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Synod Missions
Jun 2015

Synod Missions Feature: Ministry in Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom

Rev. Charles Chua from The Presbyterian Church in Singapore is ministering to 2 Chapels of The Presbyterian Church of Wales in Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom. He is their Mission Enabler/Minister for over 12 years now under the partnership arrangement of the Council for World Mission (CWM). Together with his wife, Molly, they have been mobilizing the elderly congregations to reach out to local Welsh people and international students from over 20 nations studying at the local Universities and College. Their daughter, Annabel, aged 18 is presently in London doing first year Media & Communications at London College of Communication.

The Presbyterian Church of Wales is one of the largest Christian denominations in Wales, with some 24,000 members and 620 churches. Presently the Church has around 45 ministers and 30 Christian workers. It also owns and runs two training centres, Coleg y Bala and Coleg Trefeca, and has strong links with other Church and Denominations, particularly with its 'daughter' church, The Presbyterian Church of India.

The churches, generally, are on the decline and it is quite common to have a pastor serving 5-10 local congregations. Any typical congregation size would vary between twenty to thirty elderly members. Coupled with this challenge is the resistance to the Gospel by the younger generations. Prayers have been offered to the Lord and creative approaches & new ways of doing church are being carried out to reverse the trend.

At Argyle & Rhyddings Park Presbyterian Church (ARPC), with the Lord's help, Rev. Charles and Molly were able to break into the two local tertiary institutions. "English Corner" was started in 2003 for University students, mostly from China at their request and God provided willing local church leaders & other volunteers to coach overseas students in the English language. A breakthrough came in 2003 when two Chinese students professed faith in Christ and were baptized. The church leaders were moved to tears as there was not an adult baptism for the past 40 years. Since then, the Lord has advanced the work and ministry. Many more international students came to know Christ as they were initially invited to the Chua's home for a meal. As the Chuas opened their lives to these students, they witnessed a Christian family in actions. In another words, they were closely observed in their talk and their walk. Soon, Bible Studies took place and the Gospel was explained more fully. Consequently many Gospel seeds were sown and praise God for the many who have come to the saving knowledge of Christ.

Today, ARPC is still running the "English Corner" and reaching out to International and British students. It has 35 church members and Sunday Worship is attended by 2/3 non-British worshippers. On average about 45 younger people attend weekly Bible Studies at the Manse. A home-cooked meal is served before each Bible Study making it a home to many overseas students.

The second chapel led by Rev. Chua is Tabernacle Chapel in Gorseinon. It is the grand-daughter church of the renowned 1904 Revival Chapel, the now sparsely attended Moriah Chapel in Loughor.

Tabernacle presently has a small membership of 11 as many elderly members have passed away the last 12 years. But it has a big heart and vision for the community.

Three years ago after a critical review, we were seriously considering eventually closing this Chapel as our membership then has dropped to 8 people! A few options were considered. But in God's sovereign mercy & providence, a young Welsh couple was available and willing to come under CWM's Mission Support Programme. Tim & Sam Hodgins came under Rev. Chua's mentoring and guidance to do mission outreach to the community. Together with the members we sought ways to be a blessing to our community. We embarked on a few "risky" endeavours trusting God to bring people from the community to our Chapel.

Every Friday, Coffee Morning is hosted in Chapel. On average 15 to 20 people would come in for free drinks, cakes, toasties and a chat. We have made many new friends and some have started to come to Sunday Services and other church's organized activities.

"Slimming Wales" has been using our Chapel since February 2013. Contacts and conversations are being built on and different ladies have some Christian inputs deposited into their lives. Through those interactions some ladies have brought their families to our monthly "Messy Church" that is held in our Chapel. This outreach ministry took off in October 2013 and has been reaching many young families from the community. Thank God for the many contacts with unchurched children, parents and their grandparents.

