Rivers of Life Church: still faithful to the vision

I miscalculated and arrived fifty minutes early at the industrial building for the Sunday service in the Rivers of Life Church, where I was the guest preacher. I joined the intercessors in the prayer room because fifty minutes is a long time to wait, so why not soak in his presence. Two elderly ladies were praying with zest and faith. As I listened, I heard what was on their hearts: the community outreach, the children, the pastors and leaders, Singapore government, the Sunday service, and for me too. I joined in and prayed for the young people in church. 

After that I had a brief chat with Pastor Justin (see above in the middle) who had stepped down as lead pastor and was shown into the office of Pastor Andrew Foo, who is the current lead pastor. All three walls of his office were filled with shelves from top to bottom, overflowing with books. Sign of someone with the gift of teaching. He remarked honestly, “I have not read all the books”. Of course, it’s the same with most pastors, we want to read, and book purchases and book gifts, fill our shelves, but our intention and desire fall prey to church needs and work most weeks. He quipped, “Even if I cannot read all of them, some say osmosis works when you are surrounded by books.” I was led to the front and took the opportunity to take a photo of the two pastors because I knew after the service I may not have the opportunity. Pastors are usually occupied on Sundays. Thankfully, he told me beforehand there would be time for lunch after the service, as I am a curious person. 

The service began with some intro music and the Lord’s Table, which they conducted every Sunday. They have these plastic containers with grape juice and a wafer at the entrance and as led, we partook of the elements. Some prophetic words were given by Andrew, and I know that many pastors from the Covenant Pastors fellowship are prophetic. Osmosis? More of iron sharpens iron, and transmission of anointing I believe. 

I must say the worship team was impressive each and every one of the members, but particularly the drummer. If they do transfers like in the English Premier League she will fetch a huge fee. Kidding. The worship was free flow and I could sense the presence of the Lord and it certainly emboldened my preaching. After the sermon, I gave the altar call as I usually do, and people responded, as the Spirit moved over them, and there were some manifestations of the Spirit in holy laughter and falling under the power. I then remembered the intercessors praying for the tangible presence of God in the room. God answered their prayer that morning. 

After the service I went off for lunch with Pastor Andrew at Han’s nearby and I must say it is always a joy to fellowship with pastors. So much in common to talk about I hardly remembered the taste of what I ate. I heard the story of his calling and marriage, how he was “charismatised” while a Presbyterian, worked with the late Canon James Wong for a few years, and counts my Tung Ling classmate Dr John Sim as a mutual friend, and even knows Rev Dr Kong Hee pretty well. He also worked with Dr Augustine Tan and learned a lot about the deliverance ministry. I remember Dr Augustine Tan of the early years of charismatic revival: he had a precious anointing, and I remembered him preaching in my home church too. I thought he was blessed to have had such mentors to work with and learn from. 

Faithful to the vision

I also learned about the steadfast dedication of members to minister to the residents of the rental flats in Henderson. It took many years of loving and patient work and relationship and trust building before some of the residents’ lives were transformed as they turned to Christ. I salute churches that do community outreach. It is tough work but precious in God’s eyes. I was impressed also with their partnership with a pastor in Medan, working with the locals there to plant and grow churches, and even helping to build schools. This ministry has grown and expanded to other parts of the island too. Ps Andrew himself went many times to do training of pastors and workers in Vietnam, Indonesia and India. The Rivers of Life church is fulfilling its destiny. The rivers of living water that Jesus promised to all who thirst and believe flows out of the church to needy people near and far away. They are doing their part in fulfilling the Antioch calling upon the Singapore church. I was very encouraged. 

I also found out that Paul Ooi, the founder/entrepreneur of food and beverage business, Penang Place is the chairman of the church board and his daughter, Jemima Ooi, is amazingly used by God in missions in Africa.

I read what Ps Justin wrote in their website, “In early May 1996, God gave me a vision that He will bring together a people they will glorify Him by flowing together as his River of Life, blessing people through Christian Servanthood, Evangelism and Missions.” It has been about 27 years. I believe that they have been faithful to that vision. May they press on until they hear the Master declare, “WELL DONE THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT!” This is the bottom line that matters.

