Thank the Lord for a blessed 4-day long Bible Witness Retreat in Shillong, India. We were able to fellowship with many participants hailing from the different villages in the state of Meghalaya, as well as with Rev. Sujith and his fellow co-labourers from Vizag. It was eye-opening to see how the Lord has blessed and preserved the work of the early Presbyterian missionaries, who ministered to the people there. There has been, unfortunately, some dilution of the faith over the years.
As such, the retreat’s theme, “The Purity of the Church”, was an apt one. It also serves as a reminder that we, as a church, are called to be separated from the world, to be used for God’s own purpose. There are three lessons which I have learnt from the messages preached:
May the Lord keep us faithful till He returns, so that we may be presented to Him “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).
Elder Alan Choy
Thank God for granting my wife and I the opportunity to join the team of brethren on the 22nd Bible Witness Retreat to Shillong. Once again, I was refreshed by the Word of Truth. It was an eye-opener to the mission work in N.E. India. We met many Presbyterian brethren and also some from Charismatic church background. They all expressed great joy and thanksgiving to God, hearing our Pastor preaching on ‘The Purity of the Church’. One of them said he was so thankful to hear the accuracy of the Word of God being preached.
Many from all these local churches were not instructed in the Reformed doctrine. I sensed that they were hungering for the Word of Truth. It was my joy to meet a very zealous Pastor Jied. He was very hospitable, having invited the campers to his home for tea and snacks. He started a small Bible college and a chapel near his home in Cherrapunji, and recently was granted a piece of land behind his home, on which he intended to build a small church. It was a wonderful privilege to have a small part in this work of God, with the preachers and myself having the opportunity to see and pray for the work. Most of the campers gave generously towards this building project and a sum of about S$15,000 plus was quickly raised. According to Pastor Jied, two local sisters who attended the Retreat expressed interest to join the church, and according to Pastor Koshy, 2 young boys wanted to stay behind to learn God’s Word there.
Praise the Lord! Truly, I saw the hand of God working. It was a small humble beginning; it was the mighty God who works in the hearts of men. I pray that more will follow suit, and as time goes by, the church will grow from strength to strength. “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles” (Psalm 43:3).
Shillong is a very fertile ground for the Gospel work. May the Lord raise up more like-minded able, young men who would learn God’s Word and steadfastly love the work of the Gospel to establish more mission churches there.
Esther Tang (Choy Foong)
Learning at the feet of Rev Koshy concerning the importance of the purity of the church, I thank God for a blessed time of feasting on His Word amidst the warm fellowship of like-minded brethren in Shillong, India. Thank God also for travel mercies, and for holding the rain during our visit to Pastor Jied’s church in Cherrapunji. May God bless and keep Pastor Jied and his family, as well as Bro Seraph, Sis Ribka and the Reformed Books’ team at Vizag as they serve Him faithfully in their respective ministries.
In Rev Thomas Jones and his mission work in India in the 19th century, I see a parallel in our B-P founding pastor, the late Rev Timothy Tow and his mission work in Malaysia. In his book, “Forty Years on the Road to Church Growth”, Rev Tow had called Malaysia “our Judea”, even as he envisaged himself as being sent forth from Life Church, his “Jerusalem”. Rev Tow heeded the Great Commission and took the Gospel to Malaysia almost seven decades ago. His mission trips starting in 1951 took him literally “unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Today, ought not we to follow in his footsteps and continue the good work he had begun? God has given us the Gospel light, so that we may bring it not only to our loved ones and friends still living in darkness in Malaysia and Singapore, but also beyond. Will we pray and rise up to the occasion? “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).
Dns Diana Chan
I praise and thank God for a very blessed 22nd Bible Witness Retreat (held from 14th – 17th March, 2023) in Shillong, India. Thank God for Dn Lok and Dn Norefel for their patience and labour in organising the Retreat.
The Lord is good. I thank God for His grace, wisdom and strength in enabling Pastor Koshy to preach the Word of God from the theme of the Retreat, “The Purity of the Church”. I have learned much from the various messages, and the Q&A session. Some of the key learnings include:
What a joy it was that brethren travelled, far and near, to assemble for the retreat, to learn God’s Word together. With voices united to sing praises unto God, to pray and to rejoice in communion with one another. The conference room was filled with people from a diversity of background, age, ethnicity, country, tribe, language, race, colour, etc. Praise God for the assurance of His Word that regardless of our status or background, all of us who are believers in the Lord share the same spiritual inheritance, the same grace, the same power, the same wisdom from God. Indeed, “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24).
I also thank God for the opportunity to visit particular site in Cherrapunji; and from where we stood (on higher ground), we could look down and see the piece of land given by the local authority to Pastor Jied for him to build a church. Praise the Lord for His providence of the gift of the land! Significantly, Pastor Koshy requested Pr Kee How, Pr Jeremiah and Eld Choy to pray for the building of the church, for Pastor Jied, his wife and their two children, as well as for the brethren, for their service and labour in the Lord’s vineyard. Pastor Koshy then encouraged brethren from the retreat to give towards the building of the church, and we thank God for the generous giving of the brethren.
