Journey Thus Far ...
by Dr Ng Liang Wei
Soon after becoming a Christian in 1987, I read the biographies of Hudson Taylor, David Livingstone and Jim Elliot. The possibility of missions was planted. During a church service, as the offering bag was being passed, I felt inspired to put in every cent into the bag. Even my lunch money went in that day. After the service, someone came up to me and gave me $50 with the message, “the Lord wants me to let you have this.” That day, I guess God showed me that He would provide.
Questions like calling, location, and career persisted. During my days with the Varsity Christian Fellowship (VCF), the Missions Education and Exposure Training programme provided some focus for my exploration into missions. Most importantly, as I read through the Bible, it was clear that obedience was the key to Christian living. The Bible showed that God’s passion was for people of all tongues and tribes to know Him (Gen. 1-3; 11). Passage after passage showed God’s commitment to missions. What is my commitment?
The modern obsession with a specific calling was one hurdle that I needed to overcome. I heard many stories about people who heard God’s call to serve in a certain fashion and at a specific place. Will He speak? To this end, Matthew 25:31-46 was illuminating. Verse 37 refers to the righteous ones that Jesus invited into His Kingdom. They were praised by the Lord, but they never realised the significance of what they did until Judgment Day. It didn’t look like they had a definite call and fulfilled it. Instead, they simply lived out the concerns of the Lord and our Lord loved that. There was a good ending for those who did not have a specific call.
Isaiah 6 details the call of Isaiah, When we read Isaiah 6:8, Isaiah actually overheard the passion of God being expressed and he volunteered. I was challenged about obedience through this. When it came to missions, I demanded for a miraculous call before I would even consider. The reality sunk in. I was the one who was setting the bar. When it came to things that God was consistently concerned about, I asked for miracles before I was willing to budge. When it came to things that boost my standing in this world, I often volunteer. So I said, “Dear God, I am ready to go. If you wanted me to stay, I would, but I am willing.” That was very liberating for me. The Spirit had freed me for obedience through His Word.
After graduating from medical school, I worked off my service bond with the Ministry of Health. Each year, I visited a mission project to maintain my focus. I explored various areas — from medical trips, to mapping trips to courier trips to children projects. Where the trip was available and timing allowed, I asked God for the grace to make it. This translated to one trip a year through my housemanship and medical officer postings.
During this time, I got married after a short courtship. My wife was also keen on missions and we went for trips together. However, we were and are very different. We preferred different sorts of work. The very notion that we have to work together in the field fills us with some fear. We also started taking classes at Biblical Graduate School of Theology (BGST) as we felt that some theological training would be very helpful. I also felt the need to sort my own demons in the light of studying God’s Word systematically.
Through my studies, apart from mere academia, I struggled with coming to grips with the Person of Christ. What does it mean to be Christlike? God is God and I am not. What are the implications of that? Many ministers claim to have a specific call from God. Yet statistics show that large populations go without a single gospel bearer whereas other populations have the benefit of several people in professional Christian ministry in one congregation. Is God really so partial? The foremost lesson in BGST that I am coming to grips with is simply this: God is God and I am not.
The implications of that are profound. I need to let go of the need to know the details of His every plan. Instead, it is relational — I need to know Him. My Singaporean ethics was more concerned about knowing God’s plans than knowing Him. I had put the cart before the horse.
The second realisation was that God uses even unbelievers to fulfill His purpose. He acts independently of Man but Man had to depend on Him whether we like it or know it. Each breath is a gift. God used King Artaxerxes in Nehemiah 2 to build the Temple fortress and city walls (Neh.2:8). I was in no position to fathom His mind and second guess His intentions. My role was to know Him and commit myself to the work that He was committed to — work that He committed His own Son for.
Missions is a proposition of life. It forces us to ask difficult questions about God. It is also a process where God shapes us according to His Person. In missions, we come into contact with the heart of God, the needs of man, the bondage of sin and the transformation that is found in Christ.
Let us walk this path together for God is holding our hands as we take this journey.
(Liang Wei graduated from BGST’s MDiv programme (magna cum laude) this year. His wife, Tricia, also graduated from BGST with a Grad Dip CS. Liang Wei, Tricia and their daughter Kayla are from Faith Methodist Church. Currently the family is in Indonesia where Liang Wei is teaching at a Bible college there.)
The above article is reprinted with permission from Perspective, August 2008 — newsletter of the Fellowship of Evangelical Students (FES).
The BGST Annual Fund-Raising Dinner Organising Committee (DOC) urges you to join them in prayer for the following:
God will be pleased to enable the fund-raising efforts be a blessing to those who come, despite the current worldwide financial situation.
Invitation to the Fundraising Dinner & Response
We have extended and will be extending invitations through churches, friends, colleagues, relatives and those who came last year. May God encourage them to attend the Dinner on
21 November and to give generously in support of the School.
Programme and Logistics
The DOC members are: Kim Siang, Irene Wee, Swee Hong, Juan Hui, Serene, Chin Keng and Fang Soong. Pray for the committee as they work out the various details for this event.
The Speaker, Dr Daniel Block – that he will have good health and a safe arrival. Pray for his preparation for the message, that it will be an encouragement to all.
Prayer – that all of us be committed to praying and looking to the Lord (Phil 4: 6-7). Pray against the efforts of the enemies.
Rejoice - that we may be joyous and rejoicing as we serve and reach out the community.
Chapel Summary Last week's chapel speaker was Mr Lim Chin Keng, BGST Council member and Prayer Director in the Fundraising Dinner Organizing Committee. As someone who worked in the banking industry for many years, and sensing current widespread fears among many people in the midst of the current financial 'meltdown' Keng perceptibly entitled his message as "Investment: Stocks or People?" Sometimes we are so consumed by things of everyday life that we forget about eternity. He spoke on the importance of investing our money in people (more sustainable assets) than in stocks and urged us to look beyond the present crisis. We were reminded that we are just guardians of what we now possess and enjoy. How are we going to escape from the current financial 'tsunami'? He suggested that simplifying our lifestyle would help. But more importantly, we need to trust, as the psalmist did, in the One who is "our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble" (Ps 46:1).(Dr Lee)
Chapel This Week Dr Philip Satterthwaite, our Acting Principal, will be giving a series of 5 sermons on Leviticus starting this week. Do join us!