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Strengthening the Hearts of the Disheartened

We all lose heart from time to time. Even, or perhaps especially, in our service for the Lord, and despite claiming to seek God’s approval rather than man’s, sometimes circumstances or people rob us of our joy. At other times we are called to be encouragers to those who need lifting up: we can be God’s instruments of love and care when there is discouragement or crisis. We can confidently say that discouragement can be overcome, and God uses discouragement to draw us closer to him, as these three examples show.

Pastors Also Need Your Encouragement 

by Ps Oliver Chia

Ps Ollie

Youths & Young Adults (YYA) Pua Missions Trip 2013 – Pastor Ollie is the fourth person from the left.

Discouragement will come to all of us in life and ministry, so in a sense discouragement is to be expected in full-time Christian service. I have faced it and expect to continue to face it. The key way in which I deal with it is to continue to remember the gospel – that Jesus Christ has done it all for me. This means that if I’m in Christ, I’ve nothing to lose, nothing to prove. I do not need the ‘fruit’ of my effort to justify myself before God; nor do I need the approval and affirmation of people for my self-worth. Jesus Christ is enough and I can rest in that. I’m free to live as a beloved son of God. And this continual remembering of the gospel is the means of grace to overcome and face further attacks of discouragement.

To better prepare myself to receive grace to face discouragement, I’ve tried to practise two habits. The first habit is to escape to Gardens by the Bay once a month. I spend two to three hours alone reading my Bible, listening to sermons, walking and praying. I also take a week’s break twice a year to travel alone to spend time in reading, praying, listening to God and to rest. The second habit is to ensure I’ve sufficient sleep and to exercise two to three times a week. We are spiritual beings in a physical body. And I’ve noticed that when I’m better rested and fitter, I tend to have more resources to respond to discouragement better. Neither of these habits help me overcome discouragement – but remembering the gospel does, and these habits put me in a better condition to do the remembering. So I try to keep to them. Besides, I enjoy them!

What really encourages me is that church members progress in Christ-likeness, partner with me in ministry and commit to pray with and for me. The ministry is about people and not programmes – it is about lives and not a check-list of programmes completed. When I see people grow spiritually and flourish as God intended; when church members come and offer to work with me in ministry; when friends tell me they commit to pray with and for me, I am encouraged. If you drop me a card to tell me how you have grown and how God has worked in your life it really encourages me. I still keep Sam Beh’s note to me at his wedding thanking me for my ministry in his life. I refer to that often, especially when I’m discouraged, to remind me that ministry is worth it.

 

The Ups and the Downs of Junior Church

Junior Church.JPG

L-R: Grace, Effie and Patsy form part of a team of teachers faithfully teaching the Primary 1-6 Junior Church class on alternate months.

Effie Wong
I have really enjoyed being part of a team of wonderful people teaching in Junior Church. It encourages me as we serve together. The children encourage me when they are attentive and respond to the word of God. The difficulty is the wide age range of the children we teach – P1 to P6. It is hard to keep all of them active and participating. While it is generally easier to keep the attention of the younger ones, it is a challenge to keep the older children engaged. To keep from being discouraged, I pray a lot for the children and try to prepare lessons that are relevant and interesting. The verse that keeps me going is Galatians 6:9, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” [NASB]

Patsy Low
As a new teacher some years ago I was really encouraged by the passion, love and creativity of fellow teachers to make the lesson interesting. They even set the memory verses to music to make them easier to learn. It is encouraging when the children are paying attention, but discouraging when a child is engaged in his/her own world of reading or day-dreaming. How to re-engage the child is a challenge which really draws me to pray for the child and for the teachers.

Grace Ang
I have always enjoyed working with children and am encouraged when the children use their gifts for the Lord. Recently the children started presenting the offertory during offering time and I am very encouraged by those who diligently prepare for this by practising at home.

 

Encouragement in a Crisis

Ding and Daisy

Ding and Daisy found encouragement and edification from God and GBC during Ding's recent hospitalisation for H1N1.

Ding
It all happened rather quickly, starting out with a fever and a general feeling of being unwell. The situation quickly degenerated into a fairly serious one with my admission to the ICU. The doctors then informed me that they had to intubate me as my lungs were failing and my oxygen level was low. As I reached out to sign the consent form with wobbly hands, I told the young doctor in attendance that I am a Christian and that my God would heal me. I praise God for the peace that filled my heart before I lost consciousness.

When I regained consciousness some two weeks later, Daisy told me of the tremendous love and care shown by our family and friends and especially our care group. The care group started a prayer chain and showered Daisy with much care and love, seeing to all her needs and daily comfort. A dear sister even stayed over with Daisy to make sure she was alright. It was the personification of Christ's love in action.

As it turned out, the young doctor and a nursing officer in charge of my ward were also believers and they dropped by to share a prayer with me. They too praised the Lord for the healing and encouraged me to testify to His goodness. Later on, my speech therapist shared that her family are also believers and she was much encouraged by my faith. I took the opportunity to share with her a little of what Daisy and I had been through in our journey in life on a road less travelled. Without God, our journey thus far would have been much more difficult to endure.

My entire Chinese New Year 2014 was spent in recuperation at the hospital. Though I had to breathe through tubes and was also fed through tubes there was no short supply of CNY goodies in my room. My ‘gang’ of creative and loving brothers and sisters in Christ made sure of that, though sometimes I suspect they rather ‘enjoyed’ it more than me. My wife and I would like to thank each and every one in the GBC family for their prayers, encouragement and support as we continue our journey in this life of faith and hope.

Daisy
It was trying for me when Ding was hospitalised, but there was much to give thanks for. My dear family members, friends from other churches, and CG members all rallied around to pray for me, comfort and encourage me. They were all just there, giving of their time and seeing to all my needs. We felt truly loved and were deeply touched. Thank you all.

I was encouraged by the doctor whom Ding shared his faith with: she encouraged me to play Christian songs for Ding and to bring a pastor to pray for him. We were blessed that many of the nursing staff were believers and they were singing along and worshipping in Ding's ward. Ding's condition improved remarkably from then on.

I thank the Lord for His amazing grace and protection for me as I did not fall ill even though I was the primary care-giver and was in close contact with Ding all the time. God's strength is once again revealed in our time of weakness. Praise Him.