These thoughtful books make a Christmas gift that keeps on giving

by Christine Leow // December 14, 2023, 11:20 pm


Nearly 70 stories in the Salt&Light books tell of God's faithfulness at work and in families.

“We read to know we are not alone,” Christian author and apologist CS Lewis was known to have said.

If you are looking for a gift that keeps giving, perhaps a book this Christmas might just be the perfect present.

For a year of reflection: Sojourn by Dr Winston Chin

Three years ago, Dr Winston Chin and his wife Dr Shermin answered God’s call to go to Nepal. He rejected a scholarship for an Oxford MBA and she a leadership position in a new healthcare establishment to do so.

On a holiday back in Singapore, Dr Winston and his wife Dr Shermin received a prophetic word through a prayer that they would embark on something new. That confirmed in his heart his desire to write Sojourn.

They went to be volunteers at a non-governmental organisation there serving the poor and disadvantaged through health and community development work. But shortly after arriving, Covid broke out worldwide.

Said Dr Winston: “A lot of that year, we were under lockdown. So I started writing devotional essays reflecting on Bible passages.”

That was the genesis of Sojourn. In 2022, when husband and wife returned to Singapore on home leave, Dr Winston “suddenly felt this prompting to write a photo-devotional book” that married his love of writing and photography.  

Sojurn is a collection of 52 devotions Dr Winston penned, capturing his own life journey and inviting believers to ponder their transient travel through life as “sojourners and exiles” in this world (1 Peter 2:11).

At the end of every devotion is a set of Reflection Prompts that lead readers to think about the truths shared in the devotion and how those truths shape their relationship with God.

Each photograph that comes with the devotion is an image of nature Dr Winston has captured, and a personal commentary that describes the scene and records God’s creation.

Apart from sharing his meditations on the Word of God, Dr Winston hopes to use proceeds from the sale of the books to support the disability-related research he intends to do over the next few years in Nepal.

Price: S$28 for 1 book       
            S$20 for every additional copy

To buy: Click here to pre-order (the book will be ready by December 15, 2023)

For encouragement through trials: Joy Beyond Cancer and When It’s Beyond Me: Choosing to Trust in Him by Lucy Lim

She was 42 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. At the diagnosis, Lucy Lim was dry-eyed, so assured was she that God would be there for her.

Lim, at the launch of her first book, never expected to write about her battle with her cancer. But many peope have since been encouraged by her story.

More than three years after being told her cancer was incurable, Lucy is still living by faith.

“God has been so involved in my life. He is able. I said to God, ‘Okay Lord, what’s next?’” 

After eight months of treatment – surgery to remove the tumour, 12 cycles of chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation – Lucy managed to beat the cancer. She remained cancer-free for the next 17 years.

Then the cancer returned, worse than before – Stage 4 advanced cancer. This time, there would be no treatment to beat the cancer.

Out of her season of walking in faith came two books – Joy Beyond Cancer which documents her cancer journey and When It’s Beyond Me: Choosing to Trust in Him, a series of devotionals around the life of Joseph. The devotionals can be used for personal Quiet Time or as cell group material.

Price: S$20 

To buy: Click here and here to buy. The books are also sold at SKS Books.

For caregivers: One Husband, Two Men and Still My Husband by Margaret Ong

She cared for her schizophrenic husband for 14 years and watched the man who was once a loving husband who serenaded her and told her “I love you” all the time, turn into a man who thinks she is dead or that they have divorced.

Margaret visits her husband regularly, living out her book title – he is still her husband.

When Margaret Ong had to commit her husband of 32 years to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for long-term care, she grieved for months. 

One Husband, Two Men and Still My Husband are Margaret’s accounts of her journey as caregiver to a man who is increasingly no longer the person she married. The books are also her declaration of faith in a God that continues to be good to her in spite of the challenges.

“Somehow in all this uncertainty, God provides certainty. It’s not that I have an answer for what is now or what is next. But I’m not intimidated nor do I have fear.

“Have my circumstances changed? Is this what I desire? No. But He has lifted me above the circumstances. I don’t feel that I am being abandoned by God. I have His peace and joy in me.”

Price: S$18.70 

To buy: Click here to buy online. 

For suicide loss survivors: Grieving and Living. A Mother’s Hope. A Mother’s Journey by Jenny Teo

When Jenny Teo found her only son’s lifeless body early one June morning, the loss seemed too great to bear. Josh Isaac Ng had been struggling with depression. He was five months shy of his 21st birthday when he died by suicide.

Apart from her book, Jenny also gives talks and started Stigma2Strength Singapore to prevent suicides through public education.

For five months, Jenny grieved, the pain almost too much for her to bear. There was self-doubt and blame but, most of all, she missed the son who loved to joke around and make her laugh.

“He had an amazing sense of humour.”

The turning point came when she was approached by a production company to share her journey as a suicide loss survivor. Mourning gave way to a new mission: To tell Josh’s story.

Grieving and Living. A Mother’s Hope. A Mother’s Journey is the culmination of years of giving talks to create greater awareness of depression and suicide ideation, as well as a documentation of Jenny’s journey following her son’s death.  

