Helping Fahkram Church after the floods in Thailand

Fahkram Church after the floods in Thailand

Hi to all who read my blog (not that I’ve been writing much lately!) or who have stumbled upon this blog. I wrote a post a while back on Fahkram Church which I’ve gotten to know over the past year plus. If you read the post, you’ll know why I think this is a very unique and amazing church – I encourage you all to read that post if you haven’t.

I’ve gotten to know some people there pretty well. I’ve visited the Church about 3 times over the past year or so and twice I stayed within the Church compound (they put me up in a nice air-con room for free). They are a church that has services every day because maybe 50 or so people live within the Church compound. The pastor has helped many people to get jobs and make money. He preaches a message of God’s grace and love and God’s desire to prosper His people. Yet he also lives the message of generosity out by helping and blessing his people. I know his sheep come before him. Even though he teaches his people to give to God and he could become pretty rich through the church tithes / offerings, he actually lives within the church compound with some of the members. He doesn’t live a better lifestyle than them. I think a person who truly understands our God of love and grace will not focus on his own self, but on other people and helping and blessing them. Demonstrating the love of God to others will become (effortlessly) more important to us than just focusing on ourselves and our wants as we conform more and more to the image of our Saviour. While I believe in prosperity and God prospering us, I’ve seen too many who preach such a message for themselves and not understand that God desires to use them to be a blessing to other people too. That’s why I admire someone like Andrew Wommack who I believe truly lives that message out. I know the pastor of this Church and I know he’s someone too that lives out such a lifestyle.

The reason for writing this post is that I want to provide an opportunity for my readers to help this Church. As you know, floods in Thailand have caused a lot of damage to the country. And it has caused a lot of damage to Fahkram Church too as you can see from the above picture. You can also see more pictures of damage here (their facebook account). Also, a list of damage done to the Church provided by Anne is listed below this post.

During the floods, the Church actually went on one of their mission trips to the north of Thailand. I think they stayed away from their Church for a month or more as the Church was flooded about 40 days. You can find out more about what happened to the Church and how to help them out here: Fahkram Church. There you’ll be able to see some pictures and get the contact numbers and email of the Pastor and one translator who speaks English. You’ll also get the bank information if you desire to transfer some money over.

I’ve set up a PayPal (you can use credit card) donate button (actually it’s a PAY NOW button coz it’s not easy to get a PayPal Donate button as I’m in Singapore) for those who want to contribute a bit of money to the Church. You can contribute as little (even $5) or as much as you want. The little donations add up. Do note that the money will go directly to my PayPal account, not theirs.  The reason I’m doing so is because I know a lot of people will probably not go through the trouble of Telegraphic Transferring (TT) money over to the Church. PayPal and using one’s Credit/Debit Card is so much easier and quicker – especially if you want to donate just a small amount. For big amounts, I’d encourage you to contact the Church directly. For small amounts, you can use the PayPal button below. Of course, this will be based on trust – for those of you who know me or are familiar with my blog, it’s your judgement to make if you want to go through me.

I will be TTing some money over this month or next month so I’ll transfer your money along with mine. You can also email the Pastor or Anne (the translator who speaks English) at the above email address to make sure they get the money from me if you’re concerned about it – in fact, I encourage you to do so. I’ll also get them to email you an acknowledgement of your donation when I send the money over. Please note that it is NOT their idea that I help them raise money through my PayPal account. It is my idea because I know how easy it is to transfer money using PayPal. It’s actually more of a hassle for me to organize this, but I think it’ll encourage people to give small donations they may not give if they had to TT the money (the cost of TTing is probably around US$5-10 or more per transfer which is a lot if you want to transfer a small amount).


Donation amount




PS: There seems to be a problem with the donation amount. If it shows US$5 on the next screen, just change the QUANTITY to make it add up to the amount you want to donate.
PPS: Thanks to those who have already donated very generously through PayPal. I’m pleasantly surprised yet very encouraged. And the Church will be too! :)

A list of damage (and cost) caused by the floods provided by Anne, the translator (note that US$1 = 32 Thai Baht)

1 A fence are damaged now we brought corrugated iron to make the fence temporary from now on.
2 The motortri-cycle for the need peoples in our church 68 motortri-cycle have to fix it because stay in the water for 40 days
it’s cost to repair per motortri-cycle is 3,500 bath total 238,000 bath
3 The water main,pipe it’s break down water can’t run down.
4 The wall must painting new again inside and outside door 15,000 bath
And other rooms inside the church is
5 The kitchen room
5.1 A refrigerator 1 = 16,990 bath
5.2 Machine cold water 3,500*2 = 7,000 bath
5.3 The Kitchen cabinet 5,000*4 = 20,000 bath
5.5 The Gas and Gas tank 2,750*2 = 5,500 bath
5.6 A bowl,cup,pot,pan,glass total =30,000 bath,P.S The stain of the oil can’t remove.
6. Storage room
6.1 Cabinet device performance 5000*2 = 10,000 bath
6.2 Equipment performance 50,000 bath
6.3 Instrument 12,000 bath
7 Praying room
7.1 Clothes closet 4000+5000 = 9,000 bath
7.2 T.V.cabinet 3,500 bath
7.3 Sofa 15,000 bath
7.4 The Table and chair 4000 bath
8 The worship room and office room
8.1 The table computer 2900*2 = 5,800 bath
8.2 Steel filling cabinet 5,000 bath
8.3 Table Mixer 3,500 bath
8.4 The carpet on the stage in worship room 7.50 * 3.20
8.5 The curtain in worship room
8.6 The books cabinet 5000*3 = 15,000 bath
9 The Audio mixer rooms
9.1 sound proot wall lining
9.2 Microphone condenser
9.3 Speaker mix down
9.4 Cutting computer
9.5 table mixer
9.6 Equipment mixer cabinet
9.7 Ground
10.The Toilet
10.1 The door for PVC 1,500*2 = 3,000 bath
11. Air condition repair and change equipment,clean up =11,500 bath

Updates on Street Healing in Singapore

A group of Singaporeans before embarking on a night of Street Healing (6th August 2011)

Introduction

I thought I’d provide a little update on what’s been happening over the past 6 months regarding Street Healing in Singapore. For those not familiar with all this Street Healing business, the Street Healing movement has exploded all around the world in the past year or so – about the same time I started to get involved. I, along with many people in Singapore and around the world, took a huge leap into practicing Street Healing after listening to Curry Blake of John G. Lake Ministries (JGLM), whose teachings I’ve written quite a bit about on this blog. Since the middle of last year, a group of Singaporeans from different churches have gotten to know each other through mutual appreciation for Curry Blake’s teachings and our desire to pursue and grow in the healing ministry. We’ve met to discuss and practice healing (i.e. pray for each other and our friends who need healing). We’ve also attended healing events in Singapore like Randy Clark’s School of Healing and Impartation at Cornerstone Community Church in March 2011 and The Elijah Challenge in October 2010. We’ve brought some friends over to Singapore to minister and learn from like Jessie Campbell of Australia in November last year and Roger Sapp in April this year.

