Volume. XXIII, No. 45
Exhortation to Sunday School Teachers (Acts 17: 16-34) - Part 1
Every Christian is called to serve the Lord, but it is the Spirit of God who gives respective talents to each born again Christian (1 Cor 12:4-11) and calls each to be involved in an area of ministry where he or she is given the particular talent such as teaching (Eph 4:11-13) and obviously not everyone is called to teach (1 Cor 12:28,29). Teaching is a noble calling which is why it requires not just one’s willingness, but also his or her emotional readiness, mental readiness, intellectual readiness and spiritual readiness. How should a Christian prepare himself to be ready in the abovementioned areas? We shall glean from Acts 17:16-32 some biblical principles which can help us to be more ready as a Sunday school teacher based on the examples given by the great teacher and preacher, the Apostle Paul.
Emotional Readiness – Be Stirred in Spirit (vv.16-17)
Having been persecuted by Jews at Thessalonica, Apostle Paul came to Athens waiting for Timothy and Silas to join him from Berea. When the Apostle toured the city he was depressed by the incredible idolatry he saw all around him. The idea behind Apostle Paul’s expression that the Athenians were “wholly given to idolatry” (v.16b) literally means “under idols”, or “swamped by idols” and this troubled Paul and “his spirit was stirred in him” (v.16a). In other words, Apostle Paul had great passion and perhaps also compassion for this people and was burdened to preach the gospel to them. It was also that passion which motivated him to preach the word tirelessly in the synagogues and in the market place daily (v.17). Apostle Paul was emotionally ready to preach the Word with great passion and burden for the lost!
As Sunday school teachers, there may come a time that you may be frustrated and discouraged and feel like quitting. Nevertheless, your passion and burden for teaching should keep you going. That passion and burden is a spirit that once stirred in you when you were called to teach God’s Word and preach the gospel to the children. In other words, a passion for teaching and a burden for children who do not know Christ as their Saviour will be the ultimate motivation which drives you to overcome all the challenges. Dear Sunday school teachers and teachers to be: Has your spirit ever stirred in you like that of Apostle Paul? Do you possess passion for teaching the children and the real sense of burden to see children come to know Christ? This sort of passion and burden can only come to you if you are indeed called to be a Sunday school teacher, then you will be emotionally ready to teach.
Mental Readiness – Be Challenged by Students (vv.18-21)
Emotional readiness alone will not be sufficient to make a good Sunday school teacher. One must possess mental readiness as well because a Sunday school teacher needs to be mentally ready to constantly face challenges from students. Verses 18-21 of Acts chapter 17 tells us what challenges Paul actually faced when he tries to convey the gospel to the Athenians. Verse 18-21 says, “18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. 19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? 20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. 21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)”
Who are the Epicureans and the Stoicks? The Epicureans were people who held on to a philosophy and a system of atheism which taught men to seek a pleasant and smooth life as their highest aim or chief end in life; and the Stoics were fatalists who believed in some form of personal god or gods. It is important to note that both the Epicureans and Stoiks seemed to be greatly esteemed Athenians during Apostle Paul’s days. These two genres of people are very similar to the “freethinkers” of our day. A “Free thinker” is one who forms his own beliefs and opinions which are often opposed to those held by the majority especially on religious matters. Like “freethinkers” the Epicureans and the Stoicks were the people who ridiculed, mocked and challenged Paul’s teaching and preaching (v.18,19) at Athens. They were more interested in theological debates and obviously denied Paul’s authority and credential as God’s messenger (v.20,21). Although Sunday school teachers do not have to worry about dealing with students who may think like the Epicureans or the Stoics, some students can be very hard to reach and others may ridicule, mock and even challenge your authority as a teacher. Therefore, a Sunday school teacher must not only possess a burden, but must also be mentally ready to face many challenges from students.
(This article is to be continued next week)
In Memoriam: Rev Dr Timothy Tow (1920 - 2009)
Born 1920, Timothy Tow was educated at Anglo-Chinese School, Singapore, graduating top of the Class and Seow Poh Leng Medalist in 1937. In 1947, in response to the consecration call of Dr John Sung in 1935 to full-time service, Timothy cancelled law studies in London, and enrolled at Faith Theological Seminary in America. At Faith, he imbibed the spirit of the 20th Century Reformation from Dr Carl McIntire the President.
