Thursday, December 29, 2005

Fresh Start in a New Year

What changes on the first day of the New Year besides the date ? Does God have a direction for me in in the new year? This is a good time to recap a New Year message I did two years ago. There are two pointers for a Fresh Start in a New Year.The first is:

1. Change Your Focus - Stop Looking Behind

If we want a fresh start, we can't dwell in the past. If we spend all our time looking over our shoulder at the past, we’ll miss what God is doing today. Stop looking behind means:

a) Avoid allowing past failures to paralyse you. We have painful experiences we need to put behind us. Sometimes you give your best shot and you still come up short. Study for a test and still fail. Work hard and still get retrenched. You may have had a financial failure, relational failure or a moral failure. We sinned. God tells us to be free of sin. Until we are free, we are stuck in the past.

This is the key. When we become God’s, the old life is over. God makes things new. Jesus said in Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Christ came to set you free – if you let Him. He's already done everything He needs to do. We can only benefit from what Christ did when we personally trust Christ. New life can't be inherited, it must be experienced. To stop looking behind also means:

b) Avoid depending on past victories to sustain you. Going forward we also need to deal the good and fun bits of our past. That was then but this is now. God's about to do something better.

You need a new miracle, a new victory for a new day.

The second pointer for the New Year is:

2. Clarify Your Purpose - Start Looking Ahead

A new start is possible because God has a future in store for us. God's done many good things but He didn't stop there. Be clear on God’s purpose. God created us to love us and for us to know God. But we went our own way - so God’s purpose is to reconcile humanity to Himself. God's working this out in new ways. Know God’s purpose and flow with God. Start looking ahead means:

a) Look forward to the new things God has for you. God's doing something new in our midst if only we will open our eyes and ears, see and hear what He is doing. God has done a new thing even this morning. He has given you new breath. He has given us new mercies and compassions today. Looking ahead also means:

b) See possibilities as God sees them. This New Year can be a watershed year in your life. God will make a way when we think it is impossible. Let Him do a new thing in your heart, home, marriage, job, school or community. God’s new journey for us will write a new story for our journey of faith.

Perhaps you made unwise choices over this past year. You can stop making wrong choices and start making right choices. You can say no to habits that have trapped you.

I encourage you to seek a new vision and interest in the things of God. Allow God to bring direction and correction into your life. God's in the business of renewing, reviving and restoring people. God has great plans for you. Look forward to your fresh start in the new year. Rejoice - God's with you and He's put you in His church.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Recently a friend from Australia asked me to write an article about church and missions. I politely declined but he was persuasive. Since I have not posted recently I will adapt that article here. Here goes...

Our church has a love affair with local and global ministries. Look at the city of Singapore. It’s located on the Equator and over four million people live here. Non-citizens form a quarter of the population. For example I was born in Borneo, grew up here and spent a few years in Australia.

For us it started in 1997 when I sensed God’s leading for our church to turn the corner from being missions-minded to be missions-active. I started sharing this with our staff and leaders. It must have been at our church anniversary when I stood up and said, “We’re not going to be a church-with-missions anymore. We’re going to be a missionary church.” That was a bold vision but it resonated with the church. Our journey began.

It was especially challenging to build missions infrastructure. We knew how to grow Christians. Now we had to grow global Christians. A lot of things had to change. Members started to plan for exposure mission trips instead of annual holidays. Each cluster of small groups (of a hundred people) learnt to adopt and pray for a city each to start a church. We started to give to an annual mission fund. Staff learnt and designed training for potential missionaries. This included language acquisition, cross-culture lessons and entry vehicles. Once teams landed, we suddenly needed to pastor people spread across the globe.

The more we got into global missions, the more convinced we got that healthy churches reproduce themselves. Isaiah 55:10 tells us what is planted and watered ultimately becomes a source for future planting. We don’t just plant churches, we plant church-planting churches.

We made mistakes along the way but there was progress too. God and others affirmed our transition into a missionary church. In 2001, a book by a free lance writer here listed us as one of five missions ‘minded’ church in Singapore. This is in a city with over 500 churches.

The Spirit-inspired momentum continued. In 2002, members arrived in 16 different countries across 4 continents on short-term trips. More go teams landed in new continents over 2003 and 2004. My colleague, Cara told me that my ministry travel covered over 130,000 kilometers in the year 2005 alone. That’s the equivalent of circling the globe more than 3 times along the equator.

Much of Dinah’s and my time and focus are shared between local and global matters. We attempt to keep in touch as much as we can with members. Much of what we do relate to global work that we have been described as offshore missionaries.

With many members and churches spread across the world, we are functioning more like a senior pastor-at-large. This local and global dimension work sure makes life quite exciting. This is the fun of being part of a global city church.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Chronicles of Narnia

Today our church was asked by a local newspaper about the upcoming movie 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe'. I thought it might help to post our reply here since it may or may not be published in the press. So here is our response.

Q: Several churches have tried to book cinema theatres to watch Narnia, some have tried to arrange for charity screenings. Is Hope Church Singapore doing something like that? Why or why not?

A: Churches in Singapore (including ourselves) have been invited by cinema operators to have private screenings.

Corporately we have Christmas services and small group events planned for December. Our focus will be on Christmas celebrations. Some of our church members have expressed their interest to watch the movie, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (LWW).

Q: They also did so for Passion Of The Christ. Did you?

A: Yes we did arrange cinema screenings for the Passion of the Christ. We did so because the Passion of the Christ was based on an actual historical event. Then the timing of the movie was in line with Good Friday. Also it was an excellent visual portrayal for the last 12 hours of Christ.

Q: I also understand that many of your small groups are arranging to watch on their own time. What do you think is the appeal of Narnia?

A: Yes some of our small groups are arranging to watch the LWW together.

LWW is Walt Disney Pictures’ special-effects-filled adaptation of C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy about four British children who step through a magical wardrobe into the land of Narnia. LWW director Andrew Adamson ("Shrek," "Shrek 2") and his screenwriters have constructed a well-told good vs evil parable that is enhanced by computer-generated effects.

The appeal is in its fantasy/family/adventure genre. It's a kaleidoscopic vision of fanciful and colourful creatures, fantastic landscapes, and laugh-out-loud surprises. The atmosphere and look of the production are reminiscent of the magic Walt Disney himself brought to his best productions. What’s more, this Wardrobe fits adults as well as kids. Those who don't know the book won't find anything amiss.

There is also the Father Christmas character who gives gifts to 3 of the children (which ties in with Christmas in the eyes of kids).

Q: Does the fact that it is infused with Christian values play a role in its appeal?

A: Narnia is certainly infused with positive values. CS Lewis was the author of the Narnia series. He made no effort to hide his Christian faith. Many viewers will fail to recognise any allusions to Christianity. It is best enjoyed as a symphonic, delightful and timeless fairy tale.

Q: Do you hope to see more movies like Narnia?

A: With more and more movies focusing on violence, gratuitous sex and profanity, it’s refreshing to have a quality movie with wholesome themes. Yes we do hope to see more movies like Narnia. It has been said that film makers are the cultural prophets of modern society. That is why it is so important for Disney and other movie makers to continue to make quality movies with wholesome themes.

Q: On one hand, it must be good that people are making family-oriented movies for a Christian audience; on the other hand, are you worried about the commercialisation that comes along with it?

A: This is a family-oriented movie but it is not for a Christian audience. Micheal Flaherty, who co-founded Walden Media, says the LWW film is the book, pure and simple. “For me, the main themes in the book are family and forgiveness. We made sure they were there in the film.”

Adamson, the LWW director, adds, “We approached it as a story that is very much about themes of betrayal, forgiveness and loyalty. It’s about a family who feels disempowered by the terror of World War II and then finds their power again in Narnia. It’s a story about four kids who enter this land where they’re not only empowered, but where they’re ultimately the only solution to the war in that land. And it’s only through unity as a family that they can actually triumph.” LWW producer Mark Johnson gave this, “I think audiences will take away the most positive messages of belief, strength and family.”

There is some commercialisation that comes with any movie. At the same time wholesome entertainment do help people enjoy life and it’s a perfectly legitimate avenue to make an honest living.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

In Ecuador

It's Monday morning and I say good bye to the girls before they leave. Then I say good bye to Terry and Julian drives me to the airport. The car gives us a few nervous moments on the way to the airport. Thankfully I check in before time and even get to have a drink with Julian. We say good bye and I enter the departure gate. My wife was at the departure gate having arrived from Santiago. It's our first time on TACA, the national airline of Costa Rica. We catch up on the over 2 hour flight.

