Prior to joining the International Lutheran Seafarers’ Mission (ILSM) I had been an oil trader and had worked in the oil and gas industry for more than twenty years. Before that I had spent about five years in the shipping industry, particularly in the container trade. Oil and shipping are like twin sisters, very closely […]
Prior to joining the International Lutheran Seafarers’ Mission (ILSM) I had been an oil trader and had worked in the oil and gas industry for more than twenty years. Before that I had spent about five years in the shipping industry, particularly in the container trade. Oil and shipping are like twin sisters, very closely related. More than 80% of oil is transported by ship, so to trade oil, you need ships. On top of that, I had a diploma in shipping and a degree in transportation.
I have spent more than half my life around ships and ship-related work, yet I did not hear of the ‘Seafarers’ Mission’ until 2018. The Seafarers’ Mission was founded about 150 years ago and there are more than 200 Seafarers’ Mission stations around the world. Even though I had been closely involved in the shipping world, I only heard of its existence three years ago! What an irony!
When I set foot in the oil and gas industry, I made a promise to retire early as I wanted to spend the next season of my life doing something different and hopefully meaningful. I made this so-called promise because I knew that the job would be stressful with long hours, in addition to being well paid. Being young, stress and long hours were not an issue, and with a high income I would be able to retire early. As the years went by, I progressed well in my career. The money was good but the promise I made was long forgotten. However, God did not forget! He abruptly ended my oil trading career by allowing the company that I was in to cease operating, almost overnight.
I then went to work in a small oil trading company selling petroleum products to China. We managed to secure a lucrative term contract and I was already counting the bonus I would be getting from my boss. As the saying goes, ‘man proposes but God disposes!’ Shortly after the contract was concluded, the price of oil collapsed and the buyer defaulted. The losses were huge, and we had no choice but to also default and walk away from our suppliers. The only way to limit our losses was to shut down the company.
Overnight, I became a retiree… my promise came to pass! That was in late 2017 and I was fifty-five years old, the age I was targeting to retire. Upon reflection, my involvement with the ILSM is nothing short of a divine intervention and appointment. If you pushed the envelope, you may even call it a miracle.
In 2018 I enrolled in the School of Ministry at Tung Ling Bible School. It was a time of learning, being refreshed and of waiting upon the Lord for the next season of my life. I was seeking and praying for a ministry which I could serve in. I also knew my limitations as I was not theologically trained. God in His mercy and grace directed my wife and me to Bedok Lutheran Church (BLC). That was our first visit to BLC. We were there at the invitation of Dr Mary Tay, who had been invited to teach a series of lessons on ‘How to read the Bible’. We were there to help facilitate discussion when the class divided into small discussion groups. It was during the class break that my wife met Pastor Rita Wong, whom she came to know when she was also a student in Tung Ling Bible School. Pastor Rita was there to minister to the students. Through the short conversation, she came to learn that I was studying in Tung Ling and waiting upon the Lord’s direction for the next season of my life. She then introduced the Seafarers’ Mission to my wife, asking her to check if I had an interest in this ministry. It immediately tugged at my heart strings, as most of my career had revolved around ships and shipping related businesses. Immediately, I knew I had found my purpose and calling in my new season of life.
In the twinkle of an eye, I have already been with this ministry for almost three years. Thanks be to God!
Reprinted with the kind permission of the Lutheran Church in Singapore. Visit the website to find out more about LCS.
Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray
Read more stories about our partner church in Singapore at https://www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/singapore/