Faith

For 23 years, this small group has been praying Singapore into her God-given destiny

In celebration of our 54th National Day on August 9, Salt&Light brings you a series of remarkable Singapore faith stories.

by Geraldine Tan // August 5, 2019, 9:55 pm

"Singapore's bicentennial is a reminder that we must not forget the Christian missions work that has been started in our nation, but to keep at it until its fulfilment is accomplished," said prayer warrior Wee Lay Hong. Photo by Immanuel Roszini of Tabledreamer Photography.

Ever since missionaries landed on Singapore’s shores in 1819, many have prayed for Singapore, albeit mostly in their own churches.

One small group, however, takes praying for Singapore to heart.

City@Prayer, has been meeting weekly for the past 23 years to stand in the gap for our nation.

Their very first 40-day season of fasting and praying for Singapore began on July 1, 1997.

“This is serious business”

In October 1996, as LoveSingapore’s Special Assistant, Lai Kheng Pousson, was praying, the Lord burdened her with three key phrases to pray for the Singapore Church: Put your house in order; do not run on empty; be transparent.

“I looked at those three phrases and I got a fright of my life,” recalled Pousson. She submitted this to Pastor Derek Hong, who was scheduled to lead a LoveSingapore pastors’ prayer meeting that month, in the hopes that he would take over this burden.

“Put your house in order; do not run on empty; be transparent.”

Instead, Pastor Derek, who was leading Church of Our Saviour then, said: “Lai Kheng, this is serious business. You got it from God – I believe it is from God. You lead. I’ll give you half an hour.”

During the prayer meeting, “there was repentance”, said Pousson soberly.

Then, in January 1997, the Lord impressed on her heart something even crazier.

He told her to call for a nation-wide, 40-day season of prayer and fasting, focused on the three key phrases He had given her.

She asked: “Lord, when should it begin?” And the Lord said: “July 1.”

This was the first time that Christians from across different denominations would intercede for Singapore corporately.

Puzzled as to why July 1, she pulled out the calendar and started counting. The 40th day was August 9, Singapore’s National Day.

Again, she gave it to the LoveSingapore leaders. They prayed and there was resonance. They soon set to work and produced a prayer guide for the 40-day season.

This was going to be the first time that Christians from across different denominations would intercede for Singapore corporately.

Today, Christians all over Singapore use the 40-day guide to pray blessings over Singapore.

But at the time, the leaders did not know the significance of beginning this Spirit-inspired initiative on July 1, 1997.

A season of humbling, hope and healing

Just a day after the launch of the 40-day season at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Asia was rocked by the worst economic crisis to ever hit the region. The Thai government was forced to float the baht and the value of its currency plummeted as much as 20%. Within days, the contagion had spread to Malaysia and the Philippines.

Singapore, being the small and open economy that she is, was not spared.

“As a result of the crisis, hearts were shaken. So, more people came to pray. It was like God set it up,” said Pousson with wonder. “The words we used were: A season of humbling, hope and healing.

Nearly 50 people gathered to intercede for Singapore at a recent City@Prayer meeting. Photo by Geraldine Tan.

Nearly 50 people gathered to intercede for Singapore at a recent City@Prayer meeting. Photo by Geraldine Tan.

“We know ‘put your house in order, do not run on empty’ means: Depend on Holy Spirit. Return to God, draw from Him. Don’t run on your own energy and cleverness.

“And the third is ‘be transparent.’ This means that God knows everything. So, be completely truthful with Him and with one another.”

To her shock, the three phrases that God gave her in October 1996 were repeated in The Financial Times and The Business Times: “Put your financial house in order, do not run on empty, be transparent with your accounts.”

“I was totally undone, shaken,” said Pousson, on reading the news.

To her shock, the three phrases that God gave her were repeated in The Financial Times and The Business Times.

That first year, the open prayer meetings took place over lunchtime every Monday through Saturday at St Andrew’s Cathedral. But as the 40-day season drew to a close, three believers from the marketplace approached her on separate occasions.

They all said the same thing: “Lai Kheng, how can we stop praying? We cannot stop, you know. We must continue!”

She felt the same way and prayed about it before asking the LoveSingapore leaders if they would like to keep the prayer meeting going.

Pastor Lawrence Khong, senior pastor of Faith Community Baptist Church and founding Chairman of LoveSingapore, gave his blessing.

Since then, Pousson has been overseeing the meetings, together with her core group of intercessors, Jean Wong and Wee Lay Hong, all in their 60s.

They meet every Friday, 12.30-1.30pm at St Andrew’s Cathedral. During the 40-day season, they meet every weekday.

For 23 years, a small group of intercessors have been faithfully standing in the gap for Singapore. Photo by Geraldine Tan.

For 23 years, a small group of intercessors has been faithfully standing in the gap for Singapore. Photo by Geraldine Tan.

A God-sized vision

“The present group of people come because they are hungry; they want to pray deeper,” said Wong.

“Now, there is greater Kingdom-mindedness. Praying is not so much for our own agenda, but for the greater good of the nation.”

“God has been clear about the calling of Singapore – to be a bridge of blessing.”

She shared that, in the early days, many believers struggled to pray for the nation as they did not know how to go about doing it. But that has since changed.

“God has been clear about the calling of Singapore – to be a bridge of blessing,” said Wee, who is in her 60s. We always use the phrase ‘Antioch of Asia’ – what that means is to be a blessing to the nations and send our sons and daughters out into the nations.

“It is all part and parcel of that vision that God ignited in Sir Stamford Raffles … The bicentennial is a reminder that we must not forget the Christian missions work that has been started in our nation, but to keep at it until its fulfilment is accomplished.

“When you’re doing the work of the Lord, there’s bound to be a lot of warfare. We need to pray, to seek God’s heart and mind. Ask Him how to accomplish His kingdom agenda,” she said, referring to Ephesians 6:12.

“I’ve learned that it is all about God … that’s so basic, right?” added Wong with a smile. “It’s all about God, and Singapore has a portion. We do not belittle that portion, neither do we need to elevate it to self-importance.”

City@Prayer meetings include prayer and worship, as well as a time of praying for Israel. Photo by Geraldine Tan.

City@Prayer meetings include prayer and worship, as well as a time of praying for Israel. Photo by Geraldine Tan.

“Isn’t God good?” mused Pousson. “The whole purpose is to pray for Singapore, along the lines of LoveSingapore’s vision of turning Singapore God-ward: A life changed, a church revived, a nation transformed, a world evangelised.”

“That’s what City@Prayer is,” added Wee. “It is an ongoing engagement with the Lord in seeing our nation fulfil its God-given destiny. And then, through that God-given destiny, how do we fit into the global plan? The bottom line is: The faithfulness of God keeps us going on and on.”

Pousson chimed in: “So City@Prayer continues!”

Day 36: Living word

A Bicentennial look-back at the extraordinary history of the Singapore Church

About the author

Geraldine Tan

Geraldine is a former news journalist, public relations practitioner and research editor with a penchant for puns, punctuation and a positive attitude. She is always up for the next new adventure and is on a quest to bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Geraldine is now Assistant Editor at Salt&Light.