The scenery at the Quito airport is spectacular. We clear customs and there waiting for us is Joshua, Hannah and Sharon. We give them the Latino kiss. They say Quito is 2,850 metres above sea level so to expect possible altitude sickness. We take taxis to their very bright and nice apartment. They have a glass cabinet with picture books of Singapore. Each bedroom has an attached bathroom. Later Gerard comes home. We keep catching up and forget to unpack. As Gerard and Hannah go shopping, Dinah chats with Sharon and I with Joshua. They serve us coca tea and we freshen up. Dinah is going to bunk with Sharon and I in Gerard's room.

The fish soup dinner is healthy. Wee Leng's brinjal dish is commendable. We have a long catch up session about Singapore and Ecuador. Later Dinah and I call the kids.

As I prepare to sleep, there is loud music and partying outside. There are 2 lorries with revellers. This party lorry is called a chiva. The chiva has a small 'band' with whistles, trumpets and drums and serve alcohol. Tomorrow is the 'Foundation of Quito'. The night is cold but the revellers are dancing and drinking. The tiredness helps me sleep despite the all-night noise.

It's Tuesday and I awake with adequate sleep. After some stretching, I read the Bible. Gerard is up early and we check emails. The rest get up and we have breakfast.

The team is not working today so we take the electric tram to Quito colonial town. The team take us to the historic town square. Being a public holiday, the town square's crowded with people. I was advised to conceal my wrist watch and beware of pickpockets.

We enter the San Francisco cathedral, the oldest church in Ecuador. Then we go up to Panecillo ('little bun' in Spanish). This is the Virgin of Quito on a hill overlooking Quito. Next is our tea appointment with Vinicio and Maria Soledad with their beautiful daughters. They have just started coming to our service. We have a great time together. Then we come home and then have dinner at a nearby Chinese place. We discuss the next day's plan. It's challenging to do mid or longer term plans here.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Lima's 2nd Anniversary

It's Saturday and we get ready for camp. I chat with Felix before we load equipment into the taxi. Then four of us collect the cake and get some groceries in Julian's car. This is a 30 year old Volkswagen. We drive over an hour through a wealthy district and hilly/dry district. The double exhaust pipe has explosion-type sounds. We finally arrive at noon. The Christian camp site in Cieneguilla is located between the coast and highlands. It's a desert-like terrain with dust. Afternoon is set up time. I become quiet before God reading Ephesians.

Later Terry translates for me as I greet campers. The Latinos are affectionate and warm towards foreigners. I meet Cecilia who came to know Christ in our Singapore church. She reminds me that I baptised her in Singapore and challenged her and German to return to Peru instead of migrating to Canada.

Night comes and the children and then the youth present special items. This starts the second anniversary-camp. Serene leads in praise and worship. Julian leads in the Passover Dinner. This is a unique anniversary celebration. Then I share a few words. After dinner we adjourn to the campfire. The evening ends and we rearrange the hall for the next day.

The Sunday dawn is broken early by the sounds of roosters and turkeys. It's good to have devotions with the scenic hills in the background. Terry and Lidia leads the morning exercises and at one point Terry almost falls over. He just makes everyone laugh with his antics and Spanish.

Breakfast is Tamar, corn with beef filling. Coffee here is light as Peruvians don't drink much coffee. We have great conversations. Felix leads morning worship. Then I do a workshop with adults, youth have a workshop and kids have their activity.

In the free time Edgar invites me to spend time with his family. His mom is Benedicta, a fascinating Christian from the highlands. His wife is Nancy. His sisters are Ester and Lidia. Benedicta sings Highland Christian songs for us. The highland melody is so unique.

Lunch starts with a potato appetiser (with highlands origin) and Peruvian chicken rice i.e. rice cooked in spinach with a piece of chicken. Over lunch I get to speak with Daniel and Felix. Later I reply to my wife who is in Santiago.

It's water baptism. Laura and Vanessa share their conversion testimonies. Then Julian, Serene and team lay hands on them. Then Julian and I baptise six people in the pool after praying prophetically for them. After the shower Terry invites me to pray for the church before we cut the 2nd anniversary cake.

Later it's great to catch up with German. We prayed for him to be baptised in the Spirit in Singapore. Soon it's time to pack up and take group photos. I am so glad to witness what God is doing in this country.

Then we say long good byes. I have never 'kissed' so many ladies before. Many members hold my hand and speak to me endearments in Spanish.

It's time to drive back in Julian's volkswagen. We unload the stuff and I do laundry for the wet clothes. We order in pizza. It's time for our last supper. It's heart warming as we encourage each other and thank each other. It's sad that I have to leave tomorrow.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Time in Lima

Thursday morning started very early for me. Think it's jet lag starting to hit. I call Dinah in Santiago. They are 2 hours ahead of Peru and she's having lunch with David and Pui See. Afterwards I do reflections. It dawns on me that I am so proud of Julian and Serene and the team Terry, Delia and Ailay. They have opened the way and established a model of church planting in South America for the rest of us. For me, it's pure privilege to see the team in action. This is so awesome.

It's time for Terry and I go to collect my visa. It's a cold day and another long wait. I get the Ecuador visa till 12 Dec. My flight leaves Quito on 11 Dec so the Consul gave me one day grace. For that I'm thankful. Next Terry brings us for a Peruvian lunch and we come home for a cup of coffee. Julian is working on the computer in his room preparing for camp. Then I notice Terry is reading the latest Hope Church Singapore Breakthrough testimony. He tells me he reads them regularly.

The guest room for me is on the roof top. There is a small, steel spiral stairway to the top. You walk through the open where the laundry hangs to the room. In the afternoon I find some bird feathers in the room as they are blown through the bottom of the door. I almost pick them up before I remember migratory birds and bird flu. So I pull the airline sticker tape from the suitcase and use it to dab/stick the feathers (just in case) and throw the feathery tape right into the bin.

Then I start to type what I have learnt from Lima. Next I reply to my wife's email from Santiago. Later in the afternoon four local leaders start arriving for mentoring sessions before the team huddle later. Tonight's huddle focuses on final preparations for the weekend anniversary camp. I can't stop yawning during the camp discussions. Jet lag is at peak level. Then the team practise action songs for the camp with me half-dazed. The actions cause me to begin to wake up. I only realise I have not taken a photo of the huddle when it's over.

Friday morning is waking up fresh. It's spring. The weather is cool in the morning and cold at night. Sometimes it's hot in the afternoon but yesterday it was cold. Every one is out this morning. There is time to read the Bible leisurely and pray. Then I spend time preparing for tomorrow's anniversary camp. Next Julian and I have a long 5 hour lunch. Then we come back just in time to pick up the team to go out. On the way, we laugh over the bar of soap that 'miraculously' lasts 6 months.

Tonight we have dinner at Pardos Chicken, a famous Peruvian restaurant. Here's the photo by Terry. The drink is chicha made from purple corn. The team insist I have anticucho which is cow's heart. It's interesting. This is exotic dining with good company. Then the girls offer to bring me shopping for gifts. This is our last opportunity as camp starts tomorrow then I fly to Ecuador. They have great fun helping me choose gifts as Julian and Terry stay aside for some manly talk. It's great to have shopping consultants from Singapore.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

In South America

It's Monday night. Connie and Leo came to fetch the kids and their luggage. Simon came for the car. (This is becoming a familiar scene). Dinah finished packing so I managed to sleep one hour. Then we are off to the airport. It's our first time on North West airlines. We fly 7 hours to Narita and spend 2 hours in transit. We fly over 9 hours to LA. We spend 4 hours in transit. Then we fly over 10 hours to Lima. We boarded LAN airlines (Chilean) for the first time. There were 7 newspapers and they are all in Spanish. This is our first time in South America.

We have flown over 33 hours (incl. 6 hours in transit). I am so dehydrated. Dinah remain on the plane to Santiago. She has another 5 hours of flying. It is 11:15 pm and customs queue is taking a long time. Finally I am out at the arrival hall with a sea of faces. After about 15 full minutes of scanning, I spot Julian waving. I push that trolley towards his direction. It's so good to see Terry and Julian. Terry sat in front with the taxi driver. I catch up with Julian.

The taxi reach home after 1 am and they show me to the room. Yes the warm shower feels so, so good. Then I lay down to journal and read the Bible. Not long later I manage to sleep.

