An Evening With Covenant Pastors

I attended a Covenant Pastors fellowship recently. This was not my first time experiencing the gracious hospitality and welcome in the home of Pastor Justin. He has been doing this for many many years. Long ago, I was a regular, until the pressures of ministry drew me away. Now that I have stepped down from pastoring I found myself gravitating to the fellowship. Of course, it is because I have more time and less responsibilities now. I even bring my wife these days to this and other pastors’ fellowship. 

Covenant Pastors is a fellowship of pastors and ministers from church and marketplace that has as its main focus fellowship, bonding and ministry to one another. They also focus on Singapore and the nations, and the wider Body of Christ. The fellowship is led by Rev Amos Jayarathnam, a humble but bold prophet, whom I got acquainted with in the late 1970’s. We were from World Revival Prayer Fellowship. He is the real thing, a prophet: authentic and gentle, but a lion when he delivers the word of the Lord. 

Pastor Justin Leong and his wife cooked up a sumptuous dinner for about 25 of us. It was pleasant to meet and get to know other ministers. I sat beside pastor Clare and she shared about her ministry with another church. Then we sang and worshipped the Lord (always led by Pastor Isaiah). I always loved this part – the anointing of worship helped me become keenly aware of God’s presence and always lifted up my spirit.  Pastor Beulah had a vision of a high priest with the gem stones on his breast-piece, and those gemstones had our faces reflected in them. 

Jacob Sim, a prophet and an effective marketplace minister shared a word in season from his heart. It was about how to reach the omega generation by looking from God’s PERSPECTIVE, and facilitating PERSONAL ENCOUNTERS with God, and POSITIONING.

Amos then shared with us stories of his ministry in Russia and Estonia, and prophesying over Russia, and in the spirit, over Putin. His testimonies were astounding and inspiring. I never get tired of the stories of his prophetic encounters. 

Pastor Henry then prophesied over me, and while he was prophesying, I felt a fire and heat rising up within my belly, and he too was moved by the Spirit. Later when we broke up into groups to pray for Ukraine & Russia, Singapore, and the Singapore church, I went to Henry and shared what I experienced while he was prophesying over me. There and then, Pastor Andrew shared what he saw. He saw the mantle of Isaiah 11:2 upon me: the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, and counsel. I received all their words with joy and reverence. I was indeed surrounded by prophetic ministers all around me. I will sit with these words before the Lord and continue to wait on Him. I left the fellowship that night in animated conversation with my wife, and walked with energy to the Tanah Merah MRT station. I pondered, “What does all these utterances point to?”

Have you been ministered to by prophets or prophetic ministers? Share your experience with us in the comment box.

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From CRMS to NOVO Singapore

CRMS (Church Resource Ministries, Singapore) is now NOVO Singapore. CRMS was founded by James Creasman, and it was affiliated to CRM (US). CRM US decided to change their name to NOVO, which means “make new”, and invited other countries using CRM to change theirs too. The committee in Singapore decided to follow suit, and with that change of name a new emphasis on being missional. Read more about this in their website HERE. 

I was blessed by the CRMS’ Focusing Leaders and Coaching programs and together with others facilitated a few runs of Focusing Leaders Network in the church I served as well as outside. I also served in their committee for a few years, and before I left, I recommended Abraham Sim(Vice President, NOVO), a senior leader of World Revival Prayer Fellowship, who loves and honours pastors, with the right spirit and abilities to help CRMS, and I was pleased that he has so faithfully served in this mission for these many years. Thus when he personally invited me to the 20th Anniversary celebrations, I simply could not say No.

I enjoyed renewing contact with old comrades like Pastor How Beng (a stalwart of CRMS), Pastor Andy and Pastor Charles(the President, NOVO). Furthermore, I was surprised to meet again with missionary Mike Crow, who was the special guest. The program was ably and smoothly chaired by Abraham Sim. I heard exciting stories and presentations about the ongoing ministries that NOVO are doing from missional work in a specific community and sports outreach, to missions mentoring and member care, focusing leaders networks, coaching, and some new ones for making disciples. There was also a thanksgiving for the founders of CRMS, James and Kimberly Creasman. After the program, we had a lavish Peranakan lunch, and I sat down with marketplace leaders from other churches and listened to their stories of how the NOVO helped them. It was a happy and meaningful morning for me and I felt pleased with all that the Lord has done for and through them.

Have you been blessed by this ministry? If you have been blessed, do drop a comment and share your personal thanksgiving or well wishes for NOVO, to celebrate their 20thanniversary on 8th July 2023.

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Church of True Light: “Church Camp” or “Church Retreat”

Where did the term “church camp” originate? In USA in the 1880’s where summer camps were organised for boys who grew up in the cities and parents wanted them to toughen up and reconnect them with nature. The camps ran for a few months.  The first camp to introduce spiritual growth was done by the YMCA with outdoor religious services on Sundays for the boys. In the 1930s the American Bible Society funded church camps. In the 1940s and 1950s church camps began to spring up in all the denominational churches, becoming shorter and packed with spiritual input and more organised. It impacted many youths with the gospel and revived the church members. The Singapore Church is very much influenced by the US church, so we too use the term “church camp”, to describe the few days of programmed spiritual input usually in a hotel or conference grounds, with the intention of reviving and strengthening the faith of believers, young and old.

