The FISHERS 50th Anniversary
 

Encountering Our Readers


Working as a full-time staff at The 'Fisherman of Christ' Fellowship (FCF) many years ago, God sent different people into my life to teach me spiritual lessons in ways I never expected. Through them, I came to learn how God works in the lives of different individuals both locally and abroad. I am writing about my encounters with some of those who came across my path through the Fishers ministry.

Someone from Africa is looking for Dixie Chua
On 17 December 1997, in the late afternoon, when most of the church staff had already left the office, and I was getting ready to go home as well, the doorbell at the main gate suddenly rang. One of our staff members who was with me went out to answer the door. She was out for a while and came back announcing to me, “Someone from Africa is looking for Dixie Chua!” It came as a shock to me and I said to myself, “Who can it be? I do not know anyone from that continent!”

I went out to meet this unexpected visitor. Standing outside the gate was a tall African gentleman with two pieces of luggage with him. What struck me most was that he had an old and tattered copy of a Fishers magazine in his hand. I went over to him and said, “I am Dixie Chua, please come in. What can I do for you?”

He said, “My name is James and I just arrived from Africa. I followed the address in this magazine and came to look for your church.”

I was astonished to know that our magazine had travelled all the way to Africa. “How did you get hold of our magazine?”

He replied, “A visitor came to my church in a small town in Africa and he left a few copies of the Fishers magazine for us to read. When I had the opportunity to attend a short course in Malaysia, I decided to stop over in Singapore before taking a train to Malaysia. In this way, I can save some money. I remember reading your magazine so I took a copy along and followed the address to come to visit your church.”

I said, “Pastor Huang (our previous pastor who has gone home to be with the Lord) has already left and so have most of our staff. Would you like to come back tomorrow to meet them?”

To that, he said, “It is alright, I just need a room to stay until I leave for Malaysia in a few days. Do you have a guest room in your church?”

“I am so sorry as we do not have a guest room at our church premises. I can call up a few places with reasonable prices for you.” I called a few places like the YMCA and YWCA but they were fully booked that day. Other places were beyond his budget. In the meantime, the sky was turning dark and my colleague and I were at a loss what to do with him. I said to myself, “As he is a Christian and a stranger in our land, plus a Fishers reader, shouldn't I show him some hospitality by opening our home to him? But what if he is just like one of the Gibeonites in the book of Joshua, chapter nine, who came to deceive the Israelites into making a covenant with them by claiming to have come from a faraway country. What shall I do then?”

Seeing how desperate he looked and how helpless he was, my softer side overcame all my fears and I called up my husband, “Eugene, can I bring a stranger from Africa to stay in our home for a few days?” I explained the situation to him briefly and with a bit of apprehension, he agreed. So, I brought this total stranger home and showed him Christian hospitality as the Holy Spirit had guided us to do.

James told us that he stopped over in Singapore first because someone had told him that it was easy to find employment here. He had wanted to work here awhile, after attending the course in Malaysia. However it was not easy for him to find work here during his time in Singapore and so, after three days, we sent him to the railway station where he boarded a train to Malaysia. Before he left he said, “Thank you for your Christian hospitality! I will always remember the Fishers magazine and your beautiful city!” After he left, we never heard from him again.

Is the author of 'Footprints in the Snow' still alive?
It was a sultry afternoon and as I had been sitting in our small church office for a few hours, I decided to walk out for some fresh air. As I opened the door, I saw a man standing at the foyer, at our free literature shelves. He was busy collecting books, magazines and tracts and did not notice my presence. I walked over to greet him.

“Good afternoon sir, may I help you? I am one of the full-time staff here.”

“My name is John from a church nearby. Whenever I pass your church, I always like to come in to collect your free literature for distribution to my friends and my hospital visitations. You have a range of very good and useful books and magazines here.”

“These materials are published by members of our church and they are for free distribution. Feel free to use them. We believe that Christian literature can be used by God in places where we are unable to reach physically to preach the Gospel, such as the prisons, remote villages, small towns or even in our neighbourhood. Tracts are like silent preachers speaking to people at any time and anywhere; as long as they are willing to read them, God can speak to them.”

John said, “That's true. You know, many years ago when I was doing National Service, one of my friends lent me a book which was published by your church. He told me that he received that copy while he was in National Service himself. I read it and indeed found it very helpful for my own spiritual life. But I cannot remember the title now; it is something about 'snow'.” 

“Oh, I think you mean this book” as I pointed to a copy of my book, Footprints in the Snow. “Well, the title sounds familiar but the cover design is different. No wonder I could not recognise it” he replied. “You must have read the first edition. This is the second edition of the same book except that there are two more chapters added into it.”

He took a copy and said, “Is the author, Dixie Chua, still alive?” Before I could say anything he added, “Actually that does not matter because many Christian books outlive their authors and are still encouraging other Christians after them. By the way, may I know your name?”

“My name is Dixie Chua!”

