Somehow, in an unplanned (though perhaps divine) coincidence, half of our interns this summer season are members of HOPE Singapore.
That’s how they’re able to share their top takeaways from Hope Conference 2023: Hearts On Fire, which took place over this weekend at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Let’s jump right in!
TESSA TIN (20): Eternity matters. People matter. People’s eternity matter.
When I entered Hope Conference 2023, there was a sense of anticipation and expectancy that God would meet me, but how He met me was something I could never expect.
In my previous semester, I was challenged by God to use my exchange programme for Him. I was hesitant, but I obeyed and God gave me a country to go to for my exchange programme.
But, as the months progressed, I complained to God: “Why can’t I spend my exchange like others?”
I was bothered by the fact that my friends got to go to faraway European countries to build their portfolios and travel.
I was hesitant to do missions in the country as I longed to be able to enjoy my exchange and not do the “dirty work” of missions. I even thought of withdrawing my application and applying to another country in the next academic year.
However, during one of the sessions where evangelist Daniel Kolenda preached, God really shook my heart.
Kolenda spoke about the passivity of the tribes of Reuben, Dan and Asher in Judges 5:12-18 when Deborah had called the tribes of Israel to action.
The tribe of Reuben reflected one’s heart of passivity, of not wanting to be involved in the battle for God’s kingdom.
The tribe of Dan reflected one’s heart for the world, one that prioritised the treasures of the earth and ignored God’s call to invest in His kingdom.
The tribe of Asher reflected one’s heart for comfort, a heart that was unwilling to give up the comforts of the world in order to fight for God.
In contrast, the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali immediately responded and rushed to the battlefield after hearing God’s call. These tribes showed what it meant to go into the battlefield for God and fulfil His mission for their lives.
As I heard about the first three tribes, the Spirit stirred within me a sense of discomfort as to how I was living my life and how I planned to live my life – on the sidelines for God’s mission.
I was truly shaken. Even before the minister called for the congregation to respond, I knew that I had to repent.
I had to run to God’s altar and repent, to tell Him that I want to fight for what matters, I need to run to the battlefield and stop living my life passively.
In light of eternity, everything else fades away.
I was instantly reminded of a quote by C.S. Lewis: “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
I prayed and told God: “Yes Lord, I’ll say yes. But, I’m so scared…”
At that moment, I felt God say to me: “I am with you.”
I couldn’t stop tearing up. I knew I couldn’t stay on the sidelines chasing after the world anymore. So, when my pastor called for a response to go to the front and kneel before God, I immediately got out of my seat and went towards the front.
As I walked down, tears streamed down my face uncontrollably. I give You my youth, I give You my all. This was my heart’s cry.
God met me where I was, He provided me with an image of a bride and bridegroom at the altar during their wedding.
The image of the wedding was so intimate, it was so beautiful. The companionship, reliance and intimacy in the wedding image assured me that God is partnering with me as I choose to give Him my life. I couldn’t help but to say yes to Him.
Eternity matters. People matter. People’s eternity matter.
The conference has just ended and I still don’t know what is in store for my life. But I know that moment is marked in eternity forever. I can’t live my life in the same way anymore.
My heart broke for the lost; my heart broke that I didn’t put God first; my heart broke knowing that so many people in the world do not have the hope and love I have from Jesus.
Eternity matters. People matter. People’s eternity matter. We cannot sit on the sidelines in arrogance, comfort and selfishness anymore.
God has a mission for us, and I want to serve in this battle (Matthew 28:18-20) — a battle to let His love be known!
LIM WOON KAH (19): Be convicted, not condemned.
Entering the Conference, I had been anticipating God to move powerfully in the hearts of every single person present.
God is going to move, I told my friends, it just depended on how He would do so.
Yet session after session, I asked God to give me an encounter, a word, a vision — anything. And session after session, God remained silent.
Am I doing something wrong? Am I too distracted? Is my faith too little? Why is God passing me by?
During the last session, Pastor Michael gave a word to those who “think that the Lord has forgotten them”.
