Top Stories

Sign Up for our newsletter now.

Culture

Full-time under 30: From academia to the heart of Africa

by Jemima Ooi, Justice Rising | 4 June 2018, 2:14 PM

Before I was called into missions in my early twenties, I remember chatting with a close friend who was feeling the nudge towards full-time ministry. She asked me what I thought, and with gutsy conviction, I replied, “Being called out by God is the most humbling privilege anyone can ever receive.”

I still feel the same way now, after seven years in the field, and perhaps all the more convinced – although I have to admit my convictions waned a little when I was first called into the fray!

Truth is, I’ve caught whispers of my calling since I was a young girl. Since God lives outside of time, I believe He peppers glimpses of our callings throughout our lives. I recall having visions of working in refugee camps at the age of 14, and having recurring dreams about being amongst the poor as a child.

Sometimes the knowing was so deep, I would tell my mum as a little girl that I didn’t think my life would be very ordinary.

Life in the Congo

The faith journey that led me into full-time missions started while I was in university. At that time, I saw my contemporaries fizzle out in the faith, pursuing lifestyles that weren’t healthy for them.

I was deeply saddened in my spirit – some of my closest friends left God, and I couldn’t convince them to stay.

It occurred to me then that it wasn’t just about good deeds or character; it wasn’t about knowing right and wrong – these things alone didn’t go down deep enough into the heart of a person to establish them, anchor them in God.

Something was missing and I needed to find God for myself. I needed Him to be so real that nothing on earth could tear me away from our relationship. I needed to live in intimacy, in oneness with Him.

This was where my deep and personal relationship with God took off. I began to seek Him out. I would take walks alone with Him late at night for over two hours almost every day. I talked to Him about everything on my heart, and He listened.

He encouraged me, taught me how to study, how to write my essays. I felt deeply at peace and known by my Creator. Soon God began to speak to me about “going places with Him”. I heartily agreed but didn’t exactly know how it would unfold.

Being called out by God is the most humbling privilege anyone can ever receive.

As I walked and talked with Him, God helped me to excel in university. Some people described me as a “late bloomer”, but I know it was nothing apart from God.

My professors talked to me about scholarships and asked if I would consider a career in academia. Coming from my bumbling academic background growing up, this was by far the most prestigious offer I’d ever received in my life. I had also received several tempting job offers, but my heart was hesitant.

So I sat to pray in earnest; I remember telling God, “I can’t do any of this without You. If I stay in academia or take these other jobs, but You’re not with me, everyone will know I’m a hoax.”

“What do You desire for my life?”

He replied by telling me to serve my parents for a year, after which He would tell me then what He wanted me to do.

My parents run a restaurant called “Penang Place”, and I worked there for two years as a server, helping to manage the operations and communications of our little family business.

It was a humbling place where God was sifting my affections – whether it lay in the things of this world, the honour and prestige, or whether I was loyal to the things on His heart. At the end of one year, God spoke so clearly to me about becoming a missionary.

He spoke about giving off my first fruits to Him, not just my money, but my strength and youth –things that could not be bought or regained.

During this season when God was speaking, several visiting speakers actually approached me and told me that God had marked me “for the nations”. These people didn’t even know me! The confirmations just kept coming and I knew that it was time to leave.

From there, I signed up to train with an international missions organisation, Youth With A Mission (YWAM), gave up my right to material security as the world would understand it, said goodbye to my family … And followed the call of God on my life.

Of course, going full-time wasn’t without its intense challenges. The biggest was this: I had to give up all self-sufficiency and control.

I joke that my initial fail-safe plan was to work hard, put aside savings, find a husband with a similar call, and one day move our whole family to the mission field. It was an absurd plan, but it felt so logical in my mind.

Over the years I’ve learnt that I have to surrender full control to God, from trusting Him to provide for me and my heart, to protecting me in dangerous war zones. I also have to depend on God to send others to support God’s work through me. I am completely dependent.

Sometimes to live in His peace, one has to sacrifice understanding.

There were many sacrifices in the initial years, chief of all being “understanding”. I didn’t understand where provision would come from, what my three to five year plan was … When I first started out, I had many well-meaning people concerned that I was “throwing away my future”, others thought I was being too lofty and idealistic, impractical.

I had no answers for them; I really had nothing to show for myself – I didn’t even know where I was going for a while! All I had was the firm belief that God had placed a dream in my heart for the poor and broken, and I had to follow Him.

