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Answering the call

Answering the call
(left to right) Rev Florence Ngu, Pastor Adlin Jacob, Rev Allan Lee

We hear the stories of two newly ordained Elders and one Member-on-Trial, all of whom were conferred their new titles during the Annual Conferences in Nov 2022.

L to R Adlin Linnya Rubia 2
Pastor Adlin with his wife Rubia and daughter Linya

Pastor Jones Retna Raj Adlin Jacob
Member-on-Trial, ETAC

Even though I was brought up in a Christian family and my father had dedicated me to pastoral ministry while I was still in my mother’s womb, I showed no interest in doing God’s work in my youth. In fact, I was running in the opposite direction from where God wanted me to. I never listened to my parents and anyone who gave me advice.

Rather, I chose to enjoy my life in a different way that eventually wrecked my youth.

But God started to teach me. Although I had a reputation of being an academically good student, I failed my higher secondary level examinations. Ashamed to face the people in my village in the Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu, I packed up and moved to my uncle’s house in the city, with the intention of pursuing a technical course with my high school level results.

Back then, I did not read the Bible frequently, but God still used different ways to speak to me, to inspire and encourage me. On that day, I was seated in the living room where I found a wall hanging with the words, “If you don’t succeed once, try, try again.” That encouraged me and I went on to pass my second attempt at the supplementary exam.

These words spoken to me by the then gardener of St Wesley Church Roya Pettah- Chennai, India, still ring in my ears— “He will hook him and take him for His mission.”

If God really called someone for his purpose, he will not let him go. During my college days, a friend and I met this gardener on the church campus where we chose to wait for a movie in a theatre nearby. He shared these words with me after explaining the story of Jonah.

I used to tell my parents that I cannot serve God without personally recognising his call. Well, God certainly made it clear to me!

Despite my excuses that I was not worthy to serve him, God spoke to me clearly through 1 Corinthians 1:27, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”

God moulded me for his mission, helping me to serve in India as a church worker for five years, and as a missionary trainee for one year in a tribal village. It was God’s will that I could pursue theological studies to serve God and God’s people further, and to preach God’s word with clear biblical knowledge.

I had never thought of serving God through Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) with The Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS), but it is God’s will that I will be a Member-on-Trial (MOT) in ETAC from January 2023. I praise God for his love and mercies during the difficult times of my life. I also render my sincere gratitude to people who stood by my side and guided me thus far, imparting God’s love to me.

Rev Florence Ngu and her parents

Rev Florence Ngu
Newly ordained Elder, CAC

(Translated from Mandarin)

I used to work in a Christian gospel broadcasting company. Whilst serving in this para-church organisation, I had opportunities to visit different churches for fund-raising purposes and sharing of ministry opportunities there. Once, I arrived early at a church and as I entered the sanctuary, I gazed at the empty pews and the vacant hall.

Looking around, a message flashed in my mind. It was as if God was telling me “The Church needs workers, come feed my sheep.” As I continued to contemplate, this thought came to me: Isn’t bringing people into the church to be pastored, the ultimate aim of spreading the gospel? The message of the Church lacking pastors was impressed upon me as I continued to gaze at the empty hall. Because of this, I responded to God’s call.

I left the broadcasting company and started full-time theological studies to equip myself so that I could be deployable by God. I did not know how pastoral ministry would be like; neither did I question my credentials, nor understand the great cost that awaited me when I set foot on this journey. I simply responded because there was a need.

If you had asked me during my initial years in seminary how I envisioned being a pastor, I would have responded with lofty plans and ideas. However, from 2014 to 2022 (between the time I graduated to when I was ordained an Elder), my perspective of being a pastor changed. I feel that a pastor is one who is on a journey, constantly learning how to relinquish his own plans and dreams. For it is only when one relinquishes his plans will he truly hear God’s will. I find myself being more and more ignorant as I walk down this path. I thank God for this awareness, because this ignorance compels me to rely on God more. And this reliance allows me to see his wonderful works unveiling in ministry.

The opportunity of being a servant of God is a glorious one. I sometimes ask myself “What can a plain Jane like me accomplish?” It is only through his marvellous work and grace that I have been chosen to be a pastor. Being ordained as an Elder is both an important affirmation and a sign—affirmation of God’s calling and will in my life. Stepping into this new phase, I’m met with a lot of unknowns and may not be able to navigate smoothly as I adjust. But I would like to echo Mary’s prayer in Luke 1:38 (NIV), “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled.” All glory to our Lord!

L to R Rev Benjamin Lau Rev Alex Chew Rev Joey Chen
(left to right) Rev Benjamin Lau, Rev Allan Lee, Rev Alex Chew, Rev Joey Chen

Rev Allan Lee
Newly ordained Elder, TRAC     

It seems that God was reaching out to me from the beginning.

By his grace, I went to a missions school where I was exposed to Christianity in my primary school years despite being born into a non-Christian family. Looking back, the seeds of the gospel were planted during those years. However, it was only in secondary school, through The Boys’ Brigade (BB) programme, that I truly experienced God’s love and decided to give my life to Christ.

I started to go to church and attended a weekly Bible study, and so began a process of spiritual transformation in my life. Patience and gentleness slowly replaced my hot-temper and impatience, and as I knew God and his Word more, I began to serve him more actively in church and BB.

I first sensed God’s call to full-time ministry at my first Young Methodist Leaders Conference (YMLC) in 2003 during my NS days. Having sought the wise counsel of my Pastor-in-Charge then, I proceeded to first pursue and complete my degree, and subsequently my Master’s. It was during this time that I discovered a love and passion for teaching. This passion would later lead me to believe that God had called me to teaching in my pastoral ministry, which was confirmed by an encounter with a Methodist pastor who shared that she saw the word “teaching” only moments in to our first meeting.

I heard God’s call again during YMLC which I attended again while working in the Civil Service. However, this time I was in denial. I never saw myself as a pastor, neither was I prepared for it. I kept this to myself and told no one, only asking God to confirm this calling. About a month later, my brother, who was already in ministry, sent me a text message saying, “I sensed God calling you to full-time ministry—why don’t you pray about it?” It was then that I knew without a doubt that God had called me to serve him and his church as a pastor. The rest, as they say, is history.

Looking back, I am always amazed by how God, from the very beginning, was already reaching out to me, charting my path “behind the scenes”. Today, I continue to be amazed by his grace. He has called me into ministry that is aligned with my passion, and given me the privilege to walk with others and see them grow in their relationship with him.

As I continue this journey of pastoral ministry, I pray that the Lord will continue to equip and empower me to serve him faithfully and fervently. To God be the glory.

Photos courtesy of Ps Adlin Jacob, Rev Allan Lee and Rev Florence Ngu