TheSugarBook: It’s Time To Say “NO” Again!

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?

Back then, I wrote in “Ashley Madison in Singapore: When Even Negative Publicity Is Great Publicity“:

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.

Screen Shot of TheSugarBook website

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.

*Wong Pei Ting: Dodgy messages and brazen requests: My 72 hours on TheSugarBook

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.

My position remains the same as when I commented about the threat of Ashley Madison four years ago:

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)!

I am thankful and encouraged by those like Darius Lee who engage the public space, speaking up for what is right: Concept of ‘sugar baby’ misogynistic, demeaning towards women

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.

Say “NO” to TheSugarBook.

 

 

 

 

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The Lim Tribe on Kingdom Assignment in Bandung

First, it was church camps (The Lim Tribe: Serving the Lord Together). And then, KINGDOM101 Teachings and Awakening Events (The Joy Of Having My Children Serve Alongside Me). Whatever the platform, I am always thankful when my children can join me in the work of the ministry.

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.

Not all work. Also time for some fun and bonding.

This year, a new opportunity was presented – an Archippus Awakening ministry trip to Bandung, Indonesia 17-21 August. [Read Report: A Humble Beginning in GSJA Merdeka. A Great Awakening in Indonesia.] I shared this with the older ones to see which would like to be a part of this assignment – no obligations. Sarah (17yo), Aaron (15yo) and Esther (14yo) opted in.

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.

Well done, Sarah, Aaron and Esther!

Truly, it is a joy to have a children serve alongside me that we may be on kingdom assignment together. All praise and thanks to the Lord!

What has 38 Oxley Road got to do with the Church?

Our Little Red Dot has caught the world’s attention again.

However, this time, it is not for something Singaporeans can say we are proud of. Yes, I am referring to the recent family feud involving the Lee siblings concerning 38 Oxley Road.

As I considered the exchanges across the numerous platforms, this question popped into my heart: “What about the Church?”

The Church of Jesus Christ is both the family and the house of God. Everyone agrees that Church is not a building or a place we go to, but the people of God. But when it comes to executing the Father’s will, not everyone is in agreement how Church is to be.

There are the same accusations of power play, over reliance on an institution, over dependence on one prominent personality, and the pushing of personal agendas. Some say that we must demolish the establishment, others shout a vehement ‘No!’, whilst others are willing to consider options along the spectrum. And so, the siblings in Christ continue to squabble over what to do with the house, taking to social media to air our views with articles, videos, memes and hashtags.

Meanwhile, as the world watched the Lee saga unfold, the world is also watching the Church. As the Lee siblings risked tarnishing the name of their father and Singapore’s founding father, might we be doing the same to the Name of our Heavenly Father when we fight against one another?

I have had a heavy ministry schedule over the past two months. Four church camps in June. Launched Archippus Awakening’s pilot mentoring aligning process on 1 July. KINGDOM101 resumed last Wednesday 5 July. On Sunday, I preached at two churches. In between the services, I found myself missing Serene and children dearly. The family has been so supportive, never complaining whenever the work of the ministry takes me away from them. That afternoon, I had a deep yearning to be with them. Thankfully, no one had any appointment that night (can’t presume these days with teenagers) and the Lim Tribe went out for dinner.

Exhausted from teaching and preaching, I didn’t talk very much. Just being with Serene and the children was enough for me. Over dinner, around the table, the children engaged with each other. They talked, they teased one another, they laughed together. Half the time, in the noisy restaurant, I couldn’t make out what they were talking about. But it didn’t matter one bit. My heart was filled with joy just watching them interact with one another.I thought to myself, “This must be how our Heavenly Father feels when He sees His children loving one another and enjoying each other’s company.” I know I felt it that night, and it felt really good. My prayer is that the Lim siblings will continue in this love and friendship with one another, come what may. In John 17, Jesus prayed for believers, siblings in Christ, to be one. For sure, this would please our Father in heaven.

Thankfully, the Lee siblings have agreed to take things offline so that what is family can be kept within the family. This will benefit a far bigger cause, that the Prime Minister and his government will not be distracted to do what they have been elected to do – govern Singapore through these challenging times. After all, it’s not just 38 Oxley Road but the greater house of Singapore that Singaporeans must be concerned with.

Perhaps the Church – the elect of God – can learn from this episode. Would we, the family and house of God, be willing to set aside differences for the greater cause of the kingdom of God? Sure, the house must be set in order, and that we must do. But there is a much larger picture of the kingdom of God that will require brothers and sisters in Christ to stand together.

Personal, ministry and denominational agendas cannot be the order of the day. It has been, and it will always be, about the Father’s will, is it not?

