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When the dreams in your heart are torn apart

by Charmaine Ang | 27 February 2018, 5:32 PM

It was my dream to become a doctor for the poor, inspired by a documentary on Operation Smile, a non-profit medical organisation supported by volunteer doctors who provide free surgery for children born with cleft lips and whose families cannot afford corrective surgery.

I held this dream close to my heart even as I got older, and for some time it looked like I was getting closer to achieving it, as I soared academically in my secondary school and polytechnic days.

When it was finally time to apply for a place in university, I was insistent on getting into a medical school in Singapore. Thinking that God had to grant me the desires of my heart, I remember telling Him, “God, it is all or nothing. If I don’t get into medicine, then …”

I didn’t even complete my ultimatum, because I was so convinced I would get into the course of my choice.

To my disbelief, I received my first rejection letter, and in the same week, a second rejection letter. I was devastated; I felt like something in me died.

God, did I hear wrongly? How could a dream that was so long-lived not come from you?

With no other options to choose from, I decided to take a gap year.

The nights following my double rejection letters were difficult, to say the least, and I would cry myself to sleep. But even as I grappled with the hard truth, I didn’t want to waste that year away. I eventually faced reality, albeit somewhat grudgingly: Ok God, now what?

Those few words, though uttered not quite submissively, would be one of the most powerful prayers I’ve ever seen answered.

I began to work two part-time jobs, and started preparing for my second attempt at a medical school. One day, as I was preparing for my examination, I felt God’s assuring peace wash over me out of nowhere. I knew, without a doubt, that I was experiencing His love.

I was encountering Him.

” … And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day has broken.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’” (Genesis 32:26)

I finally saw that I too had been wrestling with God. All these years, I was wrestling hard to force my own ideas of my calling on Him. And now that my precious plans had been “put out of joint”, like Jacob, there was nothing left to hold onto but God Himself.

I was ready to just hold onto Him and His love, even if it meant that part of me – the dreams of medical school – had to die.

He didn’t promise me the success of my second try, but my desires for me started to mean less than His desires for me. I repented of my wilfulness and pride, for thinking that I knew better than Him.

I was ready to take on university not just for the degree, but to also be His vessel of love to the people around me in this next phase of life.

With faith and assurance that God would somehow come through for me, I prayed and asked that He would show me a rainbow in the sky as His green light. And indeed, I caught a glimpse of a rainbow as I submitted my applications for university.

I did not get into medical school.

Instead, I got into the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Life Science programme. This couldn’t be further from my hopes of providing healthcare for the needy.

But though the perceived means of my dream had died, my dream itself had not.

One day, I stumbled upon NUS’s School of Public Health’s webpage. After the introductory lecture by the school’s dean, I found that the information he told us actually checked off my mental checklist for what I wanted to study.

I applied for Public Health as my minor, and with every subsequent lecture and module that I took, I realised that my dream of working with the poor through the healthcare sector could be fulfilled! God had provided a means to my dream!

I realised that He heard my prayers, and more than that – that He loves me. He cares about what I care about.

Though the perceived means of my dream had died, my dream itself had not.

As Psalm 66:18-20 puts it, “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.”

Thank You Lord, for being so good to me even though I was a wilful kid. You didn’t attend to me in a way I wanted it to be, but You definitely heard my cries. Thank You Lord, for loving me. I don’t deserve it, but it is not about who I am; it’s about who You are. With you by my side, I look forward to seeing this dream unfold.

For those who are disappointed by their “A” level results or perhaps a rejection letter from somewhere, I pray too that you would receive comfort from God, and have faith even when things may not go the way you’d like them to.

Don’t give up on your dreams, and most importantly, don’t give up on Him.

This is a submission from a participant of our Greater Love Giveaway. From now till the end of March 2018, we are giving away a pack of limited edition “Greater Love” Stickers in exchange for every story. Stories must have a personal/local angle and be of 800-1000 words. Send us yours here.


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I too walked the path of broken dreams

by Amanda Chong | 5 March 2018, 2:32 PM

This was a response written to Charmaine Ang’s story, “When the dreams in your heart are torn apart“.

Dear Charmaine,

Thank you for stepping out to share your testimony about God’s love and how He impacted your life. Truly, our God is magnificent and only wants the best for us. Your article very much relates to how much I experience God working in my life too.

