Sharon BPC celebrates her 42nd Thanksgiving Anniversary this afternoon with praises and gratitude to the Lord for all His benefits towards us. After 5 years in Life BP Church and 2 years serving as a Sunday school teacher, I was moved to begin a church ministry in Toa Payoh in June 1971. During that time Toa Payoh was a new housing estate and was known as ‘Chicago of Singapore’. At the age of 24, I did my best to pastor the church in the way I had observed being done in Life BPC. The worship service was modelled after Life BPC with some changes. The difference was the exclusion of the Psalter. Sharon BPC was one of the first among the Bible-Presbyterian churches to involve church leaders to chair the Lord’s Day worship services. The tradition of the Church Anniversary service as a thanksgiving to God was also adopted from the practice of Life BPC .
In the beginning most of the worshippers were young Lifers who were eager to go with me to distribute gospel tracts in Toa Payoh. They were my supportive partners for Christ in the new outreach. My desire was to build a Christian family church. It was not my plan to draw a crowd of spectators. Many eloquent speakers can capture an audience’s attention. Many churches can draw people and hold their interest through Sunday school contests, bike races, kite flying and crowd pullers’ activities. The focus was attracting multitudes, not building a personal, intimate family church.
In the first 7 years, the Lord blessed our church in a sovereign way. Many who stayed in Toa Payoh came to join the church. They have heard of the church’s existence through their Christian friends or colleagues. Every Sunday I was excited due to their fervent response to join in the worship service and willingness to help in the Sunday school and Youth Fellowship. My concern for the growth of the church was not in terms of numbers but the willingness of the worshippers and helpers to identify with the church. I felt there must be a sense of belonging not only to the Lord but to the local church. Toa Payoh BP Church (English Service) was held in the HDB shop house which could accommodate 50 people at the most.
There are certain advantages of a small church. It offers a real sense of a family church where everyone knows each other. People in small churches also have much greater direct access to their pastor. Through the interaction of the different age groups, the enthusiasm and energy of younger believers
blended well with the wisdom and experience of senior adults. I have often kept in mind that growth in numbers is not always a sign of God’s favour and blessing. A church cannot be judged by its size, but by the heart of its members and their impact on the society.
In Sharon BPC there is an opportunity to get everyone involved in the Christian ministry. This was demonstrated at the musical “The Love Story” staged at Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School last month. The musical itself was a mammoth work. The choir, the production crew, logistics team and Gospel Musical committee had spent many months getting the musical ready. And when the curtain came down on 24 August, the overwhelming feeling was: “It’s been worth everything we put into it.
Many people in the audience testified that watching the musical has been a moving and challenging experience. The narrations, music, songs and dances have spoken to people in various points of need. Participants themselves have also lived out the reality of what they presented. God answered our heartfelt prayers to have a good attendance to fill the auditorium. The support given by our fellow like-minded BP Churches was encouraging.
The musical has brought the church members closer together. Many members and friends worked on the project, mostly behind the scenes. This was clear even to our guests. A guest from a sister church mentioned, “The Musical served as a great challenge to me. I would like to express that I was deeply moved and touched by the sacrificial and dedicated work that had been put into it”. The musical proved to be a rallying point as we have intended.
Finally, we must thank God that we have staged something of such fine quality. It was indeed an outstanding musical production The Musical is not over. We are spurred on to the next level perhaps in preparation for our 45th Church Anniversary celebrations. God willing, in one and a half years’ time we may stage it at Evangel BPC in Petaling Jaya. Let us continue to uphold one another in prayer and provoke one another unto love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). Let us take time to think of all the blessings we have received from God, lest we become unthankful. Now how can we best express our gratitude as we think about all that God has given to us? Shall we not give our full devotion to Him as what you have done for the 2013 Gospel Musical?