“We never imagined we could be free!”

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Taken from Barnabas Aid website. This is James and his family.

Brick kiln is modern day slavery. Workers have to make bricks for ten hours a day, seven days a week. Many poor Christians are trapped in a cycle of debt doing this back-breaking work. On bad days when they can’t work, they have no pay and must borrow money from their brick kiln owners. They sink even further into the mire of debt. This vicious cycle can last for generations. Thus, children often have to work instead of going to school.

I just read a wonderful article by Barnabas Aid, an organisation that helps persecuted Christians around the world. Christians have paid the debts of Christian brick kiln workers fully. Now these Pakistani Christians can work and receive a proper salary. Now their children can study in school. There is hope for their future.

James, a former brick kiln worker, relates:

“We have been taken out of the quagmire,” he exclaimed to Barnabas Fund, with a shining face that radiated peace and joy. “We had never imagined that we could be free!”

Isn’t that amazing?

They were redeemed out of slavery. They were freed.

No more debt. No more slavery.

Do donate to this worthy cause if you have the resources to do so. There are many other projects on Barnabas Aid for your consideration.

This freedom from slavery and poverty reminds me of Elisha and the widow’s oil in 2 Kings 4:1-7.

The widow’s husband just died, leaving them in debt. Maybe her husband’s medical bills had taken a toil on the finances. Now the debtors were coming to take her two boys into slavery.

She lost her husband.  Was she going to lose her two sons also?

That’s what happens to many brick kiln workers too. The hard brutal work leaves many sick and ill. James’ wife had died from illness. No wonder families and generations are trapped in slavery.

Note that the widow’s husband was a prophet. Being a godly person does not exempt Christians from trouble and hardship.

Just look at the Christians suffering around the world. Would you do something for them?

Elisha responded immediately. He had to break the debt with God’s help. He told her to collect empty jars and pour her little oil into all the jars. She thought she had nothing but a little olive oil. That’s enough for God. He can do amazing things with what you give him. We think we have little resources to give. Think again. God can multiply whatever you give to him.

She kept pouring the oil until she ran out of jars. She ran out of jars! She started with a lack of oil but ended with a lack of jars. She had enough to pay off her debt and live off the rest of the sales. Barnabas Aid pays off the brick kiln worker’s debt and gives them a monthly food parcel so that they won’t fall into debt again.

That’s what Jesus did for us too.

We were all slaves to sin without a way to escape. We were doomed to eternal damnation.

But Jesus died on the cross for us. His blood redeemed us from slavery to sin.

Now we are free to love God. To serve God. We have a hope and a future.

It is through the Son, at the cost of his own blood, that we are redeemed, freely forgiven through that full and generous grace which has overflowed into our lives and opened our eyes to the truth.

Eph 1:7-8 (J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Jesus gave his life for you and me.

Would you do something for your Christian brothers and sisters suffering around the world?


A Word for the Weary

Words have power. A pastor’s word has life-changing impact. He has power to impact people by the words he speaks. Power to heal. Power to kill. Power to encourage. Power to discourage. Power to build up. Power to tear down. I realised this recently.

I was talking to a well-dressed lady before the church service started. My supervisor introduced me as a church intern, headed for pastoral work. She was friendly, asking about my studies and calling. Then the conversation shifted. She shared with me that her oldest kid changed church, her second kid stopped coming to church, and her youngest kid was still active in church. She wondered, “How could my children turn out so different?”

At that moment, she seemed lost. Maybe disappointed. At that moment, she was looking for an answer. Something to explain her situation. Some truth to cling on to. Some handles to grasp life as if it were a slippery fish. She was looking for a word to speak into her life.

I felt a burden to speak “a word in season to him who is weary” (Isa 50:4 NKJV). What I said next could affect her deeply. She was desperate for answers, especially from one who supposedly knows more theology than her. A Pastor’s word must be carefully thought and delivered.

No wonder God granted Isaiah a “tongue of the learned” to sustain the weary person. May God grant us all wisdom in our words.

How can we acquire a learned tongue? We need to have a learned ear. The second half of Isaiah 50:4 says:

[God] awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to hear as the learned.

A learned ear precedes a learned tongue. We need to hear from God first before we can speak to others. Do you listen to God daily? Do you spend time with God in a quiet place to hear his still small voice? I think it is essential for those in ministry.

I encouraged the lady to keep on praying for her son’s salvation and return to God. I told them that God has his own timing that we may not know. May God continue to grant us a learned tongue to speak a life-sustaining word.

我有一段情 (I Have This Love)





I Have This Love

Oh I have this love,
who will listen to me,
My soul mate has left,
She left and never called again.

Oh I have a lover!
Could her heart have changed?
Oh why did she stop sending letters,
I’ve been waiting until now.

