Call them by name

Ano’ng pangalan mo? (translated from Filipino to English: What is your name?)

It was the first question we’d ask every child. A crucial question. One that gave identity to the amorphous yet very real poverty many have become accustomed to. And with that one line, a door opened, inviting an exchange between two seemingly different worlds, but also two individuals with a lot more in common than they would have originally thought.

A week ago, I had the blessing and privilege of joining a team of 40 from Heart of God Church on a mission trip to my motherland, the Philippines. We were there to get first-hand experience and support Pastor Bill Wilson’s Metro World Child Ministry that conducts the world’s largest Sunday School, reaching over 40,000 children weekly, in city slums around the globe.

How does one attempt to describe what one can only sense?

In four short days, we came face to face with what was previously unnamed. Weaving through narrow, labyrinthine backstreets and alleyways; by the danger of old railways and houses teetering on stilts above murky waters; through the strangeness of cemeteries where the living co-mingled with the dead; through forgotten rural patches amidst the urban chaos of Metro Manila. There, our senses were assaulted and heightened by unthinkable spaces—environments that no person should have to live in.

There was the penetrating smell of waste in an ironically named site in Tondo: ‘Aroma’, they called it. The cacophony of children’s laughter and the clatter of scrap and garbage, as they ran (literally) naked with abandon, in playgrounds of their imagination. With the hot sun bearing down on the ground, I could feel the crackling of matted garbage and caked mud, as our shell-shocked footwear tread what had become permanent terrain.

And yet to know a place is to know the people. One child at a time, we were acquainted with the community. I won’t forget the young girls, initially shy behind their timid smiles, but with a little prodding, would engage in conversation and even trail along visitations. Little boys playful rough-housing and clinging on to our men, as if looking for monkey bars, a father figure or both. Children who would soon trust you enough to hold them by the hand or carry them in your arms. Their brightness a contrast to the bleakness around them.

And ringing in my head and my heart, all these names—they don’t belong here.

The only difference I could see between us and them? Nothing, except that I would be able to leave, and they had no choice but to stay. I did not earn my place in this world, any more than they deserved to be found where they were. But indeed, to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48).

It took 35 years for such a personal homecoming, to finally walk through these paths and see with the eyes of my heart. I will always thank my God, for how He orchestrated everything, even bringing me out of my homeland to give me a new identity, to find Him, and call on His name. And now, as I have freely received, so am I called to freely give and share the hope of the Gospel and the Good News of salvation in Jesus to all.

All attempts to exhaust description and commit this to memory would not matter, without a demonstration of the love of Jesus.

Standing there amidst the screaming hopelessness, many of us asked— can one person make a difference? Pastor Bill’s own testimony as an abandoned child picked up from the streets by a Christian who responded to his moment of need, has made all the difference in his life and the thousands he has reached. There were also many stories of former sidewalk kids turned teachers, showing God’s power to transform a life. All it took was one person who was willing to be used by God, to reach out in love and relationship to another.

These children were not meant to be pitied, but to be loved. In those small, intimate moments, with every smile, hug, word of kindness or encouragement, seeds were sown. The love of God came in the form of food, clothing, healing and prayers. It may take generations, yes a miracle to turn things around, but for as long as there are people who will fight the good fight, we know that our God always remains in control.

In our dorm room, there was the Metro World vision, a handwritten sign displayed on the wall:

 “To see leaders, teachers and pastors raised up out of the streets of the cities worldwide, so they in turn will minister to the next generation.”

And this is the kind of evangelism that the ministry lives and breathes, through the tireless dedication of the Metro staff and volunteers. In the weekly sidewalk gatherings, through regular visitations and the genuine connections made with these children, the ministry provides a safe space, a bright spot of hope, and a seed of a dream for a future in Christ.

Knowing one child, one name at a time, so that they would come to know the name above all names, Jesus. And in turn make His name known and glorified in generations to come.


Coming back to Singapore, where the contrast of comfort could not be more evident, it is easy to forget. I am challenged to bring this same passion home, not retreating into familiar routines, but to open myself and my heart to those around me.

