Persecution

We recently hosted a Zoom prayer meeting on the International Day of Christian Martyrs. It was really encouraging to see the number of people and nations that participated. The uptick in destabilising and frightening trends worldwide has sounded an alarm. I think it’s a sign of the times. Are we witnessing the beginning of the End? Many of us are feeling the urgency to be better prepared, and rightly so!

Looking back, we realise God has been preparing us to face troubling times. A year ago, Brother Yun shook us up with his testimonies of surviving horrific treatment at the hands of cruel authorities. Canon Andrew White’s life story last October reminded us further of the price that’s being paid by Christians in other parts of the world. Then, in a series of messages at the end of the year, Pastor Yang also prophesied of our need to endure and persist. On Vision Sunday, he said, “I believe 2020 is going to be a very contradictory year. While I believe we’re going to see greater glory in the Church, greater light, I think the darkness in the world is going to intensify. We must not be naive.”

As Singaporeans, we’re learning to stay vigilant. Covid has taught us that, although we may not be susceptible to earthquakes, volcanoes, or nuclear disasters, the threat of a pandemic is real. What about persecutions? Could they happen to us? Yes! But are we ready? Peter says to “arm yourself” with the thought of suffering. But how?

I’ve been blessed to know many who have been persecuted. This includes more than 50 pastors who suffered for more than 20 years in prison for their faith in a certain country. I served as a Romanian pastor’s interpreter and co-labourer for hundreds of sermons and thousands of miles on the road over a 4-year period. Daniel had burn marks and scars all over his body from the tortures he received. Let me pass on a few things I’ve gleaned from them.

First, I learned that there’s a special grace and favour available to those who suffer for His Name. Paul wrote this to the Church in Philippi, where he had been flogged and put in a dungeon with his feet fastened in stocks, that it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Phil 1:29).

The word ‘granted’ in Greek is ‘charizomai’, from which we get the words ‘grace’ and ‘gift’. The persecuted have latched on to an extraordinary truth which I believe God wants to us to shout from the rooftops in these Last Days: Rather than shrink in fear in the face of suffering and increasing turmoil, let us lift up our heads in anticipation of a manifestation of God’s grace and glory like we’ve never seen before. God’s gifts come wrapped in packages we least expect.

Peter also suffered for the Lord. Based on his experience, he wrote to encourage the Christians of his day that suffering can be a blessing in disguise. He exhorted them, “Rejoice to the extent that you partake (‘koinoneo’ in Greek) of Christ’s sufferings that, when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:12-14

It’s remarkable that Peter used the word ‘koinoneo’ here. This exquisite Greek word speaks of deep fellowship and communion. I used to read the phrase ‘When his glory is revealed to men at the Second Coming’. While Jesus will most definitely bestow all manner of rewards and blessings upon us when He returns, Peter assures us this fellowship and glory is for the present, i.e. in the midst of suffering. No wonder the father of China’s House Church, Wang Mingdao, described his 23 years and 10 months in prison to me as a honeymoon with Jesus!

I’ve thought long about Stephen’s example in suffering. After declaring the works of God boldly to the Sanhedrin, even as they were picking up stones to kill him, the Bible says he saw the heavens open before him and Jesus was standing at the right hand of the throne of God (Acts 7:56).

We know the Bible clearly says that Jesus is supposed to be sitting while God makes all His enemies to become His footstool (Ps 110:1). And yet, He stood up for Stephen. After all these years, I can say with much assurance that, if you’re granted to suffer or be persecuted for His sake, He will stand up for you, too.


Pastor Kevin Graves

God’s Generational Treasure

Cornerstone’s youth ministry, relaunched as ‘Generations’ in 2000 after a 3-year hiatus, celebrated its 20th anniversary this month. It’s been my great joy and honour to watch many of these young lives journey into adulthood.

Many of our ‘then’ young people are now serving in Cornerstone as pastors and staff. These lives stoked in the fire of God are now effective ministers and some have been sent out as church pioneers, pastoring, labouring in the fire of the Holy Spirit, serving locally and in the nations. They’re no more young teens but men and women, many married with family.

What God has wrought through these yielded vessels are stories to be told – just like how my husband and I took the divine plunge into the ministry 30 years ago – life encounters still burning in the flames.

The God read more…

Proud to be Singaporean!

Every year, on National Day, my family and I will sit in front of the TV to watch the National Day Parade live. As always, we sing the songs patriotically, laugh at the outrageous costumes, tear when the National Anthem is sung, talk about our National Service experiences, but one thing is for sure – we’re all proud to be Singaporeans. I’m a patriot and I love my country and my people, regardless of race, language or religion.

In 1978, the evangelist Dr. Billy Graham, prophesied that Singapore would be an Antioch for Asia. It was a defining moment for us as a nascent nation. At that time, we were just 13 years into nationhood and so, our future was uncertain. If you can recall, the Iranian Revolution had just begun that would eventually lead the world into a global read more…

The Power of Creativity

I’ve always been intrigued by the account of Adam naming the animals in Genesis 2:19-20. Names in the Bible carry identity, nature, and purpose. We today have the benefit of hindsight.

We’d look at an elephant, for example, and know its nature and temperament. However, for Adam, it was the first time animals ever existed and God wanted him to creatively call out the nature of each living thing.

The Lord wanted to give Adam a sense of ownership in the Garden. He also wanted to partner with His son in the creative process and participate in defining the nature of creation.

I often wondered what was going through Adam’s mind as he set eyes on each animal for the first time. The first man, made in the image of the Master Creator, with the creative nature of God in read more…

Buried or Planted?

