Another year has flown by and we still cannot dine out as a family – thanks to all the safe management measures of this present pandemic we are in. Perhaps that’s why our Christmas photo looks the way it does. We may be arrested and fined for exceeding the number allowed for social groups – haha!
But seriously, in spite of all restrictions and inconveniences, we have much to celebrate and give thanks for. It would be too long to list (yes, even longer than Santa’s naughty list *grin*). As the worship song goes, we have more than 10,000 reasons to praise the Lord for He is so good and ever faithful.
Christmas celebrations may still be toned down this year but that does not stop us from remembering and celebrating the first coming of Jesus in our hearts. Amidst the doom and gloom, the Light of His coming and love shines even more brightly. At the same time, our present challenges remind us of the hope we have, one that points us toward the Day when Jesus will come again. How glorious that would be!
May the love, joy and peace of this Christmas season fill your hearts and homes as we together mark the birth of Jesus, the One who was sent to save us from our sins. This invitation and promise is freely available to all who would believe in Him and all He has done for you that you may receive from Him and all He has prepared for you, entirely by His grace.
From our family to yours… Happy, Merry, Blessed Christmas!
Henson & Serene with David, Sarah, Aaron, Esther, Ruth, Deborah Hope & Anna Joy
As much as we would like our children to be baptised, we are also keenly mindful that baptism is not to be treated lightly or ritualistically.
As one who was infant baptised as part of the Methodist system and tradition, I later discovered that I could not opt for baptism as an adult. The next step was ‘confirmation’. And so, after Serene’s baptism (as an adult new believer), we were both ‘confirmed’ and received into church membership together in November 1994.
Over the next years, learning more about the faith and gaining deeper understanding about baptism, I began to desire the experience of baptism – not just some water trickling down my head, but the full impact of being totally submerged in water and then to be raised up out of the depth again. However, that desire would remain a desire, for where I was at that point in time, there was no possibility of it ever becoming a reality. Simply, re-baptism was not allowed.
Thankfully, we serve a God who knows our deepest desires.
In 2003, the Lord led us from Wesley Methodist Church to Full Gospel Assembly Singapore. I had all but forgotten about this little desire in my heart until an announcement was made about baptism. I approached the senior pastor to check if I could be re-baptised and the answer was ‘yes’!
You may be wondering what the big deal is. I assure you, it is a big deal and we should make a big deal of every baptismal experience. I am so convinced that it is such an important milestone of our faith that I listed it as the first point of alignment check to rightly appropriate the work of Jesus on the Cross, reproduced in full hereunder:
Remember Your Baptism Your baptism is not merely a rite of passage to secure membership in a local church. Through baptism, you identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-6; Colossians 2:12-13). Through the Cross, the ‘old you’ died. And as Christ was raised, the ‘new you’ was raised with Him. We can say, as Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
When you remember your baptism, you remember all that has been transacted at the Cross, and all that has secured for you at the Cross. Go back to the Cross that you may move forward from the Cross. Remember this truth as you move on kingdom assignment. Don’t ever forget whose you are in Christ, who you are in Christ, and what you have in Christ!
Whilst I appreciate the notion of infant baptism, I do not subscribe to it today. Sure, the individual can ‘confirm’ his/her faith later. But to personally understand ‘death’, ‘burial’ and ‘resurrection’ with Jesus Christ through baptism is something I believe every believer should experience and remember.
Where our children are concerned, we have been careful not to put any pressure on their decision to be baptised. In each and every case, they have been the ones who have approached us, telling us that they are ready for baptism. Our part is to determine that they are indeed ready.
Each year, FGA Children’s Ministry conducts Blast Off! – a baptism class for 10-12 year olds, involving parents. After this series, we left it to Anna Joy, our youngest, to consider (no pressure, remember?). It took a while (for which we are thankful) before she finally said ‘yes’. In the days leading up to her baptism, we could see and sense the excitement in her. To the 10 year-old, it was “the big day” and “the special day”.
On 1 December 2019, Anna Joy was baptised, to the glory of God!
Thanks to FGA, I got to do the honours of baptising my own daughter. Whilst I enjoyed this privilege and my time in the baptismal tank with Anna Joy, this joy and honour must be shared with my wife. It is Serene who has spent much more time with Anna Joy, teaching and guiding her in the Word of God through the homeschooling journey. Serene and I are also very thankful to Uncle Sam and all the teachers of Spark Kids, for their love and attention showered upon every child.
