Know Your Leaders - Elder Associate Caleb Yap
Elder associate Caleb Yap shares with us his journey into personal faith, and reflects on the importance of unity, trust and openness in our relationships with fellow believers in GBC.
1. Could you introduce yourself to our readers – for example what you do for a living, and tell us a bit about your family members.
Hello! GBC members will know me as the second boy of GBC-supported missionaries Yap Kim Meng and Beow Kheng. My colourful and many siblings are Joshua (SAF regular), Deborah (working in PR), and Gideon (a lawyer). My Dad and Mom have been with the Navigators for as long as I can remember. We live together at Toh Yi Drive in the West. I am a civil servant currently at the Ministry of Defence doing planning and strategic development, which is a fancy way of saying that I write a lot of emails and make a lot of powerpoint slides. I am 32 years old this year.
2. Please share with us what you understand your role to be as an elder associate of the church.
The elder associates programme was introduced to get a younger group of lay leaders already in ministry even more involved by helping to provide support for the elders in planning and caring for the church. For me, it's an opportunity to serve God's people at GBC by working together with a bigger ministry team, and as a younger Christian, to be mentored by older ones and pastors in godliness. It has also been an occasion to think beyond my ministry and immediate circles to consider the wider and diverse needs of our church.
3. How did you come to Christ (your conversion) and how did you come to join Grace Baptist Church?
I was born into a Christian home with family devotions, memory verses, regular church participation, Sunday school, and all the blessings of a godly environment. Sunday school teachers and youth leaders poured their lives and faithful teaching into me as a child. So Christian information and basic language was familiar and known to me. But I had not experienced the miracle of regeneration and new birth described in Titus 3:5, and I was a rebel against God dressed up in Christian lifestyle and clothes. I did not realise that was the case, until I reluctantly attended a Navigators camp around the age of 14. There, my illusions were stripped from me and I realised that I did not have the joy, hope and life of someone who truly understood the gospel of Jesus. After that, it took me some time as I listened more carefully to sermons, and heard what exactly it meant that God had offered His Son to do what I could not do for myself. The grace of God shook me into turning from sin and trusting in Jesus. My response was repentance and faith in Jesus. From there, the natural thing was to get baptised in the church that had accepted me long before I had truly been accepted, and I became a member of Grace in 2004. Since then, I have served with the children, youth, worship and the Young Adults Ministry, as well as helping out in communications and with the website.
4. Tell us something about yourself that many members do not know.
In my free time, I sing in the ACJC Alumni Choir – something I have been doing for the last 14 years. Every Saturday afternoon we come together to make music and rehearse pieces. Over the years, a few of the choir members have joined us at Grace too. Sometimes, in the worship service, I like to keep quiet and enjoy the singing of the church around me – when we sing from the heart, the congregation is the greatest choir.
5. Could you share with us one of your greatest joys and one of your greatest challenges as a spiritual leader of the church?
My greatest joys in the church have been to see us working together, not to serve ourselves or make ourselves famous, but to advance the name of Christ in Singapore with zeal and unity. When we agree together on common goals, and there is strong sense of ownership by the congregation, led by the Spirit and when we study the word together, support, help, forgive and care for one another – God is glorified as the body acts as one. People experience stronger connections to one another, and relationships flourish. The Reformation Concerts in 2014 and 2016 were powerful examples of this, and are occasions that I look back on fondly. I would like to have more experiences like this.
The greatest challenges for me are the opposite of the above: when small groups of us isolate ourselves, serve ourselves and do what is right in our own eyes. As the book of Judges asks: is there a King leading us or not? All sinners do this – including me – and when we do, we miss out on the opportunity to act together. Out of this, distrust, envy, criticism and harsh words grow. Of course, this doesn't mean that we must always make every decision at this level together, but we must give enough time and energy to think about and participate in our life together as a church. That is a challenge for us all – and the pastors have helped us with this year's theme – to believe, belong and behave as one church.
6. The Bible tells us to honour our leaders. In that light, how can we pray for you and encourage you meaningfully?
Thank you for the prayers. Pray for me as I juggle family, work, ministry and relationships. Pray that God will sustain me with joy, health and power for all that He calls me to do. Pastor Eugene has been reminding us all to make time for deep and meaningful relationships, and sometimes leaders struggle with the time and trust required to nurture deep and authentic relationships. But it is very important. So, come and have lunch with me, text me, or let's have a chat together about our lives and walk with God. I would love to get to know more people in the church.