I awake on Wednesday to the sounds of birds cooing and chirping. Terry brings me for breakfast and we catch up. Then we go to the Ecuador embassy to apply for my visa. (The Ecuadorian ambassador in Singapore was in Ecuador so I couldn't apply there.) The central business district here is quite modern. We submit the documents and wait. The visa application takes 3-10 days but I need to go to Ecuador next Monday. After over 2 hours the Consul ask to see us. He asks questions in Spanish. Thank God for Terry. He asks me in English. He finally says the visa will be issued tomorrow. The Ecuador team says this is a miracle.

We have time before lunch so we browse at possible gift items for people in Singapore and I want to get groceries for the household. Terry says we'll be away at camp. Instead we have coffee and then it's a Peruvian lunch with Terry and Julian and more catching up. The guys order Cerviche, Peruvian raw fish. We come back to the house and I get the gifts from Singapore for the team. Later the girls come home and we catch up a little. Then I write to Ecuador that the visa is okay.

Serene is practising guitar. Terry is having a nap. Ailay is beside me and Delia is behind me preparing for the camp. As we type, we smell the meat grilling with Julian in the kitchen. Tonight we catch up with the whole team.

Dinner end up almost 3 hours. We are telling stories about Singapore and South America. The beef steak is big and the pre-mixed tomyan soup has kick. The team washes up and prepares for bed. They sleep early and wake up early. The phone rings and it's Charmaine calling for me. Hope the ringing does not interrupt the team's sleep.

Monday, November 28, 2005

40 Day Journey

Our church is currently on a 40-day journey. We are fasting and praying corporately for a Christmas breakthrough. We have been journeying together for just over two weeks now. I wonder if the food establishments around Nexus have felt it.

Here's something for the journey. Recently I read a National Geographic (Nov 05) article about societies that live longer. It was fascinating so i noted some key facts. They studied 3 societies around the globe and found similar factors. All don't smoke. Be active everyday. Put family first. Keep socially engaged. Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Other significant factors include keep lifelong friends, eat small portions - till you're 80% full, find purpose and have faith. I particularly liked the '80% full' part and the 'have faith' part.

My wife and I are also preparing for another journey. Very early tomorrow morning we leave for a 2 week ministry trip to South America. (I don't know why long distance flights always happen at 'ungodly' hours).

Hope to post some missions reports along the way. If not, then I'll post again after we get back.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The last ten days

The last ten days has been awesome. Things happened so quickly. The meetings were long. The nights were long. Now's time to update my blog. So here goes.

Yesterday I was backstage with Fook Wah. He was going to share his story in the morning services. He's also visually impaired. I couldn't help noticing him prepare by 'feeling' his written testimony in Braille. He has been communicating with my colleague Kam Weng by e-mail about this testimony. I just had to ask how he read his emails. He said he uses voice recognition to read emails. (And I thought I was up to date.) Then he went up to share about what it takes for a handicapped person just to make it for worship service. He travels 50 minutes one way to worship each Sunday. He also joins care group and corporate prayer. Many of us were inspired.

Mabel and Christie told us there was strong spiritual atmosphere. After all we had corporate prayer on 11th Nov, 40-day fasting started 13th Nov and healing conference on 15-17 Nov. I spoke in the morning and in the evening. It was great to pray with 11 people who made first time commitments to Christ. Over 40 people responded and got baptised in the Holy Spirit.

I must mention the healing services on Tue and Wed night (15-16 Nov). The first night was so good and the second was even better. We have received documentation of 20 people who have been healed from various sickneses. I understand there are more.

The Friday before last was also significant. We got invited to help in the upcoming Chronicles of Narnia community project in Dec. We decided later that we would join this project. It's so rare to find a positive, fun and quality movie these days. We know this is going to turn out great.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Reorientating Myself

I was wide awake on Fri night as well as Sat night. Jet lag strikes! Yin San said something about sleeping 12 hours straight after a long-haul flight. Claud mentioned a pill that counteracts jet lag. Looks like there's a pill for everything.

Yes it was hard to preach on Sun morning. The message was "Spiritual Mysteries of the Ark". Morning worship time was good. We had child dedication for 14 kids in the first service. Cheryl gave an amazing testimony in the second service. After second service, an African-American lady came up and said it was great. She asked if we have 'this type of church' in Virginia, US. I said, "Not yet". She seemed disappointed. We talked for a while. She was Charmaine's friend from seminary.

We saw Sharon who's back on home leave from Ecuador. I said hi. Then I got some shut eye in the afternoon. My wife said my rest was 'quite a racket' for the family.

Evening worship was also impactful. After evening service, a lady came up and said "It's my first time here. One of your church members invited me here today. I'm a full-time minister from the Phillipines here on a 1 month sabbatical. I'm so glad I came today. Thank you so much." I was glad that we can be a blessing to people and I replied that she's more than welcome to join us for the 1 month she's in town.

These two individuals plus the five persons who committed their lives to Christ for the first time today more than made up for jetlag blues. Honestly it's a "mystery" I made it through today - fairly joyful too.

Next we were off to Lawrence and Pat's place in Sengkang. Thomas was there. Pat's Assam laksa was potent - I actually slept on Sun night.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Pastors Retreat in Chicago

We took the very early morning flight on Friday to Chicago. As we departed, Cindy and Sharon were about to arrive from Chile and Ecuador respectively. How amazing.

Then our 2 hour transit in Narita Airport revealed a nicer airport than our last transit here. We finally arrived in the busiest airport on the planet in Chicago. This is our second time in the windy city. Pastor David fetched us at 3 pm in the afternoon and helped us settle down at the rented house. This house with character is next to De Paul university. We washed up. Dinah napped and I worked on next week's sermon since I couldn't sleep. The North American pastors and spouses started to arrive. We had a good time catching up.

We went for Thai food and the American serving size is big. We continued to catch up at the house after dinner. It is fall (autumn) and the weather is cold. The wind brings the temperature down. My skin is not used to the dry conditions.

Saturday started with home cooked breakfast. We had worship, testimonies and I did a lesson. Next Dinah did a session with the wives as I took the husbands. Then we took the train to down town and had lunch at the John Hancock tower. We spent the afternoon walking to the Chicago River. It looks a lot like Singapore River. We spent informal time together as the wives prepared dinner. We had worship and discussions till late.

We started Sunday cleaning the house and moving to David & Malay's down town apartment. This is near Loyola University. We had breakfast there followed by worship service. David led worship, his wife led the service, 3 pastors from out-of-town gave testimonies and I preached. We had lunch together with the people. After lunch we resumed discussions. Evening time came and most of the pastors and spouses went home. William and Lan stayed behind. We had good talks till late.

We got up later on Monday. Lan insisted I do a lesson. She is so hungry. We had lunch out then sent William and Lan to the airport. They said they would love to miss their flight so they could spend more time together. We then went to the bookstore at the Moody Bible Institute. David and I spent some time together as the ladies went out. We bought our host family a meal. Moses was dressed as batman. The restaurant is full of adults dressed up. It's our first time seeing Halloween celebrated.

On Tuesday David took Dinah and I to pray over the Loyola University. He loves nature so we spend some time in Northwestern University campus. We had lunch in Evanston. Then we go home to pack for tomorrow and get ready for care group tonight. I started writing this blog. Dinah and I joined the care group and got to know the people better. We dined together after care group.

Wednesday is travelling to the airport. We are leaving Midwest USA. We travelled 12 hours to Tokyo with 1 hour transit and 6 hours to Singapore. Managed to sleep more and even do some work on the next sermon. We arrived at after 11 pm Thursday. The humidity hits. Thank God for the light rain that brings down the temperature.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Morning Intercession

For quite some time I have been noticing people from second Sunday service who join the early Sunday pre-service prayer. Our second service starts at 11:30am so they are there 3 hours earlier at 8:30 am for morning intercession.

Three weeks ago I asked Mike, a pastoral staff how many people actually do this. He said he could tell me and he offered to write down the names. Two Fridays ago, Mike sent me the list. There are 48 people from second service who join pre-service prayer regularly.

Then last week I got three different stories of members and why they join us in the pre-service prayer. One of them will share her story live this weekend. They are all very dedicated members indeed. With such people, we have a bright future.

