Christian ministry staff workers are no strangers to discouragement in our journey of working with diamonds in the rough.
A few common thoughts that often cross our minds are,
“Is this (my sacrifice of time, talent, youth, etc.) worth it?”
“Does this even matter?”
“I’m not really making a difference.”
A/Prof Tan Boon Yeow, CEO of St Luke’s Hospital begs to differ.
At the age of 19, A/Prof Tan had just disrupted from the army to prepare to enter medical school in National University of Singapore (NUS). Prior to this, he had decided to begin a personal relationship with Jesus.
As a very young believer, he had a chance encounter with a Christian who invited him to join a discipleship group (DG) led by Toe Set, a Cru Singapore staff member.
Toe Set was A/Prof Tan's first discipler in medical school.
A/Prof Tan’s turning point came when he learned about the Spirit-filled life from Toe Set, who was going through Christian Basics with him.
“The experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit literally changed my life. It empowered me to carry on life—not in my own strength—but with the strength and joy to do things through his empowerment.”
“Cru formed the foundation to my Christianity, in my walk with God. Being started on the right and strong foundation has helped built me as a person.”
Toe Set, a resident faculty with East Asia School of Theology now, remembers those moments of mentoring A/Prof Tan.
St Luke’s Hospital was the first hospital in Singapore dedicated to the elderly sick and cares for 2,300 inpatients and 3,500 outpatients each year, regardless of race, language or religion.
“Boon Yeow was a faithful student of God’s Word. I remember despite his demanding heavy schedule he would be there faithfully absorbing as we studied scripture. Not only was he excited about knowing God deeper personally, he was also concerned for his friends.”
“Because of that he was the one who would rally everyone to come and all I had to do was show up! He was always positive and encouraging. I’m glad to know the Lord is using him and his wife, Joyce to touch many lives including ours."
A/Prof Tan believes that Toe Set's mentoring was a blessing that set him on the right trajectory of his Christian journey.
A/Prof Tan reflected, “The impact of Cru’s work with people at a tender age, whether it is biological age or those who are spiritually young, is huge.
“I’d like to encourage the staff workers to never ever underestimate your impact, the profound change it has brought about. I don’t know what I would have turned out to be if I did not get to grow in my faith through Christ."
Being on campus with Cru also meant A/Prof Tan had lots of opportunities to share the Gospel with strangers.
“When I was a medical student, I recall meeting an ex-gangster—with tattoos all over his body—at a hospital. He had terminal cancer of the spinal cord. Together with then-girlfriend (now wife), I shared Christ with him."
A/Prof Tan and wife, Joyce, have kept close contact with Magdalene and Toe Set all these years since medical school.
"The difficulty for us was that he was illiterate and only understood Hokkien and Mandarin, while both my girlfriend and I spoke mainly English. With a mixture of ‘broken’ Hokkien and Mandarin, we shared the Gospel with him. Somehow, God worked and he actually came to know Christ!"
“He said the reason he was receptive was because he witnessed the total transformation of some of his gangster friends who became Christians. He really wanted to know this God and so, when we came along, he was already prepared by the Holy Spirit to receive Christ."
“Our initial concern was how he was going to grow in his faith, being unable to read and terminally ill. A few weeks later, when we visited him at the nursing home where he was transferred to, we were simply amazed at what God had done."
“His countenance was different from the last we saw him. Even though physically he was smaller, it was apparent that he was stronger spiritually."
“He told us that every day, the Word of God was being broadcasted in Mandarin. This allowed him to soak in the Word and know God in a deeper way, despite being bed-ridden. He could actually grow in the Lord, before he went home to be with the Lord."
(Photo by Tomas Kirvėla on Unsplash)
“God takes good care of His children. It truly is what Jesus says in Matthew 6:26 –
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them…”
“God provided friends who became Christians to let him witness the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. After he received Christ, He even placed him in a nursing home that prepared him for the eternal relationship with Him."
“This experience has been etched in my memory—that God will always provide for His people.”
The story of Cru is not about great giants in the faith. The story of Cru is fully about an amazing, unstoppable God and what He is choosing to do through everyday ordinary people who simply have to trust Him to do the impossible things.
Under A/Prof Tan's leadership, St Luke's Hospital became the first community hospital to receive the National Healthcare Innovation and Productivity Medal and topped the Community Hospital Patient Experience Survey in 2018.
Everyday ordinary people can only trust Him when they hear about Him. And they can only hear about Him when someone tells them about Him. (adapted: Romans 10:14-15)
The work of the Great Commission needs to be built on the foundation of disciple-making through countless generations of unseen, unsung heroes sowing into the lives of people and people groups—Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered intentional disciple-making in the background, out of the spotlight.
May God do it again in Cru Singapore and our partners for the next 50 years and beyond, God-willing.
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