In Close Quarters With Covid-19

My brother in law Simeon Poh was infected by covid-19. He was coughing badly in my home. We tested him quickly and the ART test showed he had covid-19. We were distressed as we searched for more information, and made calls to hotlines, and looked for clinics that were open on a Sunday. When we finally went to the 24 hours clinic at Jurong Gateway nearby, Simeon went through another ART test and PCR test in the clinic. We were later told that within 24 hours we would be contacted and Simeon would be sent to a care facility. 

Ups and Downs

We waited for the call while we bought things he may need and went to his home to help him pack his clothes, medicine and other stuff. We were told he would be housed in D’ Resorts at Pasir Ris, which looked good in the pictures in the internet. By Monday 5pm he was driven there in a car. We were thankful to God that everything went smoothly. 

However, after a day at D’ Resort he was sent back at 9pm on Tuesday. My niece ART tested him and he ran positive. Why then was he sent back home? More distress. My wife made many calls and we were told to wait while they checked on what happened. The Ministry of Health hotline folks finally called, and on Wednesday he was sent to NTUC Tampines Nursing Home. Evidently, he did not know how to take his own blood pressure and temperature, record the details, and use his mobile to send it back to the nurse’s station daily. Well, he is over seventy years old and use of mobile phone cannot be taken for granted! Supposedly he was to be sent to another place but they mistakenly sent him home! 

Anyway we were thankful that he was finally sent to a nursing home and they were excellent and professional, giving us regular updates about his situation and calling us for details about his other medications. This is certainly a more suitable place for Simeon and he was settled there. 

Finally, after the few days of feeling stressed, relieved, and then stressed again, we had a breather. We thought it would be nine days from the time he was infected but we were to be surprised again! They called us on Friday and told us Simeon can go home on Saturday, even if the ART test shows positive, because he is no longer infectious by the seventh day! This was new to me! Therefore, he returned home by taxi on Saturday at 2pm with running nose and cough still evident. This seems to be the current protocol. It keeps being updated as new studies and information about omicron is received, analysed and acted upon.

Still We Are Thankful

We had no choice in this and were thankful that our government had these care centres for those who cannot manage isolation on their own for various reasons. The only payments we made were for the clinic ($10 – subsidized heavily), and taxi fare ($22) home, and the care he received in the isolation centres were free of charge. Thankful to God.

However, I received a Health Risk Notice on Thursday, 10th March. I was to stay at home and monitor my health until the final day and my final ART test on 14 March. Of course, I could go out if my ART test was negative but I did not. I did three ART tests: one before, and one when I received the notice, and one at the end. All negative.

Strangely my wife never received a notice even though she was the “closer” contact. Nevertheless, we both took the necessary restrictions seriously and we cancelled quite a number of appointments, even though our ART test were negative, knowing that people may not be comfortable, but were unable to express it. 

The stress never ends. Today I heard my nephew now has been infected….

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Vaccine booster received with thanks

On hot humid Monday, I went to the nearby community club that was a ten minutes stroll from my home. It was announced that seniors could drop in and get the booster jab without any need to make a booking beforehand. That was where I had my earlier Pfizer vaccinations. However, to my consternation, operations there had closed a few days before. I was directed to a list of other venues where I could go. The next nearest was a polyclinic or another community club.

I opted for the community club and I was efficiently ushered to a station where a lady confirmed my identity and age. They moved me to the next station where a man asked similar questions to double-check on certain information I had already given. I asked him, “My earlier jabs were Pfizer. Is it okay to have a Moderna jab as booster?” “Yes, its okay”. Finally, I was sent to a booth where a young man gave me the vaccination. All this took about fifteen minutes. Then I was directed to a seat to wait for thirty minutes in case of immediate reactions that needed special attention. There were ten persons before me. When the wait ended, I was again led to another station where I was briefed about side-effects and what to do in various scenarios, and was given a free box of surgical masks. Forty-five minutes was all it took. I am thankful for such efficiency, I was thankful to be Singaporean.

