essential that its foundation be strong. The wise builder will endure the hard work, persevere, and press on to the end (despite the difficulties or even in the face of others’ mocking). But the foolish builder would normally choose a much easier way in his building work.

I learnt of the two houses which the two men built. A strong house with a strong foundation is built upon the rock, whereas a weak house is built upon sand. When calamities or trials come, the house on a strong foundation will stand firm while the house on sand will crumble.

I learnt that I must be like the wise man so that:

  • my house (which is my faith) will not collapse;
  • I will be repentant of my sins;
  • I will have greater longing for God’s Word;
  • I will have more holiness in me;
  • I will see the beauty of heaven and be more Christ-like.

I learnt that believers are like lively stones (1 Peter 2:4-8), where our Lord Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone of our house. We are to build up our spiritual house and become a holy priesthood. As a spiritual house built upon the Lord Jesus, we are to:

  • offer spiritual sacrifices unto the Lord;
  • render sacrifice of praise;
  • do good and communicate (helping others).

I also learnt of the 3 important factors to do spiritual sacrifices unto the Lord:

  1. Be holy;
  2. Be spiritual;
  3. Be acceptable to God.

Such rich and blessed spiritual feeding unto my soul and unto the seniors who feedback with much praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord. In my 12 years of service with the Seniors’ Ministry, I have witnessed several who were taken home to be with the Lord in peace, as well as quite a number who continue coming to our seniors’ meetings in joy despite their sick and deteriorating bodies. I am much blessed and encouraged by their testimonies. May the Lord continue to use us seniors to be a channel of blessings to others. Truly, “I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation” (Psalm 40:10). 

Julie Skariah

I thank God for the opportunity to join the 19th Anniversary Thanksgiving & Retreat of Gethsemane Seniors’ Ministry (GSM) in Penang. For the past one year, Sis Gina has been encouraging me to attend the weekly GSM meetings in GMC. After prayerful consideration, I started attending their meetings in recent months, and was subsequently moved to register for this retreat. During this retreat, I was greatly blessed by the faithful preaching of God’s Word as well as the sweet fellowship with the seniors and other brethren. Thank God for strengthening Eld. Mah, Pr. Jeremiah and Pr. Daniel to plan and coordinate this retreat. My heart rejoiced to see many “younger” brethren joining this retreat to help and assist the elderly believers. Thank God for the safety and protection upon all the seniors throughout the retreat, though many are weak and fragile. I am certainly encouraged to see their faith and joy in the Lord. 

Praise the Lord for enabling Pastor Koshy to preach five messages on the topic, “A House Built to Last”, taken from Matthew 7:24-27. These were timely reminders for us to build our lives upon our Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to offer our life as a spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God. God has chosen us to be part of a spiritual house to serve Him for His glory (1 Peter 2:5). I pray that the Lord will continue to strengthen me to serve Him joyfully for His glory. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). All glory be to God.

Thomas and Melanie Tow

In his sermons on the topic, “A House Built to Last”, Pastor Koshy challenged us to examine our faith and how we are living it out in our lives. Are we like the wise builder or the foolish builder in Matthew 7:24-27? A firm foundation in Christ is not built easily, but requires hard work, patience and perseverance, as we dig deep into God’s Word and let its truths transform our lives. Progress takes time, but the results are lasting. 

In the hymn, “The Solid Rock”, we sing, “On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand - All other ground is sinking sand…” If we adopt only the outward rituals of the Christian faith, never submitting to the Holy Spirit to transform us, we may appear to be religious. But the shallowness and pretentiousness of our faith will be revealed when we face the storms of life and especially death.  All will face the same end: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Thus, we can never take our salvation for granted. We must continually “desire the sincere milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2). “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20). This is a stern warning to guard our lives and the choices we make. 

1 Peter 2:5 reminds us, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Paul further beseeches believers to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Our bodies are not to be instruments of sin, but rather consecrated to do His will. Through our praise and thanksgiving, we offer to God sacrifices of praise. We are also to help others, “to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16). We are called to share the Gospel and to participate in the ministry of the church and its outreach through our giving. We can say, as Paul said to the church in Philippi, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). 

We praise God for Pastor’s timely messages. We were also very blessed through our fellowship with the other brethren. No matter how old or feeble we may be or become in the days to come, we will aim to fulfil our calling to be Jesus’ “lively stones”, bringing life and light to the many souls who are still in spiritual darkness. It is Jesus who makes us lively and useful.  We may think we are useless, especially as our health fails and we become dependent on others. But we do not cease to be part of the church, the gathering of God’s people and part of His spiritual house. May our lives bear witness to the firm foundation on which we stand, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Edeliza Ballega

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Indeed, I thank God for His grace and provision that enabled me to participate in the recently concluded Gethsemane Seniors’ Ministry (GSM) 19th Anniversary Thanksgiving & Retreat held in Penang (17-20 Apr 2024). I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I reflect on the time of spiritual feasting and fellowship, being enriched by the faithful exposition of God’s Word by Pastor Koshy. Truly, it was a rejuvenating experience, surrounded by senior brethren and vibrant young adults, all under the watchful care of our Almighty God. 

