From: Chapter 3: The Heart of God Church Story - The Journey of a Dream
People talk about humble beginnings… For us, it was more like humiliated beginnings. Not only did we not have money, but we also lacked credibility. Nobody had heard of Heart of God Church, so both Christian and non-Christian parents were very skeptical about sending their kids to our church. Some of the kids who were ignited for Jesus in HOGC wanted to attend our services regularly, so naturally the parents did a deep dive into HOGC. They inquired from friends and family who are pastors or church leaders. Most had never heard of us, the few who did said we were a bunch of kids, not a real church. They said HOGC was more like a big children’s church, not very deep in theology, so it had the potential to become a cult. It didn’t help that I overheard one of our youth leaders teaching the genealogy of Jesus. He confidently proclaimed that Jesus’ father was Joseph and Joseph’s father was Jacob, whose father was Isaac. 🤦🏻😩😳 No wonder his Bible looked a bit thin. He just conveniently cut out Exodus to Malachi from his Bible.
There was a pressure to build a more credible church, meaning focus more on adults and business people. In essence, go legit… go mainstream and do what other churches were doing. But God encouraged us to keep on building a youth church through a 14-year-old girl.
When she was four, her dad left her. Home was messy and often violent, so she poured all
her energy into doing well in school. Despite scoring straight As and winning many awards
in national track meets, she still felt empty on the inside.
When she was 14, on an ordinary morning, she woke up and heard a clear voice in her
heart that said, “Go to Heart of God Church.”
It was so distinct that she remembered thinking to herself, Church? Why would I go to
church? I’m not even a Christian! But no harm, just Google it. To her shock, there was really
a church called Heart of God Church. So she clicked into the website.
It’s in Singapore!
Doubts turned into curiosity and now curiosity turned into a holy fear.
Stephanie, who had never been to church, never prayed to Jesus, was not even a Christian, was thinking, Was that really God?
So she emailed the church – [email protected].
Our staff replied. She came to service, got saved, and was planted in church.
When I first heard this story, I had to check if Stephanie had hidden
wings behind her back. She is a godsend. A message from heaven:
Heart of God Church, unknown on earth but known in heaven.
And I felt that God was speaking to Lia and me: “Even if no one will recommend youths to go to your church, I will personally speak to the youths directly to go to HOGC.”
Thank You Jesus.
He knows exactly when to send a raven to feed us (1 Kings 17:2-6), when to speak in a still small voice, and when to send a 14-year-old girl.
God continued to use Stephanie to encourage us. She brought her younger brother, Sylvester, to church too. They both became on fire for Jesus and started serving in church.
We found out that they were skipping meals because they didn’t have enough money. So we put them on our church’s Scholarship and Opportunity Fund, making sure they had pocket money and could live like normal teenagers. They had no father to guide them about finances, so I taught them about the importance of savings. For six months, I challenged them that for every dollar they saved, I would match it dollar for dollar.
Stephanie rose up to become a leader in church and served in many ministries. In university she was leading over 20 youths and interning in church. When she was 19, she went for the funeral of a relative and saw her father there. The last time she had seen him was when she was four years old yet somehow she could still recognize him. I guess runaway fathers will never know the vacuum they leave in their little girls.
In that awkward moment when he also recognized her, the seconds felt like
What would he do?
What would he say?
What should I do?
What should I say?
But he broke the eyelock, turned around, and walked away.
In that moment, her heart broke… again.
To be abandoned once… maybe you can really stretch it and give the benefit of the doubt.
This time she had God and His voice assured her, “From you and your generation onwards, it will be different.”
Stephanie is a brilliant young lady. She would go on to secure an internship in San Francisco. She did so well that they offered her a full-time position. For most Singaporeans, this is a dream come true – fresh grad with a job in SF. But she turned it down and came home to work full-time in HOGC. Now she co-heads the Events Department, leads 30 youths, and is also our PA.
Stephanie’s story is just one of many. There are so many kids who came from broken families but God healed them. HOGC gave them a spiritual family and a home. And they have grown up to become doctors, lawyers, bankers, and entrepreneurs. More importantly, this army of the best and brightest are serving in church and building His House. They have grown up and are now like Abraham’s 318 trained men who were born in his own house (Genesis 14:14). Recently another young lady just joined our Communications team. She read Linguistics at Cambridge University. She understands six languages: English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. She is translating, copywriting for our Hong Kong and Mandarin materials, and is an interpreter too. We also hired seven top IT developers, who worked for top companies or the government, for our online church.
When people see the army of brilliant young adults and the caliber of
young leaders and staff in HOGC, they often comment that we are so
blessed. I just smile and thank God. And my mind goes back to the story of
Stephanie. There was a time when HOGC was full of kids… they were
nobodies, neglected, marginalized, and insignificant. Stephanie is just
one story out of hundreds. When she was a kid, nobody wanted her… not even
her own father. Now everyone wants her – top companies offering her top
money. But she chose to work for HOGC.
How did all this happen?
Many years ago, in those humble times of discouragement, lacking credibility and money, God made Lia and me a promise: Love the people nobody wants and God will give you the people everybody wants.
I believe the same promise still holds true today for everyone and anyone who is willing to give their hearts and lives to young people.
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