Washing the feet of villagers

In the Bible it talks about there being a “peace that surpasses understanding” (Philippians 4:7): Sometimes to live in His peace, one has to sacrifice understanding.

The peace I’ve found is that God is most acquainted with the future, that when He calls, He provides. He always has an employment plan for those who work for Him. My dad used to tell me, “God gives His best to those who leave the choice to Him.” I’ve found this to be true – my life is so fulfilling and genuinely happy.

It seems paradoxical for someone living in a war zone to feel this way, but there really is nothing else I want to do. Living by faith with no steady stream of income is baffling even to me, yet God has provided for my every need. What a wonderful thought, that God has made it His responsibility to watch over us!

Today, I work for a missionary organisation called Justice Rising. I work alongside a team of missionaries who are sold-out lovers of God. They leave everything behind to risk their lives in a war zone – and most don’t even get paid for it!

One of the key ways we help to benefit these poor and broken communities is through education. We build all kind of schools – preschools, primary and secondary schools, carpentry and sewing schools. We also run discipleship training schools where locals from 16 to 60 years of age and every livelihood – farmers, mamas, pastors – come to be trained up as missionaries for their country.

With one of the mamas at church

There are many benefits to having a school. As the community learns good hygiene practices, plagues decrease and sanitation improves. Children are able to get help for the trauma issues they face.

Most importantly, we are able to disciple future generations in the things of God. Our students leave school not just knowing about God, but with a deep and personal walk with Him. They are the Daniels-in-training that will bring the wisdom of God before kings and leaders to shape their nation in the years to come.


Besides her primary work in the Congo with Justice Rising, Jemima currently oversees two slum schools in India, is helping to develop a large refugee settlement in the central Kenyan desert while working with survivors from the genocide in Rwanda, and is supporting a Burundian refugee community. If you’d like to support the work, please visit Justice Rising’s donation page to make a contribution.

Conversations

We Recommend

Studies

I was so sure where the path would lead – and then the music faded

by Chantel Tay

Faith

The manna test

by Pastor Kevin Koh, Cornerstone Community Church

Relationships

Are your friends only from Church?

by Wong Siqi

Culture

When you’re poorer in your twenties than you planned to be

by | 9 May 2018, 2:02 PM

 “You’re a fresh grad. You should be able to commit to at least $300 a month to this savings plan.”

I stared blankly at my financial planner as she continued to ramble on with her graphs and numbers — my head was spinning. She asked me if I had a savings plan, or if I was planning to start one soon: “You’re not that young, you should really have a savings plan.”

A $300 monthly commitment sounded scary to me, but I was afraid to voice out my fear to her. She made it sound like any other fresh grad would be able to commit to that amount easily.

I got a little upset. Not with her … But with myself. I wanted to be able to agree to that $300 as easily and coolly as she did.

Why did I feel so poor?

LOVING MONEY KILLS 

Just the other day, my friend was telling me about fearing life after graduation. He told me he desires to go into full-time ministry, but he has other things to consider. As the only child, he has ageing parents to support and wants to be financially ready for marriage in a few years. And while he’s still doing an internship now — many of his peers have already secured a full-time job.

I really want to serve God full-time, but money is this other big thing …

It wasn’t as though his concerns weren’t valid. But the reality is feeling poor doesn’t stop once we start earning a keep that we think is good enough. It doesn’t go away — it’s never going to be enough.

You might not be as rich as you thought you’d be by now, but that’s nowhere near as important as storing up treasures in heaven.

The more you have, the more you want.  And more often that not, feeling poor stems from a place of discontentment and dissatisfaction.

I don’t think I’m being paid enough. I think I deserve a higher pay. Other people are doing better than me.

It all hinges on comparison from a point of reference in our minds. So we salivate over our fantasies of wealth, not realising they will also kill us (1 Timothy 6:6-10).

I think John Piper puts it best: “The love of money is suicidal. Jesus said it. Paul also said it. And Judas proved it (John 12:1–8).”

WANT ≠ NEED

Recently I went for a number of surgical procedures which amounted to a few thousand dollars. Unfortunately, the nurse made a mistake with my Medisave claim which I was only informed of months later — I would have to pay the full amount in cash.

It wasn’t even my fault! When I found out, I immediately began doing the mental sums. Just a week before this happened, I had booked my air tickets for a missions trip. So literally nothing went into my savings for that month. My wallet was bleeding, as was my heart.

I poured my heart out to God about my situation. But He had something else to say: “Why are you even feeling this way? I already gave you everything you needed.”

