Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
By Dr Paul Brand & Philip Yancy
Zondervan Publishing House, 1987 
(214 pages)
Review by Mrs Pauline Koe

It is hard to find a more fascinating book than this. Just to know that the human body is so marvellous, in fact, miraculous, in its design, form and function is fascination enough. And to have that knowledge applied to that other Body, the Church of Christ, is an unforgettable spiritual lesson.

What I like best about this book is that it is such a composite of factual description, testimony and biblical exegesis. It is, firstly, about the biology of the human body, written to evoke wonder and gratitude for the marvellous way that our Creator God has designed it. Descriptions of cells, bones, skin and muscles are lucidly painted in Philip Yancy’s inimitable way – enfolded in life-situations, dressed in word pictures, always striking a colourful immediacy. Dr Paul Brand’s voice introduces us to ourselves – what we are made of, how we do the things we do, what happens when something goes wrong.

This is where the book is also a testimony of the life and work of Paul Brand, an eminent hand surgeon (the first in the world to dedicate this particular specialty to leprosy patients) who worked for a large part of his life in India. The biological facts that he is interested in imparting are always presented through observations and stories of his experiences with various patients he had treated over the years. He also relates the work done by his missionary parents and his wife, an ophthalmologist, illustrating how by treating the physical needs of people they extend to them the love of Christ.

So in actuality the book is really about being in the Body of Christ. Just as the cells of our body are the basic units, diverse, specialised, of great worth, work in unity (and sometimes in disunity) so we too are to understand our function as members of this Body. Just as the body needs bones to give it is shape, hardness and, therefore, freedom, so too the Body needs doctrines and principles for proper function. And that essential part of the body, the skin that beautifies, protects, feels and connect, is essentially the love that the Body is called to give to the world. Finally, the motion that the body is able to enjoy because of the connectivity of all its parts through muscle and nerve, exemplifies the movement, balance, hierarchy and direction that the Church is called to maintain in the world.

In applying insights about the Church through the analogy of the human body, the authors perhaps extend the Pauline metaphor a little more than was originally intended. But they certainly achieve their goal of arresting our attention in a most effective way. In the time that it takes for us to grasp the intricacies of our human body we also begin to realise that the spiritual counterpart is just as complex. This book helps us to appreciate that "fearfully and wonderfully made" refers not only to the physical body that we each have but perhaps, even more accurately, to the Body that is Christ now present in the world. By understanding how the human body works we can now appreciate more fully the functions, interactions, tensions, and dysfunctions that the Church is subject to. Here, indeed, is a unique way of studying Body Life!

NEWS BITS

1. We congratulate Andrew Lee and Janice on the arrival of their 2nd child, Charis. Do continue to pray for Janice and Charis who have to stay in hospital for observation for another three nights (Ward 4A room 4405, Mt Elizabeth Hospital).

2. Theology of Work (TENT). Rev John Ting of Discipleship Training Centre (DTC) will be teaching the course on July 11, 18, 25; time: 7.30-10pm. This course will be held at DTC, 33A Chancery Lane. If you are interested, call us on 62276815 to register or email us at tent@bgst.edu.sg for the registration form.

3. Courses Commencing Next Week.

  • The Educational Ministry of the Church (CE101, 3 credits) by Dr Ng Peh Cheng. CE101 will commence on July 11, 7.15-10.15pm. If you have registered for CE101, please take note that the course will be conducted at 31 Tanjong Pagar Rd.
  • Counsellor Development: Personal Framework for Biblical Counselling (CO210, 3 credits) by Mr Yam Keng Mun. CO210 will commence on July 12, 7.15-10.15pm, at 31 Tanjong Pagar Rd. Registration is still open for CE101 and CO210.

4. Our Dean, Dr Quek Swee Hwa, is away in India from July 4 - 14. Do remember him in your prayers.

CHAPEL NOTES

Chapel today (June 28) saw BGST alumnus, the Rev Samuel Kim, visiting the school as speaker. Samuel worked as a chaplain at the Korean Harbour Mission in Cape Town, South Africa, and shared with us aspects of the Seamen’s Mission, as well as brought a word from Genesis on the story of Joseph’s life.

The Mission had for its emphases: evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, worship, prayer and friendship. Its coverage of ships ranged from tankers and commercial vessels to container ships. While different nationalities were represented on any one ship, many do speak English and hence provide a point of contact for the Mission.

Activities in the Mission include programmes of outreach such as the screening of Christian films, e.g., Ben Hur. On an informal and more personal level, it involves the offering of friendship. Samuel spoke of one incident in which his wife Sarah took such good care of a Chinese national who had a toothache, and he was so impressed by the depth of her concern, that he was moved to considering the Christian message, and eventually became a Christian.

It is such stories of conversion that bring an overwhelming sense of joy to members of the Mission. Yet that joy is overwhelming precisely because those stories are not quite everyday occurrences. Samuel ended with saying that they could but sow the seed, and that everything was in the hands of God. All they could do was focus on "one soul at a time".

The speaker then brought a word from Genesis 45:1-15. This was the scene of Joseph’s reconciliation with his brothers. The focus here was on how Joseph’s trials were part of God’s larger design. Rev Kim then related that to the problems he encountered when he first joined the Mission. Yet he was subsequently made aware that behind them all stood the grace wisdom of God.

The message ended with a challenge to see problems not as coming from people, but from God Himself.

Pastor Alby Yip will be sharing at chapel next Wednesday, July 12. You are most welcome to join us at chapel every Wednesday, 12noon-12.45pm, at 31 Tanjong Pagar Rd, 2nd floor.

A Blessed Birthday to ... 

Mr Peter Jamir 10/7
Mr Shermen Tjiong 10/7
Mr Colin Goh 12/7
Mr Tan Eng Beng 15/7
Mrs Susan Chua 16/7
Mr Andrew Lee 16/7

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