17 Nov 2013
Today is our 26th anniversary so blessed birthday, all gospel lighters. It is always good to come to anniversary. Typically at every anniversary, we spend time looking back with gratitude at what God has done and then hopefully spend more time excited at what God will do for us. Now today, I would like to just trace back very quickly again the roots of GLCC. And from the roots of GLCC, you will have a pretty good idea of why we do things today. Usually a history of a group of people, if you know the history, you can understand why they are like this. And so a little bit of history will help us to understand what GLCC is, who are we really, alright?
Root of GLCC
So first, we want to give thanks (“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High” Psalm 92:1) and I think that's the most important. We want to thank God for the long, wonderful journey.
1. Root one: Pastor Paul’s clinic
Now the first roots of GLCC, the first root, rather, is in a clinic. I was working in a clinic and I got saved while I was working in that clinic. It was kind of like amazing joy when I first received Jesus as my Savior. I grew up in a Christian home and I thought, you know, Christianity is just attending things, doing things, kind of a bunch of rituals. But the Lord opened my eyes as I opened the Bible one day, and said, “Wow, this is a gift from God! John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world, He gave.’.” And so I was kind of like amazed! Wow, how come all these years you are some fool and have never received a gift from God? You're quick to receive things from everybody, right? You have never said no to a good offer and yet a thing from God, you sort of rejected it, neglected it all those years. And so I received Jesus as my Savior and there was amazing joy - joy of sins forgiven, confidence that Jesus had paid it all on the cross, confidence that now I have Him in my heart. Wow, this is amazing! So I wanted to share my faith. And, of course, as you work in the clinic, you have some constraints, you know. You have ethics, professional ethics, that you are there. That is not just on a pulpit. That is where people came to get treated for the illness. And so this constraint of wanting to share the good news and at the same time very much constrained by professional ethics. So what I did was I simply got the biggest, fattest Bible I could buy and I put it on my desk - you know, consultation desks are not that big. And you open it up and that takes half your desk. And then I had John 3:16 put on my wall on a nice, prominent place. As the guy walks in, he sees John 3:16. He sits down and he sees this big fat Bible. And you know, people like to make conversation. They don't like to be awkward. And usually the common thing is, “Doc, you really read that ah?” It's like, “Yeah, sure! I read it, you know.” And “Why? What's so good about this?” And then, you know, you asked me, right? So I can share with you. But of course, I couldn't do a lot of evangelizing and discipling while the guy was there, you know, having his throat checked and so on. It wouldn't be right. So what we did was, I said, “Okay, there are a lot of people interested to know why this crazy guy is reading the Bible. Let's start a Bible study!” And so what we did was we started Bible studies. I started Bible studies in my clinics and soon there were also Bible studies everyday in a different clinic. There was a group of clinics there, many clinics, and so every day, we had Bible studies. And so what we had was ongoing Bible studies. Now you must remember, I was a young believer. I had no theological training. I had never been to any special course or anything. I didn't know 2:7 or whatever programs. All I knew was, I read the Bible and I tell you what I learned. And also basically, we did like verse by verse. If I was reading a book of the Bible, at the Bible study, I would share that book. Now you will have an understanding of why Pastor Jason takes two years to go through the book of Romans, right? Those are our roots. We just go verse by verse. And so over the years in Shenton, we literally covered a good part of the Bible, verse by verse. So those are your roots - a Bible background. I learned my theology not from a lecturer, not from a constitution; I learned my theology straight from a word of God. So that was one root, sharing my faith with my patients.
2. Root two: Pastor Paul’s wife’s ministry
Now as I was doing that, my wife had another ministry. She was trying to reach people like her. As I was trying to reach my patients, she was trying to reach other people. And at that time, she and her friends, she had three other friends and the four of them decided that “let's go to Botanical Gardens”. They heard that there were these Filipinos coming to Singapore. You know, this was 30 years ago, right? And at that time, we were not familiar with Filipinos coming in but they heard about it. And so they went to the Botanical Gardens.
