Bro. S. C. SOONG
5 May 2002
Commercials. But there is a big difference between singing and praising. Singing is just from our mouth. Praising is from your heart. We can even sing Christian songs until we're blue in the face, but if it's not from our heart, it's not praise. For singing to become praise, we have to have the right attitude. We have to think happy thoughts about Jesus' love, and we have to be thankful to God. Then our songs won't come just from our lips, they'll come from our heart. And every song we sing will be a praise song! Saints of God are not public performer-entertainers but true-worshippers of the One True God. Singing with our mouth is not praise. Praise is singing with love.
Psalm 40:5: "Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto Thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered."
Dear reader, with due respect and the love of God in my heart, I shall remind myself always that any testimony shared here is useless, unless the Word of God backs it up.
My life as a Christian for the past 14 years (1988 - 2002) were filled with joys, sadness, fear, doubts, happiness, sorrows, victories, frustrations, encouragement, discouragement, pleasant surprises, delights, misunderstandings and most significant for me is the purpose of living.
I was brought up in a typical Chinese family, in a small town, Seremban in Peninsular Malaysia. My father drove a school bus for a living, while my mother was a housewife who faithfully cared for her family. My siblings of four brothers and a younger sister were nurtured and taught the traditional ways of ancestral worship with a mixture of Taoism. Respect for elders and filial piety towards one's living parents were expected. Greeting our parents before we left home; after we returned from schools and outings; and even before we began eating our meals were common practices.
During my primary schooldays, a Christian classmate invited me to her church service. I did not have any deep impression of what was going on then. That was the only one time visit to any Christian service I had.
My parents did not hold a tight rein on the childrenís social life. They trusted their children to exercise wisdom, such as in the type of company we kept. I was an easy-going jovial guy, proud to always claim "I am a free-thinker", not really knowing what it meant, anyway.
Just following the trend
In 1982, at the age 19, I was offered an apprenticeship scheme in aircraft maintenance in Singapore. During my first year, my eldest paternal uncle accommodated me in his family's 3-rooms apartment flat. He worked as a taxi driver. Life styles and social interactions here (in Singapore) were entirely different from my hometown. Every one seemed very busy with personal careers and lives. For family members to have dinner together was a rare thing except during the Chinese Lunar New Year. During such festivities all my cousins, nephews and nieces will meet for re-union meals to catch-up and to update each other on our "well-being", progress or achievements in life, etc.
Living in the atmosphere of an affluent and prospering society, I was caught up with many ideas and aspirations to get rich quick (monetary wise). The salary as an aircraft maintenance technician did not look attractive to me any more. Through a colleague, I joined a social "jog-cum-drinking" club (called Seletar Hash House Harriers). Here, I befriended a wide spectrum of people. There were those with professional status: doctors, bankers, musicians, engineers, lawyers, teachers besides soldiers, salesmen, drunkards and the unemployed. Such club is found all around the world. Once a week, the members would rendezvous at a place to play games and have some fun. Almost always there was a van around with a free flow of beer and other drinks. Fun was always song-singing mixed with vulgarity and drunken shouting. Such a stupored state would continue till the wee hours of the morning. Here, I experienced the "Lifestyle of the (frustrated) Rich and Not-So-Famous" people.
A year after I moved to share a one-room apartment flat with two colleagues. I was free from cares to enjoy the "bachelors' club" independent lifestyle, or so I thought. I never give much thought to wisdom, virtues or the things of God. I just follow the trends. I took up body building, aspired to be the Asian "Mr. World" some day. I even trained to be Mr. Ironman (Triathlon) of Singapore. Triathlon is a sports competition in which competitors swim 2.5km, cycle 10km, and run 5km. I joined the Youth Adventurer group and canoed around Singapore Island. Scaling the highest peak in West Malaysia, "Gunung Tahan" (Mountain Tahan), I was stung by hornets and nearly died there.
But life went on just the same. On every Chinese festive day, I would help my second uncle, a Taoist priest, at a temple. Devotees would offer chickens, goats or pigs as their worship sacrifices of thanksgivings. The blood of the slaughtered animals was offered on the altar, while their carcasses were cooked and served to worshippers. My parents, aunts and uncles considered me to be a faithful and filial son.
In March, 1988 during a party in a Christian colleague's home, I spotted a "Good News" Bible in his book shelves. (This friend never witnessed to me about Christ.) With his permission I borrowed the Bible and began spending a lot of time on it. I even tried to draw out the family tree of mankind based on the book of Genesis but I was stumbled by the many similar names. Anyone trying to self-educate himself on "what the Bible is all about" will find that it is not an easy task. I started to ask some questions about Christianity among my Catholic colleagues, but the answers given did not satisfy my soul. I would write down any question I had as I read along. I did not go to any church meetings.
One morning, I saw an advertisement in the local newspaper about a Christian Gospel meeting. At the meeting I witnessed a film show "The Deep Calleth to The Deep", heard the preaching of the Word, sung some Gospel songs, and returned home with some free booklets and tracts. Somehow after reading the tracts, 'The Ecumenical Movements' and 'Water-baptism in Jesus Name', the thirst to inquire for answers grew. I called up the preacher and had a discussion with him.
The following month, April 1988, I attended one of the home fellowship with an Indian colleague of mine. There, I was converted to the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, but my colleague was skeptical. After my second church service I was water baptised by the pastor. Since then, I have experienced joy and inner peace, even though I went through a lot of trials and testing for this new found faith in Christ.
Initially, my parents and siblings did not welcome my conversion. Through the years the Lord has blessed me, and by and by, they reluctantly began to 'accept' "a Christian" among the family.
I thank God for the small local fellowship of faithful believers here, from whom I have learned and grown in the grace and knowledge of God.
