30 Orange Grove Road, down Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore 258352
Mailing Address: 1 Goldhill Plaza, #03-35, Singapore 308899
Email: email@example.com; Website: http://www.truelifebpc.org.sg
(Ring Pastor Jeffrey Khoo 62561189 Anytime)
|“The LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep SILENCE before him.”|
FEBC started its new academic term with a day of prayer on July 16, 2018. It was heartening to see board, faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends come to pray for the College. The Principal delivered the opening word by sharing with the students the secret to success in FEBC. In order to succeed, they must observe these three fundamental principles: (1) The glory of God must be first and foremost in all that we do (Matt 6:33, Jer 45:6, 1 Cor 10:31, Mark 8:36), (2) Calvin’s three rules of theology—“humility, humility, humility” must be constantly applied in the study of God’s Word (Matt 16:24, Prov 15:33), and (3) remember Timothy Tow’s adage, “Self help with God’s help is the best help” (Phil 2:12, 3:14, 4:13).
Eight new full-time students joined us this semester—(1) Abigail Sarah George (India), (2) Jansel Lisman Dachi (Indonesia), (3) Melody Khong (Myanmar), (4) Nguyen Ngoc Thien Kim (Vietnam), (5) Petrus Germond Johson (Malaysia), (6) Timothy Tan (Singapore), (7) Thang Deih Piang Gideon (Myanmar), (8) Thessa Lagapa (Philippines). Six who had graduated have returned for further studies: (1) Cing Sian Lian (BTh), (2) Li Yahui (MDiv), (3) Maritus (MDiv). (4) Mega Tuti Mawarniat Zega (MDiv), (5) Murniwati Mendrofa (MDiv), (6) Samuel Joseph (ThM).
Total enrolment this semester (Jul–Nov 2018) is 595: 68 day students (fulltime: 46, part-time: 22), 303 students in the Basic Theology for Everyone (BTFE) night classes, and 224 distance learning students. Students enrolled from these 15 countries: Australia, China, England, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The lecturers/tutors and courses offered this semester are: Rev Dr Jeffrey Khoo: Systematic Theology III (Soteriology), Calvin’s Institutes I, Greek Exegesis I; Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew: Old Testament History III, Contemporary Theology I, Hebrew Reading I; Rev Dr Prabhudas Koshy: Homiletics, Pastoral Theology, Lamentations; Rev Stephen Khoo: 2 Samuel; Rev Dr Koa Keng Woo: Bible Geography IV and Church Music II; Rev Tan Kian Sing: Galatians; Mrs Ivy Tow: Greek Elementary I; Mrs Jemima Khoo: Teaching Methods, Beginner Pianoforte; Miss Carol Lee: Youth Christian Education; Dr Jose Lagapa: New Testament Introduction; Mr Clement Chew: Hebrew Elementary I; Mr Dennis Kabingue: Greek Reading I; Mrs Anne Lim: English Intensive I; Mrs Irene Lim: English Intermediate I; and Eld Han Soon Juan: English Advanced I.
THE CALL OF GOD
God graciously gave me the privilege of being born into a Christian home. My parents named me Thessa from the book of Thessalonians, specifically from I Thessalonians 1:9 which says, “For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” My parents before my birth had confessed Christ as their personal Savior and turned away from their belief in Roman Catholicism, hence my name. Like all the rest of the testimonies of people who were born into Christian families, I grew up memorizing passages of God’s Word, hearing Bible stories, and singing hymns with familiarity. However, I first had the wrong knowledge on how to get to heaven. I thought because my parents were believers, I automatically became one as well. I also thought that by obeying the Ten Commandments (which no one can perfectly do), I could obtain salvation. It was not until one of my father’s nightly live-enacted Bible stories followed by a quiz that I realized my understanding was at fault. I answered the question on how to be saved wrongly and my father corrected me, but I was still not a Christian then.
I like to think that my salvation was quite ironic in a mildly amusing way because I used to associate gospel tracts with people who did not come from a Christian background, but God used a tract to open my eyes to the truth. My father and I were gathering tracts to prepare for a family evangelism when a particular one caught my eye. The front page had a picture of hell and people suffering in it and that scared me as a seven/eight-year-old child. Questions started running through my mind: what if I ended up there? What if I will spend my eternity languishing in hell fire? Right then and there, I asked my father how to be saved. He explained the gospel to me once more and I received Christ into my heart that day.