Returning to Singapore, Timothy Tow, with Elder Quek Kiok Chiang (both of Life Church – Say Mia Tng) founded “Life Church English Service” in 1950. In 1954, the Tow-Quek duo formally withdrew Life Church English Service from the WCC-linked Chinese Presbyterian Synod. This was a crucial first step of “Biblical Separation.” Thus the B-P Church was inaugurated, mustard seed fashion, which today has grown into a global Church Movement, like a great tree, “... so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof” (Matthew 13:32).
To sustain an afternoon service at 4 pm in borrowed premises was a real challenge, to keep up interest and ward off drowsiness in those hot and humid Sunday afternoons, without air conditioning. Nevertheless, by God’s grace, the congregation grew. Rev Tow was faithful in Preaching, Visitation, Prayer Meeting, and Family Worship. Those monthly family meetings held in homes of members proved to be a popular event in the life of the Church. It allowed the members and families to get together and to know one another.
Labouring tirelessly in the service for over fifty years, he was “Pastor Available,” 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, “at your service” to all who had a legitimate need. For the Lord’s people he was
ever ready to spend and be spent. In the building of God’s House, Life Church Gilstead Road, he played a crucial role in its design, construction and funding. He patterned the design after the typical American country church, with a porch lined by seven stately Grecian columns, topped with a bell-tower and steeple. The building is now a national heritage.
From the earliest days Rev Tow was fired with a burning zeal for souls. This sent him and Elder Hsu Chiang Tai on numerous missions to Malaysia’s “New Villages” to evangelise the Chinese who were resettled by Gen Sir Harold Templer in the war against Communism. In those villages, his knowledge of Chinese dialects was put to excellent use. He spoke fluent Teochew, Hokkien, Hakka, Cantonese and Mandarin, to convey the Gospel message to the villagers.
Life Church, true to its name, was full of life, like a fruitful vine bearing much fruit for the Lord. In quick succession Life Church brought forth many daughter churches: Sembawang, Zion, Kelapa Sawit, Kulai, Galilee, Calvary, etc.
While a student at Faith Theological Seminary, Rev Tow first heard from Dr Carl McIntire the call to Biblical Separation. His heart was strangely warmed, gripped by the clarion call, to “... earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
Many of those who started out well, apparently striving together with us, have fallen by the wayside. But Rev Timothy Tow has remained faithful and steadfast, abounding in the work of the Lord.
The motto “...for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9) has kept him faithful, “holding forth the word of life” (Philippians 2:16) steadfast and unmoveable in his stand on the King James Bible, the Bible of the Reformation, the only Bible whose translators suffered the fires of Rome. While some BPs have defected from the KJV to embrace the NIV, NKJV, and other corrupt Modern English Versions, he continues to hold fast, unmoveable to the end.
In money matters, Rev Tow was completely clean and meticulous. At Life Church Session meetings, it was always a difficult thing to persuade him to accept a pay rise. His chief concern was for the need of God’s House. During the purchase of Beulah House (across the road from Life Church) at a cost of about six million dollars, his entire salary went toward the building fund: he led by example and the people followed. Thus inspired, the entire sum was realized in six months.
A man of prophetic vision, he founded the Far Eastern Bible College in 1962. In his words: “Without a college to train our own workers, the BP Church will die.” FEBC to date has turned out over 700 graduates, workers for God’s vineyard in all parts of the world. Not only does FEBC keep on enlarging its training programme, but it has helped to found Bible Institutes and Colleges in Myanmar, Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, Cambodia.
Amazingly, in his eighty-third year, he left Life Church to found True Life BP Church. While men may wonder, we are persuaded that the thing is of the Lord for the words of Jude 3 still apply.
Physical slowing down notwithstanding, the spirit was willing even though the flesh was weak. Spiritual Mentor to many BP pastors, Rev Tow continued faithful in the Lord’s Service, steadfast, unmoveable, fighting the good fight of faith until the very end. Who will follow in the footsteps of this dearly beloved, faithful and fearless soldier of the cross of Jesus Christ?
In 2003, Rev Timothy was found to be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and myelodysplasia (a serious malady of the bone marrow). Doctors thought he was not likely to live for more than one year. However, by God’s grace and the Doctors’ expert care, he survived until this morning, 20 April 2009 when the Lord took him in his sleep. Amazingly, he attended his last Lord’s Day Worship only the day before. Praise the Lord.
