In celebration of Ministers Fellowship International Singapore (MFIS) Thanksgiving Dinner, on Thursday night, 23 November 23, we were blessed with a sumptuous dinner complete with roast turkeys from Goodwood Park Hotel (courtesy of Mr & Mrs Luar Eng Hwa). We had about 120 pastors and leaders from some 45 churches coming together at Harvester Community Church in Geylang. The program started at 5pm and ended at 8pm. No one was bored, everything flowed according to schedule. We had a great couple Tom and Ethel Cannon as our emcees.
We were particularly blessed by the opening speech by Apostle Patrick Low (Founder & Apostolic Overseer of Christian Community Chapel). He started by asking all of us this question, “What are we thankful for?” We are to give thanks for all the blessings we have received in 2023, but we also need to give thanks for our trials and sufferings. Suffering, is a sign of the true apostolic church. Besides the working of signs & wonders in our ministry, how we handle difficult times in our lives, speaks as loudly as our works. I felt that this is a word that we all need to hear for this season and to prepare God’s people for the coming season.
There was a good time of fellowship, and the evening ended with powerful prophetic prayers and proclamations, led by four pastors across the generations. And of course, the celebration highlight was for the birthday boy, Rev Chua Hock Lin, who has been a dear elder brother who always cared and pastored MFIS pastors these few years. He just turned 80! The following landmark announcement was also made by him: “Before I share the message the Lord has put on my heart, I have a short announcement to make. Earlier this year, I felt my time as the first Chairman of MFIS would be over by end 2023. Time for us to transition to a younger person. I shared this with the leadership and they concurred. We also agreed that Ps Sam Gift Stephen, Senior Overseer of Life Centre, would be the next Chairman of MFI Singapore. Ps Sam is on a family vacation and will assume this role on his return. I want to thank Ps Han, our Lead Apostolic Elder, the Apostolic Elder Council, Apostolic Leadership Team and all the members of our Fellowship Teams for their encouragement and support during the last three years. I believe the next season, with Ps Sam at the helm, will move us to a higher level for the mission of MFI Singapore”.
To God be the glory, for Pastor Gabriel Han and the Harvester Community Church team who worked to put this together for us. We praise the Lord since every good and perfect gift comes from above. We look forward to 2024, the year ahead of us, a year closer to the return of Christ.
-A report by Pastor Lawrence Lee (former Senior Pastor of Glad Tidings Church)
They are blessed by the Lord. At least that is my limited observation of pastors’ children. During the praise and worship at the beginning of the service at Tabernacle of Holiness, where I was a guest preacher, I noticed the worship leader guiding the congregation to experience God’s presence and to rightly honour him. They were a mere three man worship team but I felt like I was taken up in a spiritual whirlwind into a heavenly space and was filled with the Spirit and brought back down to earth again. Later, I found out the worship leader was Pastor Isaiah’s son. Now Pastor Isaiah has a special worship anointing. I have experienced that at the Covenant Pastors’ dinner fellowship many times. The son also has a similar anointing. Not a co-incidence. Passed through the genes? Nah. More likely: son sees father, wants to be like father, God sees his heart’s desire, and gave it to him by sheer grace and generosity.
Later, after the service ended, I chatted with Pastor Xavier and said I have been trying to write a book for some time and it will be an ebook. Then he mentioned about his daughter who had written a book and put it up on Amazon, which I found amazing, and wanted to chat with her. She told me about the fantasy book she had written, one with underlying Christian themes, which straightaway brought to mind, the Narnia Chronicles and other such books. I was impressed and inspired and energised to overcome writer’s block and complete the book I had started.
Two pastors of the same church with adult children they can be proud of, faithfully using their gifts of worship and writing for the kingdom. The interesting twist is that both of these pastors’ children are married to each other. To me this is a bonus: they can expect more blessings ahead.
I enjoyed my time at Tabernacle of Holiness. They are years ahead when it comes to the prophetic gift. In fact they are so gifted that they run a course called Academy of Prophets, both locally and abroad. I have attended it before when Prophet Amos Jayaratnam conducted it in some form years ago. It is informative and it inspires faith. It is practical and it gets you started on prophecy. It is sound and I would recommend it to anyone who desires the gift of prophecy.
If you wish to learn more about the Tabernacle of Holiness you can go HERE.
I was shocked when I heard the news that Joseph Chean, a friend of World Revival Prayer Fellowship, went home to glory, in a car accident while heading towards Istanbul international Airport. He had just stepped down from his position as National Director of YWAM Singapore to carry the torch and lead Antioch 21, the global missions arm of Love Singapore. Many had high hopes that with the re-launch, there would be a major forward movement for the long-held calling that the Singapore church would be the Antioch of Asia. But in one cruel stroke these hopes seem to have been dashed to pieces.