As Church presses on toward HOGC 4000, this trip reminded me it is not about the crowds, but it is about individual lives and souls. It spells the difference between life or death, heaven and hell for someone out there.

Let not the people around us become a nameless sea of bodies, drowned and lost in a world that tosses us with its hapless, foolish distractions. It’s true, we can’t save a single soul ourselves, but we can set into motion what only God can bring to fruition. So that as God calls each one by name, they too would have His name etched in their hearts for eternity.




I am thankful for my Pastors who have this same heart for young people and generations, who built our church upholding these core values. Thank you, Pastor How and Pastor Lia for believing that the strength of a church would not be in its seating capacity, but its sending capacity. You have led by example and paved the way for us to respond to the urgency of needs within the larger body of Christ’s people, far beyond what we could do by ourselves.


Photos: Lek Jian Yu, Gemma Lee, Marcus Heng

This was my third time signing up for the Tondo trip, but I know now why it happened this time and this way. A big thanks to Pastor Garrett, Pastor Lynette and Pastor Charleston and all our leaders, for thinking of every single person on the team—how we could grow through this experience and walk even more closely with Christ, toward our destined purpose in Him.


Grateful for this team of 40, helmed by the wise leadership and generous hearts of Darryl, Sabrina, Peck Lian and Evonne. We were people called to this moment for different reasons, many of us not quite understanding why we were there, or how we could make a difference. Yet as the days passed, I was continually amazed by each person’s willingness to come together with our unique strengths, united by a mission to be the hands and feet of Jesus. And through that, we were not just people who went to a church in Singapore, but people who became the Church to our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Philippines. To God be the glory, forever and ever! Amen.



If you have been moved in any way, you can find more information on Metro World Child Ministries on their website. Learn about how you can sponsor a child in the Philippines and other parts of the world, as well as other ways to help.
Know them by name and make a difference.

The joy of the chosen few

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)

I have had my own ideas about these challenging words uttered by Jesus, but never truly understood what they meant until this weekend.

On Saturday, I witnessed a singular, historic milestone in my church, Heart of God Church—the ordination of three senior leaders into the office of Pastor. In meaningful ceremony, Charleston Lim, Garrett Lee and Lynette Goh took their oath to become Pastor Charleston, Pastor Garrett and Pastor Lynette, for all the congregation to see. Where once we had our two Senior Pastors, we now have a five-strong team.



Pastor Lynette, Pastor Charleston, Pastor Garrett, now and then. (picture from Instagram accounts: and @pastor.lia)

These are young leaders who grew up in church, once teenagers finding their way in this walk of faith, to now become the first fruits of a dream from decades ago. And as they were called, this was the moment that named them among the chosen few, formally stepping into roles long practiced and prepared for.

With every story shared, we saw how Pastor How and Pastor Lia passed down a spiritual heritage. And to see our Senior Pastors’ own long-held dreams turn into reality, in the fulfilment of these new pastors’ dreams—what an astounding and beautiful sight.


In a world where fleeting fame and self-centred success have become commonplace aspirations, disproportionately glorified in our age’s culture, what a rarity to celebrate dedication to a cause greater than the wisdom of man, greater than self. Faithfulness over flash. The constant over the instant.

One by one, well-deserved accolades and hard-earned credentials were brought to light. I was most struck by their influence in and ownership of our church. From my own few encounters with them, hearing them preach, or from stories told, I have seen the passion and humility with which they carry out every task. It was also in doing the mundane, the necessary, from the smallest to the biggest decisions, that made all the difference in Heart of God Church and the lives of individual people.

Here was no truer testimony of their faithfulness, of a proven calling, of real transformation from the moment they responded to that call, no matter the cost. How they put others before self, and God above all else. How their joy has been no more or less than the cause of Christ.

* * *

As we sang Kari Jobe’s “The Cause of Christ”, a particular line struck me:

“For my joy is this, oh the cause of Christ.”