The night is deep and moon is clear,
But I only can embrace my guqin.*
Playing and singing a tune,
belting out the hate in my heart.

Oh I have this love,
Singing for the summer wind to hear,
“Summer wind please help me ask a question,
Why did she stop calling me?”.

*Guqin is a seven string musical instrument

Her Answer Was No (Haiku)

My Haiku Poem after a recent experience of rejection.

​Her answer was no,
And it ripped my heart in two,
I tried to act cool.

I waited a year,
Thought chances might be better,
Apparently not.

God, why was I fooled?
You kept me on bated breath,
Then sucked it all dry.

I accepted it,
Even prayed for her future,
How did it go wrong?

Feelings hadn’t changed,
But she sure did change somewhat,
I’d better move on.

God I still trust you,
Those who leave the choice to You,
Get Your very best.

​The Thin Line Between Calling and Desire

“There’s a thin line between calling and desire.”

My supervisor’s words rang in my ear. In my heart. In my spirit. Just because I want to do something for God doesn’t mean that it is what God wants me to do for him. Will you do out of desire or out of calling. Desire is what I choose to do. Calling is what God chooses me to do. That’s a tough decision you need to ask yourself. It might clarify your heart’s motivation and life direction.

Desire cannot be sustained forever. Calling can sustain you through dark times when you question God, “Did You really call me?”

A passage in Mark 5 shows us the difference. Jesus had cast a legion of demons from a man. Naturally, this man desired to follow Jesus. Isn’t that logical? This man would need time to go through Alpha, join a Bible Study and hear some good sermons. That was his desire. But Jesus was calling him elsewhere. Check it out:

Mark 5:18-19 

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

Jesus wanted him to go home! Why? To share how much Jesus had done for him. He “begged” to follow Jesus but was instead sent back on a mission. You might have certain ideas on what you want to do for God. Be a missionary? Be a pastor? Start a bible school? I’m not saying these are wrong, often they are good! But is it a desire or a calling? Take note: A good thing is not always a God thing. Has God called you to do that? If not, would you reconsider seeking God’s face?

I’m not sure whether this man struggled with this decision. I certainly would have. But he obeyed Jesus at once. It says:

Mark 5:20 

So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

The man simply did what Jesus told him to do. Was it a success? Yes! The Bible says “all the people were amazed.” They were amazed at the power and mercy of Jesus because of this man’s testimony. You might desire to go full-time ministry, but like the man who was sent back to the Decapolis, Jesus might be sending you to the marketplace. Jesus would have said, “Tell your friends, your collegues, your clients how much I’ve done for you.” Who knows what might have happened if he followed his desire rather than his calling?

If you are unsure if it is a desire or a calling, I advise you to seek God. Ask him to confirm it for you. Don’t lean on your human understanding. Just because you want it doesn’t mean it is what God wants you to do. He might be leading you in a direction you never imagined. 

How to Find a Good Wife

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I like Jim Henson’s quote. Do you need a black eye too? Maybe. But read this post first before punching yourself silly. What do you look for in a girl? Beauty? Body? Babe? I wrote about this in a previous post.  God views beauty quite different from us guys. Instead of Physical Attractiveness, God is looking at Spiritual Attractiveness. It’s not about whether the girl is pretty, smart or athletic. A Christian guy should find a spiritual girl irresistibly attractive.

The mother of King Lemuel tells him how to find a good wife. After a list of great qualities (e.g. hardworking, wise, generous), King Lemuel might be impatiently waiting to interrupt, “What about beauty, mum?” But she doesn’t forget. She lowers her voice to a hush, leans in close and tells him:

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:30

Excellent advice, don’t you think? Mum is always right. Imagine her whispering these words to you right now. Let me break it down.

1. Charm is deceptive

Charm is a quality that is used to attract or make someone interested in you. Charm always shows the best side of the person. It is meant to conceal or deceive. It alters our perception of reality. We don’t really know what the girl is really like inside. Don’t be charmed by charm. Find out more about the person in many situations.

2. Beauty is fleeting

Girls want to be beautiful. Just look at the cosmetics and clothing industry. Ladies will rush to a 50% discount sale. Why? They desire beauty. But guess what – we all grow old, no one is exempt! Our skin sags, our hair becomes white (if we have still have hair) and we become less “beautiful”. Indeed, beauty is fleeting. It lasts for a while and then it is gone. Do you want to bank your future on fleeting beauty? No way!

3. Look for a woman who fears the Lord

That’s the conclusion. Let’s move beyond charm or beauty and look for a woman who fears the Lord. She is to be praised. She is worth far more than rubies (Prov 31:10). A spiritual guy will find a spiritual girl attractive. Find one that fears the Lord. I’ve listed five criteria that I look for in an old post. Make your own list if you like.

