Dear Most Revd. Dr John Chew,
I woke up this morning with a headache and bulging goldfish eyes. Not surprising because this alwayshappens when I cry a lot.
Last night, after spending more than 10 hours witnessing the battle that went on in AWARE yesterday, I took a cab home. I was finally alone, away from the maddening crowds in Suntec City. In solitude, I cried and tears continued to flow even after I got home at 1 am.
First, I cried for Josie Lau and her team. Whether I agree with the way they took over the leadership of AWARE, they were nevertheless my sisters-in-Christ. It was heart-wrenching to see how theywere attacked. They fought with their hands “tied” and with little support. The church was not behind them although it was the very set of beliefs the church taught them that they stood up for. In the meantime, the other camp had a lot of support from various factions of the society including certain international lobby groups.
At the EGM, Josie Lau and her team tried to show Christian love to a crowd who hated them. They were jeered and booed. No one gave them a chance to speak, throwing allegations at their faith and attacking their competence. Josie and her team tried to be gracious but they were not appreciated. And when they raised their voices for some law and order, they were criticized for being rude and unchristian.. It was a lose-lose situationfor Josie and her team. They had to live out a testimony of what it means to be a Christian and they were not allowed to use the same battle tactics as the opposing team who did not come to listen to reasons nor facts.
For the first time in my life, I witnessed a “massacre” of Christians.Also for the first time, I felt it was a crime to be a Christian. I suddenly understood how Jesus felt when he was on His way to Calvary.
Second, I cried for all Christians and for the Church in Singapore. I disagree with many church leaders' stand that Christians should not get involved in a secular organisation like AWARE. Aren't the organisations we work for, the schools we attend secular? We cannot hold leadership just because of our faith and beliefs belong to that of Christ? And if my Christian beliefs form the very core of who I am, whyare you asking me not to exercise them in the world I live in? How relevant then is my faith if I am asked to keep them within the four walls of the church? And we wonder why our young people abandon the faith once they leave school. We haven’t figured out?If Christians are not allowed to be involved in AWARE, who can? And since most organisations are secular,should we stay out from all of them? If not, then which secular organisations can Christians be involved in and which ones should we stay out from?Being a Christian and holding leadership position in a secular organisation like AWARE does not mean that itwill be turned into a Christian advocacy group. Josie and her team said many times that they intended forAWARE to be fully represented but nobody wanted to listen. Why? Because the other group wants the freedom to do anything and everything they desire, in the name of inclusiveness. They know that many of their beliefs and lifestyles run contrary to the teachings of Christianity. They are afraid.Do you know what it means now that AWARE's leadership has gone to the liberalists, the secularists? They now have to be pro-choice. They owe it to certain activist groups for supporting them. Being pro-choice means they are for pre-marital sex, abortion, divorce, same-sex marriage just to name a few. Yesterday, a mandate was given to them to advocate their set of beliefs. A recognised legal body that claims to represent all women, they can go into schools, homes, institutions and everywhere in Singapore to propagate their beliefs. In a democratic society, it means that they have the legal status to "infiltrate" especially now that everyone is aware that they have been "democratically" voted..Although I am certain that the government will keep an eye on this group, it means Christians can no longer hide under the umbrella of a conservative government who is under a lot of pressure to open up. We are now left to fend for ourselves. A male nominated member of parliament was at the EGM yesterday. Although it was quoted that he was there as a legal adviser to the old guards, why did he bother to get involved?Arising from this saga, what do you think is the message to all Christians? It is to "stay away from all secular organisations and keep your faith to yourself. Christians have no business propagating their faith". From now on, just saying that you are a Christian will immediately bring to mind the AWARE saga and just like how we saw the liberalists toppled Josie and her team, we will be told to shut up because we are Christians and we have no part in controversial decisions in any secular organisations we work for.It just makes living out your faith and evangelising for Christ, a key command from God, even harder from now on. And unless Christians speak up and make a stand, we will be drowned and stepped all over.As much as I understand most Churches’ position for not wanting to get involved in the AWARE saga for fear that it would taint the reputation of Christianity or that it would tread into the realm of political controversy, Iwish our spiritual leaders have stood up in unity and spoke against some of the activities, for example, the sexuality programme used by the old guards to teach our children in the schools. By steering clear completely,it is indirectly saying that we are fine even with what they were propagating.In my humble opinion, we have lost more battle grounds in yesterday’s saga. Perhaps we would have lost anyway but could we have lost less? We could even show our young what it means to live for Christ in a fallen world through some practical actions. But did we?
Third, I cried for Singapore. The government has just allowed a powerful group to set Singapore's agenda and this group will make their voices heard in the next election and perhaps even overturn some of our conservative laws.To our politicians, I seek clarification on the definition of religion and secularism and how do both of these co-exist in multi-religious Singapore. Can you actually separate one’s religious values from its expression in the public sphere in matters that concern an individual?How does one define religion anyway? They have relentlessly said that religion is very sensitive and canpotentially divide our nation. But can a set of beliefs, regardless of where they are derived, fervently held and which governs one’s life be a religion? I think so. Yesterday, I saw many people who embrace liberalism turning up in force at Suntec City in support of their beliefs. They were so united and single-minded in what they were fighting for. To me, some of them even seemed to be fighting for their right to live. To me, that was religion.I n that case, the AWARE’s saga was a fight between two religions. And in all battles, one won and one lost.We lost.Every country in the world has to be governed by some philosophy and beliefs. Politicians subscribe to certain thinking and values and laws are formulated or amended on those values. Some sorts of beliefs have to take precedent over others. Going forward, what is Singapore’s? Secular? Define it. Singapore wants to be pluralistic and accommodate everyone from all walks of life and from all over the world in our tiny island. And they want us to live happily together. But can it? Let us not forget that geographically, Singapore is very small. Unlike the United States or even Malaysia where I can choose to live in Texas if I don’t like the openness in California or Kelantan instead of Kuala Lumpur if I like to raise my family in a more conservative state respectively, I cannot do that in Singapore. And since I like my space,would I be given a choice to reject the society’s dominant values that others determine for me and for which I may choose not to embrace?