Price: S$15

To buy: Click here to buy online 

For leaders: It’s C.R.A.Z.Y.! Mentoring Paradigms for Entrepreneurial Leadership by Edward Ong and Edmund Chan with Rae Huang

Leadership Mentor and former Senior Pastor of Covenant Evangelical Free Church, Singapore as well as founder of Global Alliance of Intentional Disciplemaking Churches Rev Edmund Chan has published yet another book.

Co-authored with his long-time mentee, resort developer Edward Ong, It’s C.R.A.Z.Y.! really started more than 20 years ago. At the time, Rev Edmund received his first-ever mentoring assignment. God told him to mentor leaders in the marketplace. He was on his sabbatical then.

Said Rev Edmund of the book: “We set out to write this book as a legacy gift for the next generation so that you would know what God has done, and what He can do with your one surrendered life.”

“I dared not be disobedient. But to be frank, I struggled to come to terms with this divine assignment.

“I said, ‘Lord, You must have a reason for choosing me. But I don’t understand why. I don’t have any marketplace experience at all!’”

God told him to use what he knew of leadership. As a reflective practitioner, he understood leadership principles and the inner world of leaders. This, and his mentoring relationship with Edward,  came to shape this book.

It’s C.R.A.Z.Y.! challenges Christian leaders in the marketplace to practise radical faith at work.

Is seeking first the Kingdom of God actually doable in business?
Can one even hope to survive – let alone thrive – while sticking steadfastly to the
principles of integrity and incorruptibility?
Can one do business and be compassionate at the same time?
Can a leader embrace God’s counter-intuitive guidance and still succeed?

These tough questions where faith and reality collide are what It’s C.R.A.Z.Y.! addresses through the story of Edward’s journey, and Rev Edmund’s principles and paradigms drawn from Scripture and his experience mentoring leaders:

  • C – Curating Clarity
  • R – Regulating Risk Appetite
  • A – Auditing Alignment
  • Z – Zeroing in on Zeal
  • Y – Yielding Yieldedness

Price: S$29   
            S$100 for a bundle of 4

To buy: Click here or here, or visit SKS Books and Faithworks bookstore.        
               Overseas readers can order on

For mentors: Mentoring Stories by David Wong

He has chalked up more than 40 years in pastoral ministry, 13 of which were spent at Haggai Institute overseeing leadership training in Maui, Hawaii, for Christian leaders from over 100 nations.

This is the rich resource of experience from which Rev Dr David Wong, the denominational leader and mentor to 11 Bible-Presbyterian churches, drew on to write this book.

Mentoring Stories is, as the title suggests, stories that mentors can use to illustrate points and share wisdom.

Rev David believes in the power of stories and this book is his hope that the stories told will continue to ignite faith.

“A significant part of mentoring involves opening up for the mentee and the mentor. I look for an issue and then relate a story which helps to cast light on the issue,” said Rev David.

“We find value in stories. We either follow the footsteps of those ahead or avoid the places where they fell,” he wrote in the introduction of his book.

There are 60 sets of stories in all that span his years as pastor, trainer and mentor. Each also comes with responses from fellow pastors and church leaders. 

The reflections, honest and authentic, give an intimate account of the life of a full-time minister and the issues which come with it.

Sabbath, maintaining boundaries that safeguard the marriage, honorariums, the challenge of preparing sermons weekly, squabbles in ministry, struggles with mental health – each story is heartfelt and relatable.

Price: $20

To buy: Contact Rev David (9748-1851) or click here to buy online .

For families and those in the marketplace: Salt&Light: Inspirational Stories of Faith in Families and Salt&Light: Inspirational Stories of Faith at Work by Salt&Light

A failed businessman whose crisis unexpectedly led to jobs for thousands. A university student forced to take over the reins of the family’s company when her father died from cancer. A well-loved principal who was privately battling ill health, including a stroke and blindness.

Draw inspiration so that you, too, may experience life-giving faith in every season of your life, even through times of testing.

Thirty-five moving stories. Thirty-five true accounts of believers, from entrepreneurs to chefs, ex-offenders to CEOs, whom God called into the marketplace to be light in a dark world in spite of tremendous challenges and setbacks.

These powerful testimonies compiled into one book – Salt&Light: Inspirational Stories of Faith at Work – will speak to those who are graduating soon, who are seeking meaning in a mundane job, who are thrust in a difficult role or considering a change in career, or whose leadership many are depending on for a living.

For those looking for inspiration and encouragement in their family life, Salt&Light: Inspirational Stories of Faith in Families is a compilation of 34 true-life accounts that show that unvarnished reality and hope can exist side by side.

Read about the 14-year-old homeless youth who grew up to help other rough sleepers; the television actress who almost gave up on love until God honoured her wait with the love of her life; the girl who wished to die when she lost her fiancé to a car crash but was nursed back to life by God’s promises; the three-year-old girl who lost her father to SARS but grew up to encourage others through COVID.

Draw inspiration so that you, too, may experience life-giving faith in every season of your life, even through times of testing.

Price: S$40 for the bundle of one book each.

