Back to 2021 Church Weekly List

Vol. XVIII No. 46
15 August 2021

REFLECTIONS ON THE LIFE OF ELDER J T JOSEPH

Reflections by Mrs Patricia Joseph

Many of us remember Elder Joseph as a quiet, self-effacing and unassuming church member. But behind this façade was an interesting man. If you had had the patience to engage him in conversation, you would have been amazed by his depth of knowledge and his wealth of life experiences that he would have been eager to share.

When God blessed him with children after 10 years of marriage, he recognised the significance of Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” He made it his singular purpose to raise godly children in an environment with strong Christian principles and practices. His first act after they returned from the hospital and before they were laid in their cot was a prayer of dedication to God. Thereafter, he made it a point to sing hymns at bedtime while rocking them to sleep. He observed the sabbath law religiously with the children attending the morning and sunset worship services and with a Bible study in between. TV viewing was curbed as he was very mindful of its disastrous influence on young minds. Family viewing was limited to Christian tapes and CDs from his wide collection.

An avid reader and prolific writer, he shared his love for books with his children, exposing them to the classics and poetry early in life. He had a penchant for the English Language and took unpretentious pleasure in correcting mistakes whether it be in spoken or written form, especially at home. A few of us were fortunate enough to share in his witty banter which was peppered with sparks of genius.

If kindness and gentleness are the hallmarks of a selfless life, Elder Joseph fulfilled these qualities completely. He was unassuming, generous to a fault and possessed of a Christian faith simple but sure. He was a gentleman in all his dealings whether at home, work or church. He was a good listener, and would often listen patiently without interrupting a conversation. A deep thinker, he was little known for making ‘snap’ decisions. However, when a decision was finally made, you could be sure it had been viewed from all possible angles. Highest tribute came from his boss at the company he served for 40 years, who described him as “the conscience of their department”, a testament to the impact that his unwavering moral sense had on those around him. He was uncompromising where work ethics were concerned.

We thank God for blessing him with a faithful church. It brought much joy to his heart each time he was elected for another term of service in the Session. His final re-election reassured him that God had not written him off and that He had work for him despite his physical privations. It gave him the ‘lift’ he needed to overcome the frustration he experienced over his immobility and physical ailments. Elder Joseph looked forward to church attendance and was upset when church attendance was curbed due to the Covid pandemic. He always emphasized that reverence and respect for God were paramount ‒ so much so that at his request the hospital nurse would change him into long pants and a collared shirt when he attended the online worship service from his hospital bed. The kind nurses would change him back to hospital garb when the service was over.

Given his sensitive and considerate nature, he was aware of how dependent he was on those around. He bore privations and pain without railing, concerned ‒ to the last ‒ about being a burden to others. Never a day passed without him expressing his sincere appreciation and deep gratitude to his wife of 44 years. Almost his last act was to arrange to send a bouquet of flowers to his wife, from his hospital bed, with an endearing message which will always be treasured as his parting words.

He spent his last few years evaluating his faith and reflecting on the true condition of his heart. This he shared with his wife. His immobility and physical ailments were his “thorn in the flesh” which kept him humble and always seeking.

We thank God for blessing Elder JT Joseph with a fulfilled family-oriented life and for enabling him to leave behind an enduring legacy of a life centred upon, lived for and by, Jesus Christ. He is now in heaven, which is not a better place but the ‘BEST’ place. God be with him, till we meet again.

Reflections by Samuel Joseph

There was a warmth and openness to Papa, that I remember. He was a family man. We groaned at his jokes, but they were a sign of the ease and familiarity he felt, his happiness and comfort that we were around. I remember his slow, easy smile. I remember his patience and humility, and his quickness to apologise, and his quickness to forgive. He cared for his family, prayed for his family, planned for his family, sacrificed for his family; and taught me to do the same.

He was a meticulous man. He attributed this to his training as an engineer, but from my perspective it seemed already to be a part of him. I remember waking up at night to find him at the dining table, working on his model Spitfire – constructing an elaborate scaffold out of styrofoam, to hold the pieces together; agonising over every piece; inspecting it from every angle with every new addition. The model was never finished.

He was a principled man. He came to his conclusions slowly, but held them firmly. For all his reticence, on matters of principle he would rather speak than stay silent. He earned respect. When he spoke, others listened.

He was an educated man – in the best sense of the word. His great regret was what he felt was a lack of formal education, but he taught himself more, I think, than he could have learned at a university. I remember being able to talk with him about anything: history, science, poetry, art. He was just as happy, just as fluent, talking about Caravaggio or Coleridge, Shakespeare or Sartre, Pythagoras or Planck, Gauss or Goethe. I remember being driven to school in the dark before sunrise, listening to tapes of Homer, and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. He taught me how to read, but more than that, he taught me to read. He imparted not just knowledge, but a love of knowledge.

He was a thinking man. He reasoned and evaluated, bringing logic and morality together. He contemplated, and mused, and reminisced. He was of a reflective bent. He taught me to think, and to think that writing is thinking on paper, thinking exposed to the world, like pie brought out of the oven.

He was a God-fearing man. He loved Jesus. He lived by the faith that God’s word is true. He read his Bible, and spoke His Bible, and lived his Bible, and taught his Bible.

There is much about Papa, that I remember. There is much that I want to emulate. The world needs men like him.

Reflections by Ruth Joseph

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:23–24)

Many remarkable men have graced the face of this Earth, though none quite like my father. Though appearing at a casual glance to be quiet and unassuming, this inspirational man was steadfast in his faith, uncompromising in his values and fiercely loyal to those he loved.

My father prided himself on always putting his family first. Every Saturday morning, he would gather us into his bedroom and spend time teaching us from the Word of God. He would set myself and Sam passages of scripture to memorize, play Bible trivia games with us and teach us from the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Reverence for the Lord was not just something he taught, but a principle by which he lived.

Having children also allowed my father to express the child-like facets of his personality. He was a very involved parent, where every weekend was spent playing in the garden with us, building things, taking us to the beach and going for bike rides. My father was fortunate enough to be able to take our family on trips overseas where we explored museums, cultures and food with relish and excitement.

Indeed, his family was the motivation for his work ethic. He worked his way up in Singapore Airlines, joining as a junior apprentice in line maintenance when he was just 19 years of age and finally retiring from the same company at the age of 63. He would often tell us how he started his career washing the windows of the big jumbo jets, and as he did so he made a promise to himself that he would one day work inside the planes instead of just on their exterior. Through hard work and an unshakeable desire to better himself, he rose through the ranks and became famed throughout the company for his technical knowledge and ability to make difficult but fair decisions.

While my father was not socially outgoing, he treasured the few close friends he had. He was not one to turn a blind eye to anyone in need, but took it upon himself to help in any way he could. He organised for breakfast to be delivered every Sunday morning to the elderly congregants at a local BP church, so they could enjoy some good food and fellowship following their morning service. He never forgot a birthday, and took great joy in wishing his friends and family on their special day.

My father had a special place in his heart for children, and he enjoyed hearing their stories and watching them play. Even in his last days in hospital, as he lay struggling for breath, he heard the cries of children in the Paediatric ward across the hallway and he immediately asked my mother to find out who the children were and how he could help – such was the burden on his heart to help those in need.

One month on, we reflect on my father’s life with pride. He led by example, and in his gentle yet firm manner encouraged members of his family and church actively to pursue and maintain their walk with the Lord. When times get tough, and grief hides the face of the Saviour, we are reminded of my father’s adage: “one day at a time, and every day with Jesus” – a testament of a job well done, and a life well lived.

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