My Salvation and Call to Ministry

(Originally published in True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church Weekly Vol. VII No. 14)

As a young child, I was infant-baptised in Life Bible-Presbyterian Church. For the sake of convenience, I was brought to attend Sunday School in Bedok Bethesda Church which was near my home. It was there that I learnt about the Lord Jesus Christ. I learnt about how He died on the cross to save sinners. I also learnt about David, Moses, Joshua and Paul. This was my first contact with the Word of God. But while my heart warmed towards the gospel, I was never truly converted to the truth.

I was happy attending Sunday School for a few years. But one day, I saw my Sunday School teacher gambling with another person under a HDB block near the church. Taken aback by this, I decided not to attend church, finding a convenient excuse to take a break every Sunday to gain precious time for my studies. My family also stopped attending church, choosing only to attend the Christmas Eve services at Life BPC. Hence, for many years, I lost contact with the Word of God.

Things started to change after I took my A-level examinations. I was due to go through the final round of interview for an EDB scholarship to study in USA. Alas, I obtained a “C” for Chemistry in the A-level examinations, though I managed a merit for the Chemistry S-paper, which was a higher-order paper. Because of this, I could not go overseas for studies but had to settle for a local teaching scholarship. I could not understand why that should happen at that time, but God had a higher plan for me. Looking back, if I had gone overseas and not stayed back in Singapore, I would not have known the Lord Jesus Christ.

After one and a half years of National Service, I was allowed to disrupt so that I could enter into university to study Physics. During my stay in the hostel, I came to know of a few friends who embraced Christianity. They invited me to attend their activities, I never joined them, fearing that they would take time off my studies. There was once I passed by a group of students singing songs of praise to God. One of my friends left our group to join in their praise session. I remarked, “What a waste of time!” In my opinion, she could have spent that time in her studies. I saw no value in such activities. Ironically, I left her to eat Roti Prata with my other friends and spent the whole night out with them.

One day, a hostel friend came to interview me over my religious beliefs for a project she was undertaking for her university module. She asked me about my beliefs in the paranormal such as ghosts and whether individuals could see into the future. I could not recall my answers to her. However, I remember her asking me how often I attended church. I lied to her saying I attended church once a month. She was caught by surprise as she thought that Christians should attend church every Sunday. This embarrassment led me to question my status as a Christian. For the first time in my life, I sensed that something was very wrong with the way I was living.

As a young boy, I believed strongly that good academic results would lead to success in life. I wanted badly to get my honours in university. I also wanted to find a good partner and lead a simple yet fulfilling life. But this was not happening according to plan. I struggled in my studies. I did not fail badly, but neither was I doing well enough to be deemed a top student in my field of study. It was something I found hard to accept. To me, it was as good as failure. Moreover, many of my friends started to leave me as they found their partners. I began to feel lonely. The last straw came when a lady I admired told me in no uncertain terms that it was not possible between us. She told me that I was not a Christian. I was shattered. I suddenly recalled the question asked during the survey about my attendance in church. Desperately, I asked what it meant to be a Christian. Sadly she could not explain to me the gospel except to tell me it meant following Christ. She then directed me to Colossians 3:1-2, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Suddenly, everything made sense to me. I realised the things of the world were empty. I could not take anything I own with me to the life hereafter. I have wasted every single moment of my life on things that were nothing but rubbish! All that I learnt in Sunday School came flooding back into my mind. I knew that I was a sinner. I did not know what to do to be saved. I cried that night. Knowing that my parents went to Life BPC, I asked my father to bring me there to hear God’s Word. My father was caught by surprise, but he brought me to church nevertheless.

During service that Sunday, the choir sang the following hymn :
Only one life to offer – Jesus, my Lord and King;
Only one tongue to praise Thee and of Thy mercy sing;
Only one heart’s devotion, Saviour, O may it be
Consecrated alone to Thy matchless glory,
Yielded fully to Thee.

Only one life to offer – Take it, dear Lord, I pray;
Nothing from Thee withholding, Thy will I now obey.
Thou who hast freely given, Thine all in all for me,
Claim this life for Thine own, to be used, my Saviour,
Every moment for Thee.

I made the words of the song my prayer, determined now to live my life for Jesus and not for the refuse of this world. I repented of my sins and gave my life to Jesus that very day.

After the service, I happily picked up a RPG booklet and started my devotions. The RPG was on the Life of Christ, which very ably enabled me to understand what the gospel is truly about and helped me to understand the doctrines of the Bible. I also began to pray. I experienced joy and peace in my heart that I never did before. I attended the Youth Fellowship and also the Fundamental Christian Ministry. I suddenly regarded these spiritual activities as priorities in my life rather than a waste of time. What a turn-around! By the grace of God, I who was once blind can now see!

As I read the Word of God, it impressed upon me that it was good to serve God as a teacher. But it is even better to serve Christ full-time by ministering His Word. Modifying a quote from Dr Khoo – Physics is good, but Metaphysics is better. During my early days as a Christian, I prayed that if it was His will, I would be willing to be used for Him full-time. The more I read God’s Word, the more my conviction grew. I could not see myself being a teacher for long. Nevertheless, I was apprehensive that it might be youthful exuberance that was misleading me.

One day, I received news from my mother that during a medical test, my dad was tested with an abnormally high blood pressure. According to the person administering the test, my dad could die any moment. Fearful for his life, I went into my room and prayed for him. I vowed that if the Lord could save my dad’s life, I would give my life full-time to serve Him. Later that day, my dad called to say that a second blood pressure test at a hospital showed that there was nothing wrong with his blood pressure (albeit on the high side). It could be that the first blood pressure meter was faulty. Nevertheless, I had made the vow to the Lord and I remembered it since that day. I also knew it was a matter of time before the Lord would call.

Sadly, as I started work as a teacher, I began to forget about my original conviction as I became immersed in the cares of the world. But the Lord has His way of bringing things into remembrance. One day, while reading the Bible, I came upon John 4:34, “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” If Jesus’ life was all about doing God’s will, how could I not do God’s will also? Listening to the messages Sunday after Sunday only made the burden of my heart grow heavy. I knew that I cannot be teaching for long as my heart longs to serve him. With every passing year, the workload in the education service gets heavier and heavier, taking up valuable time even to study His Word. Moreover, whatever I teach in school cannot save. Only teaching the Word of God to others can save souls!

Despite all these struggles in my heart, I feared to take the step of faith to serve God. At that time, I already knew my fiancee, Yu Jie, with whom I shared my desire to serve the Lord full-time. I thank God that she was very supportive from the very beginning. Nevertheless, I feared that I could not provide for her. I also feared sharing this burden to go full-time with my parents because I did not want to break their hearts. I feared persecution. I wanted to run away. However, God would not let me go, and finally by God’s prompting, I am taking a step of faith to launch into full-time studies in FEBC starting January 2010.

As I write this testimony, I just want to give all glory to God. I have learnt from all these struggles to go full-time, how much I lack in faith towards God, and how imperfect I am. Yet God has always been faithful to me. I just pray that the Lord will grant me grace to be faithful and sincere to Him, just like John Calvin who sincerely gave his full heart’s devotion to God. Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Preacher Clement Chew