To buy: Click here. Note: Books bought online in December will not be posted in time for Christmas. Alternatively you can buy the Salt&Light books at SKS Books and Books Kinokuniya. 

For children: Was Jesus Really Born on 25 December? by The Treasure Box SG

The Foongs who started The Treasure Box SG are not afraid to tackle tough questions.

This year, they started a video series called I Have A Question which deals with questions children ask about God, Christianity and the Bible.

Now, they are exploring questions about Christmas – Why do we put up Christmas trees? How did Santa Claus come about? Where and when was Jesus born? – through a charming re-telling of the nativity story with questions posed by protagonists Ling and her brother Ben.  

This latest The Treasure Box SG book was the collaborative effort of Elvin and his son Nathan.

“The Christmas story has been told in many different ways. But we wanted to look at it through the eyes of a curious child,” shared Esther Foong, who founded the Christian children’s resource company with her husband Elvin.

“We intended for it to be a wholesome yet provocative read. Was Jesus really born on 25 December? How do we know? That’s the fresh take we’re going for.”

Added Elvin: “We believe that an examined faith is a strong faith.

“In today’s postmodern, post-truth world, our kids need to be equipped with answers to their questions so that they can continue to grow in their faith even when they face doubts or challenges.

“And they won’t find the right answers unless we give them the space to ask questions.”

Price: S$24

To buy: Online at TTB’s website and their stockists.

For children: Women of Faith: Inspiring Stories from the Bible by Keren Mullia

When Keren Mulia’s five-year-old daughter walked by a vending machine that dispensed Disney princess figurines and could recite their names and stories, it got Keren thinking hard.

Her children did not watch Disney movies. What they knew came from fleeting encounters – books in the library they had seen and advertisements on the streets.

“If I asked my daughter about the women in the Bible, would she be able to answer correctly and confidently?” mused Keren.

Keren hopes to translate this book into other languages.

The desire to give children biblical female role models prompted Keren to write Women of Faith: Inspiring Stories from the Bible. The children’s book features 12 women of the Bible carefully curated by Keren to highlight different stories and godly attributes.

For example, Sarah from the Bible was selected because “there is real beauty in a woman who follows God’s command to submit her husband”; Abigail exemplified wisdom and patience; Deborah was brave. 

“I feel that if you give them a role model, just like how the Disney princesses are to them, it’s much easier for them to grasp these attributes,” said Keren.

“My prayer is that when the book goes to girls, God will help them to love Him and glorify Him more. I really want young girls to want to be one of these women.”

Little boys, too, can benefit from the stories.

“I hope that they will know that this is the same God we worship today – God was so amazing to take care of all these people and He will also take care of us today,” Keren emphasised. 

“These are the attributes that please God, and this was how God used these women as part of His plan.”

Careful research was put into the Disney-esque illustrations as well.  

“Another message that I wanted to indirectly tell the kids is that beauty comes in different shapes, sizes, colours.

“So that’s why, for example, Abigail is a little bit thinner and Miriam is a little bit more heavy-built. Mary of Nazareth, she’s quite pale because we imagine her to be more indoors versus Rahab, who’s a little bit tanned as she’s taking care of an inn.”

The book is meant to be a resource for parents and educators, which is why each story comes with discussion questions to engage the children and direct them to the Bible.

Price: S$23.90

To buy: Buy online at ShopeeLazadaThe Amazing Grace CoToby’s Trove, Tiny Seeds Bookstore and Cru Media Ministry. Books bought at SKS Bookstore and Media Ministry of Cru Singapore come with a  free, printable colouring e-book available for download.

For children: Kitesong Global’s book bundles

Dr Tam Wai Jia, a doctor, author, painter, humanitarian, mum and founder of Kitesong Global and Kitedreams ministry, has a series of children’s books that both young and old enjoy. The stories chronicle her trials and triumphs, and encourage readers to rise above hardship, self-doubt and uncertainty with the message of hope and faith.

Wai Jia draws deep from her personal life to write these books.

Each is a lyrical picture book with beautiful illustrations and simple, yet powerful narratives.

Price: S$14 each or S$42 for a bundle of 3

To buy: Click here 


“Would you go to a hard place if I called?”: The question that challenged these med school sweethearts to give up their cushy careers

Joy beyond Stage 4 cancer

“I hate his sickness. But I still love him”: A wife’s 14-year anguish at seeing her schizophrenic husband waste away

“He couldn’t talk about his depression, now I can be his mouthpiece”: A mother’s poignant book about surviving her son’s suicide

9 ways to be a better mentor: Rev Dr David Wong shares from 40 years of experience

Salt&Light writers encouraged and moved to tears pursuing stories of tragedy and loss, faith and sacrifice, for new book

Was Jesus really born on 25 December? The Treasure Box’s Christmas book uncovers this

Do kids know more about Disney princesses than women of faith? How a mum’s burden led to a children’s book

“You only need one key. Let God hand it to you”: One missionary’s search – and wait – for the right door

About the author

Christine Leow

Christine believes there is always a story waiting to be told, which led to a career in MediaCorp News. Her idea of a perfect day involves a big mug of tea, a bigger muffin and a good book.