My CMA Life During MCO
Posted on 6 May 2020 by Christine Chong
In case you didn’t know, Anna House is one of the rented residential houses for CERC’s female apprentices. Why ‘Anna House’? This name comes from Luke 2:36-38 where it talks about a prophetess, Anna, who was a widow looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. It’s indeed a great inspiration for Anna House girls to live up to – being single-minded at all times in our devotion to the Lord as we are waiting for Jesus’ second coming.
Like many of you, my life has been upended by the Movement Control Order (MCO)! I am sure this must be a heavy decision for the leaders and ministers of our country to make. May God grant them strength and wisdom.
I’m currently staying with 3 other apprentices – Penny, Jay Lyn and Winnie. During the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, apart from our busy schedule, we have had so many of our ‘first times’ together!
First time – Penny and I did a video for #CERCstaysathome series (check it out here) and Anna House live.
First time – I blended Avocado ðŸ¥‘ to make juice and shared it with the girls. Just bought an amazing portable cordless mini blender!
First time – Winnie and I do our work and talk about ministries together in the living room.
First time – Jay Lyn and I cook once in a while. Thank you Joshua Johnson (a member of the church), who came to install a stove for us!
First time – We joined the same meeting with our own laptops in the same space… except Penny, who stayed in her little cozy workspace in her room.
First time – We #insta #story our good times.
First time – We turned Anna House into a production studio to take a Good Friday video.
(The list could go on and on… So I better stop here ðŸ˜…)
Coronavirus.. Why are you here?!
We are all stuck at home! That’s the reality and we can’t do anything about it. This pandemic is so real. It’s a lie to say that ‘nah, life is good!’ when thousands of people have just lost their families and friends, many companies and universities are forced to shut down, some lost their jobs and some are feeling pain and suffering to even breath right now. How can life be good living in the world like this?
“What is going on? Where is the cure?!”
“What is God doing during this coronavirus outbreak?”
The coronavirus pandemic is where we all live. 3.8 million lives are infected and more than 265,000 people have died (numbers might vary according to the date you read this). Life is filled with suffering, whether we like it or not. And if it weren’t the coronavirus, it would be another disaster waiting to recur.
I recently just delivered a talk to a group of campus students on the topic of ‘there is suffering in this life and it’s part of God’s plan’ (click here for the full sermon by Pr Robin Gan). While I was preparing for this talk, I reflected upon the hard truths about life. We, human beings, often have an illusion that we are in control, especially when we earn our first penny, give birth to babies, construct glorious buildings, discover how viruses work and create the right medicine to treat it and etc. However, isn’t this pandemic showing us how small we are? We are not really in control as much as we think we are. We don’t even know which person carries the virus, what is the cure for this disease, when will this end, will he or she overcome this disease or die…. We have no idea at all. This only further proves our limitations and points us to the One who is really in control of all these — who is this?
In the Bible, it shows us that God has supreme control as He is the Creator of all (Genesis 1:1-2:25). He created everything in the world, hence Coronavirus cannot be possibly out of His sovereign control. The world was good and perfect, death did not exist. Life was good under a good God like Him. We can enjoy all the fruits in the garden, and there was no pain nor suffering. Humanity was created to serve, glorify and enjoy God. However, everything turned upside down when human beings thought they knew better and rebelled against God in Genesis 3:1-24. From there onwards, we have chosen to define good and evil on our own terms and run our lives without God – this is called sin. As God is a holy and righteous Being, He cannot not stand sin and evil. Hence, He poured His wrath against humanity and the world (Genesis 3:14-20) and this was the child birth of the world’s pain and suffering.
Sin brought us a great impact! It caused us to be separated from God eternally (Genesis 3:22-24). Our lives became extremely difficult and we all can never find comfort and satisfaction in this world. There are evils, tears and sufferings happening every day. And lastly, no human being can change the fact that we will die. We live in a world where every human being will die one day, most of us thought that it’s just a very normal process of life. Why can’t anyone conquer death if it causes us heart-break? Death is not normal in God’s world. If it were to be normal, why would we mourn and cry when someone passed away? Our tears and sorrowful emotions already informed us that ‘death is no good, we are not supposed to die’, which was the kind of life when God first created the world (Genesis 1-2). Hence, Romans 6.23 profoundly captures that reality of our lives – “the wages of sin is death”.
Do you know what is the bigger and deeper disease than Coronavirus that you have? Yes, as I said earlier, it is SIN – we are all corrupted and dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). This disease did not only cause us physical death, it led us to eternal spiritual death (God’s eternal punishment).
There is no cure to this.
No doctors can ever prescribe a suitable medicine to treat this.
No operation can heal it.
No vaccinations can remove your sins.
None can escape from the wrath of God (Romans 1:18-32) as He is just and righteous. Therefore, none can escape from death.
This is the only cure for coronavirus!
There is one man, unlike us, he was obedient to God perfectly to the point of death (Philippians 2:5-11). Even though he did not deserve death since he was sinless, he was judged on the cross two thousands years ago for the sins of man and he became the only medicine that we need to face God’s wrath and judgment. He is the only hope for Coronavirus, more than that, He is capable of curing the deepest problem that we all have – sin and rebellion. This man is called Jesus Christ!
