God brought Clovis and Elina together through the power of prayer and dreams. All photos courtesy of Clovis and Elina Tan.

It all started with a break-up.

In 2015, Clovis Tan, then 26, had just broken up with his then girlfriend.

She noticed that whenever Clovis was sad, her heart would also feel the ache. Was she falling for him?

Elina Er, who was in the prayer and worship group in his church, could tell that he was devastated by the loss. Yet, they were not close and she felt she should not be probing into his relationship matters.

As they happened to be living in the same condominium, Clovis would offer her a ride home after their weekly prayer session. One day, during the drive home, Elina felt a prompting in her heart to ask if he was all right and if he wished to talk.

Upon reaching their condominium, they sat down by the pool to talk and Clovis poured his heartache out to her.

From then on, Clovis would occasionally ask her if they could meet up again to talk after work. Elina, who preferred chilling at home after work, nevertheless heard God’s soft, clear voice to her: “Just be there for him.”

So, she acquiesced and was present whenever he needed a listening ear. Over time, she noticed that whenever Clovis was sad, her heart would also feel the ache. Was she falling for him?

I choose to let You choose for me

She was 22 years old at that time and had seen many friends going in and out of relationships. Whenever those relationships failed, they would emerge scarred or heartbroken.

“I knew that I did not want to waste my time with someone whom I would not end up with eventually,” said Elina. “I told God that I would marry whomever He chose for me, regardless of what he looked like or did. I know God gave us the free will to choose our life partner, and out of my free will I wanted to give that choice to God to pick for me as He knows best.” 

She threw her own ideal checklist for a partner – non-Asian, tall, dark, handsome and sporty – out of the window.

Elina is quiet but sporty. One of the qualities she hoped for in a partner was sportiness as well.

Elina did not know what to do with the feelings she was developing for Clovis, and asked God to remove them if Clovis was not meant to be her life partner.

Thankfully, she was due to leave for a six-month university exchange programme in Lithuania shortly. Since they would not be seeing each other for six months, Elina believed it was a good time to rid herself of her confusing feelings for Clovis if he was not The One. Before she left, she asked God for a sign as to whether she should give up hope of a possible relationship. 

“There was a high chance that he would not be at the airport to send me off as only my family and my closest girlfriends would be there. He was not close to them. I thought that it would be really awkward for him to appear,” said Elina. 

At the airport, she saw him walking towards her from afar. Her heart pounded and she was paralysed with happiness. She kept wondering if this was a sign that he was meant for her or simply a coincidence. 

Clovis and Elina at the airport, when he sent her off for her student exchange programme .

Elina on her exchange programme in Lithuania.

Clovis, however, had gone to see her off because he appreciated her as a friend. He felt indebted to her for journeying with him through his heartbreak.

“I didn’t consider her as more than a friend then as we are very different. I am loud and usually prefer the company of similarly ‘rah-rah’ people; Elina is quite quiet,” said Clovis. “Yet each time she speaks, people listen,” he mused. 

Clovis leading his peers in university activities.

Clovis’ loud personality meant that he was a natural leader in university and was usually at the centre of attention.

Though she had much fun overseas, she found herself missing Clovis.

When she returned to Singapore in mid 2016, she caught up with him. She thought they would remain close friends.

Instead, the opposite happened. She felt Clovis distancing himself from her and putting up a wall between them. He shared with her that he was seeing someone else.

“If Clovis is to be my future husband, would You show it directly to Clovis, and to our parents as well?”

“It was deliberate on my part. I didn’t want to give her false hope as I was exploring another relationship,” said Clovis.

By then, he had felt several “nudges” from God to consider Elina as more than a friend.

“Thoughts would come about how she would make a good and godly wife. I knew it was not from me as I didn’t see her that way. But I just pushed the thoughts and nudges away as I wanted to date whoever I wanted to date. After all, those other girls I saw were also Christians and they were more my type,” said Clovis.

As he sought love elsewhere, Elina wrestled with God about her ongoing feelings for Clovis.

By March of 2017, Elina, seeing that things were not progressing with Clovis, broke down and cried out to God to remove her feelings for him.

