Last Saturday (Oct 15th) Bernice and I were privileged to be at an event that celebrated Rev Dr Daniel Chua's 65th birthday. Graceworks was also privileged to help put together the Festschrift to honour him and I had the further privilege to contribute an essay to that. I first met Daniel in 1986. (I remember because there was a World Cup that year.) I was pastoring my first church, my home church in Penang, and someone asked me to meet him to see if I could get him on staff. I really wanted to. Here was a gifted pastor and we complemented each other in many ways. But things didn't work out. I was really disappointed.
Looking back, I am glad. Daniel went on to be the lead pastor of Mt Carmel Bible Presbyterian Church. I was a bit sad because I felt the pastoral needs in Malaysia were dire and we had lost another one to Singapore. God has a sense of humour of course. I am now based in Singapore though I remain a Malaysian and plan to move back at some point.
Daniel went on to lead Mt Carmel into years of significant growth, his life's work in so many ways. Carmel BD (before Daniel) and AD (after Daniel) is very different. Of course Daniel is not perfect. None of us are. But serving as a pastor means our weaknesses and lapses are more evident. But he was faithful and continues to be faithful as he transits from his role in the church to focus on missions and the teaching and mentoring of pastors.
I was humbled to trust God more in His geographical placements because the fact that Daniel pastored a key church in Singapore was of crucial help to me. When I came down to Singapore in 2007, it was a time when many doors of ministry were closed to me because of my divorce and remarriage. This was especially so in Malaysia and I wasn't sure how I would be received in church circles in Singapore. Daniel reached out to me and invited me to do some training for his leaders. I don't know if there was any murmuring among his leaders, but the affirmation and trust meant a lot to me. This began my relationship with the church and friendships with many of their members. I went on to be invited to preach, lead training, and speak at their church camps. And Daniel could help do all this because he obeyed God's call to pastor Mt Carmel. The passing of time gives more evidence that God knows what He is up to and that we ought to trust Him.
Hard to believe we have known each other for 37 years now. We have walked together through the ups and downs of life. So thank you Daniel, for your obedience to God's leading and the gift of your friendship. Let's spur one another on to give as many ministry encores as God wills.