Our hearts are full, now that each of our seven children has been baptised. That said, this does not mean that our job is done. It’s been 10 years since our oldest two were baptised; and we can all agree that whilst baptism is a major milestone, it is still only a milestone. It is the spiritual journey that is ongoing, where the rubber meets the road. Our part as parents is still to guide our children on this journey, and then to release them to walk with God on their own. We cannot walk the journey for them, but we pray that we will be worthy examples of what it means to love and serve Jesus.
We are so excited for Anna Joy as she begins a new phase of her relationship with Jesus. It was heartwarming too to see her older siblings stand with her and excited for her. (That’s the bonus of being the youngest, and being so cute.)
We love you, Anna Joy, and we are praying God’s best for you as you grow into all He has in store for you! You’ve been such a blessing and joy to us in the Lim Tribe. By His grace, and with His enablement, you will likewise be a blessing and joy to many, many others. Remember your baptism.
Aaron (16yo) was the first to respond. And then, to my pleasant surprise (since National Service leave is a limited and precious commodity), David (20yo) also asked to come along . Needless to say, I was very thankful to have them as a part of TEAM ARCHIPPUS.
Whilst Aaron assumed the role of team photographer, David’s role was not as clear. Very quickly, the Lord settled that for the young man.
At the first session of the seminar, I noticed that the worship team only comprised a keyboardist and a bassist. I asked Ptr Joel if David could help out on the drums. At the next session, and for the rest of the seminar, David was a part of the music team! It turned out that the musicians had earlier asked Ptr Joel if anyone from the Singapore team could play with them.
For the altar call, David requested not to pray for people but to support the ministry time through music. As TEAM ARCHIPPUS ministered through prayer, David ministered through music – playing the keyboards and singing over the people.
For the Saturday and Sunday services, David had the opportunity to share his song, “Worth Every Drop“, during Holy Communion. (Kidapawan City AG Church had been using this song for communion since last August.) We were all so blessed as the lyrics pointed us back to the Cross and how we, though unworthy, have all been made worthy by the Lord and His sacrifice.
With one son upfront, the other son worked quietly in the background. As photographer, Aaron moved about the hall unnoticed, capturing the happenings from different angles. If a picture speaks a thousand words, then Aaron declared the most and the loudest through his photos (view Facebook Album).
In between ministry sessions, both David and Aaron connected well with the youths of KCAG. They were readily welcomed and invited to join in the fellowship and games. As the older members of TEAM ARCHIPPUS returned to rest in the hotel, the two boys stayed on for lots more fun and food (balut!) with their new-found Filipino friends.
What are their own takeaways from the ministry trip?
David: “Every time I go to the Philippines and subsequently go home, I find myself wanting to go back, and this time was no different. I went on this trip wondering what I was going there for, and came back having had the most enjoyable weekend of my year so far. I’ve only known these people for three days, but it feels like I’ve known them my whole life. Singapore has so much to learn from the Philippines. And I have so much to learn from them as well.”
Aaron: “Knowing my Dad would be in need of a photographer for this trip to the Philippines, I decided to help out. When I arrived at the Philippines, I already had the assumption that this was going to be like any regular trip. It turns out that I was wrong. Unlike any other trip, I had the opportunity to interact with the Filipino youth in the church, and as we talked and played games, I was really blessed by them. And when I watched the whole church worship, I could see they were doing it with all their heart. I have really been blessed by them and I do not regret coming at all!”
What can I say? I am so proud of my two sons! And I am so thankful for the opportunity to be on kingdom assignment together with them. May the Lord use this experience to guide and direct them into all He has prepared for them.
In October 2013, Ashley Madison tried to enter the Singapore market. Even when Mr Chan Chun Sing, then Minister for Social and Family Development, spoke against it, the openly adulterous website pressed on with its intended launch. Finally, thankfully, Ashley Madison was blocked. But was that the end of it?
I believe we will see more of Ashley Madison, or the likes of it.
Four years later, the likes of Ashley Madison has surfaced … in TheSugarbook.
Unlike Ashley Madison, TheSugarBook does not openly promote extra-marital affairs, but “a safe and discreet networking environment online”* for rich men seeking young girls, and vice versa. But, like Ashley Madison, it encourages hooking up for all the wrong reasons with absolutely no regard for its consequences.
