Interview: Serving by Leading

This article was originally posted in our Word @ Work Magazine in June 2016. 中文版.


Serving by Leading – Passion for China and Her People

Since 2011, Bethesda Frankel Estate Church (BFEC) has been partnering with the Bible Society to customise Bible Mission Trips to China. BFEC organises two to three trips each year which are always oversubscribed. Most of the tour members are in their 60-80s and are largely English-speaking. We met with Elder Ong, who at 69 is still leading and organising trips to China, to hear more about his heart for the country and her people. He shares about the needs of the Church and gives practical advice about how to organise similar Bible Mission Trips for churches, families and friends.

Share with us about your heart for China. How and when did it start?

It first started in 1989 when I went with a friend to Xiamen to distribute Bibles through Every Home Crusade. It was there that I saw the need for Bibles in China.

Your tour members are largely English-speaking. How is it like communicating with the Chinese communities you visit?

We attach a person to those who can’t speak or understand Mandarin when interacting with the local believers. Language is not a barrier. People need to step out of the preconceived idea that they cannot communicate without knowing the language.

Why are the tour members interested in the work in China?

I believe that as English-speaking Chinese, they have a certain longing to learn more about China and go back to their roots. Also, they have heard a lot about China and the Chinese believers' passion for the Lord – they wanted to see the churches' condition in rural areas. We are so blessed as Singaporeans and we hope to give to the poor in our plenty.

The members keep coming back for the trips. Any idea why?

Firstly, they see the needs and experience the joy of giving a Bible to someone. They witness the tears trickle down upon giving the Bible – the locals really long to have a Bible of their own. Secondly, it helps them to reflect on their faith when they see how the people take God’s Word seriously and pray fervently. The locals come to church as early as 5am by cycling, walking or by bus even though the service starts at 8am! Lastly, the members feel welcomed by the church who would prepare hearty home-cooked meals for them after every service.

Share with us some things you do on each trip.

Before the trip, we assign duties to every member of the team so that all are involved – even in simple roles like the numbering of people, their luggage, to who does devotion or presents the gifts. We debrief after each location to hear fresh reflections from the members.

Bible distribution is an important element in the trip and we ensure that each member gets to personally hand the Bible to the recipients. We also meet up with the local Christian council, visit seminaries and Sunday schools at churches, minister to the disadvantaged and help out in medical work. During our interactions, we share God’s love. On many occasions, members of the group were moved to help the locals when they saw the needs.

What are some of the challenges you face when leading the trips?

It’s a challenge to plan the programme so that it’s suitable for people of different age groupS. I go for each trip with fear and trembling because I am responsible for the big group. I really ask everybody to pray for safety and protection. We also have to be careful not to spoil the work that has already been done, as representatives of the Bible Society.

How does your team raise funds to attend the trip and even give towards the Bible mission?

Since this trip is about the Bible mission, each member is committed to contribute an additional $300 on top of trip expenses to support the work. Our church is very supportive. Though they are not travelling with us, members prepare food to raise funds for each trip.

Any words to encourage others to attend Bible Mission Trips or organise trips to serve the needy?

Take the first trip – no amount of words can explain the personal experience! You will experience God in every step you take, from finances to every matter involved.

If you desire to do outreach in China, join us on our trips and learn how to lead!
























Bible Miracle in China

This article was first published in the March 2013 issue of Word@Work.

35 years ago, printing a Bible in China was illegal. But in 2012, Amity Printing Company (APC) in Nanjing celebrated their 100 millionth Bible. China officially became the world’s largest Bible printer.

Many lives have been impacted through APC’s publishing of God’s Word in people’s heart language.

One example is Wang Hai, 29, from the Miao ethnic group. He now distributes Bibles to others in Yunnan.

“My body may ache after riding long distances but my heart is happy,” says Wang who is glad to be God’s tool of service.

This Bible miracle started in 1988 as a joint venture between Amity Foundation and the United Bible Societies (UBS), with a mission and priority to serve the Church in China. On 6 November 2012, the Church in China celebrated the printing and distribution of 60 million Bibles within mainland China since the establishment of APC. Then on 8 November 2012, APC celebrated the milestone of 100 million Bibles printed since they started 24 years ago, of which 40 million are for export and 60 million for China. APC’s service has expanded to serve the global Christian community in over 70 nations.

The 60 million Bibles printed and distributed in mainland China testifies to a strong established partnership between UBS and China Christian Council and Three-Self Patriotic Movement (CCC/TSPM), encouraging God’s Word to be preached and applied throughout the nation, and the world at large.

“This feat would not have been possible if not for God’s bountiful blessings on China and the support of UBS,” Rev Gao Feng, President of the Chinese Christian Council, emphasised during his introduction of various distinguished guests from UBS – one of whom was Rt Rev John Chew, Honorary President of The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS). Other representatives of BSS who attended these historic events were Dr Lee Soo Ann, the President, and the General Secretary.

Another significant milestone is the Bible in China seminar, jointly organised by The Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS) and Centre for Studies of Religion and Culture, with the support of the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) and UBS. This seminar was attended by Chinese local academicians and church leaders to discuss the role of the Bible in modern society. This initiative highlighted the beginning of Bible advocacy efforts in China.

As Dr Lee Soo Ann says, “It is significant that the impact of Bible printing in China has gone beyond the Bible itself, to thinking about what the Bible says.”

We pray that APC’s impact will further influence the Christian faith in China to go beyond simply reading the Bible, to allow the Word to saturate the thoughts of all who read the Scripture and transform lives worldwide.

We rejoice that the Bible miracle by APC has impacted Christendom and believe as Rt Rev John Chew asserts, “If the churches and Christians both in China and globally keep faithful and focused in discerning together what the Lord intends to do… the future of China (and any others) would be unimaginable!”

Source: UBS China Partnership