Like you, my ambition was to be a doctor since I was four. My father is a doctor and my mum is a nurse, so for my whole life, I had the desire to be a doctor and wanted to be just like them.

I studied really hard, got into the top class in Secondary school, and later on, the courses I needed to take in Junior College. I thought I was all set to be a doctor in the future. Back then I even made prayers to God such as, “God, if you let me be a doctor, I promise I’ll never bother you again.”

I was young, immature and didn’t read the Word much. I didn’t grow up in a Christian family and had misconstrued views about God even though I went to church. In fact, I used to think that He was just a divine being who had to send Jesus Christ to die for our sins because we were flawed, and we were a trouble to Him. It was a wrong perception. 

Subsequently, when my “A” level results came out, I was devastated. I didn’t do well enough to get into medical school. Like you, my dreams were crushed. I remember telling myself, what’s the point of going to church, praying daily and the likes – if God did not even care about me?

He said He promised a hope and a future for me, why did He not give me the best? I blamed God, and then backslided.

I know I must have hurt God a lot. Through the years, God drew me back to Him through various means. In His mercy, He showed that He indeed cared about me. I’ve now come to see Him as the Father who cares too much to give us lesser things.

It has been a decade, and I’m not a doctor. I’m an accountant. I’m not good at math, yet God showed me that I am an accountant only because of His strength and not mine. Giving me this occupation is a gift from Him, it is His calling for me.

When I first graduated, I couldn’t understand His plans as to why I was taking this degree. But it has been more than six years since I’ve become an accountant and I cherish the lessons He has taught me through the years.

I would never trade the dreams I thought I lost for the journey He took me through with Him.

I went for a mission trip last year in the Philippines. At the youth service, there was an altar call for those with broken dreams. Many stepped forward, and as I prayed at the altar for each of them, I felt their heart. I understood how these broken dreams had really made them upset.

I knew how it felt because I too journeyed through it.

But this I also knew: That God would eventually strengthen them and they will overcome, because He did the same for me.

Sometimes, God lets us go through certain journeys so that we may take away precious lessons. He wants us to have a glimpse and a piece of His heart, to eventually be a testimony of His goodness to others – to bring glory to His name, just like you have. 😊

May God continue to shower you with His grace and that you’ll continue to abide in Him. God bless you my sister in Christ!

This is a submission from a participant of our Greater Love Giveaway. From now till the end of March 2018, we are giving away a pack of limited edition “Greater Love” Stickers in exchange for every story. Stories must have a personal/local angle and be of 800-1000 words. Send us yours here.


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When life goes off key: From minor injuries to major detours

by James Yang | 4 March 2018, 9:12 PM

My dream has always been to use music as an outreach tool to touch people’s lives and share the Gospel. From early on in my young adulthood, I taught and performed on the piano, and frequently collaborated with my church’s children’s choir.

As I regularly attend music workshops to hone my skills, I even went to the US to attend masterclasses and learn healthy piano playing techniques to prevent performance related injuries, as repetitive strain injuries are extremely common among musicians.

Earlier last year, I decided to work towards auditioning for a music school; as such, preparation and practicing were of utmost priority.

Unfortunately, I had a minor injury – carpal tunnel – in April, and this reduced my practice significantly. I was discouraged and confused as I was sure whatever I was doing should not have led to an injury. Nonetheless, I persevered and committed to recovering and practicing.

In June, however, I picked up another injury suddenly, despite having reduced my practice duration significantly. This further aggravated my anxiety, confusion and discouragement. More symptoms started to appear over the months, and I started to have aches and pains in my hands.

And it just kept getting worse: I was later diagnosed with CSR (Central Serous Retinopathy) in my eye, which significantly affected my vision.

I didn’t know why all these had to happen and why God was allowing all these things. My finances were dwindling as I had to constantly pay for medical fees. Doctors were also not able to get to the root of these symptoms.

I had certainly lost hope in my situation, in my dreams, even in God. Nonetheless, even in the midst of my hopeless, God shone his light on small things.

In miraculous way, He provided more students and music assignments to provide for me financially. I was gradually reminded of my love for teaching, especially when I could impact children’s lives through music. It was greatly encouraging when other teachers who approached me to say how the children were inspired by my lessons, especially children with special needs.

Close friends and cell group members encouraged and prayed for me constantly during this season. I learnt how important it is to stay connected to a church community. Supportive family members stayed by me and encouraged me. I found myself treasuring family even more.

