The FISHERS 50th Anniversary
Ten years ago to this day, at one of the Pastoral Group meetings on a Saturday evening, Dixie who was one of the editors of Fishers, asked for prayer over her struggle in sourcing for articles for the Fishers magazine every quarter. She lamented that the elders were already so busy preparing for their sermons and had other leadership responsibilities in the church that she was loathed to burden them with the additional task of writing articles for the magazine.
Back home that night, it struck both Peter (my husband) and I simultaneously that we could contribute in this area. We had just become FCF members and had been asking the Lord for areas we could serve in. For the same thought to have come to both of us at the same time was the Lord providentially directing us to fill the need in this ministry. Having committed our decision to Him, we informed Dixie that we would 'help out', with some trepidation of whether both of us could honour the Lord in this ministry.
What could we do? Both Peter and I are not writers; we are better at writing officious work reports than creative writing! Yet the Lord showed us one area where we could utilise the skills that He had prepared us with. Church members of FCF are blessed by the Lord with sound preaching from the pulpit but the messages need not just remain for the benefit of members' ears alone. When turned into printed words, they could have a wider and more lasting reach; wider because they would be beyond FCF and more lasting because, compared with hearing the sermon, they would be in print and could be read more than once.
Fast forward a few years into the ministry, and at a Fishers committee meeting, I was disconcerted to learn that readership of the magazine from FCF only accounted for about 200-300 copies at the most. I thought "All our work for such a low take-up rate? How disappointing!" It was explained that Singapore has such excellent Internet service that people here are in no want of Christian literature. Via the Internet, the resources available to us are wide and diverse; they can originate from anywhere in the world, and we can access them 24/7. It was no wonder that the take-up of Fishers by church members was so low. So, should our literature ministry move totally online instead, I wondered?
On this issue, God led the leadership to wisely recognise an important point. The readership of Fishers comes from forty-one countries ranging from locally in Singapore, to far-flung countries such as Fiji, France, Canada, Brazil, Nigeria and many more countries. Nearly 12,000 copies are printed for each issue and the two countries with the largest number of subscribers are the Philippines and Malaysia. Many readers in the forty-one countries have little or no access to the Internet or are unfamiliar with its applications. Hence hard copies delivered by 'snail mail' (the postman) is still the most effective way of getting the magazines to them.
I have often wondered about what happens to the magazine when it has been delivered to the address. Do readers devour the articles excitedly? Do they enjoy reading Dixie's accounts of her personal experiences, glorifying God? Do they see the reality of God in the lives of the authors of the articles? Has anyone been touched by the Holy Spirit to come to Christ through the Gospel messages? Or do the magazines lie forgotten and unread, or worse – still in their sealed envelopes, unopened and untouched?
It is not for us to guess what happens to the magazines when delivered. Our role, as ministry workers, is to faithfully and carefully, select, prepare, edit and design each publication to the best of our ability, honouring and pleasing the Lord with our work. Yet, the Lord, in His graciousness, does sometimes allow us a glimpse into the impact of our ministries. And we can only gape in awe at how He uses our feeble work, whatever it may be, for His glory in ways that we can't even imagine.
So, recently, we received a note from a reader in Fiji who runs a hostel for deaf children. He shares the articles and testimonies with the children and staff at the hostel. We also received an email from Cris Amansec of Baguio City on the blessings of Fishers upon the brothers- and sisters-in-Christ in their church in the Philippines – this message is reproduced at the end of this article. What an encouragement to us, knowing that the Lord continues the work of the magazine, using it to benefit others beyond the shores of Singapore!
A few months ago, Peter began Bible study using the book Story of Hope with two residents at a nursing home in Johor. The two consists of a sister believer whom we know and a gentleman who thought that we should be open and accepting of all religions. We thank the Lord for making this inroad possible through the sister stricken with stroke and the management allowing us to conduct Bible study. We also give them the Fishers magazine and pray for the Lord to use the articles to speak to the unbeliever about Him, to encourage the believer, and fill them with joy despite their illnesses and sufferings. Praise the Lord that the believing sister devoured the whole of Issue 232 with joy and commented that the articles uplifted her and she particularly appreciated understanding how others lived their lives in the Lord, whatever their circumstances.
We thank the Lord for the privilege of working for Him, for His provisions in terms of sending workers into this ministry over the years, in equipping us with the skills and resources to publish each issue and providing the funds for printing the magazine.
We pray that each issue of Fishers will honour and glorify God and that He will use the ministry to lead believers to a deeper worship of Him and to sow the seeds of the Gospel message in unbelievers anywhere in the world.