Thursday, February 16, 2012

Update on ministry at church services

Last weekend has been an eventful weekend for me at church. I have, for a long, long while, NOT updated my “little ministry” as far as it pertains to what I do in church’s weekend services. I have just clicked on the last article ("You need faith, and you need love") I put up under the caption of “Concerning my little ministry”, and the article showed up as being put up on 3rd August 2011, a whopping 7 months ago! What has happened? Was there no more flow? Yah, how come? Let me see…

When I actually re-read that last article, I realised I have separately dated that article, at the end of the article, as 12th July 2011. I understand from the article, the reason why I penned in the date at the end, which normally I do NOT do; it was to capture when I actually decided to venture out of the church to hold healing meetings outside, or at the marketplace. Although the article was put up on the 3rd August, 2011, the decision was made on the 12th July 2011.

As a side, I actually have since went on to secure a place, and formed a team, and started the marketplace healing meetings in October 2011, and last weekend, the church has suggested it could come under the covering of the church, something I had originally wanted, but was left unanswered by the church due to church leadership transition.

Still what were the reasons for no entry under this caption? The following combination of factors accounts for it:

1. I have been busying preparing for the marketplace healing meeting ministry – getting a place, a team, and the sermons or messages.
2. Much time was spent on articles filed under other captions, such as Divine Healing (new), and Christian Services.
3. I also got onto following Ps Prentis’ blog so very regularly.
4. Lastly, things somehow had “cooled” somewhat in church.

What exactly is point 4 referring to? The main thing was that the church had entered into the tail-end phase of leadership transition, with the incumbent Senior Pastor “letting” the Senior Pastor-to-be, to have a go at “running” the church, including the services. Indeed, the incumbent spent much time away, so that the new in-charge-to-be, has some liberty to act as he deemed fit. The incumbent finally formally finished his term at the end of the year, but he was off much earlier to clear his Sabbatical leave, etc. That transition has somewhat affected the regularity of the ministry times in the services.

Well, with new leadership, tweaking was inevitable; uncertainties set in; and when people were unsure what was going on, and their questions went unanswered, for there were not yet firm decisions, ministry as usual did suffer. But enough of that; may the new leadership quickly finds a firm footing and restores the much needed certainty. Of course, we have to be careful NOT to point fingers, for it was not easy for the new in-charge, for several pastors also exited the church.

Not wanting to dwell anymore on the negativity of leadership transition (leadership renewal is an inevitable part of life), I only want to say, in many settings, corporate atmosphere is important, and is part and parcel of what God does look at, especially it is a body like a local church. It is my belief that God considers the individuals as well as the corporate, where it is applicable. In other words, not much gets done, if He considers the corporate setting or atmosphere is important, but it, the corporate setting or atmosphere, is out (of order).

Jesus, for example, did NOT do much in his own hometown, because the overall atmosphere in that town was NOT right. For a church, it can be same, too; God could be looking at faith and the unbelief of the church, the agreement and unity of the members, and of the leadership of the church, and other corporate dimensions, including widespread sinfulness in members and leaders, etc, etc. Now, this is NOT in any way insinuating the new leadership is guilty of any of these, but it is just I am expressing my understanding of the place of corporate atmosphere.

Well, if you doubt my understanding, think about Jesus’ lack of ministry in his own town that I have talked about already, and consider the fact that the Word contains scenarios of atmosphere of lands and countries being “controlled” by principalities, and battles had to be waged to clear corporate strongholds, before break-throughs came. Clearly, when many are in agreement, the subject matter does become a stronghold, if it is a negative that is being collectively agreed.

Still I believed for the stretch of 7 months, God did NOT go to sleep (and I did NOT abandon my role), for the church; there must be those who were ministered by me or others, at whatever times where we squeezed or “sneaked” in a ministry time, allowing for words of knowledge, and praying for those in needs. However, often times, people just do NOT come back with their testimonies, and we thought people were NOT ministered to, or worst still, in the eyes or ears of some, words released appeared as a “bunch of craps” with no one claiming them. Later, I will share that a word I released in 2010 was received in, and it came to pass, and the person came to tell me last weekend.

Still, this blog and its entries here are very much about happenings that got to do with me, meaning generally, I do NOT deliberately go out of my way to report on the successes of other ministers; for, for one thing, this is principally a journaling of my ministry, and NOT that of others, and another, is so that, readers do NOT inevitably mistaken results of other people’s ministry being mine. In that sense, zero reporting here does NOT necessarily mean nothing was happening for others (other people in ministry – church Altar Ministry, principally). Because I was on-site almost every service, I of course, can comment that there was indeed a decline of VISIBLE manifestations of God was working, through a “NOT so unanimously agreed” period of altar ministry.

