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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A Covid-19 Chinese New Year

It was a calm, peaceful and quiet Chinese New Year (CNY) celebration 2022, not a tigerish one. Not that there was nothing to do. We had family visits and meals over four days. My wife cooked and had family over every day for four consecutive days.

The Eve

On Chinese New Year eve’s evening, my son Joshua, nephew and niece, Paul and Bethany Lee, and brother in law Simeon Poh came to my home for steamboat (what else?) reunion dinner. It was pleasant but we missed the usual crowd, which normally included my son Matthew’s family of Juyoung, Chloe and Claire; my daughter Elaine, and daughter in law Ping, and sister in law Baby and husband Jack. Yes, it used to require two tables, but I loved the crowd and chatter and the company of my grandchildren. This sounds rather strange for an introvert to say, but I guess as I grow older I kind of balance off with more extroversion. Then on the fifth day of CNY I met with my brothers and their wives. The week went so quickly I was curious how it sped by.

CNY 1st Day

The first day of CNY, we went to the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery to visit our departed loved ones. The Garden of Remembrance was sheltered but not the gravesite, where we ended up searching for Jenny’s mum gravesite, and my departed son Caleb’s gravesite – an unmarked grave. It was traumatic for me and my wife when the Lord took our twin son home six days after birth, and we sort of left the grave without any tombstone, as our burden laid elsewhere since the surviving twin-brother Joshua needed a lot of medical attention, and it also took many years for us to be healed of the grief and pain of loss. We will have to go back again another day and seek the help to locate his grave, as we simply couldn’t find it with the information we got from the cemetery office.

CNY 5th Day

After the dinner at my eldest brother’s home, I saw some old black and white photographs of me and my younger sister, took our my mobile, and shot a few of them. Those were the days when photos were mainly black and white. I am surprised they did not fade even after sixty years in storage. The many photographs perked my curiosity as I tried to figure out who is who, and smiled at the hairstyles and dressing of those days. Looking at these old photographs are fun and makes for good conversations and learning about our family of origin and our relatives. It also made me realize that some of them are no longer with us and in a matter of two or three decades, neither would we be around. Will my children and grandchildren be swiping their iPads and looking at snazzy unfadable colour pictures of us and reminiscing about the “good old days”? I hope so! If they remembered us there is a high chance they can learn something of the wisdom of the past, even if it is what not to do.

In All Things Thankful

I feel thankful for the opportunities to meet up over meals despite the restrictions to a maximum of five visitors per day and visit. If it helps to minimize the spread of Covid 19, I am most willing to do my part. Despite Singaporeans trying their level best, the number of infections tripled during the CNY period. I pray regularly for Singapore and all the countries around us, asking God to extend his mercy upon us and help us win the fight against Covid 19. I also pray often for the bold and powerful preaching of the good news about Jesus Christ and for souls to be saved and saints to be revived. The pandemic has ripened the crops and the harvest is ready for churches and Christians to reap and bring the harvest in. May the Lord enable us to do this with diligence for “he who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame”(Proverbs 10:5 ESV).

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Teaching in the Deaf Faith Fellowship

Teaching the deaf in the Deaf Faith Fellowship requires hard work. It is cross-cultural communications. The deaf is a sub-culture. This was what I found out when the pastoral team decided that we need to help the deaf pastor in teaching and helping the deaf with evangelism, prayer and emotional health.

I took the lead with a Sunday sermon on evangelism followed by an afternoon workshop after lunch. We were preparing them for the Celebration of Hope. Sounds simple right? Far from it.

We decided to subject ourselves to the scrutiny and input of the deaf pastor Barnabas and his part-time admin helper Mui Keng. I ran through the sermon and seminar with them and from their input and advice, I had to make quite a number of changes in content, presentation and methodology. I had to simplify the workshop and I had to add more powerpoint slides with pertinent pictures. I had to plan some role acting and drama into the sermon and workshop.

Preaching about Zacchaeus in the Deaf Faith Fellowship

As there were 40 of them and not sufficient interpreters, I went through all the material with the cell leaders and assistants the Sunday before, so that they could readily help the members do the workshop exercises.

They participated and were attentive during the workshop

I must say I quite enjoyed doing this double sessions and the additional meeting to prepare the cell leaders. This has been enriching and satisfying for me, and I do hope it was for them too.

During their worship I found myself quite charmed by the beauty of Sign Language and learnt quite a few signs like “Hallelujah”, “Jesus”, “Lord”, “overcome”, “save”. During the sermon I had Hui Bong to interpret my sermon and during the workshop it was Mui Keng. I observed that you need patience and love to work with the deaf, and these two had it in abundance. May God bless them.

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Evangelist T.L. Osborn: still pressing on

Evangelist TL Osborn in healing crusadeEvangelist T.L. Osborn was one of my Pentecostal heroes in the early years of my Christian life. We young leaders in the church also looked up to him as someone we wanted to emulate for reasons right or wrong. We read his books and gave out tracts written by him on Saturdays as we walked from Queen Street to the esplanade. We prayed for the gifts of healing for we saw it so evident in his ministry. Over the years though, we have seen so many Pentecostal heroes falter through immorality or financial improprieties that we begin to believe the only safe Pentecostal hero to talk about is a dead one. It was heartening though to read J. Lee Grady’s interview with this humble man of faith, T.L. Osborn, now 88 and still active. Even more heartening is that he has kept his integrity (Lord I believe, help my unbelief). Grady wrote about the interview:

“I once had a vision of the Lord,” Osborn told me, leaning over in his chair to look into my eyes. “But in the vision, God didn’t have any hands. Then He looked at me and said, ‘You are my hands.’” Throughout his worldwide ministry—which has never been well-known in the United States—he reminds Christians that God is waiting on us to obey the Great Commission.

Read the rest of the article from Charisma Magazine here, “Why T.L. Osborn Is My Hero”

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