“They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat”: Rev Dominic Yeo on God’s mandate
Emilyn Tan // June 30, 2022, 10:13 pm
"We live in a world that is needing the bread of life. That feeding must come from the Church," says Rev Dominic Yeo. Unless otherwise stated, all photos from Rev Yeo's Facebook, used with permission.
For someone who argues with God, Dominic Yeo seems to walk under an extravagantly open heaven.
“You know, my quiet time … It’s not a one-hour thing. My quiet time is a long walk with Jesus – a long talk,” he shares over the pulpit.
“Sometimes He bugs me and then when I say I’m not happy, we continue to talk throughout the whole day.”
“My quiet time is a long walk with Jesus – a long talk.”
Case in point: the feeding of the 5,000 recorded in Matthew 14:15-21.
Evening was approaching in the “remote place” they were in, and Jesus’ disciples ask Him to dismiss the crowd that’s been following hard on His heels. “Send the people to the villages that they may buy themselves something to eat,” the 12 urge.
He interjects: “Verse 16: Jesus said, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’ ”
Following Biblical precedent, he repeats for emphasis: “ ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’
“I’m just Dom”
The man has been the General Superintendent of Singapore’s Assemblies of God (AOG) for the last 12 years. He is Secretary of the World AOG Fellowship, and chairman of the Asia Pacific AOG Fellowship. He also sits on the Advisory Council of the Pentecostal World Fellowship.
Meanwhile, since March 2005 he has been Senior Pastor of Trinity Christian Centre (TCC), which makes him shepherd over a flock of 10,000 members.
The list of his credentials stretches longer. And yet: “I just want you to know, I’m just Dom. In our church they affectionately just call me ‘Ps Dom’.
“I’m just a brother-in-Christ. We are all of the same ranking in the Lord, just that we all have different functions.”
“We are all of the same ranking in the Lord, just that we all have different functions.”
Thus dispensing with the “Reverend” honorific, he goes on: “See, I would have a problem that day, because if I were the disciples and Jesus made this statement to me, I would have a big quarrel with Jesus.”
No holds barred. Feeding 5,000 – not including the women and children – is a task humanly impossible.
“I know you guys in a Methodist church, you all don’t fight with Jesus. But I do,” he tells the Paya Lebar Methodist Church (PLMC) congregation of some 1,350, gathered onsite and online for its June 16-19 conference entitled, “Tapestry. Generations Unbroken.”
Ps Dom’s session, “The Tapestry of Unity”, was the third of 10, with other speakers including Rev Edmund Chan, Jason Wong and Pastor Ian Toh, Rev Charleston Lim, Dr Daniel Fung, Dr Tam Wai Jia and Isaac Ong.
“So, I could imagine myself having a major discourse: ‘You are the Son of God. You claim to be the Son of God. You are the miracle worker. You’ve done all these other miracles. You did the miracle of the wedding at Cana and all that. Please, produce it.’
“Correct or not?” he asks the rapt audience.
From the same pulpit, he rejoins, pointedly: “But, the reality is, He turns around and says: ‘You.’ ”
The Datsun 100A
There’s a familiarity about Ps Dom that puts you at ease. That he is so candid is disarming. You realise he is comfortable in his own ordinary skin and not afraid to show that he, like you, is a mere mortal – even from up there on the preacher’s higher ground where you are not.
Once a boy running around Chinatown in shorts, once nothing but a “potential” (read: “failure”) with one ‘O’ level pass to his name, once a Bible school dropout, he hails above all the significance of being saved by God on June 9, 1980.
A lithe sportsman in his teens – promoted every year in school only for his prowess on the hockey field, the football pitch, the sepak takraw court – and at 60 now, an avid golfer, he recounts: “I didn’t just walk down to the altar, I literally ran to the altar to give my life to Jesus Christ.
“I literally ran to the altar to give my life to Jesus Christ.”
“And as I stood there receiving salvation, in my mind I said: ‘Lord, wherever You want me to go, I will go. Whatever You want me to do, I will do.’ ”
The dread of such a declaration would fall upon him later, when he chanced upon Isaiah 6:8 – “Here am I, Lord. Send me.”