But to illustrate that I was still trying to be as active as possible, and God did NOT just switched off (it is untenable to consider God would just “turn off the tap” just because the Senior Pastor has retired {per se}. But of course, if given time, if God understands that people are quenching His Spirit, He is NOT going to be continuing His work, without teaching people a thing or two), I will share:

1. First of all, my 2nd occasion of praying and seeing a leg growing to match a longer leg. This 2nd occasion happened in Jan 2012, and I was hoping the person would submit a written testimony to the church but apparently the person did NOT.

2. Then, I will share about the 2010 word that has come to pass, that has gladdened my heart last weekend.

3. I will also share about my joy of seeing fruit coming from doing a little bit more to love others.

4. Finally, I also want to share an important prophecy given to the church over the last weekend – a case of prophecy given in pictures. I also believe as an encouragement, personally for myself, the Lord has also allowed a breaking of level for my all time-gift, the gift of singing in tongues. However, to avoid too lengthy an entry here, I will put out this last item, item 4, as a separate entry – Update on ministry in church services – Part II.

So, here are the elaborations for point 1 to 3:

Leg grew on the spot, and no more pain
In Jan 2012, after a usual Saturday church service, I stayed behind to see if any, needed prayers (I do this commonly, voluntarily). A woman, came up to the sanctuary front, limping, and walking with pain, and asked me if I could pray for her. She explained that she suffered toe fracture on one foot some 4 months earlier. Doctor told her that after 3 months she should be alright, but after 4 months, she was still experiencing pain in that leg, and worse still the other leg of hers was also painful, and both her legs were weak. She went back for doctor consultation, and x-ray showed that the fractured bones had fused back, but doctor was puzzled about the pain and weakness, and had informed the lady that she got to make return visits and run a few other tests.

I prayed for the woman, and after a while I asked if she still had the pain, and she said it was better, and she explained that prior to this, when she walked, there would be both pain and some sort of “needle poking” sensation coming on. But it was better already. She then said that she felt one of her leg was longer than the other. Because of experience, I know it could be true, and so, I asked her to move back to the first row of the pew seats; I asked that she sit down (upright), and I lifted both her legs. Indeed, one of the leg, the one that she earlier said, was longer, was way longer than the other; we are talking about a difference of more than an inch! After letting her know, I prayed for the leg to grow so that both legs would become of the same length; and the shorter leg grew. Although the heels were quickly aligned, the front portions of the feet were NOT exactly aligned. And so, I put one hand at the front portions of both feet, and prayed and they became aligned. I then asked the woman to try walking. When she tried, she said that she still felt one side (of her body) was still a little higher than the other, and asked if the floor was NOT flat. Yes, I believe the floor at the sanctuary was slightly sloped; and so I asked her to walk along the central aisle instead, which she did. She then exclaimed that all the pain was gone. Her husband, by this time has joined us, both exclaimed the surprise. The Lord has lengthened her leg, and healed her feet. Hallelujah, praise be to God.

The “lulus tinggi”
What is that, “lulus tinggi”? You will know what the phrase means, if you have studied Malay or knows the Malay language. I know because I studied Malay as a second language for 11 years, in the past. “Lulus” means “pass” as in passing an examination. “Tinggi” means “high” as in high is Mount Kinabalu (a mountain in Malaysia). So together, “lulus tinggi” means “high passes”.

This word of knowledge (or one may even call it, prophecy), was a word I received and released in 2010. Now, I have released many words over the period of last 4 years, and really, most of them I could NOT remember them off-hand (and so, the reason for my doing this kind of journaling as in this blog). This one I remember; why? Because it had the Malay phrase in it. It was the only one, of all the words I ever released, that had Malay words in it. And if I do NOT remember wrongly, when the word came to me, I actually saw the phrase before my eyes, meaning I could read it off.

It was and is strange, yet I am saying to you that, such do happen – the Lord giving a word, NOT in English, when obviously, I was in an English church service. Now, if it were Chinese, it probably would NOT surprise many, for in Singapore, languages commonly used, and commonly have church services conducted in, are English and Chinese (and Chinese dialects); in fact, I do NOT know of any church services in Malay in Singapore! If it were Chinese, it would surprise few, but it would surprise me, because I cannot say that I can read Chinese (Mandarin) even though I am a Chinese; I can’t, although I can converse in Chinese. But such simple Malay, on the other hand, was and is NOT a problem at all for me.

Obviously, the Lord had to give me in a language that I can understand before I can give it out. Still, I did recognize that it was exceptional that the Lord would show me Malay words, instead of English. But you know what, that also meant that it could NOT be a mistake, for I did not and do NOT think or imagine in Malay (for I do NOT even use the Malay language in daily life for years already). And so, on that occasion, I released the word to the effect of someone in the congregation, the Lord knew he/she was very concerned, desperate even, about the studies of his/her child, but the Lord gave the Word of “lulus tinggi”, meaning “high passes”; in other words, the child would come through with high passes. Of course, I revealed I saw the Malay writing, and that I knew Malay and so, I could release the word.