In 1992, January 31, I married a believing sister, Chai Yen Hoong. Her background was quite similar to mine. During our courtship, we spent a lot of time in Bible studies and prayers. Through God's grace and mercies, I won her to the Lord Jesus Christ (and to myself, too.J) Praise God! Our honeymoon tour to Penang and Langkawi islands was a sweet memory to us because we had brothers and sisters-in-Christ accompany us. I was 29, while she was 28, then. We experienced many trials and other 'young couples' crisis. Through them all, God kept us. God's Name be praised for His wisdom and guidance. We are now living in a three-room apartment.
In 1993, October 8th, God blessed our marriage with a son. I am grateful for the assistance provided by Bro. Patrick Tay and my cousin-sister, Chee See Yin, during the birth of my son. My wife and I named our son, Abraham Soong Jia En. We learned to trust God in all things as we shared our lives together. There were many occasions God healed and delivered our young child from sickness as we laid hands on him and prayed. God is good; our small family is much blessed through the help, encouragement and constant prayers from the local fellowship. God is real.
Trip to New Delhi, India
From 9 - 16 Oct.1996, God granted us the opportunity to travel with our pastor, Richard Gan, to New Delhi, India. Believers from different parts of India attended the convention. During one of the preaching sessions, a commotion started at the back of the meeting hall. Several brothers were engaged in a spiritual warfare with the devil who, through a man, was trying to disrupt Bro. Ganís preaching. They were holding the man, and rebuking the evil influences and praying to God for deliverance. God's power triumphed and the preaching of the Word of God resumed. The saints' faces were radiant with joy in sharing life testimonies, songs of praises and learning the truth.
Trip to Manila and Calbayog, Phillipines
Between 7-21 April, 1998, God granted another opportunity for us, to attend Christian conventions in the Philippines with our pastor and his daughter, sister Zoe Gan. The fervency and zeal to serve the Lord faithfully among the saints there inspired me to desire a closer walk with the Lord. Material poverty and hardship could not prevent many of the believers, from the different parts of the Philippine Islands, to travel miles just to hear and learn the truth of God's Word and fellowships. Just a few days in Manila, Sis. Zoe became very sick, which forced Bro. Gan to think about continuing the trip to Calbayog City after the convention in Manila or to send her daughter home. But faith triumphed in Christís Word. Zoe was healed. There was a couple who desired to have a child after several years of marriage. They requested Bro. Gan to pray for them. Again God proved His faithfulness. In 1999 we rejoiced with them for the birth of their first son! Praise God! The youth and 'young-adults' believers just love to sing songs of praises to the Lord. "The joy of the Lord is our strength' is real for them.
"Praise from the Heart"
Singing has been around for thousands of years. Birds sing. Recording artists/"rock stars" sing. Even soap bubbles and fruits (cartoon animations) sing on TV
Music does not belong to the Devil, but to Christ. Satan has indeed stolen the hearts of musicians and their gift of music to use for his evil purpose. Music was given to worship the LORD GOD, but Satan has turned it for self-worship, which is the reason people tend to worship musicians. But true worship and true music belong to Jesus Christ. They are given to His Church to serve Him with. The anointed musicians of the Lord will draw attention to Christ alone and give Him all the glory. I believe in the role of intercessory prayer to help the Church get past the barricades of legalism, and open the gifts of God for reaching the lost with the message of Christ.
Now, allow me to extend to you a prayer that God will capture your heart and bring you into full devotion to Christ Jesus. That your passion for music will be equaled by your love for the lost souls. I pray that you will receive an anointing from God to minister with artistic creativity that is so compelling in its quality and in its message -- that more unbelievers who are lost in darkness will see the light and turn to Jesus to be cleansed and born again.
[Christ's Bride was preparing as she began to sing
Praise and hallelujahs to Jesus Christ her King
Praise and adoration rose up to God on high
Changed to be like Jesus, she met Him in the sky.]
"Who author the fear of God in your heart?"
Isaiah 29:13: "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:"
Where do you place your heart? And to whom does your heart surrender to? Who authors "the fear toward the Lord" in your heart? Men or the Spirit of the Lord? Through God's grace, I have attended some fellowships among people who claimed to follow the Message preached by Bro. Branham. But their confessions are opposed to his cry of "Back to God's house! Back to God's Word! Back to God's work! Back to God's grace!" Amid all the hypocrisy of the day there are those in the grace of God (a chosen Bride) who fear God and are faithful. The fear of God in their hearts is authored by the Lord Himself, not "fear toward God that is taught by the precept of men".
I am not using my life experiences to understand the Bible, but my common Bible wisdom to understand my life. I like to conclude simply that life's journey takes strength. I thank God for His promise to grant the strength in His Son, Christ Jesus, my Saviour, my Lord and Master.
Jesus told his disciples, "Leave your old ways and follow me." I thank God daily for the local fellowship of believers, and the opportunity to meet other pilgrims who have given me the leisure to reflect on this life journey, slowly and with humour, sharing testimonies and learning from one another. In the course of our "faith journey", we make observations and discoveries. And we carry our hope. Journeys all require hope because anger and bitterness won't get us very far. Hope is the essence of the Christian life because the Christian life is essentially prospective, forward looking, a venturing into the "home beyond". Hope, like faith and love is dynamic, a quality of living that ceaselessly moves in the patterns of our lives. Hope in the future, as written in the Word of God, is one of the many things we share.
Humbly I shall end my testimony with this thought for you, my dear reader: "God gives us life to magnify Christ. One thing for sure; when we are not magnifying Christ, we are magnifying our own life, and all in life are vanities, without Christ." Let's worship God, study the 'fineprints of the blueprint of God' (the Bible) and celebrate together, dear brothers and sisters.
With love and light,
Bro. Soong S. C.