Feature Article: Aiding and Advocating for Communities in Need

This article was originally posted in our March 2020 Word@Work.

Feature Article: Aiding and Advocating for Communities in Need

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
— 1 John 3:16-18

As a missions organisation that has dedicated itself to making the Word of God known to all peoples, The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS) has striven to be a beacon of light to the nations by bringing the Word of God to those in need. Through the sharing of the living Word, we hope to shed light on the transformative power of God’s Word and bring a glimmer of hope to the vulnerable and marginalised.

Providing Aid to Alleviate Poverty

With the aim of loving and serving communities in need, BSS has expanded its overseas holistic missions to include meeting the material and physical needs of the poor. In 2019, BSS worked closely with the Bible Society of Egypt and donated USD$15,000 towards a Christmas Distribution project for 20,000 poor children. The children received backpacks filled with Scripture material, games, a towel and a stationery kit—to encourage them to engage with the Word of God, and build them up in their faith. BSS also coordinated a mission trip to Qionghai City in Hainan, China last year. A donation of USD$26,000 was made to help with the construction of a local church as well as provide education bursaries for the village children. (Read more about BSS’ overseas holistic mission work on pages 10-12.)

“We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.”
—St Francis of Assisi

Locally, BSS has kickstarted initiatives to render aid to the vulnerable and marginalised in Singapore. One of these initiatives is SowCare—a charity arm of BSS that aims to care for the often-neglected facets of society, and create public awareness about their daily challenges and how to meet their needs. In 2019, SowCare partnered with the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO) with the aim to provide holistic care for the guest workers in Singapore. On 8 and 15 December, SowCare hosted two Feasts of Appreciation for guest workers in the construction industry and Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs). This year, SowCare aims to also look into caring for the homeless in Singapore. Apart from providing these individuals in need with daily necessities, SowCare will also be looking into the possibility of building a shelter for the homeless. (More information about SowCare’s initiatives can be found on pages 22-24.)

Beyond Physical Poverty

”There’s two kinds of poverty. We have the poverty of material; … where the people are hungry for a loaf of bread—real hunger. But there is a much deeper, much greater hunger; and that is the hunger for love.“
—Mother Theresa

Although meeting the immediate needs of these impoverished communities would help alleviate some of their suffering, the essence of the Gospel encourages us to not only give what we have, but also to reveal God’s heart for His beloved children. This is why BSS strives to go a step further in sowing care for the poor and needy by presenting them with the everlasting and enduring hope that Jesus has promised; for it is only by bringing them back to our Provider that we may live eternal life free of suffering.

For BSS, presenting the hope of the Gospel takes place in many forms. In 2020, BSS also hopes to connect with at-risk individuals, whose emotional needs may not have been met, and require mental wellness facilities and resources. In view of the current COVID-19 situation, SowCare, Hope Initiative Alliance and other partner organisations are also working towards distributing masks and other essentials for this vulnerable community. As we work to create more platforms to build meaningful relationships with these at-risk individuals, we invite you to pray for opportunities to reveal God’s enriching love to those who have yet to experience it.

Continuing with our work in sharing God’s love with the guest workers, BSS will be distributing about $17,000 worth of Scripture materials to the guest worker community this year. It is our hope that the provision of the Word of God will remind these guest workers—who may be susceptible to feelings of loneliness and isolation from being in a foreign country—that they may find comfort in knowing that the God of peace is with them.

Beyond blessing communities with His Word, BSS has also been actively working with our partners to meet the needs of the churches and faith communities that have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak through the provision of useful resources and supplies. (More information about this initiative can be found on page 38.) In this season of Lent, as we reflect on the suffering of Jesus, may we also be encouraged to remember the suffering of those among us, and be moved to take the first step in reaching out to them in love.

Feature Article: Holistic Care for the Nations Among Us

This article was originally posted in our December 2019 Word@Work.

Feature Article: Holistic Care for the Nations Among Us

Let us be vessels for God’s love—that protects
“the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing”, for we too were once sojourners.
— Deuteronomy 10:18 – 19

Singapore has relied on the labour contributions of guest workers since its early years. Although these workers are very much a part of our nation—having played significant roles through building our infrastructure and contributing to industries with labour shortages—their struggles may often remain invisible to us.

