Taking Christ’s Love To The Streets

Stepping out of our comfort zone through 8-Day Challenge

 8-Day Challenge participants gave of their time and energy to love the homeless in the wee hours of the morning. 

 

With a tap on his phone screen, Marcus signed up for a night out with the homeless. This unusual opportunity came through the *8-Day Challenge – a series of email devotions that Marcus had received from a friend. This devotional series produced by Cru Singapore is based on Ephesians 2:10, highlighting how we are masterfully created for God’s purpose to help and bless others.

In the same vein, it aims to inspire and encourage participants to do something different in their everyday lives. Reaching out to the homeless – who are often overlooked, unseen and forgotten by society – was one of the events organised to challenge participants to venture out in faith.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect.” Marcus quipped, about his decision to spend his Saturday night out with the homeless. “But I wanted to contribute back to God’s kingdom and society.” Having recently returned to church, being involved in ministry was a natural outflow of experiencing God’s faithfulness in his life.

People just like us

For Alessandrya, a staff nurse at a government hospital, going through the 8-Day Challenge and taking part in this outreach was something out of her comfort zone and a first step towards exploring missions. It turned out to be a timely challenge for her from God.

Armed with herbal drinks and bright smiles, the new volunteers joined regulars from Homeless Hearts of Singapore (HHOS) who have been making fortnightly rounds on the streets to befriend the homeless. Much to her surprise, Alessandrya could not tell that it was a homeless woman who came forward to chat with them. “She was cheerful and outspoken. It made me realise that they are ordinary people just like you and I.”

Marcus helps collect food from a donor for HHOS.
(Image source: Homeless Hearts of Singapore) 

 

Marcus agreed. “Some are homeless by choice, and others not. Through this experience, I discovered that they are like us in many ways, desiring friendship and fellowship. They are actually very approachable.” In fact, the man whom Marcus interacted with readily shared his personal story and was open to hearing about God, and be prayed for.

Winnie, another participant in this outreach recollected, “It surprised me when the man we approached started to ask me questions about Christianity in Mandarin. I thought I was there just to befriend him.” Having the chance to share the gospel encouraged Winnie greatly, who had been involved in Cru Singapore as a student. Since the outreach, she has been thinking about how churches can be involved in meeting the needs of the homeless in Singapore.

L.I.V.E differently!

The experiences of these participants reflect poignantly what Abraham Yeo, founder of HHOS, had in mind. “What I really want to highlight is that these are people, and but for the grace of God, we could be in the same position as them. We want others to see who they really are as human beings with backstories, beauty, dignity and worth.”

For Eliza, a Cru Singapore staff and coordinator for this outreach, the greatest encouragement is in knowing that many of the participants were stepping out of their comfort zone simply because God nudged their hearts. “No (Cru) staff ‘challenged’ them!”

Cru Staff Martha baked muffins for our stay-out friends!

Partnering with HHOS has been a fruitful opportunity to gather like-hearted participants to *L.I.V.E a life redeemed and destined for His purposes. Going forward, there will be monthly outreaches to the homeless. If you would like to join us, do drop us an email at corpcomms@cru.org.sg.

*8-Day Challenge is an email devotional series that is a part of LiveSg, a Cru Singapore initiative to encourage people to L-ove God and others, I-gnite Your Passion, V-enture out in faith and E-ncourage someone today

Strength in Weakness. Ambassador for Christ

Precious lessons gleaned by a millenial in full-time Christian ministry

Rebecca inspires us not only with her positivity but also, wisdom beyond her years. 

 

Millennials who join full-time Christian vocational ministry are a rare breed these days. Rebecca Kwa from Cru Singapore Campus Ministry forsook a potentially lucrative career trajectory to be a mentor for youths and young adults.

We caught up with her after a year in ministry to hear her experience thus far.

Hi Rebecca! What made you come on board Cru Singapore?

I have never imagined myself to be a full-time Christian worker actually. I was studying marketing and corporate communications in Singapore Management University (SMU) and had already decided to join a public relations (PR) agency upon graduation.

