Over 2 million people took to the streets of Hong Kong in the past week to oppose the #extraditionbill, a law that would allow fugitives to be transferred to mainland China. Marches on June 9 and 12 were the largest since #OccupyCentral in 2014. But amidst the #HongkongProtests, an unlikely scene has emerged: Christians have been seen on the frontlines, praying and singing well into the night. Easter hymn “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” became the movement’s unlikely anthem, as the press carried scenes of both Christians and non-Christians singing together near central government offices in Admiralty, the epicentre of the protests. Besides worship, Christians have made their voices heard in the city through prayer walks, public statements, prayer meetings or joining the marches themselves. “Some churches are on the frontlines, some support (with prayer) from the back,” says Christian youth leader Joyco Wu, 44, “But most have come together in one heart and one voice.” For Ps Jason Young, @AlphaHongKong’s Executive Director, current events presented a “powerful opportunity to speak life”. His church joined the June 9 marches with clear motivations: “The protests didn’t so much cause issues in Hong Kong as much as they revealed them. “No matter what our perspective or point of view is, we first seek to receive and minister to the Father’s heart, and allow His Spirit to guide our actions. “More so than anyone in this city, His heart is also breaking over the turmoil, pain and brokenness His beloved sons and daughters are experiencing. For Hong Kong Christians like Wu, the significance of events was undeniable. “We’ve seen the glory of God fill Hong Kong,” Wu said. “Many people changed their minds about Christianity, and are seeing us in a new light. “The world is watching Hong Kong now, so we need to be intentional and vigilant about the way we respond, what we say, how we live – with integrity. “This is my greatest hope – that the world will see the Hong Kong Body of Christ as an example. “This is just the beginning. Christians everywhere need to be the salt and light of the world.”
Pause. And give #thanks – perhaps even in circumstances where it is least expected. Canon Terry Wong, Vicar of @standrewscathedral, shares some of the things he could be thankful for in his life: 1. Every dear brother and sister he knew who was promoted to glory: They have left the cares of mortal life behind and are now embraced by a loving Saviour. I am thankful for each day I had with them. 2. Every suffering encountered: No matter how deep the pain was, I take comfort that it was only for a “little while”, just as You reminded us (1 Peter 1:6). There can be only tears for You to wipe when I see You face to face (Revelation 21:4). 3. Every act of #love received, in small or big ways: That there is someone to love in the most mundane of ways, I am thankful. 4. Every person I have gotten to know in this large community: There were times I felt lost, lonely though not alone. Sometimes I did not feel significant and thought hardly anyone noticed. Yet, there was always someone less-noticed that I was able to reach out to. I have friends in church and we have become family. For that rich intimacy in Christ, I am thankful. 5. Every moment of #restoration: There were times I felt selfish and behaved like a sheep who had gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). But again and again, Your grace was there. Life, broken as it sometimes was, could be made new again. 6. Every moment with Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour: Many things could have shortened my life over the past year, but I do not just want to rejoice that I am alive. Instead, I want to rejoice that, come what may, my name is written in the Book of Life (Luke 10:20). I know #Jesus; and He knows me. This matters, most. What are you #thankful for, today?
Has our theology has been influenced by democracy, freedom, humanism? If we are not careful, our church culture can become more important than God’s truth, warns Yang Shi-ru, marketplace pastor of Taiwan’s Blessed and Blessing Church. Yang differentiated between biblical truth, which is absolute and deals with right and wrong, and culture, which goes with the flow and evolves from the behaviour of the majority. “A church will not be totally void of these two influences. The question is, which has a greater effect? If the positive effect is stronger, then your church will develop and grow. So examine everything being done in church through the lens of biblical truth. “Truth and culture can be hard to distinguish,” he concedes, and culture can easily become the default “driving force” because it has the majority view behind it. The crux, hence, is really about making an objective assessment of the purpose of your church: Is your church as Jesus would have it be? Are your disciples being groomed according to God’s definition of a “disciple”? Does your church need to form a new culture? He suggests starting with three simple steps: 1. Write down the church culture that you want to see 2. List what needs to change in church and the steps required to bring that change about 3. Carry it out! “You cannot hope that a person who doesn’t know God will search for God. He’s trying to find spiritual belonging, he says. “Is (your church) a place where a pre-believer can find spiritual belonging?”