Those words. For the joy. Coming into this year, I reflected on what had waned on my part in 2017. Amidst last year’s personal theme and exhortation of endurance was a clouded view of what this cause was for. Of what use was it to serve? For the joy.

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that was set before Him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

(Hebrews 12:2)

Yes, endurance is one side of the coin, that which keeps one standing firm in the waiting. But ultimately, it was the joy that Jesus looked toward, what spurred Him on His mission. And Christ’s joy of bringing salvation to the lost is what I—what all of us who believe—rejoice in today, being undeserving and yet wholly loved recipients of this grace. This is the same commission we carry today, to bring the love of God to all those who have yet to receive an invitation to Christ’s call.

* * *

How does one become numbered among the chosen few?

In a short but powerful preaching, Pastor How put it wisely with an equation that breaks down the journey from called to chosen.


It all starts with a burden to meet a need, sparked by a vision of an ideal, fuelled by an actual desire to respond, followed through by an action, executed with honed abilities and grounded by character transformed through Christ.

As we move through each level, joyfully and willingly submitting to the process, Pastor How says, “we are chosen because of the choices we make.” And our new pastors have proven their calling, making not just a one-time decision, but daily choices to surrender all to Christ.

At any point in our lives, many of us have probably felt called to something, to a cause greater than ourselves, but in the end, came up short in the final count. I can only pray that God would make me worthy of the call. Oh, that many of us would take hold of this joy and belong to the chosen few.

* * *

Today, I rejoice with our church, for the significance of this event and what it represents—that there will indeed be generations of young people, pastors and leaders who will give their best years to God and the cause of Christ.

I thank God for Heart of God Church, where Pastors believe in using the church to build people, not the other way around. Where men and women not only stand in their specially-designed roles, but also as equal partners in Christ toward building His Kingdom.

I pray for our newly ordained pastors as they assume the office, knowing that this is only the beginning of the great work God will do through them and our church, with the best years still ahead.


Great expectations

A conversation with daddy on the family chat, as my parents vacation in Baguio for his birthday (translated into English):

Dad: …Love you guys. I miss our family vacations in Baguio. Maybe someday, we can do it with the grandkids. (*three laughing emojis*)

Me: Ahhhhh hahahahahahaha!!! Even without grandkids, lezzzgoooo.


Me: You gotta have faith dad. #prayersalone (#dasallangtalaga) And very very very good health.


Dad: (changing the subject) #notexpectinga1000wordFBgreetingonmybday

Me: Oh dad, don’t expect it at all. (*laughing emoji*)

Dad: #pamyisnotfeelinganypressurerightnow


That, right there, is a true story. Hashtags included. And in that short exchange you immediately see three things about my dad. His love for family (and his yet-to-be, unknown grandchildren), his sense of humour (complete with #dadjokes), and his great expectations.

Now there is probably not a sane parent out there who has not had grand dreams for their children. Yet not every parent approaches this in the same, level-headed manner.

We are fresh from a wedding in the family—one that many of us jokingly refer to as the only wedding we’ll be having in a long time. It is in moments like these, that get me thinking of how my dad has graciously dealt with the many unmet expectations heaped upon him in 34 years of parenting.

Many people ask why none of us in a family of six children have followed in his footsteps to become medical doctors. The more kaypoh* ones may go a step further and pry about why we have yet to settle down and give our parents grandchildren.

35144771800_900e081173_oWhile I’m sure dad has his hopes for us, I didn’t feel that overbearing burden of expectation upon us. There wasn’t one course to take—not a case of medicine or bust. There wasn’t one way of living a life—not marrying for the sake of it, as if it were the only inevitable option. There wasn’t just one mold of thinking, being or doing, which looking back, may have been simpler for a young person finding her place in the world. Of course, we were well-aware of his preference, but in the end, the choice was still ours to make.

Well, he asks for a 2 million-word piece for Father’s day in June; and instead he gets these 977 words—as a belated birthday greeting, at that.


