Pastoral Perspectives

Family Carnival

Thirty people seated in a room. There was a long agenda to cover but everyone was attentive knowing that the discussion would be moving at quite a fast pace as no one wanted the meeting to end too late. It was a Wednesday evening after all. This group of enthusiastic people have a common goal. They volunteered to be part of the organising committee led by Eld Lawrence Fu and they have been working diligently to ensure that the family carnival will be well executed.

As part of our 25th Anniversary celebration, the Church leadership has decided not to confine the celebration to ourselves but instead, we want to invite our neighbours to share our joy. This is in line with our focus for 2016/17: ‘Building community within; engaging community without’ which is in turn in line with our Church’s Mission to love God and make disciples. We hope to engage the Queenstown community in our bid to share the Good News of Jesus with them (evangelise them) through deeds and words.

We have made some grounds in this area. We have a viable tuition ministry which gives free tuition to kids in both the Primary and Secondary levels every Friday night during school term. The tuition ministry also intentionally organises get together sessions for parents and students where they have been faithfully sharing with them the Gospel, so have the tuition teachers themselves whenever the opportunity arises. We can safely say that every tuition student who passes through our doors has been exposed to the Christian faith. We affirm those who have been faithfully serving in the tuition ministry. The tuition core team wanted to expand the ministry but due to the lack of manpower, they have to shelve their plans in the meantime.

We have also been involved in the Angel Tree project where once a year in the Nov-Dec period, we partner Prison Fellowship Singapore to help distribute a hamper and a written letter on behalf of the inmates to their families who live in the Queenstown area. We have been doing this for three years now and each time, we increase the number of hampers that we sponsor and we are glad to see more True Wayians stepping forward to volunteer in this meaningful project.

Where schools in the neighbourhood are concerned, we are contributing financially to two schools. For Queensway Secondary, we have made a commitment to give towards their Good Improvement Awards for three years (to be reviewed thereafter). Priority is given to academically deserving students who do not come from well to do families and yet they don’t qualify for any of the MOE awards. Dn Wilson Fu and I attended their Speech Day where I was invited to give out the awards to 15 students coming from different racial backgrounds. For Queenstown Primary, the sum of money given is channelled towards the provision of meals for the children from poor families.

Last year, thanks to the efforts of the Evangelism Committee, we organised the first ever Durian Trip to JB which was very well received as almost ¾ of the participants were Queenstown residents and when we planned for an afterglow, they were equally enthusiastic in coming to church to attend the event. Riding on the afterglow, we also opened up two music classes (guitar and ukulele) and they too were well received. Through these classes we had the opportunity to get to know our neighbours better, friendships were forged and some of them subsequently came for other church events like our Gospel Sunday.

Most recently, some of our worshippers are involved in ‘Meals on Wheels’ where we partner Presbyterian Community Service in delivering meals to those who may be home bound and this gives us yet another opportunity to meet the elderly in our neighbourhood and to show them love in a very practical way. We remember Jesus words to the sheep on his right: “For I was hungry and you gave me food to eat.”

I really hope this month’s family carnival will raise us a notch higher in terms of our rapport building with our friends in Queenstown. I know many of you are involved in running the stalls and serving in various capacities. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and diligence. Besides those who are already serving, I hope that the rest of us who are also part of the True Way community will get ourselves involved in this carnival and may I suggest in the following three ways:

First, let us invite as many people as we can to the carnival. Many DGs have already gone out for their tracting and that will be part of our effort in extending hospitality to our neighbours. Over the years, some DGs have developed a good rapport with some families in the block. One Muslim lady even offered cold drinks to our members when they visited her home. But for those who have met hostile neighbours, count it a privilege for us to take up our crosses in a small way. Besides our Queenstown neighbours, we can also seize this opportunity to invite our own friends and family members to the carnival. They too can enjoy the free coupons just like our neighbours. We really want as many people to come for the carnival as possible so that the place will be full of vibrancy and energy.

Second, even if our invited friends and families decide not to turn up, we should still turn up so that we can play host to those who come. We have been emphasising the importance of being a Welcoming Church and this will be a great opportunity for us to put that into practice! All of us can be befrienders, even those who are serving. In the MPH, there will be a constant flow of programmes where the Gospel will be weaved into the musical items and testimonies. People can listen in as they eat their food in the comfort of the air-conditioned room. It will be great if we have befrienders who will avail themselves to make conversations with the people gathered there. Most of us in DGs would have gone through the Contagious Christian training and this will be a good platform for us to practise what we have learnt – engage people in conversations and see where the Spirit leads us in those conversations. The food and games, the workshops and flea market can all be great but let the people who come remember most vividly our hospitality, our warmth, our smiles, our welcome! Let them leave the Church thinking to themselves: “What a great bunch of people they have there. I feel so welcome by them even though I am a stranger to them.” 

Last but not least, let us pray. Let us pray. Let us pray and let us pray. There is that much we can do in terms of planning and executing those plans. Beyond that, many things are outside our control so let us bathe this whole event in prayer. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will powerfully move the hearts of the people to come for the carnival. Let us pray that as we avail ourselves, the Holy Spirit will open doors for us to engage the people in meaningful conversations, to make new friends and to show the love of Jesus in very real ways. Let us remember the carnival in prayer when we are having our Quiet Time, when we meet in our DGs and when we go about our preparations. We will be interceding for the carnival during our Sunday services. The EDC members will also be setting aside every Wednesday to pray for this event wherever we are.

So please mark out 27 May, Saturday, 2-6 pm, in your diary and give this event a priority. As a Church, we are celebrating our 25th birthday. Since we are all part of the Church, we should really be part of the celebration too. We are at the same time doing some meaningful outreach, connecting with our neighbours and who knows where the Spirit of God will take us in terms of those friendships and conversations!

Rev Lee Kien Seng

May 7, 2017