The Bible stories of Joseph and David encouraged me, as it showed how God sustained them in the midst of their decades of long-suffering, and even amidst their lowest points in life. And in September, the CSR condition in my eye healed up, and I was very thankful.

As such, I learnt to take one day at time trusting God, even though my situation didn’t immediately improve.

A breakthrough came in August, when I was involved in a children’s choir musical production. The musical was titled “The Tale of the 3 Trees”, and it was about three trees that had dreams of doing great things for God.

Unfortunately, they were chopped and made into scrap wood. Many years later, they were made into a manger, a small boat, and a wooden cross. One became the manger in which baby Jesus lay, the other became the boat in which Jesus slept during the storm, and the final one became the Cross on which Jesus hung to die for the salvation of all mankind.

This turning point was a strong reminder for me that Jesus is with me in my storm, and that He has a purpose for everything, even if I do not understand now.

“Jesus replied, ‘You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.'” (John 13:7)

I certainly wish to say God has cured me of all my illnesses, but it is certainly not the case today. I still feel pain and aches that affect my daily activities and hamper my practice. There are days where I feel hopeful, but there are more days where I feel despair, sad, broken, even useless, asking myself when is this all going to end.

For some of us here, the new year might already feel like a discouraging one. It could be an illness, tragedy, or hardship you are going through in life. My encouragement to you is this: You are not alone. God is with you, and there are other brothers and sisters in Christ (like myself) who are also going through extremely trying situations.

Don’t give up hope in God, keep fighting.

Rocky Balboa, the famous fictional boxer, once said this, “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” Do what you can daily. Keep praying, keep on doing good, stay in fellowship with your church community … Keep persevering in God.

He is with you, and He will sustain you all the days of your life.

“Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.” (Isaiah 50:10b)

Keep on following God’s light, because His Word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. (Psalms 119:105)

If you too have a testimony to share, we are giving away a pack of limited edition “Greater Love” Stickers in exchange for every story from now till the end of March 2018. Stories must have a personal/local angle and be of 800-1000 words. Send us yours here.


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I’m a new Christian and loving it

by Faith Koh Qiwei | 1 March 2018, 2:26 PM

Before I came to know Christ, I went to temples with my family as I was not born into a Christian family. At that point of time, I didn’t know which god I was praying to because there was so many.

In school, I was often bullied by my classmates and didn’t have many friends. I was a very timid girl. Whenever others asked me to do something, I was just too scared to respond. My studies weren’t good as well, and because I had little motivation to work hard, my results were poor.

Helpless, I would hide my problems because I didn’t have anyone to share them with apart from my sister.

But it was also my sister who shared Christ with me three years ago. I started going to church with her, and was even invited to join a cell group for teens.

On August 1, 2015, during an altar call in the youth service, I went forward and officially accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.

Things took a complete change after I accepted Jesus Christ as into my life. I wouldn’t say my life was perfect, but my confidence somehow grew significantly and people were looking to me when they felt down and needed someone to confide in.

I became a girl who would send messages and Bible verses to my friends and cell members, just to encourage them. The friendships I’ve made have brought great joy to my life, and I know that God has been the giver of these good gifts.

Things in school also started to look up, as I started putting in more hard work and seeing God change my perspective on studying.

As a new believer, I learnt how to do devotion and pray. My cell leaders were great teachers, and my cell group was there to support me through my new walk with God. When I faced any problems, I had people – even pastors – to turn to for guidance.

Life has been so exciting with God. He’s shown me visions of becoming a leader one day and spoken to me in many ways. Accepting Christ has been the best decision I’ve ever made.

And I’ve got a piece of good news to share! I will be getting baptised soon, as I want to declare my faith to everyone. I truly want to follow Jesus all the days of my life. And because I hope to grow strong in Him with faith, I’ve chosen that as my baptism name. Faith, for the journey ahead with my Lord and Saviour. 🙂

This is a submission from a participant of our Greater Love Giveaway. From now till the end of March 2018, we are giving away a pack of limited edition “Greater Love” Stickers in exchange for every story. Stories must have a personal/local angle and be of 800-1000 words. Send us yours here.


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How I escaped the performance treadmill

by Evangelyn Koh | 13 February 2018, 9:25 AM

Last year, God worked with me on something I really struggled with: The performance treadmill.

