“I loved being wined and dined”: How a media man ended up in full-time ministry
by Christine Leow // September 9, 2022, 3:27 pm
Pastor Vernon Song with American singing brother-sister duo Donny and Marie Osmond in his heyday in the media industry. Photos courtesy of Ps Vernon Song.
Pastor Vernon Song was just in his 20s when the speaker issued an invitation at a Christian retreat he was attending.
“He said, ‘Who would like to serve God full-time?’ I heard the Lord call me and I responded to the full-time call,” recounted Ps Vernon, now 54.
He was studying Broadcasting at a university in Arizona, USA, then and had joined the International Students Club (ISC) there. It was at one of ISC’s retreats that this happened.
He would later graduate and return to Singapore.
Despite responding to God’s call in his youth, he did not immediately act on it.
“When you come back with a degree, you’d better do something with your degree,” Ps Vernon told himself. “So, I joined the then Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS).”
But Ps Vernon’s desire to serve God in full-time ministry did not wane.
There must be more
The commitment to go full-time was not the first time Ps Vernon answered an altar call. He was a Primary 3 student at a mission school when he raised his hand in answer to an invitation to receive Jesus Christ and become a Christian.
“I was always interested in Christianity,” said Ps Vernon whose family was of another faith.
“I met God in a personal way for the very first time and got baptised.”
After that decision, he “didn’t think much about it” and carried on with life. It was only in secondary school that he joined Christian Fellowship and ended up going to church with his friends.
“I kept it a secret from my parents.”
During that time, Ps Vernon also followed some of his extended family members to a Catholic church.
“All this time, Mum said, ‘Don’t let your Dad know.’”
Though he went to church every week, he found it meaningless because he was not integrated into the church community.
“I thought that there must be more than just this.”
When he went abroad to study and joined ISC, he finally found the faith community he was looking for.
“I thought: Finally, this is what Christianity is about. I met God in a personal way for the very first time and got baptised in Arizona in 1992.”
Ps Vernon graduated in 1994 and spent the next year interning with International Students Inc in the US.
Waiting for open doors
When he returned to Singapore, he secured a job in programme acquisitions at TCS.
“I loved being wined and dined, and the travelling.”
He would move on to work with StarHub before ending up at the now defunct SPH MediaWorks.
He began to wonder if it was time to fulfil his promise to go into full-time ministry.
“In my heart, I knew what I needed to do. But I was just waiting for God to open a door for full-time ministry.
“When I went to MediaWorks, I asked the Lord if that was where he wanted me to join. I asked Him, ‘Will you give me an indication as to whether that was the place and time for me?’”
At the job interview, he asked for “a salary that was ridiculously high”. To his surprise, they agreed to pay him that amount. But within 18 months, the organisation closed down.
“I thought: What now?”
All this time, Ps Vernon had remained involved in the work with international students. He had even been asked to join as a staff. But he had always hesitated because he had a job that paid him well.
He began to wonder if it was time to fulfil his promise to go into full-time ministry. Ps Vernon sought the counsel of his wife, mentor and church leaders. They all gave him the green light.
“If anyone had said ‘no’, I would have been out.”
Within a short time, Ps Vernon had not one but two offers. A para-church organisation as well as his own church had positions for him to work with international students.
He felt led to take up the church offer. The fact that he would have a team of colleagues with whom he would work also made the offer more attractive.
A God of purpose
The work in church would eventually move from international students to youths. Then, within a year, Ps Vernon was tasked to head the Children’s Ministry.
Between losing his media job and going full-time, Ps Vernon worked for a year as a relief teacher in a primary school.
“Wherever the Lord places you, it is never wasted.”
“I enjoyed it tremendously. The VP asked me to consider teaching full-time and even gave me a letter of recommendation.
“I had parents asking me, ‘Mr Song, my son used to be like this, now he isn’t. What did you do with him?’
“I realised that I was able to engage kids and that I enjoyed interacting with them.”
When he took over the Children’s Ministry, Ps Vernon realised how his media experience and stint as a teacher all led to making him more effective in communicating God’s Word to children.
“Whatever the Lord places you in, it is never wasted. God is a God of purpose.”
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