Dinah and I will go overseas in just a few hours. We go assured intercession will continue here and knowing there will be intercession for us as we serve overseas.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Birthdays & Exams

This is the time of the year for final exams. It's no different for our twins. The unique thing is we celebrate their birthday just before year-end exams.

In fact in October we celebrate Dinah's birthday in the second week, the twin's birthday in third week and Lawrence's birthday just after the third week. Several church staff threw a birthday party for the twins last week. The twins were so thrilled. Any reason to get the (super-busy) staff together is probably a good reason.

Today is our off day. It's also the first day of the twin's exams. We took time to have lunch to celebrate our Aussie pal's birthday. (He's the one with the loud shirt. Just yesterday Lawrence, Claudia and I were having tea with a pastor friend. He actually asked if we were in our twenties or thirties. He's now our best friend.)

After yummy seafood and catch up time, it's off for some revision. This is a strange month.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Rainy Sunday

Yesterday my wife preached for the first time at our tertiary service. She came home glad that she could minister here.

This morning Jeff Lim gave a touching testimony. I spoke on ransom money for soul redemption. It was great to pray with a dad and a daugher who came the first time and committed their lives to Christ. Then we headed home to rest. It rained heavily and the slip road off Tampines Expressway to Punggol was flooded so I drove carefully. This was the first time this happened and a car actually got stuck at the flood waters. The kids were excited. It's not everyday kids in our city get to see a real flood. The entrance to the multi-story carpark was also flooded. This has happened before but I still had to tread carefully. As we entered, the entire basement carpark was flooded and the first floor carpark was being flooded. We parked on the next level.

As we got on the lift, the kids said "Thank God we live on the 15th floor. God please protect mom and the people of Punggol." (Dinah was out for an appointment.) I love these kids.

Later we drove to evening service. The waters had subsided. Or I would have had to use a boat to go preach. It was a good worship service. It was even better to pray with six persons who made first time commitments to Christ. As I went down to wait for my wife, I saw some members having dinner. I said hello. They are school teachers celebrating two birthdays. Their story of friendship encouraged me. They come from our Saturday and Sunday worship services but studied together in the National Institute of Education over 2 years ago. They keep in touch regularly.

Then my wife called. I bade good bye to the 7 friends. Off I went home for dinner. This ended a very fulfilling day indeed. I hope the cool weather stays.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Wife's Birthday

My wife preached on Sunday morning. Then Claudia, Jeff, Pat and Lawrence arranged for a birthday dinner for Dinah at an Italian restaurant at Labrador Park. It was the first time there for all of us. It was quite special. The next day Connie delivered a birthday gift for her at the office.

Then we were off to 2006 planning retreat on Tue and Wed. A beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived by courier for my wife on Wed morning (her actual birthday). Our church operations colleagues arranged delivery with a florist. This was a pleasant surprise. About an hour later, they showed up with a cake topped with a candle. Planning stopped and celebrations began. The cake was v good.

Dinah got a long distance call with a birthday greeting. The eventful retreat finally ended in the evening. We dropped off Fenny then we fetched our kids. They had actually bought a 3-stalk rose bouquet with the help of auntie Cara. They dug cash from their piggy bank to pay for it. My wife's sister bought a cake. We had another a mini-celebration.

Today is Thursday. Lawrence and I were panelists at the Missions Summit organised by Love Singapore. Charmaine and Elaine were here as participants. Tonight Christie, Shirley and Mabel are having dinner with Dinah at a French restaurant. The twins and I had an intimate take-away dinner at home. The three of us will celebrate with Dinah next week. In the mean time I am preparing for the sermons this Sunday.

All that said, my wife's birthday this year has been very special.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Cockroach Attack!

Editor's Note: This post was suggested by Deb and drafted jointly by the twins. You could say that they are guest columnists. Initially I thought they were going to write their Saturday morning experience. Now I realise that they wrote as if I was writing. I guess their logic is that this is daddy's blog. Anyway here is children styled narrative. Enjoy...

Today is Saturday. This morning while the twins were packing their bags, Deb found a cockroach in her bag.

I was shocked to see a cockroach in Deb’s bag. The kids were holding rolled up newspapers and trying to whack the cockroach. It went into the rubbish bin into the yogurt container for a while. I used insecticide to spray the cockroach in the rubbish bin. It sort of flipped itself out of the dustbin and onto the floor. Then I borrowed Deb’s newspaper to whack the cockroach. The cockroach ran through my legs so I jumped and the kids called it a “ split” in the air. I had to do it even if the kids called ‘it’ a funny joke . I had to whack the cockroach with the newspapers a few times until it died . I am glad I killed it then I grabbed it with a piece of tissue, flushed it into the toilet bowl.

Ben's note: My wife is not part of this. The simple reason is because at this time she is making final preparations to preach tomorrow morning. So this is one of those rare Saturday night blogs.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Quarter Four 2005

Last weekend began quarter four of 2005. Saturday was when a girl named Edna was born. This is Joel and Evelyn's baby. This is our 7th Breakthrough babe.

I spoke about soul satisfaction at our Sunday morning services. It was a joy to pray with a Vietnamese and a Thai who made first time commitments to Christ. An older man came up after the first service and asked me if I was from Sabah. This was a family visiting us for the first time. I said yes as he named my parents. His wife said that I look like my mom. His wife asked for prayer and we prayed together. Later we spoke for a while.

In the afternoon, we had combined leaders rally. We had awards to affirm various people and ministries. The third quarter went astonishingly well. We have had very positive ministry.

We commissioned 17 brand new leaders. I started with thanksgiving and went to share what the Lord reminded me in the week. That we are a global city church and He put us in Singapore for a reason. Many agree the next 50 years is the era of China and India. Singapore is at the confluence of the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. We need to get ready for the Kingdom to break out in Singapore and out into many cities.

Next I spent some time on the importance of the leader's spirit and resulting impartation. This is the capacity to give unto others that which God has given to us. Jesus said we can impart our peace to any house in Luke 10.

When I get into the presence of Godly leaders, I drink wisdom from their constancy of dedication in ministry. When I get around on-fire young leaders, their passion is contagious. These are times I sense my spiritual cobwebs blown out and replaced by new hope and vision to go further with God.

God's Spirit is continually imparting to us everything that belongs to Him. Holiness, honesty, courage, strength and all else we may need. It is God through us. We have God's Spirit within us. God has given us the capacity to impart blessing. You can expect your life to be an impartation to people's hearts.

Then I asked each leader especially each small group leader to get each member united and committed. For us to breakthrough as a church, we need to be united and committed. I asked each small and mid-size group to always start with Breakthrough testimonies every time we gather. We ended with the challenge to "Bring in the harvest. Bring back the glory." Q4 here we come!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Ministry House

Starting from the age of 11, I studied overseas living in 3 boarding houses in Singapore and Perth over 11 years. When the church started I stayed in a ministry house till Dinah and I got married in Jul 92. After we got married, we had different single leaders come stay overnight in our guest room for extended discipleship.

My buddy Lawrence is a min-house veteran. He stayed in 6 different ministry houses. He said it's 7 if you count the office when he was in-between ministry houses. He reminds me of Christ who lived with his disciples for several years, and Paul who lived with different apostolic teams with whom he traveled.

The purpose of a ministry house is to encourage discipleship through learning and sharing a Christ-centred lifestyle with other disciples. They are also a great way for singles to enjoy the benefit of Christian community.

A ministry house is started when a few guys (or a few gals) from a mid-size group come together and rent a place. Ministry houses like all homes have ground rules and there are 'house captains'. We provide guidelines and our leaders assist and advise house captains even though this leadership is not an official office in the church.

Today we have people staying in 18 ministry houses. Most come from overseas. We also have ministry houses when our go-teams land overseas for missions.

I'm sure those of us who live or have lived in a ministry house can sure tell a few blooper stories. The overall discipleship effect over the years has been good. We have seem many people (pastors included) growing in character and building close relationships, while serving the local church.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

It's Wednesday

Wednesday was the first day for our Staff Intern. Xue Ting is a third year accountancy student from Temasek Polytechnic. In fact her Polytechnic lecturer came to the church office last week. Xue Ting will be attached to Lean Choo, our church accountant for 11 weeks. Today I asked Xue Ting how she came to join our church. She told me her that her Chinese teacher in secondary four brought her to church in August 2002. Thank God for teachers.