South Africans ministering healing in the streets of Geylang

South Africans and Singaporeans in a restaurant in Geylang before our Street Healing / Treasure Hunt adventure (January 2011)

In January this year, a group of about 20 young Christians from South Africa came to Singapore and we had a great time of fellowship with them too. I’m going to share a bit of what happened here because I haven’t done so in this blog before and the testimony below is sure to encourage many. In addition, what we did with this group of South Africans that day eventually led to what the group of us are doing in Singapore now, which I’ll share later on.

Anyway, it started when I got to know James Preston, a pastor in a South African Church, last year. Both of us are bloggers and we have similar beliefs, having been impacted by Christian leaders like Bill Johnson, Andrew Wommack, Rob/Ryan Rufus, Joseph Prince and Curry Blake. We were (are) grace-based and into the supernatural (healing and the prophetic) and believed in Street Healing. We also had a mutual appreciation for a theologian called Michael Eaton. That was how I got to know about him: he wrote about Michael Eaton on his blog and I wrote him about it. I read Michael Eaton’s book No Condemnation about 13 years ago and it impacted me a bit. The book is a very scholarly take on some important aspects of the grace message – the doctrine of assurance and also the role of the 10 Commandments in the Christian life. Michael Eaton is the kind of theologian I like a lot as just like his good friend RT Kendall, he’s scholarly and yet charismatic – combining the best of Word and Spirit.

It’s amazing how God connected us. James was planning to bring a group of about 20 young Christians from his church to Singapore for the primary purpose of visiting New Creation Church. So we arranged for the South African and Singaporean group to meet up together for fellowship and some ministry. So in January this year, a group of us Singaporeans met up with their group and had a good time of fellowship, discussion and prayer one night. We thought of bringing them to Geylang the next night to eat and do some Street Healing. So the following night we all met up again and did some Treasure Hunting / Street Healing after dinner.

I want to share this testimony provided by James, who partnered with one of our Singaporean friends Joseph when walking the streets in Geylang:

Did Joseph tell you what happened at the Massage Parlour with him and I? It was amazing, and actually one of the most powerful encounters I have had doing such ministry! I hope you don’t mind, I will get into some detail here…

We saw the wavey blue neon lights Graham had prophesied about earlier, and we hovered around waiting because we knew God wanted to do something.  Nothing happened.

So we walked around the block again, and on our second time coming up to the restaurant with the wavey neon blue lights, Joseph spotted a lady sitting at the counter of a massage parlour wearing a pink shirt and with black hair and a pony tail. With 4 of the words of knowledge confirmed (Blue lights, pink shirt, black hair, pony tail) we knew God had an appointment.

So we stepped inside saying we had a “message from God”. We were immediately greeted with a cold response saying “massage only” as obviously Western men have a bad reputation around there. With a big smile we assured her we didn’t want her services, but wanted to bless her with a message. (At this point I had no idea what the message was, but I knew for sure God had one, as He set this up, so I spoke as though I did have a message, because God did.)

She was still very reserved, and then her boss walked in, a Chinese doctor. He took a seat behind the counter, and she moved over to a smaller chair. We said we had a message of blessing for him and his business. (This was the first thing that came to mind, and I know that as a Son of God a business should naturally experience blessing if I speak it out over it. Whether this is conditional on what type of business it is, I don’t know. I was going with what I was feeling.)

The doctor asked how much we would charge, or what we wanted in return. I assured him we wanted absolutely nothing, and that we were messengers from God with a message of blessing for him and his business. At this point the lady in the pink shirt (who was completely switched off) started looking a lot more interested. Let me just say everything was being translated through Joseph. Without him I doubt we would have seen the same results. I was blessed to be partnered with him.

Anyway… so the Chinese Doctor was quite surprised we wanted nothing in return, and openly received prayer for his business from us. I asked if we could all hold hands, which him and his pink shirted assistant agreed to. We held hands and I started praying over the business (without translation if I recall correctly). As I started drawing the prayer to a close, I had a word of knowledge (by way of impression on my heart) that the assistant had pain in her left leg in her thigh area. She looked totally healthy and around 20 something yrs old, so it certainly wasn’t by looks. She said she did have pain and that she had a sort of rheumatoid arthritis which caused her pain down her left leg, so this opened her up. It’s amazing how the prophetic does that. I guess that’s what the gifts of the Spirit are for!

I then felt to pray for her legs, to see if one was shorter than the other. Which was interesting for me, because I have never done that in ministry before! But did it, and it seemed like one was just slightly shorter than the other. So we prayed, and when we opened our eyes, it looked as though they were completely in line! Even the “DR” inspected it and seemed amazed! So this naturally built faith for her leg. So I asked her to lay hands on her leg where the pain was, and I would lay hands on her hand. I didn’t want to lay hands directly onto her leg (even though she was wearing jeans) our of respect.

So we prayed, and declared the pain to go and the life and power of Jesus to flow through into her body. She started giggling and saying she could feel heat going through her body and tingling! We told her that was the Power of God flowing through her and healing her. By now she was smiling and laughing, and full of faith. So much so that she asked us to pray for her left arm, because she had injured it and she couldn’t move it above half way behind her back. She had seen and felt God heal her already, and so wanted full healing in all her body!

So Joseph and I laid hands on her left arm and prayed again. Very simple, declarative, authoritative, loving prayers, and she felt the same thing. Heat and tingling. She tried to do something she couldn’t do with her arm, and she was completely healed! Praise God!