I still remember constantly being asked what I wanted to be when I grow up during my younger days. It was a common question for children, be it in school or just a bait by older people to try to get my interest to talk to them. I always answered with either “a missionary” or “a Sunday school teacher” just because I thought those were the right answers. As I grew up, I started having a broader field of desire, and whomever I admired, I wanted to be like them. I recount being quite open to serving God full-time. Whenever people asked me about my studies and what I thought of doing after that, I would start with “If God doesn’t call me to full-time service…” as if I was certain I only had two life choices—serving God full-time or not.
A few years later, I started to be very against going into full-time ministry. I dreaded the future if I were to do so and even started begging God to lead me anywhere but full-time service. I became ambitious, full of foolish, youthful desires to be “successful” in the world. I wanted to be famous and thriving. I wanted to be that person in family gatherings where relatives would point at me with pride because I was young and successful in life. I tried to argue within myself that I could just serve God as a normal member in the church. I did not have to go into full-time service to do so, but I was never at peace with myself.
Those few years were the toughest I have been through, simply because I was not willing to submit to God’s will, especially if He were to lead me to the full-time ministry. I was even scared to think about it. The worldly dreams I had held me captive, clouding my sight to put my Master first. I was not willing to let go of the life that I had so carefully planned in my head. I am reminded of the rich, young ruler from Matthew 19 who turned away from following Christ because of the great possessions he was reluctant to let go of. I am ashamed to admit that I did not put the study of God’s Word at its highest pedestal where it should be. I saw the glitter of the world far more attractive and tempting.
It was last year that I heard God’s call around the same time my sister did. I immediately told one of my close friends who said she supported me 101%, which encouraged me. I was hesitant to tell my family because I did not want it to be some spur-of-the-moment thing, and I wanted to be very, very sure.
Romans 12:1–2 was one of the main passages that God used to call me and which has become my life verse. In July 2017, at FEBC’s opening day of prayer, Dr. Khoo led us into singing one of Rev. Timothy Tow’s hymns—“When He Calls, I Will Answer.” I could not even finish singing the first stanza because I started to tear up. God just stirred within my heart so powerfully that I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. The lyrics that struck a chord in my heart were:
The Master calls for you today,
young women and young men,
Who love Him and His Word obey,
to gather them for Heav’n.
Since then I was quite sure it was an assurance that God called me to the full-time ministry. Last December after taking my SAT and getting my results back, my email was soon flooded with letters from colleges and universities, asking me to hand in my application form as soon as possible. It was not that I had an excellent grade, although I am contented with the grades God has given me, but there were enough college offers to distract me from His call. I fell into the first of many cycles to come wherein I doubted God’s will for my life. It was so tempting and easy to just go ahead and fill out the personalized online application form set for me. I battled with it every day. I thank God for His patience towards a disobedient child like me. He assured me through sermons, hymns, and the reading of His Word repeatedly. I can quote so many passages and lyrics that convicted me, but there are too many.
Through the course of the past year, I gradually told a few more people about God’s call for me. I even told my parents on my birthday this year. They were delighted and told me they would pray for me. However, I started and continued to question again. I dreaded people asking me what I was going to do next just because I did not want to audibly accept God’s will. The number of times wherein I lacked faith would be more than enough for God to justifiably give up on me, but thank God, He is not like us. He moved one of my good Christian friends to write me a letter after I shared with her my struggles. I cannot remember exactly what she wrote, but it went something like this: “I will pray that you will have no peace until you fully submit yourself to God’s will.” She even quoted the very hymn that made me tear up last year. I could hear God’s still small voice and it was so clear, but rebellious and stubborn as I was, I turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to Him. I was fighting within myself spiritually. I kept praying that God would somehow give me the assurance that would end all of my sinful doubts. It happened in the form of my sister and me being accidentally locked inside our room. In the midst of panic, I went on my knees and reflected within myself. I knew then that I needed to surrender my life fully to the Lord.
Now as I start my studies in FEBC, I will surely still encounter moments of fear and lack of trust. I know and have personally witnessed what it is like to be a student here, but tough as it will be, I go not on my own human strength, but wholly on the strength of my Master who called me to be here. Indeed,
He who has heard the Master’s call,
Must true disciple be.
And bear His cross with heart and soul,
From now, till he’s set free.
“O Lord, may never I return
To seek the world so gay!
Since Thou hast my salvation earned,
with what shall I repay?”
(Last stanza of When He Calls, I Will Answer by Rev. Timothy Tow.)
1 Goldhill Plaza, #03-35, S(308899) firstname.lastname@example.org 6254 1287
© 2016 True Life Bible-Presbyterian Church