“I had so much pain in my heart and so many unanswered prayers. I was adamant to let go of Clovis and to move on and let God decide who He wanted me to be with,” admitted Elina.

Two dreams 

The night when she surrendered her heart to God, she had two dreams.

In the first dream, she was on stage in her wedding gown and her pastor was giving the go-ahead for the groom to kiss her. The groom was Clovis.

In the second dream, she was in her wedding attire and she saw the back view of Clovis coming to join her family to take a family photo together.

In her dream, she was in her wedding gown and her pastor was giving the go-ahead for the groom to kiss her. The groom was Clovis.

Elina woke up the next morning feeling a peace and assurance that she had not felt before. She viewed the dream as God’s confirmation that Clovis was to be her future husband and knew she just had to wait for it to come to pass.

She did, however, have nagging doubts as to whether those dreams were from God or birthed out of her own feelings.

So Elina prayed: “God, if these dreams are from You and if Clovis is to be my future husband, would You show it directly to Clovis, and to our parents as well, because having their blessings is important to me. If You want me to reveal the dreams to Clovis, then let him ask me directly about them.”

Later that year, Clovis indeed felt a prompting in his heart to ask Elina if she had had any dreams. Elina tried to avoid the topic but he kept pressing her about it, specifically asking if she had dreams about him.

Recalled Clovis: “I can’t remember whether we were talking about dreams in general or not, but that day I felt a prompting to ask about her dreams. When I heard about what she dreamt, I was shocked. But I didn’t feel anything for her and God didn’t tell me anything. So, I continued seeing the person I was seeing then. I wanted to follow my own will and make my own decisions. I distanced myself even more from Elina.”

“Look up at the screen” 

Meanwhile, Clovis’ mother, a prayerful woman, would also have her own encounter with God regarding her son’s life partner.

In December that year, Clovis’ mother was sitting in front of a computer in a room in the church hall. She was the Mandarin interpreter for the church and was preoccupied with preparing an upcoming service.

Suddenly, she heard God telling her: “Look up at the screen on your computer.”

She looked up at the screen and saw Elina, who was captured on camera while rehearsing for her upcoming musical presentation for the service.

“She is your future daughter-in-law,” the voice continued.

Elina rehearsing at church on the day the Lord revealed to Clovis’ mother that Elina would be her daughter-in-law.

Clovis’ mother kept this incident to herself and did not tell her son about it. However, she would periodically drop hints to Clovis about considering Elina romantically.

“I don’t know why he is so slow. I hope he doesn’t miss the boat.”

“She may be right in front of your eyes,” was her constant refrain to her son. Clovis knew his mother was referring to Elina but turned a deaf ear to her broad hints.

About a year had passed since Elina had had her two dreams.

She was weary of waiting and, at times, doubted whether she had heard God correctly on the matter.

It did not help that other Christian men were also expressing interest in her.

“Whenever there was an opportunity to get to know other guys, I would feel the Holy spirit prompt me to not do it. I knew that I did not have to prove to anyone that I was valued or wanted by others. 

“I obeyed God and never dated anyone else,” said Elina.

“I know how you will be related to me”

Despite her faith, she was getting impatient and felt like giving up once again.

During their church camp in Malaysia in June 2018, Clovis’ mother walked up to Elina. Though they were not close, she wrapped her arms around Elina’s shoulders and said: “I know how you will be related to me.

“Don’t mind this boy, he does not know what he is doing. I don’t know why he is so slow. I hope he doesn’t miss the boat.”

Elina was taken aback but recalled that she had had a dream some time back, in which Clovis’ mum was asking Clovis: “Why don’t you just marry Elina?”

“I told Him that, if my heart is really ready, would He show me His plan for my future partner?” 

It dawned upon Elina that God had already preempted Clovis’ mum about His plan for Clovis and her to get married.

“I told Clovis’ mother that I also knew how we would be related as well and there was no need to rush,” Elina recalled.

“I was encouraged and in awe of what God was doing!”

Clovis’ mum did not tell her son about her exchange with Elina.