Walking in Your Shoes








To bring to light their contributions and stories, SowCare and the Alliance of Indian Ministries (AIM)— ministries of The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS)—partnered with the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO) to organise the Walking in Your Shoes exhibition at Far East Plaza from 20–29 September. The exhibition was launched with an opening ceremony on 19 September, which was graced by the Guest of Honour, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State in the Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of Manpower. The exhibition, which had drawn hundreds of visitors over nine days, showcased replicas of the living spaces of guest workers in Singapore. Through these installations, the visitors were able to experience the routines of guest workers at work and in their dormitories. The untold stories and lesser-known trivia about the guest worker community were also featured—inviting Singaporeans to understand them beyond their occupational role. Visitors could also learn words of appreciation in the native languages of guest workers—to engage them in conversation and breach social divides. Key phrases such as “how are you?” and “thank you!” were available in Bengali, Burmese, Hindi, Mandarin, Sinhala, Tamil, and Thai. The exhibition was made possible through the generous sponsorship of Far East Organization and Far East Plaza.

Banquet of Appreciation










In the same spirit of expressing appreciation to the community of guest workers in Singapore, SowCare and AIM also partnered with AGWO in hosting the inaugural Banquet of Appreciation at Fullerton Hotel on 13 October. The banquet saw the attendance of Mr Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, as the Guest of Honour. Gathering 350 guest workers from six different Asian countries—as well as dormitory owners, community partners and government officials—the banquet aimed to thank our guest workers and encourage dialogue on how to better care for their community. There were also four ethnic performance items by Joshiley Bhangra Singapore, New Life Christian Centre, Crown of Glory Nepalese Fellowship and My Saviour’s Church Dance Ministry. The inaugural Banquet of Appreciation then also launched

Cricket Tournament










To provide guest workers with an avenue for recreation, a Cricket Tournament was also organised on 28 October at the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) Recreation Centre. Cricket is a popular sport among South Asians, with almost 900 million fans in India alone. Through this tournament, we aimed to alleviate their feelings of homesickness and encourage fellowship with one another over a meal. Involving nearly 3,000 guest workers, the Cricket Tournament was a resounding success. Underscoring the objective behind these events, Rev Samuel Gift Stephen, Chairman of AGWO, emphasised the need for a collective effort to care for this marginalised community. He shared that, “With guest workers forming nearly one-third of our working population, it is our responsibility to cultivate an environment that protects and holistically cares for their well-being. More than isolated efforts, it is vital that we work collaboratively to pool together resources and services, so that we may effectively meet their needs.” If you wish to support this initiative, individuals and groups may partner with the AGWO through administering and/or facilitating assistance and services for the guest workers. More information on partnership and volunteering opportunities can be found at hia.sg/agwo.

Cyclone Idai in Mozambique

(Image Source: UNICEF)

About Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth:

Cyclone Idai hit near Beira city, Mozambique, on March 14, 2019. The heavy rains and strong winds led to flash flooding, hundreds of deaths, and massive destruction of property and crops. Just under six weeks later, on April 25, Cyclone Kenneth hit northern Mozambique about 600 miles away from where Idai had dealt its blow. 

Cyclones Idai and Kenneth are one of the worst storms to have ever hit Mozambique. The catastrophic flooding that resulted from these cyclones has affected almost 2.2 million people in Mozambique and its neighbouring countries. 


(from https://www.worldvision.org/disaster-relief-news-stories/2019-cyclone-idai-facts

March 3 – The tropical disturbance that would become Cyclone Idai develops and begins to strengthen near the coast of Africa.

March 5 – Heavy rains cause severe flooding across Mozambique and Malawi.

March 11 – Now a tropical depression, the storm builds in intensity between coastal Africa and Madagascar.

March 14 to 15 – Tropical Cyclone Idai makes landfall near Beira, Mozambique, as a Category 2 storm with sustained winds exceeding 105 mph.