Truly, praise the Lord for His sustaining grace over the past 19 years, preserving and blessing GSM as a beacon of His goodness and wonderful works. Our church’s dedication to ministering to brethren in their golden years is a testament to His faithfulness. I am grateful for Pastor Koshy’s leadership, Eld Mah’s steadfast oversight, Pr Jeremiah’s dedication to taking care of the flock, and Pr Daniel’s linguistic talents, alongside their supportive spouses who tirelessly serve with the faithful men of the ministry.

The theme of the retreat, “A House Built to Last” (Matthew 7:24-27), resonated deeply within me. It reminded me of the importance of actively participating in God’s work and building up His kingdom. Just as the wise man builds his house upon the rock, I am called to build my life upon the firm foundation of Christ, lest I be like the foolish man whose house crumbled upon the sand. 1 Peter 2:4-5 echoes this sentiment, describing believers as “lively stones” being built into a spiritual house. As followers of Christ, we are called to be lively stones, firmly attached to Him, offering our lives as spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. This requires complete surrender to His will and transformation by the renewing of our minds, that we may discern and fulfil His perfect will (Romans 12:2).

May GSM continue to flourish, serving as a source of strength and support for all involved. May each member be empowered to live as “ lively stones”, rooted in Christ and dedicated to His glory. All praise and glory unto our faithful God, who sustains us and builds His house to last for eternity.

Miriam Wong

Thank God that my father (Uncle Wong), Tika (his maid) and I were able to join Gethsemane Seniors’ Ministry (GSM) 19th Anniversary Thanksgiving & Retreat in Penang this year.

Incidentally, my parents and I were one of the first few participants when GSM first started. To date, if my memory does not fail me, four among that first group have departed into glory. Looking at my parents’ health, I also don’t know how long more my father could still be joining us. (My mother could no longer join us already due to her ill health.) Thank God Pastor Koshy saw the need to start this work, assigning Pr Jeremiah and Pr Daniel to minister among the seniors.

Soon one day, whether young or old now, all of us would need to put our tasks down. Yet, when we choose to remain faithful to the Lord, He will make sure His work continue, with or without the founding members of the church or GSM. As God’s saints, we are called to be lively stones, being built up as a spiritual house. May our gracious God grant us grace to be faithful in following His leading. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Cheng Han

Thank God for the committee members who organised this Thanksgiving Retreat to Penang, for keeping Pastor Koshy in good health to deliver the messages, for safety and protection in our travel and stay in Penang, for a blessed time of learning God’s Word and mutual encouragement and sweet fellowship of the saints. In particular, I have been blessed by the hospitality and kindness of many brethren at the retreat.

Most of all, there were many spiritual lessons from God’s faithful servant on the topic, “A House Built to Last” (Matthew 7:24-27). The house built on the rock needs a lot of time in its construction, and cannot be done speedily. The house built on sand would be faster and easier, and so the builder can quickly finish the job. But behold the different outcomes after both houses have been completed. For the 1st house, when “the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (v. 25). For the 2nd house, “it fell: and great was the fall of it” (v. 27). Both houses face the same situations. One remains strong, the other fell. What makes the difference?

The wise builder digged deep and laid the foundation on the rock, which is not easy but wise (cf. Luke 6:48). But the foolish builder built upon the earth (less difficult but foolish) resulting in a house without a foundation (cf. Luke 6:49). Digging deep in rock needs hard labour. We are to dig deep into God’s Word and apply Bible truth into our lives, and knock off sins in our lives, though it is not an easy thing to do. Some people in church do not want to “dig deep” in their spiritual life. They prefer a happy and easy life. They are unwilling to deal with and to confess sins deep in their lives, and so have no peace. Hearing God’s Word can be painful. Jesus looks into our hearts. We need to check if our spiritual foundation is well built. Jesus hates sin. He does not want us to continue in sin. It is for our sins that He died for us. If we don’t let God’s Word transform us, we are like a foolish builder. True seeking and doing of God’s Word will lead to exposing our hidden sins, to repentance, to reconciliation, to real joy, to increased holiness.

Finally, may the Lord continue to bless the Gethsemane BPC’s Seniors’ Ministry and all its ministries to the glory of His Holy Name. Amen.

Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church adheres to the system of faith commonly known as the “Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
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