Honestly, it sounded like a platitude. But when I searched my heart, I knew I was looking at things from the wrong perspective – my own. My problem is that I always think that what I want is what I need.

But God already knows what we need. We won’t get everything we want, but we need to trust in the truth that God always provides and gives — and sometimes withholds lovingly (Matthew 6:33).

I wanted a few extra thousand dollars to cover my medical expenses and trip. I failed to see that God had already provided for those amounts beforehand – through my salary. God is our ultimate provider. He does so in ways that go largely unnoticed at times like our salaries, a freelance job or a blessing from a friend.

PLAN FINANCES WISELY

As we trust God to provide for the future, we also need to also be prudent in stewarding what we already have (Matthew 25:14-23). Some months back, my cellgroup member who used to work as a financial planner created a handy chart to help my cellgroup to steward our finances wisely.

“You have to set aside a budget for even the seemingly frivolous things like shopping, because if you don’t you’re only kidding yourself.”

She shared with us that financial planning is only effective when you’re honest with every aspect of your expenditure. It’s also good for us to do a reality check on our finances once in a while to ensure that we’re on the right track.

Create a financial plan that helps you to give generously and save wisely regardless of your circumstances.

DON’T WORRY

Ultimately, nothing that we own is actually ours. Everything comes from and belongs to God, who has graciously provided for us.

I’ve seen money destroy relationships and cause conflicts. I’ve seen how love of money and obsession over it have changed people for the worse.

Money in itself isn’t evil. It can be good as a tool to accomplish things like blessing others or providing your family. But when money becomes your life’s goal, it becomes poison to your soul.

You stay in a job you hate just because it pays well. You make life difficult for yourself and even others just to keep your money. You choose to skip out on life’s milestones so you can hoard more.

Loving money is opposite to having faith in God’s character – trusting in His unending grace and supernatural provision. It is not believing God’s promises. We can’t serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24-25). A heart fixated on money is one that isn’t locked onto who God is and what He has in store for our lives.

Fellow twenty-somethings, you might not be as rich as you thought you’d be by now, but that’s nowhere near as important as storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20).

Trust in God. He has provided for you and He always will.

/ christina@thir.st

Christina is a designer who memorises Pantone swatches. She is an INFJ who loves matcha, 80% dark chocolate, beautiful typography and folk jazz. She also dreams of raising her own pet penguin one day.

Conversations

We Recommend

Relationships

To the grandfather I never knew

by Fiona Teh

Faith

How should we respond to persecution?

by Ronald JJ Wong

Relationships

For many years, I thought my dad didn’t love me

by Pauline Wong

Faith

Riches I have, but not measured in dollars

by Nicholas Quek | 2 May 2018, 2:37 PM

I think it was in primary school that I first realised my family was comfortably well-off.

Yellow rice 加蛋 was the king’s meal back in the day. I know that now. For a long time that was my standard recess order, and I thought nothing of it, until one day I saw my friend eating a packet of Hello Panda for recess.

I asked him why he wasn’t eating a full meal, and his reply was, “Cheaper lah bro. Money cannot anyhow spend.”

To this day I have much to grow in by way of financial responsibility. I don’t spend exorbitantly, but neither the source of money nor the guilt of spending has ever been a major factor in my financial decisions.

The fact is that my family lies in the top percentile of income earners in Singapore, and that experience in primary school was just a sliver of evidence of how that can shape a person’s perspective on money.

I may not spend a lot, but I could.

I never thought much about this until a group I was in decided to study the book of Ecclesiastes.

There’s a portion of Scripture there that talks about the vanity of pursuing riches. And I was supposed to lead a discussion on it.

I felt so guilty. Here I was, a member of a high-income family, from a high-income nation, lecturing others on the vanity of chasing after money. The hypocrisy! The absurdity!

Nicholas? You? You of all people want to teach others how to forsake the pursuit of money? Of course it’s easy for you to say that the pursuit money is vanity – you have so much of it!

I realised what it must look like: A rich boy dressing myself with the garments of religious humility – the clothes of a priest – but returning daily to a mansion. There are so many who have suffered from lack, so many who are poor, so many whose faith has been tested more than me – how could I speak in their presence?

So how then? How might a rich man preach the Word? How might a rich man preach Christ?

It’s possible when he remembers that he was saved by Christ.

The effectiveness in the preaching of the Word doesn’t come from our social status, any more than the assuredness of our salvation does. Effective preaching of the Word comes from a heart filled with the Holy Spirit, a heart submitted to the Cross, a heart that rejoices in the words of God, a heart that seeks nothing more than Christ esteemed.