March 20 – Heavy rains continue along with search and rescue operations and damage assessments.

March 21 to 27 – Governments and humanitarian aid agencies begin responding with life-saving relief supplies to the affected areas.

March 28 – The Mozambique government calls off the search for survivors of Cyclone Idai.

April 2 – Cholera cases in Mozambique top 1,400, according to health officials.

April 25 – Cyclone Kenneth hits northern Mozambique with winds above 125 mph.

How much damage was caused?

Cyclone Idai wiped out roads, bridges, and dams as it swept through Southeast Africa. According to the United Nations, Cyclone Idai and subsequent flooding destroyed more than an estimated $773 million in buildings, infrastructure, and crops. As a result of Cyclone Idai itself, more than 100,000 homes were also damaged or destroyed.

Additionally, Cyclone Kenneth is estimated to have destroyed about $100 million worth of homes, crops, and infrastructure, including boats and equipment belonging to coastal fishing villages.

What was the impact on the Bible Society of Mozambique?

As a consequence of Cyclone Idai, the Bible Society depot in Mozambique suffered huge damages. The violence of the cyclone winds washed away all the roof, thus destroying all Scriptural stock in the warehouse. Additionally, the roof of the office managing the Ndau Revision Bible was destroyed, and books and computers in the office were also damaged.

What is the death toll?

More than 1,000 people have died from the impact of Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth.

About Mozambique:

Mozambique is a country of 29 million people who live between 4 extremes, namely drought, floods, poverty and tropical cyclones. Apart from poverty, natural disasters are cyclical, leaving little room for the Mozambique people to restore their country.

Feature Article: Showing Love and Sowing Care

This article was originally posted in our December 2019 Word@Work.

Feature Article: Showing Love and Sowing Care

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
— Galatians 5:14 ESV

As a season of thanksgiving, Christmas reminds us of how the Word became flesh to dwell among us, experience our pain, and show us steadfast love. Just as Jesus walked and lived among people who were marginalised and faced discrimination—His ministry on earth taught us that it is through caring for others that we may outwardly manifest His love in us.

While such vulnerable communities may not be as visible in Singapore as in other societies, there are communities with unmet needs and abundant opportunities to sow care—such as with single parents, people with disabilities, low-income elderly and guest workers.

Guest workers’ needs, in particular, may often be overlooked as they are transient people group. In order that we may inclusively care for people of all backgrounds, The Bible Society of Singapore has actively sought to reach out to the guest worker community through our charity, SowCare. These efforts have included holistic care initiatives in partnership with the Alliance of Guest Worker Outreach (AGWO) and over 100 other voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs), civil organisations, corporations, professional bodies, guest worker dormitories, and government agencies.

As we ministered to these guest workers, many of them shared their stories and challenges with us. Khomthong Khammai, a veteran guest worker from Thailand, shared how his wife had passed away while he was working overseas; this tragedy left him as a single-parent of a daughter who is now 21 years old. Struggling to make ends meet, he remains working in Singapore to support both of them. Like Khomthong, there are other guest workers who endure much hardship in order to provide their families with a better life. Through our acts of kindness, many more guest workers will be blessed as well.

In this Christmas edition of Word in Action, some of our partners and other prominent leaders in our nation share snippets of thought, on how the local community can care for the underprivileged and vulnerable among us, like Khomthong.

“What does Christmas as a season of love and care, mean to you?”

“Christmas reminds me of the kind of love that is unconditional and expects nothing in return. We can all strive to learn to similarly love especially the vulnerable in our midst. Action always speaks louder than words. Just do it. As John Wesley once advised, ‘Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.’”

Ms Denise Phua, President of the Autism Resource Centre (Singapore), Minister of Parliament (MP) for Jalan Besar Group Representation Constituency and Mayor of Central Singapore District.

“As a season centred on Christ, Christmas is the perfect opportunity for us to exemplify the love of God for vulnerable communities. Through our tangible expressions of care, the message of the Gospel is not just shared but lived out in life-transforming ways. “

Rev Ezekiel Tan, General Secretary of The Bible Society of Singapore

“How do you think the Singaporean community can rise up to care for vulnerable communities among us?”

