25 Nov 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-
Juxtaposing his vibrant and energetic nature, Jeremy Tan was an apathetic Christian college student who could not resist the relentless call by God to reach out to his peers; a paradox since he did not have a good impression on Christian Fellowship (CF). But surprisingly, Jeremy’s friends who had the Father’s heart never gave up on him. Time after time, they invited Jeremy not only to join CF, but also to be a part of the CF committee as well.
After saying too many ‘no’s to the invitations, Jeremy finally started going to the CF in HELP University College in his second year, which was a time of crisis for the CF whose members shrunk from 100-strong to 20 members due to students graduating and leaving overseas. It was then Jeremy was invited to not only join their CF Camp, but also to become the camp commander. This time, he said yes. Besides, who can say ‘no’ to a committee of six girls who were all studying Psychology?
Little did he know, the camp changed his life forever when speaker Annette — former General Secretary of Fellowship of Evangelical Students (FES) — convicted him to use his brief college days to reach out to his peers. He realized that he was placed in college not only to study but also to share Christ at a strategic place in a kairos time such as this. No longer was CF seen as an ordinary student body but a catalyst for college revival.
Praying to God, Jeremy finally agreed to serve the Lord in college, to which he was approached again to join the CF committee after the camp. He agreed and even had the first thought to serve the student ministry in the future. In fact, he wanted to join the college students’ ministry full-time right away after graduation.
“This passion for students must have come from God. It’s not something I envisioned myself doing in the early days of my college life,” said Jeremy.
Nevertheless, Jeremy wanted God to ascertain this calling first. He prayed to God to show him two signs, which were the approvals of both his church elders and parents. But both parties thought Jeremy should get job experiences first before joining a full-time ministry.
And consistent with the signs, the Lord moved to provide Jeremy a job in IBM. After graduation, Jeremy decided to use his break between college graduation and working to join a three-week Camp Cameron that was ran by FES since the 1970’s. Two days before this camp, Jeremy got two successive job interviews by IBM on the same day! The Senior Manager asked if Jeremy would work for the company without pay for the first three months, to which he said no. He thought he would not get the job; yet, while he was in camp in the second week, he got a call from IBM of landing the job, on top of beating the odds of having a bad network in Cameron Highlands. Praise the Lord! We have a God who provides and is consistent in all His Ways!
Not only the Lord provided Jeremy a job, He also provided him spiritual food. During the camp, Jeremy was challenged to see face-to-face his struggles behind his Christian façade; his family issues and also his sins. He realized that he took God for granted in many ways. In the camp, he was challenged to live his life according to God’s ways and leading. He felt a pull again to serve in the student ministry full-time.
Nevertheless, Jeremy remembered the disapproval of his church elders and parents. And following the Lord’s leading, he started to work in IBM. During then, he was still involved in the college student ministry in church. In his second year in IBM, he led a college student cell group to organize another college camp called ‘Apofasi: For Better, For Worse’ (Apofasi means to make a decision in Greek). Once more, he invited Annette from FES to become the speaker, whose message pierced into his heart again. Having been in IBM for a couple of years now, Jeremy was challenged to see where his life was leading. He wanted to obey God, realizing how his heart still ached for students.
However, Jeremy waited for another two years in working in IBM before he had the approval from both his church elders and parents to join the student ministry full-time. Taking Jeremy’s conviction seriously, his church elders and parents wanted to make sure that Jeremy’s decision was out of a genuine conviction and not mere hype or feelings over the two years of waiting period.
“I believe if I am going into any ministry work, there will be many struggles to go through. Hence, if I don't have the support from parents, elders, and church, it would seem that I am fighting this battle alone,” said Jeremy who is thankful for the support he has received from the church, family and friends through their prayers, encouragement, and financial help.
And towards the time when he had to make the leap of faith into full-time ministry, God promised Jeremy that He would never leave nor forsake him (Heb 13:5).
“It was hard to anticipate what I was going to go through, the insecurity of what would happen next… I almost backed out from my decision,” said Jeremy who overcame his fear by the encouragement of Annette and Kim Cheng, former and current Secretary-General of FES.
Recounting the great mentorship he had in his life, he was thankful that Annette gave him tough love and made him think through his decision, which allowed him to make a firm decision in following God. In humility, Jeremy attributed his courage to take the leap of faith on the strength of the people God had placed in his life.
And through working in these two years, he realized how God is truly the Jehovah Jireh who provided for his needs, yet He left a personal room in him to struggle for the purpose of building him up. Also, through the student ministry, he felt blessed working with the college/university students and witnessing their tenacity and perseverance in serving God amidst their busy schedules. He was also comforted to see how God would never leave any students who dropped off from the CF.
And most importantly, the Lord has also opened his eyes to see the flaws he has, having his colleagues to graciously point out areas of improvement to him.
“It shows how imperfect, lacking, and unequipped I am. It shows how much I need God’s grace and mercy, and also to learn how to depend on His strength,” said Jeremy.
Admittedly, like all of us, he struggled with the issue of pride but is thankful that in FES, they practice a culture of keeping each other accountable of their walk with God.
“Do not hold on to successes, which is the danger of having our pride. It’s such a privilege to do God’s work and at the end of the day, He receives the glory. There are many times I have fallen. Hence it is important to keep watch and be constantly aware of this tendency to fall, and not to forget to turn back to Him,” said Jeremy.
Although Jeremy had to readjust in financial expenditure, he decided to go through life trusting that God will provide. “It’s not so much of the satisfaction that I see as utter importance but it is realizing that I am a part of God’s work, which gives me that joy, thankfulness, and privilege of serving God,” said Jeremy, beaming with contentment.
While searching for God’s confirmation, Jeremy learned the valuable lesson of waiting upon God’s perfect timing and following His leading step-by-step. How do we know our calling? Many times, the Lord leads according to a burden He placed in our hearts. And like Jeremy, we can always count on our church leaders and spiritual mentors to ascertain the calling. May you find your calling in the Lord today!
Note: Jeremy worships in Emmanuel EFC with his family.