Today, it’s Friday. The only reactions I experienced thus far had been some tiredness, some fever and some soreness on the spot where the injection site was for a day or two. Other than that, I have been okay. The only downside has been that I have have to forgo for two weeks the activities I usually engage in like cycling, swimming and pickle ball. However, I could still do a casual walk in the park so that is a comfort. I am thankful that I have access to vaccination. I do not take this for granted. In many countries around the world, only the very rich and connected can access vaccinations so quickly.

Then there are those in countries where vaccinations are available, like in Singapore, but there are people who have personal, scientific or religious convictions for not receiving vaccinations. For them, their reasons are valid and solid and we have to respect that no matter how frustrating and exasperating that may be especially for loved ones. Worse is the fear that the unvaccinated may endanger their own lives should they get infected. Still we have to respect their choices. As for me, I see vaccination as a gift from God to be received with gratitude. Vaccination does not protect us from infection by covid-19 but it does protect us from more severe effects should we get infected. That itself is a good thing.

Lord, thank you for your sovereign grace that we have access to vaccination and good medical care in Singapore. We pray for those in other countries where this is not the case. Lord we pray you have mercy and help countries that need better medical structures and supplies to tackle this pandemic. Lord, have mercy.

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Bumping into Edmund Wee

I could not believe my eyes when I saw him walked by as I cycled towards home. I was on the Ulu Pandan Park Connector and had made a U-turn at the Ghim Moh end of the canal. I braked and called out, “Edmund Wee!”. He turned back and we chat for a while.

I had not seen him for almost a decade. He was my wife’s neighbour from childhood. I happened to be a pastor who availed myself to his family. He was having an evening walk. I was so glad to see him. He is well known in the publishing and design world – founder and owner of Epigram Pte Ltd, Epigram Books, etc. He was featured many times in the Straits Times. 

Many years ago, he graciously did pro bono design work for the church I serve, World Revival Prayer Fellowship. We were very grateful for the visual identity he crafted for us. You can read more about how that happened HERE

This meeting reminded me of what I had been praying for a few days back. Covid-19 had so disrupted life in Singapore and Malaysia, I was praying the Lord will give the two countries’ leaders the wisdom, integrity and courage to lead their countries out of the pandemic pit. I prayed for all the frontline health workers, the churches and the business owners. These are very trying times for everyone. I saw immediately that Edmund represented business owners. On my ride back, I prayed for business owners like him to be sustained during these lean months, and jobs be preserved, and businesses to survive and thrive again.

Lord, hear our prayers as we call out to You for Your mercy and favour upon the countries of Singapore and Malaysia. We acknowledge our pride, self-sufficiency and boasting in the midst of this pandemic. But in truth we are helpless in tackling it despite our resources. This enemy simply refuses to be contained. The economic situation is alarming and the livelihoods of thousands are threatened. Have mercy Lord, stay the spread of Covid-19. Grant the nations effective vaccines, and let the first world nations help the less developed nations to fight this disease. We ask all these in Jesus’ name.

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Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Backward

I was given a warm welcome at the sanctuary on Sunday. It was my first time preaching in my home church after six months of rest. I was glad to do so. Sadly, there was no on-site congregation, as the pastoral team had decided that the sustained spike in Covid 19 cases, and the government tightening of rules made it wise for them to return to streaming the worship service without on-site congregation. 

Initially, I was informed to wear a mask while preaching. I tested different masks at home because if the sound was muffled, people will switch off rather quickly. I found a mask of spongy material that did not muffle my voice. However, by Saturday night I was informed that the authorities allowed speaking and singing by two singers without masks on if there is no on-site congregation. I felt such relief, because the mask is a barrier to effective communication.


It still felt awkward preaching to an empty church. Later when I checked out the recording online, I could see that my preaching was smooth and the awkwardness I felt was not disruptive nor disturbed the flow of the delivery. 