It was a child’s play that had gone horribly wrong. Three-year-old Sarah Lyn was found clinically dead – her heart had stopped beating for more than five minutes, strangled by a rope hanging from a clothesline. In hospital a day before her fourth birthday, Sarah Lyn lay in a coma. Her parents, Ps-Dr Philip Lyn and his wife, Nancy, kept up a bedside prayer vigil for more than 12 hours. No one knew what would – or would not – happen. The heaviness and uncertainty of those 12 hours, Dr Lyn and his wife felt in the most acute of ways. Still, even with his daughter's life on the line, Ps-Dr Philip Lyn knew that faith was not built on miracles. Dr Lyn recounted his thoughts: “As a doctor, I was like: ‘Okay, if God doesn’t heal my child, she’s going to live with severe brain damage and impairment.’ His wife was more emotional. “Sarah was probably thinking: ‘Where’s Mum? How come Mum’s not here?’ That was a severe source of pain to Nancy – the pain of not being there when Sarah needed her. “Between the two of us – separately – we made a resolute decision before God. Whether Sarah would die or come out of this alive with permanent brain damage.” Dr Lyn paused. “We are going to serve the Lord. Continually. With all our hearts. Having witnessed miracles, Dr Lyn is no stranger to the un-natural work that God does. Yet, he says: “But when something so personal happens, it is completely different – spiritually, emotionally and mentally. One important point Dr Lyn emphasises, however, is that sometimes people see faith as: God can help us. God will help us. And God must help us. But if God doesn’t, then what? Will we still have that same faith? Will we still believe in the God Who Is? And then his miracle happened. Sarah pulled through with no side effects. Today she is a medical student in uni. “That’s how our journey of faith has rounded off for us. The fullness of faith having a ‘front’ and ‘back’ to it, having experienced both certainty and doubt. It is about seeing who God really is – and believing in Him no matter what.
With tears in her eyes, Aunty Lois, a staff of @tamarvillage (@ywamsg’s ministry to the red-light district) said to Grace*: When I go up to heaven, I want to see your name there.” Grace (*not her real name) was stunned that someone would cry for her. Her life was a perpetual mess. Her compulsive dependence on drugs, smoking, drinking and illicit relationships easily trumped both her reason and her morality. Raised in a dysfunctional family, normalcy was associated with violent fights. Life at home inevitably created a void in her heart that she did not know how to fill. But under Aunty Lois’ watch, Grace grew to know radical love – one that was long denied her. They would run into each other near Grace’s apartment in Geylang and Grace would accompany Aunty Lois on her night walks, astounded by the immense kindness she dispensed to the street ladies. “They cheat and lie to her, but she keeps helping them. No one can be that stupid, right? Why does she still do it?” she thought. This was a stark contrast to the world she knew where money always triumphed over welfare. One day, she was caught red-handed for the illegal handling of work permits. She should have been sentenced to at least three years in prison but fervent intercession by the team at Tamar Village demonstrated that the prayers of saints had power. She remembers the parole officer telling her: “This case, you confirm go to jail one. Don’t know why it was dropped. You better be a good person from now on.” Grace committed her life to Jesus, and her life began to change. The seduction of illegal businesses lost its allure. Drugs, smoking and drinking became a lifestyle of the past. The process was not easy. She gave up and ran away many times, but her church community constantly encouraged her to persevere, rejoicing every time she walked back to God. Seven years on, Grace now knows that God is her Father, and to see Him is to know that His kind of life is the only one worth living. Out of the moments of her secret grief and pain, He called her to the self He would have her become.
Most would say Pamela Lee has been dealt a bad hand in life – losing her dad to cancer in just two months, caring for her Alzheimer-stricken mother, while supporting her intellectually disadvantaged brother. But despite it all, she sees the goodness of God. She recalls a time when in her frustration caring for her mother, Pamela found herself banging her fists on her bedroom walls, behind closed doors. Her mother, who could not grasp that her husband was gone, suspected he was having an affair. When Pamela cried out in despair, she suddenly felt the Lord's Presence. “‘You think you are patient? You are not patient enough,’ the Lord said to me,” she recalls. “Your love, Lord,” she responded in brokenness. “Give me Your love for my mother.” Since then, her mother can do no wrong in her eyes. A supernatural-something happened in her spirit, and she was given a deep compassion for Mum. “It’s no point getting upset, because they cannot help themselves at all. “And this is the other lesson that I learned: I do not ask the Lord, ‘Why is this happening?’ Initially I did, ‘She’s the one that loves You so much. She worships You. Why her, of all persons?’ “Then I came to realise that Mum now can’t understand anything, my brother can’t understand anything – so who do you think the Lord is dealing with? Me. “My favourite verse is, ‘All things work together for the good of those who love Him’ (Romans 8:28). And now I understand why – because He is sovereign, He knows what’s going on.” “Physically I am very tired; I have to make all the decisions,” said Pamela, the family’s sole breadwinner for more than two decades. But God gives me the strength. “There are challenges all the time, but if you count your blessings, it is a joy to see the Lord’s hand in every little thing. “Just yesterday, this church mate came to bring buns for us. Last year, my cell leader saw the cracks in the walls outside, and husband and wife brought paint and personally painted my mother’s room and the living room. “When I see the miracles that happen, it is a joy, it is a marvel. We have a great God.”
