I first heard about the “glad and sweet tidings of the gospel” from cousins on the Malaysian Foochow side of my family, who are based in Sitiawan (which I heard only a few months back bears the moniker of “Pastors Town”). The cousins are second-generation Christians, whose mums (two of my maternal aunts) were converted when they married into Christian families. So, reading this has made me froth over with tears and gratitude:
In 1903, Dr Henry Luering of the Methodist Church was sent by the Perak government to Foochow to recruit volunteers to come and open up 2,500 acres of virgin land that the government had set aside at Sitiawan. The whole scheme would be financed by an interest-free loan. Dr Luering managed to recruit 500 volunteers; 17 died from cholera en route, 28 deserted the boat at Singapore, but the rest landed at Lumut. Like their Sarawakan counterparts, the new arrivals lost no time in getting to work. Land was cleared; schools, orphanages, clinics and houses were built. A church with 90 full members and 350 probationers was organised. By 1905, over 20,000 trees had been planted and the farmers had over $10,000 worth of live-stock. In subsequent years, hundreds of others came and by the time the settlement celebrated its Jubilee, the original church had multiplied to eight, with another five new ones in the process of being set up.
(From In His Good Time: The Story of the Church in Singapore 1819–2002 3rd Edition by Bobby EK Sng, p. 170)
Tears for (again and always!) the perfect timing, and gratitude for the absolute sovereignty of God beyond our ken and the faith and fortitude of those 500 volunteers.
It’s been said that God has no grandchildren, yes — you don’t become a follower of Christ just by virtue of your parents being so — but to be given a glimpse of how the line of faith zig-zags through history and my ancestors by blood is a precious gift indeed!
(I love how schoolwork transforms to worship.)