Half in jest, he shares it was only then that “it dawned on me that I responded to God’s call”.
“But I didn’t want to respond to God’s call!
“I looked at all the poor pastors around. I said, ‘No no no! I don’t want to live in abject poverty!’ – because I asked myself, ‘How am I ever going to get married if I live on a pastor’s pay?’ ”
Horror of horrors, one of the associate pastors of Trinity Christian Centre soon visited him with a word of knowledge.
Ps Dom tells it like this: “He said, ‘God sent me here to speak to you.’ And I was like, ‘Wow! What is it?’ ” – his eyes aglow with amazement.
“And then he told me, ‘God wants you in full-time ministry.’
“I said, ‘No!’ He said, ‘Yes!’ Then he said, ‘Don’t worry. Instead of driving a Mercedes, God will give you a Datsun 100A.’ ”
Exclaiming, “Modern humanity doesn’t know what is a Datsun 100A! They only know a Nissan!” – Ps Dom lays it bare: “I’m like: ‘Nooooo!’ I was stressed out!”
Not one to miss the crossroad that confessions signal, he grabs hold of the opportunity to show how God overcame in that joust and fast-tracked His plan for Dominic Yeo to be “Restored for the Greater”.
That was the title of a sermon he had delivered to PLMC two Sundays (May 29) prior to the conference.
Along with the declaration that restoration was about being saved from darkness into the light, he had challenged: “How many of you have ever wondered: ‘Lord, You have restored me for a purpose, so what is that purpose?’ ”
“Lord, You have restored me for a purpose, so what is that purpose?”
It’s a question he’s asked God in the past – with an ultimatum issued: “If You don’t have anything for me, You might as well save me and then kill me so that I can be in heaven; so that I can escape this Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous world.”
Clearly, God had other plans for his welfare – including a redefinition of the word “restoration”.
In biblical terms, it does not mean “to fix”, Ps Dom explains. “God is not a Father who restores us to (our) original state, but God restores us to a state better than what it was.
“At the same time, biblical restoration is also God exchanging something old for that which is new and greater. The prophet Isaiah says, ‘Behold, I am doing a new thing.’ (Isaiah 43:19)
“This word ‘new’ in Hebrew is not just making something old into new. It’s also doing something new that has never been seen, never been experienced before.
“The God whom we worship, the heavenly Father whom we serve, He is a God who always wants to do something greater in our lives.
“How many of you are excited that God is going to do something greater?”
The hint of self-deprecation is hard to miss, because there was a time Ps Dom himself was not particularly excited.
“Are You sure You want me to be in full-time?”
“You see, alignment with God’s vision has to do with an agreement, but I didn’t come into agreement. Just because I know that God has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11) does not mean that I accept God’s plan.
“Be a pastor? Man … ” his voice trails off in mock disbelief, remembering that he had demanded of God: “Are You sure You want me to be in full-time?”
He was overwhelmed by the fear of poverty, having long said to himself that by the age of 21, he wanted to have made “a million bucks”.
There was disinterest, doubt, and maybe even disgust, but he eventually did yield, aligning himself to:
- God’s vision
- God’s word
- God’s placement.
In doing so, he stepped away from being a “potential” into a place of fulfilment and, with the hindsight of experience, he announces that God’s promises are “a done deal”.
“Because God says it, God will do it (Isaiah 55:11). It manifests – as simple as that.
“And so, I’m here to let you know that God has a plan for your life – a wonderful plan.”
Wonderful the plan may be, but it is not without trial. Ps Dom was, for all intents and purposes, at rock bottom academically, and joining the TCC pastoral team was awe-inspiring. His colleagues were “Bachelor in this, and then work in Auditor General’s office; this one was a civil engineer”, he describes. “And then I look at myself.
“Strangely, the Lord put me into that placement.
“I accepted the placement, even though I look at every one of those honchos and I’m like: Wow. They are more strategic. They are more articulate than me. I mean, you know … ”
Then comes the clincher: “All I have is an anointing. That’s all.”
