Trip Report – 2016 (Bali, Singapore, Malaysia)

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Romans 10:17-18


I.         My trips to the South Asian islands started in 2013.

            A.        I had been studying with a young man in the National University of Singapore for several years via Skype. He had asked me repeatedly to come hold a meeting in Singapore and things worked out for me to come in 2013.

            B.        That same year I had began studying with a young man on the island of Bali in Indonesia. Pieter decided to become a New Testament Christian, but there were no churches on that island. The nearest church was 1.5 hours away by plane and people weren’t certain it still existed. Pieter was baptized by a denominational preacher.

            C.        After my meeting in Singapore, Minghui and I went down to Bali to talk to Pieter. The studies went very well. A few weeks later Ed Brand was in Singapore. Minghui invited Pieter up and Pieter’s sister joined him. After talking with Ed, Mia decided to be baptized and Pieter decided to be baptized again to make sure his baptism was done correctly.

            D.        Both Ed Brand and Bob Buchanan started regular visits to Bali.

            E.        Since that time the group has expanded to include Pieter’s brother, Marco; his father; his business partner, Marlen; and her sister, Ria.

            F.        A liberal group did start in Bali in 2014, but it is over an hour away from where Pieter lives, so they decided to try and get a church going in Kuta.

II.        Bali

            A.        Kuta, on the island of Bali in Indonesia, is a tourist town. Bali is surrounded by long beaches which draws many people from around the world. There are about 2 million people in the Denpasar area, of which Kuta is one suburb.

                        1.         While Indonesia is a Muslim country, Bali is primarily Hindu. 85% of the island’s population is Hindu, 13% are Muslim, and only 1.5% claim to be some sort of Christian.

                        2.         Hindu idols and temples are everywhere

                        3.         Because it is a tourist town, English is commonly spoken as a second language.

            B.        For the six days I was there, the typical schedule was:

                        1.         8 am Breakfast in the hotel

                        2.         9 am Study

                        3.         10:30 am Pieter and Marlen left for work

                        4.         4:30 pm Study

                        5.         5:30 pm Dinner

                        6.         7-9 pm Study

            C.        Typically I first address questions that they have from their own studies and then go into a deeper study. For this trip I selected a series on the nature of God.

                        1.         On Wednesday morning we discussed Romans 1-9, especially chapters 1, 2, 7, and 9 since Pieter and Marlen had questions in these chapters.

                                    a.         My emphasis was on understanding the context to help grasp a difficult verse.

                                    b.         Wednesday afternoon we studied about God being our Creator and what that implies for us.

                                    c.         We didn’t have a study Wednesday evening since Pieter had school to attend.

                        2.         On Thursday Martine joined our study. She had previously studied with Ed Brand when he was there about a month ago.

                                    a.         Pieter had taken a taxi and in chatting with the driver found out that he was a preacher at an Assemblies of God congregation. Pieter mentioned that Ed Brand was coming soon and the preacher invited Ed to come speak to his congregation. He was well received and from that meeting Martina wanted to learn more.

                                    b.         She had been baptized in the Assemblies of God, but confession wasn’t included. So we studied what we must do to be saved and she decided she wanted to be baptized that afternoon after she went home for some clothes. That baptism took place in the hotel’s swimming pool that afternoon.

                                    c.         During the afternoon study Peter wanted to know what it meant that Christians would judge the world (I Corinthians 6:2). Martina wanted to know about the sin leading to death (I John 5:16-17).

                                    d.         In the evening we finished the study on God being our Creator and did another study on God being Holy. We end with going over the books of the Old Testament and how they are organized.

                        3.         On Friday the morning study was with Pieter and Marlen. We covered questions Pieter had about I Corinthians.

                                    a.         The afternoon study and evening studies included Martina. We talked about marriage, divorce, and the wife's role in marriage.

                        4.         On Saturday, in the morning we studied how we treat God as holy.

                                    a.         The afternoon study was about excellence in a wife. I also taught them two songs and showed them how music is read. I also went over the grouping of the books in the New Testament.

                                    b.         While driving to where we ate dinner and back we discussed whether good people can be saved without Christ, whether we will know each other in heaven, and the thousand year reign of Christ.

                                    c.         In the evening we talked about instilling responsibility in our children.

                        5.         On Sunday we had worship and I talked about how God cannot lie.

                                    a.         We spent the afternoon exploring a section of Denpasar

                                    b.         After dinner we had one last study session. Unfortunately, I forgot to write down the topics covered.

III.       Singapore

            A.        Is an island nation with a population of about 5 million. Think of it as being like New York city, only very clean and safe.

