Serene’s Testimony at CVCC

This morning, at Covenant Vision Christian Church, Serene shared her testimony of God’s healing. In her own words, she struggled with whether it was the right time since her skin is still not fully cleared of eczema and she still has itchy bouts once in a while. But after reviewing the photos she had taken along the way, and seeing how her skin was then and how it is now, she felt convicted to share A Story in Pictures of God’s goodness and healing mercies so that Jesus would receive all glory and honour!

After her sharing, Rev Francis and Rev Wilfred prayed for her. It was a bold step of faith for Serene to share the photos and her journey thus far. I believe her faith will position her to receive complete and total healing and restoration for her condition to the glory of God!

To all who have prayed for Serene (and still praying for her), thank you!!! We deeply appreciate your standing in agreement with us.

Big Family a Good Testimony? Think again.

When our family was featured in the ST article “More Grad Mums Having Big Families” on 25 Dec 2010, we received many encouraging SMSes and emails from brothers and sisters in Christ.  These comments included how we are a good testimony of a Christian family that brings glory to God and how wonderful our family declares the faithfulness of God through His provision in a money-conscious society (one of the key reasons why Singaporeans refuse to have more children).  Others saw it as a boost for Christians and Christianity, that we scored a few more points for God 🙂

When we agreed to giving a few comments for the article, we didn’t know that our family would be featured as the main photo.

Whilst it’s always nice to be affirmed and encouraged, we must realise that these are seen largely from a Christian perspective with a Christian mindset.  We automatically presume and assume that this would be impressive to the world.  Well, I happen to stumble onto a forum that discussed this article.  Have a look at what some really think about pastors, stay-at-home mothers, big families and Christians in general …

“just read today’s newspapers about a pastor………..Henson Lim………..have 7 kids and wife not working some more…………. so just how much is salary for a pastor ??? or does it depend on how many kids he has ??? like that…………all grads should try to be a pastor………….how many grads can afford 7 kids and a housewife ???”

“who else supprt them? the believers loh. so dumb of them”

“i know a pastor is also a job…………..apparently it’s a super high pay job……………have a dozen kids…………wife not working………………a bunch of goons supporting the whole family thru monthly tithes……………what a dream life………………..getting high pay by nagging at people and telling fairy-tales………!”

“i forgot about how they would need 2 minivans just to go out……….!!! so clueless brain-dead church-goers give money to feed ………a bullshit pastor ……his lazy wife………..7 brats……….and 2 minivans…………”

“so this pastor with housewife and 7 kids are really freeloaders, i think. pastor should not have so many kids since church-goers are supporting them !”

“Wife a shameless freeloader too. She can say take care of kids, but should she support herself or not?”

I must confess that when I first read these comments, it was not a nice feeling at all.  OK, I was offended and a tad angry.  Guess I wasn’t prepared for something like that, given all the positive pats on the back I had received from church members and friends.  Then again, should we expect any less, or more?  Do we expect them to come to God just because we have 7 children in tow?  Or that we have a God who blesses us financially and materially (an attractive option to some)?  That’s what we think, don’t we?

And even if we live right before the Lord, according to His Word, desiring to be the best testimonies to His name and goodness, we may still not be received at such.  On the contrary, as it has been shown, we can be misunderstood and maligned.  This should not come as a surprise at all.  Jesus was the only perfect man who walked on this earth and they did not appreciate His testimony at all.  He told His disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own.  Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” John 15:18-20

Indeed, we are not of this world at all.  To the world, a big family is unthinkable.  To the world, a woman who stays at home is lazy and incapable.  To the world, a stay-at-home mother and a big family means a huge household income.  And since the man is a pastor, and religious types should be poor, this pastor must have deceived his flock.  After all, to the world, these believers are weak and dumb, needing a religious and spiritual crutch, and that is why they are so easily convinced and misled by their pastors.  To the world, they just can’t believe that all we have and enjoy is really possible with God.  To the world, they cannot fathom nor understand what it means to have life, and to have it to the fullest (John 10:10b).  And so, they react and respond as they do with mean, hateful and hurtful words.

I am thankful for this little lesson.  And also thankful that these are only harmless statements.  I may have felt a little upset for myself, my wife and my family.  But I am reminded that this is nothing compared to what the Lord Jesus has done for us.  The world didn’t stop at harmless words with Jesus but executed Him with the words, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”  Many other Christian brothers and sisters face this same plight for the sake of Jesus.  Truly, this is nothing.  As we live for Him, may we continue to bring Him glory, come what may.

Be Real: Share Victories As Well As Struggles

I have no problems with testimonies.  In fact, I encourage as many to share their victories and breakthroughs that God may be exalted and glorified.  That said, there is a flip side to these glory stories.  As much as they bring hope, the opposite can also happen.  For someone going through a tough moment, who has been holding on for the longest time, another such account could well be the proverbial “straw that breaks the camel’s back”.  Quite possibly, doubt can enter and condemnation take over … why only them? why not me?  have I sinned?  did I not exercise faith? is my faith not strong enough? good enough?

That’s one of the reasons I set up this blog – so that I can be real and share testimonies that are balanced.  By that, I refer to testimonies that have positive outcomes (answered prayers, healings, provisions, blessings, etc) as well as those that appear negative (struggles, frustrations, failures, challenges, moments of aloneness, etc) but are actually positive when viewed with the right biblical perspective (hope in God, joy in His presence, resting in His sovereignty, etc).

My opinion is that we have too many of the former and too few of the latter.  As a result, sometimes, we Christians don’t appear real at all.  For example, you may feel like screaming or crying but you hold back because it is not considered Christian.  After all, aren’t Christians supposed to be meek, gentle and always in control?  Oh please, let’s get real!

In sharing my journey as a minister, a husband and a parent, I want to be as real as I possibly can be.  I’m no super-spiritual saint – God knows! – my wife and children know that too 🙂  I am just a regular guy.  I want to identify with the struggles of others and for them to identify with mine too.  I believe that in these, provided I strive to live in accordance to His Word and principles, God is also exalted and glorified!  And have I achieved this?  I think so – judging from the following two email statements*:

“Glad to have read your blog and finally saw that what we’ve experienced isn’t unique, that God didn’t play a cruel joke on us, but even yourself & Serene have struggles too.”

“Until recently, I had the impression all godly people and their family were blessed and spared of this, and how much of a sinner I am, ever deserving of punishment and worthy of endless toil. Your personal journey and testimony has proved me wrong, maybe the word “bless” needs a change in definition for me.”

In all I do or say, I want to bring encouragement to people, not condemnation.  I don’t want anyone to think that I am above anyone, or they beneath me, spiritually or otherwise.  We are all on the same spiritual journey, with similar challenges and struggles.  If not for the grace of God in our lives, where would we be?  May we continue to spur one another on by being real in every way.

* The writer decided to email me only after reading “F.F.F.F.“, “All in a Day’s Work” and “Whatever You Do“.  I am sure he doesn’t mind me quoting him that more can be encouraged and set free to be real for Jesus Christ.