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My Early Journey

My Journey of Faith in my Early Years

I grew up in a Christian family and was baptized in Paya Lebar Methodist Church (PLMC) as an infant. My dad and grandma were baptized by the late Rev Goh Hood Kheng in Kampong Kapor Methodist Church. As travel was inconvenient during the second world war, they transferred to Paya Lebar Methodist Church as they were living in the Upper Serangoon area.


My parents were not regular church-goers in my younger days but they made sure that we, children were regular in Sunday School. My family fell into hard times and some insensitive remarks by some leaders of the church hurt my father so much that my father stopped going to church. My mother who tried her best to go once a month for Holy Communion eventually did not attend church too in my growing years. She became a regular worshipper again after some years of being away from God.


I would accompany my grandmother to the Peranakan Service once a month for Holy Communion although I had no clue as to what was happening during the Peranakan service. In my early years, I would also go to a Sunday School in a church near my home with my neighbor who was a Sunday School teacher. As a teenager, I “Church-shopped” looking for the perfect church before returning back to PLMC because of a promise I made to my grandmother shortly before she passed on.


My earliest recollection of God’s call in my life to the full-time ministry was when I was seven or eight. When I was in Primary 5 in Rosyth School, I heard about the baptism of the Holy Spirit from a classmate and I yearned every much for this move of God in my life. I remember praying and asking God to fill me with His Holy Spirit then but nothing very much happened. 


In secondary school (Victoria), I joined two major Christian groups. One group was led by very strong Word-based Christians who were fundamentalists. It was with this group that I started laying a strong foundation in the Word of God in my life. The other group that I joined was the Inter-School Christ Ambassadors (ISCA) – a Pentecostal youth organization of the Assemblies of God Churches.


My Baptism of the Holy Spirit

When I was 16, Rev Margaret Seaward was the speaker at a meeting of the ISCA. Besides the worship leader and her, there were only two other people in the congregation. She made an altar call for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and I responded by lifting up my hand. She walked towards me but before she reached me, the spirit of God fell upon me and I started to speak in tongues. For me, it was a glorious experience – an experience that totally changed my life then. I became very sensitive to the prompting of God.


My quiet time with God became so intimate that hours would pass without me realizing the time. It was unlike the past, when reading the Bible and praying was such a torture – it was just a discipline with little joy. It was also about this time that I became sure of God’s call in my life for the full-time ministry. I attended a Youth Camp that year and when the speaker gave an altar call for the full-time ministry, I responded. That was also the year when the Lord led me together with school friends from other classes to fast for the salvation of our classmates and the grace of our Lord led almost half of each of our classes to confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour.


I shared my own experience in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with quite a few people. The leaders of the fundamentalist Bible Study were concerned. They used their interpretations of scripture to convince me that tongues have ceased and that there was now no necessity for tongues or other spiritual gifts as the Bible alone is more enough. I was also told that my experience was emotional at best and it could it even be from the devil, from a deceiving spirit.


I was very confused. I went back to the leaders in ISCA who were not knowledgeable enough to refute these arguments. They were reliant on experience alone and the only refute that they gave me was “How can you say that the experience you had is from the devil?” Being only a 16 year-old boy with no exposure to Charismatic theology, I became convinced that I could be in error. It came to a point that I told God, “God take away the tongues just in case it is from the devil.” God did not force me to have what I did not want and praying in tongues disappeared from my life.


As I was already sure at that point that God had called me, I was determined that I would go to Bible School and then enter the mission field right after my ‘O’ levels. My parents were not keen that their son was going into the full-time ministry. In their minds, only the rich who were not required to support their families should be pastors.  We were a poor family.


At the same time, they wanted me to continue my studies. After many disagreements with my parents over this, I decided to discard my plans of going into ministry after my ‘O’ levels when my mother broke down and cried and persuaded me not to be a pastor. I told God this, “You spare me from the full-time call and I will serve you ‘half-time’. God, I will not pursue well-paying jobs. I will be a teacher. I will teach half day and I will give you the other half of the day and all my holidays. Just spare me from serving you full-time.” It was only after I became a teacher that I realized that my notion of teaching being a half-day job was wrong.




My grandmother went home to be with the Lord when I was in my first year in Temasek Junior College. Before she died, she made me promise that I would return back to Paya Lebar Methodist Church. She felt unsure about the various churches that I was attending. I was at the point in my teenage idealist quest of looking for the perfect church. I felt that the Methodist Church was too “dead” for my liking. There were no proper discipleship programs and church seemed nothing better then a do-good social club. I was learning much from other organizations and churches. Shortly after her death, I decided to keep my promise and I returned to Paya Lebar Methodist Church and grew to love the church and be part of the solution rather than to be critical and leave when my needs were not met. 

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