It was meant to be encouraging. Pastor Michael said: “The Lord wants you to hear this: God knows your name… and He wants to fill your heart with His perfect love once again.”
But my mind was flooded with intrusive thoughts. It’s because you’re unfaithful. You’re useless and hopeless. You’re not even worthy of a word. There’s no point. God is angry at you, and He has forsaken you.
I know that God is ever with me, but at that moment those thoughts felt so real. I left the conference feeling useless and hopeless, just like the Devil wanted me to.
I had allowed Satan to mess with my thoughts and insecurities, and I was deceived into thinking that God has left me. It was a dangerous thing that I had allowed: to be condemned instead of convicted of my sin.
In hindsight and on reflection, I was wrong — God actually did speak to me. I had even written it down; words and convictions that I felt God was giving to me during one of the sessions.
It was a stirring rebuke about my lack of desire for God’s Word, my reluctance to surrender, my laziness and my unwillingness to take God seriously.
It was all true. Prior to the conference, my life group fasted for a month to prepare our hearts. I had been unfaithful with my fast, and would break it easily.
This was but one of the many things I was unfaithful with. I just didn’t take God seriously.
God was rebuking me, so that I would learn to obey Him in the small things; He brought me to Luke 16:10: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
But Song of Solomon 2:15 tells us that it is “the little foxes that spoil the vineyards.” Little areas of our life feel so minuscule and unimportant. It’s easy to dismiss these things as inconsequential, if not petty, in the grand scope of things. Undoubtedly, following God’s ways is certainly about obedience in bigger things, but it is also about choosing to submit to his will in the little details.
… it is not primarily about the magnitude of the sin, it is about the magnitude of the Savior.”
God has challenged me to take Him seriously, and be faithful with the little things.
I know now that God hasn’t forsaken me. While the conference has ended, God’s work is only just beginning in me!
DAWSON NG (23): The greatest thing I could do with my life is to serve God.
The theme of Hope Conference 2023 was “Hearts On Fire”.
Mine isn’t. And I’m not sure if I want it to. These were my honest thoughts about the theme, in the days leading up to the conference.
I had recently stepped down from my role as a cell group leader. Even though it was an intentional decision to focus on growing in God, I struggled to let go of this past season.
I still felt an enormous sadness whenever I thought about it. I felt like I had been disqualified from serving God, and I somehow felt like I could no longer be a part of the Great Commission.
Knowing my church’s emphasis on evangelism and looking at the theme, I knew that the Great Commission would definitely be one of the key messages in this conference.
And thinking about that scared me as I felt like that would have nothing to do with me.
Truth be told, I even feared that God would speak to me because I didn’t know how to make sense of any convictions or burdens that He would drop in my heart.
I didn’t want God to give me any godly dreams or callings as I felt like I had become useless in His Kingdom.
However, in this conference, God revealed to me that these struggles came from my pride and a lack of trust.
I was too fixated on the form of my serving. And I was too caught up with how I wanted my path in ministry to look like.
Hence, when ministry seemed to have gone in a different direction, I no longer trusted that God would still use me. And I doubted His heart for me.
These realisations broke me. Because of my pride and distrust towards God, I had become closed off to sharing in God’s heart for His people.
As my perspectives were tainted, I had also taken other opportunities to serve God for granted.
While I got the privilege of writing here at Thir.st, I struggled to fully embrace my role because it didn’t fit my ideal of serving God.
I had despised my portion in the Kingdom and my assignment in this season.
I repented. I felt so silly that I rejected God’s heart because I couldn’t trust that He would know how to minister to me and lead me even in this season.
I prayed for God to show me His heart for His people and for the lost. I prayed for God to use my life however He pleases.
And I responded to Him: “I want to be counted in for the Great Commission, whenever and however that looks like.”
Even if it means refinement before being released, even if it means a season of waiting before the calling, even if it means simply being faithful with my assignment in every season – I want to serve You, Lord.
The greatest thing I could do with my life, is to serve You.