Testiomony of Call to Service – Tan Pek Suan, Shermaine

If I may say that it is God’s will and purpose for my life, I grew up having a desire to provide help to less developed countries. However being an unbeliever then, I often talked about going to Africa to help the children there through secular ways. It was this desire to help people that I took up Psychology in university with the hope of entering the social service field after graduation. Nonetheless, God has a good plan for me. I was saved in my last semester of studies. I went into the social service sector, working as a social worker, as a Christian. This was in mid July 2013.

I entered the working force, desiring to further my education in counsel-ling after 1 or 2 years of work experience. At the same time, my faith, knowledge of Christ and God’s Word was growing as I accepted Christ recently in April 2013. I desired to serve God in various areas of service. With my interest in going to less developed places and helping the com-munity, especially the children there, I jumped at the chance to join a mis-sion trip to Myanmar in March 2014. As a very young Christian, I was prepared to serve God in any area of need, thinking that I will support the other members of the team as we conduct the Vacation Bible School, but God had other plans. I was asked to teach a class instead. I remember be-ing very anxious as it was also the first time I studied the life of David. God was good to me. Not only did He gave me the privilege to serve Him, He saw me through with much grace. God showed me then that all things came by Him alone and we just have to rely and trust unto Him. My heart for missions persisted. I purposed in my heart to serve God in as many trips as my leave from work allowed me to and went also to Nias in 2014.

At the same time, I started thinking about the path to take after my work. I thought about going further into counselling, to take up master courses. However, a desire was at the back of my mind and in my heart, to serve God full-time in the mission field. I remember how my heart burnt with desire during a sermon when the preacher called for labourers to the har-vest fields. How I desired to say “me”! God was working in my heart. However, I set the desires aside, attributing them to my impulsive nature, and continued to seek the Lord for direction in pursuing further studies incounselling. However, as time passed , the desire to serve full-time tugged at my heart. My parents urged me to consider carefully, but I found myself contemplating the thought of serving full time even harder. Somehow, deep down, I could not imagine myself being a counsellor for life, and know that if I were to obey my parents to pursue something secular, it will be a waste of their money as I foresee myself contemplating full-time ser-vice after a few years. It was a struggle and a burden in my heart, for I knew my parents’ position, them being unbelievers at that time. I sought the Lord in prayer for months, asking Him to lead me in His will. I re-member sharing with my manager about the struggle and he asked me how I would know if it is God’s will to not pursue a career in the social service but to enter into full-time ministry. I felt it was impossible at that time and even replied half-heartedly “I don’t know? Maybe if my parents agree to it?”

This was in early 2015 while I was preparing for a mission trip to Myanmar in March. I was amazed by God’s exceeding grace when He saved my father whom have been attending Church with me. I remember thinking, “Lord, is this your answer to me?” I did not have the chance to speak with my parents again and went on the mission trip, still seeking His will for me. Once again, God has given me the privilege to serve Him in teaching His Word despite me being “young in faith”. Relying and depending on the Lord as I served, I was greatly encouraged by Jeremiah 1:7-8 in my daily devotion there.
“But, the LORD said unto me, say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD”

I purposed in my heart to serve God by placing my confidence in Christ alone. I remember one moment as I was teaching, it dawned on me how God has given me this great privilege to serve Him by blessing me with the spiritual gifts. O how indeed I must be honouring more with these spir-itual gifts as a good steward of the Lord! After the trip, I was even moreconvicted to seek the Lord in my growing desire to serve Him full-time. I broached the topic again with my parents but they were in opposition. I struggled with knowing if it is really God’s calling, if I was too ‘young in faith’ to be serving Him full-time and how I should go about handling the parental objection. I prayed fervently for the Lord to be clear if it is His calling and not for it to be my own self-seeking will.

It was a miserable few weeks, but thank God for His Word as I was con-stantly reminded to wait upon His will. Slowly, my parents relented and opened up to accepting my desire but wanted me to wait for a year. However, the desire grows as I hear God’s call through sermons and in devotional materials. Jeremiah 1:7-8 was my constant encouragement. Thank God when the announcement was made that FEBC graduation service was coming. I requested my parents to attend so that they could see a glimpse of what entering FEBC and full-time ministry is about. The day drew near and they seemed unrelenting, even the night before the graduation service. I invited them again in the morning and went for a worship service. I heard God’s call again — “Be courageous, don’t procrastinate!” touched my heart. I hoped and prayed that my parents will come for the graduation service, for I have before purposed in my heart to make a decision based on their advice after reading the memoirs of Dr. Arthur Steele when he was seeking God’s will upon hearing God’s call. God’s call was ringing strong and I even had I may have to disregard the opposition of my par-ents. However, God once again showed me His perfect timing. My par-ents came for the service. They have accepted my intention to apply for FEBC in July. God’s answer to my prayers came and in obedience to His call, I am hence applying to study in FEBC in order to serve Him full time. Even though my desire is to serve in the mission field, I am of full conviction to trust in His leading, not my will but His.

Preacher’s Note: Shermaine Tan will be entering FEBC for studies this coming semester. Please pray for her that the Lord will continue to direct and sustain her in the service of the Lord.