I strongly recommend Fishers to you
When I turned sixty, I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. Ever since then, I had been going to the gym for exercises to keep my diabetic condition in check. At the gym, I meet people from all walks of life and backgrounds.

The gym management had strongly advised those working out at the gym not to share their religious beliefs inside the exercise area. However, I find that giving out a tract, a copy of the Fishers magazine or a book to those interested was the best way to let people know what I believe. So, when one physiotherapist asked me how I spend my time as a retiree, I told her that I wrote articles for our church magazine. She asked me for a few copies so that she could read my writings and so, the Gospel found its way into her home. I prayed that these printed materials would have an effect on the readers at her home.

One day I met a former FCF member, Spring, who was married to a member of a Presbyterian church and we became close friends. She asked me for a few copies of the Fishers magazine to share with her daughter who had stopped attending church.

The following week I brought a stack of Fishers to the gym and handed them over to Spring at the locker area. As we were talking to each other, another lady walked by and when she saw the magazine in Spring's hand, she said with great excitement to me, “This is a very good magazine, easy to read and it explains weighty Christian doctrines in simple terms! I always introduce it to my friends, believers and non-believers alike. I strongly recommend Fishers to you!”

I did not want to dampen her excitement at that moment, so I just smiled and said, “Thank you for letting me know.”

Spring could not contain herself and said, “Do you know who she is? Dixie Chua, one of the editors of Fishers!” She was so surprised that she opened her mouth wide as though she had just seen a ghost!

“What? You are Dixie Chua? I have been receiving this magazine for many years and I have always wanted to meet the people working behind the scenes to faithfully produce this magazine for free. I want to let them know how much I appreciate their effort in publishing such a wonderful magazine for the benefit of Christians and non-Christians. I am so glad that today I finally get to meet one of the editors!”

I thanked her for her kind words and wished her God's blessings; she continued, “Whenever I read your articles, I always imagine that Dixie is someone tall and strong like a pillar of strength; but you look so dainty and so approachable!” She then introduced herself as Jane, from a Methodist church.

Inside the gym, we are not encouraged to talk about our beliefs; but through handing out the Fishers magazines, I came to know who was a Christian and who was not. I was even able to present the Gospel to a few non-believers when they asked me about my faith. The Fishers magazine has indeed provided me with opportunities to reach out to people otherwise unreachable. All glory to God!

A gift from a reader in prison
By the grace of God, Fishers has been in existence for fifty years. It started as a newsletter for internal circulation. I received the first issue in theLooks_ Summer of 1970 when I was still in Canada finishing my Master's thesis. In it, I read about my engagement announcement to Eugene with the Peanuts Cartoon characters as illustration (I had called Eugene ‘Snoopy’ and he had nicknamed me ‘Lucy’)! Ever since that first issue, I have been involved in its production in one way or another. From a simple internal newsletter, it evolved into a regular magazine sent to over forty countries all over the world, free of charge.

Someone once said to our late pastor, Mr Huang Ee Yuen, “If your church does not publish Fishers and Behold (Chinese magazine) and send them all over the world, free of charge, you could have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.” To that, Pastor Huang replied, “If we stop publishing these magazines, God will stop providing this sum!” Indeed, God provides all our needs for our literature ministries. If the work stops, the provision will cease as well.

Of all the countries, we have the largest number of readers residing in the Philippines. Many readers request for multiple copies to be distributed to hospitals, schools, offices and prisons. We thank God that He uses our humble magazine to bless people we are not able to reach. One of them even gave me a present that brought tears to my eyes.

Some years back, a couple from one of our mission centres in the Philippines came to Singapore to visit our church and we had the privilege of hosting them. They brought along a piece of beautiful artwork – a 40cm x 60cm board on which was a picture of the seashore and the poem, Footprints in the Sand, written on it. Every word was pasted on with tiny pieces of bamboo skin. It must have taken the artisan many hours and days to complete such an exquisite piece of art!

The Filipino brethren told me that the picture had passed through several hands to reach them so they had no idea who gave it to me. All they gathered was that a man who had committed a hideous crime was put into prison for many years. Some Christians went into the prison to preach the Gospel to the prisoners and he was converted through their ministry. One day he received a copy of the Fishers magazine and my book Footprints in the Snow. After reading my testimony he was very touched and decided to present a gift to me. He did something that he knew best, handicraft; something he learned while he was in prison. It took him many days to complete the picture and he then asked someone to bring it to one of our mission centres, hoping that it would finally find its way to Dixie Chua. When the pastor of that centre knew that this couple was coming to Singapore, he found another person to bring it to Baguio so that they could then bring it to me. On top of the picture was written: To Dixie Chua and at the bottom: PR. Del.

Hearing the story behind this precious gift, I praised God for His wonderful salvation granted to this man who was locked behind bars but set free from sin by the power of God. I may never know his real name, nor see him face to face to thank him, but I know we will meet in heaven one day!


Dixie Chua
- Dixie is an editor of Fishers

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