One would have expected the government to act as it did in the case of Ashley Madison. However, whilst Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee says that the government “collectively objects” to such sites that “commoditise and devalue” relationships, they are not moving to block it at all. Instead, he says that “[t]he police will ‘keep a close eye’ on money-for-love dating platform The SugarBook as well as the individuals using its services, and will take enforcement action should there be any procurement of sexual services for payment”. Police will keep ‘close eye’ on dating platforms like TheSugarBook: Desmond Lee
It seems that the concern is more about illegal prostitution than it is about fornication, adultery, the demeaning of women, the hurting of young women’s lives, and the destruction of marriages, families and relationships.
As Christians, we cannot and must not stay silent for we have been appointed to preserve society as salt and to shine the way of righteousness as light. We must take a stand, and at times, this calls for us to speak up and speak out against such decadent practices. This is not the time for apathy or nonchalance.
At the same time, we must protect our own marriages and families for these are under tremendous attack like never before. We must not presume that things are ok between husband and wife but instead work at strengthening and building the marital relationship. And lest you think children in Christian households are exempted from such negative influences, think again! By the time you realise that theirs is a totally different environment from what we grew up in, it might just be too late. The discipling of our children has taken on a new level of urgency. And as parents, that responsibility is squarely ours (and not the children or youth ministry’s)!
Whilst I understand the reason for not blocking TheSugarDaddy, I cannot say that I agree with it entirely. As far as I am concerned, Ashley Madison and TheSugarDaddy both fall into the same category. Presently, there are more than 20,000 Singapore users (out of 75,000 so far – the target is 200,000 by June 2018). In my opinion, there should not even have been a question at all whether to block it or not.
That said, it is far too easy to expect the government to think and act on our behalf. And should anything go wrong, we just point a finger to blame. To this end, let us must not miss Mr Desmond Lee’s extremely clear signal: “At the end of the day, while we recognise that these websites undermine families and society, our best defence is for society, communities and our families to reinforce values that anchor us so that we do not succumb to such influences.”
In other words, the responsibility is squarely ours. Don’t pass the buck. When all is said and done, we make our own decisions and choices. And we must be prepared to live with the consequences of how and what we have chosen.
Sugar daddies have been around for the longest time. This is not a new thing at all. With or without TheSugarBook, these transactional relationships will continue to exist. Yet, however sweet the deal may appear to be, we must be reminded that, more and more, sugar has been identified as a major cause of ill-health, cancers and death. Yes, sugar kills.
And so …
To the young women of Singapore: You are wonderfully made, precious and loved by God the Father. You never ever need to trade your dignity and bodies for romance, attention, fame or money.
To the rich and wealthy men with lots to spare: If you really want to help younger women with financial needs, there are many other ways to do this without making use of their situation to fulfil your fantasies.
To marriages and families: Remain strong and resilient against the threats of the pressures and challenges of today’s world.
And especially to all hubbies and daddies (and that includes me too): Love your wives and daughters.
Yesterday, Sunday 29 October 2017, our 6th child, Deborah Hope was baptised at Full Gospel Assembly. (And yours truly got to go the honours. *beam*)
After going through a series of teachings about baptism by FGA‘s children’s ministry, the 10 year old felt that she was ready to openly declare her faith in Jesus Christ. Needless to say, both Serene and I were very pleased, encouraged and thankful (praise the Lord!).
Being in full-time ministry, we have always tried our best not to put any pressure on the children where their own faith journey is concerned. Whilst we accept the responsibility as Christian parents to guide and lead them in the faith, we are also mindful not to over step our boundaries so that their relationship with Jesus is personal and real for themselves. As much as we’d love to see them baptised, we also do not want to rush them into this significant event prematurely.
As a pastor previously, I had the privilege of baptising David & Sarah in 2009, and Aaron & Esther in 2013. However, after I stepped down from my pastoral position, I did not get to baptise Ruth in 2014. No more a formal minister, I thought my baptising days were over (at least in a formal church setting). To my pleasant surprise, I found out that FGA encouraged parents to baptise their own children, and then to pray a blessing over them after they came out of the water. Yay!
