PRAY SINGAPORE 2018

Mass events drain me. I am an introvert. So when 7 October 2018 – Pray Singapore was publicised by Love Singapore, I must admit I was hesitant to sign up because after preaching on a Sunday morning, I would not want to spend another three afternoon hours in the National Stadium, fighting heat, tiredness and jostling with crowds of people. However, in the end, I got out of my comfort zone and signed up for prayer with the Body of Christ in Singapore. Here are some of my off the cuff thoughts.

For a start the build up was exciting. Going there early, walking with the lines of people walking from Kallang MRT to the Stadium; and seeing the build up of the people filling the Stadium. It highlighted the great organisational skills needed to get this event on its ground, and the mobilisation grace to fill the Stadium with 40,000 to 50,000 believers. The Love Singapore leaders are great tribal leaders!

The believers from different churches in Singapore came to PRAY SINGAPORE

I liked seeing the people of various age groups. I liked the clever clap-banner they gave everyone. When you used it to clap it amplified the volume 20 times. We should issue these clap banners in every church for use in worship services! I liked the good balance and build up of prayer themes. I liked the variety: different kinds of prayers (set liturgical prayers, spontaneous prayers, group of twos and threes praying, prophetic declarations and acts, everyone praying in unison); different leaders from different denominations both young and old ( besides giving honour where it is due some political correctness was involved here); the use of Mandarin, Tamil besides the main language of English; the different groups (marrieds, families, children, younger pastors, veteran pastors); different prayer themes (Church, Family, Nation, Harvest). I liked the five minute talks giving statistics, telling stories, challenging and inspiring the prayer themes before we prayed.

Gift pack included a clap banner that made a lot of clapping sound, and a lot of sense because it also was usable fan.
Scriptural and prophetic declarations on the clap banner

A lot of time was spent praying for the FAMILY theme so that by the time we reached praying for the HARVEST it was anticlimactic. This goes to show how much urgency ad importance the organisers placed on the foundation and future of our nation: strong families.

On the whole I surprising left the Stadium energised not with physical or emotional energy but a supernatural charge. If they could check the charge it would be like the mobile battery icon fully charged. I was so glad my colleague Tom Cannon mobilised scores of young and older church members to participate in this event.

When I attended Arsenal’s football game recently, I left about 5-10 minutes before the end because I simply hated jostling with the crowds. This time I stayed to the end, and they that endure to the end shall be saved, but caught in a multitude of red shirted people all trying to get into the Stadium MRT.

Nevertheless I rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Rick Seaward: a man sent by God

Rick Seaward: apostle (1955-2018)

I did not have an opportunity to know Pastor Rick Seaward personally. I was surprised that his sudden death from a car accident put me in a pensive mood. When I saw the Facebook image with the 1955-2018 it hit me. He was born the same year as me. I always thought he was my senior because of his crop of white hair.

My first memory of him was when he came to our fellowship during its formative revival years and preached a passionate message on Isaiah 61. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.” This turned out to be the message his life embodied, and he went home in a glorious blaze, powered by the fire in his bones.

After that speaking engagement, I never saw him again until he showed up suddenly as the founding pastor of Calvary Charismatic Center(CCC) – a pioneer of the “church in the hotel” trend. That church grew rapidly and became the first megachurch outside of the mainline denominations (according to Harford Institute for Religion Research a megachurch is defined as one that sustains an attendance of over 2,000).

CCC also became well-known for their prodigious church planting throughout the world through their Gideonite program. They were the “it” church in those days. They also had great evangelistic rallies in the former National Stadium and blessed the local church pastors with inexpensive or free church conferences.

What strikes me about Rick is his amazing gift of faith and unflagging missional fire. He poured out his whole life and put all that he is and has at God’s disposal.

His bold desire to reach people of all races and religions caught the attention of government authorities zealous to prevent religious disharmony. He was slapped on the wrist. He was later hauled up for a technically flawed, financial transaction that had more press than it warranted. Another slap on the wrist. At that time, he was criticized for not being a Singaporean, a foreigner. Today he would have been called a foreign talent.

For a period of time he left Singapore and pastored in Auckland to help stabilize another megachurch. He left the CCC in the hands of local pastors he mentored. CCC went through a decentralization process of several regions and I thought that was one of the great redemptive things that happened as a result of the troubles that CCC went through. CCC, with its name changed to Victory Family Center, is today a family of congregations that worships in seven locations.

Billy Graham has gone home to glory a few weeks ago at a ripe old age of 99. That’s a whopping 36 years longer than Rick! Two great men of God. One an evangelist. One an apostle. Two giants. It saddens me when I think of his early departure.

I am sure most of us have accepted Rick’s early departure as something of a mystery, as a part of God’s sovereign plan which we do not fully grasp or comprehend for the time being.

Has Rick finished his God-assignment? Is that why God has taken him home?

Is Rick the one seed that needs to fall into the ground, so that it will bear much much more fruit in the decades to come?

We do not really know for certain.

We do know that it pains many to see such a giant go home when much remains to be done. The church in Singapore owes this man a great debt. He is a great loss not only to his beloved family and the church he founded and led. He is a great loss to the Love Singapore movement and the church in Singapore that has received the mantle of Antioch of Asia.

Father, we do not understand, and we do not want to pretend that we do, but we trust You completely. You are too loving to do evil, too wise to do wrong, and too powerful to have lost control. We trust You and entrust all the grieving family members and church members into Your loving care and comfort. Amen.

If you have memories of him you want to share, feel free to use the comment box below.

Appreciation Sunday for Cell Leaders

Praying for the cell leaders
Praying for the cell leaders

Today’s Sunday Worship Service was devoted to encouraging and affirming and blessing our cell leaders for their works of faith, attitude of hope and love for God’s people. We had a meaningful, wonderful and inspiring morning. These were some of the things we did:

  • We let everyone know that we were going to appreciate the the cell leaders and reaffirm the importance of cells in spirituality.
  • The 25 minute sermon on Matthew 6:34 was a word in season for the cell leaders and members. A sermon about the purpose of cell groups is so hackneyed we decided not to do it. Ps Thomas spoke on “Living in the Present”, an exhortation to live fully in the present, and not to be stuck in the past, or to live in anxiety about the future.
  • A new member, Suling, shared with the congregation her thoughts about why the cell group was so beneficial for her growth.
  • Our youth worker Ethel Cannon-Shin shared how the new commandment of Jesus in John 13:34,35 should be the bedrock of the cell and how participation in a cell provides community.
  • We showed a video that stitched together every cell groups’ words of appreciation for their cell leaders. This was a clincher and it affirmed and energised every the cell leader.
  • We called all the cell leaders out to the front and asked all the cell members to gather around them and pray for them. Each cell leader received a gift of appreciation.
  • We had some special light refreshments: ang ku kueh, with a tortoise impressed upon the cake, to symbolise longevity. We do hope the cell leaders will be sustained by the grace of God, and the support of the cell core team, and will continue serving and leading for many years.

How does your church recognise, appreciate and celebrate the cell leaders’ contribution to church spirituality? Do use the comment box.

Cell appreciation from Tom Cannon on Vimeo.