Later that night Lawrence, Pat, Dinah and I brought Jeff and Claud out. We're having a belated birthday celebration for Jeff. He opted for Chomp Chomp and that's where we went. Lawrence and I've never eated so much cockles before. Then the birthday 'boy' suggested ice cream. We had nice ice cream. I guess this replaces the traditional birthday cake. Yes I ate too much (again). After this we went to fetch the kids from our sister's place.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


We spent Wed night with pastoral leaders and staff. It was exciting to share about how to develop romantic relationships. Instead of arguing for courtship or dating, I put forth that romantic relationships should be about covenant with commitment as the key element. We all want to do a better job of learning and helping ourselves and others in relationships. We had a good time discussing this late into the night.

The weekend past was quite unique. Saturday was 'Marriage Enrichment' day. Dinah and I spent Saturday with almost 50 couples investing into our marriage. The couples came from across the church. You have to see the photos to believe the things that happened. Our guest speaker, Edwin Choy from the Centre for Fathering covered key areas in the afternoon. He said that it's all about covenant and commitment. This sure resonated with Wed night! We ended at 5:30 pm so there was just enough to go preach at our tertiary service.

Sunday was special. We had Pastor Dominic Yeo from Trinity Christian Centre as guest speaker. I have known him for over 5 years. This is the first time he is speaking for us. Amazingly he spoke on what we're going through right now - 'breakthrough'. It was great catching up in between morning services. Must catch up with him more. We had Vivien who co-led worship for the first time. She sure did a great job. Then Ying Soon's Breakthrough story was powerful. This week was enriching.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Every 3 months

It was great to have lunch with my old friend Alex after the service on Sunday. Then I spent the afternoon and that night working on a new lesson 'The Future of Love'. I have been working on this for almost 2 weeks now.

Before Sunday I was asked by a member on how he can pray for me. I had to think real fast. Most members see me preaching and leading people. They probably imagine me in key meetings. So I began to think about one role that that he may not know about.

Since I am in the midst of preparing a lesson and also since we plan our ministry in quarters or blocks of 13 weeks, this is how I'll answer...

"When you pray for me, pray that I get plenty of freshness and spiritual vitality in the teaching ministry. This is because I need to develop 7 sermons, 3 leadership lessons, 2 special messages and write several forewords every 3 months. Then I also help write proposals, policies and papers. Not to mention writing replies to questions that we get. Yes I do covet your constant prayers."

We play several roles in God's Kingdom. As a Christ follower, I thank God for giving us a sense of destiny - that God has prepared us all my life to carry out what He has prepared for us. I also thank the local church for giving my family the opportunity to play a part to serve.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

It's raining retreats

I almost couldn't get up on Mon, 29 Aug because yesterday was such an exciting day. My faithful wife was there to help me. I was up and about on Monday, a day of preparing for upcoming retreats.

Then it was raining retreats. Tue and Wed (30-31 Aug) was our planning and praying retreat for 2006 ministry. Tuesday is normally our day off but we needed to be here. Wed was to follow through on many matters before taking Thur off.

We spent Thur with my aunt from Canada. She is en route from Sabah to Canada. She had a great time sharing my childhood stories with my kids. I was glad to be able to catch up with her after so many years.

Fri and Sat passed by quickly as the weekend set in. Dinah was on duty at our Sunday morning services. I had lunch with a Nigerian couple who has been attending our church. It was a great time to get to know our guests. Later our family did not get to swim due to the weather. It was packing time again.

Mon to Wed (5-7 Sep) was the annual staff retreat. We met at the East Coast beach on Mon morning and we did a 'bike hash'. Then we took the coach to Kukup in Johor. This year the retreat venue was a fishing village by the sea.

We stayed in a house built on concrete columns. We arrived late afternoon and a few of us enjoyed the view and the sea breeze on beach chairs. The rest enjoyed board games and just catching up with colleagues. We celebrated Simon's birthday. There was a steamboat dinner followed by more board games, karoake singing and sea breeze on beach chairs. I was so glad to see good bonding among staff. I must mention that the wash room is quite basic so the ones who tend to spend a long time in the bath room don't anymore.

We awoke on Tuesday to fish porridge. Then we had devotion from morning till noon. It felt strange but good to have lengthy time with God. I sat there with the Bible, journal, sea breeze in my face, surrounded by fish farms and a community whose entire livelihood revolves around the sea. Civilisation seems distant and less attractive. At lunch we celebrated Cryst's birthday. Afternoon was a boat trip to the forest reserve in a swamp followed by an awesome excursion to a fish farm on the sea. I loved this floating farm learning experience. Then we went back. Evening started with a praise and worship followed by a seafood barbeque dinner. We had hilarious team presentations. Hope those photos don't get circulated. We capped off the evening with fireworks that Steven got.

Most of woke up later on Wed. We had praise followed by open sharing. Today we celebrated Jeff's birthday. Then we packed up and had lunch at the restaurant. The coach driver for some reason drove very fast on the bumpy road out. So I got this headache. We finally reached Singapore. We reached home and unpacked a little. Then we swam followed by more house chores. Later I read my blog and realised someone said I haven't updated my blog recently. So comes this post.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A Full Weekend

Dinah and I just came back from Kenya last Tuesday night. Deborah got sick while we were away. When we came back Daniel just got sick. We prayed for our kids. There were also church matters to catch up on. The weekened started early for me. I preached the opening message of our new sermon series in all three student services on Saturday. (This Tabernacle series is fascinating). It was great to meet our young people. I was also glad to meet 3 Africans at the tertiary service. Yes I slept soundly that night.

On Sunday I preached the series starter twice in the morning. There were three persons who walked up after the second service. One of them found us on the Yellow Pages and showed up today for the first time. He brought a friend who gave her life to Christ. Then I had lunch and rested awhile. Pat was so kind to drive our daughter to our sister-in-law's place. Daniel is resting there.

Then my wife and I are off to the membership class. There were a hundred and ten people present and we did not recognise most of them. It was great to meet new members. We ended after 7 pm but enthusiastic new members stayed behind with additional questions. We finally picked the kids up at 8:30 pm then it was an early night for all of us. The next day is a school day when we leave before 7 am. This was a very full weekend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Wrapping up

Monday is our last day here. The girls suggest we go to a tea plantation. We started with a long breakfast. We drove to a refreshing tea plantation. The hilly terrain of tea plants was just breathtaking. This is tea like you’ve never seen it. Later we got the girls a nice lunch and nice Italian ice cream.

We spent some time with James in the early afternoon.

Later we spent time praying together. Then my wife packed and I journaled.

We had our last meal dinner together as we wrap up our time here. We showered and travelled to the airport. It was a sad to say good bye. Now was time for the 14 hour flight home incl 2 hour transit. No upgrade this time but the Dubai to Singapore leg was not full so we got seats with ample leg room. As I wrote this blog I just got a thank you email from the girls. They have timed it well, thoughtful as usual. We miss them already.

A Nairobi Weekend

We woke early on Sat and had breakfast. The girls had arranged for us to to visit the nearby Nairobi National Park. I guess this is a must-see here. We had plenty of time to chat as the driver from the tour company was 2 hours late. Punctuality isn't common in many parts of the world. He finally showed up and his name was Peter. He drove a reinforced van with a modified sun roof. At the park we saw wildebeest, vultures, impala, deer, monkeys, giraffe, warthogs and zebras in their natural habitat. The kids would have loved this. Maybe next time we'll visit the large safari park further away.

Peter is from the Kikuyu tribe. He explains the safari. He says wildebeest are forgetful. They can be running from a lion and sudddenly stop to eat grass. Then he took us to the Giraffe centre, a place for orphaned giraffes. This ended our half day excursion.

In the afternoon we walked out to get groceries for the household. The weather is hot and cool at the same time. The sun is strong and the air is dusty. We had dinner out with an Australian friend, Paul and his dad. We came back and related with the girls till late.

Sunday saw us having a proper breakfast as lunch will be late. We drove to a village in the slum. There we met James.

James walked us through this shanty town of tin shacks. The sights, smells and sounds for these 15 minutes was emotionally draining. It didn’t look as if many dwellers had seen Asian people before. He showed us around the school premise and brought us to the new one that is still being built. My wife and I brought a lot of books from Singapore for the needy kids here. We learnt more about the school in the school office. Then he showed us the church premise. As we walked in to the Sunday service, I was invited to preach. I should have said yes. Worship time was great. Kenyans have good rhythm and strong vocals. We sang, danced and soaked in the atmosphere. Dinah and I were invited to share a few words before the sermon.