This week, two seemingly unrelated events converged on the same day and shed some light into what I’ve been pondering. I received two packs of seeds from the National Parks to grow some edible plants at home, even though I didn’t register for it. I remembered saying to myself grudgingly, “Great! Now I’ve got to find some soil to plant those seeds.” Later that evening, I watched a war movie where the opening scene centred around a small group of US Marines at the cemetery in a sombre mood, surrounding the lowered casket of their fallen comrade.

The next scene showed the soldiers shovelling soil onto the casket, and then it struck me – burial looks no different from planting. Both require some digging and the ‘objects’ are hidden underground, covered with soil. However, for one, death means new life read more…

Rooooooooom!!

Every man who has gone through National Service in Singapore has his own favourite story to tell. Usually, they’re hilarious tales of being ‘tekan’ (disciplined) by their army sergeant. Mine was the room inspection.

It may sound unreasonable now but, back in the day (there I go again), the officer would suddenly show up in our room of 16 men in bunks without warning or appointment. The accompanying sergeant would shout “ROOM!”, the recruits would jump to attention and the officer and the sergeant would then inspect the room.

To the new recruits who had yet to appreciate the discipline, the gruelling drill looked more like an excuse for torture. The inspectors ran their fingers in the most obscure areas like the underside of the table or the top of the cabinet. In a room of Ah Boys who were read more…

Don’t Forget Your Mission

I’m glad the elections are over! Don’t get me wrong, I believe the exercise of our votes is the most fundamental act of a functioning democracy, and it’s a responsibility that we need to take seriously.
 
At the same time, a week is about as much of social media political frenzy I can handle. All of a sudden, everyone has a degree in political science. The coffeeshop political pundits come out in full force. Dubious exposé about various candidates surface, and sound bites suddenly defined a whole person’s life. Of course, elections come with its own share of funnies:
 
“Everyone told me to vote wisely, but I couldn’t find ‘wisely’ on my polling card.” Nandos announced, “We too have an East Coast plan… we now deliver to the East Coast!”
 
read more…

God Is On His Throne

No nation has been spared as the novel coronavirus came onto the global scene like a tsunami. Some have likened the ‘Circuit Breaker’, the nation’s comprehensive stay-home notice for all Singaporeans, as a time of confinement.

A confinement is traditionally associated with a mother recuperating from childbirth. It’s during this period that her strength is given time to renew, and her body to revert to its original state. And, if any thought that things would return to normal post-confinement period of 7 April to 1 June, we all now agree that things are never going to be the same for quite some time, even as we’re now in ‘safe transition’ Phase 2.

Resilience is key as we see the goalposts shift. And it isn’t just here in Singapore, millions are battling a loss of normalcy in their daily lives and read more…

A Plumb Line Cornerstone

As a young boy growing up in rural America, I was around a lot of building projects. Though I couldn’t do much, I’d carry things around the site, help hold a board, or a tool, or take measurements. Occasionally, I got to pound some nails.

Sometimes I’d get to hold or check the plumb line. This simple yet remarkable instrument was used to ensure a vertical line was ‘true’ or plumb. It was employed to make sure what you built wasn’t crooked; that, as the structure grew taller, it wouldn’t topple nor resemble a ‘Tower of Pizza’ (oops, Pisa – effect of being quarantined for too long!).

‘For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel, They are the eyes of the Lord which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.’ Zechariah 4:10

The read more…

The Pain of God

We’re already at the halfway mark of an unprecedented year – a year that nobody in their wildest dreams would have imagined playing out the way it has. Prophets in days past had given us inklings of such probable scenarios, yet the suddenness and magnitude of the devastation which ushered in this new decade was beyond human imagination and comprehension.

The shakings prophesied in the book of Hebrews certainly made a tumultuous entrance with a global bang, shaking everything that could be shaken, and violently!

Thus, it was with a sober spirit that I earnestly pursued the Father’s heart during the 50 days between Passover and Pentecost, inquiring of Him with an expectant heart and open ears. And He graciously revealed not just His plans, but a facet of His heart which took me by surprise. I read more…

Convenient Christianity?

In this ‘new normal’ of the post-Covid 19 era, companies, organisations, and churches must rethink their strategies and reinvent themselves from being a ‘physical organisation with digital presence’ to a ‘digital organisation with physical expressions and locations’. We’re very grateful that our weekday programmes featured on our social media platforms, our online teaching classes, and weekend services have reached people and places far and wide.

Now, with most things being accessible online and on-demand, I can have them delivered to me without leaving home, whenever I want it. But herein lies my concern – the ‘Oh, so convenient’, on-demand, instant gratification mentality.

I’ve not heard of anyone who changed their world (secular or sacred) and impacted their generation by living a ‘convenient life’. All paid a high price to see their dreams, visions, and burdens come to pass.

Imagine waking read more…

Happy 25th Anniversary!

Andy Goh is a pilot who has been in Cornerstone for many years. This week, he posted on his Facebook page a bulletin from the church dated Dec 10, 1995. That brought back so many sweet memories. I love that he has kept this for over 25 years and, if you want to buy it, I hear he is selling it at $10,000. Good buy! Mint condition. 
 
I recall in those days, our bulletins were photocopied, our songs were projected on an overhead projector, and we all had funny haircuts and wore strange clothes. Who could forget the bright and loud fuchsia pink and yellow blazers our ushers donned while proudly serving? But what was so timely was, just a few days ago, we quietly crossed our 25 years as a church. June 2, 1995 was the read more…

Book your tickets