Humble Humiliated Beginnings

From Chapter 3: The Heart of God Church Story – Journey of a Dream


I have always taught our church that prayer is our Declaration of Dependence on God. That understanding was chiselled into my heart during deep times of prayer for our fledgling church. Scarcity and lack drove us to dependence on Him. Breathless audacity of pioneering drove us to our declaration of faith.

During one such personal time, God spoke so clearly to my heart. He said, “You will run into My Provision!” He did not say that He would provide. Neither did He say He would make sure goodness and blessing would follow me all the days of my life. He said ‘run into My Provision’. That means – before the needs of our church would come up, God had already prepared a provision for that need! Provision will not follow us. It will not even come beside HOGC but it will be ahead of HOGC. That is why we will run into His provision!

What a sturdy word for hopeful pioneers! Like How always says – pioneering a church is hard enough but pioneering a church with youths is bordering on stupidity. He says youths come with empty pockets and even emptier stomachs!

In those days, we truly felt like a father and mother with 12 poor kids. Our church had about 800 students and 150 adults then. Take away some working adults who did not tithe or give. Then take away other adults who did not have income, we were left with few sacrificial remnants. So the reality was perhaps 70+ tithers supporting a church of close to 1,000. That sense of lack was all the more accentuated when we were outgrowing the space at our second venue (Dhoby Ghaut). Not having enough space was a good problem but good problems still needed solutions. Dhoby Ghaut venue Service at Dhoby Ghaut
(second worship venue, 2004–2007).
After searching, we had laid eyes on renting a venue that used to be a sports hall. Perfect. No pillars (I can see all the pastors nodding to this), near a train station (Yes! Our youths had no cars!) and high ceiling (I see all lights and media crew smiling at this). Perfect. Except for the price (I am not smiling at this).

We contacted the relevant real estate agent and asked if he could negotiate the rental down for us. He took one look at us and the poor youths we had, stood up and ended the meeting. He said, and I will always remember to this day the dismissive look in his eyes, “If you can’t afford, just go back to your old place.” And he walked off. We were shocked. Firstly, it was not even the owner of the building we were asking, we were asking an agent who was brokering the deal! Secondly, did he have to be that curt, blunt and rude?

Talk about being humbled. We were humiliated! Who needs the devil when we can have real estate agents from hell?

To all pastors reading this: The journey of fighting for young people and their destinies in God has never been and will never be an easy one. You have to thicken your skin if you want to build a youth church! Above all, you have to fortify your heart with His Word.

The perfect worship venue we had laid eyes on went up in a puff. But God was not done yet. We will run into His provision, remember? And God says He will resist the proud and lift up the humble – or the humiliated in our case.

Days after our failed attempt with the real estate agent, HOGC was holding an evangelistic event featuring a world-renowned classical guitarist. We went around and greeted the new friends during the concert. One of our leaders, Jin Chiew, who was a lawyer, had invited his friends. Amazingly, it turned out that one of them was from the very same company that owned that building we wanted to rent! So his friend offered to put us in contact with the relevant department and we negotiated directly with them. What happened next could only be God. We got our building at a good rental price! We secured it at a price even lower than what we offered the real estate agent. And the best part of it all was that we did not have to pay any commission or fees to the agent! Yes!

God will lift the humiliated! We will run into His provision! He had prepared ahead – a friend to open doors even before HOGC’s need for rental negotiation came up! When God wants to provide for you, He will make sure you get to His provision no matter what route you take! Nothing, absolutely nothing can separate you from the provision of God!

For more than two decades it is stories like these that spurred us on to continue building a youth church, no matter the cost. The Heart of God Church story is really about the Journey of a Dream and how God was with us every step of that journey.

All four of my brothers were saved in HOGC in the pioneering days and three of them have since gone home to be with the Lord. From offering their humble homes for church use to SingPost (our third worship venue), they would have been proud to see how this Strong Youth Church has grown!

That SingPost miracle? It was awe-inspiring fuel for us to keep dreaming and walking. And in this venue, we grew from 1,000 to 3,000! SingPost Venue SingPost worship venue pre-renovation – you can still spot the badminton court outlines at this former sports hall! We didn’t have enough chairs so we had to rent the (red) chairs behind. SingPost Venue 2 Fully packed service at SingPost (third worship venue, 2007–2015). Here we grew from 1,000 to 3,000.

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