While many grieve his loss as a passionate missions advocate, a champion of harnessing of youth for missions, and mentor to many young leaders, pastors and missionaries, we know that those that will feel the deepest pain would be his wife and two daughters he left behind. We will do well to uplift this family in prayer, and in the coming months give them space to grieve, as well as support.
Joseph Chean preached in our church services a few times. He gave us advice on community outreach around Geylang. He gave his time and advice to us. The advice we value the most was his urging for us to add a mission component to our church retreats. Following his advice, we held a few church retreats in Bangkok, and partnered with YWAM’s Ruth Center to bless the elderly living in the slums. Even this past week a mission team from our church had gone to help build an assisted living facility in a farm area many hours from Bangkok, a facility that the elderly poor can find care and community in a self-sustaining farm environment. We owe this ministry involvement to Joesph’s good advice. He is a man of great faith and vision for missions but it was not that way when he first came to Christ. To read Joseph Chean’s faith story go HERE. To hear his heartbeat for missions, watch this video HERE.
A former missionary mentioned an insight that Antioch 21 was once led by Rev Rick Seaward, whom I consider a modern-day apostle, and he too died in a road accident in Brazil, South America. You can read about Rick Seaward HERE. Now leading a re-launch of Antioch 21 is Joseph Chean, only 57 years old, and he is struck down by another road accident. How do we make sense of these two tragic accidents? Spiritual warfare? Yes certainly. This shows the strategic importance of Antioch 21. Sovereignty of God? Yes certainly. We cannot fully understand this mystery. We can only grieve, pray, and say, “Lord, we do not understand but we trust you! You are loving and will not do evil; You are all powerful and have control of all things. You are wise and do not make mistakes. We cannot see the end from the beginning, so we will trust you completely and absolutely. May these good seeds planted, die in the ground, and regenerate new life, multiply and bring forth much fruit to your greater glory.”
I am reminded of Stephen, the first recorded martyr of the church (Acts 7). The early church must have felt this man of faith and vision was taken home too young, too early. But a few years afterwards, Saul became Paul, the apostle and history maker who turned the world right side up.
Rev Gabriel Han, Apostolic Elder, MFI (Singapore) and former senior pastor of Victory Family Church wrote this succinct but powerful challenge: “Every generation has been blessed with enough men and women called by God to spread the gospel to all the nations. It is not a lack of divine calling, but rather a lack of human response that hinders this mission. Only by surrendering our will to God’s can we truly obey the command to preach to all and go everywhere. Brother Joseph Chean was among those who lived an obedient, prayerful, generous, and surrendered life for God. May his death usher both a new generation of fervent evangelists and missionaries from our city that Asia so desperately needs”.
This Instagram reel I recently made expresses my sentiment about how the harvest is best gathered in.
If you wish to leave some words to testify to the contribution of Joseph Chean to missions or to your personal journey, please feel free to express it in the comment box above for all to be inspired.
130 registered participants from 40 churches showed up on 21st September 2023 to listen to 4 plenary speakers, one youth ministry panel, and five interesting workshops. What a learning festival this turned out to be!
“It must be grace”, I thought to myself. Normally, I would not have the energy to stay on for a whole day’s seminar, but this one turned out to be energizing. It defintely helped that the program was engaging. In addition, Riverlife Church was the venue, the food was good, and the hosts were warm and welcoming. Somehow Pasir Ris has this relaxed kampong feel that puts you at ease. However, feeling kiasu, I left Jurong East early and was glad I found a car park lot.
After some breakfast fellowship, I was pleasantly surprised to see our church pastoral staff, Tom and Ethel, on the stage (see above). They were the emcees. They looked good together and emceed the program. As I looked around I also saw a good mix of the young old, the middle-aged and young pastors (see below). This is what a healthy tribe should look like!
The seminar began with a big bang! Pastor Ben KC Lee (see below), the Senior Pastor of Riverlife Church, and an apostolic leader in Ministers Fellowship International Singapore (MFIS), gave what I thought was a landmark message about “Leadership: Solo or Shared”. Ben has a way of cutting a clear path through a confusing wall of jungle trees and foliage. The last time he did this was in an earlier leaders seminar on “Top Concerns About Ascension Ministries”. Both messages clarified issues and context, and argued well for a biblical perspective. It was the same in this session. He began with a description of the current Church situation. Then he explained how cultural narratives, Western ministry models, and generational paradigms shaped our current ideas of leadership. He briefly talked about the various theories of leadership from secular research and argued that none of them are appropriate models for church life. Then he stated his conviction that the church ought to be modelled after the family. It should be highly relational, centered around our intimate fellowship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit and our love relationships with brothers and sisters of the church: a closely knitted family of God. In line with this family model, he defined leadership as reflecting God, guiding others to life in the Son, and cultivating an environment where people can grow and thrive. I find this personally affirming, because it put into words what my pastoral ministry had largely been about. When I reflected on my years of ministry I could not describe it better than the way he defined leadership in the church with a family model. At least that is how I see it. Wonder whether the church members I served, would agree with my perception about my pastoral leadership.