Growing up, dad was the one to start the fun and jokes at the dinner table (especially when he was in a very good mood. Ahem.) And admittedly, it was mom I would run to for the serious talk. Still, when it mattered, dad always came through with his words of love, encouragement and wisdom, usually written. I’d like to think I get my inclination to writing from him, among many other things. This is one old email I keep from the time I hit a rough patch in a previous relationship.


“…(you will find) someone who will share your dreams and aspirations…You are a beautiful person not only outside but moreso inside. I am sure that one day (maybe even sooner than you expect), Mr. Right will come your way.

 Again, I know that right now you feel that the world is coming down on you but please don’t feel so. I will tell you now to pray, pray harder than you have prayed before. Ask our Lord for guidance and strength. Prayer is powerful. Part of my daily prayers is that nothing but positive things come out of your relationship, no matter what happens. I am certain that even with your breakup, something positive will come out of this.”

I read back on this email five years later, and it astounds me how it was indeed prayer that saw me through that time in my life. Back then, I had my own daddy remind me to go to my Father in heaven. And out of that dark period, the light of a renewed relationship with God came forth.

Picture taken from Heart of God Church Instagram account (@hogc)

We recently concluded a series on prayer at church. Pastor How preached that prayer is a posture of humility, a petition to the highest authority, a position to defend and hold, and that secret place where we encounter Him. It lifts our spirits to rejoice in Him and stirs up faith to expect great things from God.


Dad, on your birthday, I come before God grateful for you, my father here on earth. Through you, I have felt what it is to be loved unconditionally and to receive freely. And because of this, I can approach my heavenly Father with even greater expectation.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Ephesians 3:20, NLT

So yes, I pray not just for a life abundant in years, but one rich with love for and from God, and those around you. Yes, let’s pray you will be walking your children down the aisle, or enjoying with your grandchildren in due time, but also pray that you would walk with Him closely and enjoy His presence daily. I am expectant to see what God can do in and through your life in these golden years of wisdom. 

The Message version of the Bible puts it beautifully: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”

So dearest dad, hope and dream far beyond what the world dictates. For if there’s someone who gives above and beyond what we expect, that is our Father God.

I love you always. Happy Birthday! 🙂



*kaypoh: (Singlish), (noun) a busybody, (verb) to pry into someone else’s business


A toast to the first

It has been over a month now since our family congregated on that lawn in Semara Beach, Bali. And today is Lex and Ashna’s first wedding anniversary from last year’s solemnization rites. I’d like to share this supposedly five minute speech that I gave during the wedding dinner in Bali. This was the script at least, but I’m sure I may have deviated from it slightly.

Lex and Ash, we will never tire of seeing you two exchange vows. Give us another reason to celebrate. 😉


This is my first time to give the Best Man speech, but being Lex’s sister, I shouldn’t be surprised at this choice. If there’s anyone in our family who firmly believes in a true gender egalitarian utopia, that person would be Lex—the man formerly known as PB boy, but will always be Pablo.

I still remember that morning Lex went into my room and said he needed to tell me something. I had the privilege and what I felt then was a responsibility of being the first person to find out about his plan to propose marriage to Ashna. I launched into a long spiel about marriage and the motivations for doing so, which he probably wasn’t expecting. Turns out that what he needed was “logistical” help – a credit card with a certain limit to secure the ring.

Not that he needed my unsolicited advice. For the longest time, Lex has been blazing trails in our family—the first-born boy after two older sisters, the first to leave home, the first go overseas (back in 2004) and carve out his independence. And now the first to marry.

As a child, Lex was never afraid to stand out. When he outgrew the literal leash that we, his older sisters, used to tied around his neck,  he showed early signs of his avant garde, unconventional tastes. His talents as an orator are fondly remembered with his original dramatic performance of “The Egg”. And once he discovered the art of argument, it was hard to keep the outspoken Lex down.

It is hard to imagine that young PB once wanted to live in a functional box, with just his Linux powered computer and nothing else. Hard to remember his reluctance to go overseas. How far you have come indeed from our days as housemates in Ang Mo Kio. Almost a year ago (July 23, 2016), and once more today, you have made a decision to build a life together.

