Podcast: Never Before, Never Again

In the last couple of weeks at Faith Community Church, there has been a strong revival atmosphere.

It started on 16 July 2017 when Rev Bill Wilson of Metro World Child preached at our church on the subject “What Do You See?” Many were challenged to become what Rev Wilson calls “100 degree” Christians – to get to that point in our faith where everything changes.

Stories started coming from members of the congregation who were deeply impacted. I heard of one person who made a life-changing ministry decision. Another person was burdened to start a ministry to bring wheelchairs to a third-world country (and within a week, he managed to source some from charities). And all of this from an encounter with God in a one-and-a-half hour church service.

I have always believed that “just one word from God” would be enough to change a person or a situation entirely. However, I don’t think I’ve really seen it hit so close to home until now.

Throughout the different zones of our church, a prayerful hunger had been fomenting for some time. Even in our worship ministry, after three years of solidly building on our technical skills so we could faithfully steward our giftings, our worship pastor Dave Wong completely changed tack at the beginning of this year with a challenge to the team to hunger after God’s presence.

As a result, our worship services started to take on an entirely different complexion.

Last week, 23 July 2017, I had the honour of preaching at church as we began our “Revival” series.

The key plank of my message was from Josiah 23:25:

Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did – with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with the Law of Moses.

If we are going to see revival in our generation, we must also be the generation to turn to God desperately, as if everything depended on it.

Despite all that had been done in the past 20 years of the history of our church, may there never be a generation like ours who would turn to God like we did. And never again, will there be a generation like this one.

I really sense that we are in an extraordinary season now in our church. Conditions are ripe for God’s Spirit to move like we’ve never seen.

Our cry is like that of Habakkuk, “Lord, we have heard of your fame; we stand in awe of Your wonderful deeds. Renew them in our day; in our time make them known!” Amen.

You can listen to the recording here: 

Photo Credit: Faith Community Church

Adventures in East Timor – Part 3

It’s 3 January 2013 – the official first day of the mission trip.

We all got up bright and early, packed our bags and made our way to the All Seasons Hotel restaurant for an early breakfast, before loading up two taxis for the trip to Denpasar Airport.

Gary, our team leader, had already been in the village for a week.

When we got to the airport, we found out that our flight had been delayed, so we took the opportunity to have an impromptu team meeting, sans our leader, which kind of made it difficult to decide anything concrete about the program.

Bali

Even though our entire week had been planned out in the form of an itinerary, we were short on details and weren’t really sure whether the ideas we had proposed were actually suitable for the villagers. I was again reminded however of the maxim “blessed are the flexible”. We were just going to have to pray hard and just “wing it”.

Stef, our admin person, had nonetheless produced a very pretty colour-coded document, with each of us being designated our areas of responsibility. I have to say, I was really impressed by Stef’s maturity – for a person her age, her organisational skills and foresight were well beyond her years.

Bali2

We finally got onto the plane for the 2 hour flight to Dili, the capital of East Timor. I was actually quite nervous about flying Merpati Air (a subsidiary of Garuda). Surprisingly, the in-flight meal was pretty decent, which at least distracted me from my anxiety for a while. Ling was surprisingly calm, because in the past, she had been nervous about flying. Most of the time, she was more concerned about her seat not locking into the upright position and periodically leaning into Ernie, who was sitting behind her.

As our plane approached the airport in Dili, my anxiety grew as I realised we were coming in pretty fast. When the plane made contact with the runway, there was significant braking and when it finally slowed down and turned, I realised that we had actually used up the entire length of the runway. Good thing I could only see out the side of the plane until then!

East Timor2

When we had collected our luggage, we could see Agung and Gary on the other side of customs, smiles flashing to welcome us.

After a few customary words, Agung led us into the carpark of the airport where we laid eyes for the first time on our transport vehicle for the week. It looked, um, functional. Agung and Gary exhibited superhuman strength and great balance as they loaded 8 people’s luggage onto the roof of the Land Cruiser before the human cargo got loaded into the back of the SUV.

East Timor3

Then our first stop: the shopping mall!

Because this was going to be our only time in Dili until the end of the mission trip, we had to stock up on snacks and the all-important bottled water.

We often take things like water for granted. But we were sure that not only was the water in Timor unsafe for drinking, we were concerned that we couldn’t even brush our teeth or wash our contact lenses in it, so thank God for bottled water. And thank God it was only 30 cents a bottle.

East Timor4

Whilst we shopped for supplies, Wen, Ernie and Shi-En promptly hit the food court. They were hungry and it was only 4 pm. And here is an important spiritual principle which I shared with our team – when you are hungry enough, you can bring forward something reserved for a future time into your present!

After we bought our supplies, we drove to the centre of Dili where we (or rather, the rest of us) had dinner at a Chinese restaurant. It was pretty good Chinese food. Even in the remotest parts of the world, you are bound to find Chinese people. In fact, I think the shopping mall from which we had just come was Chinese-owned. Later on during the week, we would see a Chinese-owned general store right in the heart of the village!

After dinner, we made our way to Tibar Resort, where we would stay during the week.

On the way there, on the outskirts of Dili, we passed a large piece of land earmarked for Pelican Paradise – a six star resort being built by a Christian businessman. It’s great to think that even though what we were doing was very much relational and grassroots, on the other end of the spectrum, there were projects such as this which will ultimately bring socio-economic transformation to the nation on a large scale.

Pelican Paradise

We reached Tibar in the evening – a “resort” featuring 6 or 7 wooden huts built on the side of a hill, overlooking the ocean. The view was pretty spectacular and our individual huts were very comfortable. This is what we called a “soft landing” into missions. So far, so good…

View from Resort

After we all freshened up, we convened in my hut for a time of worship, prayer and ministry. This was for me a crucial part of why I was there. As I have said in previous posts, one of my life themes is Jeremiah 1:5-8, which is the calling of Jeremiah for the nations. And I believe, like John Piper says, worship is the fuel and goal of missions, so it is only appropriate that we begin a mission trip by focussing on God and worshipping. Over the duration of the trip, there would be many more times of intense worship and intercession, which not only brought focus, but also forged unity for us as a team.

And one of the things I began to learn about Agung’s secret is this: before he is a missionary, he is first a worshipper. You can tell by his posture of yieldedness as he worships.

Prayer and Worship

At the end of the day, worship always brings perspective. It puts God and His kingdom cause into a place of priority and whatever else we have to do becomes secondary. Lack of planning? Pssh…. With God, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Bring it on!

Hungry!!!

When I get hungry, I’m no fun to be around. I get cranky. Real cranky. Just ask my wife.

When you are hungry, you are longing for something which is yours to have, but which you may not yet have taken hold of.

I’m reading Bill Johnson’s Hosting the Presence at the moment.

Johnson observes that the prophets of the Old Testament longed for two things: that all of God’s people will have a new heart and a new nature, and secondly that they would all have the Spirit of God rest upon them.

The prophets were hungry. They saw what was coming and they longed for it in their day.

Johnson says: “When He shows us what’s coming, it’s not so that we can plan and strategise. It’s so we’ll get hungry and draw into our day what was reserved for another day!”

These are the days the prophets had foretold! May the Spirit of God fall on us in a fresh and powerful way. When that happens, I believe that there will be open heavens in our ministry, when the heavens will collide with the earthly realm and bring transformation!