Last weekend, after the 8.30am service, a woman came to front of the sanctuary, and she related how I had given that “lulus tinggi” word, and she knew it applied to her, and she held to the promise of that word. She said the word had come to pass.

This woman revealed that back then, in 2010, when the word was released, the situation of her was like this: there were 4 people in the family, father, mother (the woman), a daughter and a son. The one, the other 3 had almost wanted to give up hope on, was the boy, the woman’s son. She related how the father and sister were thinking of giving up on the boy when the boy was “hopeless” even with his “N” levels studies (In Singapore, there is streaming; those pupils who are NOT grouped as the typical pupils who would be expected to be able to clear the “O” levels examinations, would be put to “N” levels, a kind of sub-O levels). The woman, the mother, afterwards, decided decisively NOT going to give up on the boy, and the boy went on to pass his “N” levels, with an aggregate of 10 which is pretty high pass overall (top “N” level students aggregate about 6). The boy then went on to take the “O” levels, and got an aggregate of 19, a good high pass, indeed. The boy, according to the mother is now enrolled in a Singapore Polytechnic.

This woman revealed that she too does receive pictures or visions from the Lord, but she still has not been able to interpret them; and she said, she was impressed upon by the Lord, to come up to me, and tell me, the testimony, and to tell me to continue on, with the release of the words the Lord gives. What an affirmation the Lord gives! I encouraged her to give a written testimony to the church, and I really hope she gets down to do that, for the church leadership needs to hear such testimonies, that indeed, members do receive in, the words released in services, and are blessed. A boy’s entire future is completely different, turned bright, because his mother heard the Lord’s word and received it in. I say, church services should be conducted to facilitate such God’s giving “life” to people.

I say, how true is the word said by Alicia, a sister member from the church, concerning why words of knowledge (and prophecy) and ministry time be accommodated in church services even when the church has a whole string of ministries such as healing, deliverance, family life, teaching, etc, etc, which people can contact and arrange separate meetings privately for ministry; “if the Lord wants to minister now, we minister now!”

You see, the problem with many of us, including church leaders, is that we box God; we are in effect telling God when He is supposed to minister – “God, you are NOT supposed to heal people here or give a word to people here, you should wait until a private session has been arranged, and then you can do it there!” Unconsciously, we are indeed expressing such audacity when we quench the desired moves of the Spirit of God.

Another one, a brother of the church said this: “You fear men or you fear God?” It is “tricky”, but there is important truth embedded in there; if you are asked by God to release His words, do you fear men (including church leaders) and NOT release it or do you fear God, and do as you are expected by God to do? Equally “tricky”, when applied to the leadership of church; do you allow time for such release of words of knowledge and prophecy, and the ministry to people thereof, or even just the ministry (without words), or do you give in to lament of men who said that such (time allocation) is wasting majority’s time, to attend to minority’s needs! Is such majority-minority argument the way of the Kingdom? Or is it the other way round, think about this: God said that the road and gate to life is narrow, and those to Hell are the reverse; majority is right?! Go with the majority?! Some food for thought, I say.

With a little more effort to love, fruitful is God’s harvest
Does God heal everyone every time? No. Did people get healed all the time when I prayed for them? No, but there were people healed. Were all people ministered when I ministered to them? No, but enough were. Did I ever make mistake releasing words? Yes, but few, and it became even fewer and fewer. In it all, I effort to love. Gal 5:6b – “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (If you want further exposition of this, read, the article of 3rd August 2011 which I mentioned at the start – “You need faith, and you need love”)

Think about it: If you are NOT a doctor, you would NOT be able to love someone who is sick? If you cannot make someone well from his/her sickness because you are no doctor, you can no way love the person? You may NOT be able to address his/her sickness, for you are no doctor, but it is really NOT ground enough for you to say, you could NOT love the person in affliction. You can effort to love, and people can receive that love.

That effort to love, and people receiving your love is the scene God is very happy to see. When we receive God’s love, we are touched, something is transformed within us; in other words, God’s love has borne fruit. When we love another with the love of God, when that love is received in, the person is touched, something within him is transformed; in the same way, God’s love borne fruit in us, our “God-love” bears fruit for God’s harvest. Love is primary (first), and it will give rise to primary fruit. What is primary is most important indeed.

When I pray for a cancer patient, minister to him/her, follow up with him/her, all in an effort to love with the love of God, and the person dies, do I produce no fruit, that I healed NOT, the person? No, I believe I have produced the primary fruit, the fruit of love, and God is pleased with that. May you catch this outlook that I believe all servants and ministers of God must have, and believe in.