Then we took a long drive east to visit his wife. The road to their large home was long. The road had many potholes and car fumes are plentiful. The couple could not get help for the two young ones so she stayed home. They adopted two beautiful kids. We exchanged greetings then he brought us to Blue Post hotel near a waterfall. Lunch was about 4 pm. We were glad to host this busy family for lunch.

We went to buy dinner, came home and showered. Jeb, husband and 3 kids came for dinner. She is a local and close friend of the girls.

In East Africa

It's Friday the 19th of Aug. Our colleague Simon kindly drop us off at the airport. We checked in at 1 am for our 3:25 am flight. We went in early. At the wash room mirror I looked as if I just touched down after a long flight. Normally I only look like this when I arrive not before I leave. We went to the departure gate. I dozed off as we were up since 6 am Thur morning. Then we heard our name over the intercom. We walked to the staff and they said, “These are your new boarding passes for Business Class.” We almost couldn’t believe our ears. This was the first time we were upgraded in all of our ministry trips. My wife said I began smiling after this point.

We went in the plane and sat down on the huge leather reclining seats. The welcome drink was apple juice, orange juice and champagne. We had apple juice. We got linen napkins and personalised service. "So this is how it’s like". We slept well for this 7 hour flight to Dubai.

We then arrived at the impressive Dubai international airport. We have heard many good reports of this city. It is a modern desert city. Whatever illusion we have about self, it quickly disappears when you travel. The washrooms were not as well maintained. We were on transit here for almost 2 hours.

Then we were back on Economy class seats for the 5 hour journey to Nairobi. The Nairobi international airport look like Singapore in late 1970s and they were playing ABBA songs – definitely very 70’s.

We were so glad the customs officer did not ask us to open our suitcases because we were so tired. We were so glad to see Li Chuang and Lisa. We hugged them. Their car was a hatch back so they hired a sedan taxi. They're so considerate. The road from the airport has grazing land where we saw Masai herders and their cattle. Nice!

We arrived at their place in a compound fairly near the city centre. We notice there are no traffic lights as they prefer roundabouts. There are hardly any street lamps but there are large pelicans that live on trees and feed on garbage.

We drop the stuff, have a drink and they brought us to a mall for lunch. Then the girls bring us to Kazuri, a handicraft place and to a Masai bazzar at Village Market. My wife was fascinated but all I wanted was a shower. (Also my wife sleeps better on planes than me.) We finally went home, showered and I saw a huge mosquito. Then we had dinner and catch up. Dinah and I enjoyed time with our old friends.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

8th Birthday

Tonight was our Filipino service's 8th anniversary. We rested after morning service then we dropped the kids off at Dinah's sister place and made our way here. Dinah went in the front as I made my way to the backstage. Later she recounted how she noticed two guys with an invitation card asking for directions. The person they asked obviously gave them the wrong direction because they walked off in another direction. So Dinah called out to them and then offered to bring them. It turns they arrived in Singapore only 4 days ago, going to start work soon, looking for an apartment, looking for a church and got an invitation card on the street only this afternoon. How amazing. Dinah also got their details for our leaders.

I enjoyed the musical based on Gilbert's life. He has a great life story. The musical was elaborate and a total visual spectacle. Scores of our people have been rehearsing twice weekly since June. The preparation and quality came through. The modern dance item was quite good too. The auditorium was very close to full-house. Filipinos are also very celebratory people, so it was a great atmosphere.

Praise and worship session was one of the best we have participated in here. It was my turn to speak, being my third message of the day. I sensed the affirmation of God's Spirit and of the people. Many people responded to God's Word. We sang Happy Birthday and then worshipped some more. I turned to Christie saying, "This is just excellent". Then it was photo taking all across the auditorium before dinner. What a celebration. My wife and I went off to fetch the kids with great joy in our hearts. Thank you God for your church.

At about midnight I went to the airport to fetch my aunt from Canada. She 'was' my older cousin from dad's side who grew up in our home in Sabah. She was like an older sister to us. Then she met my mom's brother, courted and got married. She 'is' now my aunt. They eventually moved to Canada. I haven't seen her for over 10 years. It was a joy carrying her luggage to our home at that ungodly hour. My body's tired but my heart is rejoicing. (Time to apply what I spoke on Isa 40:27-31 earlier)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Pastime with Good Company

Tonight Jeff, Claud, Lawrence, Pat, Dinah and I had dinner at the Esplanade. Claud was disappointed with her noodles so she's probably having supper now. Well I simply love the Esplanade. It is such an icon for Singapore. We were here for an A Cappella concert to support a church member, Rebecca. She is a church vocalist. She is also part of this UpBeat A Cappella group doing their first concert 'Pastime with Good Company' at the Esplanade Recital Studio. Thanks Rebecca for inviting us all.

Dinah liked the Arioso Bach rendition. I thoroughly enjoyed the Under the Sea and Soul Bossa Nova from the movie Austin Powers numbers. (In case anyone is wondering, no I did not watch Austin Powers.)

I think Lawrence and Jeff seemed a little bit disappointed they were not asked to sing during the audience participation segment. Perhaps next time. Neverthless we had such a great time tonight over dinner, at the concert and afterwards talking with Rebecca and her parents. Her mom sings too. Like her parents, we're so proud of Rebecca.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Reach Out for the Skies

Today is Singapore's 40th birthday. It is also a public holiday.

My family and I spent the first part of the day with our worship arts media (WAM) team in their retreat. The venue at Sentosa island was great. I did a message on renewing spiritual passion. (It was tough to put a message together on a holiday but it was all worth it. I can't think of a better group of people to spend our day with.) After the message, I invited Jeff and Dinah up where we prayed and prophesied for people. Then all 50 of us walked out for lunch. Food here is more expensive but not better than on the main island. But we got to know new people as we walked and talked. Then we had appreciation and thank you awards. We took our leave as Jasmine was about to start on the second message. They are such a great bunch of people.

On the way home we stopped to get early dinner in Bedok where we bumped into a church member, Janice. She was so excited because she just came back from a mission trip to Thailand. What a great chance meeting. We gave her a lift to Bedok interchange where she was going to meet her mentor. Then our family went to visit Lawrence and Pat. Pat asked us over to pick up her yummy-delicious pasta salad. She served us with iced fruit juice too. The food is quite healthy in this household.

The kids rushed us home to watch the National Day Parade live on TV. It's the only time where we do a TV dinner - once a year. The kids were glued to the TV. The theme song 'Reach Out for the Skies' does grow on you. The entire show just gets better every year. It's truly worth watching. This has been a great day. Happy birthday Singapore. God bless Singapore.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

July 31st

Today is commitment Sunday. I have thought of this this day for over 8 months. First our research assistant Kam Weng proposed an incredible passage of Scripture. Our morning lead worshipper Jac introduced a jazz-themed praise and worship. Our guest soprano Renae Smith did a powerful Gospel song. Then I did two morning messages. I was very excited to pray with two persons who made first time commitments to Christ in the midst of a commitment Sunday.

It was encouraging to see members making prayerful campaign commitments. Friends also participated. Cara told me that a not-even two month old believer made a sacrificial pledge. By the end of our evening service, we had 553 people making campaign commitments.

In between all the excitement my wife and I hosted Evelyn Biles to lunch. I also met Jerry Vuncannon later. Evelyn is a friend of our church and is here to help us with discipleship seminars. Jerry and Renae are part of Evelyn's team.

July 31st will go down as the first commitment Sunday of the Breakthrough campaign. What a day.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Nice City

We were at the Changi Airport with Limei and Deb on Friday. Our son had his weekly scouts meeting at school. It was good Limei was there as Deb was sad. Well this was our first time on ValuAir. We were pleased that the seats had ample legroom. This was also the first time we were seated next to the emergency exit. So the air stewardess briefed us how to open the emergency exit. Several members commented on my blog before we left that you would pray for our trip so the briefing was actually unnecessary but she was just doing her job.

This is my third visit and my wife's first visit to HK. We arrived at the very impressive modern HK airport. A member of the HK church met us. We travelled on the express train with two Brisbane friends. The airport express is very comfortable. Then we took a taxi to the hotel. We passed by the business district and the commercial buildings are impressive. The city buzzed with activity even late at night. The hotel room was small and compact. We had a quick bite as the sandwiches onboard wasn't a full meal. People smoked inside the restaurant.