The following month, Clovis, Elina and other church friends went to the One Thing Gathering held at Riverlife Church in Singapore.

The speaker shared on Psalm 139, about how God knows each one of us more than we know ourselves. The powerful message convicted Clovis that he was relying on his own will to bulldoze through life, whether it was regarding his career or his love life.

“I felt so tired of doing things my way. I knew I wasn’t meant to be with the person I was seeing then, though she was a Christian. But I struggled with leaving her,” said Clovis, who wept before God that night.

“I told God I am willing to lay it down, surrender all areas of my life and follow Him. I told Him I am willing to marry who He wants me to marry.

“I told Him that, if my heart is really ready, would He show me His plan for my future partner?” 

That night, the posture of his heart shifted. He gave up his romantic preconceptions and broke off with the girl he was seeing.

Worship session in an HDB carpark

Clovis did not usually remember his dreams, but he had a vivid one a few days later, on August 8, 2018.

In the dream, Elina was in the car next to him and they were driving into an HDB carpark to prepare the setting for a worship session. People were streaming in to attend the session but Clovis was having some trouble playing the chords. Elina went into his email to pull out the chord sheets for him.

Clovis awoke from the dream and recorded it down. He felt it was significant because it had come a few days after he had asked God to show him his life partner.

“If you are smart, you will know what to do.”

However, he did not want to be presumptuous, and so he emailed his pastor about the dream he had and asked for his interpretation. He also texted Elina that he had had a dream about her and was seeking their pastor’s counsel on it.

Their pastor took a few weeks to get back. When he did so, he was direct and frank with Clovis as he had seen Clovis grow up since young.

“The car symbolises ministry work and it is likely to be a public ministry as it is held in a public space where people are streaming in. Elina is sitting beside you in the car so she is of certain importance in your life. She is not just of help to you in passing you the chord sheets, but she has a close enough relationship with you to know your email password. If you are smart, you will know what to do,” his pastor told him.

He also added that the date of the dream (08/08) represented a double confirmation of “new beginnings” in Clovis’ life, as that is what the number 8 often connotes in the Bible.

Clovis needed no further convincing. He texted Elina to meet up and explained to her all that had happened.

“Pastor’s interpretation of the dream is in line with God’s Word and what is in our hearts. Let’s honour God and get married,” Clovis said to Elina abruptly.

“Although I knew that Clovis was going to be my husband eventually, I was dumbfounded and shocked when Clovis revealed God’s confirmation to him. I was pinching myself because I could not believe that this was actually happening after three long years,” said Elina.

She could not sleep a wink that night.

Pulling off a wedding in three weeks 

Both of them decided that they should not waste any more time since God had shown them His will so clearly.

When Elina talked to her parents about their plans for marriage, she was surprised that there was no resistance from her otherwise protective father. It was then that her father shared with her that he had actually had a dream of them some time ago. In his dream, Elina was in Clovis’ house with his family members. It was clear to Elina’s father that she would eventually be a part of Clovis’ family.

“Bro, are you okay? What’s going on?”

“As my father shared his dream with me, it suddenly dawned on me that God had answered my prayer about speaking to Clovis and both of our parents about the matter. This was so they would give their blessings for us to get married without even dating,” said Elina.

At that time, Elina’s parents were based in Vietnam and her brother was living in Australia.

There were only two possible dates within the next year that they would all be back in Singapore – October 13, 2018, or March 23, 2019. As it was already August, they opted for the March date the following year.

A month later in September, they officially became a couple and started planning their wedding. However, their pastor called for an urgent meeting with them a few weeks later. He was due to fly off for a mission trip and met them at the airport. He revealed that he and the pastoral team were praying for their marriage and they had sensed from God that the wedding should be hastened and brought forward.

He did not explain further, but Clovis and Elina decided to heed his guidance as their church leader.

That meant that they needed to hold their wedding on October 13, 2018, which was just slightly more than three weeks away.

They told their pastor about their concerns about being able to pull the wedding off; after all, couples in Singapore usually take a year or more to plan their wedding. Their pastor urged them to trust God.

Clovis did not even know Elina’s Chinese name.

