Not Ashamed -- Helen Chee -- Labourers by Faith
Wrapping up our series of “Not Ashamed of the Gospel” interviews, Chan Kim Hoong speaks to Helen Chee, secretary to GBC's Rebuilding Steering Committee and Building Sub-Committee. In the interview, Helen shares with us how she came to GBC, her fond memories of the old church building and her prayers for GBC as we settle into our new building.
1. How long have you been in GBC, and what brought you here?
My early Christian experience was shaped solely within the confines of a church where my maternal grandfather preached. He espoused the beliefs that the wrath of God rained fire and brimstone on the unsaved, and that speaking in tongues was proof of the Holy Spirit’s presence in believers. It took me years of self-searching and much courage to finally break away and reject such sub-setting of God’s word. It was Mike, my husband, who brought me to GBC, where I was baptised and we were married, all those 30 odd years ago. GBC has been our home since then.
2. How has your involvement in the church rebuilding encouraged you in your walk with God, particularly in your faith and God's promises?
It was bittersweet when the idea of rebuilding was mooted. There goes another icon of my past, I thought, the way of many old buildings and neighbourhoods in Singapore. The sound-dead sanctuary, the cacophonous fellowship area, hammering on the caretaker’s door to be let in, music theory lessons in the Annex where the choir prepared for the Grade 3 ABRSM exam (all passed, by God’s grace), the August Forster grand piano (now sadly looking for a new home), the weddings (“what, no central aisle?” and “where is the cross?”), the concerts (remember “Reach out MacPherson”?)... the list of memories goes on.
When the invitation to participate in the rebuilding programme as secretary to the Steering Committee (SC) and Building Sub-Committee (BSC) came, it was a no-brainer to accept. I was retired, and there’s nothing hard about writing minutes, coordinating meetings and chasing open items, I thought. Even if I knew nothing about the subject matter, I could learn. Through this two-year period, learn I certainly did, about construction technicalities (thanks to the content-expert co-labourers and Google), developing warm working relationships with the SC and BSC members, and considerations that were necessary within the larger context of our two congregations. Most of all, I saw how God blessed the project in ways that would boggle even the most cynical of minds. It was and continues to be a true demonstration of John 16:24 where Jesus told His disciples prior to His crucifixion, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
Today, we see the new GBC building, our lovely new home, but not the myriad details and decisions, both large and small, that the working committees had brought before the Lord and earnestly sought His guidance. Also hidden, was the constant challenge of asserting our rights and opinions while showing good Christian testimony in our interactions with co-workers, neighbours and project partners. It was a humbling experience, and one which repeatedly demonstrated God’s goodness and Lordship. In retrospect, this could only have been possible if it was totally in accordance to God’s will, besought in Jesus’ name. And it was.
3. As the church settles into our new building, what are your hopes for GBC?
For the years to come, it is my prayer that the building God has provided will become a nucleus of active, working faith, anchored solidly in His word and bearing much fruit for His glory. It is my prayer too, that each of us will be available when God calls us to serve in whatever capacity He chooses, in GBC or elsewhere. I believe that this will multiply the joy we receive from not being ashamed of the gospel.
4. What does it mean to you to be not ashamed of the gospel?
My walk with God is a daily experience filled with the challenge of needing to be “religiously correct” and acquiescing to pat answers to real world issues. Difficulties are explained away with “this is God’s will” and “have faith”. How does this solve problems? God’s word in Matthew 13:31- 32 reminds us that faith is like a mustard seed. This tiny seed, when nurtured, watered and protected, will grow into a huge tree, with spreading branches that provide shelter and sustenance to others. It follows that our Christian walk is a journey. Every step we take along the narrow way adds richness to our experience and grows our faith in God. That is why I lean my imperfect life and imperfect faith on the gospel, of which I am not ashamed. “For in the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last…” (Romans 1:16,17)