First Stirring - June 2000
On the Brink of a Mistake
In the year 2000, my wife, daughter and I were living in California, having being posted there as the senior management of a newly listed Singapore public company. During the time we were there, my wife and I became baptized members of Calvary Baptist Church in Fremont, California. We were baptized by Pastor Phil Walker.
We returned to Singapore from California with my 7 month old daughter Amy in June 2000 to attend a wedding. While I was back, I was invited to join a potential new business venture which had received a commitment of US$1 to US$1.5 million in venture capital funding. I was offered a top executive position, along with an attractive reward structure and a role as a partner in the new startup venture. I returned to the USA with the intention of resigning my current position and returning to Singapore. I was eager to prove my ability as an entrepreneur again as I had become a stock-option millionaire because of the current company’s IPO and my reward package.
The first Sunday that I returned, the Lord convicted me that I was on the verge of a big mistake. It was during the Sunday evening preaching on the life of Jacob that I saw how the Lord graciously moved my wife and I to the USA for the purpose of refining us and it had nothing to do with my career. I realised then that my plan to return to Singapore was for the wrong reason.
I sought the counsel of both Pastor Walker and deacon Ed Richards and realised for the first time that God possibly drawing me into the ministry. This of course frightened me but I decided to follow godly counsel and to pray and wait upon the Lord to know His Will.
I had my answer 3 weeks later on 1 Aug 2000, when my boss called from New York to tell me that he was instructed to terminate my job. He could not supply a reason and admitted that it was against his own will. It did not make sense to anyone else as I held on personally to the only revenue making portfolio in the entire company. I held my peace amidst many upset and vocal colleagues because while my pride hurt, I knew God had given sign and plan to me because the day of my termination was exactly the 2nd anniversary of the day I joined that company.
I was immediately put through a trial of faith as the company HQ instructed the US office to cut off my access to the office and my salary was withheld. I was maliciously threatened with deportation by the top management in Singapore. All this time, I was patiently trying to settle all exit matters amicably so as to move on.
As money ran out, the Lord proved his faithfulness to me by allowing me to pay a full month’s rent when I had no money. A day after crying before the Lord, my friend and neighbour discovered an old company cheque written to me inside his apartment which he was now vacating.
Waiting for Directions - Oct 2000
My family returned to Singapore temporarily, while waiting for a clearer indication of God’s Will.
While in Singapore, I joined up with my long-time business partner to form a new business. We received investor funding and I proceeded to enrolled in Calvary Baptist Church’s bible institute to prepare myself to go into the ministry at the same time. At the time, I had in mind the idea that if I made enough money from this new business, I could sell it, cash out and then enter the ministry in a state of semi-retirement a few years down the road.
I was still waiting upon the Lord, but had decided to give God a ‘helping hand’.
Waiting Upon the Lord
Searching and Waiting - Dec 2000
3 months after my return, I felt restless and frustrated about not having any opportunity for ministry. Berean Christian Church in Singapore was a small church that did not believe in ministering at the church level or even church membership. I discussed the matter of my calling with brethren and often felt as if I was being looked upon strangely and on one occasion, my pastor changed the subject during midspeech.
This increased the level of frustration and one day late in Dec 2000, I before the Lord and asked desperately for Him to show me something that I could do right now. It did not matter whether I would get credit for it or not, I just wanted to be faithful and to serve.
The Lord answered 2 days later, when Bro. David Cloud of Way of Life Literature wrote in an email article about his plans to bring his ministry back to Asia. I had no idea who he was other than the fact that I found his articles and web site faithful to the plain teaching of God’s Word. I promptly sent him an email and we followed up with email discussions and a phone call. The Lord gave both of us peace of mind about the matter and I started maintaining his web site and the Fundamental Baptist CD-ROM within 2 weeks of his original article.
