Interview: Serving by Leading

This article was originally posted in our Word @ Work Magazine in June 2016. 中文版.


Serving by Leading – Passion for China and Her People

Since 2011, Bethesda Frankel Estate Church (BFEC) has been partnering with the Bible Society to customise Bible Mission Trips to China. BFEC organises two to three trips each year which are always oversubscribed. Most of the tour members are in their 60-80s and are largely English-speaking. We met with Elder Ong, who at 69 is still leading and organising trips to China, to hear more about his heart for the country and her people. He shares about the needs of the Church and gives practical advice about how to organise similar Bible Mission Trips for churches, families and friends.

Share with us about your heart for China. How and when did it start?

It first started in 1989 when I went with a friend to Xiamen to distribute Bibles through Every Home Crusade. It was there that I saw the need for Bibles in China.

Your tour members are largely English-speaking. How is it like communicating with the Chinese communities you visit?

We attach a person to those who can’t speak or understand Mandarin when interacting with the local believers. Language is not a barrier. People need to step out of the preconceived idea that they cannot communicate without knowing the language.

Why are the tour members interested in the work in China?

I believe that as English-speaking Chinese, they have a certain longing to learn more about China and go back to their roots. Also, they have heard a lot about China and the Chinese believers' passion for the Lord – they wanted to see the churches' condition in rural areas. We are so blessed as Singaporeans and we hope to give to the poor in our plenty.

The members keep coming back for the trips. Any idea why?

Firstly, they see the needs and experience the joy of giving a Bible to someone. They witness the tears trickle down upon giving the Bible – the locals really long to have a Bible of their own. Secondly, it helps them to reflect on their faith when they see how the people take God’s Word seriously and pray fervently. The locals come to church as early as 5am by cycling, walking or by bus even though the service starts at 8am! Lastly, the members feel welcomed by the church who would prepare hearty home-cooked meals for them after every service.

Share with us some things you do on each trip.

Before the trip, we assign duties to every member of the team so that all are involved – even in simple roles like the numbering of people, their luggage, to who does devotion or presents the gifts. We debrief after each location to hear fresh reflections from the members.

Bible distribution is an important element in the trip and we ensure that each member gets to personally hand the Bible to the recipients. We also meet up with the local Christian council, visit seminaries and Sunday schools at churches, minister to the disadvantaged and help out in medical work. During our interactions, we share God’s love. On many occasions, members of the group were moved to help the locals when they saw the needs.

What are some of the challenges you face when leading the trips?

It’s a challenge to plan the programme so that it’s suitable for people of different age groupS. I go for each trip with fear and trembling because I am responsible for the big group. I really ask everybody to pray for safety and protection. We also have to be careful not to spoil the work that has already been done, as representatives of the Bible Society.

How does your team raise funds to attend the trip and even give towards the Bible mission?

Since this trip is about the Bible mission, each member is committed to contribute an additional $300 on top of trip expenses to support the work. Our church is very supportive. Though they are not travelling with us, members prepare food to raise funds for each trip.

Any words to encourage others to attend Bible Mission Trips or organise trips to serve the needy?

Take the first trip – no amount of words can explain the personal experience! You will experience God in every step you take, from finances to every matter involved.

If you desire to do outreach in China, join us on our trips and learn how to lead!
























Bring Good News

This article was originally posted in our Word @ Work Magazine in March 2016.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself amidst a group of pastors leaving their homes before dawn, and travelling long hours just to collect 50 to 100 Bibles for your entire congregation, located in the Mekong Delta region in Vietnam.

Imagine braving the rain, with fellow believers in Christ, traversing a bus along adverse road conditions, to a remote church. Along the way, some risk their lives by climbing to the top of the bus to remove overhanging cables and wires, which obstruct the bus. Many wait patiently at the other end to receive their Bibles.

"At each delivery point, we saw how the brothers and sisters treasured the Bibles. We often take the availability of Bibles in Singapore for granted; and how little we treasure His Word in our hearts," Says Lilian Tham, a BMT participant to Vietnam.

"There is also a real need for Bibles in their respective native languages," adds Pastor John Toh, who was the Trip Leader for the BMT to Vietnam.

The need for Bibles is great and the number of Christians are growing rapidly amongst the tribes. The Bible Mission Teams sent out by International Bible Experiences (IBEx) - the Bible Society's holistic mission arm - to the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam and the Irrawaddy Delta region of Myanmar, were deeply moved when they witnessed the hunger for the printed Word of God amongst the natives of Vietnam and Myanmar.

Our IBEx mission team returned from Myanmar with great rejoicing. The Founder & President of Myanmar Agape Ministries & Myanmar Christian Assembly, Joseph Biak Tin Sang, said, "We have been praying for 25 years for the Holy Bible for all of our children. Then God sent us some Bibles! Some of the children accepted the Holy Bible with their tears because they are very happy."

"The Bible teaches that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive', and indeed we found that whatever we invested in the 5-day trip was returned to us manyfold," said Ho Tor Kwun, who went to Myanmar.

Nancy Soon, who also went to Myanmar, shared that "Of all the mission trips that I had participated in, this is the most fulfilling and uplifting trip! God was with us throughout the trip. The distribution of Bibles together with the school & family kits to the Myanmar Agape Orphanage and some 300 families who were adversely affected by the flood was met successfully without a hitch. Like in the hymn 'God Will Make A Way' - God makes all things work together for good!"