Culture

Stay woke but keep dreaming, Singapore

by Joanne Kwok // August 9, 2018, 3:36 pm

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I have a dream for Singapore. Which is funny because I live in a generation that’s so steeped in sociopolitical correctness, it’s better not to declare dreams for your nation in case some part of it comes out unwittingly offensive. Because so many things are – or have become – offensive nowadays.

I’m no expert in the arena of our world’s sociopolitical climate, but I take heart knowing that most of us actually aren’t either. Earlier this year, maverick artiste Childish Gambino released his super #woke song “This is America” that to this day has garnered 36.3 million YouTube views (I contributed about 10).

Being “woke” is a thing, I learnt a while back. This is a Singaporean’s way of understanding it: You were asleep and in the dark when it came to certain social issues such as racism and sexism, but now you’re aware of what’s really going on; you’re awake to them.

Get woke, stay woke. I couldn’t entirely follow what Childish Gambino was singing about, but I could tell that it was so politically incorrect yet sociopolitically correct, the people of today were going to love it. It was the American Dream and American “wokeness” all in one music video.

We had a dream, we know it’s a bit of a broken dream IRL now, but in pointing it out we’re really still dreaming, hoping for a better day.

And as the old order of things drips away with another National Day, it’s never been more pressing that the generation that’s rising forth gets woke, stays woke but keeps dreaming and hoping.

“What can we hand the next generation?” Pastor Lawrence Khong of Faith Community Baptist Church asked the 9,000 strong crowd at Day of His Power that took place yesterday, August 8. “Not a method, not a great rally – because that may not be the method of their generation – but a dream.

“A dream that Singapore can be one for Jesus Christ. That Singapore will be saved.”

This dream had been heart-wrenchingly broken 17 years ago, Pastor Khong shared. “In 2001, we were believing for a great harvest, people quit their jobs to become pastors, we believed that God was going to move in a way we’d never seen before … But it never happened.

“The unity we talked about was not as ‘united’ as I thought it was.”

And what about our generation of young Christians today? I couldn’t help but think. We live in the age of rampant individualism, self-absorption empowered by the Internet in our hands. Some days it’s hard to believe we’re dreaming of anything more than that next holiday or bonus, pursuing more than that next like or promotion.

Are we churchgoers or disciples of Jesus Christ? Is our service out of love or obligation? Has our evangelism gotten convenient and uncreative for the time and space we live in?

Does any of us even know what is that “method of our generation” Pastor Khong alluded to – or are we like a languishing youngest child, who knows nothing of pioneering and everything of privilege – bought for us on the backs of our church fathers?

Sometimes it gets so #woke in millennial full-time ministry, I just want to go back to sleep.



But this is also the young Singapore I’ve seen, especially in the work I do: People who aren’t afraid to collaborate and work together, regardless race, language or denomination.

People who are restless for revival, global citizens who aren’t afraid to go anywhere, anytime, to do anything for the God they love and serve. Their passion is raw, but their compassion is real.

And when Pastor Khong called for those under 30 to stand on a massive projection of the Singapore map that stretched across the floor of the National Indoor Stadium, in a prophetic act of standing up for Jesus in our neighbourhoods and the entire nation – hundreds made their way forth in seconds.

In that moment I could see why God had reinstated the broken dream in Pastor Khong’s heart all these years later. It wasn’t just Singapore’s second chance, as he put it. We, the generation that now grasps the baton of revival, are Singapore’s second chance.



And with that, this is my dream for Singapore, loosely based on a powerful manifesto written by Pete Grieg called The Vision.

I dream of an army of young people. You see sheep, strawberries and sleeping, dejected disciples? I see an army. And they are free from the 5Cs of this country.

There’s only one “C” in their mind’s eye: The Cross. They’re not afraid to die every day so they might live for a greater cause. They live simply and love richly.

They are mobile like the wind, they belong to the nations. They are free yet they are slaves of the broken and the poor. What is the vision? The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes. Jesus is the heartbeat. Love is the battlecry.

And this army is disciplined. Young people who beat their bodies into submission (1 Corinthians 9:27). Every soldier is surrendered, a life laid down. No sacrifice can be higher than dying for all humanity.

And the generation prays. They pray as if it all depends on God and live as if it all depends on them.

Whatever it takes they will give. Laughing at labels, fasting essentials. The advertisers cannot mould them. Hollywood cannot hold them. They don’t just fall in line with the crowd or blindly echo the sentiments of society.

Don’t you hear them coming? Here come the fallible but faithful with fire in their eyes. They wear the burning heart of God on their sleeves and on their newsfeeds.

And this vision will be; it will come to pass. How do I know? Because this is the longing of creation itself: That the sons and daughters of God will be revealed (Romans 8:19). This is the very dream of God.

He is why we have hope. Because this is His Singapore.

“The people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits.” (Daniel 11:32).

About the author

Joanne Kwok

Joanne is a bundle of creative energy commonly heard before she is seen. She believes in the triune power of good conversation, brilliant writing and bold ideas. She also likes milo.