These thoughts were first shared in Henson’s July 2017 Newsletter. To receive One Day At A Time newsletter updates directly in your mailbox, subscribe here.

The Joy Of Having My Children Serve Alongside Me

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

Family Break at Club Med Bintan

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I can’t believe I didn’t blog about our little break to Club Med Bintan last year. Instead, I merely featured the photos in our November 2013 newsletter.

Well, this year, in deciding on a break for the Lim Tribe, we decided on Club Med Bintan again. The location is near enough and there are activities for our entire range of children. And best of all, it’s buffet after buffet so we don’t need to think about what to order or where to go for meals. When it’s time to eat, we simply grab the plates and load ’em up!

One year later, the four older ones were fairly independent and spent most of their time with the Teens Club. They made friends and enjoyed the various activities around Club Med – trapeze, kayaking, beach games, archery, table-tennis. Serene and I spent our time with the three younger ones – mostly at the pool and the beach. I managed to get in a session of squash with Aaron; and even went for a short mountain bike ride with David.

I had just recovered from a bad bout of flu so it took me a while to adjust and to settle in. Physically, I was very tired and drained. Emotionally and mentally, admittedly, my mind kept straying, thinking of the message I had to prepare and preach the moment I got back to Singapore. And a few days later, I would fly off to Kidapawan City, Philippines, to speak at a Prayer and Leadership Conference. Yes, that means at least another five messages to pin down. Even so, it was good that I was ‘forced’ to do nothing. It was not easy at all but it was definitely needful. My body and mind sure needed the rest and space. Unfortunately, by the time I finally settled down, it was time to head home and back to the grind of the work of ministry.

I’ve learnt my lesson though. The next time we plan a family break, it’s best not to schedule anything so closely after the break. Well, it’s easier said than done; especially when there is much development work to be done for a new ministry like Archippus Awakening and for one in itinerant ministry. Still, it’s a good reminder and consideration to keep in mind. It’s one thing to simply do it for the family and totally another to be there for them. I must confess the little momentary lapses. But as I look back, it was time and money well spent with my wife and children.

Club Med Cherating next?

Turning 50: Simple and quiet but no less significant

 

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The BIG 5-0. I guess it’s a milestone of sorts and one that should be marked and observed. It is, after all, a celebration of having lived life for half a century. Surely, it deserves more attention than the usual, annual birthday routines.

I believe it was March last year, at 48 years old, that the reality of turning 50 dawned upon me. Instinctively, the idea of staging a mini-concert crossed my mind. Yes, I would gather my friends who would also turn 50 in the same year and we would put together a little show to the glory of God! That seemed like a good idea but the Lord had other plans for me.

Quite soon after my 49th birthday, as I entered my 50th year, God began to reveal the next steps. Just over a month later, the instruction came for me cross over into new ground. That meant stepping down as a pastor of CVCC; and later, as dean of CVSOM. From what seemed like a safe and secure ministry track, I was taken back to square one – stepping out again and not knowing where I am to go! In my year of Jubilee, the Lord wasted no time in hitting the RESET button. Thankfully, by His grace, the next assignment in Archippus Awakening was shown clearly to me on 27 Oct 2013. With this seed planted in the womb of my spirit, I carried this baby over the next 40 weeks before holding a prophetic event to mark the birth of Archippus Awakening on 3 Aug 2014. With all the attention and focus on this new assignment, there was simply no time to think about how I should celebrate my 50th birthday.

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Triple Three treat!

And so, two days ago, on 24 August 2014, yours truly turned 50, by the grace of God. At the stroke of midnight, my wife whispered, “Happy Birthday.” When the children got up that morning, still bleary-eyed, they headed straight to my room and wished me with a big kiss and a big hug, “Happy Birthday, Daddy!” We went to church and then got home to open the cards and presents that each had specially prepared with love.That night, we treated ourselves to a scrumptious buffet spread – just our family, together with my parents and aunt. We didn’t even have a birthday cake but that suited me just fine. Five big candles would have been nice but nothing could have replaced the glow and warmth of my family. Yes, it was a very simple and quiet affair but no less significant. I was happy to have spent it in that way with the ones I love and cherish deeply.

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With Helena and her children at Starz, Hard Rock Hotel, Sentosa.
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With Archippus Awakening intercessors.

That day might have been spent very simply but I must also acknowledge the others who remembered and celebrated with me both before and after. It was especially meaningful to have had an earlier joint birthday dinner with my sister (another August baby) and her children when they were back in Singapore. My Diploma students blessed me with a blueberry cheesecake when we gathered for class last Thursday. On Saturday, the Archippus Awakening Prayer Team came to my place for intercession and we ended with fellowship and a blackforest cake – another favourite of mine! Of course, thanks to the Facebook community, I received so many well wishes and prayers online. And last evening, our haverim (group of disciples) surprised me, collaborating with Serene to drop by for dinner and another little celebration!