Throughout their six or so years together as a couple, I have seen glimpses of how they have conducted their affairs. Many of you will know them as an intensely private couple, and they have forged their own way of doing things, never to be defined by convention. We are definitely the few privileged to share this joyous occasion with them.

It amazes me how time and love can truly transform a man, one who could never be coerced to do anything if not by logic, to one who now spends his Sunday afternoons at wedding dance practice, social painting sessions, and even ice cream-making classes (*edit to reflect today’s events in July 2017).  And I see how both Lex and Ashna bring a grounded and stable counterpoint to each other when needed the most.

Lex and Ash, indeed what a blessing that you get to marry the same person twice, and in such poetic fashion for Lex, my fellow Piscean, to be wed by the sea.


In many ways Lex has set the stage for how our lives played out. If you had not gone to Singapore 13 years ago, many of us would probably not be here today, finding our own paths outside the familiarity of our childhood home. It is always comforting to know that someone goes ahead, and your courage gave us that push to make it on our own. With you being the first, you go where none of us have gone. Yet take heart, that in our parents (daddy and mommy) and in Uncle SK and Auntie Sushma you have fine examples of marriages tested by time.

And so to my dear brother and my lovely new sister— I pray that you would find your strength in each other. But more than that you would find an anchor to place as first in your lives, a higher calling or purpose, something, Someone to place your faith in.

Yes, put each other first. But also find the Anchor that stands firm when all else fails and nothing remains. As the wise King Solomon has written,

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.

Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

And so I propose a toast to my favorite married couple in Singapore. To Lex and Ashna, may you live each day with the same fervor and wonder as if it were your first together. I love you both.



Independence Day (a letter to mom)

Dearest Mommy,

This is your first Mother’s Day as an empty-nester. When your not-so-little monkey, Paola, left home late last year, it all became official. And so it has been a long 34 years of motherhood thus far, that probably went by too quickly, depending on how you see it.

All around me, friends and relatives are becoming mothers for the first or second time. It must be an entirely different experience for you, transitioning into a new season of motherhood. One where your children no longer vie for your attention 24/7, but instead one where you wait for their Viber messages across different time zones. Where the once messy dinner affairs for eight are now intimate dates for two. Where peace and silence replace the shrill cries and raucous laughter.

Yet also one where we are no longer just a room away to kiss and hug you goodnight, or bug you for no good reason. Where we have come to rely on the virtual endearments of emoji and internet speak. And where finding us sometimes means seeing a Facebook post or an email of a flight itinerary, just to see where in the world we are.

You always told us that your main role as a parent would be to equip us for independence. That it would be your greatest joy not to keep us all close by and dependent, but standing on our own two feet, wherever our individual paths would take us.

I know this is ‘out-of-season’, but I still remember that skirt you painstakingly crafted for our Christmas tree. At some point, the holiday rush interrupted that yearly practice of adding a new star for another year passed. Growing up, it would have been unthinkable to break from tradition—like being incomplete for the annual family picture. Yet the day has come when we are all beginning to build new traditions, while gratefully drawing from our home and family that you and daddy built with great love and sacrifice.

I’m sitting outside now at some café, and I just finished my long overdue read of Joy’s novel, “All My Lonely Islands”. (As an aside, has dad gone past the fourth chapter? Please tell him to read the whole thing.)

The central mother figure to the story’s protagonist wrote to her—

“I wanted a faith that stands on its own even if it seems that God has snatched back His hand and no longer remembers my name. I hope you’ll learn to drive your roots in a deep earth so that the fullness of your life will depend on no one, not a mother or a best friend.” 

Your prayers have been answered. You have raised us as independent men and women, and I will always be grateful for that.

Rather than selfishly keep us dependent on you, you gave us the space to fight our own battles, be it as simple as nursing a cold or overcoming heartbreak. Yet not once did I feel any distance, as you always readily listened, offered your wise counsel and fervently prayed daily for every one of us.