                        1.         Four official languages are spoken: English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and Tamil.

                        2.         The entire country is one large city. There are no farms. Everything is imported.

                        3.         It is the fourth largest financial center in the world and in the top five busiest ports in the world. It is basically a merchant city.

                        4.         It is also a very rich population – one out of every six people there are millionaires

                        5.         Its wealth and culture makes it difficult to teach there. People are polite, but they strongly avoid confrontation. They won’t tell you no or disagree, they just avoid you or not come

            B.        The basic schedule here was to meet with Emiko and Lilian in the afternoons for a few hours then in the late evening I met with Lifu, a student at the university that I met the first year I was in Singapore and with whom I studied with weekly every since via Skype.

                        1.         On Monday afternoon we talked about how to respond to someone who asks why God allows suffering.

                        2.         On Tuesday Lilian brought a friend and we finished our discussion on why bad things happen to good people. We also started talking about the book of James.

                        3.         On Wednesday we talked about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and how to teach people the gospel

                        4.         With Lifu, we continued our study of Revelation each night.

                        5.         On Thursday the only meeting scheduled was attending a class at the Lavender Church of Christ, where they where just beginning a study of I Thessalonians.

                                    a.         Only six other people were there, despite that Lavender is supposed to be a fair size congregation.

                                    b.         Emiko asked about scheduling me for a meeting there next year, but she was told that one man does the scheduling and that if he agrees, it has to be planned many months in advance. I suspect that they will simply stonewall. None of the churches in Singapore like conservative preachers.

            C.        Lilian and Emiko are talking about possibly getting with one of the men who is more sound and starting a church.

IV.      Malaysia

            A.        Koto Kinabalu is a city in the Sabah region on the island we call Borneo. The island is divided between three countries.

                        1.         The population of the city is about 450,000

                        2.         The main religions are Muslim, Buddhists, and Christians. There has been some violence against the Catholics here by the Muslims.

                        3.         The city is not as densely packed as Kuta or Singapore

            B.        The church in Malaysia was started by Nicholas Rowe and his wife Justina. They were converted in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, back in the 1980's when Nicholas came here for college. Nicholas also attended Florida College to learn more before returning to Malaysia.

            C.        Daily schedule:

                        1.         6 am brisk walk

                        2.         7 am breakfast

                        3.         8 am study

                        4.         9 am study

                        5.         11 am lunch

                        6.         Free time in the afternoon

                        7.         6 pm dinner

                        8.         8 pm study

            D.        On Friday I introduced several members of the congregation to shaped note music. They were using Hymns for Worship, but never really knew what the shaped notes were for.

                        1.         We studied God being our Creator and what that implies about us and our worship of God

                        2.         Afterwards, I was asked: Were there other created people beyond Adam and Eve? Was Adam a combination of both male and female? We also talked about how to answer questions in general and what to watch for in questions.

            E.        On Saturday, we studied about God being holy and our need to treat God as holy and be holy ourselves.

                        1.         In the afternoon I taught several a bit more about singing and introduced them to old songs that are new to the Christians here.

                        2.         In the evening we talked about the fact that God cannot lie and its implications for us.

            F.        On Sunday, during worship, I taught three lessons in a row: God Is Love, Gentle Cords and Bands of Love, and The God of Justice.

                        1.         In the afternoon I taught a bit about proper breathing and paying attention to the punctuation. Taught a few more songs.

                        2.         In the evening I taught on My God of Mercy.

            G.        On Monday morning I taught: King of Kings, and The Lord is a Jealous God.

                        1.         The ladies gave me a list of questions that we covered in the afternoon:

                                    a.         Can we communicate with the dead to ask forgiveness if we haven’t asked before he or she died?

                                    b.         Can we associate with a Christian and family members who left the church?

                                    c.         Can we continue to talk to family and friends who refuse to listen and stay away from you?

                                    d.         What do you do when a family relationship is broken because of your religion?

                                    e.         How do parents deal with growing children, teenagers, and spouses who get involved in alcohol, smoking or drugs?

                                    f.         How do you avoid quarrels about religion with family members who are not Christians?

                        2.         In the evening I presented my final lesson: The Eternal God.

V.        There are good Christians in each of these locations, eager to learn more of the truth. They need encouragement because they are isolated by geography.

            A.        Fortunately there are several preachers now providing periodic visits: Bob Buchanan, Edward Brand, and myself. Each of us teach the same doctrine but in different ways which is good for the local Christians.

            B.        What is need is for other Christians to also visit.

                        1.         To see and learn from Christians who are not preachers. There is a bit too much awe of preachers

                        2.         To learn to participate

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