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Blessed with a blueberry cheesecake from Hilton Hotel by CVSOM Diploma students.
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Must teach these disciples never to shout “SURPRISE!!!” so loudly at a 50 year old man.

Fifty years old. Five decades of having experienced God’s grace. In this new season, it is clear that there are new things to learn and new mountains to conquer. The race has begun and the work has already started. I am glad that there was no big birthday bash but just a simple marking of a milestone and a consciousness of having entered into the next decade of life, one that must be lived entirely for the glory of God through the fulfilment of my assignment in Archippus Awakening.

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And the word for this new season? … “No eye has seen , no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Cor 2:9 In other words, although I have lived 50 years, although I have tasted the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness, although I have experienced His power and provision … I ain’t seen nothin’ yet! AMEN!

The Birth Control Mindset: Anti-Abortion Is Not Necessarily Pro-Life

Picture taken from Generation Cedar's website www.generation cedar.com
Picture taken from Generation Cedar’s website http://www.generationcedar.com

This morning, my wife posted the article “The Connection Between Birth Control & Abortion: Is the Church Really Pro-Life?” on Facebook with the comment: Food for Thought. I read it and decided it was good enough, provocative too, for a re-post or a share on my own wall. In it, the writer addresses “the birth control mindset” very well (and before you jump to any conclusions or defence, please read the article first to fully appreciate the writer’s distinction and definition of such a mindset).

“Hear what I said: “the birth control mindset.” This is a very important distinction. I am not saying, nor have I ever said, it is a sin to use birth control or that a Christian can not, upon careful prayer and discernment, space children. It’s not a discussion about specific circumstances, or sick mamas or hard pregnancies.

The “birth control mindset” is one that treats new life too lightly, fails to give proper authority to the Creator, assumes absolute control over fertility and consequently establishes (either consciously or not) that the idea of “normal” family size is two or three children.

The birth control mindset inadvertently becomes hostile to the practice of forgoing birth control. And herein lies a great problem.”

Indeed, just because Christians are against abortion doesn’t necessarily mean that they are pro-life. On the one hand, the Church speaks out boldly for the protection of life for the unborn, yet on the other, advocate and practise the prevention of life for the yet to be conceived too. The birth control mindset has become a way of life in today’s world, even for Christians, usually rationalising and justifying it as a responsible act. Or to sound more spiritual, that they are not called (?) to have many children.

So does this mean that we who have grappled with this birth control mindset just cannot wait to have more children? I know of some couples who are like that, but that’s not us. We have been asked many times before, “Do you want more children?”, a typical large family FAQ. Well, the answer I give is, “I am happy with the number I have at the moment.” And that has been the answer since we decided to let God plan our family size some years ago. Let’s be honest. Raising children is tiring and calls for many sacrifices. If I had my way, I would do what many have done … STOP. But the truth is, we have chosen to let God have His way in our family, and that means being willing to submit to His plans, regardless the number.

Now, I know that sounds very commendable and full of faith. But do not be deceived 🙂 Each time we found out we were expecting another, let me say that it was not without anxiety or concern. We had to keep reminding ourselves, and still do, that if God has chosen to bless us with a child, He would be faithful to enable us to care for and to provide for this child too.

And so, we have seven lovely children today. I said lovely, not perfect. Is it easy by any means? You’ve got to be joking! Just read some of my parenting posts (rants!) and you will see that we have exactly the same challenges as anyone else, if not more (multiplied by seven, of course)! And for the record, it is not funny when people jokingly pop questions like, “So are you going to stop?” or “Is No.8 on the way?” or “Have twelve la, like Jacob!” Firstly, it really is none of your business. Next, since I do not have two wives and two maids, like Jacob, don’t compare me with the biblical patriarch. And finally, in case you didn’t know, you really should be asking, “Is No.11 on the way?” Yes, unfortunately, Serene has suffered three miscarriages, one in 2007 before Anna Joy (our youngest), and two after in 2012. As such, in God’s books and ours, it’s ten and we are looking forward to the day we get to meet our other three children 🙂 But I digress…

So, back to the question, “Is the Church really pro-life?” Well, on the surface, it appears so. But from real-life, on-the-ground interactions with both clergy and laity, our birth control mindsets are sadly not much different from the world.

Oh, and as expected, as at the point of publishing this post, my Facebook share only garnered one LIKE … from a single male.