Prisoners of Hope

I’ve often pondered on the significance of the verse in Ephesians 3:1 where the Apostle Paul said, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles…”

What did Paul mean about being a prisoner of Christ for our sakes? In what way were his constraints benefitting us? And then, I thought of people like Heidi Baker, Brother Yun, and Canon White. These tremendous heroes of our faith have modelled lives of sacrificial surrender to bring the Good News to the poor and those imprisoned and persecuted for the Name of Jesus. 

During the Kingdom Trilogy meeting last week, Canon Andrew White, also known as the Vicar of Baghdad, shared many testimonies of miracles in his church and among the thousands of refugees who were displaced from their homes in Iraq by the vicious and murderous Islamic State/Daesh.

He recounted in his book ‘Father, Forgive’: “My trust in the Church has been so greatly enhanced by living with my people here at St George’s in Baghdad. Here, our people have nothing, most have lost everything, yet the presence of Jesus is so real. We talk about love all the time, and in love we see the beginning of reconciliation. The glory or miraculous presence of God is a constant topic of conversation. God is ever present in His power and majesty, and in times of distress, the Holy Spirit provides comfort and, truly, a peace that transcends the rational. When everything else is gone, Jesus is all we have left.”

 Prisoners of Christ

Paul writes, “As a prisoner of the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Eph 4:1 Under Roman law, prisoners commonly relinquished all rights and desires to the point of complete surrender. They lose everything, including their identities, and their only protection was from their captor, with no hope of any remuneration or reward inside the prison system. 

But Paul, this great Apostle, Evangelist, and anointed Epistoler, did not consider himself a prisoner of the Roman judicial system. He declared himself a prisoner of Christ alone. He might’ve been imprisoned physically, but spiritually, he lived in the exhilarating freedom of the Messiah. 

How about us? We may not be locked in a real jail, but are we living bound by the cares of this world? Has pain kept us captive in a prison of fear and anxiety? Listen to Paul’s exhortation, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.” 2 Cor 2:14 

The physical reality of Paul’s confines in a location enclosed by iron bars was transcended by the supernatural reality of God’s heavenly presence with him constantly. Calling himself a prisoner of Christ was actually a declaration of His faith and love in a Living Hope to encourage the Church. He was completely secure in the power of the Word and his faith in the Lord. So too must we.

 Prisoners of Hope

‘Prisoners of hope’ is a beautiful phrase. It reminds us that, whenever we’re in a spiritual stronghold, we’re not to be like hopeless prisoners but as those filled with hope, knowing that God will release us from captivity.

Rev 2:10 says, ‘The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you.’ The Lord once told Dr. Brian Bailey that He never puts His people into caves, but only sends them through tunnels, as there’s light at the end of every tunnel. God always bring us out of a trial (prison) regardless of how long it takes, because His plans are to give us a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). Amid his persecution, Paul could still say, “It’s because of the hope of Israel that I’m bound with this chain.” Acts 28:20

Looking around the world, we see countless Christians persecuted simply for their faith in Christ. Beheadings, bombings, beatings – these are just some afflictions our brothers and sisters experience for following Jesus. The tragedy is that, due to this targetted violence and injustice, there’s been an unprecedented exodus of Christians from the very lands Christianity was birthed and flourished in. 

According to The Review, ‘Christians in Palestine represent less than 1.5% of the population, while decreasing in Iraq from 1.5 million before 2003 to less than 120,000, on unprecedented persecution by extremists. In other parts of the world, China’s churches must operate underground with their pastors beaten and jailed for being outspoken. More recently in Sri Lanka, the Easter bombings in April killed innocent worshippers and brought devastation to families and churches. 

Beloved, we’ve been insulated thus far from the shakings and tribulations that the Body of Christ is experiencing around the world. Blessed as we are to live in this wonderful nation, we have a responsibility towards them. Paul said that, if one part of the Body suffers, every part suffers with it. We must weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. 

How will you respond to the cries and needs of our persecuted brethren? As Pastor Yang exhorts at the end of every meeting, we can do three things to stand in solidarity with them – pray, give or go. We were asked to pick one. I assure you it’s not difficult to do all three. May the Lord give us grace.


Ps. Timothy Chong

The Feast of Great Rejoicing

The Feast of Tabernacles, which is the 7th and concluding holy day in the Biblical calendar in Leviticus 23:33-44, ends this week. This is the 7th Feast in the seventh month, otherwise called Sukkot. The Feast started at sundown on 13 October and ends at nightfall on Sunday, 20 October.

This Feast is also called the Feast of Ingathering as it’s observed after all crops had been harvested and gathered. This is a time of great rejoicing and we’re to ‘rejoice before Yahweh, our God for seven days.’ (Lev 23:40)

This Feast points to the fullness of God’s plan for Israel, for her salvation, for God to dwell among His redeemed remnant, comprising both redeemed Jews and Gentiles. This is also the time of ultimate eternal rejoicing in the long-awaited Messianic Kingdom.

So how does this Feast apply to our read more…

The Indomitable Canon Andrew White

For a long time, I had wanted to meet the indomitable Canon Andrew White. The stories I heard about him were legendary. The opportunity came one day as my wife and I were having lunch with one of our dearest friends, Canon J John and his wife Killy. I had asked him if he knew Canon Andrew White and J immediately lighted up and told us they were very close and even went on holidays together.

He recounted some amazing stories about Canon White and what God has done through the man in Iraq and I just knew I had to meet him. To cut a long story short, we connected through Canon J, invited him to Singapore and, in just a few days, we’re going to have the privilege of Canon White speaking at our Kingdom Invasion Trilogy on read more…

I Am With You Always

This blog is written especially to all students who are taking their year-end exams, and to those going through a stressful and challenging season in their lives. It’s an excerpt from a short study I did on the ‘Names of God’. I trust that it’ll encourage you.