By this time, the DR had seen all this and was stunned. He then mentioned Joseph that he had had a stroke 2 years ago and the right side of his body had become lazy. So we sat him down, and we prayed with him, Joseph taking the lead here, and again just declaring all pain to go and life and healing to flow into his body. We asked him to stand up and walk around a bit, which he tried to, but he said he was only “a bit” better, so we prayed again. Short and sweet, and he started walking again, this time better but saying he was about 50% better. So we prayed again and he tried to walk again and this time he said he felt much better and stronger!

I don’t always make a call or suggestion to receive Jesus, but we both felt like Jesus had something further to do, and so Joseph asked them if they knew who healed them. He told them it was Jesus, and he asked if they wanted to receive Jesus into their lives. With big smiles on their faces they both agreed! It was such a privilege to lead them right there and then through a prayer of accepting Jesus as their Saviour, and then praying for them to both be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

We left it at that.  By then it was half an hour over time to meet back, so had to get going, but took their card to hopefully stay in touch with them in the future. What a testimony of God’s goodness! God loved these two so much, and he had a plan to meet with them that night. And they were both so ready to receive the Love of God!  For me, this is what it is all about!

Street Healing in Little India

There were other testimonies also of healing and God’s love being poured out in Geylang that January night. Esther and I ministered to many Bangladeshi migrant workers on the streets of Geylang. We approached a couple of people sitting down and asked if they had any pain. As they had pain in various parts of their bodies, we laid hands on them and prayed for them. Pain started to go away and other Bangladeshis walking by who saw this unusual sight of Chinese Singaporeans laying hands on their fellow countrymen started standing still and observing what was happening. When the Bangladeshis told of their healing, more people asked for prayer and we managed to pray for others and see quite a few healed.

We kept in touch with these people and told them to call us if they have any problems or need any healing. In June, one Bangladeshi called us and invited us to his apartment in Geylang to pray for his friend’s sickness. And then another Bangladeshi called us in July and we met up with him in Little India. We ended up praying for his friend for a long time as the pain wasn’t going away. Gradually, many migrant workers started observing us close by and we asked if they had any pain in their bodies. Many of them had pain because a lot of them were involved in physical labor jobs. For the next 45 minutes or so, Esther and I prayed for between 20 to 30 migrant workers and the majority of them had their pain healed. As it was getting late and we didn’t prepare to pray for so many people, we had to leave with dozens still left not prayed for but we promised to come back the following week.

Since that time, we’ve been to little India three times in the past two months, bringing other Singaporeans. Each time, it’s been very exciting and we’ve gotten to see many migrant workers healed. We’ve also been able to make friends with many migrant workers and thank them for their services and work in Singapore. Some Singaporeans in the group came for the very first time to see what it’s all about and they went beyond observation and got into the act of praying for the sick and actually saw God use them to heal people in the streets for the very first time in their lives – and that’s been exciting for them. We believe that every Christian is called to heal the sick and resurrection power is already within them (Ephesians 1:18-19) to do so. A lot of us (all ordinary Christians and not pastors) have gone through this journey of ministering healing for the past year. We’ve still got a lot to learn and grow in this area, but we are glad to come alongside other Christians in Singapore to encourage and empower them to begin this journey of healing.

I believe God is restoring the supernatural and healing to His Church as the end draws nearer. His Church was always meant to move in the supernatural and even do greater works than what Jesus did (John 14:12). The Church was always meant to go out into the world to demonstrate God’s love to the world and do the works of God, and not just rely on bringing the world into the Church. This Street Healing movement that’s been sprouting up all around the world in the past year or so is something no one could have fathomed 5 years ago. God is doing something powerful and we want to invite any Christian in Singapore reading this to join us. You’ll definitely be transformed by the experience of praying for these people. And you’ll realize how easy it is to see God heal many through your hands. By no means do we get everyone healed, but we have seen so many healed and we’ve begun an exciting journey.

Let me end with 3 testimonies from various ordinary Christians who have been praying for the sick in Little India the past month or two and seeing results:

Testimony from Esther:

…after i’ve prayed for a few people, i believe some got healed. i was honestly SURPRISED that they got healed. HAA! but that encouraged me and made me see that wow… if i can do it, ANYBODY CAN!

this sat i prayed for a girl with pain from her calf down. after prayer, she tested her leg out and without even speaking to me, she went straight out and spoke to her brother (who brought us to her). she was completely healed and was surprised that the pain would leave her completely ;)

there are still many who didn’t get healed and i know its a journey, to learn to have faith even when healing doesn’t happen, and to discover why they don’t.

and its only gonna get more exciting!

Testimony from Robert:

Hello, I wanted to share a little bit of my experience. As I began to pray, there was actually a feeling of unworthiness inside, but I just continued to see my righteousness in Jesus Christ. Anyway, it’s not about me, it’s about Jesus and His love for them.

I did not listen much from Curry Blake, but learning from Roger Sapp and Jon, I started the prayer with a reminder of Jesus’ work on the Cross not only for them but also for me, as it could be my faith also that will heal them. And then I started commanding the pain/sickness to be gone as what Jesus taught about commanding to the mountain. And then I ended with again a confirmation that healing belongs to the person.

About 90% whom I prayed said they are getting better/healed. Many answers not in a very convincing way,as if they are also unsure about it. But at least there were 2 instances where I really see a big smile after I prayed for, one when I prayed with Esther, and another when I prayed alone. The person even saying with a big smile, “It is good!”

The challenging one is when a person is asking for a prayer where there is a bone coming out a bit in his hand, while there is no pain at all. I am not so sure either, I was praying for something similar with my own hand, but did not see the result yet. So I just kept convincing myself that nothing is impossible in Christ. I even prayed that God’s power comes so that the people can see how great He is. Nothing happened, and after two to three times, the person’s friend asked him to leave.

I was not sure what to do when healing did not come, I saw how Jonathan did and I think it’s a good way to end with the faith that God is still working and the healing could happen tomorrow or the day after, so we should keep on believing for the healing to come!

It’s an awesome experience, more people should join us and experience it. God is working!

Lastly, a testimony from Michael:

Praise God Praise God! I am writing this to encourage all who had not turned up for the healing prayer at Little India. My wife Sandra came with me for the first time and nothing prepared us for the surprise God had for us… :D

… We prayed for a young man who complained with a toothache which to his surprise (and ours) left almost instantly! And he started to shared excitedly with his friends… :) There were many with back problems and GOD IS SO GOOD…….He healed them!