However, one night during my last internship, while staring at the computer screen, I heard God say that this would not be the path I was supposed to take. Subsequently, through my time with Him and a series of conversations and events that were not related in any ways, I saw His hand leading me towards full-time Christian vocational ministry.

How did you handle the anxiety and uncertainty that comes along with that decision?

God led me to John 6:67-69, in which the disciples responded to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

When I read it, I felt God asking me a similar question: “After hearing my call and my words, do you want to go away? Or will you stay?” The disciples’ answer showed me that they stayed because they knew who Jesus was, even though the decision to stay was not a popular one. That knowledge of Christ’s identity and character became their source of confidence and strength, giving them enough assurance to say “yes” to what Jesus was asking them to do.

When that realisation hit me, a supernatural peace overwhelmed my heart. I knew that God was giving me the assurance that I can trust Him as I respond in obedience to what He was asking me to do.

Family support is vital for all Cru staff!

 

Could you share with us one significant outreach encounter you’ve had the past year?

Sure! During a campus-witnessing session in Nanyang Technological University (NTU), my colleague and I met a Mandarin-speaking lady who was waiting for her husband.

She was not a student, but she happened to be studying for an external English test. Although she was not a believer then, she was extremely open and started asking us questions about the Christian faith. We ended up inviting her for an evangelistic bible study which she happily agreed to.

During the first session, language proved to be an issue where both of us struggled to translate our points accurately. After the session however, as we chatted, she actually thanked us for reaching out and befriending her.

She struggled with finding the words to say, and ended up writing “I feel like I meet God” on the paper before giving us one of the most genuine and sincere smiles I’ve ever seen.

That moment stuck with me because the truth that God really uses us in our weaknesses truly hit home. It was also the first time I felt the honour and privilege of what it means to be an ambassador for Christ. Our interactions with others truly have the ability to point people to Him. It’s amazing how God can use our simple actions to reveal Himself in ways that we may not even grasp.

Thank you for reminding us that encouraging someone today is simply taking the initiative to step out in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the outcome to God! Lastly, could you share with us one lesson that you have learnt that will help other young Christian workers in Cru, parachurch organisations or churches? 

One lesson which I hold dearly to comes from an article I read, “The best thing you can do for those you are serving is to abide in Christ”. Although I’ve only been in full-time ministry for a year, I have to admit that there were many instances where my focus subconsciously shifted away from Christ, as ironic as it sounds.

I’m referring to the times where I find myself thinking that the best thing I can do for my disciples is to understand them more, or meet them more, or bring them out to evangelise more. Without realising, my focus shifted to what I can do for Christ instead of what Christ can do through me.

The lesson is clear in John 15, “without Me, you can do nothing”. This is a verse we often remember in situations where we really can do nothing. However, in situations where something can be done, we are also often tempted to shift the focus away from Him and take things into our own hands.

Rebecca having fun mentoring the NTU disciples!

 

Through this, I’ve learnt that the ministry belongs to God more than it belongs to us. Indeed, the best thing we can do for our disciples is to abide in Christ, and let Him be the one to do His work through our lives.

 We’re encouraged by your journey, Rebecca, and our prayer for you and all our young staff workers is for each of you to find fulfilment in Christ and experience deep joy while serving the Lord!

To explore opportunities with Cru Singapore, simply drop us a note at hr@cru.org.sg.

 

 

An X-tra Happy Birthday, Singapore!

The ABCs of why I thank God for you, my beloved homeland

By Dr Tan Ying Kheng

Photo credit: Chen Hu. Taken from Unsplash.com
You've made me who I am today - multicultural world-native, ethno-tolerant.

Ang Mo Kio, Binjai Park,
Clemenceau, Delta, Eng Kong Place.
I love you Singapore – you’re these and more –
let me count the ways.

You’ve made me who I am today –
Multicultural world-native, ethno-tolerant.
Let’s start with the food (which I forget are good
Until whenever I travel).

Because of my upbringing, lunch could be Gyoza
Or Hainanese chicken rice with achar;
Tea at ION’s TWG Salon & Boutique? Aiyoh, boleh.
Or dinner at Joo Chiat’s 328 Katong Laksa.