“There are many unsung heroes who reach out actively to assist those in need, and they have really done so quietly behind the scenes. For sure, there are people who might think that the government is doing its job of taking care of our vulnerable, but there is something that is difficult to be supplanted by the government, and that is the love and care from the community towards the vulnerable.

Simple things such as looking out for one another, lending a helping hand or even a listening ear can make our society much more caring and a much better place for everyone, especially our most vulnerable.”

Ms Joan Pereira, MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC and Advisor to Henderson-Dawson Grassroots Organisation

“I see the need to get kindred spirits to network and collaborate with each other. When there is sharing of resources and ideas, and when we work together, we do not need to reinvent the wheel; we can leverage on each other’s strength and do a better job together than alone. By working together, we can eliminate wastage of resources and make a greater impact for the good of these vulnerable communities. “

Dr William Wan, General Secretary of Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM)

“Acknowledge and accept their presence in our midst in our daily lives, buy a packet of food for them and say “thank you” if we notice that they are regularly serving us in our neighbourhood.”

Ms Neo Ling Ling, Associate Director of SowCare Ltd

“What is one verse that reminds you of the Christian call to serve our community?”

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” — Romans 5:8 ESV

“To me, this verse signifies our call to love and care for the ones who are unable to do the same for us—it must cost us something.”

Rev Samuel Gift Stephen, Chairman of the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO)

Let us remain encouraged to sow care into the lives of those around us; fully assured that every effort will create an ever widening ripple of love—in the lives of individuals, their families and communities. 

We were blessed to witness such an impact in the life of Roopa, who is just 9 years old. In rural villages in India, young girls—like Roopa—take care of house chores as well as their siblings while their parents work. These children, who are forced to undertake heavy responsibilities at such a tender age, may experience loneliness and feelings of abandonment.

Recognising the needs of these girls, a local pastor in Roopa’s village sought her out, invited her to church and even gifted her with her own Bible. Transformed by the kindness that the pastor has extended to her, Roopa now desires to be a doctor so that she may save lives, help her community, and care for those in need. Indeed, the ones who sow bountifully will reap bountifully!

For more information on how you can join us in making a difference in our local communities by being a partner, visit www.bible.org.sg/take-action


Singaporeans bring festive cheer to guest workers and Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs)

This article was originally posted in our Tamil Murasu.

Singaporeans bring festive cheer to guest workers and Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs) 

Widely celebrated festive seasons, such as Christmas, are especially meaningful because they bring families and loved ones together over shared meals and traditions. However, these occasions can often exacerbate feelings of loneliness among vulnerable communities in society, such as the homeless and guest workers, who may not be able to celebrate with their families. Such feelings may also often be more pronounced among guest workers in Singapore, who frequently experience homesickness from having to relocate and live in an unfamiliar environment.

In an effort to alleviate the emotional struggles of these guest workers, SowCare—a charity arm of The Bible Society of Singapore—and TSL Holdings Group worked collaboratively to include guest workers in their Christmas celebrations this year.

Gathering over 350 guest worker employees at TSL Holdings Group, on 8 December at the company headquarters, the ‘Christmas with the Nations’ event sought to appreciate and recognise the efforts of their migrant employees. In the spirit of Christmas, carols were sung and guest worker employees were gifted with presents as well.

Mr Tan Swee Lim, President of TSL Holdings Group, who was present at the event as the Guest of Honour, honoured the workers who were present in his opening address.

“I am very pleased and honoured to host this meaningful event. It is our way of expressing our deepest gratitude to all of you, who have worked hard to contribute to the success of not only my group of companies, but our nation. Your contributions have included laborious work and long hours, and we are truly thankful for the role you have played.”

The ‘Christmas with the Nations’ event follows a series of Feasts of Appreciation (FOA), which were launched by the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO) in September this year. The FOA initiative seeks to invite the local community to tangibly appreciate guest workers here, by hosting celebratory meals for them.

