CALLING & GOD’S PRESENCE: MY STORY
I understand the call of God in three ways. Firstly, I am called to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, I am called to a vocation that is unique to me. Thirdly, I am called to be faithful to the tasks and duties at the present time. In all of these, God is present and active.
I responded to God’s first way of calling when I was six years old. As a child, I was fascinated with creation. I remember asking, “Who made this?” while pointing to a morning glory flower at the entrance of my kindergarten. My teacher told me that God created the universe out of nothing and that I could get to know this Creator by knowing His Son. Gradually, I understood the Gospel and eventually I trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour in 1961.
As my parents were not believers then, I was not allowed to attend church. God provided for my spiritual growth through the weekly chapel services and Christian friends at the mission school that I attended. At the age of ten, I adopted Matthew 6:33 as my life verse. In April 1974, my sister brought me to The Bible Church Singapore (TBCS). We got baptized in November that year, just days before my 19th birthday.
As I transitioned from my late teens to early adulthood, the distinction between ideation and fruition became clearer. While I appreciated creative ideas, I found fulfilment whenever I could play a role in developing these ideas into tangible outcomes. I gradually grew into God’s second way of calling. It was a bi-vocational calling to cooperate with God and people in the work of formation, both in the physical and spiritual realms. The former found expression in architecture and the latter in serving TBCS.
My national service and undergraduate years turned out to be a long but significant transitional period, as God led me from the preparation phase to the contribution phase of my life through different people and events. God was present in every relationship and experience.
Shortly after I turned 26, I commenced working as an architect. I also started serving in the Church Council the following month. For the next 35 years, I served God bi-vocationally. I worked professionally as an architect while serving as a volunteer deacon (1982-1990) and elder (1991-2005 & 2007-2017).
I responded to God’s second way of calling by cooperating with God and people in spatial and spiritual formation. I also wanted to be faithful to the third way that God was calling me – to attend to my responsibilities at each life-stage as son, husband, father, architect and church leader. I am grateful for my wife, Har Eng, who has been very supportive along the way.
Scripture informs me that an elder (noun) pastors (verb) the church. When I was asked to consider serving as an elder, I took a one-year sabbatical from Council to discern God’s call. Although my appointment as a Pastor of TBCS on 1st July 2020 formalized it, I consider my appointment to eldership in March 1991 as the start of my pastoral journey. I was mindful that time constraints and lack of formal theological training would be challenges, but I served anyway. Together with the church leadership, I discerned that this was what God had wanted me to do.
By 2015, it became clear to me that I was already in the “3rd Third” of my life. Again, God led through people and circumstances in church and at the marketplace. I transitioned to the legacy phase of my faith-journey. At a retreat for our elders and pastoral staff, I shared my hope that our seniors would finish well. Over the following months, Ps Soo Yeong and the elders affirmed my sensing of God’s leading – that I should retire from architectural practice and serve TBCS full time. I joined the church staff on 1st July 2016. I also enrolled in the Biblical Graduate School of Theology. In 2019, I was awarded a Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies. God willing, I should graduate with a Master in Christian Studies in 2021.
I am humbled by God’s grace and encouraged by our church’s affirmation over these years. While the parallel paths of my bi-vocational journey have merged, my destination remains unchanged. When I sought my Creator, He found me. In the process, I found myself. Matthew 6:33 is so true.