In my recent engagement with the Church of True Light as the guest preacher in a “church camp” I had an interesting chat with their Vicar, Canon Barry Leong. The interesting thing was that Barry was insistent on eradicating the use of the term “church camp” among members. “Its “church retreat” not “church camp””! The schedule reflected his strong views about changing terms to reflect a change in purpose, spirit and schedule that he advocated. He advocated a schedule with a better balance of bonding among members, Bible teachings, and time for leisure and rest (see below).

This was what the schedule was like: on the first day, everyone got to the hotel, settled in, and at 8 pm attended a short briefing and prayer. No Bible teaching. On the second and third days, they could sleep in if they wished, because the spiritual input of worship and teaching was from 10am to 12noon. They could have a leisurely breakfast and catch up with church friends or get to know other church members. After the morning spiritual input, they had a leisurely lunch and a free and easy afternoon, followed by a leisurely dinner. The night spiritual input was from 8pm to 10pm. On the last morning, the same time schedule was followed but the spiritual input was worship, thanksgiving, holy communion, and a final lunch before everyone goes back.

I had preached in their “church camps” before and I have seen an evolution of their camp programmes. The first time I preached in their church camp: two Bible teaching sessions in the morning, one workshop in the afternoon, one Bible teaching session in the night. This was the programme each day. I almost died. They too almost died from listening to me. The second time I took the “church camp” it got better: there were no afternoon workshops. The third time I spoke for them in a church camp it was already better: one session in the morning and one at night. I thought it would not get any better. This time round, I felt it had a very good balance. Good at getting the best out of the invited preacher, even better for stressed Singaporean church members who came to the “church camp” to “come away to a desolate place by yourselves to rest”. 

If the name was changed from “church camp” to “church retreat” without any change in purpose, spirit and schedule, it would be mere cosmetic spin, words without action, and futile change for projecting a new image that meant nothing.

Anyway, enough about this. I enjoyed teaching in this recent church retreat because the theme is dear to my heart, one that I believe the Singapore church badly needs. It was also a joy because the people were responsive and I have gotten to know this congregation over a few decades of on and off teaching ministry to them. The anointing was present in all the meetings.

I noticed that the pastoral team had a good gift mix and oneness about them. I was happy to meet up with former WRPF church member, Jude, and his wife, Kaining, both of whom now are in the pastoral team. I believe they are in a place where they can develop, thrive and blossom. I met them over a breakfast and was very happy for them.

I was also blessed by the helpfulness of Rev Aaron and Jennifer Cheng (above) and Pastor Matthew and Susan (below) and Gasper for transportation arrangements. The church retreat is certainly a June ministry highlight for me personally. Not to forget, one of the members sponsored a truckload of durians for the members to enjoy during one of the afternoons at the outdoor hotel carpark.

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Tabernacle of Christ: A Church That Inspires Faith in God

My wife and I received a warm welcome after being ushered into the office of Pastors Francis and Peggy Ng, the husband and wife that founded the church and continue to lead it. 

We were thrilled to be invited there as I have heard about this church and met the Senior Pastor in Covenant Pastors fellowship, and also heard him speak in a panel at a recent MFIS Equip Conference. Even in that short answer to a question, I noted his eloquence and his story-telling skills. The prophetic mantle is expressed differently through different personalities, and his is one that is winsome, inspirational and persuasive. Therefore, I was not surprised when he took the church stage after the song set had been sung, that he was able to lift the atmosphere and get the congregation on their feet, praising the Lord. 

Pentecost Sunday

It was Pentecost Sunday, and I gave a teaching on “Following the Lead of the Spirit” to honour the presence and person of the Holy Spirit, remembering how He came on the Day of Pentecost to unify and empower the body of waiting and praying believers 2,000 years ago. The positive energizing worship really made it easier for me to teach the Word, and the message ended with a call for prayer and ministry. As I was praying for people in the front, I passed by a “catcher” with a familiar face that resembled an actor, but I thought this could not be. Later, I found out he is the famous actor, Charlie Goh, from Ah Boys to Men movies. There were members taking selfies with him and of course I took one too. Very pleasant person, and as it turned out, he is with Fly Entertainment, the same agency as new actor Paul Lee Wen Por, my nephew. 

We were invited to lunch at nearby Northpoint where we got to know the pastors better. I must say their journey was inspiring and colorful enough for a book to be written. They left their jobs in their 20s to live by faith and join the church in full time ministry – without a salary. They experienced God’s miraculous provision in the midst of suffering hardship. The pastor of the church they had served told them then, “I did not call you and the church did not call you. God called you, so you have to trust God for finance”.  That was the period that vital foundations were laid that shaped the trajectory of their life and ministry – faith in God and God alone would be a hallmark of their service. It distinguished them in all their endeavors in the church and in the marketplace. This positive faith in God has also been imparted the members, Sunday after Sunday, year on year with sermons and stories of healings, answers to prayer and prophetic encounters and breakthroughs. 

