LET US WORSHIP was the theme for the Wesley Filipino Fellowship (WFF) 40th anniversary service on Sunday, 23 July 2023.
And worship we did. Together with the singers and dancers, we proclaimed in the songs:
“Let every tribe see Your glory…
Only You are worthy”
“Worthy of it ALL”
“For the LORD is good
His love endures forevermore
It has no end”
Interspersed with the songs were heartfelt prayers of praise and thanksgiving. From the songs sung to the prayers uttered, “Thank You LORD for Wesley Methodist Church. Thank You for giving us a home,”; from the sermon shared by Pastor-in-Charge Rev Raymond Fong (Ps Ray) to the photos with his Filipino flock; from the dancers to the WFF children with their hand bells presentation—indeed, we are a part of God’s larger family. There was heartfelt worship to our Abba Father.
It was clear from Ps Ray’s sharing from Psalm 100 that WFF is part of the larger Wesley family. He expanded on the theme of coming together to worship by noting that the reason we worship is because of God’s goodness, covenantal love and faithfulness. As we focus on this, we enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.
Ps Ray also shared his dreams and prayers for WFF: That it will be a ministry of authentic love and relationships. That whoever comes will grow in relationship with God, grow in knowing His love, goodness and faithfulness. He noted how the exuberant praise and thanksgiving helps others to encounter God. As WFF enters a new year, he blessed members with a fresh vision for the year ahead, that each will know God’s faithfulness as they journey together.
Every time we celebrate a ministry’s anniversary in Wesley, we rejoice in the faithfulness of members who saw a need and paved a path for others to meet our faithful God. May we all learn to persevere so that He will find us faithful in playing our parts in His story.
After the service, I asked long-time WFF Bible study facilitator Melanie Tow for a Bible blessing as I know her to be a prayer warrior. She chose Psalm 121: 5–8:
The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
He will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Wesley TIDINGS spoke with different people about WFF and here are their reflections:
Ms Venus Bautista, Worship Leader and Committee member of WFF:
I joined Wesley Filipino Fellowship in 2004, beginning with Bible study under Mrs Melanie Tow, and then I started serving the following year.
My joy in the ministry is having a very supportive team. Being a leader doesn’t mean that you just tell them what to do; it’s about treating them how you want to be treated by them. It’s about the respect that we have with each other. To listen to their suggestions on how to make our worship better, especially during practices, is a great way of communication and transparency for the team. I was very fearful of having such a huge responsibility when I was appointed to be the Worship Ministry leader as I was not sure if I could manage it However, by God’s grace and deliverance and with the help of my supportive team I have overcome my fears and continue serving the Lord faithfully as I entrust everything to Him.
As I serve in the ministry, I get to know God’s heart better—that He wants us to serve and help one another as a family in Christ. His love and faithfulness endures forever. I am fortunate to have Wesley Methodist Church as my second home and WFF as my second family. To have people that you can count on in times of need even though they are also struggling is such a blessing. God never leaves nor forsakes me, for God is always with me.
Mr Russell R Datu, Chairperson of WFF:
I’m grateful to see the WFF grow in numbers. May the LORD continue to bless our ministry to bring our fellow men to Christ. Thank you, Wesley Methodist Church, for your unconditional love for 40 years and counting. God bless.
Mrs Rosalia Mahendran, Pastoral Team Member (PTM) for Safe@Wesley and Crisis Relief Wesley as well as PTM of WFF since 2017:
I praise God for the opportunity to be part of WFF. It is a joy to be with them and see the works of the LORD in the fellowship. I rejoice when I see their responsiveness to God’s Word and the little changes taking place in their lives; whether it is in service, in their growing trust in God, in their prayers, in their joy in coming to the worship service and fellowship and in the ways they help and support one another.
It was hard during the pandemic when we could not meet onsite and most of them could not join online services due to access constraints. We missed coming together to hear the Word of God, sing praises to God, pray, eat and fellowship.
