A Peace Less Experienced in Singapore - Sabbatical Reflections
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Congratulations and every blessing to our graduates from the Class of 2008! We shall be introducing them in the coming issues of BTW.
MDiv Grad DipCS
Dr Ng Liang Wei (magna cum laude) Dr Tony K Y Chan (cum laude)
Mr Alby Yip Kong Fai Mr Koh Chin Kok
Mr Yoong Yuen Soo (magna cum laude) Ms Wong Ee Kian (cum laude)
Ms Tricia Yeo Keem Luang
Mr Bernard Chaing Boon Twee TENT
Mr Govindaram s/o SV Ms Crystl Foong Chooi Yee
Mr Lam Yuen Foong Mr Koh Chin Kok
Mr Ng Boon Thian Ms Doreen Yeo Hwee Keng
Mr Siew Kim Siang Dr Ong Lay Siang (in absentia)
Ms Tan Siew Goh
Mr Yue Fah Yong
We congratulate also the following prize winners:
Principal’s Prize :
For the Grad Dip CS : Dr Tony K Y Chan Old Testament Prize : Mr Lam Yuen Foong
For the MCS : Mr Ng Boon Thian New Testament Prize : Mr Yue Fah Yong
For the M Div : Mr Yoong Yuen Soo Applied theology Prize : Mr Alby Yip Kong Fai
Hebrew Prize : Mr Ng Liang Wei Christian Education Prize : Mr Govindaram s/o SV
Greek Prize : Mr Yoong Yuen Soo Counselling Prize : Mr Siew Kim Siang
Field Education Prize : Mr Ng Liang Wei Missions & Evangelism Prize : Mr Govindaram s/o SV
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30 June - 6 July 2008
Issue No. 24
Biblical GRADUATE school of theology
BGST This Week
The view was exhilarating. I enjoyed especially the colours! Miles and miles of peaceful lush green pastures flew past on both sides of the high-speed British Rail train we were travelling. Punctuating all this greenery were entire crops of mustard with their delicate tiny yellow flowers forming large swathes of yellow splashed on an appealing, inviting landscape. Clumps of bushes covered totally with brilliant yellow blossoms outlined the edges of fields demarcated by either stone walls or hedgerows teeming with bird and insect life. Occasionally the scenery became deep brown exposing the rich soil of fields ploughed and ready for the next season’s crops. Above us were clear blue, sunny skies with patches of white clouds. This mixture of colours, the work of an Unseen Artist, God Himself, quite took away my breath away as I leaned back on the comfortable sofa seats taking in eagerly every bit of this precious and exciting scenery.
What impressed me most was a deep sense of peace. Inside the train was a hushed quietness. This lasted many hours as our train pushed northward relentlessly from London to Edinburgh. Outside in the fields were dairy cows munching away endlessly at the juicy spring grass. Separately in other fields were sheep. It was easy to spot the sheep ‘families’. The sight of tiny new-born lambs seated on the grass around their mothers or gamboling around them on their shaky legs was intriguing to me. Occasionally I saw farmhouses. From their chimneystacks wisps of smoke could be seen curling upward into the air. There was an eerie stillness. No human beings nor any moving vehicles were in sight. A few horses could be spotted enjoying the openness of the rural scenery with blankets covering their body because of the cold. There were many varieties of birds, large and small, all creatures of our God and King who has made everything beautiful in its time.
Soon we reached Durham. The magnificent steeple of the thousand year-old Cathedral and the Castle dominated and dwarfed everything else around them. We were glad to meet Lai Pak Wah, BGST’s Faculty-in-Development. We spent a few days bonding with him and his family. My meeting with Pak Wah’s supervisor confirmed for me the significance of the preaching and writings of the Greek Church Father, John Chrysostom (the “golden-mouth”). I was pleased with the progress Pak Wah has made in his dissertation.
We continued on our journey and reached Newcastle. Factories could be seen with tall chimneys belching out smoke high into the sky. The North Sea was on our right. What a contrast with the countryside. Attractive bridges, curious boat-houses, and a sluggish river accentuated the mood of tranquility. Lining both sides of the river were hundreds of slender white-barked poplars standing erect like sentries.
Edinburgh was ablaze with spring flowers, especially tulips. We enjoyed a few precious days with another BGST’s Faculty-in-Development, Edwin Tay. We enjoyed precious moments with him and his family. We saw the place where the Scottish Covenanters were killed as they stood firm on their Protestant faith. St Giles Cathedral, the seat of Presbyterian-ism, was breath-taking. John Knox was a Minister at this Cathedral Church whose beautiful stain-glass windows soar eight stories above the pews below. It was our joy to have attended evensong at four churches, including Ely near Cam-bridge. Esther and I enjoyed the choirs, awed especially by the high level of musicianship of the young choir boys and the captivating grandeur of the pipe organs played by the cathedral organists. All too soon we had to leave Edinburgh, glad for the opportunity to see Edwin and note that he is also progressing well in his doctoral work on the Puritan leader, John Owen.
Our next stop was Gloucester where Andrew Lee, another BGST Faculty-in-Development was working on his doctoral dissertation in Old Testament. We took leisurely walks and chatted as we discussed Andrew’s work and visited the historic Gloucester Cathedral and saw its link with Oliver Cromwell. We saw the place where Bishop John Hooper died a martyr at the stake. We were glad to be with Andrew especially since his family was not with him. He shuttles between Singapore and Gloucester and is well into his research.
Our final visit was with our son-in-law, Quek Tze Ming, a research fellow at St John’s College, University of Cambridge. He spends most of his time at the excellent library of Tyndale House. Tze Ming will soon be back in Singapore to put the finishing touches to his doctoral work. He will be the first Faculty-in-Development to return. Thank God for a wonderful time spent with all four of our alumni in the UK. We are glad for the renewal of our Faculty as younger members who began their theological studies with us will eventually return to strengthen BGST’s faculty. Together we will work for the glory of God.
We sometimes forget that Sabbath rest is not so much things we do when we are at rest (like worship, etc.) but in a very important sense Sabbath is a place where God wants us to be when we observe the Sabbath or, as in my case this year, when I am on sabbatical leave. For an enlightening article on this, see Loren Wilkinson’s comments on Wendell Berry, a Kentucky poet and farmer, in Regent World, Spring 2008. I write about a very special kind of peace which is so elusive for Singaporeans. My wife and I found this peace in the UK recently but sadly we lost it when we returned to Singapore (Dr Quek Swee Hwa).