A Remarkable Miracle

One of the most remarkable miracles the church witnessed was the healing of their son Samuel from autism. Not mild autism but serious autism. Peggy shared about their struggles with their son: the challenge of getting a school to accept him; reading books to him while he runs around the room; trying to handle him as he screams in public; and teaching a dyslexic son basic English and Math. In their helplessness, what can they do but to look to God in faith and pray? Indeed, the breakthrough they were looking for came in his secondary school years as marked improvements accompanied his advancement till he received scholarships from NTU university, and he is currently in a PhD program. This is nothing short of a miracle and I could see how their faces lit up when they shared this story. After all they were direct participants in the miracle! You can access the miracle story HERE.

We went home with our stomachs filled and our hearts infused with faith and warmed by their hospitality. Tabernacle of Christ is a church that God would be pleased with for “without faith it is impossible to please God.”

To view more stories of my visits/ministry in other churches go HERE.

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Journal Jottings and Fruit of Revival

I had this big box from buying a Philips all in one cooker. I decided to use it to store all my journals because the current box was too small. Since I was transferring it I decided to specify the years on the spines of the journals. The earliest existing journal was 1982. I had journals from an earlier period but I had somehow discarded them. The earlier ones were mainly devotional notes of my Bible meditations. On a whim, I picked up the oldest and began to read it. Surprisingly I could not put it down as it was so fun to read. I put some up on my Instagram story, and sent some to relevant individuals to affirm them, and stir pleasant memories. 

I noticed that 1982 was a year that displayed some spiritual fruit ten years after the revival of 1972 caused my home church, World Revival Prayer Fellowship, to be formed. The significant fruit was the number of people who heard and responded to God’s invitation to them to serve Him in different ways. My journal recorded them.

Examples of revival fruit

There was Simeon and Jacob, two brothers who joined the Discipleship Training School of YWAM. The former went on to serve in a YWAM in Taiwan, and as a leader in two big Asian regions. It has been about 40 years, with more years to come. My journal jotting on 28 July 1982: “We prayed for Simeon Siau. The Committee sat down together to pray and seek the Lord’s will. I felt that the harvest is great but workers are few and the Lord wants to thrust him forth as a gift to the nations.”

The latter, Jacob, joined YWAM Calcutta on staff (see my actual journal entry below), and then YWAM Nepal where he got arrested with a YWAM team and spent a few days in prison for “preaching the gospel”. Later on, he returned to our home church to serve in a church plant, and later to return to the workplace. This is revival fruit.

My journal jot for Thomas Tan on 27 June 1982 was a mere 11 words: “We sent Thomas Tan with the blessings of God upon him”, but he has been serving the Lord the last 40 years. He joined Operation Mobilization Pakistan land team for two years. This was followed by WEC Missionary Training College, and then seven years with Frontiers, reaching the unreached Pushtun people group in Peshawar. After that, he returned home and has since been serving in the local church as a pastor. This is revival fruit. 

My sister Joyce was not sent by the church but she felt a call to enter into the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary to live in community and service. She has taken her vows and her new name is Beryl. She served in the Australian branch and returned back to the mother house in Darmstadt, Germany. I jotted in my journal on 20 May 1982: “Went to Crest book room to buy a Bible for Joyce before she leaves for W Germany next week. There was none suitable so I decided to give her the money $200 as a gift from us.” She has been serving with the sisterhood about 40 years now. This is revival fruit.

I was called into pastoral work in 1979, and that very year attended Tung Ling Bible School. However, it was in my third year of theological education (1982), that I was officially installed as assistant pastor to Pastor P.J. Johney. Later, on the 9th March 1986, I was ordained. I served my home church for 40 years. This is revival fruit.

There are many others in my home church who went on to serve the Lord before and after 1982. Revival fruit.

Evidence of true revival

When the Spirit is poured out in mighty streams of living water, the lives of many are transformed. The desire to serve God is pervasive and is very strong and lasting in some individuals. It is like fire in the bones and it propels them into His service in the local church. Over the years of faithfulness, their spiritual gifts and strengths are identified and developed, and the passion is narrowed down and more specific. The flame does not die out, it keeps energizing them and carrying them over obstacles. When they fail it drives them closer to God and deepen their life. They respond to God with enduring faith. This is a significant fruit of true revival. Lasting fruit is one of the marks of a genuine revival. Going viral on YouTube does not qualify as revival fruit.

Journaling journey

My journaling journey seemed to have begun as Bible meditation notes. It was Rev Brian Bailey of World MAP, who encouraged this practice of writing down the insights one gathered from Bible meditation. Then it went into simple diary-like reports of what I did and what happened around me, without much reflection of where God had been present or what he may be saying to me. This was what my 1982 journal was like. I wonder how my journaling evolved. I do not know if I will go on to read a few more journals, maybe in 5 year intervals to get an overview of my journaling journey. This sounds like an interesting project, but I do not have time for this right now. God willing, I would like to do it. 

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