Our latest community outreach initiative took place just this February when a new & regular worshipper suggested having an Art & Painting weekly class to be held in the chapel. An average of 10 ladies have been coming since then and new contacts/friendships are being formed.

As we reflected on the last 12 years of ministry in Post-Christian UK, we note that UK has not only become a mission field but a challenging & neglected one! And God in His sovereign mercy has kept us around as we sense His specific leading in the work He has called us to do.

Other than the existing work of mission outreach and pastoral ministry, we have been given a "mentoring ministry" the last 3 years. God is sending individuals locally and from Singapore to us to mentor them in the faith and mission.

Yes indeed Swansea is a unique mission field! We have on one hand declining churches, closed church buildings, but also existing small churches that are seeking to be the church for community engagements. It is a challenging decision to be risktakers as we do not want to be just caretakers and eventually undertakers of our chapels! We have made changes and prepare ourselves for the future. Our desire then and today remain the same: to engage and bless our community, to provide people a place to come for wholesome and constructive activities in our chapel.

We are still on our journey to bless our community and engage unchurched people. We appreciate your prayers as we seek to be a blessing to the many that come into our chapel; that they will encounter personally the Giver of all good gifts.

Note from Synod Missions: If you are interested to partner with Rev. Charles and Molly Chua to raise missionaries in your Church, please contact the Synod Missions office. We look forward to explore with you in sending missions team or interns to Wales for short term internship.

Cambodia Update

We are pleased to announce that on April 2015, the Synod Presbyterian Church in Cambodia was officially recognised by the Ministry of Religion of the Cambodian Government. All Glory be to God!

On 15 – 28 March 2015, five Cambodian Pastors came to Singapore for a 2-week attachment with The Presbyterian Church in Singapore. During the 2 weeks with us, the itinerary was packed with visits to some of our affiliated schools and organisations, including the Presbyterian Community Services, Trinity Theological College, Sarah Senior Activity Centre, Sembpres Edelweiss, Grace Orchard School, etc., met with our various ministry executives in the Synod office, attended crash courses on the Synod Constitution and Presbyterianism and observed the proceedings of our 41st Synod AGM meetings on 25th – 26th March 2015 and attended the PCS 40th Anniversary Celebration dinner on the 27th March 2015.

The five pastors wished to thank all the staffs and co-workers in The Presbyterian Church in Singapore for the generous hospitalities and encouragements to them during their 2 weeks stay in Singapore. They have been richly blessed by the faithfulness and testimonies of the leadership and staffs of the various organisations and ministries. It is our prayer that they will be inspired to explore new possibilities for their work in Cambodia, and receive God's vision for holistic outreach to their communities.

Once again, we invite all churches who are active, or interested, in reaching out Cambodia to join us in collaborative efforts for the glory of God. Call or email us at the Synod Missions office today!

Other opportunities for partnership
  • Sarawak Kindergarten: We are arranging for a missions team to Sarawak to minister to children and teachers in kindergartens that our churches are supporting. If you are interested to find out more, please contact the Synod Missions office.
  • Laos: We are exploring new missions initiative in Laos. If your Church is currently active in Laos, or interested to join us in the exploration, please contact us.

For further enquiries, please contact our Synod Missions Executive, Keet Keong, at email, 6338-7268 (office) or 9618-7220 (mobile).

Presbyterian Community Services office with Rev. David Lim

The Cambodia Working Committee with (Left to right) Rev. Teo Yew Tiong, Rev. Leow Khee Fatt and Rev. Phua Chee Seng

Trinity Theological College with Rev. Dr Leonard Wee and Rev. Yap Seok Chin

Sarah SAC with Mr Peter Soh and his staff

Sembpres Edelweiss with Rev. Eric Ang

Grace Orchard School with the Vice Principal, Mr Foong

Synod Constitution class with Rev. Tan Cheng Huat

Presbyterianism class with Rev. Peter Chan

Group Photo with Rt Rev. Dr Steven Gan at the PCS 40th Anniversary dinner


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