Heroes of 2019 - main featured

This year, we have seen some remarkable believers – both young and old – depart to be with the Lord.

We have written about them and met with them. Indeed, some of us have even grown up under them. I wouldn’t be writing any of these words in this article if God hadn’t sent people like Reinhard Bonnke and Fred Seaward. 

Their sobering stories are excellent examples to model after, as we each press on in our journey to joining them in the presence of the Lord. Thir.st gives thanks for these modern-day heroes of the faith, whose lives were well-lived for the Lord. 

Elliot Soh, 25 

Elliot was a university student in London at the time of his diagnosis with stage 4 sarcoma. 

Before his death, Elliot penned down his last words in an article filled with many sobering insights: “You can have everything in the world, but death will rob you of all that someday.”

Speaking of his suffering as a result of chemotherapy, Elliot said it was a grim reminder of everyone’s need for salvation.

“I have tasted poison, and I really don’t want my friends and family to taste it for eternity. This has been a strong burden in my heart for many years, and it’s because I love my friends and family that I really want them to reconcile with God. I would rather have my friends listen to the gospel and make a decision to accept Jesus in their lives than for my cancer to be healed.”

25-year-old Elliot Soh: “Goodbye… you know where to find me”

Elliot’s message went out to two groups of people: non-believers and believers. To the first, he hoped that his message would encourage them to think on accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. And to the latter, his encouragement was for them to “continue prioritising gospel work over all other worldly things”.

To these ends, Elliot did not let his suffering go to waste. In humble submission, Elliot used his sickness as an opportunity to share and champion the Gospel with his final breaths. Although his life was short, its impact was far-reaching for the glory of God. 

Andrew Hui, 32 

Andrew’s life was the story of a young and healthy banker who suddenly found himself having to come to terms with just months to live. 

Andrew’s heartfelt words that he shared would ultimately go viral in the country – his message of hope in the face of death reached tens of thousands of Singaporeans in the lead-up to his passing.

Dear Andrew, you’re finally home

Andrew spent a lot of time in his last days reconnecting with old friends so that he could share the peace of Christ with them. The Gospel was on his heart even until its last beat; Andrew even ensured his wake services would be conducted in dialect so his older relatives could hear the Good News in their heart language. 

Fred Seaward, 89 

Having grown up in Elim Church, I knew Rev Dr Fred Seaward. In fact, he dedicated me to the Lord when I had just been born. The jovial and fiery impact he left on my family, and indeed the spiritual landscape of Singapore, is truly indelible. 

Coming to the country from America in 1955, together with his wife, Margaret Seaward, Pastor Fred pioneered churches and made disciples of many in the region.

Some of the churches he planted from the 1950s include Bethel Revival Centre (now Bethel Assembly of God), Calvary Assembly of God and Calvary Charismatic Centre (now Victory Family Centre). He was also the Senior Pastor of Elim Church from 1987 to 2006.

Thank you, Pastor Fred, for your decades of faithful service to the churches of Singapore and our Sovereign Lord.

James “Jim” Chew, 81 

Jim Chew was the former national director of The Navigators Singapore. Much of his life was spent in missions, and he also played a key role in the spiritual watershed of 1978, when Rev Dr Billy Graham embarked on his Singapore Crusade over 5 rallies.

As Counselling Chairman, Jim was in charge of the counselling committee, gathering counsellors and starting up training classes called “Christian Life and Witness Classes” across dominations. Even before the rallies were to begin, there were 800 salvations from those classes.

Remembering the 1978 Billy Graham Crusade, Part 1: The men who planned the Crusade

In late 2016, Jim sat down for a wide-ranging interview with Thir.st. Here are his hopes for the next generation.

Reinhard Bonnke, 79 

The founder of Christ for all Nations was also known as the “Billy Graham of Africa” for the Great Gospel Crusades he held there since 1967, which could draw in crowds of more than a million at one time.

It is estimated that nearly 79 million people made decisions to follow Christ as a direct result of his life and ministry. My own father was one of them – he received Christ at a Kuala Lumpur crusade in 1985.

Like Billy Graham, Reinhard Bonnke leaves behind an astounding spiritual legacy that testifies to the greatness of God’s mercy and saving power.

“I can’t purr like a cat when millions are perishing every day. I want to roar like a lion!”: The late Reinhard Bonnke

The legacies of these men live on in the hearts of those they impacted. We, in turn, pass on this work of God in our hearts to those that will come after us. 

As we remember and celebrate these spiritual heroes of our faith, let us also pause to consider: What will people say about our lives when we pass on? Indeed, what would the Lord?

May we each hear those blessed words upon our deaths: “Well done, good and faithful servant… Enter into the joy of your master.”

About the author

Gabriel Ong

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.