There’s power in a name. It’s what we’re known by (identification) and it says who we are (identity). Just think of all the names of those influential and powerful world leaders. God is known by many names in the Bible. Learning to know each of His Name(s) opens up the door to a deeper relationship with Him – to understand His nature and character. The Bible says in Prov 18:10, “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” In a world that’s getting more read more…

Unforgettable

I had an interesting conversation with my daughter recently where she quipped, “I can forgive but not forget … is that ok?” As a father, I’m confronted with the fact that my daughter is asking increasingly thought-provoking questions and oftentimes, a Biblically-correct answer doesn’t adequately satisfy – especially for a PK (pastor’s kid).

For those who are parents, here’s a great promise from Isaiah 54:13:  
“All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children.”

At that moment, I felt I needed to share with her not just what’s in God’s Word, but also what’s upon His heart. Whenever our children come to us with a question we don’t have an answer to, we can always turn to our Heavenly Father. Most of the time, He wants to teach read more…

Two Extreme Mentalities

Biblical economics have gone through a rollercoaster ride. 100 years ago, it was almost fashionable to be poor if you were a believer. Hardly anyone spoke on this subject. Pastors were kept poor, churches were kept poor, and wrong teachings kept God’s people in poverty.

Today, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme. Everybody is speaking on biblical economics. Being rich and wealthy has become a lifestyle and a goal. If you’re rich, it’s because God’s blessing you, and this has become known as the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ which has infected and corrupted a whole generation.

Now, while there’s truth to this teaching, the goal of the Christian in Scripture has never been to become wealthy. Wealth and prosperity are a result and outflow of walking in covenant with God. The common and popular teaching today is: If I give, read more…

Knowing He’s Here!

Our God is more than amazing, He’s awesome and we should never cease to speak of His goodness and mercy!

33 unique lives are going through a God makeover in Bible College of Wales School of Ministry (BCW-SOM) this autumn. Only a week has passed, and many things are falling into place for them. One testified, “Until now there were misplaced jigsaw pieces in my life, and I see them fitting into the right places.”

The joy of seeing these 33 faces light up when it’s only been the first week! And, though some have come from very challenging family circumstances, yet they’re trusting and looking into the eyes of their Beloved.

Who is like God, and who can compare with Him?

Matthew 28:16-17 tells us that, “The eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had read more…

Teachers For Life

On Friday, we celebrated Teachers’ Day. All of us have fond memories of teachers who have impacted and changed our lives. We often forget the people we might have encountered along the process of work, but a teacher, we almost never forget.
We remember them not just for the subjects they taught us but, more than anything, for out interactions with them. These interactions comforted us, affirmed us, gave us confidence, directed us in the right path, and let us know that someone cared.
 
In truth, the task of teaching and instruction is inescapable for all of us. As parents, we’ve to teach and raise our children. In the workplace, there’ll always be newer staff whom we need to show the ropes to. In our families, we’ve nieces and nephews whom we interact with and guide. In our read more…

Passion Triumphs Over Personality

Whenever we talk about being passionate for the Lord, we often hear people say, “…but I’m not like that” or “It’s not me to be so loud and vocal”. And then we launch into this lengthy discourse of trying to convince the person that God has already deposited passion in us, citing examples from our favourite soccer or basketball team winning the championship to how freely and naturally we express our emotions when watching a touching movie.

Sometimes, I think the only outcome from those discourses only proves that our adrenalin and tear ducts are working. More often than not, we leave them feeling bad or worse, condemned.

Well, here’s my little version of why I believe passion triumphs over personality. Pray that it’ll make sense to you.

19 August 2019 will be a day to remember for me because read more…

Hurt By God

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.”

Isaiah 53:10 is a well-known messianic prophecy and picture of Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead hundreds of years before it happened. The bruising is the crucifixion and death of Jesus, making Himself an offering for sin. Verse 10 says it was the Father’s pleasure to do this. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him.

In the early days of my Christian walk, I used to have trouble reconciling how the Heavenly Father could find delight in bruising and hurting His own Son. Jesus told Peter in John 13:7, “You do not understand now read more…

A Hero of the Faith

This week, I had the privilege of having a meal with my hero in the faith – the evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. What a man. What a legacy. At almost 80, he’s still lucid, still strong, still full of the Holy Spirit, and still on FIRE. I related this story to Bro. Bonnke, of how I first met him in 1998.

I was a young pastor, with a fledgling ministry, and I get a call inviting me to lunch with the evangelist. It was a dream come true. I remember driving to the luncheon, praying all the way there, hoping I wouldn’t say anything embarrassing.

There were eight of us and the conversation revolved around what was happening in Africa. I took a deep breath, and I asked Bro. Bonnke to explain how the anointing works and how I could flow in read more…

The Journey of Faith

Over this weekend, we cross Singapore’s 54th year as a nation. I can consider my journey as a Christian living in Singapore and God’s faithfulness to us as a nation, but I’m thinking about my heavenly citizenship – I want to tell of my recent visit to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

This is my most unforgettable encounter with a giant of faith in our lifetime. Words are insufficient to express the immense overwhelming presence of Evangelist Billy Graham when I stood on the grounds. Although he’s no more with us, who he was and all he’d done while on earth was tangibly felt that day.

As I entered the grounds, the first place I stood at was the grave of Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth Bell Graham. Memories, recollections of the innumerable scenes of thousands read more…

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