Finally, I cried for our children. We all try to raise our children to become God-fearing men and women who can be salt and light of this world. Some of us even quit our full-time jobs to stay home so that we can teach our children God’s ways. To protect our children in today’s internet age, we fight off the new media which try to influence our children. Yesterday, I tried to fight off sexuality teachings that ran contraryto God’s words. And tomorrow, I will be fighting off gamblers, drug couriers, prostitutes and gangs. Honestly,I don’t know what kind of environment or the degree of influence and temptations our children would be faced with when they grow up and when they start raising their own children. How can we make it easier for them to live out their faith? Or are we just making it tougher?As Christians participating in God’s agenda and battle, what are we lacking? Practical tools. Our churches have done a good job teaching us the biblical truth and the word of God. Most of our children have this knowledge in their heads. However, equipping them with knowledge alone is insufficient. We need to demonstrate to our children how to apply God’s truths, how to stand up for them and if need be, fight for these truths.In short, we need to show them what it means to stand up and be counted for God in a secular world, i.e. to bein this world but not of it. We had an opportunity yesterday but we missed it.In conclusion, I would like to state some facts that won’t be carried in our mainstream media. I would also like to put forth some questions for all Christians to ponder.
First and foremost, who decided to use religion and set it as an agenda in the AWARE saga?Constitutionally, Josie and her team were above board. They were elected during the AGM a month ago to take over the leadership. Like any organisation with a constitution, it was based on votes and they won on votes. Neither was the takeover sneaky. Those of us who have worked in secular organisations, and AWARE is a secular organisation, know that takeovers are never friendly. When was religion ever an issue in any secular organisational takeover?Our mainstream media, though they tried to be objective, was unfortunately not. From the start, they already knew which side they wanted to support. Why was the coverage on the event so skewed towards the winning party? Why carry so much of the winning party’s voice and why interview so many of their supporters? I did not see them going around just as excitedly in seeking the opinions of Josie’s supporters yesterday.When Dr Thio was asked by MOE to validate and substantiate her statements on Tuesday, my PR team fought against time to issue a statement to the press only to be told that they don’t intend to carry her side of the story.When Josie and her team wanted to send the media their vision and philosophy that they have crafted for AWARE, the media told them that they are not interested. Why run the churches’ stories two days and even on the eve of the EGM? Are we aware that the AWARE story was the number one world story in twitters? The other camp was made up of generally young people who are savvy with social media and they leveraged on those tools. Ninety-nine percent of those on twitters were dead against Josie and her team.Are we also aware that they have set up hate websites to hit out at Christians and all on Josie’s team? We all know that Josie received death threats. Do we also know that everyone on that team had letters or calls written to their employers asking their employers to justify their presence in the organisations? Why is it that no one spoke up about such tactics?Further, how aware are we that the other group’s supporters comprised mainly of relatively young people?These are going to be our children’s leaders or counterparts. Josie’s camp was made up of middle aged men and women who did not dress, behave or even speak the same “language” as our young today. What happened to our young Christian people? Shouldn’t they be interested in what is happening?And what about the facts regarding the sexuality programme? Are they true? For those who are unsure and would like to know what’s been propagated, I have a copy and would be happy to lend it to you for your personal reading. It contains the selected controversial pages and we can all judge for ourselves if we want this material taught to our children.For me, this AWARE saga was a chance to practise and learn to stand up for Christ. Regardless of which angle you choose to see this event, it was obvious that our faith was attacked. I am very thankful for this opportunity and to be reminded that we are living in the last days. Come to think of it, I played a very small role in this whole episode. I liken myself to the soldier guarding the armoury while my comrades went out to fight. The sad thing was my armoury was filled with pistols while my foes were using machine guns. It was very painful to have to witness my comrades’ getting injured and knowing that there is nothing I can do about it. But one thing I know – God is still in charge and He is sovereign. He will bring to pass what He revealed in Revelations.But it also means that Christians have to be ready to stand up and fight for our faith. Otherwise we would be useless in God’s army because He cannot use us. To be ready and useful, we must start to learn what it means to be steadfast and to live out our faith. Speaking up in defence of our beliefs is a start.
This was given to me via email.
I have been looking at this aware thing for damn long. Anyway, to me, it was just fight bwt two types of ppl. Anyway, the fight would not have happen if both sides took the time to actually sit down and talk. And in any case, it was an internal affair, and i do not understand how it could make it this big if not for someone to alert the media about it. Unless there was a something 'fishy' going on, like it happen just when everyone was taking notice of the Rojak stall and was pushing the blame on the Health Minster and the Govt and this thing happened. As you can see the whole Aware was being put on front page even though minsters were saying this is an internal affair and should not be put on alert like its a mainstream type of news. Anyway, i knew that Straits Times were actually on sides with the old guard because of the few people i know there. Anyway, the only news that was mostly neutral i would say would be channel news asia. You should have check out channel news asia home pge when this saga was going on. it was like a small issue only. they were more focused on SWINE FLU. anyway refer to previous for the SWINE FLU equation over Aware. LOL.