Sharing his vision and ethos behind the FOA movement, Rev Samuel Gift Stephen, Chairman of the AGWO, said, “In a country where food is such an important part of our lives, sharing a meal with these guest workers goes a long way in showing them how we do not consider them to be alien and are truly appreciative for their role in our society.”

Seeking to include FDWs in the leg of celebrations, 300 FDWs have also been invited to attend an upcoming feast at Bible House on 15 December. The FOA for FDWs will also feature performances by various ethnic groups and a mini-bazaar, including photobooth and manicure stations.

Reiterating the role of FDWs in the Singaporean society, Mr Ezekiel Tan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SowCare, shared how, “while guest workers serve in public industrial sectors, the contributions of FDWs are close to home and to the heart. The role they assume is deeply personal and we must remember to remain thankful for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make every day.”

For more information on how individuals or groups can host a FOA, please visit hia.sg/AGWO.

Feature Article: Connecting and Caring for All

This article was originally posted in our December 2019 Word@Work.

Feature Article: Connecting and Caring for All

In one of his letters, C.S. Lewis wrote, “For the church is not a human society of people united by their natural affinities but the Body of Christ, in which all members, however different… must share the common life, complementing and helping one another precisely their differences.”

What does a united body of believers look like today?

Cultivating Community Connectedness

The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS) is committed to building communities of believers who are united by their common love for the Word of God, regardless of church, denomination and nationality.
For it is only with a united church body that we may become an effective model of Christian love to the wider community—demonstrating the unconditional love lavished upon us by our Father in heaven, and leading them to Him.

With this in mind, BSS hopes to connect believers from different walks of life by encouraging them to engage with the Scripture in meaningful ways. In August and September, BSS organised the Colours of theBible Art Exhibition and the Bible and Chinese Culture Festival as opportunities for participants to express themselves with Scripture-inspired art pieces—illustrating how art and Chinese culture can be integrated with the Bible. (More information about the Bible and Chinese Culture Festival can be found on page 26.)

BSS also seeks to equip Christians with the Word to tackle various societal issues through the ETHOS Institute for Public Christianity—a research think tank formed in partnership with the National Council of Churches of Singapore and Trinity Theological College. ETHOS aims to engage believers in contemporary issues and trends from a Biblical perspective by offering free seminars, lectures, conferences, and resources for the public. Since its inception in 2014, the ETHOS website alone has seen nearly 50,000 visitors each year. (For more information about ETHOS events and publications, visit ethosinstitute.sg or read more on pages 25, 36 and 37.)

Apart from these initiatives, BSS also has a community of volunteers, who are known as our Sowers-In- Action. These volunteers constitute a very diverse group of Christians who regularly volunteer their gifts to support Bible Mission work in various ways—from photography and helping out at events, to administrative work. Gatherings are held at Bible House twice a year to thank our volunteers for their contribution, as well as to provide an opportunity for them to engage in fellowship. (If you would like to volunteer with BSS, visit bible.org.sg/volunteer for more information.)

By creating platforms for Christians to connect, BSS hopes to cultivate a spirit of unity among believers—so that we may labour together as one body, and fulfil God’s mission for us.

Cultivating Collective Care for All

“Jesus Christ did not say, Go into all the world and tell the world that it is quite right.”
— C.S. Lewis

Fulfilling the Great Commission not only encompasses spreading the Good News but also requires the Church to first model the love towards others that Jesus exemplified in His ministry— reaching out to the least, the last and the lost.

Although Singapore has successfully transformed herself into a modern city-state, there are still vulnerable and underprivileged communities in our midst. Just as the Son of Man came to serve (Mark 10:45), we too, are called to extend a helping hand to these communities—by meeting their needs and extending God’s love to them.

To initiate a collective effort to reach communities in need, BSS has launched a new ministry, SowCare, which aims to reach out to the poor and needy in Singapore. To kickstart the outreach efforts, SowCare partnered with Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA) and over 100 organisations to launch the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO). AGWO seeks to provide guest workers in Singapore with holistic care by meeting their immediate needs, and fostering a welcoming environment for them that is free from discrimination. From 20–29 September, Walking In Your Shoes—an exhibition aimed to provide a glimpse into the lives of guest workers—was held at Far East Plaza. Other AGWO events included a Banquet of Appreciation at the Fullerton Hotel on 13 October, as well as an AGWO Cricket Tournament on 28 October. (Read more about AGWO’s initiatives and events on pages 16 and 17.)

