“When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defence and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’ But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.”Acts 7:23-29, NIV.
This is an exceptionally difficult time for me. I knew my calling — to serve in the House of the Lord with all my heart, my soul, and my strength. But it felt like I am called to go… Away from the House I once called Home… Away from full-time Christian ministry in some of the most prominent Christian organisations in the world. I was wrongfully accused of something I did not do. The person who was responsible for whatever that happened texted me explaining that he has explained to the pastor-in-charge that it was his fault, not mine. The people in the departments who were involved in the saga knew that I wasn’t at fault. But amidst all the confusion, some colleagues comforted me by saying, “all they needed was a sacrificial lamb”. It was not an official termination, but an unofficial one. I took a break of a week to quieten myself down while handing things over to people whom I know are not able to handle the job (I didn’t join the organisation for this job in the first place, but I’m doing all I can to support the work of the organisation). And here I am, faced with imminent unemployment from a Christian organisation I loved, amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19. It is both painful and scary at the same time.
But I guess God has a way of turning evil into blessings (ref: Genesis 50:20). After my unofficial termination, many things begin surfacing within the organisation. From unpleasant gossips to office politics. They all seemingly surfaced overnight. As I spoke to the Human Resource Manager regarding the way forward for me, I was made known that the situation has worsened to a point where the entire leadership is in a state of panic. I know, judgment will begin from the house of the Lord (ref: 1 Peter 4:17), but it is painful to watch it slip and slide into the darkness.
I recall my calling. I joined the organisation to be a Bible Researcher. I wanted to explore the manifold wisdom of God from the very best that Singapore has got to offer. I wanted to mingle with top theologians and professors in the region to discuss Christianity and our understanding of God’s Word. But they said that I was not qualified to do so. I do not have a PhD at that time of my application. So they placed me in the least expected place ever, working in a leadership institute, translating documents and testimonials. From there, they decided to branch out and begin a charity that has no religious affiliation so that we can do ministry in China. I was given the opportunity to create a website for it. Long story short, the charity took flight and have gotten the attention of the local government and social service sector. And as for me, I went from a website developer to being overall in charge of almost everything overnight. It was practically a one-man-show… Until God gave me a helpful colleague who supported me.
Many times, I question myself about what I am doing. Am I far from my calling? Then I thought again, I’m serving under a prestigious Christian organisation. I’m meeting pastors from many denominations and I am able to communicate with social service leaders in the field. I am learning. But given my role, I felt… Alone. I have no management to answer to. And if there is anything wrong with the work, I’ll be wholly accountable. And when I raise this up to the HR, she replied, “there is nothing I can do”.
I thought that I am serving God, so I ought to give my best. And I did. But I figure God did not see it that way. Just like young Moses who thought he was serving God by fulfilling his duty to rescue the Israelites, I thought I was serving God by slogging in a job I never intended to do; in a ministry that felt so… Cold.
The storm that was waiting to happen finally happened when a manager from another department asked me for information just like how he has been doing so for the past 1 year. For me, I thought, he must have gotten instructions from the pastor-in-charge just like every other time. So I gave him the information he required and stressed that it is confidential. Unbeknownst to me, he packaged the info in a way I’ve not instructed him to and given it to someone outside of the ministry. So when the pastor-in-charge called me and asked about it, I told him it was the manager who requested from me. That was when he “fired” me.
I praise God for helping me to keep my cool. If the incident were to happen 2 or 3 years ago, I would have slammed table and resigned immediately. But I praise God that I did not do it. A couple of weeks after the incident, I learned that the department who got me into trouble was still doing what they are doing. Within my team, my “supervisors” who basically did not do anything since the founding of the charity, were expressing their annoyance that they have to do the work I used to be doing. And when they got news that I haven’t thought of resigning, they joyfully handed them back to me even though the pastor-in-charge has mentioned explicitly that I should stop work effective immediately.
I mean, I love the Church. I love the organisation that represents the national body of Christ. I love them all. But I really hate to see all of these happening. It pains me to see all of these unfolding at the lowest point in my journey of serving God. The final nail in the coffin came when the pastor-in-charge rejected my proposal to transfer and insisted that “all my work remains the same with added restrictions of no communications to anyone including internal staff regarding matters of the charity”. Deep down, I knew, the time of the Lord has come for me.
With great hesitation, I glanced through universities career pages and noticed that there were recent openings for research positions in the humanities and social sciences departments. Even though I meet all their requirements, it took me a great deal of effort to submit those applications. These will get me closer to my calling. These will take me further in my academic career. But, deep down, I missed the Church. My heart aches for the ministry. But I had to leave.
I do not know how Moses felt when he left the palace for Midian. The Bible did not mention anything regarding Moses’ psychological and emotional status as he fled from the place he knew he must be; away from the people he knew he must save. Stephen told us in Acts 7:23-29 that Moses knew his calling before fleeing to Midian. But what did Moses do? When his life was threatened, he fled to Midian and sat by a well (ref: Exodus 2:15).
The same thing happened to David when he officially fled from the presence of Saul. At the New Moon feast, David was supposed to dine with King Saul. In order to convince Jonathan that King Saul was intending to harm David, David told Jonathan to tell King Saul that he requests permission to go to Bethlehem to make an annual sacrifice. If King Saul permits that, then David would be safe. But if King Saul loses his temper, then Jonathan will know that King Saul was determined to harm him (1 Samuel 20). Even though both David and Jonathan knew that David will one day be king (1 Samuel 23:17), David had to leave the palace for the wilderness.
Though the pastor-in-charge did not try to kill me, there were many things that were done which could have landed me in grave danger. But by God’s grace, God had kept me safe till this day. I know that I will one day be required to return to serve in a Christian setting or to probably head a Christian institution. But I figure I must learn first to let go of the desire to take matters into my own hands and to let God take control. I must learn that the time for me to fulfil my calling has not come and that I must surrender my life to the Lord. I must take a turn into the wilderness and flee for my life. I believe that God, in His sovereignty, may train me to be a better person in the depth of the wilderness. I believe that God, in His sovereignty, is also preparing Canaan for me. Who knows? Their sins may not have reached its full measure (ref: Genesis 15:16).
Who am I to say? I only needed to let go, put my trust in the Lord, and rest in the knowledge that He knows what is best for me. This, I must say, is painfully difficult. So God help me.Image by makunin from Pixabay
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