Muthu’s fish head curry – eyes, cheeks and all. Can!
Or bring on the salad Nicoise olives, pan-seared foie-gras.
Spicy, exotic, queer, hand or chopsticks? Can! Can!
For I am Singaporean, hear me roar!

But seriously, what I’m grateful for are very simple things –
Like trash being cleared every day, and kids going to bed each night
Safe and fearless of waking up hopeless,
Stripped of state, shelter, identity, dignity or rights.

Rights of going to school, rights to be protected by law,
Rights to serve God and country whether born female, migrant or poor.
Such we in Singapore already have – are spoiling us, I must add –
That our tensions are still about Singlish and PSLE scores.

I shan’t go into university rankings or other very important issues –
My aim today is to write a “An X-tra Happy Birthday” wish.
Go ahead, continue to be the world’s number one this and that –
But YK’s zealous prayer is you’ll be God’s anointed Antioch, for such a time as this.

Broaching The Topic Of Sexuality With Your Child

Four tips that will help pave the way for better parent-child conversations.

Conversations on sexuality with your kid can be as awkward as these lamps. (credit: Michael Prewett, taken from unsplash.com) 

It faces every parent of pre-teens and teens – how in the world does one find out their:

  • struggles with pornography?
  • sexual orientation?
  • dating preferences?
  • sexual activity?

We all know how it goes with nosey parenting: it just doesn’t work.
Here’re some tips for you to consider:

Tip #1: Never make it your end goal

As the popular adage goes: people do not care how much you know before they know how much you care.

Anxiety-based parenting is often a prying one. If we do not like others being nosey about our private lives, so do your kids.

Anxiety-based parenting is often a prying one. If we do not like others being nosey about our private lives, so do your kids.

Jesus says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31, NIV)

“But it’s because I care for them!” We hear you but, really – don’t. It doesn’t communicate love.
If you have not learnt about your child’s love language , that’s a great place to start. Prioritise showing genuine care for him/her according to the appropriate love language(s).

Remember: our guilt and shame in parenting can often drive our need for information from them.

Tip #2: Build a family culture of verbal affirmation

Eileen, a Cru Singapore staff who has been counseling youths and young adults for the past 10 years said, “Second-generation Christian youths who struggle with same-sex attraction have often found it difficult to talk to their parents about it.”

“They may see their issue as a burden to their parents and struggle with feelings such as guilt and helplessness.”

“Youths need to feel secure and assured of their parents’ love before they share their emotional journey with them.”

“Verbal expression of care is very important, especially in the context of Asian families.”

Positive affirmation is vital for your parent-child relationship.

 

Before you pluck up the courage to talk about sex and sexuality, be bold and lavish with using both spoken and written words to encourage your preteen or teen.

Tip #3: Go on a one-on-one trip together

Are you a parent who already has a track record of making time for your child?

If so, you can broach the topic of sexuality by inviting your son or daughter to go on a weekend getaway with you – just to hang out, have fun and talk.

Ps Mah Yeow Beng, a pastor at Bartley Christian Church invited each of his three sons to embark on a one-on-one trip to Malaysia with him. Using Passport2Purity® (P2P) and Passport2Identity® (P2I) , he could openly talk about topics of sexuality, peer pressure, life purpose in a relaxed environment using a guided framework.

“My dad was upfront about the nature of the trip. I knew what I was getting myself into when I said, ‘yes’,” shared David, 22, Ps Mah’s second son.

Ps Mah Yeow Beng with his son, David.

 

“I found the P2I material helpful for me as it reinforces values and convictions on how I want to lead my life – dating philosophy and choosing abstinence before marriage.”

One main highlight I was looking forward to in each of these trips was to hear my sons’ thoughts, and discuss any questions he has, on sexuality.

Ps Mah shared, “Honestly, one main highlight I was looking forward to in each of these trips was to hear my sons’ thoughts, and discuss any questions he has, on sexuality.”

“I was happy that we could talk about it openly. I could even share with him my own experience in handling sexual temptations.”