Beyond Singapore’s shores, BSS has also been involved in Holistic Mission work in multiple countries. The International Bible Experiences (IBEx)—a ministry of BSS—offers Bible Mission Trips, where participants are involved in meeting the locals’ needs for Scripture materials, and also their immediate needs where necessary. These efforts comprise of providing humanitarian assistance to countries, which have been affected by natural disasters or political turmoil, as well as providing opportunities for the locals to receive proper education.

Most recently, BSS was involved in mission work in Hainan, China, ministering to the local students and providing them with resources to facilitate their studies and improve their quality of life. (Find out more about IBEx and other BSS’ mission trips on pages 32 and 33.)

Cultivating Godliness within Communities

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…”
(Matthew 28:19-20)

With various avenues for Christians to be equipped and to serve, our ultimate aim is to connect different communities to and through the Gospel— so that we may all become disciples of Christ who share a deep love for God’s Word and people. As we remember the birth and life of our Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas, may we seek to embody the sacrificial love and care that He showed to mankind.

Reflections: Bible Mission Trip To Cambodia

This article was originally posted in our September 2019 Word@Work.

Reflections: Bible Mission Trip to Cambodia

“During the mission trip, I saw how God was working through each of us, bringing our individual talents together to serve His people as one body.
— Chan Keen Mun, Participant, Bible Mission Trip to Cambodia, 15 – 18 March 2019

In June 2018, I was praying for God’s instructions and direction for this Bible Mission Trip to Cambodia, which was originally scheduled to take place in September 2018. However, in July 2018, my father-in-law was called home to be with the Lord, and my mother was diagnosed with cancer and bleeding in the brain. Even though the trip had to be postponed to March 2019, I am still grateful for God’s faithfulness in bringing the team together.

While we were in the midst of preparing for the trip, God remained faithful by leading us every step of the way—through the planning of the programme, the rehearsals for reenacting the Bible stories and the planning of the teaching sessions. We had planned to teach the locals about the grace of God, with some reflections from Gideon’s life (Judges 6–7). As I was going through these passages with the intention of reaching out to the locals, never would I have thought that I too, would experience the grace of God firsthand.

A few weeks before the Bible Mission Trip, I found out that my mother—who had been given six months to live and was already receiving palliative care—had been completely healed from cancer! What a joy it was to receive God’s grace!

During the mission trip, I saw how God was working through each of us, bringing our individual talents together to serve His people as one body. As my team and I were ministering to the children in Tuolpongror with the Word, we were delighted and encouraged at how eager they were to receive Jesus into their hearts.

At the end of the programme, one of the teachers at the local school made the decision to re-commit her life to Christ. It was here our team realised that we had to continue to pray fervently for the rest of the teachers who had not received Jesus as their Lord and Saviour—so that they too could make a difference in the lives of the children whom they teach.

To conclude, my team and I are very thankful that we were able to accomplish the work in Cambodia by the immense grace of God. All of us have been blessed in more ways than one—it is indeed more blessed to give than to receive!


Scripture Soothes a Hurting Teenager’s Heart in Cambodia

This article was adapted from one originally posted by the American Bible Society.

Excited to have her own Bible, a 15-year-old learns more about God...

Doeun Chin Lan has experienced a lot of loss.

"My mother died when I was little," explains the 15-year-old. "I don't even remember her face. All my older siblings left me to work in Thailand. My father is very elderly and poor.…I want to see my whole family together again."

When the message of God's love came to the small village where Doeun lives, her heart finally began to heal.

"I am very happy that God loves me," she says. "Whether I am in the countryside, in the forest or anywhere, God still loves me."

Doeun says she enjoys hearing stories about God at church. "But sometimes I don't understand," she admits. "When I heard they were going to give out Bibles, I was very happy."

