In August 1948, my senior officer in the Singapore Government, Mr Homer Cheng, came back from Amsterdam and handed me a packet of International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC) inaugural documents he had received there. Mr. Cheng, a lay delegate from the Methodist Church to the inaugural meetings of the World Council of Churches (WCC) was mistaken at the Amsterdam Railway Station as a delegate to the ICCC inaugural meetings and was taken “by mistake” to the English Reformed Church. But, on seeing among the ICCC delegates Dr. Chia Yu Ming, noted fundamentalist theologian of modern-day China, he stayed on fellowshipping with the ICCC leaders before he went over to the WCC inaugural meetings held in the same city later that month. Back in Singapore, when Mr Cheng gave me the ICCC documents, including one entitled “What is the difference between the WCC and the ICCC?” He did not regret the episode of mistaken identity at the Amsterdam Railway Station. Instead, he counseled me: “Quek, this, the ICCC, is the Council you should support and work with.”
The next year, before Christmas 1949, Rev Timothy Tow, my close friend and former colleague in the Singapore Government, wrote me from Faith Theological Seminary, U.S.A. about the coming to Singapore of Dr. McIntire and other ICCC leaders. They had come to Bangkok, Siam (now Thailand), where they had confronted the WCC’s attempt to bring the mission fields of East Asia into the ecumenical fold. As a counter-measure, the ICCC men initiated the formation of the Far Eastern Council of Christian Churches (FECCC).
Some 14 years before that, in 1935, Dr John Sung, the noted revivalist from South China, first visited Singapore and set the Chinese Christian churches all over Southeast Asia “on fire.” Dr. John Sung, in his sin-condemning preachings, had alerted us to the danger and deadly poison of the bloodless social gospel. It was this earlier warning that knit the hearts of the Bible-believing brethren, including me in particular, with the ICCC when the leaders arrived in Singapore during the Christmas season of 1949. And this led to the formation of the Bible-Presbyterian Church of Singapore and Malaya beginning from 1950, and the joining of the Singapore Christian Evangelistic League in March 1952, with the ICCC as an Associate Member until today.
In his second missionary journey book entitled “The Battle of Bangkok,” ICCC President Dr McIntire wrote on December 27, 1949, while flying from Singapore to Bandung, Indonesia: “… I believe that Singapore will be a strategic center in the Far East for the ICCC.” Yes, Dr McIntire had correctly foreseen Singapore’s role in the 20th Century Reformation Movement. Today, Singapore has been serving as the ICCC Office in the Far East for 30 full years since 1968, but it is now also helping the U.S.A. and The Netherlands serve as a main communication and information center — reaching the entire ICCC family with the FAR EASTERN BEACON English publication, with the SOUTHEAST ASIA CHRISTIAN monthly publication to Chinese speaking member churches of the ICCC. It now also provides fax and internet facilities, all at no expense to the Council. We have learned from the Word of our Lord that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35b).
While I was only a young adult of 33 when I first came into contact in 1949 and identified myself with the 20th Century Reformation Movement of the ICCC, I am now, after half a century, 82 years of age, having already passed the age of strength of fourscore years (Psalm 90:10) by two years. I may claim that I have not yet reached the age of Caleb who said he was by the grace of God as strong at 85 as at 40 “for war, both to go out, and to come in” (Joshua 14:10,11). I may also have the confidence that as I wait upon the Lord, He will certainly renew my strength and I shall mount up with wings as an eagle; I shall run and not be weary, and I shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31). Yes, God has indeed done so to me, following my spate of surgeries in recent years, including removal of the major part of my bleeding colon!
Nevertheless, Moses must ultimately be succeeded by Joshua, and Elijah by Elisha. Age must inevitably catch up with any and all servants of the Lord. Until Jesus returns, God’s servants may go on to glory, but His work must go on here on earth. Jehovah-jireh will have His Joshuas and Elishas to come up and step in when the time comes.
It is therefore my earnest prayer that when my present term of office as ICCC First Vice-President and Executive Secretary expires in August 2000, at the end of our next (16th) ICCC World Congress, scheduled to be held in Jerusalem, the Lord will have His younger man to replace me. The ICCC Executive Committee may be considering the setting up of a Board of Senior Advisors (or whatever we may call it) to benefit from the experience and God-given wisdom gathered during their long years of engagement in the ICCC’s battle for the historic Christian Faith against Babylon the Great which has now taken shape. If such a Board of Senior Advisors is set up and if God still keeps me alive, I will certainly offer my continuing service with the ICCC through this Board.
At the last World Congress of our Council held in February 1997 in Chile, the ICCC Executive Committee had decided to invite younger-generation leaders in our ICCC member churches everywhere to come to the present ICCC 50th Anniversary and Executive Assembly in Amsterdam to discuss their sharing of Council leadership as the Council steps into the next century and millennium in the year 2000. This is evidence that it is our desire, as aging leaders among the present officers, vice-presidents and members of the ICCC Executive Committee, to gradually pass on the baton to younger men. May God raise up capable, dedicated and courageous younger men (and women) of conviction who are loyal to the Biblically-based cause of the ICCC, to share the Council leadership and together lead the Council strong and faithful from the 20th century into the 21st century “for the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Our Lord finished His course on earth with joy (Hebrews 12:2). The Apostle Paul, too, braved all bonds and afflictions, and counted not his life dear to himself, so that he might finish his course with joy (Acts 20:24). He has exhorted us at 1 Corinthians 11:1 to follow him as he followed Christ. Our ICCC President has stood firm against all ridicules and has not deviated one inch from the course of the 20th Century Reformation Movement, which he has been leading all these 50 years. Ought not all of us, ICCC leaders older and younger, now serving or coming in hereafter, therefore do likewise and with joy carry on unwaveringly with our God-given task of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ and defending the Faith to the very end of our lives?
Here is the Risen Savior’s call to us with a promise of eternal blessing: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). Let everyone of us in the ICCC family respond obediently to this call and claim the attendant blessing. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. K.C. Quek served as First Vice President and General Secretary of the ICCC. This article was written in 1997.