The Ark: a place of rest

The Ark at Village Hotel Bugis
The Ark at Village Hotel Bugis

The Ark is a Pentecostal church. What a unique name. Pastor Jimmy Hoo started this church after he left the Emmanuel Assembly of God. It is small fellowship of 30 plus and they worship at the Village Hotel Bugis at 390 Victoria Street on the 6th level. I got to know Pastor Jimmy on Facebook. I was introduced to him by Pastor Peter Sze who also helped linked up quite a few grace-based churches and ministers in the region. We met once with Joshua Lee, pastor Kevin Choo and another minister and talked shop over tea at Funan Center. He invited me to take the Sunday message and I was most happy to do so.

Pastor Jimmy Hoo and wife Mabel
Pastor Jimmy Hoo and wife Mabel

I took a cab there with my wife and my son who wanted to visit. It was the first time I stepped into the Village Hotel Bugis and the hotel function room was the size of two large classrooms. They also had a separate room for the children. I met with the members who were there early and we chatted with Pastor Jimmy Hoo and Mabel, his wife, who was very warm, hospitable and friendly. The service started at 9.30am and like the other grace-based church services I attended, the Holy Communion was conducted every Sunday. Soon I was at the pulpit and preaching a modified version of what I preached in my worship service the previous week at WRPF. I talked about how a Christian can still live under the old covenant and experience the miserable Christian life. I talked about what it meant to live under the new covenant. My main text was from Jeremiah 31:31-34. I drew my three main points and contrasts from the text itself, and drew sharp contrasts of what it would look like if you lived as a Christian under the old covenant or under the new covenant. I enjoyed partnering with the Holy Spirit in delivering the message.

After the service we had and early lunch at about 11.40am at a Bugis Junction food court. I enjoyed the nasi padang and the fellowship and warm banter. Inevitably from the topic of family, the conversation went to ministry and I heard a dramatic and  grace-filled story of how this sincere and humble couple were initiated into the message of grace, and how they moved from being burnt-out and effort-driven to a place of rest in the grace of God.

Though many people crowd the Star Vista to hear the grace messages of the New Creation Church, small churches like this also deserves better support and encouragement. I am sure there are people who love the grace message but prefer a small church setting where things are less concert-like and more family-like, less distant and more personal, where they feel less like a spectator and more like a participant. This is one church you may want to explore visiting and being a part of, if you want to learn to rest in His grace, and a have a stronger community life. Pastor Jimmy and Mabel are well equipped with the message, the experience and love to give you the care, the rest and community you need.

Do not look at man

“Do not look at man, look to God” seem to be the recurring theme at the belated welcome lunch for the new addition to our staff. There were three pastors and two lay leaders and I had asked them to give a helpful piece of advice to Ethel Shin the youth worker.

They knew that in her calling she would have to deal very closely with people. People of all sorts including leaders and pastors. People with different personalities, backgrounds, expectations and values about how to do church or be church. Some of them may be  difficult to deal or work with. She would also know pastors and leaders who she thinks are good and godly, but as she gets near, and works with them, their imperfections will appear like cracks in the wall. She may get disappointed, disillusioned, hurt, discouraged or even worse cynical. Keep your eyes on the Lord, not on man.

Its good advice for everyone. The seeker searching for God. The searcher looking for a church community to call home. The faithful die-hard member and the active member serving in increasing capacities in different spheres and levels of involvement. The newly elected board member or addition to a leadership team. The new addition that joined  a cell group. Keep your eyes on the Lord, not on man.

Someone said, There is a snake in every garden. We think the church is a garden and there won’t be any snakes in them. They are safe to walk, play and relax and lie down on. We leave our handbag around and $50 is missing when we get home. “I thought I have a $50 note inside, where has it gone?” Why should we expect the church to be full of Mother Theresas? The church is full of all kinds of people at different junctures in their journey and development. Even the Mother could be difficult for some to handle. The fall of man has its residue in the church and as long as there are people in church its good advice to look to God and not to man.

If we have to look at man, and Paul does ask his readers to follow his example, look at the positives, the praiseworthy, the good, the noble, the godly characteristics that we could be inspired, encouraged and blessed by. Look for the Christ in them and praise God that if we look with His eyes of faith and hope, we can see many encouraging signs of God’s transforming grace and love in them. Do not look at man, look at God, is good advice. And when you look at man, pay attention to how Christ has graced him with goodness and mercy.

Singapore Christian Canaan Church: a happy servant church

New media connected

“I have read his blog. Then we became friends on Facebook.” That was how Pastor Richard Wong introduced me as the guest speaker in his church. New media is changing the way the world and the church works. More often than not people may meet online before they meet physically. This has been very much my experience in the last two years. We knew each other from afar and off-line, but recently we had lunch and we hit it off and shared our lives easily.

Jenny, Kenny and pastor Richard

Servant leader

Richard is hungry for the spirituals and yet is down to earth and a good administrator. He has been pastoring the church for close to two decades and still remains hopeful and enthusiastic. He sees himself above all as a servant. This serving heart has been his hallmark since the days of his youth, and it has been imparted to the church too.

The church building near St George'sMoving along

The Singapore Christian Canaan Church had come a long way from conservatism to Third Wave openness. This year they were moving into healing. This is a church of about 200 over and they have a building and worship team I envied. The worship team comprised half Filippinos and half locals. The elder Steven attributed their improvement to the training implemented by the youth and worship pastor.

A happy churchpreaching to produce a grace encounter

About 30 of the integrated congregation are Filippinos, mostly from the professional and service industry. The rest were mainly locals from youths to adults in their 50’s. The church was a family church: warm, welcoming, hospitable and all-embracing. This is their great strength: the love, unity and happy family feel was palpable. The congregation responded easily and positively to the message I preached, “The Church of the Prodigal Son.” This is a word I have been bringing everywhere I can as I feel it is a word in season for the church.

worship band leads congregation in song

engaged in praise

art renditionArt in the church

At the entrance to the worship hall, I caught sight of a large painting the size of a large notice board. This was evidence of how adventurous this church is. The pastor told me the  painting was done by a Japanese couple, during an art rendition at the Good Friday service, as the congregation sang two songs in worship of Jesus the Lamb of God.

Josephine and Richard Wong

Missions impact

Later Richard and his wife Josephine brought us out for lunch at Sushi Teh in the City Mall. Never did I know a relatively new mall existed in Little India, other than Mustapha’s. We talked about the missions work of the church in Bangladesh, Chiangmai and Sulawesi. We talked shop and about our families. It was wonderful to know how God worked in the world. Many are the risks taken but the Lord watches over His people.

We reached home after 3pm, satisfied and glad to have the privilege of serving the Lord and this happy church.