"My Bible is small and easy to carry around and the writing is easy to understand. I believe this Bible will help me know God better. My father can't read so I want to read to him so that he can also put his faith in God."

For many Cambodians, especially poor farmers living in rural areas, obtaining a Bible requires much sacrifice. It takes months to save money for a Bible. But thanks to generous donors, Doeun and others have Bibles of their very own!

Please pray for others like Doeun who still need to know about God and engage in His Word in Cambodia. Ask that Scriptures will be made available in different media so that the entire population, especially the youth, will understand and experience the love of God.

Women Advancing God’s Word

This article was first published in the March 2014 issue of Word@Work.

“She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.” - Proverbs 31:20

The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS) honours women who have contributed to the Bible movement as the world celebrates International Women’s Day on 8 March. We call each of them, “The woman who fears the Lord” as characterised in Proverbs 31, bold in their global endeavours to spread God’s Word.

Female Involvement in the Bible Mission

Women have always been at the forefront of Bible mission work. In August 1811, the first Ladies’ Association started within the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) to support its work. The committee of 48 ladies met monthly. After nine years, they raised more than 2,650 pounds (equivalent to 180,000 pounds today[1]) and distributed more than 2,400 Bibles and Testaments.

Straits Ladies’ Bible Association

Female Associations started to form in different countries and soon made their way to South-East Asia. The Straits Ladies’ Bible Association was established on 10 July 1837. Within a year, the women handed to the Auxiliary Bible Society 194 Spanish dollars (equivalent to 14,570 pounds today[2]).

Sophia Cooke: A Heart for Bible Missions

Sophia Cooke is an example of a lady who sowed God’s Word with love and left a lasting legacy in Singapore. By the late 1840s, most missionaries had left Singapore for China but Sophia Cooke stayed on to continue the mission work here.

In 1857, she and a few other ladies formed the Ladies’ Bible and Tract Society which met monthly for prayer. They published a quarterly magazine, The Christian in Singapore, to edify fellow believers in their walk with God.

More than 55 years after the Bible mission began, there was still no permanent agent to help in the work despite requests by Governor Stamford Raffles and Rev Dr Robert Morrison. In 1880, Cooke impressed upon the committee in London the need for ‘organised work’. It was then that our first agent, John Haffenden, offered his services to the Singapore Auxiliary Bible Society, which became the centre for distribution of Scriptures in the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago, including the Dutch East Indies.

Cooke was also a strong advocate of female education in the East. Girls who faced destitution and degradation grew under her care as civilised and educated women, equipped with Scriptural truths, literacy, arithmetic, sewing, and cooking. Her legacy in education continues today in St Margaret’s School – Singapore’s first girls’ school.

Cooke is in the company of many other women like Sophia Blackmore and Margaret Dryburgh, whose legacy challenged the belief that only men, particularly ordained men, could be called by God to be missionaries.

The Word Continues to Pass Down

Today, an increasing number of women have risen to the call to spread the Word. One of them in BSS is Gwen De Rozario, Associate Director of CARE[3].

When Gwen first heard God’s call to children’s ministry, she obeyed and organised Singapore’s first-ever children’s praise and worship event ARISE! in 2002. She subsequently quit her job in obedience to the Lord, and trusted in His providence. Working with churches and partners like the Bible Society and families, she seeks to ground children in the Word, train and release them in praise and worship, prayer and missions and God has blessed her work taking the ARISE! vision global.

Despite her full-time ministry commitments, Gwen joined BSS to advance the Word. She was integral in bringing the Christian community together for our Children’s Resource & Equipping Fair in 2013. It was a great success. Parents and children’s ministry leaders learnt how to better engage the next generation with God’s Word.

Another woman who made an impact in the Bible movement is Dr Cheah Fung Fong, Chair of Trinity Annual Conference, Board of Children’s Ministry (TRAC BOCM) since 2004. Her passion to pass the Word to the next generation is exemplified through her leadership and work. Together with like-minded partners, TRAC BOCM share best practices, pray for the next generation and equip parents and ministry leaders to disciple children at home and in churches. This was seen in the recent partnership between BSS and TRAC BOCM, in organising the Family Matters Conference last August 2013.

