LiveSg Stories

True success and sustainability in Christian ministry

“When I had to travel, I invested in calling my wife every day that I was away. And at that time, overseas calls were expensive!” Geok Seng chuckled.

“That was a crucial investment. It communicated to Saw Bee that she was dearly cherished. Then free internet calls became available and I would call her at least three times a day to see how she was at home—it made her happy and I could come back to a happy wife after my long travel,” he reminisced.

Married couple of 40 years, senior Cru staff Lim Geok Seng and Lee Saw Bee have dedicated their lives since 1976 and 1978 respectively to follow and serve the Lord. Starting with Malaysia Campus Crusade for Christ (MCCC) campuses to serving as National Director, their fruitfulness in ministry has spanned across Cru ministries globally—from East Asia to Eastern Europe to Southeast Asia.

Full of vigour and joy, they share the wisdom they’ve gleaned in their years of experience. 

 

 

Consistency in owning your call

Lifelong faithfulness is consistently choosing and continuously answering God’s call every time. It may sound daunting, but Saw Bee puts it into perspective, “The call is to love and obey a Person, not the performance of a job function. What really matters is not the outward role, location, or results, but the inward assurance of God’s presence and pleasure.”

Continuing, she said, “We decided to put our lives, livelihood, and future in God’s hands, to experience His grace and do His will.”

A weighty statement, this was tested time and again through their years in ministry. Geok Seng brought up a period in 1981 when he was just 29—having just been elected the youngest elder in his church denomination and Acting National Director of Malaysia Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC).

“I thought I was good. I worked hard to prove my worth and worked the staff hard too. I was called the “Iron man” both for my tirelessness and hard-heartedness,” he described.

“Then, three things happened in 1989. First, my dad died suddenly of heart attack. Then, my wife was diagnosed to have breast cancer. And finally, my baby daughter had a fever fit. It was like I was suddenly losing three precious people in my life.”

“That forced me to rethink and to revalue people and life. God was gracious to me and restored both my wife and daughter to health. From then on, I learned to view people and life in a new way. The iron man now had a heart of flesh and compassion,” Geok Seng finished off. 

Thinking back through their life, Saw Bee reminisced, “It has not been a one-time decision to join fulltime ministry. But the constant affirmation and decision to live out of that relationship with God amid changes, challenges and weaknesses.”

 

 

Surrendering to God’s definition

The Bible tells us that God and His ways are often contrary to our ways and the ways of the world—”do not be conformed to the pattern of this world”, “His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, His ways higher than our ways”.

Although we know this as Truth, our heart only truly understands this through the process of surrender. For Geok Seng, it was in one of his deepest valleys that he learnt (what he terms as) this ‘precious lesson’.

“There was one particular occasion in ministry where I remember getting so angry at God. I had invested many long years in building a thriving movement, only to have it dismantled within a few short years after I handed over the leadership,” he recalled.

“I felt so deeply hit. Then God spoke and challenged me—"Whose ministry is this, yours or mine?”, “Whose reputation are you concerned about, yours or mine?”, “Who is ultimately in charge in this situation?” And I suddenly remembered a precious lesson I learned in GCTC (Great Commission Training Centre) long ago: It is not what you go through, but how you respond to what you go through that makes or breaks you.”

“It struck me—what really matters is not what I have done, but what I have become, or am becoming in the process. I had to humbly bow before God and let Him make me a better person,” he shared.

 

Christian Living

In this series, we hear the thoughts and journeys of believers from different walks of life speak on issues ranging from our identity and the way God sees us, to what a follower of Christ looks like, to ministry and more. 

Through their stories, see how God created all of us so beautifully unique, with such diverse experiences that form our perspectives. 

Find out more!

 

Even in success, Geok Seng and Saw Bee saw just how opposite the ways of God were to the world. “Our greatest successes were not those we worked the hardest nor what we considered our best achievements—but where we stood back and watched God do His work.”

They spoke about their years in Indonesia with LeaderImpact ministry where they saw God multiply the city movements of marketplace leaders to reach their own cities for Christ. While the staff did the vision-casting and training, they saw the marketplace leaders own the vision and commit to the cause. This became their mission and movement and over the years, the ministry flourished throughout Indonesia reaching over 80 cities, most of which were without staff presence.

“All of us were so excited and could not help but acknowledge that it was God who made this happen. Almost every week, we saw God raising new people and opening up new cities! It brought Exodus 14 to life, The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.’ Because of that, the work was not burdensome, but delightful and enjoyable,” they excitedly shared. 

Insight on balancing family and ministry

Even amid the busyness of ministry, family has always been a priority for Geok Seng and Saw Bee. They shared, “Ministry activities are often planned for us, but it is our responsibility to intentionally include our family life and personal wellbeing into our schedules so they will not be crowded out.”

“Imbalance is the result of overindulging in some areas of our life to the alarming neglect of other vital areas. Balance is the result, and the action to achieve balance is scheduling. Our daily schedule reveals our actual focus and priority. What is not included in our schedule will not happen.”

 

Geok Seng, Saw Bee and their family

Geok Seng recalled, “When my children were sitting for their “O” and “A” Level examinations, I promised them I would not travel for at least two weeks and stayed by their sides. To make this happen, I blocked out those dates early in my yearly schedule. My son remembers this till now and cherishes those times.”

“When I was serving in East Asia, I would schedule my trips not to exceed 12 days, leaving on a Monday and returning by the following Friday. This way I was only away from my family for one weekend,” he added. 

Looking back, Saw Bee said, “God has provided all our needs. Our children grew up grew up in the security of a stable home where their parents love and support each other. We showed them the value of faith and love, and they did not feel inferior to their peers who may have had fancier toys and excess money.”

She continued, “The crucial issue is to practice spirit-filled living, first as spirit-filled couple and then as spirit-filled parents. God has given them good education, good jobs, and good marriages. The best legacy we can leave them is to model how to live out their spirit-filled marriage and family.”

Learning from 20/20 hindsight

Having stayed faithful to their call, experiencing fulfilment in all aspects of their lives, and coming out even more energised and joyful—it begs the question: how did you do it?

“Enjoy your present phase of life. Do we really believe that ‘God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life’? Relax, and trust God to work out that plan. We have found that every setback is an opportunity for renewal and growth. Every end of the road is the beginning of a new journey. Stay on and you will be surprised by the unimaginable grace of God. You will discover that the new season will be the best years of your life yet,” Geok Seng and Saw Bee replied. 

 

 

When asked if there was any advice they would tell their younger selves, they said, “Relax. Enjoy your walk with God and your journey of faith. Enjoy your family and people, cherish those precious moments of interaction.”

It is a simple, yet profound reminder—in the hustle of ministry and our hectic lives, to just slow down, learn to enjoy the little things that we often overlook, and trust the God we love.

In their current season, Geok Seng and Saw Bee shared, “We want to finish well both in life and ministry. We are thankful to end our career on a high note and retire positively as things are going well, not negatively when work and life crumbled. We wanted to be happy and healthy in our old age, enjoying people and enjoyed by people.”

“This changed our outlook and our values. Success and position are passing, but relationships and ministry of grace will last much longer. We want to learn to love people and bless people; so that our hearts are always filled with joy and we can help fill other hearts with joy too. We are waiting for God to surprise us what He would give us after this.”

As we run this race together, let us draw courage from those who have gone before us. May the faithfulness and perseverance demonstrated in Geok Seng and Saw Bee’s lives inspire us to press on toward the goal for which we are called. 

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