“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” —James 1:12 (ESV)
One of the highlights of the BSS 180th Anniversary Bible Mission Concert was the presentation of four inaugural Sower Awards 2017 by His Excellency President Tony Tan. The Sower Awards honour those who have been used by God as His channels of blessing in the Bible Mission, hence encouraging more people to get involved in the Bible Mission.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates the outstanding and faithful service of people who have truly dedicated their lives to sowing God’s Word in the world. The Award went posthumously to the late Rev Peter Hsieh, the Bible Society’s first local and longest-serving General Secretary. Rev Hsieh served as the General Secretary of the Bible Society from 1965 to 1980. He was also the principal figure in proposing the rebuilding of the Bible House into a six-storey, contemporary style building that could also function as a centre for various Christian communities and organisations. The new Bible House was also completed and reopened in 1974. Since then, he continued to spearhead various projects in which the Society collaborated with local and global Christian organisations. Rev Hsieh retired in 1980, having built a firm foundation for the Society to work towards self-support and expanding its mission.
The late Rev Hsieh was Dean at Trinity Theological College (TTC) before he joined the Bible Society. We were unable to contact his next-of-kin, hence Dr Roland Chia, a professor from TTC, received the award on his behalf. Along with this award, the Bible Society also contributed $10,000 to the library of TTC to complete some of its Biblical Reference Collection Series.
Bible Missionary of the Year Award
The Bible Missionary of the Year Award celebrates the faith and perseverance of a Bible missionary, who works to fulfil the Bible mission even in the challenging realities of the mission fields. This award went to Mr Ramez Atallah, General Secretary of the Bible Society of Egypt., for his faithful service in Egypt, a hostile country where Christians are a minority and ministry can be challenging.
Mr Atallah and his team are also especially dedicated to establish the next generation in Christian discipleship—organising book fairs, rallies and specialised programmes, such as the annual "Kingo Festival" and the "In His Image" talent show, to reach out to the children and youth in Egypt, who make up 33% of the Egyptian population. These programmes also provide a platform for the children to express themselves without fear of being silenced or ignored. Through these avenues, Mr Atallah and his team have reached out to 1.5 million children in the past 12 years. He is 71 this year, but continues to work with great passion and zeal for God. This award also included a gift of US$10,000 as an encouragement to him and the staff of the Bible Society of Egypt.
Benefactor of the Year Award
The Benefactor of the Year Award celebrates the generosity of an individual whose contribution has enabled Bible Mission work and made a real impact on many lives. This award went to Mrs Dorothy Chan—a tireless businesswoman—the first major supporter of one of our ministries—ETHOS Institute for Public Christianity—which was established in 2014. Mrs Chan is also a supporter of various arts and grassroots initiatives.
As a pioneering initiative with no prior track record or precedent to model after, the ETHOS Institute for Public Christianity had to build its infrastructure, itinerary and reputation almost entirely from scratch. Mrs Chan’s insight and good faith led her to pledge to give generously to the ETHOS Institute in its infancy, before it had any track record or reputation. Thanks to her, the ETHOS Institute has grown rapidly in the last three years and is now becoming increasingly recognised locally and internationally for its work.
Volunteer of the Year Award
The Volunteer of the Year Award celebrates the dedicated service of our volunteers, whom we call our Sowers-in-Action. The award went to a group of eight ladies from Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church who have been partners in the Bible Mission for almost 30 years. They help out mainly in the packing and mass-mailing of the Society’s materials, work that is often unnoticed, but crucial to our operations.
The ladies are always open and enthusiastic about their service, rarely turning down requests and warmly accommodating to the Society's various production timelines. These unsung heroines—namely Alice Tan, Anna See, Diana Wong, Goh Joo Luan, Lily Nai, Rosalind Yin, Seto Lau Choong, and Charlene Tan—have been remarkably dedicated and committed, and we were happy to recognise them.