They began praying and Clovis called various hotels to check on availability. Clovis told God he hoped for a hotel in Orchard Road so that it would be convenient for guests; their heart’s desire was to share their testimony, giving glory to God, in front of many.

When Clovis called the then Mandarin Orchard Hotel (now Hilton) and enquired about availability for the following month, the wedding coordinator quipped: “Bro, are you okay? What’s going on?” 

But she agreed to check the hotel calendar, and when she called Clovis back a few minutes later, she said with incredulity: “We are fully booked every single weekend except October 13.”

The couple knew then, without a doubt, that God had made a way for them to get married in just three weeks’ time.

When Clovis and Elina handed their wedding invitations to their bosses and friends, they were met with shock.

Questions of “Is everything okay?”, “I didn’t know you even have a girlfriend/boyfriend” and “Is it a shotgun marriage?” bombarded them. The couple reassured their friends and shared their story briefly. Their parents were worried about what others would think, but God’s previous dreams to them gave them the peace they needed. 

Elina’s close friends were astounded when she suddenly handed them her wedding invite.

For many couples, wedding planning is a stressful affair, sometimes leading to tension between the couple and with parents or in-laws due to mismatched expectations.

The converse happened for Clovis and Elina.

“I found myself falling in love with Elina in those three weeks. I saw the way she calmly handled situations involving our parents and I was even more drawn to her,” said Clovis.

Saying “I do” not only to each other

On October 13, 2018, the couple held their wedding at Mandarin Orchard hotel and shared their testimony with the 400 guests present.

When the photographer gave them their wedding photos, Elina realised that this was the scene she had seen in her dream, where Clovis joined her family for a wedding photograph.

Clovis’ mum and dad blessing the couple on their wedding day.

Worshipping God during their matrimony ceremony at the hotel.

When they exchanged their vows at the altar, they were still strangers to each other in many ways. Since they had had no time to date before getting married, they did not know each other’s hobbies or favourite food or how the other would respond to conflicts.

Clovis did not even know Elina’s Chinese name.

“When we said ‘I do’, it was not just to each other but also ‘I do’ to God, trusting Him to ordain the best for us.

“The real dating would start after marriage,” said Clovis, now 34.  

Clovis tearing up when Elina spoke her vows to him.

“Clovis was my boyfriend for a month, my fiancé for a week, and my husband for life,” Elina summed up succinctly.

She emphasised that couples should not get married simply because they had a dream about the other person.

Clovis and Elina got married in 2018, one and a half years after Elina first had dreams of Clovis being her husband.

“You need to first have a relationship with God and know His voice,” she said.

“I would also encourage them to seek godly counsel and be accountable to the leaders in their church and to their parents.

“That was why I asked God to show what He showed me to both sides of our parents. We also consulted our pastor in our journey,” said Elina, now 30.

Blissful marriage

Though they did not know each other well before marriage and did not “test run” their compatibility through an extended period of dating, they have ironically found married life relatively smooth sailing and free from major conflicts.

Trials in life did come, however. They were involved in a car crash the following year, and it could have endangered Elina’s pregnancy.

Their faith saw them through the ordeal and the couple now have a set of three-year-old twin daughters. 

The couple’s three-year-old twin daughters.

The dream that Clovis had in 2018 has since also come to pass.

The couple are leaders in a public ministry called The Encounter, which seeks to help people encounter God through worship and music evangelism.

They serve in the ministry on top of their day jobs; Clovis is a public servant while Elina is a full-time worker at Cornerstone Community Church.

Clovis and Elina serving together on stage as part of their ministry work in The Encounter.

For singles or dating couples who are struggling or waiting on God for their marriage partners, Elina has this advice: “God knows what is best for you and His timing is perfect. 

“Seek Him, ask Him, wait on Him and obey Him completely. God is the best matchmaker.”


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About the author

Janice Tai

Salt&Light senior writer Janice is a former correspondent who enjoys immersing herself in: 1) stories of the unseen, unheard and marginalised, 2) the River of Life, and 3) a refreshing pool in the midday heat of Singapore.