Clueless. I think that is how I would describe myself from 8 years ago. Other than being remotely skilled in playing computer games & the guitar, and knowing how to study, I don’t think I knew much about anything else. It never crossed my mind that I was gifted, even though God has blessed each and every single one of us with unique talents.
I was just an ordinary boy, but in Heart of God Church, I was given countless opportunities to discover my gifts and be trained in my abilities. When I was 17 years-old, I joined the Videos Ministry. I had 100% interest in making videos and 0% skills to properly do so. Yet instead of being placed somewhere else where I could serve immediately, I was trained from scratch by the leaders and more experienced crew in the ministry.
From knowing nothing about Photoshop, After Effects & Premiere Pro, I went on to be part of big video productions in church. And that is only one example of how people invested their time, energy and heart in me. If I were to describe every little and big thing they did just to encourage me and build me, this open letter will never end.
I never saw myself as someone who can be creative and bold or even as someone who can make a difference in people’s lives. But my pastors and leaders saw beyond the young kid I was and believed in me. Even as I grew older (and am still ordinary), they continued believing in my dreams.
That is why today, I can do the things I do – making videos, writing, giving Bible study lessons, preaching in Connect Groups, and just leading people closer to God in general. If God had not led me to Heart of God Church, where Pastor How & Pastor Lia have built an entire culture around “making the dreams of others come true” and “using the church to build people”, I would never have known I could do all those things or make an impact in the lives of others.
I really believe that is why Christians should always worship God and honor their pastors and leaders. God deserves our worship, and He is the only one worthy of it; there is no being in this universe stronger, higher, greater than Him, yet He cares for us so much to engineer circumstances where we can meet and have a relationship with Him. We should also honor Him in all areas of our lives. As for our pastors – while we do not worship men, we certainly should give them honor.
Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.1 Timothy 5:17 (NKJV)
It is a biblical principle we ought to apply in our lives. More than just preaching to us on stage, my pastors have spent two decades building the church and people off stage. In fact, Pastor How & Pastor Lia did so for 21 years without a real, proper sabbatical. I think the least we can do is honor people like them, who are not just pastors but spiritual parents to us.
That is the main reason why I wrote this open letter. It is to honor the God, the church and the people who have changed my life so much. More than just being equipped with multiple skills, I am more grateful for having grown in my character and my heart. Because to me, that is what it means to become Christians. That is what following Christ and being His children means.
What it means to Become
Becoming a Christian is less about being skilled and multi-talented, and more about having great character. Of course, we can and should have both character and abilities so that we can serve God excellently. But being a part of Heart of God Church and seeing how my pastors lead people has taught me what it truly means to become. At the end of the day, if my pastors or leaders had to make an ultimate choice between building a person’s character or abilities – character will always come first. It is simply more important. When our character is at the right place, everything else (our abilities, skills, talents) will fall into place.
I love my friends at Heart of God Church so much because they are people of great talents, and people of even greater character. They have what I would describe as both “the hands & the heart of ministry.” People do not see Christ in us just by our charisma alone. They see Christ in our character. Who cares if we are awesome at dancing, singing, public speaking – but our hearts are inward-looking and far away from God?
So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.Psalm 78:72 (NKJV)
As I was writing this letter, I just can’t help but thank God again & again. He did not just give me a purpose & meaning in life, He changed me for the better through His Word and His people.
Looking back, I think I’ve grown in a few ways. First of all, I have definitely become a little more patient and accepting of people’s imperfections, haha. Because Christ and my friends in church first accepted me for who I am, I now know to do the same for others. No one is perfect, and we all need Jesus!
On a similar note, another phrase you would hear often in our church is “Build bridges, not walls.” More than just being accepting of people who come to church, we also work towards the acceptance and understanding of other ethnic and religious groups in our local community. For me personally, I just think it’s a real privilege to live in racial & religious harmony in Singapore. We should continue to protect that and build bridges with our community.
What else? I think I have also become a person who is more joyful. Does that mean I don’t have problems? No! It just means my problems don’t have me. Even in the worst of days when I have nothing to praise, I can still praise Him. Jesus still loves me. He is still with me and for me. Now, the source of my joy is no longer my circumstances, but His presence! With Him, I can have true joy from the inside out.
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)
With God and my friends, I have also grown to become a person of faith and boldness. I never imagined I could speak confidently in front of a group of people, much less preach to them. Neither did I ever had dreams for my life and future. Thank God He came into my life.
Last but not least, I think I have grown to become a person who is a little more others-centered. Like I mentioned before, it is hard not to be challenged & inspired to love others when I am constantly in fellowship with God and my friends at Heart of God Church. The heart of God, after all, is always for people.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.1 Timothy 2:3-4
We are so passionate about reaching out to people and bringing them to church because God desires it and has a plan for them. And just as how God has loved us and changed our lives, we want to see the same impact in the people around us. We simply just can’t keep all the blessings to ourselves. Ultimately, we are blessed to be a blessing.
With that, I would like to conclude this open letter.
I hope to whoever is reading this, that it has been a blessing to you. Thank you once again for sticking with this post and reading all my thoughts.
And for the last time today – thank you, Heart of God Church. I have written a lot of things over the past week about you, but honestly, no words can fully encapsulate the impact you have made in my life. Even though this post has ended, your amazing stories don’t end here.
To Pastor How, Pastor Lia, and all my leaders & friends, I am eternally grateful for you. See you all soon.
p.s. If you are interested to know more, visit https://heartofgodchurch.org/.