pastor

From Pastor Stan (Stanley Ng)

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As I’m writing this letter, my heart already aches as I anticipate the very few days left. This is my last pastoral letter to my beloved family at Bethel English Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ,

I want to thank everyone for the many ways you have allowed me to be your pastor. As I reflect upon my time at Bethel English Church, I have seen and experience much where every person has had a part in. While it’s true that we tend to remember our failures more than our victories, I am humbled at the transformation that I have undergone. Ten years have gone by without any regret and the time spent with everyone was truly a blessing to Grace and me.

AWANA Awards (2010)

AWANA Awards (2010)

In ten years I’ve watched the generations grow. My first volunteer experience was becoming a volunteer leader for second graders. While there was a need, it was also an opportunity to learn more about the Christian faith and experience. Since I did not grow up in a Christian home, I was vicariously reliving the Sunday School experience. I remember the first time the children had to memorize and recite John 3:16. By the time the children finished shouting out this gospel verse, I was still searching through my Bible’s table of contents. The children were so shocked and ensued the fun and games--the teacher had become the student. The motivation from these little salts and lights began to ignite a passion in wanting to know more about the Word and defending the truth of the gospel.

Bethel College Ministry Retreat (2010)

Bethel College Ministry Retreat (2010)

At the same time, I was also involved in our very own college ministry. It was a time that some of us still remember. I remember cooking for Sister’s Appreciations, celebrating Christmas, helping pack boxes for the needy--it was truly an experience that I miss. At the same time, it was also a time of searching and deciphering the Lord’s direction in my life. As some of you are already aware, I had spent a short time in my engineering ministry. After the company acquisition, I began to ponder the next chapter. While still being consistently involved in my men’s group, the community suggested that I pray about pursuing pastoral ministry. This is what kickstarted the following seven years of pastorship with everyone here.

Without going into details of the last seven years, some of us were together during most of the time. Since the beginning of my internship, we have had several leaders come and go, trouble arose here and there. For some of us, it has been difficult to move forward. But my hope is that for all of us will continually be reminded of the one who remains constant: Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, He is the beginning and the end. As I become another one of those leaders who has come and gone, my prayer for this congregation is to always be fixated on Christ--that’s when your church will be defined by the mission. It may not look like the church we have had in the past and there may be difficult decisions which need to be made. But a passion for our Lord and Savior will see you through all your future trials. This passion guided the early church and the earlier congregations of Bethel, a passion which allowed them to navigate their own trials. They managed and flourished; so can we.

The words of the Apostle Paul resonates deeply in his letter to the church at Philippi:

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
— Philippians 1:3-6

This is an exciting time as Bethel English Church moves into a prospective future of Christ’s call. With everyone here, I am sure that the current and next pastors and leaders will be just as blessed to walk with you as I have in the past ten years. My prayer for this church and the new leadership is to dive into new ways of living together at the foot of the cross and to foster a church who loves the people within and, more so, the people without.

As for my future, doors have been opened in another ministry--the teaching ministry. My calling from God has always been focused on equipping future leaders in any capacity. In the next chapter, my call is to equip future leaders in the STEM industry. Everything we do is ministry--let’s not just think of ministry as just the “Christian” thing. If you’re a teacher, student, engineer, lawyer, social worker, physician, coffee barista, pastor, etc., that is the ministry that God has currently called you to be. These industries struggle to see Christ in their world--be the salt and light in your professions.

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Some people have asked me, “What was the most momentous event during your time here?” In the past ten years, Bethel was always there with me. From all my graduations to my marriage, I’m glad to say that everyone played a role in making my time special. But it’s hard to top Easter Sunday, 2008. It was the day when I surrendered my life to Christ. I may not have remembered the message, but Proverbs 3:5-6 was mentioned and it became my life verse. As blessed as it was to have amazing events, concerts, and service opportunities, nothing beats the day of Christ’s redemption.

I give thanks to God for the honor of serving the people in the Bethel English Church. As the place where I met the Lord Jesus for the first time, Bethel will always have a special place in my heart. I have been enveloped with the love of Christ by so many people here at this church, and there is no level of gratitude that I can muster in giving thanks to each and every single person.

...Many blessings...

PStan & Grace

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Shepherding the Lost (Stanley Ng)

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For a flock of sheep, the shepherd is an important figure. Without a leader, the sheep would live aimlessly, only doing what is necessary for survival. This is a wonderful reflection of church structure and the necessity for not just a strong leader; but more importantly, an even greater Shepherd to guide all processes. I am glad and blessed to know that the Lord’s provision is upon our church and can’t wait to see what He has in store for us during and after this transition. So, if we know that God cares for our church, we should also be reflecting that heart of others. If God then cares for us, how should we care for others?

Luke 15:1-7 looks at the background and the cultural story that was presented. The story begins not with the parable, but with events that occurred in the past. Luke recounts tax collectors and sinners gathering and eating with Jesus. At the same time, we also see pharisees and scribes grumbling at Jesus’ actions from afar. For now, Jesus begins his parable:

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
— Luke 15:1-7 [ESV]

Two things that we see:

  1. First, we see the shepherd’s mental willingness to go out and find this lost sheep. If the shepherd does not go out for that one sheep, how unsure would the rest of the flock be knowing that losing one is no big deal? Honestly, it could have been any of the other ninety-nine. The shepherd’s willingness is able to give assurance to the rest of the flock.
  2. Second, we see the shepherd’s physical willingness to bear the burden of this task. Not only is it a journey to find the sheep, but it’s also another quest to bring it back to the flock. The shepherd needs to know that he is able to complete this task, otherwise his life along with the ninety-nine others left in the open may not end with a bliss.

For one, we are the lost sheep and God is the Great Shepherd. We should be encouraged knowing that God is willing to seek us despite our own straying away from Him. It is because of our own instincts, our own desires to fulfill that cause us to move further away from God. He is there, seeking us. Are we willing to accept His efforts? Though it is also a common mindset to equate anything related to shepherding to the pastorate, Jesus seems to encourage the differ. Just like the shepherd who is willing to seek the lost, I also get the feeling that He is commissioning us to go and do likewise. Who else will be there to guide and suggest the lost back into our churches? Let us also be mindful of the possible dangers that a wandering sheep may encounter during their lost journey.

May the Lord entice our hearts for the weary and the lost.

Original post from the author at The Two Cities Blog.