President’s Message

CAC PRESIDENT REV (DR) Gregory Goh nai lat

The President’s Gallery

June 2020

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“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians
3:13-14

Paul mentions three different phases in this verse: the Past, the Present and the Future. And offers three responses: Forgetting, Working Hard, and Pressing Ahead.

Forgetting the Past

Concerning things of the past, Paul wants us to “forget” them. However, “forgetting” does not mean to be ungrateful, or to disavow the grace of God upon us. Paul’s intent is to remind us not to be held back by things of the past, and be hindered from seeking our future. As humans, we tend to dwell on the past. We long for old-school food. We enjoy old songs that bring back fond memories. Reminiscing on the “good old days” becomes a past-time that we draw comfort from. What deters us from moving forward is not our past failures, but because we cannot let go of our memories or past glories.

Working Hard for the Present
As for the Present, Paul’s advice is to “strain” or work hard. What has passed is past, while the future is not within our control. We can only focus on the present tasks. In Matthew 6:24-34, Jesus has said that we should not worry about tomorrow, but rather seek His Kingdom and righteousness every day.

Pressing Ahead for the Future
Christians were not called to live a life without purpose. In this verse, Paul makes clear that God has prepared rewards for us in Heaven, and we live in purpose to fulfill God’s calling. As such, we must “press on toward the goal”. In sports, athletes are trained to focus on the finishing line. Any slight shift of their gaze away from this goal could cost the athletes their medal. If athletes can be so completely focused on their earthly prize, should we not show even greater effort in pressing ahead for the promise of eternity in Heaven?

Passing On Heritage
This year, CAC News has reached a milestone. The newsletter was first launched in 1980. Titled “Singapore Methodist Church Chinese Annual Conference News” and shortened to “CAC News”, the publication aimed to spread the gospel, and to connect with, draw prayers from and support CAC churches. CAC News has journeyed far. We now carry the duty of passing down this historically significant publication and its deep heritage to future generations. We have to ensure the publication stays relevant to contemporary readers. CAC News needs to be more than just a printed material but also a digital evangelistic tool, to introduce the Methodist faith to the wider public.
You hold the revamped CAC News, a progressive newsletter, with a renewed sense of purpose. The new “CAC News” logo features a “dew-drop”. “Little drops of dew makes an ocean”. The dew-drop symbolizes the laborious task of evangelizing, where every single soul saved is precious. The Mandarin idiom, “As you drink, be reminded of the source of the water” reminds us of our rich heritage and deep roots. Even as we refresh the newsletter, we honour tradition. We retained the original calligraphy of the Chinese characters卫讯, which was penned personally by the late Bishop Kao Jih Chung. The cover of this issue features the artwork of Daniel Tam of Paya Lebar Chinese Methodist Church. This is the first time that all 17 CAC churches have been consolidated into a single artwork. The back-page features a new comic created by CAC staff Yeo Cher Eng in collaboration with Lois Chng, from Toa Payoh Chinese Methodist Church. This may well be the first time that a comic about John Wesley is written in Mandarin!
I hope that you will embrace these changes. May we endeavour as a united Methodist family, pressing ahead towards the purpose God has called us for, and claim the heavenly rewards promised to us in Jesus Christ. Amen.

“Now this is the commandment – the statutes and the rules – that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” Deuteronomy 6:1-3

Whenever I speak to my children, I often fall into conversations with myself. Sometimes I will provide answers or explanations to their problems. Other times, I will question the guidance that I may have given to them.

The world today is no longer a flat map, but a complex inter-connected worldwide web. I was born in a time when mobile phones did not exist. For this new generation that grew up exposed to electronic devices as their main entertainment and learning tool, how do we pass on the eternal truths laid down in the Bible? This is not just an issue for families. The church also needs to work hard to help our youths and parents deal with this tremendous new challenge.

One of the reasons why God laid down His commandments, statutes, and rules, is so that our faith can be passed down, and that the blessings promised by God will be passed on to future generations. This is the reminder that Moses gave to the Israelites, and to now to all peoples – that our faith needs to be passed down to the next generation!

How do we pass on our faith? It appears increasingly difficult to respond to this call. We need to speed up our efforts and work in unity, for the times are moving too fast and the world is in too much change.

I have a few suggestions on areas we can work on:

  1. Parents need to humbly acknowledge that we may not have all the solutions, and instead, become active listeners and learners. Let go of our authority; do not assume that your child will obey just because you are his parent. It is a fallacy to think that just because we have once been young, that we would understand our child’s concerns. Our children are growing up under very different circumstances. It may be difficult to understand the stress they face, and the values guiding them are vastly different from what we have experienced.
  2. Parents should pay more attention to their child’s Christian upbringing rather than their ‘worldly successes’. It is vital that we help our children build a beautiful relationship with God and a firmly entrenched church life.
  3. Youths must be firmly rooted in the Word of God and seek to experience His truths. Being inundated with an overload of information, young followers of Christ need to work even harder to discern the Word of God, and to experience God personally. Their faith should not stagnate as theological knowledge, but be lived out in their lives. Youths should be placed in small groups that hold each other accountable, as they confront new challenges together. In order to bear testimony for God, to be His salt and light in this age, they need to be part of a community that both encourages and shares the same vision of holiness.
  4. Youths should be placed in small groups that hold each other accountable, as they confront new challenges together. In order to bear testimony for God, to be His salt and light in this age, they need to be part of a community that both encourages and shares the same vision of holiness.
  5. The church needs to pay attention to family ministry. In recent years, the church had emphasised age-based ministries, with few looking at family ministry. We need to recognize that many societal problems arise if the health of families is not addressed.
  6. The church needs to constantly update our structure for ministry. Whilst the fundamental mission of the church remains the same, but the way we structure our ministry should move with the times, so that we can continue to stay relevant in bearing witness to a new generation.

