James Creasman, founder of CRMS

This is a very late post. Like three years late. After James Creasman went back to the US, I wanted to post my appreciation but I never got around to it. Today, Seng Chor and I had lunch with him and we updated each other on what has been happening in our lives in the past three years since James closed the chapter of his ministry in Singapore and move back to the States. It was so good to re-connect with James.

Kenny, Seng Chor and James Creasman

I got to know James through Church Resource Ministries, Singapore (CRMS). I signed up for a Focused Leaders Network that he was leading together with Seng Chor and How Beng. I benefitted a great deal from the sessions together with others and from my personal mentoring sessions with James. Later I continued with the facilitators’ training and together with others led a few Focused Leaders network groups. Later I was invited to join the CRMS exco and served with other godly leaders for several years.

James was like a paraclete (one called alongside to strengthen, encourage, guide). He loved God and was devoted to the word of God. Gentle, encouraging, gracious, humble, and a good listener, he was easy to relate to and confide in. He never misused his office and he was a wise and discerning mentor. He led and encouraged the expansion of the CRMS into Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and China. He inspired and mobilised the exco and other facilitators to lead networks in these countries.  He excelled in networking and building friendships. Near the end of his time in Singapore, he sought for a few years to seek locals to take over CRMS, and finally succeeded in doing so, as CRMS is now run by local pastors and marketplace leaders. He has advanced the cause of mentoring in the church. Now the main concentration of his ministry is in Vietnam but he is based in Los Angeles as both his and his wife’s aging parents are in need of help. Missionaries like him are a rare breed but the Singapore church was blessed to have him and his ministry based here for all those years.

Focusing Leaders’ Network by CRMS: a leadership course like no other

Most helpful process

It was probably the most helpful course I had taken. And there had been many over the years of pastoral ministry since 1980. Maybe it was about timing and fit. The Focused Leaders’ Course I attended several years ago, increased my understanding of God’s work in my life. It also clarified self understanding. Tools were picked up that aided me in moving towards a progressively clearer understanding of my personal calling.

Based on Robert Clinton’s research

The materials and ideas on which the course was based, originated from Robert Clinton’s research in Christian leadership. One of Robert’s mentees, Terry Wallings, with permission put them into the format and process that we are using in our workbooks. The course blessed me so much, I went through facilitator training, and now serve as a volunteer in the exco of the Church Resource Ministries Singapore(CRMS) and occasionally help out in facilitating their Focused Leaders Network(FLN) when my schedule allows. Together with a senior church leader, a lighter version of this called Focused Living, was also introduced to the church I serve, with a warm reception.

everyone talks, we facilitate

prayer for one another

Foursquare pastors with two missing and FLN facilitators

Foursquare Church pastors

Recently there was a group of Foursquare Church pastors who went through this course and it was my joy to co-facilitate with James Creasman, Founder-President of CRMSJames Creasman, the Founder-President of CRMS, Bishop Moses Tay, and Pastor Walter Lim of Grace AG. The Foursquare Church were great hosts and wonderful co-learners as we did most of the sessions in their beautiful headquarters. With good coffee, delicious delivered lunches, and million dollar sea view, who could ask for more. The sessions which were 8.30am to 4.30pm were not that taxing as most were discussions, self reflection, and interactions. These were enlightening times and facilitators learned as much as those attending.

Learning together and personal coaching sessions

Outside of the sessions each leader had a coaching appointment with the facilitator and that was where we gently pointed the pastors towards a clearer sense of God’s call on their lives as well as draw the practical implications on their roles, goals, and mentoring constellation.

Network means meals and friendship

Mealtimes and breaks were also times to get to know each other and to engage in light banter and more serious stuff, especially as the period also spanned over the two elections. Mostly we were talking shop – church scene, ministry, society.

It was a great privilege and joy to co-learn and journey along with pastors of big as well as small churches. For more information on what this ministry does and what courses are on offer go to the CRMS website.

Almost two months into the sabbatical

trekking the Bukit Timah hillListening to my body

Almost two months have passed. Physically, I have rested well. This April and May has been months when I listened closely to my body. Whenever I felt tired, I laid in bed and napped or slept. Most mornings I do not force myself to wake up. So it has been usually 8.30am or 9am when I have my breakfast. They say this is the best way to know how much sleep you need. My tentative conclusion is that I need about 8-9 hours of sleep each day.

Though I began with walking and jogging at the Chinese Garden, my preferred form of exercise and recreation is still trekking. So I have revived my Saturday trek with friends, and above that, during the weekdays I try to trek once or twice at Bukit Timah Hill or MacRitchie.  Such treks are gentle on the knees and on the heart. The air is great and the forest sounds and sights perk me up. Over the several weeks, I have been gradually trimming down and firming up.

Outside enrichment

The AGST MTh(Ed) modules were fun and the subjects and readings, lectures and interactions have been fruitful learning experiences for me. Forcing myself to research, reflect and write my papers have also been pleasantly smooth riding, despite my early anxiety.

Helping out as a facilitator once a month with the Focused Leaders Network (Church Resource Ministry Singapore) together with James Creasman, Bishop Moses Tay, and Rev. Walter Lim has been enjoyable. This is a platform for me to journey with pastors, in this instance, pastors from the Foursquare denomination in Singapore.

Spiritual refreshment

More time also meant more time for meditation, reading, reflection, prayer and journaling, and listening to sermons with my wife, mostly Paul White and Andrew Wommack. This last month I have been slowly nourishing my soul on Psalms 42 and taking time to pour out my heart or be quiet before Him.

Visiting churches as a layman is so nice, so nice. To be free from having to preach or minister and to fuss over program or people problems is like one prolonged sigh of relief. It was plain good, a cosy and relaxing change. It was pure indulgence: like peering into the horizon with sunglasses, and sipping watermelon juice at a beach, as white clouds quietly tiptoed by. And then being able to indulge my spiritual palate in different church services and sermons, like a wandering charismatic, has become a prolonged epicurean feast I hope I do not become addicted to.

Anxiety squashed by word

Even as the days passed, colourful as they were, with a Kuala Lumpur jaunt and a chest thumping week of witnessing the Singapore election, anxiety about whether the days were productively spent bugged me for a while. For a Singaporean, even resting and restoration is an objective to strain for. So as the days passed quickly you wondered if God will get everything done that I wanted Him to get done in me. Mercifully, some peace prevailed after the Lord gave me a status update, “Enjoy each day as a gift and trust Me to accomplish in you all that needs to be accomplished by the end of the sabbatical”. That is so assuring and going forward, I will rest on that word.

Google reader

Recently, I have also learned how to use the Google Reader. Transferred all the blogs and websites I usually read from my blogroll and Favourites and moved them all there for efficient access and pleasure. This has been available for some time, but I am usually a late adopter when it comes to such things. I am still not on Twitter.