Stirring up - Feb 2000
Soon after working with Bro. David Cloud, I found myself in trouble with my pastor (Ho Soo Kam, Berean Christian Church) and Bro. Charles Shoong, who were supporters of Dr. Peter Ruckman. I had some discussions with Bro. Shoong over email and we had agreed to disagree on some matters concerning Dr. Peter Ruckman’s doctrines, his methods and bible inspiration but that was not to be.
The next Sunday’s sermon was hot and fiery and was preached against ‘traitors’ who were enemies of the bible. It dawned on me mid-sermon that it was directed at me. I was beginning to find that I was treated as if I had done something wrong and realised that I might not be able to stay in that church even if I wanted to as I had no authority to change anything the church stands on.
I shared my despair with Bro. David Cloud and he introduced me to Pastor Samuel Mak of Maranatha Baptist Church. I sent him email and we met and prayed together a number of times. During one of those meetings that I discovered that Bro. Charles was a former member of Maranatha Baptist Church, a man called to the ministry and he left the church over the controversy of Ruckmanism before he could be ordained as the Associate Pastor.
My family was invited by Pastor Mak to visit MBC and my family secretly attended a meeting one sunday. I pleaded with Sister Susan Lau and Sister Luna not to reveal to their brother-in-law (Bro. Charles) that I had been there. At the time, I was not under any conviction that the Lord wanted me to be a member at MBC.
Moving Home - April 2001
In April 2001, my family returned to the US to make our final preparations to return to Singapore for good. At the time I had concluded that the new business my presence in Singapore full time. With another child (Hannah) on the way, we had felt that she should be born in Singapore.
As soon as I arrived in California, the Lord convicted me that Sunday evening that I was making the wrong decision again. I shared with Pastor Walker over lunch that I was under the conviction that we were to move my family back to Singapore. However, I also had the conviction that our reason for moving back was the wrong one and I could not resolve this seeming contradiction.
Once again, I was counselled to seek the Lord’s face and to wait upon Him, which I did.
Quick Trip Home - May 2001
I took a 2 week business trip alone back to Singapore in May and decided to visit MBC during those 2 Sundays that I was back.
The first Sunday, God dealt with me during the scripture reading of text for the sermon. The text was from Exodus 3 and tears welled up in my eyes the moment Pastor Mak started reading because I instantly recognised my situation and how God was dealing with me. In there, Moses spent an additional 40 years in the wilderness learning to be a nobody so that he could be the right kind of material for God to use him greatly.
It was there I realised that I had been caught up with the DESTINATION that God was directing me to, instead of the PROCESS. I realised that the Lord was taking His time because he was working on my life and my character before He would bring me to where I was to go. I yielded all control back to the Lord during the invitation and asked Him to show me what I needed to do next instead of trying to find out what God’s answer was for me.
Immediately after that, the Lord started dealing with both my wife and I over the matter of our biblical roles within the family. The next Sunday, both my wife and I heard the same message preached while she was in California and I was in Singapore. The Lord dealt with both of us while we were on opposites ends of the earth.
That particular sunday, Bro. Alex Ong (one of the ushers) came up to asked me whether I was the visting preacher who was going to preach the morning’s sermon. I was horrified and amused, and for some strange reason, I remembered that remark even though I didn’t know why at the time.
On the way out
Losing my former Calling - May-June 2001
May and June of 2001 was the most frightening period as I found myself unable to work at all. I thought it was a creative block, but I realised later that I was losing my desire for my current work. Up to that point, I could tell anyone being a software entrepreneur was my life’s calling with great passion and conviction.
I attended the Master’s Men conference in Fresno, California at the end of May. This was a meeting for independent baptist men and there were lots of revival messages being preached. The Lord dealt with me about giving of my best talents, skills and abilities to Him during the preaching on Bezaleel, son of Uri (Exodus 31) and I made a decision before the Lord to go into the ministry should He choose to use my abilities.