Alright, so this is the earliest picture we have of GLCC. I don't have anything of the Shenton medical Bible study groups. So my wife, of course, is not a theologian. She's not a preacher. She has no kind of teaching skills. She's a brand new believer. She gave what she had. And what did she have? She had a smile, all right. That's basically all she had. That is her there and that's my daughter there (referring to the photograph on the screen). And what they did was just lay out mats under the tree - the tree is still there at Botanical Gardens if you go by the main gate, near Gleneagles. That same tree is there and it gives a lot of shade. We laid out mats, started giving out snacks and then sang some songs, some christian songs, and we caught Filipinos here and there. And very soon, it was a fairly large group.
This is the second picture we have of the origins of GLCC. We would gather them and then the crowd became so big that the rangers in Botanical Gardens came to disturb us saying, “What are you doing here? You are not supposed to gather in such a big group.” So eventually we gathered them into a building. That is a penthouse in Tong building, alright? If you're not familiar with Tong building, as you face Lucky Plaza, there is a building next to Lucky Plaza and on the right, which is a Rolex showroom, that Tong building was owned by a patient of mine, and he said, “Use my penthouse!” so we used the penthouse. And hundreds, literally about a hundred came every week. We shared the word with these Filipinos until complaints from the tenant said that, “You know, you guys, you know, this is a nice building. This is a Rolex building, you know. We should not have all these people going through.”. But the point is, from this history, I hope you understand a little bit about why we do what we do today, all right? If you know your history, you know where you are today. So having people in Shenton getting saved, attending Bible study and now wanting to worship; having Filipinos in Botanical Gardens, now wanting to worship, what do we do? We took a step of faith. We said, “Well, we need them to worship.”. So we rented a room in the Hilton hotel for a glorious fifty dollars. I still remember that amount. And we started our first service. All right? It was a step of complete faith. I had never run a church. I had no theological training. I had no sending church. I had no mentoring pastor. We don't even have a registration. We don't even have a name at a time. I remember at the beginning the hotel asked me, “What's the name of your church?” I said, “No Name”. So the first Sunday when I arrived, I saw a board there. You know they tell you which function room for who and the name of the church was ‘Paul Choo’s church’. All right? That's kind of like an ego trip but it lasted until we discovered and we thought that we would use the name ‘Gospel Light’.
Character of GLCC
My point is this, all right, we took a step of faith not really knowing what God would do. Now, I hope from this little background, this little history, you will understand a little about the DNA of GLCC, all right? And I would like to summarize the DNA of GLCC. Just like you know, you summarize the group. For example, Chinese people like to do business and are very hardworking; and that is kind of like, that's the DNA, right? Or Singaporeans are kiasu, study, right? There is a definite character. I like to think we have this character.
1. Character of GLCC: Bible-based
Number one, we are Bible-based. From day one, we did not take a constitution from someone and we did not take a tradition from someone. How did we start our church? What was our guide? What denomination? Well, our guide was very simple. Let's just follow the Bible. If the Bible shows us this, let's do it! And if along the journey, the Bible shows us we are wrong, let's correct it. It's better to be honest and consistent, right? And so that was our journey. We are Bible-based. From day one, all I knew was how to study the Bible and how to teach it straight from the Bible. My Bible studies were, take the Bible and teach the Bible. It's God's word. It's an amazing book. It is all we need. And that is the roots of our church. Well, a lot of other churches will say the same thing. Come on, which church will say they are not Bible-based? That would be weird. They will say, “We are also Bible-based!”. But in reality, a lot of churches, to be honest, are more concerned about following the traditions. Don’t shake the traditions. “Eh, this is our Constitution.” You know on paper, everybody will say that the Bible is the Word of God but sometimes it's man's traditions that guide our constitution that guide them. Or worse still, a pastor, a man that guides them; or worse still, a man's dreams that guides them or nightmares. And you know, as a church, as GLCC, I hope that it will always be so that when people talk about GLCC, “That church? Bible-directed.” It's not Jason-directed or Paul Choo-directed; it's Bible-directed. And if the Bible shows them a truth that they have been in error and we are all on a journey, we will honestly say, “Let's change.” because the Bible is our final authority.