Then he went on to argue for shared leadership. In an increasingly complex and rapidly changing world, no one leader has all the knowledge it takes to navigate the uncertainties. A collaborative leadership is necessary. Furthermore, in a society used to the idea of equality and shared power, people will tend to resist solo top down leadership. Shared leadership would definitely slow decisions down and complicate matters but to go far, you have to go together.
He then built the biblical case for shared leadership. First, God is trinity: shared leadership! Second, Jesus plan for church leadership is shared leadership through the fivefold ascension ministries teaming up to equip every member for ministry (Eph 4: 7-16). Third, Jesus own example of self-sacrificial and humble servant leadership (Phil 2:1-11).
Pastor Ben Lee envisions the church increasingly moving from solo to shared leadership, from a task to relational orientation, from leading to parenting (which, as we parents know, can be difficult and messy).
I am giving this talk a lot of space here because I admit to a preference for shared leadership. Church is body life and body ministry, period. I think Ben Lee is rather bold to preach this message, as every megachurch in Singapore is modelled on solo leadership. They were led by their founding pastors, always a strong natural leader (SNL). These leaders led the church to rapid growth with expansive vision and bold faith and action. The members followed them, used as Singaporeans are to Lee Kuan Yew, the SNL who headed the government, and led the nation to unprecedented progress. That era is gradually tapering off. The new generation of young people populating our churches, are not like the Pioneer and Merdeka generation. When the pastor asked members to jump, the older generation asked, “How high?” and they obeyed their pastor. Today’s generation will ask, “Why should I jump?” and the new era pastor will say, “Let’s have a conversation”.
Most under-emphasized message
The second session was about “Followership”. I thought it was a key area to talk about because without good followership, a leadership (whether solo or shared) simply cannot operate effectively. I was glad Pastor Gabriel Han was giving this talk because he does exemplify what it means to be a good follower and supporter of leaders. He was the “armour-bearer” to Pastor Rick Seaward, who was a SNL and founding pastor of Victory Family Church. Rick spearheaded the rapid growth of the church and its expansive church planting in mission fields all over the world. He is a powerful example of solo leadership that made a huge impact. After many years being the second man, Pastor Gabriel was appointed the senior pastor. Therefore, he knew what it meant to be a good follower and what it meant to be a good leader. The notes outline he gave us was substantial and it would be useful to teach the content in our churches. I would divide the content into a two part message over two Sundays.
Engaging Youth Panel Discussion
I liked it that the MFIS always involved youth ministers significantly in all their seminars. The panel of youth ministers (above L to R: Jess Ong, Joel Tan, Jay Ong, Joel Peh, Angeline Tan), were refreshing to listen to. They caught my attention because I can get a snapshot of leaders from Generation X and the Millenials (I learned these terms during the seminar). My sensing is that they were authentic, articulate, confident, and interesting. The forum moderator was Pastor Rhordan Wicks, the senior pastor of Full Gospel Assembly. The topics he framed for the panel discussion and the way he facilitated it made the session engaging. One of the standout parts was about ungrieved losses from the pandemic (rarely talked about in seminars). Asked about what losses their ministries experienced from the pandemic and all the churches represented had youths that left them during the pandemic, and also, new youths that joined them. They expressed feeling aggrieved when the youth left the church and stopped attending any church, but felt some comfort when they went to another church. It was good that they all displayed a kingdom mentality. I hope that they see these sad moments of losses as opportunities to feel and stay with the grief, and let the Spirit enlighten, and move them closer to God. I enjoyed the session. I was blessed and I am hopeful that there are many more such sacrificial youth ministers in other churches, all serving faithfully and lovingly in their respective ministries.
After a scrumptious lunch, I was feeling drowsy but the Workshop Session kept me awake because of round-table interactions in the Word & Spirit-led church by Pastor Chua Hock Lin (see below). The topics were all appealing but everyone had to choose one.
Captivating session on generational differences
I was sure I would struggle when the last two sessions began but to my surprise I was captivated by the third speaker Pastor Tan Soo Inn (see below). His local research in generational divide has been written into a book and he was presenting to us the essence of his research and its implications for the church. His rich insights, winsome communication and humour simply lit up the dreary afternoon hour. Everyone could relate to what he was communicating as he used real life examples that we could relate to illustrate his points about the differences between the generations: Silent (born 1928-1945), Baby boomer(b 1946-64), Generation X(b 1965-1980), Millenials(b 1981-1996) and Generation Z (b 1997-2012).
