I was in the midst of completing my diploma in industrial design when I received the call to ministry.
I remember that I entered a furniture competition and got through to the finals. After presenting my work to a panel of judges, I waited for the results at a nearby cafe and grabbed a napkin to scribble down a speech I could deliver in case I won.
But when my pen touched the napkin, this was what I heard instead: “I want to use you in ministry.”
At that point in my life, I was leading cell groups in the youth ministry and had attended a few leadership courses, but I was definitely not thinking about ministry when those words popped into my head. The only thing on my mind was my speech. Where did that voice come from?
Convinced that God was speaking to me, I felt that I needed to get prepared as soon as possible. My next thought was how I wanted to go to Bible school to get trained.
If the Lord were to say “go” at any point in time, I didn’t want to make Him wait. I wanted to be ready. I wanted to be a good steward of the call to ministry.
But reality also hit me after I said “yes” to God: What would it mean if I ended up winning this international competition? This was the kind of opportunity that many people were yearning for as it would give them a head start in their careers.
As it turned out, I was awarded the top prize and had to politely turn down several job offers. But this entire experience also reminded of the lyrics in this timeless hymn:
“I have decided to follow Jesus; no turning back, no turning back.”
While planning my next steps, I admit that I wrestled with thoughts such as: “God is the one who gave you success, why throw it away? Why can’t you work and do ministry at the same time?”
But the Lord spoke to me through 2 Timothy 2:4 where Apostle Paul was encouraging the young Timothy to focus on the call of God upon his life.
“No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
And so after completing Army, I entered Bible school. It was very clear to me: God wanted me to be focused on getting trained up for ministry, so I did not want my attention to be diverted in any way. I just wanted to obey.
The next few years turned out to be a very lonely journey as I had chosen a completely different path from my peers. However, what kept me on track was recalling what happened that day – the point when God called me to ministry. That moment is still very vivid in my mind until this day.
While I answered what seemed like a general call to ministry then, I would have never envisioned that I would be serving God in my current capacity.
I now run my own evangelistic healing ministry that reaches people across Asia, and I am also a lay pastor with the missions department in my home church.
After graduating from Bible college, I spent 3 months in Nepal. It was meant to be a short exposure trip, but it was there that I felt the Lord call me to missions.
Over the last decade or so, the Lord has also cultivated another passion in me: divine healing. What is even more amazing is how He has used this ministry to heal me as well.
When I was growing up, I stuttered badly and this really affected my self-confidence. Even when I joined my church as a missions staff after returning from Nepal, I still could not speak well. This led me to doubt my effectiveness in ministry.
However, at the age of 28, 3 years into full-time work, I started to notice that when I prayed for the sick, people were getting healed. Miraculously, I realised that my stuttering was gone too.
If you hear me preaching now, you would have never guessed that I struggled with stuttering in the past. It was like God flipped a switch and turned it off.
When I responded to the full-time call, I was not inclined to the ministry of divine healing. I was more interested in philosophy, theology and apologetics, and the mental gymnastics that comes with them. But now I thank God for the opportunity to be ministering in this capacity.
Over the last few years, I have had the privilege to minister together with my dad in the region, praying for the sick, preaching in gospel rallies and training local churches.
My dad started his ministry in his late 50s as a healing evangelist and in a short span of 10 years, established a thriving healing ministry across East Asia.
I remember the day when he looked at me and said: “Son, the Lord has blessed me with this ministry, but I can only run it until I am 70 years old at the most.” I knew he hoped I would be able to take over the ministry.
By the grace of God, the Lord has also started to use me in healing others. Many people refer to us as the “father and son ministry”.
One time after a gospel rally, we were told of how people were copying what we did on the stage. Non-Christians started to pray in Jesus’ name and healing happened.
The reputation of Jesus’ name and its power to heal started to spread throughout the village and the people were wondering: “Where can I find Jesus?” So on Sunday, the whole village went to the church.
The church grew in numbers overnight, and that experience really made me realise the impact of what God is doing through the ministry.
My time in missions has also developed me into a person with an evangelistic heart and cross-cultural hands.
I have spent a significant amount of time out in the mission field, including the slum and tribal areas. I have been through situations like bombings, protests and strikes, and often times I am travelling on precarious roads. But what has kept me brave is knowing that I will not die unless God deems that my work on earth is done.
Similar to other ministries, I am still figuring out what ministering in a post-COVID era looks like. For now, I am ministering online at healing services and teaching over Zoom. I am also doing up training videos to be sent to churches and Bible colleges in Singapore and overseas.
However, these are only temporary measures as online options are not able to reach remote areas that do not have internet access. The path ahead is still hazy, so I appreciate your prayers!
I consider it a huge privilege to be called to full-time ministry. In the past, I used to wonder what my life would be like if I did not obey the call.
But when I see the fruit of my ministry now, with so many people being healed and set free from demonic influence, and thousands accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour and being discipled by local churches, I do not look back anymore.
I pray that my journey would encourage you to obey the call of God. Do not give up! God does not always call the equipped, but He equips the called. Do not let anyone make you feel inadequate. God created you to be unique, and He has a wonderful plan for your life.
Matthew Tan, 35, started JHM Ministries (Jesus Heal Me) to be a blessing to the body of Christ. In addition to ministering at healing evangelistic services in Singapore and around the region, Matthew and his team are passionate about raising up ordinary church members to exercise their authority in Christ for the purpose of power evangelism.
- When was the last time you heard God speaking to you? Do you struggle with recognising God’s voice?
- In what area do you need to obey God’s call?
- Is there anything you need to give up to follow Jesus?