One of the things that I love about travelling, especially overseas, is visiting churches. Mind you, I don’t just walk into any old church simply because you never know what you are what you are going to get or whether the church is actually Christian (and I have stepped into some shockers in my time – the church in Woomera was a classic example). Anyway, I do like to do my research, and when I asked a few friends about a church in Singapore the response was always ‘Adam Road Presbyterian Church‘. Well, I was regularly attending a Presbyterian Church here in Melbourne (until I moved that is), so I was pretty confident that I was going to find a good church that would faithfully teach the Bible.
So, the first thing I did was to go to their website, though for some reason I had the impression that their main service was going to start at 10:00 am (probably because that is when the morning service at the two churches I attend in Melbourne begin), however it turned out to be 11:30 am, which was actually really convenient, especially since I discovered that the train took the round-a-bout route to get there (or rather I had to catch two trains to get there from my hotel). Also in my research I noticed that the Singapore Bible College was located nearby, and a part of me was thinking that the church was a part of the Bible College (however as far as I am aware it is not). It got a little more confusing as I was walking up Adam Road to discover not one, not two, not three, but five churches (and a Bible college) all next to each other (including another Presbyterian Church). Fortunately I had done my research so I knew which church I was seeking.
One of the great things about going to a church in another country is seeing how multi-national Christianity really is. I’ve done that in Hong Kong and I have now done that in Singapore (Greece doesn’t count because the church that I went to there was geared towards holiday makers and expatriates – and there were mostly Americans at the church at the time, some of them missionaries – ahh the thought of being a missionary in Greece). Anyway, it is amazing to see how the church is spreading throughout Asia and how he gospel is taking root. Even though Singapore was originally a British Colony (much like Hong Kong) it is heart warming to see how the locals are becoming Christians while the west seems to be deserting it in droves. In fact they mentioned that the Christian population in Singapore is between 18-20%, which is huge. Okay, that is the number that people in Australia claim to be Christian, but that number is made up of people who claim to be Christian, but the only reason they make that claim is because they went to church at one stage, and might walk into one twice a year (usually Christmas and Easter).
It was a little confusing at first because most churches that I have been to tend to be in purpose built halls, while Adam Road happened to be in a five story building with the worship hall on the third floor. Fortunately somebody kindly showed me how to get there, and one can imagine my surprise when I was handed the leaflet to discover that the pastor was preaching on Revelation 6 & 7 (the part which includes the four horsemen). This was going to be interesting, especially since a lot of churches shy away from that book because it is too hard, or pay way too much attention to it (and end up turning it into a detailed outline of how the world is going to end, such as they did with the Left Behind Series). Okay, I have been to churches that have looked at Revelation and explained it in a way that didn’t unfold as a prediction of the end times, but I still tend to be quite wary. As it turned out this was the case with Adam Road – the sermon was faithful to the text and was a very intelligent and well thought out exposition was what is understandably a very difficult part of the Bible.
I must say that the sermon was much longer than what I am used to here in Australia. Most churches that I have visited generally limit their sermons to twenty minutes and stick to the ‘three points and a prayer’ structure. However this was a much different experience in that the pastor not only delved into the passage, but also reminded us of how God was working in our lives, and in particular how we were receiving a taste of what heaven would be like on a daily basis. Sure, the passage opens with images of war, and how conquerors will arise and declare war, which in turn leads to famine, disease, and death, and that Christians will inevitably get caught up in the wars and face martyrdom. However he reminded us that amongst all this turmoil there are islands of peace and times when we catch glimpses of heaven.
To the pastor one such time was the carnival they had the day before. Since this year Singapore is celebrating 50 years as an independent nation, Adam Road decided to put on a carnival as a part of this celebration. As well as games and food (Singapore is famous for its food), we were told how everything fell into place, and even the President of Singapore made mention that ironically the same chef who cooked the meal at his first wedding anniversary was present at the carnival preparing the same dishes.
This seems to be a theme that runs through this church – seeking peace in the midst of turmoil. They handed me a booklet that outlined the church’s goals for the year when they asked all visitors to identify themselves (something that I am always hesitant to do since I generally like to remain hidden in the back, but then again I did sort of stand out – especially since I am quite tall, and one of the deacons and his wife came and introduced themselves to me, and then indicated that I was also a visitor). They seek to eschew the ‘us and them’ mentality and to create a welcoming community where people work together to get things done, even the little things such as parking cars. In fact the whole years program was outlined in this little booklet, as well as all the ministries and projects. In fact Adam Road makes sure that the needs of everybody, from the cradle to the grave, and from the seekers to the mature Christians are met.
It was also interesting looking through the booklet to see that there were a lot of familiar names connected to the church, including a children’s event where the Australian singer Colin Buchanan is performing, as well as the former Dean of St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney, Phillip Jensen (I have known of Phillip Jensen since back in my university days and I must admit that I have always enjoyed a Phillip Jensen sermon). Seeing familiar faces and names grace the pages of the churches literature (as well as songs that we sing back home) all go together to paint a picture of a trustworthy church. As such, I will have to add my own experience to those friends of mine that suggested that I come here, and that is that I do highly recommend worshipping here if you happen to be in Singapore on a Sunday.
Adam Road Presbyterian – Christianity in Singapore by David Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me.