This is the most unfair judgment in the world, indeed! How could a sinless man be punished by the world’s most cruel judgment? However, it was just because he bore the sins of many! On the tree, he propitiated for the sins of his people (1 John 2:1-6) and satisfied God’s wrath upon these men such that they can be justified before God. More than this, Jesus conquered death! God did not resurrect any one of us, but He resurrected Jesus from the dead (Acts 2:32-38) that those who follow Jesus will not perish, but they will be resurrected again after life (Romans 6:5-11). Hence, Jesus Christ – the Lord and Messiah – is the only hope that we need to cling onto in our lives.
This is the profound plan of God! This is how God restores fallen human beings and re-establishes His Kingdom, to bring Him the glory that He deserves. If you’d like to know more, feel free to join me every Sunday as CERC is currently going through this series this year – “God’s Story”!
As I reflected upon this, I have been amazed by the sovereignty, mercy and grace of God! Who can be like Him? To tolerate thousands of years of human sin and rebellion (Romans 9:22-23), showing us the problems that He had with us through all pains and sufferings in this world, that we will look upon Him and repent from our sins. The greatest hope can only be found in Jesus Christ, not in the vaccinations that may prevent coronavirus!
It is in this hope that I gave up my comfortable life and dreams, and signed up for the Church Ministry Apprenticeship (CMA) programme. Same goes to the apprentices in CERC and many other future apprentices who are lining up for this programme.
Church is impacted by this too!
This pandemic is so dangerous and destructive that even church gatherings are threatened today. However, we believe that God is still in sovereign control!
Besides this, I have been very grateful to God for His wonderful provision! Even though we cannot meet each other physically today, technology enables us to still meet and edify one another. Not only that, we have gained more opportunities to reach out to more people who would not have come to our church physically.
Some of you might be curious about — how is a full time church worker’s life going to be like? Initially I thought that the amount of my work would be less due to COVID-19 and I can spend more time catching up with my readings. Well, that seems like it’s just a dream ðŸ˜‚ Life goes on as usual for a CMA! COVID-19 has just zoomed everything into ‘ZOOM’, an online video communication platform.
Honestly speaking, from the first second I opened my eyes until the last second I closed my eyes in a day, I have been looking at screens. Can you resonate with me? I believe this is the same for many of you today too! When your eyes feel tired, you can either look at green plants for a while, do some exercises or yoga (like Penny), apply eye drops, get yourself relaxed while working hard in life ðŸ’ªðŸ½ Take care of yourself!
So… how’s my schedule like during this pandemic as a CMA?
Note: My schedule varies every week according to the responsibility that I have on hand. This is only one of my many weeks. Heidelberg Catechism Question 1
Even though it might look packed for some, I truly find joy in being able to dedicate my time and energy in serving the Lord in this way. Being able to read the Bible with people, training and seeing improvements, challenging people about the meaning of life, seeing how unworthy I am to handle most of the responsibilities, constantly reflecting myself and fixing my eyes upon the Lord. More than that, the comfort is knowing that these works are not going in vain and have eternal values. Reminds me of what I learnt in Heidelberg Catechism.
Q: What is your only comfort in life and death?
A: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.
Heidelberg Catechism Question 1
MCO hacks: How can you stay “saint” during MCO?
If you ask me, how can you spend your time effectively for God and stay ‘saint’ during this MCO period, here are some tips for you!
Tips #1: Exercise at home!
Exercise improves our mental health and mood, and keeps our thinking and learning sharp. You need a healthy body to serve Jesus better!
Tips #2: Catch up on good books
Reading one good book is better than reading a hundred bad books.
What is on my list now?
1. According to Plan (Graeme Goldsworthy)
2. God’s Word Alone (Matthew Barrett)
3. Salvation Belongs to the Lord (John Frame)
4. Leading Better Bible Studies (Karen & Rod Morris)
5. The Unquenchable Flame (Michael Reeves)
6. Married for God (Christopher Ash)
And many more! You can talk to me if you’d like to know more. I just couldn’t list all of them here.
Tips #3: Read good articles
Starting our day with a small bite-sized article helps to freshen up our day!
Tips #4: Listen to good online sermons
Good sermons that preach the Word of God faithfully help to renew our minds and get the reality of life.
Tips #5: Do not skip Growth Group and church!
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Tips #6: Arrange for a hangout or study the Word online to encourage each other!
Watch a good movie, read an article, chit chats, exercise together online – with the aim of keeping each other “saint” during MCO. Why not? ðŸ˜„
Take care everyone!
What is the first thing you wish to do after the MCO is lifted? Winnie asked me this question and it got me stuck for a while. Come to think of it, I really can’t wait to meet up physically with PEOPLE. Even though it saves up a lot of my time and money on travelling, it feels so different to when we meet, discuss and read the Bible together online.
Keep persevering, guys! Hope this article can encourage you and remember to fix our eyes on God. Looking forward to seeing you soon!