Sunday was a highlight. Elim church has two services in English, and one service in Burmese (people from the country now called Myanmar). I had the honor of preaching in the two English services. My text was from Acts 3 – when Jesus heals the crippled beggar. The text teaches us that God can and does do miracles, that God’s people should pray and ask for miracles, and that miracles should always bring glory to God and not man.
In the second part of Acts 3, Peter proceeds to preach the gospel to the amazed crowd. He shares with them the blunt, terrible, and offensive truth that they killed Jesus, the Son of God, the author of life. He then proclaimed Christ’s resurrection from the dead, if they would repent of their sins, all their sin would be wiped out, and times of refreshing would come from the Lord.
As a part of this message, I shared the miraculous story of my father’s conversion at age 90. Like that beggar, my father was “crippled” from birth. His mother died in childbirth with him. His father didn’t want him. He spent the first year of his life in a hospital. He never saw a healthy marriage when he was growing up. 90 years later, God did a miracle!
If you would like to hear the whole story, please listen to or watch this message titled “Do You Not Know?” at:
After the two services here in Singapore many came forward for prayer. Those that I prayed with were asking for God to heal their bodies, bring salvation to their spouses, bring salvation to their children, set them free from addictions and more. It was a true honor to be able to preach God’s Word at Elim Church.
The spiritual needs here in Singapore, like every place in the world, are extraordinary. A spirit of materialism is rampant, as well as a dramatic spiritual battle against idolatry. When I say “idolatry” I mean real “idolatry.” In the states, when we read God’s commands against the worship of idols we then say something like, “Back in Bible times, people worshipped idols of stone and wood, today we have other idols such as money, pleasure, etc.” Well, here in Singapore, as in most parts of the world, people worship real idols. Because of the dramatic influence of Hinduism, Buddhism, Ancestor religions, and other cults, the city is filled with literal idols. Statues of all sorts of men and creatures, which are literally worshiped as gods. Yesterday, we saw a line of 10 large pickup trucks decorated with dramatic flags. Each truck was filled with people in the back surrounding an idol. They were in a trance, and transporting the idol from one place of worship to the next.
When we read our Bibles, and we see all that stuff about idol worship, it is easy to think that God’s word is old fashioned and not relevant to the modern world. Nothing could be further from the truth! The world is still filled with literal idols, and will be until Christ returns. The Bible speaks directly to all people, in all places, and in all times. Singapore is a world class, first world city. You might think that idol worship is something a culture leaves behind as it modernizes. I mean, come on, who really thinks that this little statue is a god? Millions, maybe billions, of modern, intelligent people do. Modernization does not wipe out idol worship from a culture. Christianization does. The reason we do not see rampant idol worship in the United States is because of the Christian foundation of our culture and society.
As usual, the day was not without much humor. One of my favorites was in the elevator at the church. I was already in the elevator with my friends, and a mother with a small child enters. The little boy looks up at me (6’ 5” tall) and the mommy says, “Don’t be afraid of the giant. It’s OK” I am usually one of the taller people in the room back in the states…but here…wow.
Then at lunch, my new friend, Pastor Wilson, finally got me to try some durien. He had been telling me about this extraordinary fruit, with an awful, horrific smell, and a wonderful taste. Apparently it is an expensive delicacy here. Well, at this buffet where we were eating, they were serving durien desert cakes. They were kind of like layered cake/custard squares. The cakes are much more mild than the real thing, so I thought that this would be a safe place to start. He had warned me that my entire body might give off the durien aroma for a day or so, but that it was delicious. My friend Kirk took the first bite and his eyes almost popped out of his head. I was not going to chicken out, so I proceeded to take a bite as well. It was, indeed, horrific. In all honesty, the best way to describe both the smell and the taste is gasoline. I think we could solve the world’s energy problems with durien juice. And even with that one bite, 12 hours later, it was still with me.
Lastly, on Sunday night we went to the Singapore Zoo for the night safari. First, we watched the fire eaters do their thing…which was pretty amazing. When they are done, they are all covered in lighter fluid, which does not seem very safe to me. The safari was great, with all the usual animals. Because it was night, they were all out grazing so they were easy to see. We ended the evening with a live animal show in the outdoor amphitheatre. Animals went up and down the aisles. They crawled over you on vines and ropes. I don’t think the insurance industry in the states would have been too keen on this.
At one point in the show they presenters “act” as though an animal has gotten loose in the audience, so they come running out in a panic. They come over to me and Mike and ask us to quickly move out of the way. They then lift a wooden hatch, exactly where Mike’s and my feet had been for the last 30 minutes and take out a giant boa constrictor!
Monday is our last day in Singapore, and Tuesday am we head to Kuala Lampur for our next conference.