One had pain on both heels……Tony, Sandra and I took turns to pray for him. When the pain from one heel (foot) left he was quick for the other to be healed (by laying of hand). And we claimed healing for the other as well and Jesus healed that too! To make sure he did not politely fake it, I got him to walk briskly with me…

“Any pain? “……”No pain!” By which time I was over the moon! I was rejoicing and thanking God for His amazing love…..

There was one guy who in his broken English asked…..”What profit you to do…… this?” It is the love of God for them to see them free from pain…… we replied.

I am sharing this to testify of the goodness and awesome love for people….. For all we know, some of these workers may be living in sin….. our own lives may also be altogether with doubts and unbelief…… even.

Yet God in His love and sovereignty sees beyond all that.

HE IS FAITHFUL to what His Son Jesus Christ has done ! And he healed more than 90% of those who came forward to be prayed for.

Indeed the name of Jesus was magnified and glorified that night……All Glory to Him

I was so happy when the Holy Spirit turned up with so much love and power!

Just to encourage anyone who is wondering if God will use him/her. I was like that once. Remember this God IS good….and that is His glory….. Exodus 33:18-19.

…God heals not because we are good but because He is good. We obey by being available for His goodness to flow through……… with His love, His joy and His peace….. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches……. John 15:5

For those interested in coming alongside us, growing together in the healing ministry and loving and blessing the people in Singapore, we welcome you! Drop me an email at jonathan at stillhaventfound.org.

MorningStar University’s faith courses

I recently purchased some of Steve Thompson’s messages online. Really good stuff! Thanks to Brandon Lee who put a lot of Steve’s videos up on YouTube which got me interested in Steve. Good grace-based, supernatural stuff!

One thing that really struck me was his description of MorningStar University’s “faith courses”. In the first part of his first message in his “Developing a Sustainable Supernatural Life” series, Steve said regarding these faith courses:

We don’t push people, we gently encourage them and we provide an opportunity for them. But we provide increasingly significant and risky opportunities. We would send our students out on what we call our “faith courses”. Faith course 1 required them to go really around the city and to attempt some different kinds of ministry or some different types of exploits. They would have to go out and to prophesy to someone at the bus station. Or they would have to go and pray for somebody. We weren’t looking for them to have success to begin with, just that they could step out and attempt something. Because for a lot of people who have been caught in fear, the attempt itself is the success they need to have at that point.

Faith course 2 – they would go out maybe 1 hour / 1.5 hours away.

Faith course 3 – we would send them out in teams of two or three into cities within about a 6 or 8 hour drive of the city. They would have a list of items they would have to complete over about a four or five day period. They had to prophesy to a government official. They had to heal a homeless person and record the healing either on audio or video and bring it back. Now, not pray for their healing – they had to heal them. Other things they had to do. They had to get a hundred dollars worth of groceries for a needy family and then get the name or the address of the needy family by prophetic revelation and go and deliver it to them and then tell them that was from the Lord and encourage them, bless them. They would also have to get two or three room nights at a three star hotel or better for free – in other words, without using their own money to pay for it – while they were on the trip. Breaking and entering was not allowed!

It was a very cool sort of environment. How many of you would say, “That would make me nervous a little bit”? Ya, sure it would… We consciously set an environment that was helping people confront and get past their fears, and to develop an understanding that God would show up on their behalf. That God would meet them if they’re willing to take some risks. (2:43 onwards)

Wow! This is the first time I’ve heard of these “faith courses”. Friends from Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) tell me there’s a culture of encouraging the supernatural and risk-taking like people going up to you to give you a word of prophecy, etc. It’s a culture of risk, yet also a culture of grace because people fail and you’re still accepted. And that’s really cool because I do think it’s important to have an encouraging, challenging and grace-filled culture in order for people to grow in their faith in these areas. Such a culture will enable people to overcome their fears and take the risk to do crazy stuff like prophesying over strangers – because you know that if you fail badly, there’s always grace available!

MorningStar’s “faith courses” and the assignments the students have to do really challenges me to believe God in a greater way! I mean, getting a two or three nights stay at a three star hotel for free!!?? That’s outrageous! But that’s totally possible – everything is possible for him who believes!

Since listening to Curry Blake on healing and being with people in the United States doing the stuff on the streets last July, I’ve grown in my faith to pray for people for healing on the streets. I’m no longer afraid of approaching people on the streets and praying for their healing. I’m starting to slowly move out to prophesying to people and I hope to improve in this area over the next year. It’s still something that’s a challenge for me especially since I’m not that much into “general” prophecies (vague ones which you don’t know whether are inspired by the Holy Spirit or just something anyone could probably come up with that would apply to most people because it’s so general and hard to miss) and so I do have high standards for myself in this area. And now I hear of these “faith courses” and some of the ridiculous stuff that people are asked to believe God for!

Being in the charismatic church for a long time, you hear a lot about people sharing about how God told them to do this or that. Which is really cool! But all this also kind of makes you feel that unless you have some specific direction from God, you shouldn’t do things that require faith like trying to heal everyone you see or believing God for something big. Last year when I encountered Curry’s teaching on healing, it made me realize that you don’t have to have a so-called “rhema” word from God to pray for someone’s healing and expect them to be healed. You can just lay hands on the sick and believe God wants to heal this person and that the person should get healed based on His eternal and unchanging Word (i.e. the Bible). Since then, my paradigm of what we can do in Christ has shifted and is continuing to shift. I’m learning we don’t have to have some clear word or direction from God to do crazy and ridiculous things. God sometimes does give us a clear direction but I’m starting to think that he gives clear direction not because that without it (i.e. the clear direction) He wouldn’t show up if we had mere faith alone (and no clear prophetic revelation) because somehow our faith wasn’t based on His “rhema” word… No, I believe He totally would show up! After all, the Word of God says everything is possible for him who believes. It’s about faith.

Of course, sometimes God does give us clear directions, but that’s probably just to encourage us in our faith and prod us on. Without them, we could achieve the same things if we could believe for it. That’s what the Bible says, after all! The people whom Jesus praised for their faith didn’t get their healing because they had some “rhema” word that said, “Go, my child, to Jesus and He will heal you.” On the contrary, they went by faith based on their knowledge of how good Jesus was and in response to what they have been hearing about how Jesus healed everyone who came to Him. God didn’t give them a word to go to Jesus! There was no supernatural leading for them. Just as in their day they heard reports about Jesus, in our day we go by the eternal Word of God.

