‘But God Mean It For Good’
by Sister Bethany Khng
‘…We regret to inform you that your application to re-join the teaching service is unsuccessful…’
A numb, cold feeling crept in and suffused every part of my body as I held the ‘rejection’ slip limply in my hand. I stared in disbelief at the unexpected bombshell, an impersonal, 2-liner, that threatened to end my 15 years of teaching career. That was in February 1993. Today, I can still vividly recall that feeling of utter despair. It was near to grieving the loss of a loved one or some other hopeless situation, for I could never conceive myself as anything else but a teacher. Teaching was my passion. My sole aim in life is to be a Christian teacher, whom God can use in school, whose presence would make a difference in the lives of my young charges. In fact, the days following my submission of the application form to re-join the teaching service with the MOE, I was full of confidence and optimism about the future. I had painted a rosy picture, viewed through rose-coloured tinted glasses of my own making, of how privileged the pupils would be to have me as their teacher. Mentally, I had geared myself up to return to the teaching service with vigour and renewed enthusiasm after out stint of studies in America. I had a number of great plans in mind for the well-being of my ‘lucky’ students….And now, this rejection slip from the Ministry of Education has come to shatter the ‘castles built in the air’!
Falling on my knees, I literally spread the letter before the Lord and present to Him my ‘case’. I argued with the Lord that surely He would not send us all the way to Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina to ‘waste’ another three years of our lives for nothing. There, the Lord had provided every cent for my school bills through Mom Ayer (Mrs William Ward Ayer) and had enabled me to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts (English) degree with Honours. In His divine wisdom, the Lord did not answer my request – just yet. There was only loving silence from the other side of glory. I had to learn other humbling lessons in the days ahead.
Since we came back to Singapore on 25 December 1992, we had to make some decisions about candidating for a church (which is virtually unheard of in Singapore) or plant a new church ourselves. After much prayer and a few meetings with the pastor and deacons of FIBC, we decided that we would launch out to plant a new independent, Baptist church. It was a period of learning to live by faith, of stretching our dollar and trusting the Lord to supply our growing needs, for the boys schooling and especially for Nathaniel’s crucial need of private Chinese tuition. Partly because of this, Nathaniel’s violin and Joshua’s piano lessons had to be ‘put on hold’. Those were the ‘dark days’ of my life when I had to endure insensitive remarks like ‘There is such a shortage of teachers in Singapore. How come you can’t get a teaching job?’ But God’s way are higher than ours, His thoughts are also higher than ours. Our extremity is His opportunity. He had a better plan for our lives and future. On looking back, I wish I had not ‘tempted’ the Lord so much but had learnt to trust Him more by patiently leaning on the everlasting arms of Jesus. Then, I would not lose sleep ‘for nothing’, then the six months of settling down again in Singapore, would be restful ‘vacation’ untroubled by all these unnecessary misgivings.
Having succumbed to despair for a few days, I decided that enough was enough. I shall do something worthwhile with the training I had received at BJU. Life is not yet over at 40.
With John’s encouragement, I responded to a ‘Classified ad’ as a teaching partner in a tuition centre. As it was a 15-minutes' walk from our home, John accompanied me there. The place was at the Bukit Batok Town Centre across the MRT station. It was a small, cosy little unit of about 600 sq. ft. just above the PIZZA HUT. After talking to the owner-cum-principal Mr Ooi, for a while, John and Ooi realised that they were both course-mates at the Institute of Education many years ago. Nothing about employing me in the tuition centre was mentioned, for the next thing we knew, was John had negotiated a deal to rent the place on Sundays for our new church! That was the exciting beginning of Mount Calvary Baptist Church.
At our first service on 7 March 1993, more than 50 adults and children crammed into the little centre to worship and praise the Lord from Whom all blessings flow….. I was beginning to see why the Lord had closed the door to teaching in a ‘regular’ school. It was to get me out of the rut of a secured, mundane school life with little motivation to try out something different for the Lord.
Two weeks later, again answering another classified ad for teaching post, I met up with the owner-cum-principal of a tuition school, Dennis Ng, at Orchard Road. In this course of the interview, he casually mentioned that he also had a centre at Bukit Batok. To keep the story brief, within one month, Mount Calvary was packing up again to move into the 1,400 sq. ft. spanking new premises, which is only 5 minutes for some of us and S$500/- cheaper than renting the first centre. (For details of the story, please read Pastor Khng’s account.)
Truly, the Lord is good and greatly to be praised, for His mercies endureth forever. He not only showers us with His blessings, but He pours them down till our cup runneth over and we cannot contain them anymore. Two months later, John was offered his previous engineering job at Broadway Enterprises Pte Ltd. He had been away for nine years, when he was pastoring and studying and yet the company was confident enough that he could do the job again. Even before we could consider what the new assignment meant and the changes we would have to make, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) called to offer me a relief teaching job which could become a ‘contract’ one upon satisfactory review of my service. It was an offer difficult to resist as the subjects were English and Literature, my pet subjects in school. Hardly did we have time to consolidate the changes made to our busy schedules, when the Lord added yet another ‘bonus’ to the Khng family – a lovely surprise for the Khngs. Our little girl, Anna Joy, was born on 27 April, 1994, to complete our family and our joy.
On reflection, I now understand that the Lord has guided and led us along this route which we have never been before, to teach us to rely on Him completely. Like Christian in ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ God allowed me to wallow in the slough of despondency for a little while, when I insisted on going my way, until I realised what a mule I have been and cry out for Him for help. Those whom the Lord loves, He chastises and we all have had our share of the rod on our stubborn backs for we were like mules and horses that do not want to be harnessed or bridled. Without the Lord, we can do nothing; with the Lord, nothing is impossible. We can do all things through Christ Who strengtheneth us. (Philippians 4:13). In Anglo-Chinese School, I have had the opportunity to teach Secondary One boys not only my favourite academic subjects but also share with them the Word of God regularly. Thank the Lord for the salvation of Bryan, Quoyi, Lai Kong and Tai Yao and the recess Bible study with the boys every Thursday. It has been a blessing to my heart to see them growing spiritually.
Praise the Lord for seeing Mount Calvary Baptist church through its first year of infancy and teething stage. In fact, these past three years have been wonderful and blessed with many ‘firsts’ and ‘new’ blessings for the Khngs: new church, new jobs, new baby and new house! It would be a wonder if we could not love Him with all our hearts, trust Him and serve Him even more fervently all the days of our lives. Would the Lord continue to spring pleasant surprises, more ‘new’ and ‘first’ along the way? You bet!
(Christ Our Foundation, Church Anniversary Magazine 1)
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