In preparation for her baptism, we helped Deborah script her video testimony. Credit goes to Serene, who did a great job! I would have over-complicated the entire process whilst ensuring she was both biblically and theologically sound – haha!
On the day of baptism, Deborah Hope was so excited, beaming from ear to ear. She had such a glow on her face.
In the baptism pool (tank), Senior Pastor Rhordan Wicks asked her a few questions and Deborah confidently declared the certainty of her faith in Jesus Christ and her decision to be baptised. After that, I baptised my daughter and then proceeded to prophetically declare the Lord’s goodness and plans into her life.
As with the other five, Serene and I experienced great joy at Deborah’s baptism. We continue to pray for the Lord to lead her forward as she grows and matures in the things of the kingdom!
I consider these as bring-your-children-to-work opportunities where they get to see daddy in action. Yet, more than just show them what I do and how hardworking I am (haha!), my silent prayer is that they may better understand what it means to serve the Lord and His people across different congregations and settings.
By the time we made the trip to Bandung, Team Archippus had grown to be a huge group of 24! Honestly, I was a little concerned, having to manage the team, preach and teach, and still look after my kids. I am pleased to say that that concern was totally unnecessary.
From start to end, the three teenagers were just fine on their own. In Archippian lingo, they each fulfilled their assignments really well. As the team’s photographer, Aaron snapped away, doing his best to capture the right shots and angles. [Check out the photos on our Facebook Page] Sarah sang as part of the team that led worship on Saturday. Esther was assigned as projectionist. But since that was taken care of by the church, she didn’t have much to do. Even so, she remained on standby. And when called upon to help me set up the computer and presentation one evening, she completed that task without hesitation.
What warmed my heart most was during the time of response. After our Indonesian brothers and sisters had presented themselves upfront, I invited the Singapore team to pray for them. To my surprise, I saw Sarah and Esther step forward with the rest of Team Archippus. They then proceeded to minister and to pray for the people.
Needless to say, I am so proud of them! These may not have been huge tasks but it warmed my heart to see them moving faithfully in the small things. May the Lord use these exposures as building blocks in their own personal journeys as they seek to one day discover what He has in store for them.
33 years ago, I enlisted for National Service, a requirement for all Singapore boys. 33 years later, I was bound for Pulau Tekong once more. This time, to accompany my eldest son, David, for his enlistment.
No commando jetty. No RPL. No bumboats. Instead, it was a shuttle from Pasir Ris Bus Interchange to the SAF Changi Ferry Terminal where we boarded a ferry together with other enlistees and their loved ones.
Everything looked and felt different but it didn’t stop the memories from flooding back.
What to me was Infantry Training Depot (ITD) is today Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC). Next to a little old wooden jetty is today a well laid out ferry terminal. Hearing so much of how BMT is much easier these days, it did feel as if we arrived at Club Med Tekong – haha!
Upon arrival, the boys went off for their briefing and the rest of us were taken for our “PR” orientation and tour. We were shown a typical company line, section bunks, and assured that our sons would be very well taken care of.
At times, my mind would wander off to how it was for me as a recruit in Tekong; and later, as a platoon commander when I was posted back to ITD. Looking at the officers and section commanders, I couldn’t help thinking, “They look so young!” That must have been how I looked then too! And we moved and talked as if we knew so much about combat and warfare.
Remembering my army days did cause me to wonder how my son would fare in this new environment. As a homeschooler, this would be David’s very first exposure to different people of different backgrounds, culture, faiths, values and language. Other than youth or children’s camps, he has never been away from home for such a long stretch of time. I began to miss him already.
Later, we assembled in the auditorium for the Commanding Officer’s address – more assurance that our sons would be well looked after. I think the most important slide for all was the one that showed the Book Out Date after confinement, and the Graduation Ceremony.
What followed was the sampling of a cookhouse meal. Gone are the days of metal trays, half-cooked rice, rubber-band bee hoon and a measly piece of meat or fish. Our plates were stacked with a generous helping of rice, a huge piece of chicken leg/thigh, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, soup with mango jelly for dessert.
All too soon, the announcement came for the boys to “fall-in” at the parade square. We said our goodbyes as David joined his new-found company mates. Soon after, they marched, er, walked off, to be transported to their company line.
