Pastoral 2016

Gethsemane Encouragers’ Ministry (GEM)

Written by Mah Chin Kwang Sunday, 28 February 2016

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One of the most definitive passages in Scripture that set forth the importance of, the mandate for and the command for all believers to be encouragers is found in Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians – “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Just to provoke us to internalise these thoughts, allow me to ask a pointed question: “If our God (“the God of all comfort”) had indeed comforted us in our past trials, how can we not want to joyfully comfort others who need to be comforted?”

These two verses, as with many portions of Scripture, remind us that all of us at some point in time will have trials, difficulties, pains and sorrows in life. That is the time when comfort and encouragement are most needed. However, such times of need are not perpetual; they will certainly pass, by God’s sustaining grace. In fact, suffering believers as such are being prepared by the Lord, that they may emerge from their difficulties that much stronger in Him and be ready to render encouragement to others. It is this conviction that led leaders of our church to establish the Gethsemane Encouragers’ Ministry (GEM), one of the earliest ministries of the church which began some twenty years ago.

Praise God for brethren in our midst who have joyfully come forward to serve in the committee which plans and coordinates initiatives to encourage one another in the church. The 7-member GEM Committee presently comprises Eld Mah, Dn Kelvin Lim, Sisters Gina Sim, Jenn Lee, Kamala, Kim Lei, and Melissa Mah. Do pray that the Lord will grant them His grace to enable each to serve joyfully, amidst their many other commitments in the church and family. However, the ministry of encouraging others is not left to them alone. We praise God that over time, many have been involved. As the Lord leads, may more brethren joyfully share in this blessed service.

How can we encourage others? A sincere visit to the aged, the lonely, the troubled, the sick at home or in the hospital certainly will bring no small comfort and will be largely appreciated. However, these are not the only avenues of encouragement. If we see encouragement as coming alongside the needy brethren to offer our time in fellowship or in praying and praising God together, or to give a timely word of godly counsel, or to make an appropriate gift, or to disseminate their praise and prayer items through the church hotline, then there certainly is no lack of opportunities to encourage others in our church. Even a cheerful and sincere greeting is in itself a most welcomed expression of encouragement for one another!

On top of this, we could certainly participate in the church’s various ministries, events and initiatives, some of which are already in place and some others to be held from time to time. The GEM Committee will continue to plan and coordinate ad-hoc events (as they did in the past), like hosting informal gatherings with newcomers, mission trips, missionary conferences and Christmas carolling programmes, which serve as further avenues for brethren to be engaged in the mutually edifying ministry of encouraging one another in the Lord.

As our church grows in numbers, there is an increasing need for brethren to be comforted and encouraged. May every believer see it as his or her joy to “bear … one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), for the glory of the Lord Jesus’ Name.

 

Mutually Edifying Speech
Prabhudas Koshy

God’s people are exhorted to use their God-given ability of speech to encourage and edify one another, not to corrupt and hurt others. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). The Greek word for “corrupt” denotes that which is putrid, rotten and hence corrupting, defiling and injurious. Corrupt communication is manifested in vulgar / profane exclamations, foolish talking, filthy conversation, profane oaths, lies, angry utterances, ridicule, hurtful words, curses, threatenings, gossips, slanders, false accusations, boastings, flattery, misleading advice, false teachings, unwholesome / filthy songs, etc.

Corrupt communication can easily occur even in churches. Not only new Christians, but also matured believers, have been overtaken by this sin. Since bad speech is an expression of defiled thoughts and feelings (cf. Matthew 15:18), we must be watchful against falling into this unsavoury conduct by cleansing our hearts and minds constantly, and keeping them from being defiled. We must also avoid the company of people who engage in evil communication. “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Godly men will be cautious of what they say. May our prayer be: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Merely refraining from corrupt speech is not good enough; good speech is encouraged. Paul advises Christians to see that their words are well-chosen so that they edify others. The Greek word for “edifying” (oikodómēsis) denotes the act of building a house. Paul uses it to indicate spiritual nurture or advancement. We seek, through our speech, to build one another up. By relating our testimony of salvation and sharing the Gospel of Christ with the unsaved, we can point some souls to the Saviour. Through friendly discussions, we can impart God’s truths to the young in faith so that they may grow in the knowledge of God’s Word. We can comfort the weary and sad with God’s promises. We can also prevent some from going astray by providing timely and wise advice. Besides, we can correct and restore those who have erred in their ways by admonishing them in love.

Great spiritual disaster will come upon our church, friends and family members, if we choose not to speak when there is a need to do so. Where there is a lack of godly conversation, the unhindered growth of spiritual maladies will take root and fester. So, let us strive to “minister grace unto the hearers”, by speaking with wisdom and grace to impart spiritual blessings and protection to others. ■