This is what I believe the Lord was teaching me, in my journey of the last 4 years, especially in relation to a pair of cancer-stricken women, one in Malaysia, and another, in Singapore, who both, at the overlapping period, suffered stage 4 lung cancer. Both of them have passed away, now. I mean I have followed them through, not only praying for healing for them, but also included attending to their spiritual feeding and health, for many, many months, and that was a lot of time and effort, yet they still improved NOT as far as their medical conditions; hardly even once, did they say that my prayers had brought arrest to their medical conditions. Many a time, however, I received from them messages of how they were touched when they received prayers from me, including written ones (for one of them, was after all, in another country, Malaysia). I thought I was supposed to be primarily a healer-minister, but it is now apparent that, even so, that I am a healer-minister, I am first of all, a minister of love, that I am to minister the love of God to people.

I will just share how my heart was gladdened over the past 2 weekends over the case of Carolyn Quek, the Singapore woman who had the stage 4 lung cancer and has passed away on New Year Eve (the fuller case on Carolyn Quek could be found here:”Carolyn Quek has passed on, too“). Carolyn Quek’s husband, Anson, was NOT a Christian at the time Carolyn was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, but he has since given his life to Jesus. Carolyn, on the other hand, was a Christian way before they were married; yet for so many years (more than 20 years) of their marriage, Anson did not accept Jesus into his life. I am sure it was, in part, as result of Carolyn Quek’s strong faith and steadfastness in the face of her cancer affliction, and the love he saw in those (of course, there were others) who ministered to his late wife (and even to him) that he gave over his life. More importantly, the question of whether or NOT, Anson would follow through with his commitment to follow Jesus after his wife has passed away just before he was due for baptism, did ring in my heart.

Carolyn was NOT a member of the church I attend (for simplicity, I just say my church), but has come to attend the services of my church because I would be there. Carolyn decided to transfer church membership, and both husband and wife started attending the baptism/membership classes at my church; Carolyn needed to complete the course to transfer, and Anson, to be baptized to be a member of my church. Carolyn went home to be with the Lord before completion of the course (hospitalized, and so could NOT attend the last sessions), and she was NOT in time to be transferred, and her church (not my church) conducted the Christian funeral service.

I never insisted to minister to my church members only, and at no time I hinted any transfer was necessary, and so, Carolyn’s decision of transfer was in part attributable to the love and warmth she experienced. Anson, could opt NOT to be baptized at all, or he could go back to Carolyn’s church where 2 of their children (the 2 youngest) were attending. The weekend prior to the last, I witnessed his baptism at my church. I was so happy that indeed the affirmations he gave to me, on those hospital visits of mine, to pray and stay with Carolyn’s loved ones, including my visit of them at the hospital on Christmas morning, a few days before she passed away, were really heart-felt by Anson. In those occasions, he shared repeatedly how Carolyn was touched and how he was touched (this was despite Carolyn’s sickness did not improve, over the entire period!).

Actually, after Carolyn’s passing on, I continued to pray in my prayer times, for Anson that he would NOT back out of his commitment to follow Christ. Witnessing his baptism was such a joy, which I shared with his 4 sons. Last weekend, in one of the services, I again saw Anson in church, and the 2 youngest children (sons) were with him. I could NOT help but rushed over to say hello to them before they left the sanctuary.

Directly, I had NOT brought physical healing to Carolyn, despite the many prayers in church (almost every week, I prayed for her in church), but I efforted to give a little of God’s love, and the Spirit of God magnified it, along with those given by others (like Dr Alan Chin), and fruit formed for the Lord’s harvest – Carolyn’s husband, Anson, remains committed to the Lord, and Carolyn’s children, especially the 2 youngest ones, have experienced the love of God through his servants. One of them shared with me in the hospital at Christmas morn, that he would like to go to Bible school rather than normal school; he said God’s ways are the relevant ways. I believed God has put something good in this boy’s heart, even as he saw the Lord did NOT heal his mother. I spent a good one hour giving understanding to this boy.

Look out for Part II of this “Update on ministry at church services”.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – Lord, I thank you for your affirmation and encouragement. My prayer is for you to move the heart and mind of the church leadership to always be willing to facilitate your blessings of people, both your children as well as those unsaved. The ministry time in church services belongs to you and you alone. I want blessing for the people, and so, I pray for your strong hand of insistence over frivolous wishes of men, be they members of congregation or church leaders. Lastly, Lord, I want to believe that, that son of Anson, who said he preferred Bible school, he, Lord, you will continue to touch, and in turn, he will touch many lives, with his life, in the years to come. Amen.

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