Giving God our golden years: 7 tips from seniors who lead the way

by Christine Leow // December 2, 2020, 7:04 pm


At 76, Ooi Kooi Tin continues to minister to the sick, the hungry and the needy, having set up churches, an eldercare centre and a children's shelter. Photo courtesy of Ooi Kooi Tin.

Together, these eight seniors have over 500 years of living under their belt.

The “baby” among them is 61 years old. The oldest is a sprightly 80 years young.

Teacher, pastor, mentor, missionary, prayer warrior, bible study leader, social work volunteer, social activist – God has called them to various ministries inside and out of the church, and they have served with joy, love and boundless energy that could easily match that of people half their age.

Salt&Light gleans seven tips from them on how they find joy at any age.

1. Remember the God of your youth

She is mum to Elim Chew, 55, the Singapore entrepreneur who is known to wear many hats. But Ooi Kooi Tin herself is no stranger to achievements.

At 76, Ooi prays for the sick, feeds the poor and ferries the disabled to church. She has planted seven churches as well as set up an eldercare facility in China. She has built another church in Tanjung Pinang, Indonesia and has spent three days a week in that church for well over a decade. She has also built a children’s shelter in Myanmar.

Ooi Kooi Tin (with sunglasses) leading her Tanjung Pinang congregation in lively worship.. Photo courtesy of Ooi Kooi Tin.,

Ooi Kooi Tin (with sunglasses) leading her Tanjung Pinang congregation in lively worship. Photo courtesy of Ooi Kooi Tin.

The daughter of a military man in China turned missionary, Ooi was introduced to the faith from young and grew up seeing God at work.

When her father decided to become a missionary, he took his family – wife and three young children included – to Taiwan then Malaysia and back again to China, teaching at the Taiwan Bible Institute along the way.

“As missionaries, my family didn’t have much and we all had to chip in with chores. My sister and I used to resent my father. We had no food to eat, we could not go to school,” recalled Ooi.

“Eventually we understood. We saw his heart for the people and the joy he got from bringing salvation to many.”

“The neighbours saw what happened and said, ‘Your God is powerful!’”

Helping to seal her faith in God at a young age were also the miracles Ooi witnessed. When she was eight, ammunition on a military ship exploded near where she and her siblings were playing. Many died but they were unhurt.

When they ran home, they discovered that a bomb had fallen through the roof of their home which was behind the church. Miraculously, it did not explode.

Said Ooi: “God preserved the church and our lives. Even today when I face troubles, I know I can depend on Him.”

On another occasion, when she was 15, her mother accidentally started a fire that soon engulfed their neighbour’s rubber plantation. But when her mother knelt before the raging flames and prayed, the fire in that area stopped. She did this twice. Twice the flames were quelled where she prayed.

“We were in an isolated area where the fire engines couldn’t reach us. The neighbours saw what happened and said, ‘Your God is powerful!’”

2. Keep your eye on Christ

Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong is senior pastor of Cornerstone Community Church which has over 5,000 members. He is also chairman of the board of Tung Ling Bible College and the annual Kingdom Invasion Conference.

“He will bring you across the finishing line.”

But at 61, he is not looking to stop. Instead, he is looking to take his ministry global because Christian ministry, he said, is a not a 100-metre sprint but a marathon.

Using a rowing analogy, Ps Yang likened ageing to rowing, the only sport where the finishing line cannot be seen because rowers race with their backs to it. What helps them stay the course is the coxswain, the only member of the team who can see the finishing line because he sits on the stern, looking ahead. It is the coxswain who is responsible for steering the team and keeping them coordinated.

Pastor Yang  Tuck Yoong keeps his eyes on Jesus to help him stay the course througout his years in the ministry. Photo from Ps Yang's Facebook.

Pastor Yang Tuck Yoong keeps his eyes on Jesus to help him stay the course throughout his years in the ministry. Photo from Ps Yang’s Facebook.

Said Pastor Yang: “We don’t know when this race is going to end for us. The important thing is to keep your eye on the coxswain.

Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us that we are to keep our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ. And I think that’s really an important part of the journey.

“If you listen to His voice and keep your eyes on Him, He will bring you across the finishing line.”

3. Continue to listen for God’s call

Jean (not her real name) is a missionary with no plans to slow down. She started her work with refugees four years ago when most her age would have preferred to stay home. She is now 72.

“It’s like God opened a door. I just stepped into it,” said Jean.

The call came when she was touring a country up north in November 2016. On a visit to an NGO there that was working with refugees, one question on their questionnaire gripped Jean’s heart: “Will you come back and serve the refugees?”

“I couldn’t answer that question. The Spirit said, ‘Come back.’ But I struggled with God. ‘To do what?’”

“Go there and feed them.”

She eventually wrote ‘yes’ but in the months that followed, Jean continued to wrestle with God about returning to serve the refugees.

The breakthrough came during a silent retreat. While reading Amos 8:11, she heard God tell her: “I’m sending you to this country. The people have fled their homelands because there is a famine of hearing My Word. Go there and feed them.”

“Even now, I have goose bumps just talking about it.”

Jean now serves in a learning centre that teaches youths and adults aged 13 to 40. With students having a limited grasp of English, and of mixed ages and abilities, the work is challenging. But, having opened her ears to God’s call in her 70s, Jean is determined to carry on faithfully.

4. Retire with God, not from Him

Margie Teo or Auntie Margie, as those who know her call her, is a woman who understands the value of retiring. 

“I am never lonely. I talk to God all the time.”