Like all men, my state without Christ is to be pitied.

If the effectiveness of teaching was founded in my ability to garner sympathy, then indeed I would be unfit for that position. My life has been filled to the brim with all measure of physical blessing – money, possessions, status – that some men might envy.

But like all men, my state without Christ is to be pitied. Scorned, laughed, dethroned and cast to the trash, where all my works and possessions belong. Such are the riches of Christ – that my wealth is rendered as dust before his throne, and my money like feeble scraps.

For there is no distinction: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:22b-24)

As I have received Jesus Christ my Lord, so I walk in Him.

Not in my own wisdom, not in my own status, not in the opinions of others, not in the knowledge I garner, not in the experience I accumulate, but only in Christ Jesus my Lord, my Rock and my only Salvation.

All measure of good work, all measure of good teaching and preaching, all measure of praying, all measure of continual submission, all measure of generosity must come out of this place of not-I-but-He-alone.

I pray that what comes through my teaching is not my social status, but Christ who dwells in me.

I do all these things in utter humility, knowing that I speak from a position of complete gratitude and reverence and awe and worship. I, a man – rich or otherwise – have been saved.

I pray that what comes through my teaching is not my social status, but Christ who dwells in me.

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words.

But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:23-27)

All things are possible – even the salvation of a rich man.

Conversations

We Recommend

Faith

Love makes space

by Dev Menon

Faith

God is my Father

by Fiona Teh

Faith

Don’t retreat after a retreat

by Samantha Loh

Money

I was tithing for the wrong reasons

by Agnes Lee | 10 April 2018, 3:31 PM

Four years ago, I moved out alone after a heated argument with my family.

At around the same time, I began attending a small family church. The pastor’s wife invested a lot of time in mentoring me. She studied the Bible with me weekly, and often lent me her listening ear. I was incredibly grateful.

I did not know how to repay her, so I started tithing to the church out of a heart of gratitude towards her. I did not want her to invest in me without any returns.

The other reason I started giving was because I saw that the church was small – every cent of the tithes and offerings collected from church members counted. I remember one month, our pastor announced that we did not have enough to pay rent for that month. Though I was not rich and did not earn a high salary, I decided to prioritise tithing then.

Eventually, I reconciled with my family and began contributing to the family expenses again. Though this additional expense strained my finances, I was still determined to continue tithing. I felt grateful for the help that the pastor’s wife had given to me during my hard times, and I did not want the finances of the small church to be affected.

There’s the problem: I wasn’t tithing out of a personal conviction to please the Lord. Instead, I was tithing to please people around me like the pastor’s wife and the congregation.

Tithing from my own strength and for the wrong reasons, I soon started to grumble. Though I continued giving the 10 percent that my church recommended each member to give – I was inwardly unhappy.

I began to find fault with what our usher (she’s also in charge of collecting tithes and offerings) would pray before the collection. She would typically say something along the lines of, “I pray we will all give with a cheerful heart.”

Her words meant nothing to me. I would continue to grumble, thinking to myself, “As long as I give, it’s okay … It does not really matter whether my heart is cheerful. As long I’m not hindering church finances – it should be fine.’’

Tithing is not mere grudging obedience. Tithing reflects how ready we are to surrender our hearts.

But God was concerned about my attitude of giving. He did not give such grumbling a chance to linger. During my quiet time one day, God mercifully showed me that the prayers the usher prayed were actually based on scripture.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)

As I studied this verse, I felt as if God was lovingly saying: “I want you to be cheerful as you give. Do not give out of compulsion. If you are not cheerful, please keep your money. I don’t want it. I would rather have your heart.”

I felt convicted. I realised that God only wants my heart. He wants my attitude to be right before Him. God does not desire my money; His desire is for me to love Him with a heart of conviction – to give Him a place above everything else in my heart. I felt a tender, fatherly love flowing out of the words of the Bible, telling me I am precious in His eyes.

So why had it been so difficult for me to give cheerfully from my heart? Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). I realised that I did not love God enough. Outwardly, I declared that I loved God. But inwardly, God was revealing to me the true condition of my heart.

Tithing is not mere grudging obedience. Tithing reflects how ready we are to surrender our hearts. A surrendered heart is a heart that is cheerful in giving, and God can do far more in our lives when we live with a surrendered heart.

Ever since God revealed to me His desire for my heart, I no longer grumble about tithing. Though my finances are still tight, 2 Corinthians 9:6 encourages me: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

God’s kingdom is not about the material things of the world. It is about eternal things that last forever. As we tithe generously, we may not see financial returns in our bank accounts, but we definitely reap returns that are of eternal value.