2. Character of GLCC: Great Commission
What is a second characteristic of our church? We want to make disciples. As a young doctor or as a doctor young in the faith, what did I want to do? I heard the good news so what do I do? Go and hear more of it? Go to more Bible studies? Learn more? No, I have heard truth and now I will share truth. I have received joy and now I share joy. And you know, that must be the characteristic of GLCC - making disciples. Hey, I have the joy and I cannot keep it to myself. I may not know a lot of theology and I am sure when I did all those Bible studies, if I hear those same Bible studies, I will probably get a shock at what I thought. But you know, in simple faith, I shared my faith and God took my five loaves and two fishes and made it a blessing. This must be a character of GLCC. We don't want a church of spectators coming every Sunday to watch a show up here. We don't want a church of scholars coming every Sunday to take notes. We want a church of people who know that our life is not to be scholars or to be entertained but the reason why we live here is to be a blessing, to share our faith and make disciples of others, that the joy we have and the Christ we have is what we share to others. This must be a characteristic of GLCC. That's our roots.
3. Character of GLCC: Faith
And thirdly, we must be a church that takes steps of faith. Don’t be a church that says, “Oh, it's not within our budget.” It is not that we are budget-driven or program-driven. No, no, we are willing if God wants us to step out of our comfort zone. We will go out of our comfort zone and trust God to provide for us. We don't want to live in our comfort zone. You know, in the comfort zone, God is hard to see. It's hard to see God behind the ATM, your ATM; hard to see God behind your doctor. It's only when you have to step out of that comfort zone, when the doctors cannot do anything, and the ATM has run short, that you experience God. We want to be that kind of church because without faith, it's impossible to please God. But today, we have churches that say they live by faith but they are driven by budgets and driven by logic and everything else, and they call that ‘good stewardship’. Three things about GLCC and that is you! You are GLCC. GLCC is not a building; it is you. Do these three things characterize you? Can you say, “Yes, the Bible is a wonderful book. God wrote it for me. I enjoy it. I want to know it. God did not write this book for theologians to digest it. No, it's for me. It's a personal letter to me.”. That must be GLCC and we must be able to, as Gospel Lighters, to say, “I have faith. I have enjoyed this faith. I must share. I have this Christ in me that fills my heart and gives me peace and joy. I must share it. I cannot just go to church and be a spectator. I cannot just go to church and be a scholar. I want to share.”
4. Character of GLCC: Step out of our comfort zone
And lastly, we must be a church or a people that say, “We will step out of our comfort zone”, whether to share our faith, to stretch our faith, or whatever. We must step out of our comfort zone and that's where we will truly experience the reality of God. Is this our character today? Is this GLCC today? I hope so. Will this be our character ten years down the road? Will we lose this spiritual DNA or will it be said, if anybody talks about Gospel Light, “Oh, you are from Gospel Light? Wah, you guys very biblical ah. You all love the Bible, right?” I would love to hear that. “Oh, you guys from Gospel Light? You all like to make disciples of people, right? You all like to share with others, right?” What a joy to hear that. “Oh, you guys from Gospel Light, you like to take steps of faith, right? You are willing to take steps of faith, right?” Do things that other churches think of foolish or other people think is foolish - will that be our character? Would that be your character? Will you be a true Gospel Lighter? Now these are good, solid foundations. These are good characteristics on which we can build a future. If we are not Bible-based, forget it. One day, your pastor comes up with a wild dream, you go wild! If you're not sharing your faith, you will get a church that gets older and older, and that’s it! In one generation, shh (referring to the church falling apart or fading away). If a church doesn't want to step out in faith, then it shouldn't be called a church. You can call it an organization or corporation or whatever, where the budgets dictate or where management programs dictate, rather than trusting God. I hope this will be our DNA. Of course, there are many other good things to say but I hope that people will see that this church lives by the Bible - they have a mission to share their faith and make disciples, and they take steps of faith all the time. Wow, what a joy to be part of this church.