These faith course assignments confirm the fact that it’s about faith. We move by faith. God will honor our faith. The fact that the MorningStar leaders decided that they’re going to challenge their students to believe God for some crazy stuff speaks volumes. In the first place, the leaders seem to believe that everyone can achieve the assignments. Of course, no condemnation if some groups don’t. But the assignments are there to be achieved. I’m sure God didn’t tell the leaders, “OK, for this upcoming faith course, I want you guys to get the students to do these assignments…” (If God did tell them, it was probably to tell the leaders about what kind of assignments would be at the students’ level of faith so more would be successful, rather than anything else) These assignments probably weren’t based on specific revelations from God, but the general principle in the Bible that everything is possible for him who believes. They could have come up with different crazy assignments. It wouldn’t have mattered because I’m sure the assignments weren’t based on supposed specific revelations from God of what God will do for these students.

Seeing what we can do for God from this paradigm and perspective is very liberating indeed! We don’t need specific revelation from God to step out in faith. We don’t need specific revelation to pray for this person on the street and expect them to be healed. We don’t need specific revelation from God to rebuke hurricanes and storms and expect our words to carry authority and power. No, the Word of God already tells us we ought to be healing the sick, using our authority and power (it’s God’s but He’s in us!) for good and it also says everything is possible for him who believes. Everything includes believing God for a two/three night stay in a hotel for free! If we believe for that and it doesn’t happen, does that mean we were wrong to believe for it because God didn’t give us a specific word to do so? I don’t think so. I think it just means we need to grow in our faith. As simple as that. No condemnation and let’s slowly grow in our faith.

But what about Jesus saying the He “can do only what he sees his Father doing” (John 5:19)? Doesn’t this seem to mean Jesus (and therefore us) need to wait for specific divine directions everytime before we heal people or do something that required faith? Steve Thompson addresses this issue in his message “The Bottom Line” in his “Developing a Sustainable Supernatural Life” series:

I’m going to go out on a limp a little bit here. But this idea that Jesus only did what He saw His Father do. The Scripture says in John that if all the miracles were written that the world itself could not contain the books of the things that Jesus did… My translation is that Jesus did a boatload of miracles… He only did this stuff three years or three and a half. And so in a 24 hour time frame He couldn’t have been having this instantaneous vision all the time to do what He saw His Father do. Here’s what I believe. I believe Jesus would see somebody sick and He would go, “Oh, I could see my Father healing him.” And he just walked up there and healed him. Not that He saw it in a vision. But He could see His Father doing that because He could see His Father’s heart. (23:55 onwards)

I know many charismatics do have an interpretation of the above passage (and others similar) that makes them wait for God on some specific direction or revelation or vision or word before they act. I think that’s the wrong interpretation of the Bible and it contradicts what faith is all about and the power and validity of the written Word of God. It also doesn’t take into account the fact that Christ is in us and that we’re one spirit with Him. We’re united to God. God will back us up whatever we do because we and God are one! Of course this can be abused, but the abuse of this relationship with God doesn’t mean this relationship doesn’t exist. God is more gracious than we can think. Sometimes people use their faith for stupid and wrong things and God still blesses them. Why? I won’t get into all this but I do think God is more gracious than we could ever think. That doesn’t mean we abuse our relationship with God. It ought to make us want to please Him more.

Anyway, for those who have been through MorningStar University’s faith courses, I would love to hear from you guys. I love to hear testimonies of God responding to faith as it encourages me. So do share your stories in the comments section. Thanks!

P.S.: I was told by Tim Jorgsensen (who wrote a very good book entitled Spirit Life Training) that MorningStar got the faith course idea from Trevor Yaxley’s “First Wave Army” training from Lifeway College in New Zealand, where Rick Joyner and Steve Thompson also teach.

The First Wave Army training is described in their website as a “one year catalyst for the call of God on your life designed to challenge you physically, spiritually and mentally, preparing for influence in all spheres in society.” I think the training activities they do are very interesting – and not your typical stuff included in a Bible College. It includes “physical outdoor training and activities designed to promote greater discipline and character”. And it seems that students have to wake up at 5:30am every morning! :)

Listening to Curry Blake and then reading Tim Jorgensen’s book (forwarded by Curry) has made me think about the relationship between the physical and spiritual, and the importance of physical discipline in the pursuit of the spiritual.

Thoughts on the Singapore General Elections 2011

Bye Bye Mr. Chiam See Tong! =(

I have decided to put down some of my thoughts on Singapore’s General Elections. It’s been quite an exciting time the past month or so. And it’s made me think a lot too.

Politics is close to my heart because social justice and the issues of poverty and oppression are close to my heart. I got an Arts degree with a major in International Relations and International Development Studies and so it’s true that I’ve been more interested in international politics – especially as it relates to the development of third-world nations. But I have to say that Singapore politics is getting more and more interesting and I’ve written a bit on it here before.

I’m no expert in local politics, but here are some random thoughts:

Opposition YAY!

Let me say first off that I voted for the Worker’s Party (WP) in the Moulmein-Kallang GRC. I’m really glad that Worker’s Party won Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC. I was sad for the loss of Chiam See Tong’s SPP team at Bishan-Toa Payoh, Dr Wijeysingha’s SDP team at Holland-Bukit Timah and Lina Chiam of SPP at Potong Pasir.

Opposition talent

I thought SDP’s team at Holland-Bukit Timah (like the Worker’s Party team at Aljunied) was outstanding in terms of their “talent”. They are definitely the kind of people I’d be able to trust if they were to govern Singapore. There were other “high-calibre” opposition candidates this time round. In a way, it’s just a pity they were dispersed among different parties. However, hopefully more and more credible candidates will join the various parties and make the next elections even more exciting!