Nearly a million Rohingya refugees reside in the world's largest refugee camp in Cox's Bazar. Bangladeshi officials see them only as temporary visitors, while their home country of Myanmar denies them citizenship. Caught between two governments and facing a bleak future, hopelessness abounds. The Myanmar government believes the solution lies in economic development in Rakhine, prompting its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to headline an investment fair in the restive region in February 2019. But @relief.sg's Jonathan How says: “Development does help to bring up economic conditions but alone, it will not help. “You can have skyscrapers one day in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine, but it is still not going to heal the hurts … you still need to build peace, you still need to serve justice.” The healing will not take place overnight and could possibly take decades, he says. He believes the Church can bring hope. “It’s a spiritual problem – and a spiritual problem needs a spiritual solution.” The needs of the displaced Rohingya are enormous but “we need to remember that we don’t do things on our own strength. We need God to move,” he says, citing Philippians 2:13. He will be starting a monthly prayer meeting to gather Christians in Singapore to pray over the Rohingya crisis. He believes this “could be the start of the Singapore Church pray for God to move hearts in Yangon and Rakhine”. He also hopes that the prayer groups can be a meeting point and a coordinating body of sorts, so that the wider church body is “aware of who’s doing what … and better still, collaborate somehow” so that we may defend the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and love the foreigners residing among us, giving them food and clothing”. (Deuteronomy 10:18)
We all have a sphere of influence. @eaglescommunications' founder, Peter Chao, shares what makes a good leader: 1. A willingness to serve Peter indicates that trusted leaders are willing to serve; they are not compelled by others or circumstances: “Not because you have to, but because you want to please God.” (1 Peter 5:2) The only way to serve willingly is out of gratitude. The grateful heart serves willingly, compelled only by love for Christ and His people. 2. Self-giving, not self-serving Leaders earn their authority when they are not self-serving but self- giving, “not calculating what you can get out of it but eager to serve”. (1 Peter 5:2) Self-giving matures into self-sacrifice, the ultimate example of which is modelled by Christ. When a leader is sacrificial, the motivation to follow him or her is exponentially higher. 3. Showing the way forward Peter says the leader with authority does “not bossily tell others what to do, but tenderly shows them the way”. (1 Peter 5:3) If a leader is exemplary and competent, he will have the authority to take risks in difficult times and others will make sacrifices to stand with him. The leader with authority leads from the front, shows the way forward and blazes the trail so others may follow. A leader honest about his struggles can resonate with the team. He or she can demonstrate what it means to drink from the fountain of God's grace and give hope to followers facing challenges in their own lives. Only those who can speak with clarity and inspire confidence, who step up to pave the way and risk their own resources and lives, will have the authority to lead.
The word eldercare” has a tender ring to it. The lived-out reality is not always so. According to a Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) report released last July, 129 people aged 60 and above took their own lives in 2017, out of 361 overall – the largest percentage of all reported suicides. While the government has stepped up its measures to support seniors’ physical health, the work of engaging hearts is a different matter altogether. And that falls into the hands of the Church. Founder of ProAge, Isaiah Chng, said seniors are often brushed aside as being past their prime and living, perhaps, on borrowed time. Chng makes the comparison with children, whose potential is affirmed with enrichment programmes and encouragement. “We don’t do that for old people, but we should, because in the eyes of God, they are still children. Your status as a child of God doesn’t change just because you are 90. “I have asked God, ‘Why, why, why? Why make us grow old?’” And God instructed Chng that old people are to be “a declaration” for Him by being fruitful, by flourishing, and by exuding freshness. (Psalm 92:12-15) “The world can say, ‘Hey, where your God? What is this disease He’s stricken you with?’ “But if old people stand and declare, by the testimony of their lives, that my God is always upright, He’s always righteous – if that is fulfilled, you will see a whole army of Calebs arise and show that God makes a difference in life.” As Christians, said Isaiah, we must: Perceive how God sees old age and old people; recognise the potential of older individuals; invest in intergenerational relationships; and encourage seniors to reach for a glorious end. #seniors #elderlycare