I counted five in the worship team and seven in the audio and media team. I felt for them. They have been fantastic in their commitment and stamina. They are so professional in their attitude and spirit even though they are all volunteers. I praise God for them, especially Zephaniah who leads the media team and Ethel who leads the worship ministry. The Lord will not forget the works they have done in his name and for the church. 


I noticed the traffic was lighter than usual due to the government’s strict directives to curb the spread of covid 19, especially the rule of no dine-in and social groups limited to only two. Human traffic at malls and restaurants would be affected too. A lot of businesses would be affected besides malls and F&B and entertainment establishments. I feel for the business owners. 

This setback is three steps forward and two steps backward. Before I retired, the church was streaming services with no on-site congregation. Then things improved and the church returned to on-site worship of our three congregations of 50 to 100, office staff meetings and prayer meetings and even prayer retreats. It was two steps forward and I even solemnised a wedding with a hundred guests in attendance. Then suddenly this frustrating announcement of a pull back to stricter Phase 2 precautions. Of all days, on a Friday. Which meant the stressed pastoral staff had to make a judgment call, and implement and communicate all the changes in 48 hours. They cancelled the on-site congregation worship on Sunday. I feel for the pastoral team. It can be draining, discouraging and frustrating to rapidly respond to all these sudden changes. Two steps backward. 

I also feel for those who had already planned wedding receptions and dinners on Sunday, two days before the announcements. The ups and downs, and back and forth, that wedding couples face will make what is meant to be one of their happiest memories, a nightmare, and their honeymoon a pity-party. Lord, have mercy and brighten these couples with a quiet peace and joy to sustain them in the midst of discouragement and helplessness.


Regardless of how we feel, we have to believe in the face of all this mess that “the Lord sits enthroned over the flood” (Psalm 29:10). Floods can be chaotic and disruptive and destructive but the Psalmist saw God as Sovereign over uncontrollable forces. We are still one step ahed from where we were during the circuit breaker lock-down. We have much to give thanks for compared to other countries struggling with larger populations and lesser resources and weaker governance. Therefore, stay calm and keep praying and walking in the Spirit. Rejoice in the Lord, and not in the sad situation we find ourselves in. Rejoice that He sits enthroned over the flood. 

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How To Worship Without Singing

We are currently in phase 3 of Covid-19 guidelines. I see the worship leaders singing and preacher speaking without masks but with social distancing strictly adhered to. The congregation participates in worship but without singing. How do you worship without singing? I suggest a few ways to do it.

Firstly, get it clear. Worship may include singing but singing is not worship. Worship is essentially surrender of our whole selves as a living sacrifice to God, for him to use or lay aside or dispose of as he pleases (Rom 12:1,2) . Without this essential heart posture whatever you do, and whatever use of bodily expressions, including singing, is not worship. So first things first: begin with a prayer of surrender, for example, “Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” or “Lord, here I am, your servant is listening” or “Lord let it be done to me according to your word” or “Father, not my will but your will be done” or “Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.” I think you get the idea.

Use all your senses. With your eyes look at the lyrics and scriptures and notice the words, phrase or image that strike you. With your ears listen to what is being sung, said, or played and notice what it stirs in you. Mouth the lyrics or scripture under your breath, under your mask, or even quietly speak or sing in your prayer language. Let your feet move and body sway as the worship leaders sing, and use your uplifted arms as an expression of surrender and praise to God. Take out your wallet or mobile when its time to give of your finances to the Lord.

As the preacher speaks, take note of what desires, ideas, memories or feeling are stirred in you and respond to them in appropriate ways, whether to repent, commit yourself, resolve to trust, or take a certain action, to follow an inspiring example or to give thanks and pray for yourself or others.

Follow all the instructions and precautionary guidelines diligently. This is part of worship. Smile. They cannot see your mouth under the mask, but your eyes does smile, and give eye contact because eyes communicate warmth too.

Top all these with a meal together with others, and share about the ups and downs of the past week, and what God has done for you and in you. This too is part of worship for in our sharing we praise God and others who hear our thanksgiving, join us in their amens.

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