Just a side-note: You better be a guy who fears the Lord too or she won’t be attracted to you.

Happy New Year

How was 2017? Terrific, Tough, or Terrible? However it went, if you end it with God, it is a terrific year! I pray that 2018 will make you draw closer to Him. May you do god-works, instead of merely good works. This means that you surrender your life to God and ask Him to show you how he wants you to spend it. It’s not about what you want to do but what God wants you to do.

I love this verse. Make it your personal verse for 2018.

You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip [with] abundance.

Psalms 65:11

The imagery is striking. Crown indicates kingship. God has crowned your head with goodness! God wants to show you how good he is. It doesn’t stop there. 

God will make your paths drip with abundance. That’s amazing, isn’t it? Imagine a road filled with all kinds of goodies you can’t even move through it. That’s how much God wants to bless your upcoming year 2018. The condition is that you have to stick with God.

Keep on praising the Lord for his goodness and salvation. David thanks God for his forgiveness:

Iniquities prevail against me; [As for] our transgressions, You will provide atonement for them.

Psalms 65:3

God has forgiven your sins! May you continue to walk faithfully with Him into 2018. Happy New Year!

Book Summary: On Being the Antioch of Asia (W M Syn)

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Singapore has been labelled by Billy Graham as the Antioch of Asia. Have we lived up to our calling? Syn analyses how local churches and mission agencies can be properly related to each other for greater effectiveness. The recent trend is for Singapore local churches to directly send missionaries to the field and bypass the agencies. Why? Churches nowadays are well-informed about missions and have the funding to carry out work themselves. But is this the best option? Syn interviews many church and agency leaders to get their opinion. It must be stated that he is a director of a mission agency so there is conflict of interest. Since the book contains unnecessarily long-winded interviews, I shall highlight key findings that struck me.

Two key trends in missions:

1. Decrease in the availability of people for long-term missions service.

2. Direct sending by local churches.

…leads to two Symptoms:

1. Singapore missions system lacks cultural intelligence.

2. Missionaries and missions programmes are not venturing to the hard places (Unreached People Groups).

Local churches need to recognise that agencies are specialists in certain mission fields. For example, agencies have cultural intelligence, networks and crisis preparations to assist missionaries on the ground. However, many churches see agencies as competing for their own missionaries. This should not be the case as most pioneer mission work (even in Singapore) were started by agencies first. Think of the London Missionary Society (LMS) that started many Methodist schools in Singapore. The mission agency usually sends missionaries to plant churches in a new place. How can we overcome this break in relationship?

Syn proposes that mission agencies must adapt their roles drastically in order to partner with churches. There are two possible models:

1. Code Sharing Model

Code sharing has been used by the airline industry with great effectiveness. It is a model that finds ways for churches and agencies to share and collaborate without losing their own identity. He highlights the 25 Elements Model as a framework to delegate the responsibilities of a church or agency. The responsibilities are not split in an either-or fashion (church or agency) but differing degrees of responsibility.  This allows the local church to remain engaged on many levels.

2. Consultancy Model

The agency has specialised information that the church could tap on: crisis training etc. There is a need for formal consulting service by agency staff much like a consultant in the corporate world. Churches would pay the agency for the cost of their service. Normally, we think that ministry should be freely given but in many parts of the church, there is already fee-for-service! For example, training programmes, Chrsitian entertainers or Christian speakers. Why not missions consulting services.

Syn lists several characteristics of a mission consultant:

  • Facilitation skills and the ability to help the church develop their missions vision and programme.
  • Some preaching and teaching skills to inspire and impart knowledge.
  • An understanding of the needs and workings of the local church.
  • Some good missiology and theology of missions to help lay foundations.
  • Some strategic thinking skills to help missions committees think through their plans.
  • First-hand field experience which would be an advantage to share as a practitioner.

Agencies need a dedicated strategy to priorities consultancy service to churches.

Overall, this book provides a good overview of missions in Singapore and how we as a nation can truly fulfill our calling to be the Antioch of Asia by working together.

You Were Made For Such a Time as This


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The book of Esther is one filled with irony and divine coincidences. A quick background: Esther, a Jew, becomes a Persian queen with the help of her uncle Mordecai. Haman, an enemy of the Jews, seeks to exterminate the whole race. But Esther saves them all through her courage. Although God is not mentioned, we see his invisible hand orchestrating events. We all know the ending of the story, but let’s imagine how Esther felt the moment she was given a choice. She had a choice whether to speak up for her own people, the Jews. She didn’t know whether the king would kill her if she appeared. She could just keep quiet and hope no one finds out her real identity. It was a tough choice.