I had to attend a week long software development conference the following week in San Jose but all I could think about were our revival meetings that week. All I wanted to do was to get back into the car and race all the way through rush hour traffic from San Jose to Fremont to attend our revival meetings every evening.
In June, my family spent a week with Bro. David Cloud’s family in Oklahoma City and we prayed and discussed the work. I met another family, the Sniders. Bro. Brian Snider and I shared about our common desire to set apart our abilities for the Lord.
I then asked the Lord to show me HOW this would be done, but still could not find a reason for us to remain in the US. I was still not able to get much work done business-wise and it was becoming obvious to my business partners back in Singapore.
Gaining a New Desire (1 Tim 3:1) - 9th July 2001
In July 2001, 3 weeks before we boarded the plane for Singapore, all our personal belongings were sealed in boxes, but we still did not know why we were going back to Singapore, only the assurance from the Lord that we should return home.
I was busy that week on our 2nd week of a series of Revival Meetings and simultaneously, our Vacation Bible School. During the revival meetings, I found myself under very heavy conviction for 2 whole days by the Holy Spirit. I had alternated between moments of sheer terror and excitement as I realised that God was moving me to give my life to Him.
All this time I had assumed that He wanted me to surrender my skills, knowledge and talent (Ex 31:3). That night I realised that I was Called to do the one thing that terrified me the most: to preach God’s Word and to be a pastor. This frightened me greatly because neither my wife and I saw ourselves in that role and I had no abilities, talents or prior experience that I could depend on to be successful at doing that. If the Lord called me to do that, then everything would depend entirely on His grace and equipping because I had nothing in myself that I could boast of.
The first night, I had to fight an irresistible urge to stand up and start preaching as I had been thinking about what Pastor Mak wanted me to share with the members once I returned to Singapore as he had invited me to share something. For some reason, I started thinking about what message I was going to preach and that terrified me.
The 2nd night, Evangelist Dan Hawtree preached from Luke 5:1-11 and once again, the Lord convicted me during the scripture reading and I realised what the Lord was telling me to do. I saw myself in Peter’s situation, launching out a little, trusting Christ a little before the Lord in his mercy showed Peter how He was able to provide for his needs, but He had a bigger calling for Peter than to catch fish. I came under great conviction during the message that my life’s calling as an entrepreneur was over and what I had to do was to abandon my nets and follow Christ.
During the invitation time, I resisted going forward despite the heavy conviction, but after two nights of resisting the Holy Spirit, I could not longer resist. As I struggled down the aisle, I saw my entire career and life burn before my eyes and I went before the Lord to give my life unconditionally to do the one thing I feared the most - to be a minister of the Word of God and to pastor a church.
Homecoming - Aug 2001
The brethren at Calvary Baptist Church and Pastor Walker rejoiced when I shared the news of my decision.
We returned to Singapore on 1 Aug 2001 and immediately transferred our membership to Maranatha Baptist Church that first Sunday, while seeking God’s leadership for our lives and God’s equipping and preparation.
As soon as I came home, I resigned from my job, terminated my business partnership and stepped down as the Chief Technology Officer and Director of that new startup venture. In so doing, I put all my investments and money owed to me at risk. But I knew then that the Lord was faithful and was more than able to make up for whatever I stood to lose and would take care of our every need.
By this time, all the former stock option that had made me a millionaire were now becoming a huge tax liability and I was faced with a big tax bill. The Lord opened windows for us and gave me even a tax reduction and a means to pay it - further confirming my decision to enter the ministry. He gave favour for my wife and she was also able to work from home while still fulfilling her primary role a mother and homemaker.
Looking back at events that have happened, I have seen the constant guiding hand of the Lord and His grace in our lives. Since surrending to His call, we had never earned less income, but never experienced more spiritual and financial victories.
He used difficult circumstances each time to teach my wife and I, refining us and stretching us in our faith and trust. The Lord taught us no matter how difficult the situation was, that the safest place for us was to be exactly in the center of God’s Will for our lives.