Tithing to the Lord when I am financially tight, I have learned far more than I would have if I were rich. I have learned what it is like to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), and I am grateful to experience God’s truth in His promises each time I surrender.

Slowly and surely, He is teaching me to trust Him more. And each time He does that my love for Him only grows.


This article was first published on YMI.today, and is republished with permission.

Conversations

We Recommend

Relationships

What’s in a surname that I should change it when I marry?

by Sherrie Han

I was my own villain

by Amedee Goh

Culture

Full-time under 30: From academia to the heart of Africa

by Jemima Ooi, Justice Rising

Money

Growing up in a lower-income family, I hated my life

by Shanice Lim | 20 March 2018, 4:23 PM

My parents separated when I was 10.

I was too young to understand anything about separation, but one thing I knew for sure was that our house now felt emptier.

After the separation, my mother moved us to our aunt’s place where the 4 of us settled in a single room. Over time, I began to realise how difficult it was for my mother, being the sole breadwinner of the family.

I saw her struggle to pay off bills and rent to the point that our allowances became a problem. I was still too young to help her so all I could do was to worry with her. I worried about money and all kinds of things other 16-year-old teenagers wouldn’t really bother about.

I had no choice but to grow up quickly into an independent person.

In 2013, I entered polytechnic. Honestly, by that point of time – I hated my life.

Why was life so unfair? I started comparing my family to other people’s families. At every turn, I felt like I was on the losing side. My family wasn’t complete, it wasn’t financially stable. I wasn’t pleased with anything in my life.

And around this time, I stopped taking money from my mother because I knew it was more important for her to provide for my younger sibling. That meant I had to scrape through my polytechnic days with a part-time job.

Thankfully, despite having to work part-time, I was able to graduate from polytechnic with a Diploma with Merit, and got into a local university. In retrospect, I believe God knew me even before I knew him – He was already guiding my way back then.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

The period right before I began university was my turning point – it was then I encountered God.

Ever since then, I came to experience who God is and also His unmerited love for us. He has provided for my family so abundantly, and I have truly been blessed by the people who He has placed in my life – especially my Church family.

Our financials have improved since, and despite the occasional hiccups in my family, I believe that God will heal and bind our wounds because He makes everything beautiful in His perfect time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

After being a Christian for just under 2 years, God has revealed so much to me: How He has plans to prosper and not harm us and how these plans give us a hope and future. God can turn our suffering into greater things.

There is a reason for every thing that has occurred in our lives.

I hope that we will be like Job, who never lost faith in his sovereign God despite incredible suffering in life. God doesn’t promise that the Christian would be smooth-sailing, but He delivers us and guides us through it all.

I thank God that He has been so good and faithful. In dry seasons or rainy days, I choose to say that He is good to me. For all the problems in my life, I still know that nothing is too difficult for God.

If you’re struggling, feeling like you’re suffocating you – if you hate your life – I want to leave you with the promise that God loves you.

He hears us and collects every single tear we shed. And if mere tears are precious to Him – how much more the one who cries?


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 Thir.st “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.

Conversations

We Recommend

Faith

The manna test

by Pastor Kevin Koh, Cornerstone Community Church

Faith

I felt like the worst mentor in the world

by Christina Wong

Relationships

Are you tired of being a cell leader?

by Gabriel Ong

Culture

Spiritual complacency erodes our inheritance: Bill Johnson at Kingdom Invasion 2018

by Thir.st | 15 March 2018, 12:37 AM

“An inheritance is something somebody else paid for,” Bill Johnson said gravely. “But if we are going to continue an inheritance, to increase it, we need to pay an even higher price.”

Speaking on the second day of Kingdom Invasion 2018, the Senior Pastor of Bethel Church, Redding, cautioned the 3,500 strong audience against spiritual complacency.

Drawing from the life of King Hezekiah, Johnson shared about the king’s early days as a strong political and spiritual leader of Israel who reformed his nation, calling it back into covenant with God during one of its darkest and most corrupt seasons.

“He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it.” (2 Kings 18:3-4)

Hezekiah was a man whom God Himself acknowledged as “a king like no other”, and unlike his predecessors, removed the high places of idol worship in his country and brought back worship as in the days of King David.