I enjoyed preaching at this church and beginning to get to know the pastors, the church and its rich history.  I drove back with a song in my heart. 

Do read about my other visits to other churches HERE.

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Church of True Light: Let It Shine

My association with Church of True Light went back about twenty-five years. I first got to know them through a church camp before I guest preached in their worship services. If I remember correctly I took two other camps with them, one in the Cameron Highlands, and another in Johor. The uniqueness of their camps is that both Mandarin and English congregations used the same hotel during the camp but had different guest preachers. During mealtimes and special recreation events they were together for bonding time. It was admirable that they made efforts to be together, and that meant the English congregation had to be sensitive to the affordability of the locations as many in the Mandarin congregation were senior citizens.

With this long, pleasant association, I have a familiarity with some of the members of the church. It was good to see that many of them were still actively serving the Lord after so many years. One of them, Matthew, even became a full-time pastor in the church recently. Others led the service, or led ministries and are involved in different ministry functions. Faithfulness is hard to come by these days but you can find it in this church. 

From Vincent to Aaron

My friend Revd Vincent Hoon, retired from this church and is now serving as an auxiliary priest in St John’s- St Margaret’s, his home church. I was pleasantly surprised that the priest, Revd Aaron Cheng, who took over the English Congregation, invited me to preach at the 4.30pm Saturday service comprising mostly young people (and adults who prefer Saturday worship), and the 9am Sunday morning worship of the English congregation.

The priest was the youth pastor doing part time studies in Trinity Theological College. Groomed by Vincent, he was ordained during the pandemic and began his priesthood in an unforgettable time. In the future when people ask him, “When were you ordained?” “Oh, during the pandemic.” They would nod their heads. He is a positive, cheerful and energetic minister who connects well with his youth and the adults in the church. It warmed my heart to get an email from him and of course I was most willing to renew ties and minister there again. After all, I have had a year of rest and was more than ready to do what I love.

Preaching Adjustment

When the time came I was all ready to preach, having written out my script for the mostly young people Saturday worship. I went ahead with my well researched sermon but my experience was that I could not connect with them and drove home perturbed about it. After a nap, I went to the Lord and waited on Him, to help me understand, to see if there was any adjustment needed for the Sunday preaching assignment. I felt led to use the end-point at the introduction, and emphasize two other points, with a heavier emphasis on application and response. During prayer, I intuitively saw myself leaving the pulpit and walking closer to the audience and giving an altar call to pray in the front. On Sunday, before the service, I got permission for the altar call with the priest. Thankfully, it was the first Sunday after the government loosen the regulations for religious meetings. Altar calls to pray in the front is permissible.

Prayer Altar

In both services I talked about the 1970’s revival and how the move of God renewed the Anglican church and the valley of dry bones became an exceedingly great army of lay volunteers. I challenged them to pray for a fresh move of God. We need to forget the former things, and expect a new move, a new expression of God’s grace and power in the church. I was encouraged to see people come forward to spend five minutes praying in the front at the kneelers and on the carpeted floor. By God’s grace, I felt the message resonated with many of them. It was such a joy and privilege.

Meeting Jude

The bonus joy was meeting Jude, formerly my church member and a missionary in training with YWAM. He had later gone on staff with St Peter’s Anglican church, and then with Covenant EFC’s social arm, and finally landed in Church of True Light with his wife! They tell me that the new Vicar Barry Leong has begun to implement a plan of succession – recruiting young people and calling them out to serve on staff.  There were two other new recruits on staff: a P.K. who takes charge of the young people ministry, and Joey (a YWAM missionary in Thailand back because of the pandemic) who ministers to the children.

After the service, Aaron, Jude and I had teh tarik and roti prata at an Indian eatery directly opposite the church entrance. We talked shop for about an hour. Interestingly, one of their leaders later passed by and told us he had already paid the bill for our meals – what a picture of the grace and hospitality of this lovely faith community. The Lord be with, and bless them abundantly, so that they shine like bright stars in this darkening world.

To read my other church visits, click HERE.

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