Let us pray that, in God’s time, He will build a beautiful church in Cherrapunji … “Dressed in His righteousness glorious and bright, Stand in the presence of Christ our King”, as in the theme song, “Church: His Gracious Redeeming Work”. May the Lord’s name be glorified and magnified!
I give thanks and praise to God for enabling me to attend the 22nd Bible Witness Retreat in Shillong, India.
I thank the Lord for His enabling grace on Pastor Koshy to preach and teach 6 messages on the theme, “The Purity of the Church”, and taking the Q&A session. I rejoice in the Lord for over 90 brethren who attended the BW Retreat. Besides the 58 brethren from Singapore, we were encouraged to see over 40 brethren from Vizag, Shillong, Cherrapunji and Pune – and all because of their earnestness to come together to receive the blessings in learning God’s Word.
From this BW Retreat in Shillong, India, I am blessed to be with our Gethsemane church to pray for:
I praise God for a very blessed and warm fellowship with Rev Sujith and Sis Dorcas, participants from India and our Singapore participants. Also, many thanks to Dn Lok and Dn Norefel for their assistance to me in administrative matters (including help with my E-visa to India).
Tan Yeh Wen
Firstly, I like to thank God for His provisions, as well as His grace, in bringing my family to Shillong, India, to join the 22nd Bible Witness Retreat. Thank God for the generous help rendered to us by the brethren to and fro, and for the strength given to my wife in order to bring our daughter around throughout the trip. Though it was not easy, yet the Lord sustained us, that we may see the Lord’s goodness in the city of Shillong. May the Lord be pleased to use Gethsemane B-P Church, that a good work be done in Shillong.
To me, the physical highlight of the entire trip was the journey to Cherrapunji in order to see the first Presbyterian church in Meghalaya, as well as to pay a visit to Pastor Jied’s church / Bible academy and home. It is a sombre experience to think of - and actually see - the Lord’s good hand through faithful men of old instituting the Lord’s work in faraway lands, to bring sinners to repentance and into His kingdom. The thought of what Pastor Koshy mentioned in a sermon later on - that the Presbyterian church in Meghalaya could have done so much more for the Gospel work, given their rich history of two centuries - rings in my soul! Oh, that God would be gracious to us, that we would not forget the place wherein God has placed us, and do our very best for the Gospel work!
Surely, no Bible Witness Retreat can go without the spiritual feasting provided to us by Pastor Koshy. I thank God therefore for the lessons concerning the purity of the church. To begin with, Pastor spoke about what the church is - without which there would be no understanding of why there needs to be purity in the church. Understanding that the church is a unique organisation on this earth, separated by God for His glory alone, for whom Christ died, to be the pillar and ground of the truth – and how the visible church is currently embattled and will be till the Lord returns – puts into perspective the necessity as well as the urgency to be concerned with and to act for the purity of the church.
Thank God for the teachings regarding the individual believer’s responsibility to separate from the world, from sin, from heresy, and even from believers who compromise and support those who spread heresy. I pray that every member in the church, young and old, no matter how big or small be his role in the church, would be gripped by the need for personal purity, for the members individually and collectively affect the purity, and therefore effectiveness, of the church.
Thank God also for the teachings regarding the need for faithful leaders to be concerned about the purity of the church, and to be vigilant to guard against sin and falsehood brought in by false believers and teachers. I pray that God would grant us faithful leaders to tend to the spiritual state of the church.
In closing, moved by stirring thoughts in the wake of the 22nd Bible Witness Retreat, I’ve penned the following two poems (to be set in tune):
The Definition of the Church, the Call for Separation
O Lord, Thy Church, which Thou hast called out from the sin-filled world,
To be Thy only Ground and Pillar of Thy matchless truth,
Its slumb’ring members cause to wake from every deadly sin,
To man the posts, and stand their ground, and valiant fight for truth!
Cause every member of Thy church, Thy sheep whom Thou hast called,
To have a heart aflame from Thee – though young or old they be.
No member is too big or small; yea, all have this command
To purify themselves so that Thy church be pure from sin!
O Lord, lead Thy church in this dark’ning day,
Our Saviour, our Shepherd, the Church’s glorious Head,
Though the battle be long, the way may dreary be,
Our fainting souls now strengthen; cause our sight to be fixed on Thee!
O Lord, keep Thy church pure for Thee, From sin and falsehood, set us free!
Not for our sakes, but for Thy glory alone, O Lord, keep Thy church!
Prayer for Godly Leaders
O Lord, now raise up leaders, valiant, truth-filled, faithful men,
Who stand for Thee undaunted in this hate-filled dark’ning world,
To boldly preach without a fault Thy timeless, flawless Word,
To call Thy sheep to come to Him; to cleanse Thy church from sin!
Give them a kind, perceptive heart that gently guides the flock;
Much patience and much tenderness to tend to their wounds;
And give to them a watchful eye, a mind of clarity,
To firmly guard - within, without against all dreadful sins!
(Refrain as above)