Saturday breakfast was yummy tim sum. I love tim sum. Our conference started. Lunch was tim sum hosted by 2 Singaporean members of the HK church. I wanted to do mobile blogging but my wife insisted that I concentrate on the conference. We had fruits for dinner (lot of meat in the day) then more teaching. The first day was a long day.

We had Sunday breakfast with Jeff and Claud. The stranger seated next to me smoked. This was day 2 of the conference. Lunch was with 3 Singaporean members of the church and HK leaders. They are so eager to learn. The leader, Deborah asked us 8 questions. We had time off in the afternoon. My wife spent time with a friend. Connie who grew up in HK brought the rest of us Singaporeans to Causeway Point. You can get anything here and it's really crowded. I tried some famous dessert. Otherwise Sunday was another long day of conference.

Dinah and I had simple breakfast in our room on Monday. This was the last day of the conference. It was great having lunch with my old friend James. It was interesting to accompany him to a Traditional Chinese Medicine expert in HK. There were meetings in the afternoon. Then we had a special dinner on a boat. The view was simply spectacular. This ended another long but fruitful day.

On Tuesday we had tim sum breakfast with four of our youth leaders. Then it is off to more meetings. We lunched in. Hong Kongers sure eat large portions and quite a lot of meat. My wife was very relieved with dinner cause it was primarily veg. Then Dinah and I with 3 friends went to The Peak. The night time view was amazing. (Here is a photo taken by Gavin)

HK is probably more vibrant in terms of night-time buzz. The airport, skyline, the river boat cruise and Chinese cuisine seems nicer than in Singapore. HK is a nice city. But I still appreciate Singapore. Our city is cleaner, greener, more organised and feels safer. Homes here are larger and public places generally less claustrophobic and less smoky. We flew back on Wednesday and yes their airport looks even better in the day.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

An Appointment

Wednesday night was spent with some of our church leaders. (Attach a photo of us taken in Sep 03). Last night I defined what a breakthrough is, explained why God wants us to have a breakthrough and finally how we get breakthroughs. You can expect this lesson to be taught at this weekend's huddles around the church.

In the book of Ecclesiastes chapter three we read of seasons and times. There is a time and a season for everything. Currently we are asking God to breakthrough any dead works so that we can be who we are in Christ, so we can function out of love for God, out of faith in Christ and not do anything from a human perspective. I want to get out spiritual lethargy. My prayer is “Give us a breakthrough! Lord, come into my spirit and change my perspectives and heal my brokenness!” Breakthrough is a divine appointment I want to keep.

Today is Thursday. There were four meetings today. I was glad to have some time with Matthias and Yvonne between meetings. Uli's attachment started earlier and she has gone back to Berlin. I asked Matthias and Yvonne about two of our members who are doing missions in Germany. They asked about church planting in Europe.

Also my wife and I are clearing stuff so we can fly tomorrow with peace of mind. We're coordinating so that work-in-process gets attention while we're away. We have to bring folders and reading materials for the trip. My wife is not just packing for the trip. That's the easy part. She's drawing up a detailed schedule for our kids while they are here. Our twins will stay with two families (Pastor Lawrence and Pat as well as my wife's sister), so there are logistics ie handovers and pickups. My wife does a great job. We do have our moments. There was one trip where our kids got two skirts for the's day school uniform. My son chose to wear his school shorts that was unwashed rather than the fresh skirt. (Good choice)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

These Past Few Days

Sunday, 17th July was a full day. There was preaching in the morning and it was gratifying to see three new persons coming to faith . This was quickly followed by 3 back-to-back campaign launches. Then the campaign planning team had an evaluation after the third launch. Our family and I were supposed to swim in the evening. We hadn't swam since Tuesday thanks to the rain. But we were so flat out that we just went home and crashed.

After shower and dinner, we felt refreshed. Then I saw members and one pre-believer responding to my blog. The responses grew as I read at different points in the night. People are actually reading it! It's great to get to know so many members as I click on their response to go to their blog. The day was long but what an ending. Yes we slept well.

Monday was a another full day. Wan Leng and Hong Teck from our IT Dept worked to get the campaign webpage up by 1 pm. I helped to edit the content. We just made it in time. Then it was off to lunch celebrate Limei's birthday. Limei is our amazing assistant. What would we do without her? Her birthday is actually this Friday but my wife and I will be flying off for a conference on Friday so we're celebrating early. Then it is a series of meetings in the afternoon. Our family finally got to swim on Monday night. Monday night was also the first time we allowed Daniel to sit in the front passenger seat of the car. With glee on his face, "This is SO exciting!" It's Deborah's turn tomorrow night.

Tuesday is our day off. It's often slow paced consisting of errands. My wife started packing for our upcoming trip and the kids' things because they will stay over with two families here when we're away. Yes Deb had her front-seat experience. She was just as thrilled as her brother. Each new experience for a child is such an adventure. In the afternoon we swam again as we may not be able to exercise much in the upcoming overseas conference.

Today's Wednesday. I'm focusing my devotion time on breakthrough. This is a short reflection... Our Lord God is known by many names in the Bible and His names reveal His character. The Scripture is 2 Samuel 5:20. Before the breakthrough, the scene in the Scripture is called Valley of Rephaim (1 Chro 14:8-11) meaning house of the giant. The enemy thought this point is where he is the strongest. After the victory, King David called it Baal-Perazim meaning God broke through in the strongest place of the enemy. The word literally means 'Lord of the Breakthroughs'. This is where I want to be. Let's make our way here.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Breakthrough Living

Our church is going to start a journey of breakthrough.

Many may think a breakthrough is a peak or mountain top experience. A breakthrough isn’t the highs or the lows. In all things we may find the imprint of the hand of God leading, embracing. And I am free to respond.

A breakthrough comes when you take a new look at your life – a long, loving look at where you are stuck and whether you are prepared to hear God’s voice say to you: “hang on tight, you are about to come unstuck”.

A breakthrough comes when we apply the good news and give our situations a little shake and see who’s at the other end. Then we see breakthroughs to fuller living. We see our small life invaded and enhanced by the Absolute Life. We see breakthroughs in all aspects of our spiritual lives, in our studies, in our marriage and in our businesses.

Often when I’m on the verge of a breakthrough, the enemy tries to discourage me. So we’re got to learn to pray and overcome spiritual attacks with a degree of excitement because we know that something great is right around the corner.

Breakthrough moments happen when your life and your faith come together. Christ in Luke’s gospel calls it a mustard seed faith that can move mountains. No doubt we’re already got the life and the challenges. Now all we have to do is to put the two together. Then as Christ says, you’ll start to move mountains around you.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Guests from Germany

We are currently hosting three church leaders from Germany for three weeks of attachment. Ulrike Bachmann "Uli" is the young lady on the right. Yvonne Fiedler and Matthias Keller are on the left. Uli and Yvonne are from Berlin. Matthias is from Chemitz (East Germany, 300 km from Berlin). I first got to know them during previous ministry trips to Germany. It's great to catch up again this time in Singapore.

Last Sunday we invited Uli to shared a testimony at worship service. She told us she had just finished uni in Berlin. Then she shared what she learned here. She said, "The people's life really inspires me. May Hoong for example works long hours (as an architect) yet she makes time to shepherd her sheep weekly. Seeing such examples of sacrificial people, I have no excuses when I start my first job in August." It was a very heart-felt testimony.

Today Dinah and I had lunch with all three of our guests and we asked them first hand about their attachment so far. Matthias said because he comes from a church made up of primarily uni students, he appreciated learning about adult and family ministries. He also liked what he learnt about church corporate communications. Yvonne was keen to learn about helping Christian couples prepare for marriage.

It is a joy to host overseas church leaders. Even our kids got to meet these fine young Germans. As a church, we remain committed to equipping leaders do a better job in leading the local church. Our lives are enriched interacting and learning together with people from around the world.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Thirteen Years Today

Dinah and I got married exactly thirteen years ago. Today is our wedding anniversary. As we arrive at our thirteen year mark, I realise that I am so very blessed to be married to a Godly woman like Dinah. Our kids are so fortunate to have a Godly mom like her. I am so grateful that God put her in my life. This anniversary is a special time of thanksgiving and for me to count my blessings.

I also thank God for our wedding anniversaries. Last year we spent our 12th wedding anniversary with church friends in Melbourne while speaking at their church camp. Before that we celebrated our 11th anniversary in New Jersey. I was on course at the Princeton Theological Seminary and Dinah and the kids joined me. (Airfares were low due to SARS and the war.) Then in 2002 we spent our anniversary with church friends in Zurich while attending to church matters there.