SDP and Chee Soon Juan

I think that if the SDP team at Holland-Bukit Timah had contested under the Worker’s Party ticket, they would probably have won. I’ve got nothing against Dr. Chee Soon Juan and SDP – just that I think WP definitely has more credibility at the moment – and probably enough to have taken Dr. Wijeysingha’s team over the line. By the way, I actually have utmost respect for Dr. Chee. I’m for non-violent civil disobedience if it works. It’s just that it doesn’t accomplish anything in Singapore. Maybe in 50 year’s time it may. But Singapore is not ready for that now. Non-violent civil disobedience works in a country full of idealistic people, but Singapore is still by and large one of pragmatic people. But Dr. Chee has shown a lot of courage through the years and while I’ve disagreed with his style in the past, I’ve never disagreed with his ideals. Because of all he’s had to go through and the fact that most people don’t recognize all this, I have so much more admiration toward him. I’m glad SDP has been able to attract such candidates as they have recently and I really hope they continue to do so.

Tin Pei Ling

Let me mention Tin Pei Ling here. I don’t know her personally – even though I was involved in a community program a few years back in which she was also part of, I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to her before. I know she’s the butt of an enormous number of jokes online and perhaps the person who has come out the worst emotionally (not financially!) from these elections. Both George Yeo and Chiam See Tong lost and no doubt have suffered emotionally, but both were also almost unanimously loved by Singaporeans.

Pei Ling’s faults wouldn’t have been played upon so much if she were an opposition candidate and Nicole Seah wouldn’t be the heroine she now is if she were representing the PAP.

First off, let me say that I think the reaction toward her has been thoroughly unfair. I’m pro-opposition (at this moment of Singapore’s journey), but I also feel strongly when I feel people are wronged. I would stand up for the person. It doesn’t matter which party you’re from or whether I’m against you in other areas. Two wrongs do not make a right. One reason I’m very much against the PAP is because of what they’ve done in the past to oppress Singaporeans they disagree with and the pure injustice of some of their ways – which I’ll talk about below. Certainly, one can be critical of Tin Pei Ling for some of the stuff she said, but I think it’s blown totally out of proportion. I would not judge her so quickly as we all have a bad day and we all say things we regret saying. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Kate Spade picture – people are allowed to have a personal life! Just as I think George Yeo didn’t deserve to lose his seat (but I’m glad he did for the greater good of getting WP in) and people voted him out because of their anger against the PAP, I think Pei Ling doesn’t deserve a lot of the criticisms she’s gotten and she’s only gotten them because she’s on a PAP ticket. This is, of course, partly the PAP’s fault as their policies have attracted so much hatred toward their members but this is something Pei Ling should also have expected when joining the PAP. The truth is that Pei Ling’s faults wouldn’t have been played upon so much if she were an opposition candidate and Nicole Seah wouldn’t be the heroine she now is if she were representing the PAP.

Having said that, I don’t think she got into parliament fairly. I’m against the GRC concept and there’s no way she would have won if she stood in an SMC because of the public sentiments against her. She wouldn’t have won not because she isn’t talented and capable. I did have a positive impression of her during my time when we were involved in the community program, but I don’t know enough of her to pass judgment. I didn’t like some of her views she shared recently though. And I’m not talking about what her “biggest regret” was. I think her comments about not taking her parents to Universal Studios showed she wasn’t yet fluent in playing the political game. It is a really stupid answer (in the context of politics) and that was so probably because she was nervous and unprepared. But if that’s really what she feels, I have nothing against that. If she’s being authentic, then more power to someone who’s willing to be authentic, rather than play the political game. Don’t we all hate people who just say things not because they truly mean it, but because they know people want to hear it? My guess is that she was nervous and wasn’t totally comfortable with handling the media and attention and that’s why I wouldn’t judge her based on that. But anyway, this is politics and the media lapped it all up – especially the online media. In politics, like it or not, that’s fair game. That’s the way the game is played, whether that’s a good thing or not. And you’d expect your every fault to be exaggerated by the online media, because there’s truly a lot of unbalanced foolishness online  So she wouldn’t have won not because she isn’t talented and capable, but because the people’s impression is that she’s not talented and capable.

I actually think she’s probably talented (or she wouldn’t have passed the PAP’s scrutiny), but I have a feeling that based on what she’s mentioned so far regarding her political views, I probably wouldn’t agree with her. But she is now an MP whatever we think of that and if I were a neutral (and of course I’m not), I think she deserves a second chance and I’d see how she performs over the next 5 years.

I would stand up for Pei Ling as a person – not because I would vote for her, or because I agree with her views but simply because she’s a human being who doesn’t deserve the criticisms she’s been getting.

I’ve written all this because I feel Pei Ling has definitely had to endure a lot of scathing criticism (especially online) that I don’t think she deserves. I don’t think anyone deserves to be treated like that and that’s why I partly empathize with her. But I believe she’s strong enough to go through all this – if not, she wouldn’t be in politics. So for the same reason I have great admiration for Chee Soon Juan (because he’s endured a lot of shit he doesn’t deserve), I would stand up for Pei Ling as a person – not because I would vote for her, or because I agree with her views but simply because she’s a human being who doesn’t deserve the criticisms she’s been getting. And for the same reason I would stand against PAP’s oppressive and unjust ways, I would stand against those who have unfairly criticized her and carried things too far.

Nicole Seah

There’s really nothing much to say, is there? I hope she gets into Parliament. I don’t know if she will on an NSP ticket. Somehow brand still matters greatly. It would be a loss for Singapore if she doesn’t get elected in the next elections.

PAP and difficult decisions

While the PAP have lots of talented people, that in no way means they always make the right decisions that are best for Singapore

Even though I’m against the PAP, I do recognize (e.g. see this essay) that in the past the PAP has had to make hard decisions and they’ve had to pass unpopular policies for the benefit of the country. Governing a country is certainly not easy. Some decisions are hard decisions, but they need to be made nevertheless. So I do think that in general the PAP has had the right intentions. They are not out to enrich themselves and they have no intention to make the poor suffer. They are well-qualified people with our interests at heart. As yet, I wouldn’t trust an opposition government to make the right decisions. I believe the opposition candidates have bigger hearts, but I don’t believe there are enough with the experience and knowledge to understand the complexity of decisions involved and to make the difficult “non-populist” decision when needed. On the other hand, while the PAP have lots of talented people, that in no way means they always make the right decisions that are best for Singapore. And that is the great problem with a one-party dominated parliament. There may be debates within the party, but that’s not good enough. We need more voices and alternatives to be discussed publicly, not just behind closed doors.