Dear @saltandlight.sg, I am a mid-level management consultant who clocks in more 70-80 hours a week. That means I am unable to take part in any ministry work, go for service faithfully ever Sunday, or even meet up with cell mates every fortnightly. I feel like I have no Christian community to fall back on and I’m all alone in my walk with God. How can I fix the situation?” – Linus E, 38, management consultant It takes an open line of communication with God and an intentional posture of discernment, says Hannah Lau from @astera.asia. Consider the following as you figure out whether you are in the right job: 1. What is your view of work as it relates to your faith? Are you a Christ-follower who just happens to be a consultant or a consultant that just happens to be a Christ-follower? As a Christian, how you view the purpose of work will dictate what you look for in a job, your reasons to stay, and your rationale to leave. By rooting your identity first and foremost in Christ, you put the power and control back where it belongs. 2. Why does God want you in this particular job right now? Is there something to learn, skills to hone, perspectives to broaden, relationships to build, or opportunities to witness for Christ? God has purposed something in our particular jobs and it is our responsibility to steward that purpose well. Knowing your purpose for this season will refine your expectations about the job. 3. How long should you plan to be here? Whether you are passionate about your job or not, it has to be sustainable and, especially in high intensity jobs, you need a cutoff point. Whether it’s by time, achievement, or life stage, the season will come to an end, hopefully having accomplished the purpose. We have a responsibility to prayerfully think through where we’re going and what it’ll take. As we move ahead, we remain open to the Holy Spirit to guide and direct. Take ownership of your part in this. #asksaltandlight #faithatwork
This Fathers' Day, Joe E shares the hard truths about fatherhood and the encouragement he has found in God along this journey: 1. We are imperfect earthly fathers Despite my imperfection, God can and will use me to lead my family and impact my children, said Joe. I need not strive on my own human efforts to be a father. Instead I should daily look upwards to my Heavenly Father and draw love, strength and hope from Him. 2. We will be constantly challenged in our fatherhood journey Busyness, tiredness and failure to place God in the centre of our lives challenges our fatherhood. I have learnt over time that I will need to set aside time to put God first and allow Him to be my anchor and to refresh my soul (Psalm 23:2), Joe said. 3. Fathers can be lonely at times I am reminded of the loving truth that God is my strength and refuge, an ever present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). My wife plays an important part in affirming and supporting me in my role as a father and lovingly highlights areas I need to work on, Joe said. We are influenced by the people we spend the most time with. I have learnt to surround myself with other fathers who serve as role models and practical advisors in my fatherhood journey. As I observe and interact with them, I observe 5 common traits that I can learn from, said Joe: a. They take full responsibility for their marriages and fatherhood. b. They serve their families with humility and develop a great level of understanding and empathy towards their wives and children. c. They have lots of fun with their families. d. They have regular family prayer times. e. Their fathering lifestyle draws others to Christ. -- Salt & Light wishes all fathers a very happy Father's Day! #fathersday #fatherhood #family
The first time Clement Ee, the founder of non-profit LoveAid, met Simon*, the young boy was hurling Hokkien insults at him in his school. But an unlikely bond grew between the two. Simon, starved of company and attention, asked Ee if he could join the other children in a soccer game. Ee welcomed Simon and also pointed out that the boy’s shoelaces were undone. The then 11-year-old blushed. He still hadn’t learnt how to tie his shoelaces. It turns out that Simon's family life was far from perfect. His father was a fishmonger who worked long hours. His mother got into altercations with strangers. She was also the main parental influence in his life. Simon grew up echoing her anti-social traits. He abused his mum, extorted money from his dad, picked fights with his classmates, and smoked. Driven by compassion, Ee became a spiritual father to Simon, and tried to introduce a semblance of family life in his home. Right before Simon’s dad died of cancer in July 2017, he asked Ee for a favour: Would he be Simon’s guardian? Ee agreed, believing in the call to protect the fatherless (Isaiah 1:17). Raising Simon is mostly about modelling the social cues he never acquired, said Ee. Behind the tough exterior is a tender child aching for affection. His brushes with the law stemmed from loneliness, like the time he peddled illicit sex drugs in Geylang because he was desperate for companionship among the street vendors. It has been six years since Ee took Simon under his wing, and there has not been a miraculous turnaround in Simon. But he still has hope, especially after Ee saw how God restored his own broken relationship with his late father. “Malachi 4:5-6 was truly demonstrated to me,” Ee said, which is why he’s not giving up on Simon, who still plays truant and has been expelled from multiple schools. In fact, Ee believes the adolescent’s destiny is to be a pastor who takes care of his community in the MacPherson neighbourhood. *a pseudonym has been used to protect the boy’s identity #fathersday #fatherhood #love
