Amazing Singapore

Posted on June 27, 2011 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

Our sense of being back home hit us broadside when we arrived at Changi International Airport in Singapore after an 11-hour flight from New Zealand. The cleanliness and orderliness defies one’s typical concept of an Asian city. Orchids cascaded down the middle of the baggage carrousel. Within 15 minutes we had processed immigration, picked up our baggage and were in a taxi.

The expressway was like driving through a botanical garden with the thoroughfare lined with manicured grass, tropical foliage and over-hanging colorful bougainvillea. Even chewing gum is prohibited due to the collective consciousness of society to avoid the blight of a discarded blob on a bench or sidewalk! (Bobbye would not want you to know she was guilty of bringing contraband into the country.)

We were delighted to find that our accommodations, the guest apartment used by missionary personnel coming to Singapore for medical needs or visa renewals, was in Neptune Court on the East Coast Parkway where we had lived during the last five years we were on the field. Our 20th floor balcony overlooked the south coast dotted with ships from all over the world. The Singapore port is one of the largest in terms of tonnage and trans-shipping.

We enjoyed getting up and walking along the Parkway as we did on early mornings 20 years ago. For almost ten miles paved walking trails and bicycle paths follow the beach, interspersed with playgrounds, campsites and food stalls. Joggers were getting in shape for a publicized 100 km ultra run to be held the day we left. I thought for moment about extending our visit to participate but quickly decided against it.

The real nostalgia was the food.  With community food courts along the parkway and in most housing complexes offering every kind of Asian food imaginable, decisions are hard to make and over-indulgence altogether too common. We opted for Komala, my favorite Indian stall for breakfast, enjoying masala dosai and a platter of idly and vadai with curry and chutney. A bowl of Kuay Teoh noodles was all we needed for lunch, but supper was an unrestrained sampling of satay, soto ajam and bakmie goreng. Fresh papaya and mangoes for dessert countered the hot spices and capped off a contented day of dining.

Singapore is an amazing multi-cultural island city-state on the tip of the Malaysian Peninsula. It has one of the highest and most stable economies as the center of multi-national business, trade and banking. With a population of four million, approximately 65% of the people are Chinese, 20% Malay and 12% South Asian. Everything is totally integrated with this ethnic proportion maintained by mandate in each housing block.

Less than 10% of the elderly Chinese and under-educated laborers are Christian, but more than 80% of the dominant educated, English-speaking professional class are Christian. That is reflected in an effective and pervasive witness throughout the country with many vibrant growing churches. There is so much missionary involvement being generated from these churches to China, Indonesia, Malaysia and India that Singapore has become known as the Antioch of the Asia.

Our missionary presence has diminished considerably from previous times, but the central location, excellent transportation and communication infrastructure has made the city an ideal location for administering outreach to the region. This was the last place we lived before returning to the States. I traveled constantly to 15 countries as Area Director for South and Southeast Asia so never felt a real identity with Singapore as a place of ministry.

Nevertheless, our brief stopover was like coming home. We were blessed to know many outstanding pastors and Christian leaders; the little church we occasionally attended exploded with young people excited about their faith and witness. With its strategic location, economy and strong, multi-ethnic churches Singapore continues to be on the cutting of global missions.

2 Comments on “Amazing Singapore”

  1. Becky Hopkins

    Hi Jerry and Bobbye,

    This post brought back some fabulous memories from 5 years ago when Kevin and I visited the Rogersons in Singapore.

    We love and miss you!

    Becky H.

  2. arthur hagy

    hello, I happened upon your site today. I have a question about the apartment you stayed in at Neptune Court. My daughter and her family have a ministry working with homeless boys in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. She is pregnant and will need a c-section to deliver the baby at the end of August. My wife and I are planning to join them for three weeks while they are in Singapore. We haven’t had much luck in finding housing within our budget for all of us. Could you give me any information as far as who to contact to rent an apartment in Neptune Court for approx. a month?
    Thank you. Arthur

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