Ms Sarah Chua, a parenting specialist from Focus on the Family Singapore emphasised the importance of parent-child bonds in her letter to The Straits Times:

“A crucial foundation that allows children to share their concerns and questions about sexuality with their parents is a trusting and close relationship with them.”

Tip #4: Recognise that God is in control

Parenting is messy. Never make perfect-parenting your goal. Your preteen or teen is fully aware if they are chess pieces in your plan to be the perfect Christian parent.

Ps Tan Kay Kiong from Covenant Evangelical Free Church shares this in his book, Legacy Beyond Self ,

“As we keep vigilance over our children’s loves – the music that they hear, the movies they watch, the friends they mingle with, and the language they speak – it gives us a peek into their souls and helps us to understand the condition of their hearts.”

“On occasion, we may spot something that needs correcting – but here’s one thing: In order to inspire change, the encouragement of love is required, not the edict of fear.”

As we adopt a posture of surrender as parents, it does not make it any easier to see our children bear the consequences of their decisions. However, it demonstrates who God is to our children which will eventually light the way for them to know Him personally .

Conclusion

In Cru Singapore’s ministry with youths , young adults and families , what has always struck us is the long-term effect parenting has on our ministry disciples’. The family is indeed the key arena of discipleship for the youths and young adults.

Discipling children beyond Christian habits and practices are vital. Both the demands and stakes of parenting are high. We are humbly reminded that apart from a life with Jesus , we can do nothing (John 15:5).

Even though failures and mistakes are a given in parenting, you can take heart that with God and in community, you are not alone.

Let’s start some great conversations with your preteen or teen today.

Why It Pays to Be Absolute about Truth

Even when everyone else is absolutely sure it doesn’t exist


(Image credit: Photo by Randy Jacob on Unsplash)

The idea of absolute truth has fallen on hard times. Claiming something is really true is not only unpopular, it is often considered foolish, arrogant, and even immoral. In such a hostile climate, many Christians are hesitant to pay the cultural price for clinging to the concept of absolute truth.

Why, then, would anyone still want to promote and defend such a notion? Much more can be said, but we will explore just four basic ideas that demonstrate why it pays significant dividends to uphold the idea of absolute truth.

1. It is philosophically congruent

First and foremost, when properly understood, the concept of truth possesses the character of being absolute. If something is genuinely true, it cannot simultaneously also be false or impossible. One of the great fallacies of our age is the self-refuting claim that there is no absolute truth. Is that absolutely true? If so, it self-destructs. It cannot be absolutely true that there is no absolute truth.

2. It provides assurance and security

When something is absolutely true, it is true whether or not anyone believes or is aware of it. Real truth is not subject to the whims of power, opinion, or the latest fad or fancy. It is reliable and has an enduring quality that transcends time and space, giving assurance and security in the midst of changing times and circumstances.


(Image credit: Photo by Ahmed Saffu on Unsplash)

3. Might does not become a right

On the other hand, when people abandon a commitment to absolute truth, they are far more likely to be taken in by whatever suits their fancy — even ideas and practices that end up being dangerous and damaging to personal and societal flourishing. In addition, the powerful are far more likely to actively promote and enforce their version of reality, especially when they are personally benefitted.
When people abandon a commitment to absolute truth, they are far more likely to be taken in by whatever suits their fancy
Without a concept of absolute truth, there can be no appeal to an external and reliable source of evaluation and accountability. It becomes power play against power play rather than a spirited exchange of ideas and the reasons for adhering to or rejecting them. Might becomes right, a source of oppression and greed.

4. It encourages genuine and fruitful exchange of ideas

This problem of oppressive power-plays leads to a key reason why it pays to be absolute about truth: it engenders the genuine and fruitful exchange of ideas. There is a critical need in our time for candid moral and intellectual debate. Contrary to the mantras of some, not all perspectives — religious or otherwise — are created equal. Some ideas, by their very nature, are worthy of rejection, not because they are culturally and politically unpopular, but because they do not stand up to the test of moral and intellectual scrutiny.