Her uncle Mordecai gravely told her:

“Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:13-14

Esther had the unique position to approach the king. No other Jew had the same amount of favour as her. God had allowed her to win the Queen of Persia beauty contest for a reason that she may not have known – till now. This is a powerful reminder for all of us. God may have led you to the position where you are today for a certain reason. The day of reckoning might not have come yet. The question is: Are you willing to speak up for God? Are you willing to seek first the kingdom and his righteousness in a hostile environment? Are you willing to lose your job or even your life for the Jesus?

That’s the struggle Esther faced and she courageously put her life in God’s hand. She knew that even if she kept quiet, there would be no guarantee of escape. Is there a situation that you need to speak up in your school, workplace or community? Maybe an employee is using underhanded methods to earn profits for the company – will you expose it? Maybe the voice of the LGBT community threatens the Christian definition of marriage – will you speak up? Maybe your government is pushing for pro-abortion laws – will you fight against it?

Who knows? Maybe God has placed you where you are for a time such as this?

A Model for Inner Healing and Deliverance

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This is an inner healing and deliverance model that I learnt from Pastor Peter Koh during my internship. Obviously, this is just one of many possible models so it is up to you to decide if you agree with it. The model is roughly based on Jeremiah 1:10 that mentions the process of “breaking down” and “building up”. In this prayer ministry, we attempt to 1) Break Down strongholds and 2) Build Up the person. Let me outline the steps briefly.

1. Determine Salvation

The first step is to ensure that the person is saved. Why? Because when we break down the strongholds and evict any evil spirits, we want to make sure that the person is filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus warns of this danger:

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.

Matt 12:43-45

Thus, our first role is to determine if the person is a believer in Jesus. If the person is not willing to accept Jesus, we end the session because we might be doing more damage in the process.

2. Breaking Down (Their Part)

In this step, we interview the person for any issues that they are facing in their lives that need to be dealt with – sexual sin, occultic participation, demonic oppression, unforgiveness, anger, addictions, sicknesses. After we determine the issue, we lead them in a prayer to break down Satan’s strongholds in their lives. If it is a foothold, the process will be easier as the sin is not so deep-seated. The verbal process that we lead them through is F.C.R.R:

  • Forgive (F): We ask them to forgive the person for their sin. It could be someone who introduced them to pornography or abused them when they were young. Forgiveness is key to breaking down Satan’s grip on our lives. If forgiveness seems to be especially hard for this person, check out my other post for in-depth instructions. The sin has to be specific. “I forgive [name] for [action towards you].”
  • Confess (C): Confession is agreeing with God that what we did was wrong. The person needs to confess to God that this sin in his life is not according to God’s standards. “I confess that [sin] is wrong.”
  • Repent (R): Repentance is turning away from sin. After confessing that it is wrong, we choose not to do it anymore.
  • Renounce (R): Now that the person has forgiven, confessed and repented, he needs to renounce all rights from the devil over his life.

3. Building Up/In (Our Part)

This is the prayer counselor’s part. We ask the person we’re praying for to sit back and receive from the Lord. The process is called B.C.C.E.

  • Often we can reassure them that God has indeed forgiven our sins (1 John 1:9)
  • Break, Cut, Cancel (B.C.C.): An example is “I break all shame over you, I cut all ungodly soul ties between…, I cancel all contracts/vows made in the name of Jesus”. This depends on what the person is dealing with. If it was a sexual sin, we need to break any ungodly soul ties between the person and the other party.
  • Eviction (E): Once the stronghold has been broken down, we have bound the strong man (Mk 3:27) and now can evict any demons or spirits from the person. We should address them by their functions and not use the word “spirit” – “I command lust to come up and out now.” Using the word “spirit” might make the person afraid that he is possessed.
  • We now build in scripture truths from the Bible to build up their lives. We can pray: “I set the cross of Jesus between [the sin] and you and your family. I speak blessings…”

4. Lordship Prayer

We now lead them in making Jesus lord over their lives. Ask him to repeat after you and then say “Do you know what it means?”. Then explain what it means.

  • “Jesus I declare you Lord over my spirit.” This means you will worship God and God alone.
  • “Jesus I declare you Lord over my mind.” This means you will have godly thinking.
  • “Jesus I declare you Lord over my emotions.” This means you will have godly emotions.
  • “Jesus I declare you Lord over my will.” This means you choose to follow God.
  • “Jesus I declare you Lord over my body.” This means you will honour God with your body.

Some cases are more difficult to deal with and need several sessions: Emptying pain, Memory healing or Father ministry. As we do the session, we keep our eyes open and observe the person’s facial expression. There may be demonic manifestations during the renouncing step and we need to be alert if the person tries to harm us or run away. Remaining calm, we use Jesus’ name to stop the demon’s activity. Then we bind their activity so that we can speak to the person directly. I hope this is a helpful introduction to this powerful ministry.