Written by Kelvin Lim
By the grace of God working in my life, I see God’s calling in my life as under three aspects: God’s calling, God’s training and serving God.
Serving the Lord is a lifelong struggle on earth in learning to submit to His blessed will. Often we have to say, “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). Yet, one cannot resist God’s call when he hears it! For me, the call to serve the Lord came in the year 2002. I was reading Paul’s epistle to the Romans when those rhetorical questions in Romans 10:14 “jumped out” at me. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”
Indeed, how will the unbelievers call on Jesus whom they do not believe, and how can they believe on Jesus whom they have not heard? That is, how can they hear the Gospel of Christ unless someone is sent to tell them about it! At that time, I was working in The Helping Hand (THH), a Christian drug-rehabilitation centre, where my fellowship with God was restored and I came to know Pastor Koshy while I was a resident there. Subsequently, THH sent me to join Gethsemane B-P Church (GBPC) for her Sunday activities, and I became a member in December 2000.
As I grew spiritually under the faithful ministry of the Word, I knew that the Lord saved me from my sins to serve Him in the new life He has given. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Furthermore, I recalled Jesus’ charge to Peter: “… and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32). Therefore, there is this burden laid in my heart to strengthen the faith of the brethren in THH and to reach out to those under the bondage of drug addictions with the life-transforming Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!
I went to see Pastor Koshy and shared with him the Lord’s call. At that time, I was pursuing a Certificate in Substance Abuse Counselling, which would qualify me as a Substance Abuse counsellor worldwide. Naturally, I was not willing to give it up to answer God’s call into the full-time ministry! But Pastor’s advice was, “If the Lord calls you to serve Him, why bother to obtain any secular qualifications. Obey the Lord, go and study God’s Word in Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC).” Then he added, “Secular counselling can never be as effective as biblical counselling!” However, I begged to differ with him, as in my heart, I was satisfied with just attending the night classes in FEBC for equipping myself in the Word to encourage the brothers in THH, and to evangelise my friends who were addicted to drugs and other substances.
Despite my unwillingness to answer God’s call, He was patient and gracious with me. Over the next two years, He used two incidents to “jolt” me. The first occurred while I was accompanying Pastor Koshy for his overseas speaking engagement. It was my first time there and the local B-P church pastor exhorted me to surrender my life to serve God! I had barely known him and had not told him about my calling. Scarcely could I believe my ears! Still, I refused to submit to the Lord in my heart. I brushed it aside as coincidental, yet deep within I knew it was not!
The second was a minor motor accident which I was involved in. The hairline fracture on my knee confined me indoors for a good number of days. That solitary period of time helped me to relook at my life’s perspectives. If my desire is to serve the Lord, then I must submit to Him and do His will! “Not my will, but thine, be done.” Our church motto kept echoing in my thoughts. Therefore, I submissively went to FEBC on 19th July 2004, to be a full-time student of God’s Word, after struggling over His calling for two years.
In FEBC, I learned many good biblical doctrines and practical lessons. During my first year in FEBC, I was invited by a staff of THH to join them in their prison ministry. Joyfully, I went to see Pastor Koshy and shared with him this wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord. But he was not in favour of it! The reason was that I should be concentrating on the study of God’s Word as a full-time student. He assured me that there will be opportunities in the future to serve the Lord in the prison ministry if God so wills! Yet, I defiantly went ahead to apply for a temporary permit under THH despite a teaching elder’s godly counsel. Though I did receive my temporary permit, somehow I never got to use it! “… ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder” (1 Peter 5:5). This was a most memorable lesson of my theological training. It is one lesson that I will not forget!
Yet another lesson: when God closes a door, He will open a window! In this regard, the Lord paved the way for me to serve Him in the Gethsemane’s Children Ministry (GCM) during my third year in FEBC, even before I completed my theological studies. I believe this “window” of opportunity came upon me because I have been blessed with a “productive” helpmeet. She gave birth to our firstborn son, Joash, and with him, the paternal care towards children in the church started to manifest. Since then, I have been serving the Lord in GCM. Indeed, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
As sinners saved by grace, many parents struggled to bring up their children in the Lord. My observation and biblical insight of the children’s ministry is that though it is a children’s ministry, yet it is the parents that need ministering to! Parents must be exhorted to bring their children for the fellowship meetings. “Children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is His reward” (Psalm 127:3). It has always been a struggle to convince parents who placed secular activities above spiritual blessings, and to bring their children to the house of God!
Hence, let me share some struggles of serving God with you. One of the greatest struggles I had was to write the weekly lesson outlines for Junior Worship Classes. As I laboured to write these lesson outlines week after week, the “intensity of the pen” grew heavier by the day. Often, I stared at the biblical texts from which I was crafting the lesson and cried out to the Lord, “Why is it so difficult to bring out the text, and explain the truth in a simple manner?”
Well, the Lord answered this groan with an astonishing truth: His presence – the presence of God in the lives of His saints is a recurring truth throughout the Scriptures! In Genesis 28:15, God assures Jacob, “behold, I am with thee”; and in Matthew 28:20, our Lord Jesus assures His disciples, “I am with you alway”. How could I miss these truths that are repeatedly mentioned in the Bible to assure God’s children? The discovery of this truth greatly strengthened my hands and enabled me to press on to complete the three-year lesson outlines. Praise the Lord!
The next struggle was about learning to read and speak biblical Chinese! Since the inception of the Chinese service, the Lord has given me opportunities to serve there – as chairman (monthly), as preacher (occasionally) and (sometimes) as interpreter (for the chairman / speaker during combined services and Gethsemane Senior Ministry). Though I did not even pass Chinese in Secondary 1, the Lord was gracious to allow me to serve Him in this aspect.
Then in 2012, Preacher Jeremiah encouraged me to sign up as a volunteer with Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA) to serve with him in the Prison ministry. This time, I sought Pastor’s blessings first, and with his approval went to apply for the prison pass. Thanks be unto God, it has been an encouraging ministry! It is wonderful to see brethren willing to reach out to the lost in addictions and crimes, and joyful to see some of those ministered to turning to the Lord and be transformed by the power of His Word!
Lastly, I thank God for the many opportunities to help out among the various ministries of both the English and Chinese congregations of our church. As such, I think I’m not too wrong to call myself ‘gap-filler’. May the Lord give me extra grace to study His Word and grant me humility to continue serving Him submissively till He calls me home! Every day in the ministry is by the grace of God. Thank God for a Bible-believing church to serve in. All glory be unto the Lord Jesus Christ, our blessed Saviour and Lord!