Let us focus on the raising of the next generation, not just the next generation of youths in our church, but also in bringing up the right values for future generations of Singaporeans in our broader homeland!

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and  with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when  you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Lent is a period to prepare our hearts as we enter the Holy Week, a time when we are reminded of the suffering, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. During this special season, Christians take time to reflect, and to repent of their sins before God. We meditate on the words and deeds of Jesus, and in particular, reflect on what transpired during the final week of Jesus’ journey.

To Christians, meditating upon the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus is an important part of our spiritual formation. Understanding the significance of the crucifixion of Jesus, and relating that to our personal episodes of setbacks, are ways that we carry the cross in our daily lives. It is a necessary part in our growth as Christians. It is often difficult to comprehend why Jesus needed to go through so much pain, leading to his death on the cross, in exchange for our salvation and redemption.

In the world we live in today, we prefer to celebrate victories but not to acknowledge adversities. This leads to a detachment between faith and reality. In life, we experience setbacks. Without a good faith grounding, we find it difficult to understand these trials. If we only proclaim the good news of Jesus’ resurrection and yet ignore the message of His suffering on the cross, we would have failed in understanding that Jesus’ crucifixion is at the heart of the blessing that God had intended for all generations.

Do you wonder if Jesus’ suffering was unnecessary? Was it just to demonstrate His resurrection? Do you question why you need to suffer? Do you ask if the struggles you face is because you are being punished for your sins? Do you cry out, “Lord, Lord, where are you? Are You real and do You exist? Why me, Lord?”

The suffering and crucifixion of Jesus is God’s way to prepare us for the pain and struggles that we face as humans. Only when we deeply understand Jesus’ suffering on the cross, can we start to receive true healing and receive the redemption and deliverance from God for all our suffering.

Recently, I developed a cystic acne near my chin. Despite having visited the doctor before my travels, the cyst swelled and eventually ruptured while I was in Taiwan. I sought treatment at a local hospital because the lesion had become fairly large. I checked into A&E for treatment. The doctor cleaned the wound and requested for me to return for a follow up. When the doctor removed the bandage, the lesion was still a large gaping hole. I was worried that the doctor would need to hold me back for stitches. Thankfully, when I returned for the next review, the wound had healed.

Whenever I cleaned my wound and removed my bandages, I would search for the reason behind the skin infection. As I looked at the large “hole” on my face, worried that there may be deeper underlying conditions, I suddenly saw the pierced hands of Jesus. The wound that I carried became so insignificant. This led me to a new level of appreciation for the wounds on Jesus’ pierced hands. Instantly, I could accept the discomfort of the wound on my skin.

Jesus’ suffering and resurrection cannot be separated. Without one or the other, the Gospel will not be complete. We will not be living our lives in fullness, and we will not be the blessing to others that God intended us to be.

This photograph shows a view of the Odaiba Statue of Liberty from the Tokyo cafe where I am writing this from. Those who pass the Statue of Liberty were busy taking photographs, capturing this precious sight. The birds on the street-lamps observed these activities quietly, the cherry blossoms swayed gently in the winds, as if they were inviting those who have come to pay homage to the iconic Lady Liberty to “come to me”. Truth and Freedom are inseparable. Yet, when we choose to adopt only Freedom, rejecting to accept the Truth, we have set ourselves on a path towards destruction.

The recent voting results of the Special Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) held at St Louis, USA, brought much jubilation and yet also pained me greatly. Our stand as a Methodist body had prevailed – that the practice of homosexuality was incompatible with Christian teachings. However, we must recognise that homosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth, who need the ministry and guidance of the Church as well as the spiritual and emotional support of a caring fellowship. I hope that this monumentous decision does not fragment the Church and lead to Methodists leaving the Church. May the love of God bring healing and reconciliation for His church.

We celebrate CAC Sunday on the second Sunday of August every year.

On this special Sunday, all CAC Pastors will be appointed to preach at another CAC church. Thus, churches get to listen to the sermon from a different CAC Pastor.

The significance of the pulpit exchange on CAC Sunday is to remind us that all 17 CAC churches are united as one connectional church. Even as our Pastors travel around the 17 churches, they represent CAC. We are reminded that we are a big family. When all our Pastors preach on the same theme and message, and worship together with the congregation of our churches, we bring forth a beautiful imagery of a united family.

CAC Sunday also serves to remind us to care not only for the development of our own church parish, but that of other churches. We need to work together, support each other, and love each other. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Cor 12:26-27). Let us share the same burden as our sister churches in delivering on the great commisssion entrusted to us by Jesus.

1 John 4:7-12 tells us that God is love and this love was manifested through His sending of His Son Jesus Christ to be sacrificed on the cross for our sins. For God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. Loving others is a practical manifestation of our love for God. It steers us towards being more like our Lord Jesus Christ.

Central Pooling was approved at last year’s Annual Conference, wherein pastoral and ministry expenses will be centrally pooled and shared by all CAC churches. Central Pooling is a good display of our Methodist Connectionalism. It reinforces the effectiveness of our pastoral appointment system and allows us to better serve our church communities, such as sending lecturers to TTC or sending out missionaries. In the first two to three years of the implementation of Central Pooling, we project that we may meet with some financial deficit. However, we will try our utmost to control our expenses while entrusting on God to provide.

I would like to invite you to pray for CAC; for our Pastors, our church congregation, and the ministry development in our 17 CAC churches. If you wish to contribute to Central Pooling*, please contact CAC Office with your offering. Let us watch over one another in love!

*Cheque issued to: The Methodist Church in Singapore
Indicated for: CAC Central Pooling Fund

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