God’s call for me in my life had always been crystal clear – to serve Him wholly. It was something I could never run away from (believe me; I have tried). The precise, specific ministry He wanted me to be in, was set out right from the beginning.
I grew up in a dysfunctional family. My biological dad left my 18-year-old mum after he found out that she was carrying me. She then left me in the care of my maternal grandparents from birth. Shortly after, she disappeared and I grew up wondering what had happened to her, as no one would disclose anything to me. The constant feeling of being an outcast, an outsider was ever so real. My grandparents would often remind me that I would be thrown out of the house if I were to misbehave. I struggled to find love and a sense of belonging even in school. My teachers would often attribute my poor performance and inadequacies to my upbringing – one who was abandoned by his parents. As you would have guessed, I grew up with lots of anger in me; and an enormous sense of low self-esteem. Through it all, the Lord continued to watch over me. But by His grace, I was led to study in a mission school where I came to learn about the love of God. However, I was too self-absorbed as a young boy and was not open to the Gospel as I continued to abide in my sinful ways. Eventually, both my grandparents passed on. That was the ultimate wake-up call for me, as I no longer had anyone to rely on. The need to juggle my studies and work become an inevitable reality for me.
At 18, I entered the Singapore Polytechnic and that was the beginning of my encounter with Jesus. I vividly remember walking past the different CCA (CO-Curricular Activities) booths when I came across a strange middle-aged man who had a prominent pair of sunglasses, in the hall. He was playing his guitar and singing out loud. Honestly, he looked too old to be a student. Nonetheless, I brushed that thought aside, believing that it was possible for someone his age to be taking his Diploma and being in a CCA. I was strangely attracted by his weird demeanour and I approached the booth thinking it could be the guitar club. With the widest smile, he told me he was from the Poly Christian Fellowship. Upon hearing his introduction, I began to plan my exit as I did not want any associations with a religion; especially one that proclaims that God loves us. However, through his caring persuasion, I relented and gave my contact to him. That strange man eventually became my mentor and close friend to this very day. Many weeks passed on, they invited me to attend their meetings. I entertained that invitation as I wanted just to have fun (and while at it I wanted to wreak some havoc). After many weeks, the leaders struggled with me as I would continuously interrupt their Bible studies sessions by bombarding them with bewildering questions that would rattle even the foundation of their own faiths.
A couple of months later, I was invited to join them in a youth camp at Saint Andrew’s Village. On the very last day of the camp, I had a supernatural encounter with Christ that completely changed the course of my destructive lifestyle. That encounter transformed me completely and I came out of the camp “a new creation in Christ.” A few months after the camp, I received God’s calling for me to go into full-time ministry. Over the course of six months, God’s call for me was affirmed by four individuals who were either pastors or full-time ministers, and they were not acquainted with one another. As they were praying for me, they heard God calling for me to fulfil my call to serve Him full-time and to stop running from this calling. So eventually, I surrendered and embraced the call from God.
Thereafter, I went to a Theological seminary to take a Bachelor’s degree and eventually obtained my Masters, while serving as a minister in church. The Lord’s call for me to serve primarily in the Youth Ministry became so overwhelming that I had to take a leap of faith to leave the church ministry behind, not knowing what was next for me. By His divine appointment, I was invited to join Scripture Union Singapore and have been there since 2016 till today. Even with my 17 years of experience in the youth ministry since my Polytechnic days, I would still feel inept in youth ministry work. This inadequate feeling often spurs me on, to study, and read further so that I can be more effective in the ministry.
Through my life experiences, I am able to better empathise with youths who are hurting and struggling with low self-esteem. One reason why many youths are leaving the church today is because they do not feel loved and accepted by the church community. They have yet to comprehend what it means to be loved wholeheartedly by God. Therefore, my personal encounter with God and how He could save someone like me became a driving force to reach out to these youths.
At the end of the day, I am passionate about raising a God-fearing generation through intentional discipleship. I firmly believe in the importance of training youth leaders so that they can be better equipped in reaching out to the next generation. Children and youths are the leaders of tomorrow, so what we do today matters.
P.S. If you want to hear more about my life story and my encounter with God, you are most welcome to have coffee with me! 😊
Photo: Luke Zachary with wife Katherine and son Ashton.