The bald exercise of power is a poor substitute for thoughtful and respectful discussion and debate over the things that matter most. But when concepts of truth are relegated to the category of “alternative facts,” and moral standards have been deemed “personal preferences,” there is little room for reasoned disagreement and genuine learning.

Conclusion: A bigot or not a bigot? – That is the question

No matter how loudly and adamantly postmodernists insist all truth is relative and not absolute, all normal people still maintain — justified or not — that what they believe is actually true. The problem is not in believing some things being true or false. What’s wrong is condemning a certain class of people for believing something solely because they believe differently than you.

As Greg Koukl (The Story of Reality, 24) puts it:

“Since everyone — religious person, atheist scientists, skeptic—believes his beliefs are true, it has always struck me as odd when some have been faulted simply for thinking their views correct. They’ve been labeled intolerant or bigoted for doing so. But what is the alternative? The person objecting thinks his own views correct as well, which is why he’s objecting. Both parties in the conversation think they’re right and the other wrong. Why, then, is only the religious person (usually) branded a bigot for doing so?”

Of course, the real question all of these raises is, how? How do we determine whether something is true, false, possible or impossible, likely or unlikely? I suggest we start a conversation about this and see where the truth might lead. I think that we will ultimately find that it absolutely pays to be absolute about truth.


There’ll Be Spring

Crystal sings about overcoming Spasmodic Dysphonia and hopelessness.

As a child, the earliest memories of Dad were of him singing. He sang everywhere, and all the time. His singing was joyfully infectious; singing to himself and to my family was part of everyday life.

That was how I grew up. Just like Dad, I shared my feelings and joy with others through songs. I wrote them, I sang them. It was not about performing or being artsy; singing was me being me.

Everything changed in 2011.

My voice started to have involuntary breaks and there was a persistent strain. The general practitioner thought it was throat inflammation. Months later, my condition did not improve and the specialist I consulted was still unsure of its cause. It took even more months of frustrating tests with a top specialist before a diagnosis was given. I had developed Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD).

SD is not the common sore throat; it is a neurological disorder that causes the part of my brain that controls speech to go amok. I could neither sing fluidly nor talk without having a strangled tone. My loved ones could not understand me amidst my uncontrolled vocal spasms.

I was devastated. I was robbed of singing, robbed of joy, and robbed of life. This is only a nightmare, I told myself, I will wake up one day and all will be fine. But days rolled into months, and all was not fine. As my condition worsened, I shunned social gatherings and avoided people altogether. Any hope of the restoration of my voice eroded, and depression set in.

God seemed so distant, deaf to my cries, nonchalant to my sufferings.“God! Why aren’t You healing me? Don’t You heal? The Bible is so full of promises for healing. Why am I not healed?” Doubts and fears seared through my mind in every waking moment. God seemed so distant, deaf to my cries, nonchalant to my sufferings. In my depression, a close friend encouraged me to trust in God. She reminded me that singing was God’s gift to me and He would surely heal me. She even challenged me to write a song to perform at her wedding. I could not believe that my condition would improve, much less be able to sing! Although I was baffled by her insistent faith, I was also moved by it, and I decided to try.

The wedding day came. Up on the stage with a face downcast, my spasms and stuttering persisted. Hopeless. Before I could slip away, the audience came up to share about how touched they were to see me holding onto hope. In tears, they came forward to hug me, leaving me speechless.

That was my turning point and God spoke.

“Sing! O barren one.”

This phrase from the Bible kept ringing in my head through the night. God was telling me to sing in my hopelessness! I did not have to worry about how well I sang because God is my hope, my reason to sing, and my REASON TO LIVE. He will replace my emptiness with His love.

As this realisation dawned upon me, I started to sing about my hope in God despite my condition. I began to see that although disrupted by SD, my voice was given by Him to speak to people in broken communities who are rejected by family and society. There are many who are thirsting for the same hope, something that only God can give!

My miserable wintry life finally melted away into a hopeful spring. As I shared with people about the promises that God has for them, the song There’ll Be Spring was birthed. By 2012, I fully recovered from depression.