You know, looking back, it's been an amazing journey; 26 years. I knew nothing. I started with nothing. I just knew that the Great God had given me a great gift and my job was simply to find His will and do it, knowing that if I do my best, He will do the rest. He has never failed and never will. Wonderful 26 years; I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. This is your heritage folks - treasure it and value it. Now at this point, we must look forward. You know, any organization that spends all its time looking back, doesn't have a future. You know, when you go to any organization and the anniversary is all about the past, you know you better leave that organization. There is no future. So I hope most of my message is about what's in there. Now as we look back and see what a good God and how amazing He has been to us, now it's time to stand and say, “Let's look at what he has yet do with us.”. This is a very strategic time, you know, we got this piece of land. Very strategic. But before we look forward, let me clear some obstacles that seem to mar our vision, alright?
Obstacles to our faith
Some obstacles and I think these are three common ones. Alright, first is our DNA. That's our DNA, right? Bible-based, great commission (that's our mission) and faith (live by faith).
1. Why have a building?
Now, the first question that mars our vision. You cannot really see the future till you clear some of these obstacles. Why have a building? I mean, all the time, what have we been teaching you in GLCC? What is church? Church is people, not a place. The word in the Bible is ecclesia for church. Church always refers to congregation, refers to people, not brick and mortar. And then especially this guy up here has been telling you all, “Why buy when you can rent?”. I see some sniggers around, right? You've heard me say that umpteen times, “Why buy when you can rent?” And then now you're standing here saying, “Buy!”. Give me a few minutes to explain my inconsistency. Why buy when you can rent? My question is, “Do you think you can continue renting?” That's my question. If I can rent, I won't buy. But the truth is, the last few years have shown us that renting is getting harder and harder. When we grew bigger than 360 Dunearn Road, what did we do? Go to SCGS! What is the big deal? It was a beautiful place just down the road from 360 Dunearn Road with beautiful car parks, a nice auditorium, all that we needed, canteen, Sunday school classes, children can run all over the place, and cheap! So we went to SCGS. Wonderful; for six years we stayed there and we thought we were going to die there. And one fine day the principal called me and said, “Can you come to my office?” I thought she wanted to commend me because she was a new principal. I thought she wanted to shake my hand and say, “Wow, you guys have been such good tenants. You have never broken windows. Your children are so well-behaved, you know.”. And I went there and she said, “You know something? I'm sorry about this but the government has given a clear order that no school should be used for religious purposes other than mission schools. And we give you a few months to get out.”. So we went back and talked to our guys and they said, “Aiya don’t worry lah. No school? Go University. What's the problem? Relax.” So we made a few phone calls and we got SIM. We were happy! We went to SIM and wow, this auditorium is even nicer. Of course the price went up but it was a nice place! It was a nice place to makan, a nice place for fellowship, a nice place for everything - nice, nice, nice! And then we went in there but before we could warm up, what happened? They called us up and said sorry, there is a directive from the government that universities cannot be used for religious purposes. Okay, what's the problem? Hotel lah! So we moved to hotels. And the Grand Copthorne; very happy! It was a lovely place. Wow, cushion, carpet, and coffee; almost ideal! The price went up but it was nice. And then what happens? Very soon they tell us, “Sorry ah, this auditorium cannot be used for this Sunday.”