Contributed By Melissa Chen
|CN PHOTOS: Aaron Low, Andy Loh , Lee Lin Kai , Kenneth Lee|
Four pastors share their personal testimonies to encourage the School of Theology 2010 students to step out toward their calling and destiny.
With seven more weeks of school to go, students at the School of Theology had a series of faith-inspiring lessons taught by four different pastors on July 12. Meant to encourage the students to pursue their calling in God, the pastors shared their experiences in ministry.
The session featured Tan Seow How, senior pastor of Heart of God Church; Wayne Chang, pastor of Taipei Hsin Tien Covenant Church; Billy Zukharian, pastor of Bethany Church of God Indonesia; and lastly, Andrew Gray, senior pastor of C3 Church Mount Annan, New South Wales, Australia. Each shared their testimonies and personal experiences to further prepare and equip the students for their ministry after graduation.
Tan opened the session by sharing a message entitled, The Journey Of A Dream, where he described the five stages of his dream of starting a church.
The dream was birthed when he followed the calling of God to go into full-time ministry which required him to forgo his family business. His application to another Bible school was rejected and he had the opportunity to enroll in SOT.
The second stage is the delay of a dream. Tan cautioned, “It is naive to think that if the dream is from God, it is going to be smooth sailing. Rather, even divine dreams have to go through ‘Calvary.’ The greatest challenge is fighting against self-doubt and discouragement.”
At the next stage, the dream faces death when it is attacked and faces what seems like a curse of endlessly recurring bad circumstances. But, Tan encouraged, “If your dream dies so easily, then it isn’t your dream! Even if dies, God can bring it back to life!”
Fourthly, God can resurrect your dream. Sometimes, it is not the triumph and breakthrough that cause people to believe, but the scars and the valleys that are experienced. “The key to resurrection is to make the dreams of others come true; believing that God will make your dreams come true. It is not always about me and my dreams.”
Lastly comes the fulfillment of a dream. This is where believers have to keep fighting. “The doubtful will believe when they see the scars of battle.”
Next, Taiwanese pastor, Chang, shared his testimony on how he received salvation and was later called into ministry to be a youth pastor.
Sharing the secret to Taiwanese outreach, Chang said, “One of the common denominators is that the Taiwanese love food and they are very creative. It opens an opportunity for invitation to our fellowship!” He would always provide food for his youths as well as teach them the “boring basics” of equipping them with Bible study, prayer, reading the Bible and discipleship at the most natural setting.
“Many times, people look for opportunities instead of building an altar. We must look past their sin and see what God is doing in their life,” Chang added.
Chang then shared four main pointers about ministry.
First, it is crucial for believers to have a personal revelation of who God is, and who they are in Christ. Listening to His direction in each situation is important, as what works somewhere might not work elsewhere; believers should not blindly follow what others are doing.
Next, having the fruit of revelation should also bring transformation. “If there is no transformation in a church or cell group, then there must be an error somewhere! The problems most probably lie with us as God is always sovereign,” Chang explained.
This transformed behavior should become an inspiration for others. Testimony sharing is one of the ways to get others motivated. Also important is having a “Yes we can!” attitude. Doing something big is not as important as doing something that touches the hearts of others.
Lastly, ministers should lead their people to action. Chang exhorted, “Church is simple if you know how to reach people’s hearts! You must inspire them to action!”
Zukharian shared how his church is built on four main pillars: saving the lost, having the Holy Spirit as an active part of its members’ lives, the divine healing and blessings of God, and finally, believing in the second coming of Jesus Christ.
He also revealed two main principles to take the church to the next level.
Firstly, the church needs to have a great attitude. Effectively, this means that the church needs to continue to learn, and to cultivate a learning attitude toward the future. Believers need to be humble and polite to everyone, and respect others with their attitude.
Secondly, the church has to possess great spirituality. This means prizing character development and the anointing of God which are synonymous. This allows every member to be used by God. By following these two principles, the church can continually progress from one stage to the next.
Gray gave Six Lessons About Successors. Famous biblical examples of predecessors and successors are Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, and Paul and Timothy.
Age and experience can help the next generation. Predecessors must join hands with their successors and pull them into their calling and destiny with God. “There is no self-made man or woman! Nobody arrives at the next stage in life without the help and favor of others. Good leaders are always constantly looking out for heirs to pass their blessing to the next generation!” Gray exclaimed.
The first lesson for aspiring leaders is for them to know that serving another vision is not the end. By faithfully serving, aspirants qualify for God to entrust them with greater things.
Secondly, a true disciple’s spiritual hunger is what empowers the teacher to teach effectively. Disciples must constantly follow and draw lessons from their teachers to grow.
Thirdly, disciples must honor their leader with their thoughts, words and actions. Giving a personal example, Gray said, “I choose to honor Pastor Phil [Pringle], the senior pastor in the C3 Movement, by addressing him as my pastor. We are equal in salvation and in Christ but not in leadership and experience.”
Fourth, good disciples are mature enough to ask questions about their own faith. Courage is needed to ask questions, especially in times of crisis.
Successors must be prepared to pay the price to release their own flow of anointing and revelation. They must pay this price to receive their own revelations, or else be stuck with second-hand sermons.
Predecessors must also realize that they must become fathers and not instructors. Gray explained that true fathers carry a reproductive power to birth faith in others. Across the generations, all disciples must be prepared to become fathers in the faith.
Concluding, Gray explained that success is a matter of positioning—one must position oneself to continually receive and grow. Success, he said, is more about position than about inborn talents or ability.
Hsieh Yi-Fei, 32, an SOT student from Taiwan, was greatly encouraged by the chapel session. “It really encouraged us to go toward our calling in God, especially for us international students. The session prepared us to face the difficult trials and challenges in our own various culture and environment when fulfilling [this calling]. It has definitely prepared and equipped us to have the right mental and emotional attitude.”
Derick Chan, 21, a Singaporean student, was impressed. “The topics have opened my eyes to how a church is built from scratch as we are now enjoying the fruits of our forefathers in City Harvest Church.”
He was touched by Tan’s perseverance in the face of adversity, that even though the church faced persecution, Tan still pursued his dream. Gray’s message of discipleship also struck a chord—“It is indeed thought-provoking as we are taught to be good disciples to our leaders in church as shepherds and armor-bearers!”