You have shown us a better way—anchoring our faith not on filial ties or limited human capacity, but a complete trust in God alone. More than being an independent woman, over the years, I have gone through a journey of becoming God-dependent. And I thank you for supporting me through every step of this walk in faith.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3: 5-6

As it turns out, not one of your daughters is in any great hurry to become a mother. I know though, that when that time comes, if God wills, then I would like to share this same kind of God-dependent parenting. You did subscribe to the idea that your children are not entirely your own; that God blessed you with each of us, only to pass under your care for a season. And we are all ultimately, His children.


Mommy, we can never truly be apart, as our ties have been forged by flesh and blood, by a lifetime of vivid moments, a treasure of values I hold close, and the great blessing of a shared faith. Know that I would choose to be by your side, not because of desperate need, but because of the love I have for you.

Happy Mother’s Day! In a strange way, after 34 years, Happy Independence Day to you too! 😉

Near or far, I love you always, mom.



Staying on the path

“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.

852117793_47249_3921905300531587336From 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



Call off the search

King Solomon, in search for meaning, reflected on the futility of earthly wisdom, pleasure and work and concluded that all was meaningless1. All this coming from a man who himself was the living superlative of wisdom in his time. Now, if we were indeed to see these through an eternal lens, we could only attribute lasting significance to heavenly wisdom (James 3:17), pleasures at God’s right hand (Psalm 16:11) and the work we do for God’s kingdom (Philippians 1:6).

Yet there must be some merit to these good gifts from above. And on this occasion of thanksgiving, I ponder on the value of work—that when carried out according to His purpose, takes on meaning, and serves to exalt Him above all.

See, I started my career in market research in 2005 in Manila, buoyed by one promotion after the other, that I quickly rose up to middle management. I was much younger then, extremely driven, and better built for the sleepless nights and physical toll of the job. I wanted to do things well, as I had done in the past (i.e. academics), and the norm of hard work producing results had things going my way.

It has been eight long years since that step up to a managerial position. After coming to Singapore in 2010, it all came to a halt when I faced the challenges of being in a new environment and a much larger team. It was a bitter cliché to swallow—had I become that big fish in a previously smaller pond, now thrown out into sea? Sure, work had always been tough, but never (seemingly) thankless. So this was the sense of hollowness and meaninglessness that Solomon talked about.

Where praise was harder to come by and self-doubt hovered above my every move—at this lowest point—little did I know that God was opening the door for the only validation I would ever need. A real encounter of His Love.

And so three years into this new job, the milestone has come, and not a moment too early or too late. At a time, when I am called to rise up in all ways possible, in areas of Church and ministry, on the domestic front as I live on my own, this new role at work is perfect in timing and significance. As all things came crashing down some four years ago, so do all things come together in 2016.



Others may chalk it to coincidence, and perhaps if I had not come to believe as I do, I would be quick to brush it off the same way. On August 23, on the same day that I was to pay my new rent, the official promotion letter was placed in my hand.

And that is why it is not simply about the new title, not the pay raise, not even the recognition, but how the process traces God’s hand moving through it all.  Through the dry years, when I had nothing more to give, He was hardest at work, moulding my character and recalibrating my motivations, humbling me and leading me to a greater trust in Him.

Truly, I thank You Lord—for all You have done and all You will do*.

Eleven years ago, I wrote as a fresh grad twentysomething, searching for that elusive thing called “meaning”. Now it dawns on me that all meaning founded on human understanding alone will always be subject to the beating down of the tides of circumstance and shifting emotions. Only an unchanging and unfailing God can perfectly define our purpose, prosper our work, and bring the meaning or significance we seek.

Call off the search. I am through chasing after fickle winds of illusion, done striving for what cannot last. For in my God, I have an unshakeable hope, my all in all, the real deal.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:58



1Read more at the book of Ecclesiastes, chapters 1 and 2

*I overflow with thanks to the tune of Bethel Music’s “Thank You”.

**Pardon the vanity that Solomon speaks of, but this serves to document God’s faithfulness in my life. And fine, I like these corporate shots 😉