Personally, I’d admit that a lot of the unpopular decisions made by the PAP in the last 5 to 10 years relate to issues that are very complex – too complex for me that I wouldn’t want to say that I know better than the PAP. I don’t want to go the “populist” route and disagree with all the unpopular policies. Some may be good in the long run. What I do believe, however, is that there should be more discussion with Singaporeans about them. I don’t want the PAP’s high and mighty “this is the best way for Singapore, we know best and you’ll have to accept it.”

Influx of foreigners

One issue I’ll mention here is that I think the speed of bringing in foreigners has been absolutely crazy. I can understand the PAP’s justification regarding the slow birth rate and benefit for the economy, etc. But I think they could have done much better in listening to the ground and could have had more dialogue and debate with Singaporeans. Even if the policy was the right thing for Singapore’s future, the style of implementing it was not. I have to acknowledge that I’m not super-patriotic. I love Singapore, but I consider myself first and foremost a global citizen and I don’t plan to live in Singapore forever. As a Christian, my true citizenship is not here and I have a big heart for missions overseas. But if I were a Singaporean, I’d be really worried because I wouldn’t be able to define myself and what a Singaporean is, if you know what I mean. But I gotta say that in a sense this is good for me as a Christian and for me as a global citizen. I love Canada and one thing I love about the country is its multiculturalism which I explain here. To put it simply, Canada doesn’t have much of a national culture (past ministers in Canada have actually acknowledged this). And I’m all for that (not having a dominant national culture), because I like to live with different cultures. Sometimes it makes one feel a bit insecure, but there’s a greater purpose in my life and that keeps me going. I like it, but I don’t think Singaporeans would like that. And I think Singapore is pretty much going that way with its immigration policy. Singapore has transformed enormously in the last 5 to 10 years with regards to foreigners coming here. And this has happened without citizens having an input. The government needs to dialogue with Singaporeans regarding how far they (Singaporeans, not the PAP) want to go. One thing I believe definitely needs to dramatically improve is helping foreigners assimilate to Singapore culture.

Why I’m against the PAP

I mentioned above about the way the PAP has oppressed its political foes. I’m against the ISA and ISD and the way the PAP has used the ISA in the past to oppress and torture their opponents. This is enough to really piss me off. The PAP doesn’t play fair at all. That’s why even though I do want to give credit to the PAP MPs when it is due them (and I do believe that most of their candidates have the heart and the brains), I cannot really respect any one of them because they are joining a party that has done the above. Torturing and oppressing political opponents is, to me, totally inhumane and unjustifiable. I could never join or support a party whose history has been tainted by such an evil past. And I find it hard to respect people who do so because to me this is equivalent with being complicit with the PAP and what it has done in the past. Of course most PAP MPs and supporters I’m sure wouldn’t agree with the past actions of the PAP. However, you can’t just brush all this aside. No one person’s suffering is any less than the other. I feel Pei Ling has suffered unjustly and that’s why I’ve spoken up for her. But so have past political opponents. And even worse, some of them have gone through not just emotional, but also physical, suffering. Until the present PAP leadership deals with their past faults (renounces them and apologizes for them), it’s gonna be hard for me to respect any of them that much.

Even if one argues that all the past oppression by the PAP was a means to a good end (I do understand this viewpoint, though don’t necessarily agree with it – see my article on creating social change) and thus things were more complex than I’m making it out to be, times have changed now. Lee Kuan Yew and his style of politics are for a different era and yet the PAP doesn’t seem to have changed that much. And if it has really changed, I would want to see the PAP address the past, apologize for it and compensate those affected so we can move on. This is something I’m quite firm on: the past wrongs need to be addressed and no suffering should be overlooked. The moment we start to overlook injustices that have been done to people and tell ourselves that all that is in the past, is the moment we start to lose our morals and sense of justice. It wouldn’t be long before we start justifying all sorts of oppression and evils.

There comes a time when after trying to change things and not being able to, continuing to be part of the party makes you complicit with their wrongs – and you need to get out for the sake of truth and justice even if it costs you the love of your colleagues, your comfortable salaries and your political fame

However, I don’t think that will happen any time soon as the PAP in the present is still caught up with a similar, though less extreme, kind of dirty politics of the previous era as shown through the policies of the GRC, gerrymandering and the use of upgrading to bribe voters. If one can forgive the PAP MPs and supporters for not addressing the past oppression and torture perpetrated by their party, there’s no excuse for them to ignore their party’s present tools of injustice. To be honest, I find it very hard to accept that the current PAP crop truly has integrity if they don’t address these issues. Now, I’m actually hoping that despite the fact that no PAP MPs have actually come out publicly against any of the above (at least I think none have), debate about these issues have taken place behind closed doors. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that many PAP MPs actually do have morals and do stand up for justice. However, I think there comes a time when enough is enough and if your party still doesn’t listen to you, you need to have the moral courage to put justice and your principles above your friendships and speak out against your party and even leave the party if necessary. As Henry David Thoreau once said, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” There comes a time when after trying to change things and not being able to, continuing to be part of the party makes you complicit with their wrongs – and you need to get out for the sake of truth and justice even if it costs you the love of your colleagues, your comfortable salaries and your political fame.

The Straits Times had a very interesting article on May 8th 2011 entitled “‘Advocate of reform’ leaves the scene”. I was quite happy to read that George Yeo was one of the most progressive among the PAP leadership. I liked how he disagreed with the party’s style since the very beginning he entered politics over 20 years ago. I liked what The Straits Times wrote here:

He has long been described as a liberal, almost a dirty word in some circles in the PAP. While he squirms at the label, he has said that ‘there is a certain positive aspect of being liberal which I like’ – ‘the sense of equality, the sense of the individual’.

However, it continued:

Asked in 1999 whether he has not lived up to the expectations of progressive Singaporeans, he said that his fundamental positions have not changed much.

But he has ‘grown older, hopefully wiser and politically more mature and experienced’, he said.