The fruits of her labour are not only seen in Singapore but in the mission field and in its multiplying effect.

“I have been bringing groups of children and youth from Singapore to minister to children and youth in Cambodia for six years. We heard a wonderful testimony from the Cambodian youth. They were so encouraged by their Singaporean friends’ passion for God’s Word that they organised mission trips to share the gospel to their peers in the remote parts of Cambodia! Praise God for multiplying our small steps of faith to share God’s Word!”

“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all… a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” - Proverbs 31:29-30

BSS encourages all women to join in the Bible mission movement, to sow the Word and advocate its values.


[1] Inflation at 2.1% per annum up to 2012. 
Source: http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/education/Pages/inflation/calculator/flash/default.aspx

[2] The monetary system of Spain (1830-1840). 
Source: http://georgeborrowstudies.net/monetarysystems/monetarysystems.html

[3] CARE – Centre for Advocacy, Relations & Engagement, department of BSS

The long journey of the Bunong New Testament

Story by Bonnie Lepelaar, Bible Society in Cambodia. This article was first published by United Bible Societies.

Tot Nhernh, 93, vividly remembers the panic he and his family felt as the bombs started falling on their village in north-east Cambodia. It was the 1970s and the Vietnam war was spilling into the region as members of the Viet Cong crossed the border to hide.

With their village totally destroyed and desperate to escape the continued US bombing in their region, Mr Nhernh and his family, along with many others, crossed the border into Vietnam. Not only were they traumatised by the destruction they had witnessed, they were also deeply worried that in their haste to leave they hadn’t had time to make offerings to appease the spirits.

Mr Nhernh is a member of the Bunong tribe, which, like all the hill tribes in Cambodia, is traditionally animist, regularly sacrificing livestock to the spirits. Although they were relieved to have escaped the bombs, and were trying to rebuild their lives in Vietnam, they felt overwhelmed with grief and fear.

But then some Vietnamese people began to visit these desperate refugees. They offered them help and friendship, and also shared some good news: God loved them and had released them from all bondage through his son, Jesus. Mr Nhernh recalls how he felt all his fear falling away, replaced by a peace and freedom he had never experienced. He was among several Bunong refugees to become Christians, learning much about their new faith during their time in exile.

Return home

When the war ended, he could not wait to return home and share the Gospel. He and the other new Bunong Christians planted small churches in Bunong villages, and also evangelised other hill tribes, including the Krung and Tampuan. They, too, had lived in fear and obligation to make costly sacrifices to the spirits, and were overjoyed to hear about the freedom and peace they could have in Jesus.

Although work to translate the Scriptures into Bunong had begun in Vietnam in the 1960s, the work had been disrupted by the war and the manuscripts lost. Some small portions of Scripture in Bunong were published before the war but these were only available in Roman script – understandable to the Bunong in Vietnam but not to those in Cambodia, who use Khmer script.

So Mr Nhernh and other Bunong evangelists in Cambodia were sharing the Gospel by simply telling people the story of Jesus. Later, people began writing out the few Bunong Scripture booklets that were available into Khmer script so that these could be shared more widely with Cambodian Bunong people.

The two decades of communist rule that followed the war were very difficult for the Church in Cambodia, particularly for ethnic minorities like the Bunong. But Christianity grew steadily, and today, around 10% of Cambodia’s Bunong people are Christians. (Around 75% of the Bunong in Vietnam are Christians.)

50 years after the first attempt

This May, around 50 years after the first attempt to translate the Scriptures into Bunong was stopped by war, the Bunong people of Cambodia and Vietnam will finally receive the very first New Testament in their language. Undertaken by Vietnam Parntership, the Bible Society in Cambodia and SIL, it will be printed in both Khmer and Roman scripts.

Are Bunong Christians looking forward to getting the first New Testament in their language? The look of delight on the face of 93-year-old Tot Nhernh when he thinks about holding it in his hands says it all!