A former director of a polytechnic library, she has retired from work. Now, at 80, she is retiring with God by her side.

She has been to several retreats in her quest to “be still” with God, from silent ones in Singapore to those by Selwyn Hughes in the UK and the Walk to Emmaus in Hong Kong.

This is the blessing of old age. There is time to spare and she has chosen to use hers in solitude with God, she says.

“With each retreat, I advanced in my walk.”

Margie Teo and spiritual daughters

Margie Teo with two of her spiritual daughters at a retreat in Sydney. Teo knows the value of retreating to listen to God. Photo courtesy of Margie Teo.

At one retreat, God spoke to her about her perfectionist streak. At another, God impressed upon her the need to not be distracted by worldly things and situations. At yet another, God moved her to work with children of prisoners.

“I am never lonely. I talk to God all the time.”

5. Serve while you can

Husband and wife team Lim Teck Seng and Lim-Teo Suat Khoh, both in their late 60s, believe in serving as long as their bodies and minds are able.

“To be honest, we don’t know what’s going to come in this last stage of our lives,” said Suat Khoh.

Lim Teck Seng and his wife Suat Khoh at Timor-Leste in 2019 on a three-month mission trip to teach the teachers in a school there. Photo courtesy of the Lims.

Lim Teck Seng and his wife Suat Khoh at Timor-Leste in 2019 on a three-month mission trip to teach the teachers in a school there. Photo courtesy of the Lims.

“Now, we’re still healthy. So, while I still can, I want to do things for God because there may come a day when we may not be able to.”

The couple deliver meals to the needy every week, even during the Circuit Breaker because they were considered essential workers. Teck Seng visits the elderly and friendless in church, often going out for lunch with them after the church service.

“These are the things I can do. A little here, a little there,” he said.

“I want to do things for God because there may come a day when we may not be able to.”

An associate professor of Mathematics and Mathematics Education at the National Institute of Education (NIE) and a Math whizz before she retired, Suat Khoh continues to use her passion for teaching for God. She tutored underprivileged children at a family service centre and mentored them.

She also taught in her church’s Youth Ministry, putting her understanding of the Bible and her love for teaching to good use. Not only was she their teacher and mentor, she also joined in all their games and camps as well. 

Last year, the couple spent three months in Timor-Leste teaching the teachers and children in a school run by missionaries.

6. Be ready for opportunities

Audrey Lai, 72, is the primary caregiver of her grandson who has special needs. On every week day, she would take him to Rainbow Centre, Margaret Drive, then settle in for a three- to four-hour wait while he attended classes. Waiting along with her would be other caregivers, mostly domestic helpers.

Audrey Lai and bible study group at SkyVille,

Audrey Lai and her ladies’ group at SkyVille. Before Covid-19, they would meet for worship and Bible study weekly. Photo by Glen Goh.

Lai did not enjoy those long waits and did not particularly like idle chatter either. One day, after years of waiting, she was approached by one of the caregivers she had been praying with to run Bible study sessions for the caregivers.

That was four years ago.

Until Covid-19 struck, 10 to 12 caregivers would gather every Thursday with Lai to study the Bible. They have become such a fixture that those not in the group would approach them for prayers and support.

This has developed into a ministry with big dreams. “I’m praying to reach out to their employers. I have their names on my prayer list.”

7. Be faithful in the small stuff

Reverend Dr William Wan, 73, is the face of kindness in Singapore. General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM), Rev Dr Wan took on the role in 2011 because “kindness is very, very close to God’s heart”.

Rev Dr William Wan (left) with Minister Grace Fu at the opening ceremony of the Kindness Carnival 2018 which kickstarts a month of celebrating kindness in Singapore. First initiated in 2013, this year's Kindness Day SG falls on 24 May 2019. (Photo courtesy of Singapore Kindness Movement Facebook)

Rev Dr William Wan (left) with Minister Grace Fu at the opening ceremony of the Kindness Carnival 2018 which kickstarts a month of celebrating kindness in Singapore. Photo courtesy of Singapore Kindness Movement Facebook.

A lawyer, who is also a Justice of Peace, Rev Dr Wan has been an academic, a pastor and a businessman with a psychometric and consulting firm. He also co-founded the Law Christian Fellowship (LCF), Prison Fellowship Singapore (PFS) and even the Evangelical Fellowship of Singapore (EFOS) and was the first chairman of the Singapore office for Operation Mobilisation, an international mission organisation.

Faithful in much, he is now focussing on being faithful in small things – promoting kindness in the country and championing the Gospel through the expression of kindness.

“Scripture says the Gospel is God’s kindness to us. (Titus 3:4-5) That means our salvation speaks of God’s kindness.”


The late Reverend Billy Graham, perhaps the most well-known evangelist of this century, famously declared that he would not retire until God retired him because “I don’t find anybody in the Bible that retired”. Indeed, right till he passed away at 99, he was still actively involved in proclaiming the Gospel.

At 81, apologist, evangelist and author Josh McDowell is still writing and speaking at public engagements. Charles Swindoll is 86 and he remains the senior pastor of his church, Stonebriar Community Church, in Dallas, Texas.

Salt&Light Family Night: How do I thrive in my golden years?

How do we prepare for our golden years mentally and physically? What can we do for God in our retirement years?

Join hosts Carol Loi and Alex Tee in the final Salt&Light Family Night for 2020, as they talk to seniors who are still actively living for God.

Date: Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Time: 8.30pm-10pm

Cost: Free

Register at: Pre-registration is required.

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.