top of page

FROM FIVE LOAVES OF BREAD AND TWO FISHES: A Personal Reflection on Gift Daniel’s Time with The Bible Church as a Staff


Time flies! I remember walking into Clementi Bible Centre (CBC) in mid-2005, in search of a church near Clementi where my wife, Stella, and I were staying. I was serving with Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) then and had moved from Malaysia to Singapore. Stella and I walked into CBC without knowing what lay inside its premises. I stumbled upon Mt Carmel BP Church and attended my maiden worship service at CBC with them. I ended up worshipping with The Bible Church Singapore (TBCS) the following week. Little did I know this would become the church I would serve for the next 18 years. My official interview was with then-Elder Paul Lim, and my introduction to missions at TBCS was with the late Elder Soh Eng Hwa. The first mission board was formed with Elder Lynette, Pastor Freddie, Pastor Kok Wah and I. I learned many lessons along the way, often by doing things without knowing what the outcome would be. But as I reflect on those moments spent with this community of friends, I have many valuable take-home lessons. Below are some of these, which I have encapsulated in the story of five loaves of bread and two fishes (5L and 2F).


1. Offer whatever little you have. Nothing is too small for God to start His mighty work.

In the story of 5L and 2F, the disciples were desperately looking for food (at the command of Jesus to “Go and look”). They found a kid who was more than willing to offer his little 5L and 2F. I am not sure if this small boy knew who Jesus was and what He was about to do with the little he had offered. But Jesus took what the disciples found and the little the small boy offered and multiplied it beyond imagination.


Over the last 18 years, I have had many small conversations here and there that opened the way for a remarkable work that only God can do. The following are a couple of examples. In a casual conversation with Dr Alvin Low (once our advisory pastor) over breakfast, he shared with me and others about his work in Nepal. At the end of the conversation, he invited us to join an exploration trip to Nepal in 2008. Our maiden trip to Nepal happened with just 4 members (Nick Chiang, Andrew Chua, Johnny Yeo and I) from our church. It led to the start of our church-planting mission in Nepal. Today, this work has grown and TBCS supports about 25 workers, with more than 1,500 people worshipping every week at 50 different locations in East and West Nepal. Only God can do this!


A similar thing happened on a trip to Hong Kong with some staff. I didn’t know if was meant to be a planning retreat. As we sat in Elder Chin Tiong’s Hong Kong office and discussed the ministries of our church randomly, the idea of the Go60 and Plant30 initiative came up and became one of our faith goals – to plant 30 churches and organise 60 mission trips – from 2013-2018. Yes, we accomplished this faith goal! Since then, every 5 years, our church will come up with 5-year faith goals.


Towards the end of 2015, I casually met with a group of mission supporters (mostly seniors) from our church for dinner at a church member's condo. I shared some burdens from my heart after a mission trip to a closed country. Little did I know, a team would be formed from that sharing to eventually start the EquipAsia initiative, which is now spread across 6 countries and has trained more than 300 leaders in various locations. Don’t ignore little conversations here and there; they may turn out to be the starting point where God ignites something new that only He can do.


2. Appreciate what is left over!

I believe, in the story of 5L and 2F, what was left over – the 12 baskets of food – kept them remembering this miracle for a long time. The “dabao” (takeaway) food became a precious memory for the disciples to remind them of God’s overflow of goodness and faithfulness.


Covid-19 has ripped away many precious things from us. Things that we once held close to our hearts have gone, never to return. I have a list of things lost during Covid-19 which includes the lives of 3 of my immediate family members and of several pastors and missionary friends. The loneliness and pressures caused by the pandemic have also caused some of the leaders whom I respected to fall from grace or to leave their ministries due to mental health issues.


Many things have gone, but I now have a deep appreciation for what is left behind. The time left for me in this world, the relationships I have with my family members, the health I have, the roof over my head, the water I drink, the food I eat… have all suddenly become precious to me. Certainly, this is true in my ministry. Knowing that I have only a short time left in my life, I have come to appreciate what is left over.


3. Leave something for strangers.

One of the lessons God taught me is not just to appreciate what is left over but to leave something for strangers if you can (this is the principle of gleaning from the Old Testament). In the miracle of 5L and 2F, God orchestrated it in such a way that there was something left over. Perhaps even those who did not attend the meeting enjoyed the blessing of this miracle by eating the leftovers. Remembering the strangers in our midst, be it domestic helpers or migrant workers, is something I learned in Singapore. It could be that in other countries where I lived, I did not get to interact much with foreigners or strangers. But in Singapore, I am deeply grateful to the community of foreigners and strangers who contributed to the building of this nation to what it is today. This is something I hope to instil in my children – to leave something for strangers. I take them once every 3 months to a migrant worker dorm so that they are aware of their presence. After all, I myself was once a stranger in Singapore.


4. Keep declaring His glory to the nations.

Last but not least, the last 18 years gave me the opportunity to witness first-hand God at work personally and in and through our community of faith. Many small and big things happened during my mission trips with our church members, during our leadership trainings, medical clinics, outreach events, etc. Little did I know how God could use us, an independent church like TBCS, to be a blessing to the nations. Our strong currency, our gifted people, our strength in teaching and equipping – God has used them all for His purposes in ways we can never imagine. Let us keep sharing the stories of God’s goodness to generations to come.


Amazing things have happened as we stepped out to declare His glory by participating in missions work. Souls were converted, the Gospel was proclaimed by timid and shy members of our church, healings took place, the sick were treated, demons were cast out, we stood before immigration authorities overseas speechless (not knowing how to answer their questions) but God delivered. He often provided for our needs in unexpected ways. Some of our partners were threatened, jailed, and released. Some of our EA trainings were done under high-security risks, persecution happened at various locations, some believers left, some scattered, some backslid, but overall, the church of Jesus Christ grew, souls were added to the body of Christ. Some of these stories are worth telling the next generation and worth declaring to the nations.


Once upon a time, we received blessings and were indeed blessed by many missionaries serving us to build our church. Now let us be a blessing to the nations and keep on declaring His praises to the nations. Don’t stop declaring His glory. Once you stop, you start to deteriorate.


I am deeply grateful to the Lord for giving me the opportunity to serve for many years in our church. As I ministered, I was equally blessed by your ministry to me, in particular, those whom I served with closely. It is my prayer that all who come behind us will find us faithful in following our Lord’s footsteps and take hold of the destiny God has for us individually and as a community of faith.


I will be joining SIM East Asia team in June to serve with a primary focus on "reaching the unreached people groups" in Asia. I will be involved in mobilizing and training missionaries in the East Asia region. My family and I will continue to worship in TBCS. To know more about SIM East Asia, log into www.simeast.org. If you are interested in receiving my newsletter, please contact me at giftdanielintouch@gmail.com.

346 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page