As our Church’s 23rd Anniversary is coming, I wish to recount God’s blessings to me in Tabernacle all these years. First of all, I thank God for saving me as a teenager and helping me though my ups and downs in the 24 years as a Christian. He is my most faithful Friend and loving Saviour. There are also people whom God has placed in my life who in their own ways have been blessings to me.

I thank God for my aunt who shared the Gospel with me when I was in Primary 6. When I was in JC1, she brought me to a Bible Study group led by Brother Isaac. At that time, I was a backslidden Christian who had dropped out of Church. Thank God for Brother Isaac who gave his time to teach us God’s Word every Friday evening at the home of our former members, Lawrence and Margaret. Through the group, I eventually came to Tabernacle.

I also thank God for Pastor Ronny who was my spiritual father and taught me God’s Word faithfully and uncompromisingly. He was always loving and gentle, and served the people of God without complaints. In those days, he would pick us up in the Church van and drove us back home after Worship Services and Prayer Meetings as the Church van was about our only mode of transport. Not many of us owned cars in those days. He did it ever so cheerfully and would, once in a while, drive us in a new route to our delight. We had countless hours of delightful fellowship in the van.

After my ‘A’ levels, I thought I did badly and wanted to apply to re-take the examinations the following year just in case I did not do well. I did not know my way to the Ministry of Education at Kay Siang Road and just mentioned it briefly to him. I was so grateful and surprised that he immediately offered to take me there with Mrs Khoo. When there were problems at home, he was the first one I would call for help. The instances were too many to mention. He was always there for us. By his loving and humble service, he won our love and respect. His service to the Church was selfless and never calculative; being the under-shepherd, he exemplified the Great Shepherd of our souls. “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

I also thank God for Elder John who has had a lot of impact in our lives as young adults in our then Young-Adult Fellowship, Fishers. He showed us how to give our best to God. His commitment to God and His people was second to none. By God’s grace and through following his example, our commitments to God’s service never waned even after we started work. Truly, the world would like to have more or even all of us if we would let it encroach into our lives. However, it will be foolish to yield to it. To study God’s Word and fellowship together are God’s means of grace and we neglect it to our peril. Despite having a good and busy career, Elder John never let his work affect his service to God. When Pastor Ronny retired in 2003, Elder John took good care of the Church. In those days, our Session meetings were attended by young and old, as people felt a sense of belonging and happily supported the work of the Church like a big family. I would like to encourage us to again throw in your lot with us to labour for the Lord’s work.

In all the history of Tabernacle, we only had one Pastor. Until much later in 2001, when the Session felt the need to reach out to our Mandarin-speaking parents and others. Bro Jia’en joined us as our Chinese Preacher through the introduction of Sister Miriam. He laboured faithfully and with much love and concern for the Chinese-speaking brethren. They had their weekly Bible Study running concurrently with the English Worship Service. The members comprised David, Lixia and Shulan. Although they were a small group, it gladdened our hearts to see their love in coming to study God’s Word. Brother Jia’en’s burden and interests were unmistakably for the Chinese Ministry alone. He had Bible Study with them, organised Chinese family Gospel nights in our homes, visited them etc. He was a serious-minded, strict, unpretentious but warm person. Coming from Fisherman of Christ Fellowship, he held a different view with the Church concerning baptism; however, he never went around influencing people to take his views and was able to work harmoniously with the Session. After Pastor Ronny retired in 2003, Brother Jia’en was the only full-time worker we had. He drove the van, joined us for Prayer Meetings, locked the Church, etc. But it was Elder John who led the Church. We had an amiable relationship working together. Brother Jia’en left in April 2005 for Malaysia to take care of his ageing parents. We held a most meaningful farewell for him in Church.

Then there are other older members of the Church who contributed much to the Church in time past and took care of us when we were younger. I remember Sister Karen used to cook for the Church, with her two young kids in tow. We used to have Family Worships in Brother Eddie’s and Brother Alvin’s homes as those were the only two families in Church. Brother Alvin was a very generous and kind man and once bought a very nice teddy bear for my sister when she was young as she was same age as Nicole but had lost her father at a tender age. When my father passed away suddenly in 1995, I still had a semester to go in the National Institute of Education. Brother Eng Lock gave me love gifts to tie us over the difficult times. Sister Lili and others visited my mum in hospital when she had her major operation to remove her 30cm cancerous ovarian tumour. The list goes on—of the kindness I have received from God’s people and our long-standing relationship in Church. They are just like my extended family. I hope that this spirit of kinship and brotherly love still lives on in Tabernacle, whether we be young or old!

Even if men forget us, God will not. Hebrews 6:10, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Let us continue to labour in the Lord’s vineyard even as we grow older. “Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing” (Psalm 92:13-14).

On this note, I would like to encourage the younger people of Tabernacle to show respect to the older folks in case we turn heady just because we are now serving in a few projects and ministries. It might not be very difficult to serve when we are young and energetic and have all our peers with us. It could get tougher when one gets older, when they could be discouraged and worn out. It saddens my heart to hear of young people serving but then the next minute to start pointing a finger at others whom they think are not serving. While some might be less ‘visible’ in the Church, that might not necessarily means that they are not serving God in areas not known to us. Beware of spiritual pride that so soon gets into us. Love begets love and respect begets respect. This should be the basis of our relationships in Church. The Lord helps us.

James 3:1 tells us, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” Proverbs 17:19 “he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction”. God forbids that we take our service as a means to thrust ourselves into the limelight, to advance and promote ourselves. or even to draw men after ourselves. Service unto God is not a performance. It is not about putting ourselves up in a pedestal to dictate and to control. “Neither  as  being lords  over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:3) It should emphasize scriptural authority instead of personal authority. It is a sign of decay when men would seek to point others to themselves rather than Christ, and worse still, to discredit others for their own advancement, to lobby for support for their views and causing division. Such a spirit is an antithesis to the Spirit of Christ. “And he (Jesus) said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” (Luke 22:25-26)

Rev Quek once shared with us that Moses, in his first forty years, when he thought himself to be somebody, failed miserably and had to flee Egypt. But when he thought himself to be nobody in the next forty years in the Midian desert tending his flocks, it is then that God called him to lead the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. This is an insightful lesson for us as to what kind of person God will use!

In July 2008, the Church elected Pastor Ho into the Session to take care of the English Congregation and Assistant Pastor Yee Kin to take care of the Chinese Congregation. Pray for the Session to have God’s wisdom to serve in meekness and Christ-likeness.

The previous Session has served God faithfully in Tabernacle for many years and was held in regard by the people. It is appropriate at this juncture to acknowledge their labour of love. This Session is in fact building on the foundation laid by them.

The Church is by no means perfect, it will not be, as long as we are on this side of Jordon. However, it is nonetheless the Church of the living God. Let’s continue to look to the Lord as we look forward to His imminent return, when each of us must give an account of our lives!

“Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”(John 13:13-16)