From the ministry, I learned in a new way God’s love for us all. He wants to save us from sin and darkness and give us a new life and light our paths. He wants to embrace and carry us through life’s journeys. Nothing is too difficult for Him, in whatever situation we are in. He is there for us, loving us, embracing us, guiding us, disciplining us, protecting us and giving us hope and a future.
Mrs Jennifer Rubante, Committee and worship team member of WFF:
I joined WFF almost 16 years ago, through my first employer who found for me the Methodist Church nearest to our place. I thank God because I found a church family to strengthen me in my faith journey even though I was away from home. I grew up as a member of the United Methodist Church in the Philippines and was glad I could continue in the ministry here.
As a member of this ministry, there are a lot of experiences that shape me to be a better child of God. I experience discouragements which pull me down, but by the grace of God, He uses them as an instrument to make me steadfast, strong and true. One of the most enjoyable parts of the ministry was when I became a part of the worship team. Here, I am given the opportunity to share my talent and encourage others to faithfully and wholeheartedly worship God. Second, I am given the privilege of being part of the WFF committee where I can help to reach out to others and make Christ known.
My faith may be tested through some conflict or misunderstanding, but I praise and thank God that by His grace, I’m able to face this trial and I can continue my faith journey in serving God.
From the ministry, I’ve learned three things that God wants His people to fulfill:
1. Train others to make disciples. In this ministry, we are in small groups where we meet after the worship service. In our lunch fellowship, we eat, share and pray.
2. Train and encourage others to be involved in the various ministries.
3. Pray for each other’s needs. In all of this, I give thanks to the Lord who works mightily in my life through this ministry. I also want to express my gratitude to my fellow workers in the vineyard who have been used by God to help me fulfill my mission. God bless us all.
Mrs Melanie Francis Tow, facilitator of a weekly Bible study on Sunday mornings from 2004 to 2020:
We met in the corridor of the church basement before it was renovated. Most of the ladies attending the Bible study were waiting for their employer’s children who attended Children’s Ministry (CM) at 9.30am. After the church renovation, we met at the Plaza Hall stage. For a time, a helper from Myanmar also joined us. At another time, an Indonesian. The group ceased meeting in 2020, when the CM closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I found it most exciting to see people meet God in His Word. While some had grown up attending church and sometimes religious schools, their personal exposure to the Bible had been limited. Time and again—no matter what passage of Scripture we were studying—the Holy Spirit would speak through it to someone’s current challenge or situation. God is ever ready to meet us at our point of need.
Over the years, I was continually blessed to be invited to the WFF’s annual Christmas and anniversary celebrations. Occasionally, the Bible study group was also invited to present a “special number” at the weekly Filipino worship service. We would select a song or hymn, I would make copies of the lyrics and music and we would practise at the end of our weekly meetings. One or more of the WFF’s talented musicians would accompany us. I will also never forget my 62nd birthday a few years ago, when my dear friends surprised me with a party.
Occasionally, people would attend the Bible study for a while; then later choose to sit outside waiting for the children in Children’s Ministry instead. Others might attend once and never return. On average, there would be six to eight people in attendance—sometimes more. I would question myself when attendance dwindled. On one particular day, there was only one lady and myself. She was a very committed Christian, and we had a fruitful time despite the absence of others. I was reminded that Jesus said in Matthew 8:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
When we gather in His name, the Lord is present, changing us through His Word and through one another. I learned so much from my Filipino friends. I may have been more prepared than they for our weekly Bible studies, but I was forever blessed by their warmth, generosity and love in the face of multiple challenges. Their perseverance through tough times challenged my own faith. We shared, prayed, waited and trusted, witnessing God’s grace time and again. They showed me what it means to live by Paul’s oft quoted words:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16–18
Pastor Fernando Lua, a pastor visiting from the Philippines:
My prayer for WFF is that not only would members grow in their relationship with God, but that their families would also be blessed with the joy of salvation.
Photos by CJ Goh