I felt a constant need to perform well so I could feel worthy enough to be loved by others. And if I performed poorly, I felt that people would love me less.

I guess it’s something many of us may face, living in a culture where results and achievements are emphasised. Growing up, it was normal to do my best in everything. I strove in school work, competitive sports – even in Church. I wanted to prove to myself and to others that I was capable.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t aim for excellence in the things that we do. We should put wholehearted effort (Colossians 3:23) into our work. My issue was that I equated my sense of self-worth with my ability to do things well.

As a result, there were many times I felt trapped by a sense of obligation to others, and I didn’t want to let them down by failing to do what I thought they expected of me.

This spilled over into my relationship with God as well.

I struggled with receiving His love for me. I knew it in my head, but somehow it didn’t sink into my heart and soul.

Does He really know, love and accept me fully – in spite of myself?

Even when I’m not performing up to expectations? My service in ministry often became another indicator of my “performance”, and I felt like I had to constantly strive so I could be found acceptable.

In the summer, God revealed Himself to me through two episodes which gave me a newfound sense of freedom in this struggle. The first was on a mission trip in June. The nagging sense of needing to perform – in making conversation, asking good questions, being able to connect with others – made me feel discouraged and frustrated whenever I failed.

But during our team devotions on Galatians and Ephesians, I was reminded that in our relationship with God, salvation comes through faith in Jesus alone – not by works or anything we can do (Galatians 2:16, Ephesians 2:8-9). His love is not dependent on my performance.

Our team leader reminded us that our motivation and true “KPI” should be whether we were growing in our love for the lost – desperate for our new friends to know Christ. God taught me to rely on the Holy Spirit in connecting with the locals, and shifting the focus of my efforts to building friendships and showing love to them.

Though I thought I had learnt a lesson well, God knew there was more to be (un)done.

During our summer exchange last July, my friend and I had lunch with a local campus ministry staff there. We wanted to get know him and find out more about the ministry there. However, as I started sharing some of the personal challenges I was facing serving in campus ministry back home, he sensed that there was something more behind how stressed I seemed.

I admitted that it might have been related to my struggle with the need to perform, and that God had been trying to address this issue in my life. He began speaking straight into my life. I felt his words go straight to the heart, especially when he said, “You’re not unloved if you don’t do things well”. That got me sobbing – ten minutes before our next class.

I faced a choice then: Trust Jesus, or keep chasing the idol of performance. I could choose to trust what God says about my identity, that I’m already accepted because of Jesus’ sacrifice and only His opinion of me ultimately matters. Or, I could continue trusting the lies which tell me that I need to keep working to gain the approval of men in order to be valued.

After a few more meet-ups with the campus staff, he told me that I was no longer the same person he met who ended up crying after one conversation. He recognised the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, and took us through a simple framework of responding and partnering with Him.

1. Recognise that the Holy Spirit is at work in your life

There are areas He wants you to take note of and to change. He will prompt you in certain ways – you can choose to ignore or respond.

2. Remember the Gospel and orient your heart towards God

Agreeing with the Holy Spirit, identify what Biblical truths and promises may be applied in your situation. For instance, I declared the truth that I am already accepted in Christ against the lie of needing to keep striving for approval from others. You either choose to trust God more or less.

3. Once you choose to trust Him, you can respond

Don’t ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Your actions will take you one of either two ways: Obey or disobey.

I was amazed by God at how divine the appointment was.

I believe that it was the Holy Spirit who guided me into the truth (John 16:13), shaking the false foundations I had lived my life on for so long.

This refining process was (and is) definitely painful, especially for something so embedded in my identity. Letting go of the guilt, fear and pressure to perform is not easy. It’s also not easy to deliberately choose to trust Jesus every time. But “the righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).

I thank God that I can now say “yes”. And though I will fail again somewhere and somehow, I no longer need to strive to perform to feel loved. Nothing I do can subtract or add to God’s love for me. The only striving left I must do is to strive to enter His rest (Hebrews 4:11) and to please Him (2 Corinthians 5:9) instead of others. These are truths I cling on to when I’m tempted to trust in the lies again – rather than in Him and His Word.

May we all experience the truth that we are accepted and dearly loved by Him. What a glorious thing it is, to live freely, knowing you are loved by Him!

This is a submission from a participant of our Greater Love Giveaway. From now till the end of March 2018, we are giving away a pack of limited edition “Greater Love” Stickers in exchange for every story. Stories must have a personal/local angle and be of 800-1000 words. Send us yours here.


