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Contemporary Issues
"The Call of Christ"
by Rev James Chan
(a message preached at the Sunset Gospel Hour
at Calvary (Pandan) on 27 May 2001)
The Call of Christ to Salvation

I was brought up in a Christian home. That does not make me a Christian, for I was converted at the age of 18.

After my conversion, I became zealous in serving the Lord. I was active in the Sunday school, and also in the Gospel work both at Jurong Bible-Presbyterian Church and at Hume Heights Gospel Centre.

Prior to the divine call to fulltime service, I was working at an auto parts company.

My ambition at that time was high. I wanted to be like my colleague who worked for a few years, mastered the skill of trade and then started his own business. Of course, such ambition was only a dream.

Call to Fulltime Service

n 1963, the Lord called me to fulltime service. At that time, I did not know that to be a pastor or missionary, one must be called by God.

Neither did I know how God calls a person.
Was it through a dream as in the case of Joseph? (Gen 37).
Was it through a vision as God did to Isaiah? (Isa 6).
Would it be like Samuel whom the Lord called just before he was fast asleep?

However, I believe that when the Lord calls a person, He knows how to communicate to that person of His desire.

His call came to me one morning, while I was having my devotion. The Lord spoke to me through His Word, to forsake all and follow Him.

At first, I was unwilling to obey the call and responded by saying, "I could not leave my career now, because my parents needed my support".

The reply from the Lord was, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me" (Mat 10:37).

As I resisted, a heavy burden came upon me, and my heart was troubled. The call came again, and the more I resisted, the heavier the burden became.

During this period of inner struggle, the Lord enabled me to join the First International Christian Youth Camp in 1963 at Tanah Merah. I responded to the Missionary challenge, and surrendered myself to Him for fulltime service.

In September of that year, I decided to join the Far Eastern Bible College. I prayed to God about this matter. I confided with the principal, Rev Timothy Tow my testimony of Godís calling and also my inadequacy. He then showed me 1 Cor 1:26Ė27:

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.

After I had read these two verses, I realised that God could use anyone who is willing to commit himself to Him.

In my heart I prayed, "Lord, I know that you have called me to fulltime service and I thank you for the promise which I have read from thy Word. I believe that you who have called me would enable me to study at the Bible College."

Studies in FEBC

During my first year of study, I had to struggle very hard. However, as time passed the lectures became easier and I began to enjoy every subject taught.

While studying at the Bible College, I have had privileges of visiting many towns and villages in Malaysia with the Principal who was also my pastor.

I discovered that many churches in Malaysia are without shepherds and most of the sheep have gone astray. Besides, there are many villages where the Gospel has never been preached.

I prayed: "Lord, if you want me to be in any of these places, I am willing to go."

After four years of theological studies at FEBC, I graduated in 1967.

Services for the Lord

Kelapa Sawit:

My first appointment was to serve at Kelapa Sawit Christian Church in Kulai, Johore. It was a dead church with a dozen children in the Sunday School and about 10 worshippers. Most of the worshippers were farmers. They sent a representative to the Worship Service, the rest of them would go to work, even on Sundays.

I concentrated my work on the children. By Godís grace, the work was blessed by the Lord and the attendance grew from a dozen to a hundred and above. As a result, the adult members of the church were greatly encouraged and revived. The Worship Service attendance also grew from about ten to sixty.

At this time, we stared to look for a land to build a church. We found a piece of land which was allocated for religious use. After I left the church, the land was purchased and the church built.

I served Kelapa Sawit for about three years.

Calvary Bible-Presbyterian Church and Thailand Missions:

In 1971, I was called to serve in Jurong and in 1974, the Lord called me again to Thailand. At that time, I knew nothing about Thailand. The Lord gave me a burden to go to Thailand. I did not know the reason then.

I went with brother Michael Lim to South Thailand to visit the OMF hospital at Saiburi. Before arriving there, news came that the hospital was attacked by the bandits and they demanded a million dollars. I was troubled and asked the Lord for direction. During the night, Psalm 23:4 kept ringing in my mind, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me". With this assurance from the Lord, we went to Saiburi. Thank God everything was fine. The villagers pleaded with the bandits not to disturb the hospital and they withdrew their demand.

We were there for a few days, witnessing to the patients. On the day just before we left from Pattani to visit a clinic, the OMF missionary requested me to give a morning message through the radio. I did.

As we were preparing to leave, news came that two OMF missionaries from Pattani had been captured at gunpoint by guerrillas in the morning. I was shocked. I do not know what would happen if we were there. Thank God for a safe trip to Thailand. I did not want to think of going to Thailand again.

In 1976, the call came again during the Worship Service. The Lord spoke to me through the message and the Scripture verse on the wall behind the pulpit, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel" (Mk 16:15).

The word "Go ye" kept ringing in my mind. I was very troubled and afraid to go to Thailand. As I turned my head to the right of the pillar, where the piano is, the Lord spoke again through His Word on the cardboard which was placed against the pillar, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps 46:10a).

When the Service was over, the Lord spoke to me yet again from His Word on the wall at the entrance of the sanctuary, "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only" (Jas 1:22a). I surrendered and submitted to the Lord.

This time, I went to Bangkok, seeking the will of God concerning my area of service.

I had the opportunity to preach at a few churches. One of the pastors recommended me to go to Maesai. With his recommendation letter, I went there without knowing anyone.

On arrival, I asked a stranger for directions to the church. The stranger showed me the directions and revealed his identity that he was the pastor of that church.

I was so glad and I handed him the letter of recommendation. He read and apologised that he had to attend to some important matters, and would be away for a few days. He could not entertain me.

I was very disappointed. At that time, a young man who heard our conversation said to me, "There is an older pastor around here, do you want to see him?" I answered, "Yes."

I met up with the pastor who invited me to help him. He said he had been praying for a helper for the past two years.

I did not promise him anything. That night, the Lord spoke to me again, He wants me to help the pastor.

I was troubled because Maesai was at the border of Burma, where there are a lot of illegal activities at night. It was a dangerous place to stay.

I refused to accept the calling.

The Lord questioned me, "Didnít you sing ó Wherever He leads Iíll go (Hymn 416)". I finally surrendered myself to the Lord to help this old pastor.

This pastor had been praying for a helper since 1974. The Lord called me but I went to the wrong place. Now I know that it is His will to help this pastor.


Lessons learnt from my callings:

When the Lord calls you, He will make it known to you. You will know His calling.

When the Lord calls you, He will also lead and provide for you.

What you need to do is to submit and obey or else you will not have peace in your heart.

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