Simply that. He had been a traveling evangelist, doing crusade meetings and healing rallies – and he was asked to be the Senior Pastor Designate.
“I said: ‘God, whatever it is, I’m prepared to be a donkey for You.’
“I stepped into the placement.”
“All I have is an anointing. That’s all.”
It is a fitting illustration for: “With the placement comes a position. With the placement comes a new season. With the placement comes the authority that God will put into your life – because you don’t qualify, but God qualifies those whom He calls.”
To make sure you not only hear but actively engage with what he’s saying, he reiterates: “God empowers those whom He calls.”
The challenge, though, is: “You can believe but do you really trust? It’s a quantum leap.”
Clearly a family man, he takes a leaf out of their life to explain this tenet of faith. He has been married for 34 years to Chin Inn. They have two children, Natalie and Matthaeus.
He is not averse to sharing that Matthaeus, during his primary school years, was brilliant but lazy. He countered the boy’s inertia in P6 with the offer of a reward: a Nintendo machine.
Natalie had a learning disability. She was and still is allergic to prawns. Going beyond the facts, the story he tells is of her at age four refusing to learn how to swim.
He is in the pool to cajole her: “Natalie, jump. Come to Daddy.” She says no.
He tries again: “Do you believe that when you jump Daddy will catch you? She said ‘yes’. I said ‘jump’. She said ‘no’.
“Then I said to her, ‘Natalie, do you believe that when Daddy says ‘jump’, you jump, Daddy will catch you and not only Daddy will catch you, Daddy will be able to teach you to swim?
“God told me: ‘Dominic, there’s a big difference between ‘I know’ and ‘I trust’.”
“She said ‘yes’. I said, ‘Then jump’. She said ‘no’.”
He “got frustrated like any parent”, he says, and: “I came out of the swimming pool, grabbed my daughter, jumped into the pool and she’s screaming. And right now everyone in the pool is looking at a father trying to kill his daughter.”
Never a dull moment in his life, and never the lack of a divine revelation either: “God dropped something into my heart that day. God told me: ‘Dominic, there’s a big difference between ‘I know’ and ‘I trust’.”
The lesson wasn’t for him alone: “Believing God’s Word is fully trusting God at His Word.” He looks straight out at the congregation. “A lot of us believe because it is up here (he points to his head) – because it is theological, because it is academic.
“But you know what? It comes down here (he taps his heart). And when it comes down here, it’s trust.”
Affirming the Word
Full-on tests of his own faith began with his salvation experience. Soon after coming to know the Lord in 1980, he lost 25 kg in a matter of weeks.
“I eat, but somehow I was passing out blood.” He was sent off to the hospital for a battery of tests, after which he was told he had colon cancer requiring immediate surgery.
By then he had read through the whole Bible and memorised copious amounts of Scripture – which put him in an existential crisis: “I struggled because the Word of God says He is my healer, but I am dying with colon cancer.”
Not one to sit around and do nothing, he signed the indemnity and checked himself out of the hospital.
He didn’t go straight home as advised. He went to church, where he asked prayer of one of the assistant pastors. “You got to go back to the hospital!” she urged.
“And then she was talking to me about how God gives us doctors. I didn’t want to hear that whole argument – yes, I know that God gives us doctors.
“In the midst of my circumstance, I had to learn to first embrace God’s Word, regardless.”
“I told her, I am so young, I have a great life ahead of me, I have a zing and a zest for life. I just want to ask you to pray for me that God will heal me, because God’s Word says that He is my Healer.”
Plainly, his was an almighty internal struggle, the purpose of which was: “I had to come to that place of affirmation. In the midst of my circumstance, I had to learn to first embrace God’s Word, regardless.
“And when you take that as your starting point, something happens.”
The pastor’s prayer for him was “less than 10 seconds” – something along the lines of “You are healed in Jesus’ Name. Go. Go back to the hospital.”
Ps Dom didn’t listen to her. “I went straight home and I said, ‘God I’m going to start just embracing Your Word.’
“And a miracle happened. I didn’t die.
