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11th Oct 2020

Pride, Providence, Piling On, Pandemic!

Written by Matthew Peh

I thank the Lord for this opportunity to recollect God’s calling in my life, and how He used my circumstances to call me to be His labourer.

Pride

The greatest sin that has been plaguing me—a struggle which I continue to face even today—is pride. From my primary school days to university, I did relatively well in my studies. I remember in university, I had lecturers, professors, and friends asking if I were going to do a PhD in linguistics. I entertained such thoughts in my mind, with aspirations of doing well in the academic arena. Alas, man proposes, God disposes. God used three main incidents in my university life to redirect me into His vineyard.

First, failing to get a scholarship with MOE after my ‘A’ levels. Friends who did not do as well as me could get the scholarship, but I couldn’t. I was disheartened, but I ‘comforted’ myself by saying at least I wasn’t tied down to MOE. Second, not doing well for my honours thesis (HT). My HT was cross-disciplinary, combining insights from linguistics (my major), geography and sociology. I was so proud of it, for few undergraduates would attempt such an ambitious topic. I thought I would do well, but I did not do as well as I had expected. Third, the struggle with unemployment for half a year upon graduating in 2016. I was very sure that my good results would yield many job offers. Yet, I wasn’t even called up for interviews. I only managed to land a job through a friend’s recommendation.

Providence

Yet, with hindsight, I see God’s providence at work. If I had a scholarship, I would be bonded and wouldn’t be able to serve God immediately at His call. If I had done well in my thesis, I would have furthered my studies. As for the job that I had, because of the amount of free time during my office hours, I took the time to learn website building.

In November 2017, I had quit my job and did some freelance work. As I had more free time, I helped out in the church office. Specifically, I offered to revamp the BW website. During such time, I had the opportunity to review some of the older issues of the BW magazine. Volume 15, Issue 5 (‘Redeeming the Time’) was one that caught my attention. It contains sermons preached by Rev. Reggor during the 2009 church camp, which I was unable to attend due to National Service. An article, ‘The Brevity of Time’, reminded me about the shortness of life. It struck me that I had spent most of my life doing things that were unprofitable.

The Lord then reminded me of Ecclesiastes 12:1, where Solomon tells the reader to “remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth”. In addition, during one of my devotions, I read from Psalm 100:2a—“Serve the LORD with gladness”. Psalm 100 exhorts the congregation to praise the LORD for His goodness and everlasting mercies upon His people. After reading that devotion by Spurgeon, I was moved by the Spirit to read Matthew Henry’s commentary on the same psalm. In it, the commentary mentioned that “we should serve the Lord, [that we] should devote ourselves to his service and employ ourselves in it”. Through Psalm 100, God reminded me that there is great joy to be found in serving Him. Indeed, the joylessness I felt in my previous job is a stark contrast with joy in serving in His vineyard. On a personal note, I must not forget that the greatest joy, next to having the privilege to serve God, is meeting my wife while labouring for Him.

Piling On

While I had entered the Lord’s vineyard thinking that my main role would be a graphic designer, God chose to add more to my plate. The additional work includes the Bible Witness Web Radio (BWWR) maintenance, church websites’ maintenance, and the running of the video systems in Gethsemane Media Centre (GMC).

For BWWR, while Sis. Melissa does the recording work of the radio programmes, the everyday running of BWWR is handled by me. When the BWWR had to go through a revamp, I had to spend days trying to figure out the new system. Thank God for the grace to do so. As to the day-to-day running of the radio, queuing the monthly devotions and the weekly programmes become a part of my work routine as well.

Additionally, during the renovation phase of GMC, the Board of Elders appointed me to be part of the technical team. I had to source for video equipment for the new building. While I had some knowledge about audio-visual systems, this was a mammoth undertaking. I thank God for wisdom to help in the video system planning for GMC. There were a lot of oversights during this project, but I thank God that the video system works for most of our purposes.

With the completion of GMC, it seems as though a little bit more was “piled onto the plate”. I now have to help run the video systems. I have to admit that I actually have very limited knowledge on our video system, and a lot of what I do is simply through trial and error (of course, led by God’s unseen Hand of guidance). Much testing and re-testing is still required today to run the system. Thank God for the wisdom to do so. I thank the Lord for the wisdom to figure out a way to use our studio to hold Zoom conferences. We held a Pastors’ Conference prior to the “circuit breaker” period with this set-up. Now, this same set-up is used on Mondays, during Pastor Koshy’s GBI “pastoral training” sessions (with Bro. Cornelius, Pr Xin Kai, Pr Sujith, and Pr Kelvin).

Indeed, it would seem like these days, my originally-slated primary role as a graphic designer and doing layouts is overshadowed by all the other work. Thank God for grace and strength to plod on and to accomplish all these work.

Pandemic

During this time of pandemic, I see how God has used the work we do to help people continue to worship God—albeit in a less-than-ideal manner. Thank God for grace given to Pastor, Sis. Melissa, and myself in running the Sunday services and Tuesday Night prayer meetings from the studio level, during the circuit breaker and post-circuit breaker periods. Thank God also for Bro. Arnold who helped with the Chinese worship service YouTube videos, as well as for Bro. Andronicus and Sis. Dorcas who ran the live broadcasts from Pastor’s home for a few weeks. There’s much to thank God for, including the provision of equipment, and the wisdom to do the work.

When the government mandated that all had to work from home during the circuit breaker and Phase 1 periods, I thank the Lord that the work that I had been allotted to did not suffer. From my home, I could continue to work on the Bible Witness magazine, update the church websites and also the programmes on BWWR. Thank God for the ability to work remotely.

Right now, a number of BW publications are in the works: the next issue of Bible Witness, the Chinese translation of Pastor’s 365 Daily Exhortations, the children’s devotionals (My Soul’s Delight Volumes 2 and 3), the calendar for next year. All of these have to be done in the short span of less than a month, as much time has to be given to the printers to prepare all these materials. Please pray for God’s strength and mercy to be upon me as I endeavor to finish these.

In more recent weeks, when we held services in groups of 50 at GMC, the audio-visual set-up had to once again be changed. Thank God for the wisdom and ability to adapt to the changes quickly. Though we are back in SingPost for services, things are still not completely ‘back to normal’, for the audio set-up is different from pre-coronavirus days. Again, we have to pray for God’s wisdom in trying out this new Sunday set-up. May the brethren bear with the audio-visual team during this teething phase.

Indeed, God’s work can only be done with His sustaining grace. May God continue to help us.


Posted under 'Pastoral Exhortation'