I lost my voice, but I gained hope.Today, my voice has been restored by about 70% and the stuttering is now barely perceivable. Through this journey of SD, I see God’s miraculous hand in changing my life and impacting others, and I do believe that He will heal me completely one day. Looking back, I lost my voice, but I gained hope. If experiencing SD was the only way for this to happen, I would still choose this path.

Do you think there can be hope even in distress?


Reason to Live

Do You Have A Reason to Live? #reasontolive

If you have not thought about the purpose of your existence on planet Earth, here are some true stories of people who struggled with life challenges, overcame trials and emerged strong in the midst of despair and hopelessness.

We hope these stories will become a source of inspiration to your quest for your purpose in life.

Explore Perspectives on Reasons to Live

Do you think about your own view of the world? Almost everyone has some beliefs about ultimate reality, the meaning of life, and what human nature consists of, but do you consciously know your beliefs? Take this quiz to find out:

Meaning, purpose, life, truth, perspective

A New Reason to Live

Our Daily Lives Are Shaped By Our Beliefs.

While some may be more evident than others, we are all guided by what we believe. Of these, the most important is our belief about God. Everyone has one, and we make sense of and live our lives according to what we believe about Him.

What do Christians believe about God and life? It is our belief that Christianity offers the most satisfying #reasontolive. Find out more and choose for yourself!


Nature of God: Biblical Monotheism

Nature Of God - Biblical Monotheism

God is Personal

It is possible to know God personally. He has revealed Himself to us through Jesus Christ and the Bible. God is our creator, powerful, infinite, just, holy, all-knowing, and good. God is love. And He wants to have a personal relationship with us.

WE CAN KNOW GOD

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” — John 17:3

 


Meaning and Purpose of Life: Live for God

Meaning and Purpose of Life - Live for GodGod is Better Than Everything Else

Just as hunger is evidence of the existence of food, our desire for a full and meaningful life is evidence of something which can ultimately satisfy. God wants us to enjoy and experience His love. He gives us a new reason to live!

GOD’S INVITATION TO US

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”—Matthew 11:28

 

 


Human Nature: Broken

We Are Spiritually DeadHuman Nature- Broken

We think and do things that hurt others and ourselves. We offend God. Yet we do all these anyway. In this broken, sinful state, we are separated from God and therefore live without His peace, joy, and love in this life and after death.

THE REALITY OF OUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION

“For the wages of sin is death.” (spiritual separation from God)—Romans 6:23

 


Jesus is: Creator & Saviour

Jesus Is - Creator & SaviourHe is the Source of Spiritual Life

Although existing as God, Jesus Christ became a man on earth and lived a perfect human life. He died on the cross for humankind, paying the death penalty we owe because of our sin. But He rose again three days later, and His resurrection gives life to those who receive Him as Lord and Saviour of their lives.

JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY TO GOD

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”—John 14:6

 


Source of Spiritual Truth: Sacred Writings

Source Of Spiritual Truth- Sacred WritingsSpiritual Truth Is Found In The Bible

God has revealed His message of hope to us through prophecies and eyewitness accounts in the Bible.

JESUS WAS PROPHESIED 700 YEARS BEFORE HIS CRUCIFIXION

“…he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole…We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.”—Isaiah 53:5,6 (See also 2 Peter 1:20–21)

 

 


From Beliefs to Experience: Faith

We Must Choose to Trust God

Faith is believing in the unseen, not the unreasonable. It is trusting Jesus Christ, believing who He is and what He has done to give us life. It is letting go of our broken efforts to gain a good life on earth and for eternity through good actions or achievements. One way of expressing faith is by talking to God.

WE ARE SAVED FROM DEATH THROUGH FAITH

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”—Ephesians 2:8–­9


What Is The Next Step You Want To Take On Your Spiritual Journey?

Prayer of Faith

Seeker's PrayerExplore More

 


WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

If you have prayed the prayer of faith to receive Jesus into your life, we want to know!

We can connect you with a community of Christians to journey with you in your newfound faith.

DROP US A NOTE and we do the connection!

If you have questions about Christianity, we want to answer them.

Contact us at hello@cru.org.sg.