“The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Lovingly in the Lord
Dr SH Tow, Sr Pastor, Calvary Pandan B-P Church
Eulogy of Rev Peter Clements
John Peter Clements
18th July 1949 - 21st March 2009
"For the Word of God, and for the Testimony of Jesus Christ” Revelation 1:9
John Peter Clements (or Peter as he was always known) was the second child, and only son born to Jim and Dorrie Clements of "Mildil", a small farming community located about 15km from West Wyalong in country NSW. In 2007, Dad began writing his autobiography. In it, he recalls enjoying his childhood growing up on the family property of "Lochinvar", along with his older sister Bronwyn and younger sister Kate.
Dad\'s primary school education was completed at the Mildil Public School: a one room school with students from year one to year six. There were a few experiences that Dad always remembered, such as the time a teacher wrote on his school report: "Peter must understand that he comes to school to learn and not to teach". The same thing has actually been said about at least one of his children in recent years, but I don\'t think I\'ll mention who that was.
After completing primary school and spending one year at the local high-school, Dad was sent off to "The Scots School" in Bathurst. While there, he learned to play the bagpipes and was part of the school pipe band. Dad stayed at Scots till the end of year ten but turned down the offer of a scholarship for year eleven and twelve to take up an electrical apprenticeship instead. He missed the farm and was also desperate to clock up some mileage on the new diesel tractor and "Holden Special" car that his father had recently purchased.
One Sunday afternoon in 1969, Dad\'s school friend, Bill McLaren, showed up at the farm to ask if he would like to attend a Bible study. At first Dad made excuses and said he couldn\'t go because he didn\'t even have a Bible. But that didn\'t faze Bill, who replied that there were plenty of Bibles to go round, "see you 6pm" and drove off before any more objections could be made.
Dad did go to the Bible study. And during the discussion led by Ewen Brown, the town\'s new dentist, Dad became convinced that there was more to Christianity than just a weekly, ritualistic church service. He kept attending Presbyterian youth activities until he finally decided to commit his whole life to Christ, at an Easter camp in 1970, just before his twenty-first birthday.
From this point on, Dad\'s life was characterized by a desire and dedication to serve the Lord in whatever direction that might lead. He worked as an electrician for another two years before heading off to study at W.E.C Bible College in Tasmania. Dad then went to Perth and became assistant to Jack Hutchinson, minister of the Presbyterian Church at Melville. While he was with W.E.C, Dad had learned Indonesian and planned on being an overseas missionary. However, things took an unexpected turn in 1980 when he was denied a long-term visa to Indonesia. At the suggestion of Rev Timothy Tow, who would become his life-long friend and mentor, Dad ended up completing a Bachelor of Theology at the Far Eastern Bible College in Singapore.
Between 1982 and 1985, Dad returned from overseas and was appointed an understudy to the Rev Dr David Mitchell in the Presbyterian parish of Tuggeranong, in Canberra. I have actually had the privilege of living with Doctor Mitchell and his wife, Melba, in Hobart for several years and have greatly enjoyed hearing stories about my Dad at Tuggeranong. I\'m told Dad was dedicated to accurately and uncompromisingly preaching the Word of God. He was also an excellent pastoral visitor, always willing to mow lawns or help with any fix-it jobs.
During a visit back to his old college in Singapore 1986, Dad met my mother, Anne, who was then studying at F.E.B.C. Mum and Dad were married in June 1987 in Perth, Western Australia. They settled in Cootamundra where Dad was the Presbyterian minister for ten years before becoming the pastor of the Cootamundra Bible Fellowship.
As another minister once observed, Dad held certain views rather strongly and was not readily swayed in his thinking. His commitment to preaching the Word of God in its entirety won him both friends and enemies but Dad would stand for what he believed was the truth, even if that meant standing alone. His fighting spirit was a very definitive aspect of his character and has been especially evident over the past six years. The time he had with us has been a real blessing from the Lord. It\'s my hope and prayer that we can all take away something from Dad\'s steadfastness and be challenged by his commitment to the Gospel.
Sis Joy Clements
Rev Dr Timothy Tow had preached many times in Hope B-P Church and was Speaker of our Combined Singapore-Adelaide Family Christmas Camp in 1991. He last preached here in 1998. He was instrumental in helping us to purchase this building and dedicated it as The Stone Mansion on 12 February 1994.
Rev Peter Clements was Speaker of two of our annual Family Easter Camps and had preached a number of times from our pulpit on many occasions. He took care of Hope B-P Church for a few months in the late 1990s when Rev Edward Paauwe was on Sabbatical leave. He last preached here last year.