. You know, we always thought auditoriums were always free on Sunday mornings - no cooperations have any event on Sunday morning, people cannot hold wedding dinners in the morning. But lo and behold, as prices of wedding dinners went up, people were pressured to have dinner at lunchtime. Eight courses at lunchtime. And so we were dislodged here, dislodged there - sometimes sent to this room, sometimes that room, sometimes split into several rooms, and very soon they don't even want us because they have a beautiful facility for weddings. Why bother with churches? All they do is pay rental. For weddings, they pay for their food and everything else. And so we came to Novotel, which is not bad. It is a nice place. Then I see them renovate this place. Obviously they don't renovate for us, right? It's already way too luxurious for us, right? Why do you think they renovate this place? For you? For weddings! Weddings, all right. And suddenly we said, “Why buy? Rent! But there were no more places to rent!”. Any time the government can say, “Sorry, hotels cannot be used for religious purposes. What do we do? Go to your house? You have a place for eight hundred of us every Sunday morning? Or every Sunday they shift us here, shift us there, or shift us here. Is that what you want? And one fine day, there were so many weddings in the morning that they said, “Don’t bother with GLCC. Terminate the lease.”. What are you gonna do? Why buy when you can rent but the point is that we can't rent anymore or at least soon enough we can’t rent. You know something in the Bible, it tells us so logically; “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-3). For everything! Times change. There is a time to be born and there is a time to die. There is a time to build and there is a time to pull down. There is a time to rent and there is a time to buy. All right, so here we are standing at the crossroads. As responsible elders, what do we do? If a letter comes tomorrow and says, “you cannot use hotels”, what do we do? Do we wait for that letter? I don't think we should. Can any of us predict that Singapore will be so prosperous that everybody wants weddings in a fancy hotel? I didn't think that. I'm not a prophet. I'm just a preacher. I couldn't see that, all right? And so now even as not a prophet, I say, “I think the writing is on the wall. Let's get ready, all right? Let's do our part.”.
2. Why in Punggol?
Next question, “Why Punggol?”. It is so far, you know, Pastor! Only pigs and ducks there, you know. There are nothing but farms. Why? Why do we choose a place that is, at this point of time, pretty much empty? Because we are thinking of the future, not the present. You know, the government chose that place, Punggol, to be the future of Singapore or rather, the town of future Singapore. They have big dreams for Punggol and as Singapore moves from the boring phase of our first phase, this is going to be the exciting new town. If you have time, go on the internet and just click, click, click on what the government is doing there. Seven towns, they say; seven townships in Punggol. Every one, when it's complete, will be a benchmark for the next one which will be better than the previous one. By number seven, I don't even know what it would look like. And words like “creative”, “unique”, “equal”, “green corridors”, “seafront living”, blah, blah, blah. It will be twice the size of the biggest town in Singapore today and it is expected to be 500 million more. Wow, that's a lot of people! And what kind of people? Young people, the yappies. Wow, seems to fit Pastor Jason, the yappie, right? It seems right. Punggol seems right. For me, I couldn't live further. Punggol is north-east; I'm Southwest. But it's not about me. In fact, I may not even be there on the day to cut the ribbon. Four years down the road, I'll be 70 years old. The Bible says, “threescore and ten”. If I'm there, it's a bonus. It's for our future, folks. It's for our kids and our kids’ kids. I hope you see church as a family and as a family we don't see short term, we see long term. As a family we think of generations. Do you see that? Why Punggol? Because it's the future of Singapore. It's where the exciting new Singapore will be built.
3. Why spend $40M?
Let's move on. Number three. This one is the most important. Why 40 million, Pastor? Well, since we are talking about money, let's use numbers. “Why waste 40 million?” I hear people say that. “Pastor, what kind of responsibility is this, do you know how much is 40 million?” I know because I don't have that kind of money. All right? Look carefully. Look carefully, alright? Let figures speak because truth sets free, alright? No point going round and round. Why this, why that - let figures speak. The truth will clear us out from all the myths and misconceptions.