This year we decided to celebrate the day before our actual anniversary, which was a Sunday. The kids would be with Claudia. Last week Claudia had offered to take our kids out and we took up her offer. (Thanks Claud)

Sunday came and we had a guest speaker, Rev Melvyn Mak. He was a blessing. After the worship service, I hosted lunch for him and then made my way home. Dinah had gone home first. She was battling flu symptoms and my own health wasn't that great either. We both took a short nap. Then we went out to have a quiet dinner.

We thoroughly enjoyed dining together at this nice restaurant. We even got the waiter to take a photo of us. That photo didn't quite turn out as expected. Here's an older photo.

It has been a very good thirteen years. I look forward knowing that our best years are ahead of us.

Friday, July 08, 2005

My First Mentor

Almost twenty years ago, I spent six months in Sabah before going to uni. In that time I tried everything under the sun. I even got a job at a property development company. After about two months I was either still bored or wanted more challenge. So I tried church, which was the traditional church mom was going to. This was the same church she made us go to when we were young.

I had never been to a small group and out of curiosity decided to check it out. It turned out to be the youth group (there was no young adult group). There I got to know a young pastor by the name of John William. He was well educated and enthusiastic about Christ. This was the first time I had close contact with a spiritual leader. His joy and commitment in serving made an impression. So I thought to myself, "If and when I ever serve, it will be wholeheartedly and with joy."

When I left for Perth, he gave me a book 'Spiritual Leadership' by Oswald Sanders. This must have been the first book I read on leadership. Some months after I left he moved to London and we lost touch.

Early this year he met my younger brother. So out of the blue I got this email from him. He kept saying how surprised he was to hear from my brother that I was serving as a pastor. He never imagined me as a pastor - that makes two of us.

He came into town on Monday and dropped by the office yesterday. We caught up and my wife and kids joined us for dinner. My wife even took a photo of us together. Over dinner John kept telling Dinah how thrilled he was to know what we were doing.

For me, it was so great catching up with my first mentor. He left today to go minister in West Malaysia. I thank God for what he left in my life, that his example shaped my understanding on how to serve God. This inspires me even more to help others along as I have been helped.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Pat's birthday

Sunday, the 3rd of July was a full day. We had corporate worship in the morning and we had a leaders rally in the afternoon. Then we celebrated Pat's birthday the whole night. Here is a photo of Pat's birthday dinner. (Her husband, Lawrence and Claudia's husband, Jeff both happened to be in Australia.) After dinner Charmaine joined us for a cinematic treat for Pat.

I asked my wife to share something on Pat on the occasion of her birthday. This is what my wife said. “When our twins were three, she paid for their twice weekly playgroup. This was initiated by another close friend Li Chuang and another friend Lisa joined in too. Then from age 4 to 8 (for the last 5 years): Pat decided to set aside a sum of money from her personal budget every month as an investment for our twins’ music education – making it possible to purchase Daniel’s cello and pay for his weekly lessons. Such was her commitment to bless the twins as her own.

Over the last few years, she’s been cutting back on her work hours at the dental clinic (which means less income) so that she can devote more time to serve alongside her husband in our Adults ministry.

Not to mention the many times when she had to adjust her busy schedule to mother our twins when their mom and dad were overseas for many days.”

I did not know many of this. But I do know that those who refresh others will be refreshed. Once again, happy birthday Pat. We love you.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Serving the Community

Yesterday was our first Sunday back from vacation. The day started with preaching in the morning. In the afternoon, I was glad to be among two hundred and forty volunteers who helped out at the 'Family Ties' event at the Punggol Community Club. It was quite an experience. There were creative activities to engage families.

It was challenging to have a large community event and hold the attention of a diverse crowd. Everyone did their part. At the end we were all glad that two hundred families benefited from this community project. Mayor Zainul from the North East had a great time too. At the end we were tired but it's the kind of fulfilling tiredness.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Borneo vacation

Our family just came back from a visit to my parents. Our last trip was in December 2003. That was over one and half years ago. So I really looked forward to this trip. Our kids were excited to see their two cousins and also all the dogs at my parent's home.

Planning for this holiday was tough. There was church camp just before this trip. This is a huge event in our annual calendar. And we planned to go just two days after the camp.

In terms of travel we remembered that we took a budget airline the last time. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. My wife and I decided to go for a full service airline. I told Dinah that we will stay for a whole week at a hotel near the beach. This way we wouldn’t trouble my parents and we could enjoy the seaside. My good wife got quotations from more than 5 travel agents. Through a series of events too complicated to go into, we got a package for a very good rate. We got a great harbour-front hotel with a (small) beach. Our room had such a picturesque view of the sea.

Just the day before we left, Tracy our friend and neighbour offered to drive us to the airport. Tracy, MK (hubby) and their toddler took us to Changi and spent time with us. They are truly a godsend.

The flight was good. Sabah is just beautiful this time of year. We had long conversations with mom, dad, and our siblings and their spouses. The kids had a great time with their cousins. We swam. We met two of the cutest puppies, Whitie and Blackie at dad's place. It was so fun seeing them play. Their baby teeth were causing their mom (Sweetie) some pain when they suckle for milk. So their mom stopped allowing them to have her milk. They don't understand why. We did not get acquainted with the other dogs because they were adult watch dogs.

My brother kindly arranged pony rides for the kids at a real beach but it rained heavily that day. My other brother, his wife, my sister and her husband brought us to sample various types of seafood and local delicacies that I had grown up with. We must have put on a lot of weight. At least I sure did. My sis also arranged our first ever family portrait. Then we managed to meet old friends including Chiew Bong and Dora.

This was close to a dream holiday. We got back a week later. Tracy and family came by our apartment to welcome us home and offered to buy us dinner. I just love Punggol. They also just got back from a vacation in Hong Kong and got us great cookies. What a homecoming. What a vacation.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Camp 2005

Camps are the highlight of our year. At camp we break away from the chorus to hear a whisper.

Our kids have never missed a church camp. I hope they won't ever need to miss out. This year they were again so excited about the camp and school holidays. Though I'm not sure whether they were more excited about the holiday or the camp.

Camp 2005 was so special. This year Dinah and I were glad to be able to catch up with pastor PN. The Camp Team was again very nice to us. June, Christine and Steph took real good care of our family as we ministered. The moment June led us to our room, we were arrested by the spectacular sea view. The ledge by the glass window became Deb's reading corner. (Dan enjoyed the long hotel corridors where he could run) The room had a nice bath tub, not that we actually used it. There were luxurious bath robes, which we also enjoyed looking at.

A top-quality camp is hard to put together, but its all worth it. The opening night was awesome. I haven't remembered another camp opening night with the wow factor. The Italian classical duet was so refreshing. It had the crowd break out in spontaneous applause throughout the item. Then the entire 4 days we fed on Scriptures, worshipped God, exercised spiritual gifts and had lots of games, fun and family time. Talent Night on Saturday lived up to expectations. I thought it was absolutely creative, hilarious filled with good, clean fun. The closing day was very special. Everyone had a great time. We had it all.

Our life is made up of memories and experiences. My wife and I took photos with as many church members as we possibly could. Camp 2005 is one important memory for us.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I was asked

Hong Teck is my friend and colleague. On the 1st June, he presented the proposal for our new church website. It is going to be quite a radical shift. The next day he suggested to me that perhaps I should write a blog. I replied, "Either this is really important or you think I am very free." Since I respect him very much, it must be the former than the latter.

The next day I went back to Hong Teck and asked, "How do I blog?" So Hong Teck walked me through blogging. After checking it out, it is a great tool.

I do need to connect more with church members especially members doing church in Africa, South America and different parts of Asia and Europe. I hope that my journey will be of some help to you in your journey.

Let me start with a question that I encountered quite recently.

I was asked what I thought of the bestsellers 'Harry Potter' and 'Da Vinci Code'? To me 'Harry Potter' does seem to distinguish between good and evil, but it also seems a lot like sorcery and witchcraft packaged as fun and adventure. Then 'Da Vinci Code' is more like fiction and speculation that pretends to be fact and Scripture. Personally I would invest my time in other ways. If you enjoy fiction, read 'Chronicles of Narnia' by CS Lewis. This is a 7 book series. There are forces of good and evil. It will capture your imagination. It alludes to the eternal kingdom.