I know that it is usually the mothers who cry when they see their baby boys enlist for National Service. Well, I must admit that there were times I felt rather emotional that afternoon, realising how time had just flown by. One day, David was born. And in a flash – 18 years – we were releasing him into the next phase of his life. Then again, it also seemed like just yesterday when I was charging up Botak Hill, running down 300m range, digging a trench through the night, and singing silly songs on our runs.
33 years ago, in my Temasek Green No. 4. Can’t wait to see David when he books out, for the first time after confinement, in his pixelated camouflage uniform.
I couldn’t resist snapping this picture of my youngest, Anna Joy, at her desk.
The seven year-old is usually the first to get up each day. And without fail, like clockwork, she washes up, dresses up and starts her homeschool schedule. Yes, all by herself.
Serene and I have been asked many times how homeschooling is like. Is it all about freedom, being able to do what we want, when we want? Well, to a certain extent, we do enjoy that latitude. However, school is still school. And all learning, in whatever form, requires discipline.
Anna Joy has grown up in this environment of homeschooling all her life. Having watched her older siblings go about their routines, she began to establish one of her own too. Each day, in the Lim Tribe household, that’s pretty much the scene. Every child knows what he or she needs to accomplish, and each can be found at their own workstations, diligently completing what has been assigned. That doesn’t mean everything runs perfectly. Once in a while, you will still hear Serene’s voice ring out, “[insert name], you still owe me lesson number …!”
As I observed Anna Joy that morning, I couldn’t help but beam a little as a proud daddy. Yet, more than just a father who is pleased with the development of his children, my heart was filled with gratitude for a very hardworking wife and mother in Serene. To be sure, there has been much pain and sacrifice along this journey of homeschooling. Many tears too. And you can also add frustration and anxiety to the list. No one sees these at all. At times (and there have been many), even I miss the tremendous load that Serene carries, neglecting to be there with and for her, causing the journey to be a lot more difficult than it already is.
This picture of Anna Joy brings a smile to my face. In a while, the other workstations would fill up, one by one. Yes, it’s a lovely sight to behold. No, it didn’t happen by chance, or that we were somehow blessed with perfect, sinless, super-obedient children. It took diligence and discipline, a lot of hard work with consistency over the years. And a whole lot of GOD as we experienced His strength and grace over and over again.
An award-winning shot this is not. But it has caused me to pause, to reflect and to give thanks. I am so proud of Serene. I am so proud of each of our seven children. Thank you, dear Lord, for these awesome blessings You have allowed in my life!
Over the weekend, I had the joy of having Aaron and Esther (our 3rd & 4th) serve alongside me at Archippus Awakening‘s very own Awakening Event, AWE2016. Whilst many think this is only natural for a pastor’s or a minister’s children, I do not take this for granted at all. No, not for one moment.
To be clear, my children have, on many occasions, accompanied me on my various ministry engagements at camps, retreats, meetings and church services. Each and every time, I am very thankful to have them with me, but I do not expect that to be so, as if it is a mandatory requirement for the Lim Tribe. Of course, there are times when Serene and I make a collective decision for the entire family to be present. Then again, there are also times where we ask the children if they’d like to be involved.
And that was the case for AWE2016. David and Sarah (our 1st & 2nd) were unable to join us, and Aaron and Esther said “yes”. Aaron was promptly assigned to man the sound board and Esther would look after the projection needs. It was really wonderful to see them readily assume their responsibilities without fuss or complaint.
The moment we reached the hotel, they took to their stations to set up whatever needed to be set up. Throughout the event, they did what was required, and gamely took on whatever else came about, whether planned or unplanned. Whatever they were unsure about, they simply learnt it along the way, on the job!
Being a part of the technical team also meant having to be present earlier than others, which also meant eating faster and having to wake up earlier in the mornings for the Kingdom Prayer Initiatives. Aaron also took on the additional role of photographer, which saw him shuttling from the sound board to moving about the room to capture the best shots.
I watched and observed them with much pride and joy. Young as they are (14 & 13), they understood what it meant to serve with and alongside their dad, contributing to a greater purpose of God’s kingdom. And I dare say they gave and did their very best.
This episode also gave me a deeper appreciation of what it must mean to our heavenly Father when we give of ourselves to align with His plans and purposes. Consider this: If I can experience the joy of having my children support me in my assignment, imagine the joy in God’s heart when we readily, obediently, and gladly do the Father’s Will!