Let's look at number one. When we were at SCGS, it was $12,000 a month. When we were forced to move to SIM, it jumped to $18,000, which is a 50% jump. Within a year we were forced to move to Grand Copthorne, which was a 72% jump from SIM. Then when Grand Copthorne didn't want us, we moved to Novotel, which was another 38% jump. What kind of jumps are these? Crazy! If inflation jumps at 10% a year, we're doomed. But this is talking not 10, it's like 51, and 72 after one year, and 38 the next year. Where do you think this is going to go? Go down after this? The law of supply and demand - as hotel ballrooms get fewer and fewer, supply drops drastically, and rental shoots up violently. Okay, number one, I hope that it is clear that hey, we're not taking this decision because we have nothing else to do, because we love to change our mind and be, you know.
Now let's just pick the last two - Grand Copthorne against Novotel, alright? We know there is a 38% jump. Did we get more for 38%? We got less! In Grand Copthorne, we had eleven rooms and one main ballroom where the main ballroom was 19,000 square feet. In Novotel, we only got seven rooms and one main ballroom, and the ballroom is only 13,000 square feet. We got less and paid 38% more. The writing on the wall told me this? Clearly. Alright, so here we see. What do we do? Now the final fight: Punggol against Novotel. “Pastor, why waste 40 million?” Be careful of the word ‘waste’. I will be very careful not to waste one cent of God's money because it's God's money. 40 million; I want to waste 40 million? Is that what my ministry is about? No, folks. Look at it carefully. If we take the rental of Novotel now, it is 43,000 a month. If we take the 40 million divided by 30 years which is our lease, divided by the 12 months of the year, we come to an amount which is a lot more than Novotel. It's true, but think carefully. At Novotel, we get six hours a week. At the new building, we get 24 hours a day. Now we can't compare; it is not like comparing an apple against an apple. With a $40,000 bill, we only get six hours a week. With $100,000 we get - the attendance now for the English congregation is about 800, not including what we expect in Punggol. As a pastoral team, we expect 4000 people. Later I'll explain to you the dynamics. It's not that difficult, alright? Now if you the divide the 4000 people that come on a per person basis, going to Punggol on a per person basis, per capita basis, actually it is less than here. It's not a waste of money. It's a saving, not to mention you get 24 hours a day, not six hours a week. Just talking about worship, imagine we only use the hall for worship and nothing else from Monday to Saturday, it is still a saving. I hope you just don't do nothing the rest of the week. In due time, there's some people who work shifts or work Sundays or worship on a Friday. Every day is a good day to worship God. Sunday is a good day because it's a day of rest for all of us. But every day, we should worship God. And so we see here, is it really a waste? Are we throwing money away? Are we in the long term trying to save money? Not to mention to be sure we have a place, a secure place, a stable place to worship God. You know, I hope these three questions: why have a building, why Punggol, why spend 40 million - I hope that this little time here helps us to clear some of these. And I hope that you know. And you know, in everything we need to think carefully and analyze through. And of course 40 million sounds like a lot of money. It is a lot but when we analyze it through, crunch the numbers, and let us think through it rationally and logically, it is not a waste of money.
Future of GLCC
Now I hope, having cleared our eyes, let's look at what will it be like four years from now. What is the future?
First it's about us. It's about us. Don't run away from that. Anybody can say it is about Punggol but I say, “No. It's about us first.” because if we don't have that place and one day we get a letter that says we cannot worship in a hotel or the hotel says, “we don't want you”, it's about us. It's about security to a place to worship. We cannot be so holy and say it is about Punggol or it is about this. It's about us. God has already put us together as a body, as a church. And then one day we don't have a place to worship. So number one is security. We have a place.