I must admit I get confused and refuse to read such information when I see them in literature, but the way he put things clearly and simply in their essence, really helped me get a working grip on this. I am sure I will forget the details, but at least this basic survey will make this terrain more familiar when I come across these terms in future. The burden of his communication is that these differences pose challenges to unity across the generations. He spoke with passion about the Church’s great need of intergenerational understanding, and the practice of love for one another. Everyone in the audience, of whatever generation, resonated with his challenge, and heartily agreed with him with a loud Amen.
Useful & Practical As Always
Everyone familiar with Pastor Benny Ho (see above) would know that the material he covers would have a biblical basis and would include insights and applications from practical theology and wisdom from practitioners. We were not disappointed when he talked about “Building Healthy Leadership Teams”. It was the main topic but because he was busy elsewhere in the morning, his session was placed last, like the good wine at the wedding in Cana. He covered key principles for healthy relationships, best practices for building healthy teams, and gave insights into wise conflict management, something all ministers need to grasp in order to maintain healthy leadership teams. As can be expected with Benny, we are left with practical handles that will help us work at building healthy leadership teams.
By the end of the program, I let off a sigh of relief and satisfaction. It was good, a good and blessed day. Feeling kiasu again, I walked briskly to the car park, and tried to beat the heavy traffic during peak hours.
The MFIS first seminar was held last year in 2022 with the teaching emphasis on the fivefold ascension ministries God has appointed to equip the saints. It clarified a lot of confusion and sought to set in place some common understanding about the fivefold ascension gifts. This year’s seminar examined the kind of collaborative leadership that would be a necessary environment for fivefold ascension ministries to thrive and flourish. There is a logical progression in the themes that have been chosen for these seminars, and with every minister’s prayer and followership, we can expect MFIS to move towards God’s ideal.
Were you present at this MFIS leaders seminar? What part of the seminar resonated with you and blessed or inspired you? Do add a comment so readers have a better feel of the program’s impact.
Even though I have completed the one year nine months formation program for spiritual directors led by the Life Direction Singapore team of spiritual directors, I wondered about how my burden of journeying with younger pastors would be fulfilled.
Most evangelical pastors and ministry staff have little idea of the need for spiritual direction. They also tend towards productivity in their work and would be too busy with schedules that look like expanded suitcases. They would rather prefer a mentor who would help them be more productive and fruitful and effective in leadership and ministry. The doors seem shut. I have to look to God to open doors.
In the last decade, I have detected a glimmer of hope. A new generation of evangelical pastors and ministers have been trained in our institutions that have a knowledge of spiritual formation and the spiritual disciplines. The major evangelical seminaries and colleges have already established courses on the above subjects that would help students deepen their friendship with God, and their awareness of self. They even arrange for students to experience a silent retreat and/or spiritual direction as part of their training.
Such was the case for Trinity Theological College, whose lecturer Dr Jimmy Tan, from the time I knew him as a seminary student, had a passion for such knowledge. His years of study, practice, research, and reflection has resulted in a book he wrote titled, “How Then Shall We Guide?”, which is a comparative study of Ignatius of Loyola and John Calvin as spiritual guides. He has even run courses that included an experiential component so that students get to experience personal encounters with God in the context of a prayer retreat and reflection on the word.
A week ago Dr Jimmy Tan (third from left) led a retreat for Trinity Theological College students attending his course on Pastoral Theology and Praxis. He invited Koh Seng Chor(second from left) and myself to help out in providing spiritual direction to the students during the retreat. A few other regulars were also invited to help out: Sue Kim Lee(fifth from left), an Elder of a Presbyterian church and from the Life Direction Singapore; and Tina Khoo (fourth from left) and Kayyona Lim (extreme right), both ministry staff from Wesley Methodist Church. Together each of us met with three students each for spiritual direction sessions. It was a joy to serve in this inter-denominational context.
I felt privileged and blessed to experience this “open door” and to provide a safe space for the students to share about their walk with God, and their reflections on what God is doing or how he is leading them in their current life context. It is merely two sessions for a brief retreat. However, it was a good beginning.
All the time that I have gone on retreats, I have been sitting in the seat of the directee. It was a humbling and meaningful experience to sit on the other chair. Not that it is superior, for both persons are in seats of poverty. It is more a seat of co-discernment and sacred entrustment. I believe that this ministry is very much needed for people in pastoral ministry and I believe the Lord will manage my availability to those who need it.