Written by Rev Zheng Biqing and translated by Tania Ng on 7 August
A simple fishing village that rose exponentially to the world’s sixth largest financial centre, one of the world’s top three oil export refining centres and the world’s seventh greenest city. Singapore’s national building story was not a given transformation from an ugly duckling to a beautiful swan. It was the hard work of a group of forefathers who built a just society with the conscience that the Creator God had placed in the hearts of men.
At the end of the 19th Century, this first batch of Chinese immigrants sailed far from China to here. Amongst them were businessmen, teachers and many of which were the working class who had received little education. Some of this working class laboured at the pier as coolies, while others set out to sea to fish or worked as rickshaw pullers. Still some laboured as samsui women (women wearing the red bandana). To eke out a living, many left their families in Tangshan (China) and worked hard. Scrimping and saving to send their hard-earned money back to their hometown. This formed a resilient work force that provided early Singapore a way of survival – a harbour for entrepot trade.
God had mercy upon them and placed charity into the hearts of a few wealthy businessmen. These businessmen stepped out and built the Thong Chai Medical Institution, Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution etc to provide the poor with free medical treatment. This brought comfort and hope to many in the tough days of Singapore.
God also blessed them with many offspring, families with more than 10 children was a common sight. Selfless love saw them taking on 2 to 3 jobs, this money was not for their own personal enjoyment but for their children to have a new shirt each year, some meat to eat on festive day and more importantly the opportunity to learn how to read and write. They knew that education is the foundation of a strong home and therefore a strong nation.
God answered the desires of their heart and excellent education institutions such as Chinese High Schooland Nanyang Girls’ High School were established. When the first overseas Chinese university – Nanyang University was established, it was the pride of the Chinese immigrant community. The university was established with the money raised from the united efforts of wealthy businessmen and the labouring masses. From then onwards, even the poor could have an opportunity at higher education!
Their next generation not only benefited from an excellent education, but also inherited a rich Chinese cultural heritage. Our forefathers held on to the Chinese traditions despite impoverishment, such as keeping the paying respects to ancestors during Qing Ming, wrapping dumplings during the Duan Wu Festival, enjoying the moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival, having glutinous rice flour dumplings during the Winter Solstice Festival, Chinese New Year reunion dinner etc.
What is more amazing was that God raised up a group of greatly talented political leaders such as Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, Dr Goh Keng Swee, Mr. Rajaratnam to build an incorruptible and efficient government for Him. At the same time, He also raised a pool of greatly gifted servants to expand His Kingdom in Singapore. In 1935, God sent evangelist Reverend John Sung to Singapore and as a result many youths were revived by the word of God who dedicated their whole lives into building churches for Christ. Among them were the founding members of the Bible Presbyterian Church in Singapore – Reverend Timothy Tow and Reverend Quek Kiok Chiang. Thank God that His mighty hand has prospered both the economy and the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Singapore.
The Singapore Story is the manifestation of our Creator’s will to mankind: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
O Sons and daughters of God, what the Lord requires of you is to be faithful in your position to the Word. Continue steering Singapore on the path of righteousness, that this land may be filled with people of God and intercessions for this nation may increase, so that in this crooked and depraved generation, may divine blessing continues to shower Singapore!