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My life sucks. How?

by | 8 February 2018, 2:14 PM

I wonder if you can relate to some of the sentences below.

  • You’re struggling with school and no matter how hard you study, you’re just not doing well enough.
  • You’re stressed out at work and doing OT all the time, but someone else is getting the long-awaited promotion instead.
  • You’ve made sacrifices to spend more time with your family, but no one’s grateful about it and more tension is building up instead.
  • You’re in a relationship with someone but it feels like you’re not.
  • Or you desire to be in a relationship, but there’s just no one available around you.

Life can really suck. And even as I write this … I’m feeling it.

Why does life just seem so difficult? And God, You want me to take ownership and give thanks amidst all these problems I never asked for? When will this striving ever cease?

One thing I’m learning is that our lives have seasons of waiting, darkness, and hopelessness. But there are also seasons of light breaking into darkness, immense bliss — fulfilled hopes.

Some seasons are harder for us to endure — we can’t wait to get out of these heavier moments. But in generally “good” seasons, we become comfortable and reluctant for change.

The simple truth is that seasons are good for us. Seasons help us to mark chapters in our lives. Seasons help us to make and adjust to transitions. Seasons help us to start afresh.

I was always looking forward to the next season in my life.

When I was younger, I looked forward to being an independent young adult — I couldn’t wait to get to make my own decisions.

But when I became a somewhat-independent young adult, I sometimes found my responsibilities too tiring to bear and I dreaded having to make decisions. I was always looking forward to the holidays for a break. Yet when the holidays came and passed, I was full of dread towards the next season.

I realised I was never content — regardless of the season I was in. At every turn I just refused to own the season God had placed me in.

Why was I so… unsettled?

The answer: I couldn’t see the purpose of my season.

My eyes weren’t fixed on what God had in store for me. They were fixed on what was directly in front of me. Refusing to take ownership of the season created a vicious cycle of unhappiness and discontentment. My eyes were always roving around for something “better” — something more.

But what we often don’t see is that every season we’re in is like the field which hides treasure (Matthew 13:44). We must buy the field.

There’s no guarantee that the field we’re to purchase will be beautiful — lined with fresh, fragrant wildflowers. Frankly, the field might turn out to look bleak and barren. But if we recognise that there’s a hidden treasure beneath the surface — everything changes.

That empty plot of unwanted land suddenly flows over with possibilities. It becomes something we can not only accept, but something we would sell everything off to buy.

Willing to receive what we would not typically want, this unwanted piece of field may be revealed to hide the treasures we need.


Well, good for you. Thank God when you’re doing well — but don’t get too comfortable. I’m not saying that to make you doubt His goodness.

It’s just, when we get too comfortable in our season, it can be very difficult for us to get up and move into our next season.

Beware the black hole of complacency. Complacency encourages the absolute minimum. It stops growth. It kills.

But maintaining a heart of gratitude reminds us that every blessing that we receive is from God. It helps to keep us on our toes, ready for the next season or task He assigns.


It’s definitely easier for us to own our season and have a heart of gratitude when things are going smoothly and well. But how about when things seem too difficult to bear?

The secret lies in viewing gratitude as a posture and lifestyle independent of our current situation. Instead of being thankful for things, we should focus on being thankful in every circumstance.

There are seasons for growing and pruning, for celebrating and soaring. And there are seasons for grieving and mourning, for inactivity and reflecting.

But a spirit of gratitude transcends whatever season we are in. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms and thrives just as beautifully in winter as it does in spring.

Gratitude helps us own our seasons. It enables us to see beyond our present circumstance, into the purpose of the season. It gives us eyes that are primed to look out for God in our lives.

Seasons will change, seasons will end.

When I understood that, and accepted that each season had its purpose for my life — I started to own my seasons.

And through it all, God’s steady love proves sufficient to sustain me. He remains sovereign over all.

Living becomes beautiful when you receive the season of life you’re in as a gift from God with gratitude.


Christina is a designer and a writer. She is an INFJ who loves matcha, beautiful typography, good books and sad music. She also dreams of raising her own pet penguin one day.


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Article list

When the dreams in your heart are torn apart

I too walked the path of broken dreams

When life goes off key: From minor injuries to major detours

I’m a new Christian and loving it

How I escaped the performance treadmill

My life sucks. How?