Written by Norefel Resuma
“Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places” (Psalm 135:6). God is sovereign! When I first came to Singapore in 2008, it was merely for economic reasons, but little did I know that the sovereign God has brought me to this “foreign” land for a greater purpose. It never occurred to me that one day I will be working full-time in His vineyard, for I know that I will never be worthy to serve Him. Yet despite my sins and weaknesses, the Lord has been graciously preparing me for the work ahead. Here’s a brief recollection of God’s leading and directing in my life in the past 12 years.
I came to Singapore during the 2008 economic recession, and for the first time I had to experience how difficult it is to find a work. Still looking for a job, I was first brought to Gethsemane by Pr Donald dela Cruz (at that time he was still working as an engineer), to join the Gethsemane Filipino Fellowship (GFF). Thank God for the faithful preaching of God’s Word by Pr Dennis Kabingue and because I was blessed by the biblical teachings I received, I sincerely prayed that the Lord may grant me a pass to stay in Singapore, not so much to earn a living but to learn more of His Word, and grow in my spiritual walk. Though I was then already a believer (having accepted the Lord Jesus during my university days), yet I was struggling with worldliness and sin, and desperately longing for faithful and deep teaching of God’s Word. Thank God for answered prayer after 4 months. As I stayed in Gethsemane, I started joining the Tuesday Night Prayer Meeting and the English Worship Service on top of the GFF and the Kababayan Bible Study (KBS). I received abundant blessings from the Lord both spiritually and physically. The Lord provided me a wife through the GFF. Who could have thought I will marry a person whom I only got to know for less than a year? Undaunted, I made that momentous decision, having learned and been convicted of the Lord through the faithful preaching of God’s Word by Pastor Koshy.
Fast forward to 2017. Being zealous in the service of the Lord in GFF and continuously growing in the knowledge of Christ and His word with my wife and 3 children through the numerous preaching of God’s Word by Pastor and other preachers, I felt the increasing burden to serve the Lord more but not full-time. I prayed that if it is God’s will for me to serve, the Lord may make it clear. It was also during this time that I started to entertain the idea of exploring opportunities overseas or even returning to the Philippines as living in Singapore for foreigners with families is getting more difficult, especially financially. But all the plans of leaving Singapore did not come to fruition because every time I tried to take one step forward, the Word of God through Pastor always ministered to me, and I ended up staying on. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). I learned through the years, in Gethsemane, to humbly accept and submit to God’s Word for it is our guide for Christian living. And to obey God’s appointed under-shepherd in Pastor, having observed how he practised what he preached which is the same example I want to inculcate in my children. These are the main reasons why I remain in Singapore, and Gethsemane in particular, in spite of many other opportunities overseas. But even then, I never planned to stay in Singapore this long.
As time passed by, being convicted of prioritising the Lord, His church and family over work, I started to feel that my work in the company is becoming more and more frivolous. I became less interested with all the technology advancements, and just tried to do whatever is necessary. By God’s grace and strength, we strove as a family to join all the church fellowship meetings on Saturdays and even Bible Witness retreats; never did we miss a church camp since we started joining in 2009! Come 2018, when Pastor announced the Turkey-Israel Bible Study Tour, we prayed that we could join. Everyone, especially the children, was very excited. Not knowing the costs, we kept praying and started saving up. Weeks passed, and after knowing the estimated costs for a family of five, we agreed to drop the idea of joining. But just a little more than a month before the team’s departure, there was a severance package that was offered in the company which I am eligible to take. At that time, it seemed like the Lord was leading us to go back to Philippines for good, so I took it. The amount was more than sufficient to even join the Turkey-Israel Bible Study Tour (though the timing was quite tight). Again by God’s providence, there were only 5 seats left and so we did a last minute sign-up. Before our trip to Turkey and Israel, Pastor and Sis Carolyn visited and encouraged us, and that resulted in the change of our earlier plan of going back to Philippines for good.
2019 became an exciting year because we had no idea what was to come. Thank God for granting our desire to get a rented home near the church; I was hoping and praying for a new job nearby as well. When Bro Dennis went back to Philippines for good, I was all the more burdened to stay on for the GFF. I prayed that the Lord may call me to serve Him full-time, but deep down I thought the Lord has other plans for me. So I continued applying for work according to my field and experience, while I patiently waited in prayer. Though I had a handful of interviews, yet deep inside I know it’s going to be difficult to get one that would allow me to remain active in my service to the Lord. I’m very convicted that work is only secondary to church and family, and I wanted to be honest in all my interviews when being asked how committed I would be if I were given the position I was applying for. I trusted the Lord that if it is His will for us to stay in Singapore, His providence will prove it – I just need to make sure that I’m doing His will.
Months passed and still no work. Then one day, I got a call from Pastor asking me about my situation. He shared to me about a possible position in the church, but emphasised that I won’t be paid as much as I was getting previously and just told me to pray about it. Though I wanted to serve the Lord right then, I did not want to jump in because I was not sure. I understood that the Lord must call. In my mind, being a foreigner in Singapore, God’s calling for me is to work outside and serve the Lord part-time in the church. So I did not follow up with Pastor, and just continued with all my applications while at the same time serving the Lord in the GFF. Then one day, the Lord tested me – I was about to go for a final interview and a possible contract signing. But as that was scheduled on a Tuesday afternoon, I declined because I may have to miss the prayer meeting. It was moved to Thursday that week but a day before, that company announced a hiring freeze. Coincidence? No, God’s providence!
Even then, I was still hesitating to serve the Lord full-time – to the point of literally asking the Lord to allow me to find work before Pastor comes to me again. Around this time, I was also preparing my family if in case the Lord will finally open that opportunity for me. I tried to encouraged them to be ready and willing to sacrifice and go through suffering, if the Lord requires.
Then one night, Pastor called and shared that wonderful opportunity being offered to me, backed by the unanimous decision of the Elders. When he then asked for my response, I replied him, “What else can I say? It is God answering my prayer and confirming it through my Pastor and Elders!” I thank the Lord that in God’s appointed time, He allowed me to serve Him full-time.
I started serving the Lord full-time in May 2019. It was a mixed feeling of excitement and anxiety. Even until today, I still feel the same way every now and then. I was excited because serving the Lord full time is a privilege and only available to those whom God has called. And having that understanding is more than enough to motivate me to give my all as the Lord enables me day by day. Yet at the same time I do feel anxious, for I was responsible for the effective and efficient functioning of the office of GBWL, covering a range of administrative, financial, accounting, systems and managerial tasks. Furthermore, being an engineer by profession, I did not have any prior experience with regard to the office requirements of the church; but thank God for His grace and wisdom. The Lord has sustained me thus far. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
On top of my office-related tasks in GBWL, I continue to coordinate the activities of the GFF, and assist Pastor, the Elders and Deacons, preachers, co-labourers and church members on matters relating to the church. I am convicted that as a full-time worker, I must be willing and ready to do whatever is needed for the day. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
Praise the Lord that there is so much work in the Lord’s vineyard – it is indeed toil and labour! I earnestly pray that somehow in the course of doing the work, I may be a blessing to Pastor and my co-labourers, and at the same time maintaining a life of holiness as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. My greatest fear is not that I may not be able to accomplish the work, but that I may be doing it with unclean hands and an impure heart. God forbid!
Brethren, I seek your prayer that I may be faithful and unwavering in the Lord’s calling for me, sanctifying myself daily to be holy and blameless, serving the Lord for His glory.