Remembering Uncle Bobby Sng
Dr. Bobby Sng passed away on October 14th, 2019. Many Christians in Asia knew him as the President of the Bible Society in Singapore, or one of his many pivotal roles in helping the Christian community reach out to the larger society. I knew him as Uncle Bobby Sng who spoke monthly at church. Like many others, I looked forward to his sermons because they were not overly verbose or complicated, and communicated the simplicity of a living faith in Jesus Christ.
Over the years I began to serve in church, and had the privilege of speaking to Uncle Bobby more. A lot has been shared during his memorial service, as to the person he was and the effect his words and life had on others.
If I were asked to describe Uncle Bobby, the word that first comes to mind is “translucent”.
The conversations I remember most vividly are the ones where I asked Uncle Bobby for advice.
When you ask advice from most people, they go straight into problem-solving mode, breaking down the problem into smaller components, and working on solving those. Or they’d regale you with life experiences and wisdom they have gathered over the years, and how they think the issue you have just described is similar to something they went through a long time ago.
I never got any of that with Uncle Bobby. Instead of telling you what to do, he’d always smile, and encourage you to pray, ask God and discover His will for yourself. He was very careful not to allow his own passion and expertise — which were evident — to direct the decisions and actions of younger Christians who came to him. He had a reverence for God’s work, and knew intimately that only God could accomplish what He intends.
Uncle Bobby was translucent in the sense he had this ability to fade himself away and allowed God to do the speaking to, the conviction of, and the directing of the lives of His saints.
Even as we gathered around his death it didn’t feel like we were mourning the passing of a great leader or monumental figure, much as we tried to shape the service to a format we are more accustomed to. There was a lightness in Uncle Bobby’s passing, and I suspect it is because he understood what it meant to be a modern day John the Baptist. He always deferred to the Lamb of God, and worked hard at decreasing himself in order that Christ may increase.
I found myself marvelling at how little death took away that day. “Where O death, is your sting? Where is your victory?” When Uncle Bobby passed away, it felt like little had changed. His life had always been a journey towards more of Christ and less of himself.
The time of reflecting upon Uncle Bobby’s life was a reflection of what Christ has done in Asia. And though Uncle Bobby has left us, Christ continues to work here amongst us even now, calling us all to be translucent, that He may shine through.