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An Asian Palette: personal journeys of Christian writers. Edited by Bernice Cheng. Singapore: Armour Publishing. 1998. 122pp.
Review by Dr Ng Peh Cheng

The book has 12 authors. It is a fascinating compilation to read as they paint their personal journeys of how they became accomplished authors and writers. The painting is colourful as these men and women are Christians representing Hong Kong, India, Japan, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and West Malaysia in the Asian region. They are Asian Christians but each account is unique to the author's cultural context and experience.

The description of how they sense the call to be a writer or develop the penchant for writing reflects a combination of personal inclination and divine intervention.  Ajith Fernando acquired the skill of writing through writing sermonettes and "crafting" letters. Evelyn Miranda-Feliciano's wonder for writing began with a diary that gradually progress to writing poems, articles and Christian novels.  Thongchai Pradubchananurat's writing career matured from his love for clean jokes and funny stories. In God's own mysterious ways, **Miriam Adeney became a "push" factor to set Melba Padilla Maggay's focus on writing and a motivator to the written works of Isabelo F. Magalit. Dr Bruce Nicholls and his wife, Kathleen provided mentoring to Vishal Mangalwadi, whose book, "The World of Gurus" remained "in print for over two decades and has gone through German and US editions" (p. 113). Sookit Li Chan attributes her writing skills to her Godsent mentor, the late Josephine So.

One purpose that captures the hearts and minds of these Christian writers is to communicate their experiences with the God of the Christian faith to draw others to Him. Writing is the tool.  Through short stories, poems, children's books and articles, Pamela Ninan and her husband use the written word to share the gospel with her fellow countrymen in the vast marketplace of India for Christ (p. 79).  In the words of Irene Chua, her book, "My Daughter, My Friend" was born out of  "a desire to impart to my children my relationship with Jesus Christ and the interpretation of it in everyday life" (p.26).  It also expresses the "longing of a mother to share herself to protect her child against life's uncertainties and to prepare her for adulthood" (p, 26). Writing became her effective tool for Christian parenting!

Another notable purpose of these Christian writers is to remain culturally relevant and biblically correct in seeking solutions to issues opposing their Christian beliefs and Christian living. "Filipino Values and the Christian Faith" was written to address the Filipino and Christian identity.  Mizue Uchida's "Celebrating Christmas at Home" and "Chatting with My Children" disciple Christian parents to build strong Christian families unique to the Japanese culture.  When the church in Nepal was experiencing persecution, Loknath Manaen wrote and circulated short write-ups to encourage suffering Christians to stand firm in their faith. In Hong Kong, the "Breakthrough Magazine" was a deliberate written instrument designed to evangelize the youth for Christ. It has been 25 years but the power of the written word to communicate the Living Word is continuing to "break through" the inner lives of the young!

Writing, however, is a painstaking process that demands self-discipline and dedication.  An easy alternative to opt out of the process is to translate books written by others. Tan Hwee Yong was told to take the easy route but she poses these questions, ". . . if our local Christians faced problems in their own settings? Which book should be translated to meet the exact needs?”  "Who is going to bridge the gap by writing in Bahasa to reach a younger generation of Bahasa-speaking Christians?" (pp.100, 101).  "Why am I just rewriting another book from another culture into our national language?"(p. 99).  She became the author of 3 books devoted to her country of origin.

True to their indigenous roots, these Christian writers "capture the essence of God's presence" in their respective homelands through their writings.  They provided the many colourful insights and the marvels of God's working in the region of Asia.

True to the two primary purposes, the "passion and the commitment" of the 12 Christian authors and writers is a source of inspiration and "encouragement to other Asian Christian writers."  Second, the presentation of their written works as their act of worship to God should "motivate aspiring Asian Christian writers to discover their own writing talents and use them for God" (p. v). 

Leadership through writing may be a new idea to the church but it is worth taking the time to wonder, "Why can't we paint and write about our faith in Asian colours? . . . . How exciting it would be if Asians can articulate their faith in their own 'textures'." 

**Dr Miriam Adeney will be teaching "Leadership Through Writing" at BGST (July 26,28, Aug 2,4). For more information, contact Dr Ng Peh Cheng at 6227 6815 or ngpc@bgst.edu.sg 


ALUMNI UPDATE

Mr Tong Ming Hung (M Div 2002) writes to Dr Quek: “I am fine. I serve in Wycliffe Bible Translators, involving sharing vision, doing publication, organizing mission trips and other ministries promoting Bible translation work. I just came back from Papua New Guinea . It was a trip to witness a Bible dedication at Aguan, a village without the Scriptures until now. I am back in Singapore , God willing, to complete a MTh at Singapore Bible College this year. Thanks for remembering me.”


NEWS BITS

  1. Praise God for the ministry of Martin and Elizabeth Goldsmith. They have not only stimulated our students to think missiologically, but they have modelled in their life what a Christian ought to be. We thank God for the fellowship with them.

  2. The final tutorial for Dr Milne’s course, Theological Foundations I (TS211) will be held on 18 July, Monday, at our Bishan campus, Room 302 ( 7.30-9.30pm ). Students are to come prepared to discuss tutorial questions for Lectures 15-24. Dr Quek will conduct the tutorial. Those who missed the previous two tutorials should request for the audiotapes and are required to submit written answers for the questions covered in those tutorials.

  3. We are happy to announce a new development at BGST, a Chinese course at BGST! Dr Quek Swee Hwa’s course, Romans: The Gospel According to Paul (NT311M, 1.5 credits) will be taught in English and Mandarin and students may submit their answers in either language. The teaching team will comprise Dr Quek, Dr Loo Jian Hua and Elder Yong Teck Meng. Those interested should register immediately as the first session will be on Monday, 25 July, 7.30-9.30pm at our Bishan campus, Room 302, No.4 Bishan St 13. This course covers 12 sessions and will be taught in Chinese or English interpreted into Chinese. Dates for the remaining sessions will be arranged at the gathering on 25 July. If you are keen to join this class, call us on 6227 6815 or speak with Dr Quek on 9786 5044. 


Trends in Asia :

Implications for Mission

 

BGST is proud to present

a public lecture

by our Guest Lecturer,

Dr Miriam Adeney

 

Date: 30 July, 2005

Saturday, 7.30-9.30pm

 

Venue: Zion Bible-Presbyterian Church ,

4 Bishan St 13.

 

All are welcome!

 

 

Dr Adeney will also be conducting two courses from 26 July to 6 August :

 

  • Culture Research (ME257)

  • Leadership Through Writing (GS120)

 

Visit our website for more information.


A Blessed Birthday to ...

Mr Colin Goh  12/7

Mr Tan Eng Beng  15/7

Mr Andrew Lee  16/7

Mrs Susan Chua  16/7

Dr Casey Chua  17/7

A/P Toh See Kiat  20/7

Ms Doreen Teo  20/7

Mr Collin See  21/7

Mr Pierre Fong  22/7

Ms Jasmine Foo 22/7

Mdm Dawn Yap  23/7


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Last update : 15 Jul 2005. 
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