George Yeo should be happy about one thing: that WP is in parliament and they can now do what he’s failed to do for 20 years – that is, bring reform to the PAP

I’m just a little bit sorry to see George Yeo leave. Although I do believe he’s a genuine progressive at heart, I think he wasn’t able to carry out any reforms in the PAP simply because it’s hard to go against the system. It’s better to put pressure on it from outside like what the voters and WP have done and are doing. In this sense, I’m not so saddened by George leaving because he didn’t really seem to do much of what he wanted to. I’m sure he’s a nice guy – maybe one of the nicest in the PAP – but there was something greater at stake here and it was imperative WP won Aljunied for the sake of the whole of Singapore’s future. I don’t want to be harsh, but talk without action isn’t much of a use. “Grown older, hopefully wiser and politically more mature and experienced?” Hmmm… Or grown less idealistic and more comfortable with the status quo? If he’s still true to his idealism, then George Yeo should be happy about one thing: that WP is in parliament and they can now do what he’s failed to do for 20 years – that is, bring reform to the PAP. If I were George and were really progressive in my ideals, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t accomplish anything after all these years. Of course, maybe George thought it was better with him in the PAP than him out of it because for so long there were no credible opposition parties to join through which to contribute to Singapore. But maybe it’s time for him to do something that could actually bring reform in the PAP: join an opposition party, help them get more credibility and better candidates and be a positive influence over them. When you bow out of politics, you’ll be a hero. Not that you want to be one, but do it for the sake of Singapore! As I mentioned here, I believe that if the PAP truly has Singapore’s interest at heart, it would help strengthen the opposition and not just be concerned about the everlasting reign of its own kingdom.

The best thing that any outgoing PAP MP can do for the country is to help the various opposition parties. This would be a true national service for the sake of the future of Singapore

One reason why strong alternative voices in parliament are needed (besides the fact this gives us options and helps us better think through what the best policies are) is simply because the PAP can never guarantee that their party will always have Singapore’s best interest at heart. I do trust their good intentions now – I even trust that Lee Kuan Yew had good intentions even while oppressing his political opponents. But nobody can guarantee that PAP will always have people with good hearts. And if one day they don’t and they are fully dominant with no alternative voices in parliament, Singapore will pay the price severely and the PAP and Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy of having created a strong party that transformed Singapore could be destroyed in an instant – by the very same party whose authoritarian style is suited more to the past than the present or the future. That’s why Singapore needs strong alternative voices. This is not about this or that party or this or that person. If we had a kinder PAP in power or a quality WP team in power, we should still make sure that the ruling party (PAP or WP) doesn’t become too dominant for the sake of our nation. And that’s why I think the best thing that any outgoing PAP MP can do for the country is to help the various opposition parties. This would be a true national service for the sake of the future of Singapore.

I also liked the views of new MP BG (NS) Tan Chuan-Jin in this May 4th article article (BG Tan admits PAP needs to address public frustration):

The candidate in the People’s Action Party (PAP) team contesting in Marine Parade GRC admitted some voters were ‘troubled, angry even’ over issues such as the fairness of the GRC system and attacks on the opposition.

‘Some feel that you’re being talked down to, that there’s not enough listening, that we need to be more compassionate and less calculative,’ he said at a lunchtime rally at UOB Plaza. ‘Whether real or not, if we are unable to address these perceptions and sentiments, our moral authority to lead will erode.’

A softer approach in engagement is needed, said the 42-year-old, tipped by many to be part of Singapore’s fourth-generation leadership.

‘I know we need to listen and to communicate our ideas better. We need to balance efficiency and effectiveness, and to temper it with more heart,’ he said.

I don’t know if BG (NS) Tan is just playing the political game, but I give him the benefit of the doubt. I’m glad to see leaders like him in the PAP. And I think he’s slated to reach a very high position in the government so that’s good. What I really hope is that the new and younger candidates will eventually stop the PAP’s unfair ways of winning the elections, the arrogance and classless attacks on the opposition – like what was said by MM Lee Kuan Yew, SM Goh and very disappointingly, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan.

Use of Reserves and Education

This elections has got me thinking about the use of our reserves. It’s well-known that SDP’s Tan See Jay proposed using $60 billion of our reserves on various projects. I don’t plan to comment on his proposals, but I think it’s worth discussing PAP’s assumption that it’s almost always good to keep accumulating more and more reserves and almost always never good to use any of them. While I’m not for spending all our reserves or even a large amount, the truth is that we do have money to spend. We certainly don’t want to be in debt, but we’re also actually very far from being in debt! Yes, we all hear that we need to save for a rainy day, but when will this forever saving last? Surely we don’t want to spend recklessly, but I’m beginning to disagree with the fundamentals of us always saving more and more.

One area I think it’s good to spend more on is education. Money spent on education would be an investment into the future of our country and so it’s a more attractive way to spend money. I’m a teacher, though I’ve never really considered working for MOE. I’ve heard too many horror stories and I know too many people who are so tired out by teaching. MOE and many principals are really out of touch with the ground (i.e. the teachers). Many teachers are quitting and many staying behind are doing so only for the money – not that they don’t like teaching, but they’d tolerate an exhausting life (which means they aren’t teaching to the best of their abilities) because of the pretty decent pay. I mentioned about my teaching experience in the private sector here. Like over there, I understand that changing things depends on getting a higher budget. The MOE and the principals live in an imperfect world and have to do the best they can based on what they’re given. So in a way I don’t blame them because they are doing the best they can with the resources they have.

I’m certainly no expert in what goes on in MOE and government schools although I do have close friends working in government schools and I had a chat with a future principal about some of my concerns. All I’ll say here is that there’s no way the teachers are doing their best to teach and take care of the students because of the amount of work they have and the stress. To make sure our children are educated as best as we can educate them (especially with the challenges of teaching a child now), we need to take care of our teachers first!

This may not be one of the more urgent or glamorous issues like housing and the cost of living, etc., but it’s possibly of greater importance than any other because this will really affect the future of Singapore’s human capital, our most precious asset.

I don’t want to say too much because I’m not a government school teacher nor have I ever been one. But I do hope that more teachers will come together to voice their unhappiness and propose solutions. I do think that any good solution will start with an increase in the budget for education because I believe many solutions would depend on hiring more teachers or employees to take the non-academic workload off teachers so they can focus on what they should be focusing on. I don’t know if any of the opposition parties have considered this issue carefully and done their study and research. This may not be one of the more urgent or glamorous issues like housing and cost of living, etc., but it’s possibly of greater importance than any other because this will really affect the future of Singapore’s human capital, our most precious asset. I also hope more ex-teachers (especially from the higher levels) and ex-MOE HQ staff would join the opposition parties and come out with alternative plans. The issue of education needs to gain more prominence in the political discourse for the sake of our future.