Youth in Focus

Encounters with God: He is real

Dec 2009    

I AM JILL KOH, 17, a Year 1 student in Catholic Junior College. I serve in the Youth Ministry of Trinity Methodist Church (TMC) as a youth group leader as well as a drummer in the youth worship team. This year, I will also be leading a group of youths to Cambodia for our annual youth mission trip. I enjoy playing tennis and photography.

I have been attending church faithfully every Sunday for as long as I can remember – following my parents to church, playing with toddlers who were of the same age and then slowly progressing on to the Primary section and on to the Youth Ministry. It did not occur to me then that there was a God – I knew God was a man whom we gave thanks to before our meals, a man whom we could always rely on when we needed a new toy. But, He was not someone I was ready to live for, serve for, and die for.

Christian living is something we all struggle with. I am no exception. More often than not, we assume the religion that our parents have brought us up in, thinking that it is the right one. I am guilty of doing so, but after TMC Youth Ministry’s Encounter Retreat 2009 in June, I firmly believe this is the ultimate one.

Youth retreats would always be different from Youth camps because they enable us, as a ministry, to review our lifestyles, renew our faith and rededicate our lives to Jesus Christ. And it happened – right before my very eyes, chains were broken, lives healed, eyes opened, a new ministry in the making!

Encounter, as the name suggests, was a time for us to encounter God through various means. For example, we had Encounter Outside, where we headed to Contact 123 (a place where TMC’s youth does its ministry in the community), Sunrise Encounter, where we watched the sunrise at East Coast Park, and Encounter Him, a time of refreshing led by Pastor Bernard.

Encounter had impressed upon me many attributes of God, He as our Refuge, our Deliverer and our Peace. However, it was here at Encounter where I truly felt God’s presence and immediately knew that my religion is real, living and powerful. The Holy Spirit came down so strongly upon the youth on June 14, 2009 at 10 am. (I had to mark it down). It was something I am unable to explain, something so powerful and awesome. We were kneeling, we were crying out to God, we were yearning for Him. We all broke down, one by one, and this time, I knew bonds were being broken and new lives were in the making. That was the culmination of our deep desire to surrender our lives, and the ministry to God. I surrendered everything to God, my life, my dreams, my hopes and my fears.

I can truly say that God is real and He has opened the eyes of my heart to see him. Discovering God for myself is an experience I would never forget because I now understand this personal relationship I share with Him and would want to make a conscious effort to get to know Him better and to grow deeper in love with Him. I want to be different, I don’t want to conform, and I only want to live for Him.

You’ll come,
Let Your glory fall as You respond to us.
Spirit reign,
Flood into our thirsty hearts again,
You’ll come, You’ll come.

– Hillsong, You’ll Come

Testing times: What they are all about

WHENEVER YOU FIND YOURSELF going through times of testing, there is always a reason … a very good reason … In fact, there are several reasons. Testing times are to:

UNCOVER something: When God allows pressures and trials, it is so that you might uncover something in your life He wants to deal with. Hardships reveal areas of weakness and vulnerability. God wants to strengthen us in those very areas, and better equip us not only to stand strong in the storms ourselves, but also to be a shelter for others.

RECOVER something: God allows us to be tested so that we might recover something we have lost over the months and years. Perhaps it is our delight in the Word of God, a habit of daily prayer, or the delight of regular fellowship with those of like-minded faith.

DISCOVER something: Even though it is a test you may not like or enjoy, you discover that He is your God, you are His child, and that He loves you. He will care for you and see you through. People talk about this trial and that trial, this test and that test. People will say, “Pray for me, I am going through a trial in my marriage” (or in my job or in my finances or in my relationships at home). But in reality, those are not the things being tested at all. What is being tested is our faith, whether we will really trust Him to work in and through our circumstances.

When the heat is on … when the shadows fall … when disappointment rips through my heart … am I going to trust Him? Am I going to wait on Him, worship Him, and give my anxieties to Him? Or am I going to turn away from Him in my doubt and discouragement? – KneEmail

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