Number two, it's stability. You know now you come sometimes you don't know where, the fifth floor, the sixth floor. You don’t know whether the kids are here or there; old folks get confused because they don’t know which room it is. They come to me sometimes and say, “Which room is it today?” I don't know, I'm not that smart. I can't keep so much data in my head. And there's confusion. It’s security, it’s stability, it’s space! Here, how much can we grow? How much can we grow here? This is a typical ballroom of a typical hotel. Hopefully, in a new place, it'd be a lot bigger than this. You know, folks, it's about us. It's about us and our children and our children's children. We will have a beautiful place. We know that old folks will have a place that is easier to access, our children will go to a place that is secure for kids, not running around and getting lost somewhere in the hotel. This is a public area. Our children will go to a room where there is an AV for them, so that they can learn about God in modern, proper media that children are used to, not Sunday school teachers carrying pieces of paper out there. Our teens can gather safely, right through the week. Or we can have activities everyday in a church, fellowship, outreach, whatever. It's about us primarily. If we don't take care of ourselves, how can we take care of others when we are running around and have lost ourselves?
It's also about Punggol. It is so exciting. Punggol is so exciting. There are 500,000 people. Do you know how many churches there are right now? How many significant churches in Punggol? One; that is it - Central Christian Church. Alright? A few months ago, the Roman Catholic Church won the second bid; they will be up soon in three or four years - it is a Catholic church. We are the third. Maybe there will be a few more tenders. My gut feel is that there will be five churches. That's the number of churches in Punggol for 500,000 people. That's the number of churches. Unlike other places where the government cannot control because there are old churches there, houses given rights to build a church and you know, people have all kinds of activities. In this area it is controlled. It is the government's dream project and it will be well-controlled. Five churches for 500,000. Tell me, is that exciting? To me it is. You know, let me tell you how churches grow. Church growth in Singapore is very, very different from other places. Churches in Singapore, when they were a certain size, one day they won a bid in HDB. Alright, a bid. Let's just say in Bukit Panjang or whatever. They won a bid. The size now is a thousand, let's just say. The day they move, listen to me, that day they move to a new site, how many people are usually there? In other countries when you move, you lose people. In Singapore when you move from your old place to a new HDB site, often you double on the first Sunday. Get me. Listen carefully. You double on the first Sunday not because you went out tracting, not because you did a lot of evangelism in that area, but because there are a lot of people in the area who were looking for a church. They used to live, so let's say they used to live in Toa Payoh and they moved to Bukit Panjang, and then they see this church slowly being built. They will say, “Wow. I wish this church would be ready. You know how hard it is to bring my children back to Toa Payoh. Got to take the bus, take the car, and start to wake them up.” And then when this church comes up, boom! Everybody goes there. And on day one you double. Double! So when I say 4000 here, to me, I say it doesn't need a lot of work. Around you are 500,000 people. And do you know what's more exciting? The demographic of Punggol is young. You go to other housing estates, uncles and aunties are everywhere. HDB centrals are uncle and auntie towns, generally speaking. When you go to Punggol, uncles and aunties are hard to form a club. That's because it's for young people. And that's exciting; you know why? Because we are one of the youngest pastors, senior pastors in Singapore, of a significant church. Pastor Jason is one of the youngest senior pastors in Singapore. He's 36 years old. He fits the demographic. If I'm going to pastor that church, you all better leave and keep your money. Why would young yappies want to hear a guy who is 60 over years old? Well, let me tell you this - the demographic fits our church and especially fits the leadership, the Pastor of our church. To me, I'm excited. I can see Punggol as a natural fit. Some say it is far. I say, “No.”, I say, “Future.”. It is not about us just wanting my comfort. I live in the south-west. If I were to make a decision, I would tell the Board of Elders to have a church in Jurong. Is that the future of Singapore? Jurong? No! Punggol is the future.