Perspective Cards, Copyright Cru Press 2016, used with permission.

Dying To Really Live

This time round, there would be no party.

The two sisters were distraught and anxious. Their only brother had suddenly died. The autopsy was not out yet but there were murmurs that he had it coming with his fairly lavish lifestyle. The trio was well known in town to host some of the best parties. Celebrities and who’s who of the business world were a regular part of the circuit. Even a politician or two had been spotted before.

Brother is dead. What took you so long?The sisters checked their phones endlessly for a reply. Three days went by. Finally, on the fourth day, Jesus walked slowly onto the sprawling grounds of their estate. The older sister rushed out to greet Him, nearly knocking Him over as everything within her tumbled forth:

Brother is dead.

What took you so long?

Surely it wouldn’t have happened had you intervened earlier?

Questions we are familiar with. Something has gone wrong. We have just lost our job, been ditched by the girl of our dreams, been told that one parent has been diagnosed with a terminal disease, or been accused of something we wouldn’t think of doing… We pound the doors of heaven for answers, or insist that God never really existed. Even if He did, He doesn’t really care. Don’t our circumstances prove the point? We were not protected, bad things have happened to a good person; even a religious one.

Very plainly, Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha thought that Jesus was just trying to comfort her. After all, the idea was so outrageous; her brother rising again? Very plainly, Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” So she immediately linked it to some intellectual theological theory about him rising at the end of time*. So Jesus had to repeat Himself. “Do you really know Me? Do you believe I can do this?” Martha did not answer Him directly but repeated her faith confession: You are the Son of God who has come into the world.

Just like us. We demand from God but fail to hear. We are so afraid of our hopes being dashed; so we give the standard and vague answer. There is no precision to our belief.

What Jesus had just said was startling. He told Martha in five words what He planned to do, but she could not hear it.

In our griefs, we are often jumbled up. We go back and forth in the arid plains of our soul in search for answers and come up with nothing much to sustain us. Often, we just keep plodding. Sometimes, the days become a blur.

  • Teens are known to go through the motions of school, then cut themselves to stem the pain.
  • Men are known to dress up and leave the flat in the morning, pretending to still be going to work.
  • Widows are known to obsess over the belongings of a beloved, unable to let them go.

Maybe at such times, Jesus has a direct, clear word for us.

  • You are not to blame for your parents’ divorce.
  • It’s time to work for what you really care about.
  • There is still love to be known and shared.

If only we can hear it.

Martha ran off to get her sister.

En route, Jesus saw the folks who had come for the mourning. Mary arrived weeping. She too asked why He did not intervene and prevent the death.

Moved by their loss, perhaps with the memories of their friendship flooding back, and troubled by the reality of death, Jesus wept.

To truly live, we must weep.


Skinned knees.

Disappointing grade.

Affection unrequited.

Dream in embers.

Life near its end.


Sometimes we weep openly. More often, we weep privately, away from everyone, as we struggle to find a reason to live. Those tears we shed in secret; too afraid or ashamed to let others see? He sees those tears and joins us. Will we accept His compassion, His company?

Finally, they were asked to do something they had rather not: to open the lid of Lazarus’ coffin, and to risk breaking all the religious and social rules of the day. It wouldn’t look or smell pleasant.

One does not expose a dead body. We do not flaunt our dirty linen as they say. We keep our failures private and secret, hidden and covered.

But Jesus calls us to bring it to the open before Him.

At every moment that counts, we need to stake our faith on something. Jesus asks for our hearts. Yes, the confused, angry, shaken hearts. And He asks that we act unafraid of conventions and everything that may hold us back from saying ‘yes’ to Him.
The four-day dead brother comes to life.
And then, it happened. The four-day dead brother comes to life.

Jesus says that He can raise things to life. He can interrupt death. He can work wonders in the way-too-late situations of our lives. Will you believe?

From Hooligan to Accountant

Chun Seng’s* story of transformation.

I was born an asthmatic, and all too familiar with the incessant coughing, gasping for air, a flushed face, followed by more coughing. If you have ever seen someone suffering an asthmatic attack, it is literally like someone choking to death.

