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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Worship without singing aloud

The thought of being in a worship service with a pre-recorded video showing a worship leader singing did not seem appealing to me. That was until I had to guest preach at the Anglican Church of True Light. Strangely I felt connected with God as I followed the lyrics and tune in my heart. My soul was sweetly lifted to God in prayer and song. How could I explain it?

Perhaps I have been singing in a perfunctory way all along, being caught up with the external stimuli of sight and sound and stage, instead of singing out of simple pure adoration. Yet a stripped down version somehow brought me back to “the heart of worship”, of sincere and simple reverential love for God.

One of the few reasons people give for socially distanced worship physical gatherings is that you are not permitted to sing. And I for one felt that way. I should be surprised at myself for feeling this way, since I am so familiar with contemplative prayer, that thrives in silence, in waiting on God’s movement in my heart. So it was good to have experienced this way of expressing our love for God in silent worship – just listening and feeling but not being able to sing aloud. It’s good. It is worship. A fresh way though unfamiliar way to worship. And its usually for two songs at most, so it is not monotonous.

Have you attended a physical gathering of Sunday worship recently? What was it like? Out of the maximum of fifty attendance how many seats were taken up?

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Guest preaching at Church of True Light

Guest preaching at Church of True Light during covid 19

The Church of True Light entrance looked unusually quiet. For a moment I thought the church was closed. Oops, I was looking at the wrong doors. Two women were there at the front desk. One greeted me and asked for my name. I said, I am the guest preacher for the English congregation. She checked my temperature, and briskly showed me to the lift.

The worship hall was a welcome sight. They had done modest renovations and the place looked more conducive than before. Later, I found that I sounded good over the microphone. They must have upgraded the PA system too. Wonderful.

A tall, tan Anglican priest with silvered hair welcomed me, and I suddenly felt more at home. I have known Revd Vincent Hoon for close to two decades. We met as strangers put together to share a room in a Love Singapore Pastors Prayer Summit ages ago. We have since become prayer partners through thick and thin; fellow-pilgrims and fellow-servants in the Lord’s vineyard.

I met with their new vicar, Revd Barry, formerly from Marine Parade Anglican Church. He was newly posted to this church. This means he must be effectively bi-lingual. Later, at the end of the service, they showed a superbly done video introduction of him, and he came off as someone with confident, decisive, humorous and authentic. The former vicar, Revd Winston had retired, and as in any change of leadership, much prayer and patience and grace is needed in order that God’s purposes be fulfilled by His man in that new season the church is in.

With some curiosity, I took a selfie to see how I look like beside the priests there. I look like some lau hero in a movie about containment of some infectious disease. I cannot say I felt like one when it was my turn to mount the stage and take the pulpit. It felt awkward. I chose a lapel mike. The crowd was sparse with thirty plus folks, and a battery of young adults at the end where the equipment for live-streaming and sound control were. Evidently, the Chinese services would be starting physical gatherings soon and were there to learn how to operate the equipment. So speaking to this disparate groups seated apart from each other except for couples felt different. “Are they listening to me?” I asked myself, as I felt a bit of nervousness. “Am I getting through?” As I reached the final third point I panicked because I realised I had missed a whole chunk of explanation in the second point. Since it was live-streamed I needed to keep it concise to 20 – 30 minutes, I had been reminded earlier. “Doesn’t matter…just carry on. The Lord is able to work with mistakes like this. He will make good come out of it.” Sometimes, people feel relief with short sermons. Hope that at least it is the case here.

The service began at 9am and ended at about 10am. Is this the “new normal”?

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Singaporean and Indonesian churches during covid 19

I was curious about how our neighbouring churches were doing during the covid 19 pandemic. I was familiar with what’s happening in Singapore. But try as I would I could not find much news about what’s happening among Malaysian churches except that 300 churches have applied in June to re-open for worship with all the usual safety measures in place and a maximum of 30 worshippers and for an hour and a half. Surprisingly the Indonesian church is the one with the best information due to a survey done by a research organization. Here are the links I have found pertinent and helpful:

SINGAPORE CHURCHES: THIS is definitely the best article that wraps up where the Singapore church is in terms of external response to Covid 19. It covers the rise of the “hybrid physical and digital church”, the generosity of churches in helping the foreign workers and the people hit with financial problems and job losses, and how some churches are resourcing other churches. Good, comprehensive and interesting article.

INDONESIAN CHURCHES: THIS ARTICLE written by Dr Babang Budijanto, general secretary of Asia Evangelical Alliance is based on a national survey of 600 pastors in small and big cities in Indonesia done by Bilangan Research Center. Five concerns that the Indonesian churches face are: 1) Lack of capacity for digital engagement; 2) Decline in church revenue; 3) How to meet spiritual needs and give pastoral care; 4) Helping the poor and needy (job loss and health issues); 5) Members switching to another congregation with better online services. One interesting factor worth highlighting is how the presence of youth in the churches increased the church’s digital engagement and social involvement with the poor.

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Church response to coronavirus pandemic

The WHO has declared covid 19 a world pandemic. It is spreading around the world at an alarming rate. World wide emergency cabinet meetings and health orgainizations task forces have been trying to formulate plans to contain and defeat this invisible and clever enemy.

Over in Singapore there is a calm confidence. Yes years ago there was a panic when SARS hit our shores and we scrambled like crazy. When SARS ended there were reviews, evalutions and detailed contingency plans laid in case of another epidemic. This fine tuned plan is being implemented today. Kudos to the civil service and the government.

Together with the WHO announcement, came a speech from our Prime Minister. It was reassuring to hear from him. The thing that struck me as a pastor was his mention that religious meeting need to be shortened and the size of meetings reduced.

Pondering over this, it seems that this could be a good time for the church, steeped in tradition, and entrenched in a fixed way of dong things, to do a review and consider changes. Changes is difficult for church leaders and members. However, when something considered potentially life-threatening stares you and your family in the face, you would actually welcome change or at least accept that it is necessary.

To illustrate how difficult it is for the church to change its way of congregating or worshipping. What if we tell all church members to meet in homes in groups no larger than 20 people, on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday watching a pre-recorded service or live stream? And that would substitute for the Worship Service. Tradition will cry out, Can the Eucharist be conducted at home? Pragmatism will query, How do we collect the offerings? Will there be a drop in finances? Parents will plead, What will we do with our children without Sunday School or children’s church? Small churches will cry out, We don’t have media expertise to do pre-recorded services or live streaming?

Changes are difficult, but if the church is willing to steer a steady and determined course and discern what is best in its context, and make necessary changes, that church will be all the better and stronger after the changes.

The mustard seed must welcome change in its form to grow into a tree, and the leaven must create disruption and ferment in the flour, and change the flour’s constitution for it to become baked bread.

I would be happy to hear your comments or suggestions of how we should co-operate with government advisories like the one issued by the Prime Minister.

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