All right, so let's say I'm excited and I am, about the prospects for us as a family, for Punggol as an outreach place, and of course beyond Punggol, Singapore. But you guys know me better, right? You know, I'm a missions guy, right? What excites me the most is missions, right? So why am I so excited about this? Why am I so excited? I live and die for missions so why am I excited about Punggol? Suddenly I changed at this age; second childhood? I'll tell you why. Singapore is a hub. Singapore is a regional center. Companies know that. companies want to do business in Asia, in Southeast Asia. What do they do? Where do they put their regional office generally? Here, this country! It is a beautiful place for a base. A Singapore brand is good. It's accepted everywhere. Singapore travel - from Singapore the hub, there are budget airlines everywhere. The Singapore passport is good everywhere. You know, something? Companies can see this is a regional place, not for Singapore but for Asia and sometimes for the world. Businessmen see that. What about we in God's business? Do we see it? I see it and I am excited. Right now, our little church serves in seven countries. Personally, I supervise, support and train 300 workers full time. Our little church! But seven countries is nothing. But how much more can you expect from a little church like ours? Few resources, financial human resources, talents, etc. I dream of the day we will be a significant church in the future town of Singapore, that we may not just impact our family's own goal but Asia and the world. When I see that I say 40 million is well spent. Sometimes people just buy two bungalows in Sentosa Cove, they blow 40 million. But you know, when we can reach Asia and beyond, and at the same time fulfill all these requirements, I say, “I'm in it, God. I may not live to see done but I see the dream before me.”.
You know, when we took this step, folks, we were given about a week. We were shocked. We were taken by surprise. Let me share this with you. The first tender we were given some time. We prayed about it and we went in. And we were sure that God wanted us in Punggol. And we went in with all that we had. You know what disappointment it was for us to lose to the Roman Catholic Church. And then before we knew it, we were literally caught unaware. We were told there was another bid. That was very unusual - the bids were so close to one another. And so we were given a very short period of time as elders to make a decision. And our decision was, “Lord, we lost the first one. So do you want us there or not? We don't know, Lord. We have disappointed the church. We have discouraged the church. Are we going to go in for this one?” And we said, “Let's ask God. Like Gideon, let's ask God to show us. Let's go in with a huge discount.”. We knocked $9 million off the earlier bid. The winning bid was $22 million in Punggol, the Catholic Church. “We will knock nine off. If we get it, it's from You. If we don't, You have shown us, Lord.” We waited. We put our bid in and we waited way past the normal time that the previous Punggol bid, the 22 million, was announced just like that. Literally, the bid was announced, there was a winner and HDB gave the offer straightaway. Ours? We were the winner but HDB did not give us an offer. It went way beyond the normal waiting time and the government said, “It is too low.”. Maybe the government will re-bid it or re-tender again. Okay. Then suddenly it came and we got it. And later friends told me, leaders of churches said, “You know something? We didn't know there was a tender. If we knew, we would have beat you to it.” I take it as a confirmation that God, You want us there. And then after that, pledges came in. And today, we not only have a $9 million discount, we have $20 million in solid pledges. Where did it come from? I say, “God, thanks for the confirmation.”
I hope today you will go back and pray, number one, that God will unite our hearts and that God will show us a dream. Without a dream, we exist and we just go from day to day. Some of you may dream about a house or about this, but let's have one dream for God's work here. Let's pray that God will unite our hearts, give us a common dream, and God will raise us up an army to give our time, our talents, and our treasures. Let's pray for that. I believe God can do it. I believe God will do it. It won't be an easy journey. Every one of you is a part of this journey. I trust that God will touch your heart. Some of you say, “Oh it's millions. I only got tens, I only got hundreds.” Don't ever say that, alright? The history of GLCC is, if you have five cents, give it and the Lord will do the rest. Do your best and the Lord will do the rest. On the day of judgment, God will not ask us how much you put it. God will ask, “Did you do your best?” So I look to you all, you are GLCC. Pray that God will use every one of you to offer your time, your talents, and your treasures. May God bless you. May God help us on this journey unitedly to serve Him, dreaming big, huge dreams for the glory of God. This is my challenge to all of you and I believe a lot will take this simple message and pick us along. Thank you.
More Episodes from Pastor Paul Choo:
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Episodes from other sermons:
03 Dec 2023
26 Nov 2023
23 Jul 2023
18 Jun 2023
28 May 2023
07 Apr 2023
12 Mar 2023
25 Dec 2022