“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses.” (2 Kings 18:5-6)

However, things took a downturn after he was saved from the mouth of death by a gracious act of God to heal his terminal illness and extend his life by 15 years (2 Kings 20). Johnson pinned the start of his ultimate demise on the king’s failure to offer to the Lord a sacrifice “equal to his miracle” after he was healed.

“But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.” (2 Chronicles 32:25)

“You could say it was a token response to a supernatural act,” Johnson said. “The moment I take something God’s done for me lightly is the moment callousness begins in my heart.”

Something must have changed in the king’s heart after his miracle, he continued. He not only failed to offer sincere thanksgiving to God, he even grew proud and flaunted his wealth to enemy nations (2 Kings 20:12-19).

And it was complacency enough to completely turn the tide on the legacy he’d earlier built as a king after God’s heart – right down to Hezekiah feeling glad when the prophet Isaiah declared God’s resulting judgement for his pride on future generations – because he would not have to personally live through them (2 Kings 20:16-19).

“’The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,’ Hezekiah replied. For he thought, ‘Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?’” (2 Kings 20:19)

“I don’t know how King Hezekiah got to that point,” said Johnson, prompting the audience to consider their own lives. “But while everything looked right on the outside, there was no fire on the inside.”

Judgement fell upon the kingdom soon enough. His son Manasseh, who took over the throne at age 12, went on to become one of Israel’s most wicked kings – leading to a complete erosion of the spiritual inheritance left by his father.

Despite the fervour and favour his father once had for God, all came to naught as Manasseh rebuilt the high places that had been demolished, reinstated idol-worship and built altars in the tabernacle. Practice of witchcraft became rampant (2 Chronicles 33).

And if Manasseh was 12 when he became king, this meant that he was raised in Hezekiah’s extended years of life – years where he had already grown complacent with God.

While everything looked right on the outside, there was no fire on the inside.

“There were probably semblances of the days of worship decreed by his father,” Johnson conjectured. “But if Hezekiah’s passion for God was waning, Manasseh might very well have been raised on token representations of religion.”

That’s how fast the winds of destiny could turn from one generation to the next in the face of spiritual complacency. Johnson used the Matthew 12 analogy of the strong man (Matthew 12:29) and the unclean spirit (Matthew 12:43-45) to explain this further.

Like our spiritual forefathers who have contended for breakthrough, personally as well as in the local body of Christ, years of ministry and intercession “binds the strong man” – the evil strongholds in our lives – and makes way for God to move in.

This is what Hezekiah did in the early days of his kingship, and what revivalists such as John Sung and Billy Graham have done for Singapore.

But it’s easy to take our inheritance lightly, especially when it’s been freely given to us by those who’ve tilled the ground and sowed the seed before.

“After years of walking with the Lord it’s easy to get into a routine – to know how to sing the worship songs, dance along, talk like a Christian, but I could do all of that and never have my heart healed and transformed,” Johnson said in reference to Hezekiah’s backsliding and Manasseh’s upbringing and ultimate kingship.

“If the next generation does not properly occupy the inheritance given to it, if the house is found empty instead of filled with the presence of God – the stronghold comes back even stronger.”

“’When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.’” (Matthew 12:43-45)

And just like that, Hezekiah’s great spiritual inheritance from his reformation was overthrown within a generation – by a son whose name is now synonymous with corruption and evil.

Johnson’s question for Singapore was this: What will we do with our spiritual inheritance, the favour and blessing of the Lord upon our nation? 

He reiterated several times, “The problem is not with God’s favour and blessing. It’s how we respond to it.”

Like Lou Engle the night before and Heidi Baker who spoke before him, Johnson’s exhortation for Singapore was to not flaunt our inheritance or grow complacent in comfortable times – but to use favour and blessing for God’s purposes instead.

After all, this is but a small price to pay in light of the present and eternal riches God has faithfully rewarded his children with.


Kingdom Invasion 2018 will run until Friday at Singapore Expo Halls 7/8. Night sessions starting from 7:30pm are free, subjected to availability of seats. For more details, visit www.kingdominvasion.sg.

Conversations

We Recommend

Culture

A lifetime of wonder

by Joseph Koh, SELAH

Faith

Jesus wept – but He didn’t stop there

by Edric Sng

Relationships

The three C’s of compatibility

by Wong Siqi

Article list

Full-time under 30: From academia to the heart of Africa

When you’re poorer in your twenties than you planned to be

Riches I have, but not measured in dollars

I was tithing for the wrong reasons

Growing up in a lower-income family, I hated my life

Spiritual complacency erodes our inheritance: Bill Johnson at Kingdom Invasion 2018