Remembering our Founding Pastor – What will you leave behind?

Dear BPCWAians, To those who have been with BPCWA for many years, the news of the homegoing of Dr Tow Siang Hwa, our founding Pastor, may have been met with sadness at the loss of a man who had become dear to many of us. Funerals are times when many memories are evoked. Many remember the precious memories and times shared with Dr Tow.

Remembering the vigil and home going services. At the Sunday night service, Rev Quek exhorted from Phil 1:20-27, of how Dr Tow chose to live for Christ despite the beckoning of the world and success. Also, despite weakening health, he was willing to go on the stand in the courts to defend the Far Eastern Bible College against attacks. On Monday night, Rev Khoo aptly preached from John 3:1-7, reminding his audience that while Dr Tow was instrumental in delivering many babies into the world physically, his greater passion was for the spiritual birth of those he came into contact with. At the Homegoing Service before burial, Rev Quek spoke from 2 Cor 5:1-6. He reminisced about a strong and energetic Dr Tow who bound up the stage for much of his life. But how, in recent years, he saw that strength sapped as he wound towards the end of his life. But with the assurance of salvation, when Dr Tow closed his eyes upon this life on earth, he was immediately translated into the heavenly realms in his Saviour’s presence. Dear reader, do you have that confidence, are you sure where you will be spending eternity? Or is it all just a religion to you? Be very sure, believe and receive the Lord Jesus Christ now as your Saviour.

Remembering his labour for God’s church. On the shelves of our church lie a series of hymnbooks – Revival Hymns and Choruses. This series was compiled by Dr Tow. I recall asking him about it at one of my meetings, and he told me how he put it together by going through many, many hymns and hymnbooks over nights and nights. God gifted Dr Tow with a passion for writing. He cultivated a disciplined regime of precise writing in his daily life that he maintained studiously. During such times, he studied diligently and wrote books in defense of the faith. One of these is entitled “Beyond Versions”, explaining in a simple but clear manner the real problem about the modern English versions in use today. But the memory of a zealous worker  for the Lord will probably be most vivid in the minds of many  at BPCWA. His trips here even while he was in his late 80s would be a hive of activity that would leave many younger ones breathless. Typically coming over the Easter weekend, he would arrive in time for Good Friday Worship, preach at Easter Sunrise Service, conduct baptisms or membership transfers during Easter Worship, and attend the Anniversary Dinner in the evening. Having setup BPCWA more than 30 years ago as a mission church of Calvary Pandan Bible-Presbyterian Church, visiting and ministering here over many years, he was very close to many of us here. I particularly remember him leaving a dinner venue at his final trip here. Realizing his increasing frailty, many were hanging around and talking to him at the carpark, reluctant for him to leave. He was also a man with a high regard for the reverential worship of God, and would not hesitate to reprimand – from the pulpit – latecomers or children creating too much of a disturbance as they scrambled off for Junior Worship classes. He was a man in a generation that was raised in the reverential fear of God, disciplined in all aspects of his life, given to much reading and study of God’s Word, and strongly committed to put in his best with every ounce of energy and every bit of time that he was given. In the eulogy, Dr Tow’s daughter attested that her father always taught them not to waste time. I wonder, as I see such men pass into eternity, if we in our generation and in future generations will see and raise men who are as committed and sacrificial to doing well for our Lord? As we bemoan the loss of such men, we must be willing to pay the price for such commitment ourselves, in whatever areas of service God puts in our hand to do. It is not just about a brilliant mind. It is about your stalwart commitment to return to the Lord of your all, which came first from the Lord. Serving God comes at no easy cost as Dr Tow has shown us by his life. Good fruit comes with much  sweat and toil and pruning.  The negligent gardener deserves a poor harvest and should expect nothing more. May BPCWA be found to be a faithful householder in the Lord’s vineyard.

Rededicating ourselves for God’s work. 93 years may seem like a long time in the eyes of many. But yet, in the blink of an eye, the Psalmist says in Ps 39:5 “Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.” What is this in the face of eternity? Fame and fortune must all be left behind when the time appointed by God is up. Worldly accolades and records mean nothing when your eyes close on this life and open on the other side of eternity. Are you spending these short years that you have in this life serving the gods of this world? Will you rest on your beds of ease and leave others to forward the faith, content for the truth and proclaim His gospel? A generation of men that God have raised have finished their course. We have a faithful church that teaches the truth today because men before us have been faithful to our Saviour to stand up and fight for Him. Will we defect when we are called to fight the battle for Him? Dr Tow aptly wrote, and lived the following:

Go on and sow in tears, For God our strength employs;

He is our strength and tower strong, Soon we shall reap in joy!

Pass on the torch of God, To faithful men pass on!

Hold fast the mighty Word of God, Until He comes, press on!

As we close off the chapter in our Founding Pastor’s life, the torch now lies with the few sound churches left standing. But we must realize that it is not about Dr Tow, nor about us, nor even for our children. Ultimately, for every church, that torch is to reflect the Light of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ. Men will come, men will go. Illness, weakness, death is sure. That is the fate and certainty of every man. How we will spend our life is what ultimately matters. Will we be faithful to the charge left to us in our generation? How bright will be the torch that we will pass on when the time of our life’s work has finished? Today, will you join us to rededicate the remaining years of your life back to Him who has redeemed you by His Blood? The work of the church is not just the work of one man. It is the work of all of God’s redeemed. I close off with Dr Tow’s words taken from the 60th Anniversary of the BP movement “Christians and churches everywhere are falling away – casualty  to the end time apostasy, B-Ps are not excepted, sadly… But final victory is never in doubt: our Lord is ever victorious. Reader, stay faithful to the Lord! His Word promises: ‘When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him’ (Isaiah 59:19). Come, rally to His standard! Stand with Him, and fight for Him! For now is our salvation – final victory – nearer than when we began, nearer by sixty years. God raise up faithful and valiant men and women now! There may not be another sixty years.”

When someone leaves this world, some remember the person’s achievements of this world, the accolades, and the successes. However, these will fade as others will achieve more than them after the such ones leaves. At the end of the day, at the end of your life, what will you be remembered for? Will you be remembered for your spiritual testimony for our Lord, like our Founding Pastor is now remembered?

Yours in our Lord’s service