Pastoral Perspectives

From the Intern’s Desk

It seems fitting now that it was on a Missions Sunday that Hooi Yin and I first stepped into True Way Presbyterian Church. The date was 21 August 2011 and the invited speaker was preaching from John 4:27-38 but I am unable to recall the contents of his sermon. We had been looking for a church to settle in for some time but from the moment the speaker started preaching, I knew that this was the church that God was guiding us to. Subsequent visits confirmed this and in the following year I transferred my membership and Hooi Yin was baptised in True Way. Our 3 children (Ethan, Linus and Chloe) have also been enjoying their time in Sunday school and have become good friends with our Discipleship Group member’s children.

Fast-forward to 2018 and I now find myself blessed to be interning at the very church that God led us to 7 years ago.

The Lord’s Provision

As part of our preparations to go into the mission field, we were expected to attend a two-month long orientation at Worldwide Evangelisation for Christ (WEC) from June to July. I had originally planned to take no-paid leave during this period so that I could attend full-time. At that time it seemed natural, even wonderful, to have a short break before returning to my job. I would then finish off my projects only resigning just before we had to fly off to Japan.

However as I laid this plan before the Lord, it gradually made less and less sense. It seemed silly to be spending all my time stuck in an office when there were so many other things I could be doing to equip myself for my future as a missionary. I searched my heart and found that the only reason for holding onto my job was the security it gave me to provide for my family as well as my position. The Lord gently exposed this hypocrisy in my heart; of wanting to trust and serve Him wholeheartedly and yet still clinging on to my earthly desires. In repentance I confessed my sinfulness to the Lord and He guided my thoughts to doing an internship at the church instead. I spoke about this with Hooi Yin and she immediately understood and supported this direction from the Lord. Still, I had my doubts whether this would be possible.

Soon after, two things happened that addressed my concerns. Firstly, upon enquiring with the pastors and elders about serving as an intern, their response was affirming and I was greatly touched by their support. Secondly, at work, a window of opportunity presented itself for me to do a smooth handover and leave the office on good terms with my bosses and colleagues. Our heavenly Father had faithfully done all the work to assure me of His providence and sovereignty over my circumstances making a way where none had seemed possible. This reinforced all the lessons I had been learning about how God not only shows us the path to take but also provides the means to do it. So in September I started my internship at Trueway.

Entering into Ministry Work

Being a church intern, I’ve quickly become familiar with the different faces at church. I also get to interact with the pastoral team more often and enjoy candid discussions with them about faith, life and our children. Aside from giving me greater insights into the daily happenings in a church, it’s also deepened my appreciation for the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. I find working in church so different from secular work as the ‘job’ of ministering to people is not confined to office hours. In fact it is usually when people are most free (e.g. evenings or weekends) that church workers are busiest! This has taken some getting used to by my family but I am very blessed to have a supportive wife and children. Over the next few months it is my goal to observe and learn from the different ministries at True Way and use these experiences to inform both our ministry work in Japan.

With more than 25 percent of Japanese in the 65 and above age bracket, one area of ministry that I have been focusing on is the outreach to the elderly. I am so glad to know that True Way is active in this area with partnerships at Senior Activity Centres, St Andrew’s Nursing Home and the Meals on Wheels program where volunteers deliver meals to the elderly living in Queenstown. It has been a great blessing to serve alongside our volunteers who have been faithfully giving of their time, week after week, in order to befriend the elderly and minister to them. The work is not glamorous and despite the age gap, there are many things that a younger person can do to help out. The Lord has also blessed me with the chance to minister to the elderly by listening to their stories and encouraging them. While it is a ministry with few openings to share the gospel I believe it is meaningful for our presence as a body of Christ to be felt in the community and to touch lives by demonstrating God’s love.

In Closing

Looking back, I cannot comprehend how God had led me and my family to the exact church where we would be received and supported so readily in our journey to overseas missions. I am deeply moved by the grace and support so many have shown us during this period of transition and I would like to thank the church for being such a channel of God’s blessing to us.

One of my hopes is that, through this internship, I will get to know and love the people of True Way more. The congregation is sizeable and only through putting names to faces and faces to names can my family continue to deepen our relationship with the church. As we will soon be unable to fellowship with you physically, we deeply desire your prayers for us. Likewise we look forward to continuing to serve True Way by upholding you in our prayers.

Being in church filled with so many different people, I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 12:12 ‘For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.’ May we, as the myriad body of Christ, a community of faith, persevere together in unity to carry out God’s mission to save the lost and rejoicing at the day of the harvest! God’s grace be with you all.

Sean Tan

September 30, 2018