When I was 10 years old, I suffered a particularly serious asthmatic attack. The medication which normally would alleviate my symptoms did not work that day. To make matters worse, my dad started to beat me up and accused me of triggering the asthma attack by having cold drinks. With no one to turn to, I remembered the God that my Christian aunt often talked about. In desperation, I cried out, “Jesus, if You’re real, heal me and I will believe in You.”

That instance on, I was healed of my asthma.


After I was healed, I felt I was given a new lease of life! I started enjoying outdoor activities and made new friends through the Boys’ Brigade. I even got my very first Bible! Though I did not understand many Bible phrases like “abounding grace” and “God is good”, I accepted them with childlike innocence.

However, things did not remain rosy. At 14, plagued by family woes, I had to work part-time at my uncle’s duck rice stall. The taxing demands of work and study left me no choice but to quit the Boys’ Brigade. This went on for many years, causing me to grow apart from most of my good friends. God’s miraculous healing of my asthma became a thing of the past, and gradually, I took it to be a coincidence.

“No money, no honey, sure not happy.”I began to admire my uncle’s prosperity. He was an uneducated man, and yet with a booming business of five duck rice stalls, he could afford a Mercedes Benz! On the other hand, I was getting an education, but had to slog long hours for him and could only buy a pair of Armani jeans after many months of saving. In fact, my first girlfriend dumped me because I was poor. I realised,  “No money, no honey, sure not happy.”

I wanted money and I wanted it fast. I thought I could buy happiness and vowed that I would never be despised again for being poor. Not satisfied with working long hours, I resorted to quicker means to earn money. This led me to bad company who introduced many vices and addictions to me. Smoking, gambling and drinking became my daily lifestyle with my newfound “buddies.” Gang fights were common and would erupt because of senseless staring incidences or lustful courtships. I tried to fill my emptiness with pornography, casual sex, and booze, but these did not work. The sense of loneliness would hit me even more when I woke up to yet another faceless pretty girl beside me after a night of mad clubbing. These “highs” could not satisfy me. Something inside me was crying out, “Is this all there is to life?”

In despair, I wished I could end my life… but I lacked the courage.

During another one of those empty nights, my listless eyes settled on a dusty book on my shelf. It was the Bible from my days with the Boys’ Brigade. I picked it up, read a passage aloud and somehow felt compelled to pray. My girlfriend, who was in bed, saw me on my knees and thought I was insane. But I simply said, “God, if You’re real and You want me back, then You have to give me a proper job… and maybe, a few Christian friends too, ok?”

Shortly after that prayer, I went for my first job interview and God gave me the job! Me, a hooligan “Ah Beng”, now a marketing executive?! However, such a job was neither glamorous nor did it guarantee easy cash. It was a demanding job which required me to sell website designs and I was given a three-month probation period to secure a contract. With a miserly $18 per day to cover my food and transport (and cigarettes), it was a tough life. After months of combing industrial estates and retailers, and making countless cold calls, I still had no success. My concerned marketing senior asked, “Chun Seng, your three-month probation period is almost up. Are you worried?”

Me, a hooligan “Ah Beng”, now a marketing executive?!
With a smoldering cigarette in my mouth, I replied, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

My senior’s jaw literally dropped. He just heard me quote a verse from the Bible! Curiously, he asked if I believed in God. I told him that I was “technically a Christian” because I believed in the Christian God. But I knew that I was not being the person God wants me to be.

It turned out that my senior is a Christian and he invited me to a Christian group gathering. For the first time in a long while, I was surrounded by so many Christian friends. What was memorable was a quote shared by the group leader from the movie Braveheart that goes, “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” I had not truly lived!

After years of pursuing the gods of money, status, and materialism, I was only led to depression. I became a slave to money and had no love or respect for people. I had turned my back on Jesus and wanted to live life my way. However, God did not turn His back on me. He heard and answered my prayers for healing, helped me leave my hooligan lifestyle, gave me a job and friends too! I am grateful to God for transforming me into a new person, for giving me this new life and for being my REASON TO LIVE.

*Not his real name