Jack Koh, 65, was a drug addict for over 22 years. His addiction was so bad that every morning, “the first thing I had to do was to smoke heroin even before brushing my teeth and shaving.” When his first daughter Josephine, was born, Jack stubbornly stuck to his habits instead of caring for her. By the time his third daughter was born, his wife Julie, had enough and left Jack with two girls and a young baby in tow. He was devastated – but that did not change anything. Neither his pending divorce nor bankruptcy made any difference. It was only when Jack discovered God and His love that he decided to join the New Charis Mission halfway house and commit to his recovery. There, Jack grew spiritually. And he eventually kicked his 20-year drug habit for good. After graduating from the programme, he joined the halfway house as a staff. and worked at restoring his relationship with his wife and daughters, including Josephine, his eldest, who had disowned him. Over time, their relationship improved. Josephine shares: “I am extremely proud of my dad and respect him as a true hero … he overcame immense challenges to be who he is today.” Today, Jack is the proud co-founder of the charity @TheNewCharisMission, which he started in 2006 with Don Wong, his pastor and mentor. Don was instrumental in Jack’s personal victory over drugs and gambling, and helped him mend relationships with his wife and daughter. Since then, Jack has helped hundreds of other ex-offenders gain victory over their addiction and re-integrate into society with his own experiences. He has shared his life story with hundreds, if not, thousands more. Every Fathers’ Day, Jack’s three daughters give him presents. He proudly shares that he keeps every handmade gift he has received from them. He says: “To me, there are two things are the most important in my life: my faith and my family. It is not the home that makes a family, it is the people, my wife and daughters, that make my family.”
Built two years after the Titanic, the MV Doulos has welcomed over 22 million visitors in over 32 years of service as a floating bookshop, bringing knowledge, help and hope around the world. The ship, affectionately-termed the “grand old lady” of the seas, was used in Christian service by @om_aroundtheworld. Despite the open knowledge of her Christian ministry, the Doulos was welcomed into 108 countries – some of which are closed-access nations, where Christian missionaries are not officially allowed to set foot. In 2009 it was unexpectedly decommissioned when it became too expensive to maintain. But, inspired by Scripture which foretells of Jesus as both servant and light (Isaiah 49:6), businessman Eric Saw bought the vessel for S$2 million in 2010. He renamed her Doulos Phos – “servant light” in Greek. Attracted by the historicity of the ship and her ministry, he had grand plans to refurbish the ship as a hotel. “But to be honest, I was not ready,” Saw said. For nine years, Saw met with one roadblock after another. Certain that God had prepared and led him to purchase the ship, Saw refused to give up. “It was a huge challenge,” he admitted. “Still, I accepted because I knew that it would help me grow as a Christian.” “So we stayed on – doggedly,” Saw said. “And in the meantime, I was pruned.” The Lord had already done much work in Saw’s life – from his uneventful moment of salvation at a regular church service, to the growing desire of doing ministry during his time in corporate life, and even to the season of pruning he was undergoing. Soon, through God's faithfulness and the fruit of one man’s dedicated service unto the Lord, the refurbished Doulos Phos in Bintan will welcome its first visitors in nearly a decade. “Never did I think that this would take nine years,” Saw shared. “But I’m thankful the Lord allowed me to go through these nine glorious years.”
If your relationship with your dad is in a challenging place, know that the Lord cares and wants to bring restoration to your situation. @thrivingfamilysg shares three things that can help: 1. OPEN YOUR #HEART What that means is being willing to let your heart become vulnerable to your father again. There could well be hurts involved, but God can help you to process that in a healthy way. It’s true that, with more vulnerability, there’s a higher risk of pain, but there’s also a greater reward of intimacy. Opening your heart also means being committed to looking out for and valuing his gestures and words of #affection towards you, however imperfect they may be. When we can identify and appreciate what is good in our father’s relationship with us, we’ll be more thankful for him and have more peace in our relationship with him. 2. #FORGIVE HIM To forgive is to release our debtors from the debts they owe us, just as God has released us from the debts we owed Him. Instead, desire to bless your father and want the best for him, and trust that the God of justice will Himself make right the wrongs in your life (Romans 12:19). Forgiving does not always mean forgetting. Even though you’ve chosen to forgive, you can still be reeling and healing from the pain of the hurts. #Forgiveness is not a one-time event, but can be a process of revisiting and releasing the hurts again, as and when needed. That’s okay and normal when it comes to deep pain. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Rather, trust that as you obey God by forgiving your father, He’ll provide for you what you need in order to do so. 3. SEE YOUR FATHER THROUGH GOD'S EYES Forgiveness can also help you to see your father through God’s eyes. Ultimately, loving your earthly father is an expression of your love for your heavenly Father as His child. When we learn how to honour our fathers, we also learn how to honour God the Father.