“If it is God’s will you want more than anything else in the world, it’s going to mean endurance.” – Elisabeth Elliot, 1983
I’m not one to write down resolutions, but in recent years I’ve prayed for a guiding theme or principle to help me envision and live out the year. Coming from the highs of last year’s “arise and shine”, I had such expectation for what 2017 would be all about.
And as the arc of the year-end played out, it became clear that God was leading towards foundational work. At Church, our own personal vision spoke of living out our Christian faith that runs counter to this world, turning it right side up—the “Upside Down Faith”. And one late night on YouTube, stumbling upon Ms. Elliot preaching from the year I was born, I was struck by the quote above.
There it was. Faith and endurance.
Still a one-liner wasn’t enough. As any researcher would, I wrestled with the next steps of operationalising that frame into more concrete terms.
How could I put this faith into action? What would I do to endure?
Words started to come. Build. Sow. Persevere.
Last Saturday, as we celebrated the 21st anniversary of our Senior Pastors in ministry, the answer played out vividly before me on stage. With every testimony and tribute shared, the story of God’s work in and through our pastors was told. I may have heard these in bits and pieces from those who have had personal encounters with them, but there was such power to see the full scope of it and the fruit it bore—our Church standing strong today.
Pastor How’s and Pastor Lia’s living testimonies pointed directly to the heart of what it means to have great faith and endurance.
With barely two years at Heart of God Church, I have little history to speak of, but it has not lacked in significant moments.
From that very first service on the 21st of March in 2015, Pastor How preached on “Grace for the Disgraced”, and it opened a second chance for me to get back on the right path and allow God to work on my character.
When I first served in ministry, it overwhelmed me to see the work poured into a seven-minute testimony segment, something that stemmed from the standards of excellence they set and modelled. I also saw how Pastors attended to every detail, through the processes set in place.
When I went on my first mission trip to Myanmar, I was deeply impressed by how one encounter that Pastors had at a Children’s Home from years ago, birthed and sustained an entire ministry, and the beginning of global outreach. All because they knew they “had to do something.” And so they did. Faithfully.
Pastors, in everything you do, you leave traces of your hearts that beat for God and others.
You build. You sow. You persevere.
Thank you for building our Church, by building up every individual person and emphasising character above all.
Thank you for tirelessly sowing and speaking into individual lives, showing that no act is too small and no person beyond help.
Thank you for persevering and never losing heart in the times of trial, always led by the joy of God’s vision set before you. And that is your heart for raising up generations of people who will give God the best years of their lives. Just as you have done.
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.”
1 Timothy 5: 17 (KJV)
In all their 21 years serving, it astounds me that this is the first time the Church has celebrated with them. It also coincides with the first time they chose to take their sabbatical after three 7-year cycles. Though I should not be surprised, given the humility and dedication with which they have conducted themselves all these years. Last Saturday’s landmark service and outpouring of love are truly nothing in comparison to their full reward awaiting in Heaven.
Twenty-one years ago, Pastor Lia had a vision of God’s will for her life— to build a strong youth church. She and Pastor How wanted it more than anything else. So they remained faithful, obedient, and patient in endurance.
I thank God for placing me under their wise leadership. I pray that God would also grant me the same grace to stay on His path, to fulfil His vision for my life, sharing the vision of our Church, not just another two or 21 years, but to run the entire race in this lifetime.
*written on the occasion of the 21st year of ministry of Pastor How and Pastor Lia, Heart of God Church