“Today, if I go for a blood test, do you know that there is no cancer marker in my body? Yeah! Give God praise!”
By this time, you get the idea that Ps Dom is not one to shy away from the facts of life, neither hide it. He tells it like it is, and any and every circumstance can be used as a frame for gospel truth.
The poor pastor proposed to Chin Inn and married – as he put it – “upwards”. Over the years, she’s been the one “bringing back the bacon”, he testifies.
“She is actually giving me a lifestyle” – this, despite being retrenched many times over.
The first time she lost her job was after seven years as a bank officer. “While I was happy, she was very sad. I said, ‘Honey, you need to know what God has in store for you” – underscoring, by the way, his sermon point about being aligned to the vision.
“You need to hear what God is saying” – that’s alignment to the Word.
“And you need to take your allotment in life, because with the placement will come a position. As soon as she accepted that ‘Yes, my season in this bank is over’, things began to happen.” That’s the placement, position, authority message.
Within two weeks she was hired by a manufacturing company to be part of the corporate management team. It paid her twice what the bank was paying.
A few days on the job was all it took for her to see many backslidden Christians, and she told her husband: “I know God is calling me to bring them back to church.”
“Every placement is a signature of the season of God in your life.”
Over the course of about three years, all but one of them did return to church, then Chin Inn was retrenched again.
“This time she came home with the quiet confidence: ‘God has something for me’,” Ps Dom says. “She began to pray and seek the Lord.”
Two weeks later, she was head-hunted for a job in the aviation industry at a still-higher pay. A decade or so later, after she had worked her way up to Chief Operating Officer, she was retrenched, and quickly head-hunted to join a private aviation company. It too specialised in supply chain logistics, and she was well-placed for the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic even before it happened.
The principle: “Every placement is a signature of the season of God in your life. And the signature of God for your life begins to restore you for something greater.”
Now that TCC is journeying towards leadership renewal in March 2023, Ps Dom himself is on the cusp of yet another new season of his life.
Set in motion since 2019, the transition was announced last Tuesday (June 21) on his Facebook: “God is the God of the Generations. The moment we stop preparing for the next generation, we begin the process of extinction.
“With effect June 1, 2022, Pastor Gerald Tan has been appointed as Lead Pastor Designate.
“The Change of Command service is set for March 2023.”
Doubtless there will be no retirement for this servant of God. It stands to reason that he is likely to continue his back-to-back travels and reliance on “two suitcases”.
As explained to the PLMC conference congregation: “The reason why I do that is because my life is indebted to Christ.
“If I have the ability to preach, the opportunity to preach, I will do it. That’s why if an invitation comes, if it fits my window and even though I just arrived, I will still do it, because God has granted me the opportunity, and there is always a purpose in it.”
He takes pains to exhort: “The Word of God is still: ‘You give them something to eat.’ For the disciples, it’s just sending people away. But God’s purpose and mandate is that the disciples become Christ to them.
“The Bible makes it very clear: Taking up the loaves of bread and looking up to heaven, Jesus gave thanks and He broke the loaf, and He gave it to who?
“We live in a world that is needing the bread of life. That feeding must come from the Church.”
“The disciples! It didn’t say He gave it to the people.”
Identifying the three cords (Ecclesiastes 4:12b) of the “Tapestry of Unity” as the boy who offered his five loaves and two fish, Jesus who prayed, and the disciples who took the broken bread from there, Ps Dom concludes that the collaboration of all three brought forth the miracle feeding of the 5,000.
Having said that, he adds: “We live in a world that is needing the bread of life. That feeding must come from the Church.”
What does it look like in the everyday?
“It is taking responsibility for the people God brings into our lives. Do you know that every connection, every meeting, every friendship is ordained by God?
“God has a purpose and a mandate for you to chance into them.
“There is something that you can give. If you have life, give your life. If you have talent, give your talent, so that God’s purpose can be realised in the life of people around you.
“This is still the Word of the Master to us believers in Christ Jesus. This is still the Word of the Lord to the Church: ‘You give them something to eat.’ ”
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