81398124_2738662939533225_1181064359418265600_o

Grace AOG members at the 2019-2020 countdown service. Photo from Grace Assembly Of God Facebook

Grace Assembly of God (AOG) church members are rallying in unprecedented ways, even as authorities yesterday (Feb 15) named the church as the largest cluster with 16 confirmed cases of Covid-19. 

Kenneth Kwan, a member of the church’s Executive Board, told Salt&Light he is “amazed by what God is doing” amongst his church.

The leaders are “deeply moved by how Gracians are raising a hallelujah in these difficult times”.

“What we couldn’t do before, God has made it all happen in less than a week,” he added.

“Every church will tell you that it is not easy to get people to pray as a corporate body. They have to be encouraged time and time again to pray,” he said. But now, there is a “sudden surge” of prayer initiated by members, not pastors.

The church is banding together across age and language groups to pray round the clock.

Kwan shared examples of how cell groups are continuing to meet through online means, with some groups seeing better attendance rates, while other Grace AOG church members, or Gracians as they are known, are supporting each other in many ways, including delivering meals and groceries to those under quarantine.

Gracians have bought food for staff, helped run errands and get groceries, and even offered to keep an eye on the church premises, said the church in its Instagram post today.

In a bilingual Instagram post sent to its members today (February 16), the church said:

“As part of our 70th Anniversary Celebrations, we had planned for a Acts of Grace campaign sometime this year, to encourage Gracians to demonstrate God’s love and grace by blessing someone through their kind acts.

“But judging from what we have seen, the Acts of Grace has already started!

“Many of our staff have been blessed by our Gracians who have sent practical gifts of food, supplements, flowers, prayers and words of encouragement! Gracians have also offered their time to help our staff to run errands, get groceries and even to keep an eye on our church premises!

“Gracians, thank you for your love!!!”

Of their resiliency and responses, Kwan said that the leaders are “deeply moved by how Gracians are raising a hallelujah in these difficult times”.

A test of unity

Acknowledging the messages and love also sent by other churches, Kwan said: “We are so grateful to them. This shows that we are united as one. When one part is hurt, the rest of the body is hurting as well.”

“This episode is a test of, not just our own faith as individuals, but our unity as a body of Christ.”

Kwan said: “During difficult times, the faith and emotional will of the believers will be tested, but that is where we will experience God’s grace and character directly for ourselves.

“This episode is a test of, not just our own faith as individuals, but our unity as a body of Christ.

“In the face of sickness, do we back down from our faith? When people shun us because we are deemed ‘high-risk’, do we deny our association with our church, or even with Christ?”

Church leadership praying over Rev Wilson Teo during his installation as Senior Pastor on January 1, 2020. Previously the Executive Pastor, Rev Wilson took over the mantle from Rev Calvin Lee. Photo from Grace Assembly Of God Facebook.

Church leaders and friends praying over Rev Wilson Teo during his installation as Senior Pastor on January 1, 2020. Photo from Grace Assembly Of God Facebook.

Rev Wilson Teo recovering well

Kwan and other AOG church leaders had patched through a video call with Senior Pastor Rev Wilson Teo last Thursday, after news broke that he was warded at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases as having tested positive for the coronavirus.

“The good news: He (Rev Wilson Teo) is well and looks great,” wrote Grace AOG Executive Board member, Kenneth Kwan, in a Facebook post written last Thursday after he finished a video call with Rev Wilson Teo and other church leaders. Photo from Kenneth Kwan on Facebook.

“The good news: (Rev Wilson Teo) is well and looks great,” wrote Grace AOG Executive Board member, Kenneth Kwan, in a Facebook post last Thursday after he finished a video call with Rev Wilson Teo and other church leaders. Screenshot by Kenneth Kwan on Facebook.

Rev Teo is recovering well under the careful watch of his capable doctors, Kwan told Salt&Light.

The leadership team still meets regularly online – their meeting yesterday lasted over three hours, he said.

“While it may be heart-wrenching to see the increasing number of confirmed cases linked to our church, the leadership team remains steadfast and confident that this dark cloud will pass,” said Kwan.

70 years of grace – just the beginning

All services and activities have been suspended for two weeks from February 12, but Grace AOG, which has more than 4,000 members, hopes to resume operations soon, likely before the end of February, said Kwan.

On Friday, February 14, 2020, MOH said in a press release that churches can carry on with worship services, as long as precautionary measures are in place.

“When people shun us because we are deemed ‘high-risk’, do we deny our association with our church or even with Christ?”

For now, priority is focused on the well-being of staff and congregants and on “ensuring our environment is safe for their return”.

Staff morale is “holding up very well” under Home Quarantine Orders (HQO) that were issued to all staff last week. It has not stopped many of them from reaching out – remotely – to “look after their sheep and ministries”, said Kwan.

This is despite the fact that, under quarantine, families can be separated physically.

“Small kids don’t understand this. Adults cry over this.” Kwan wrote in a Facebook note last night: “It is tough to see the staff being separated from their families. In times like this, you just want to hug them but you can’t.”

Grace AOG's Executive Church Board with Rev Wilson Teo (fourth from right) soon after his installation as Senior Pastor on January 1, 2020. Previously the Executive Pastor, Rev Wilson took over the mantle from Rev Calvin Lee (fifth from right). Photo from Grace Assembly Of God Facebook.

Grace AOG’s Executive Church Board with Rev Wilson Teo (fourth from right) soon after his installation as Senior Pastor on January 1, 2020. Previously the Executive Pastor, Rev Wilson took over the mantle from Rev Calvin Lee (fifth from right). Photo from Grace Assembly Of God Facebook.

The church leadership, however, is confident that God’s purpose will prevail in the situation. “Especially in the year we are celebrating our 70th anniversary,” Kwan said.

“The church leadership is confident that God’s purpose will prevail in the situation.”

As said by the pastor in Wuhan whose call to prayer went viral:  “The situation is so critical, yet (we are) trusting in the Lord’s promises, that His thoughts toward us are of peace, and not evil, and that He allows this time of testing not to destroy us, but to establish us.”

Kwan said: “At the end of the day, we need to look to God who is sovereign, over Grace Assembly, and over His Church at large.

“We will wait upon the Lord for He will see us through this all, and we will emerge stronger and more united than before, because we are overcomers in Christ!”

“This virus will not defeat us”: Senior Pastor Wilson Teo, Grace Assembly of God

“God is in our midst. We prayed through SARS and we pray now to persevere”: Infectious diseases physician Paul Tambyah

 

About the author

Tan Huey Ying

Salt&Light writer Huey Ying is a millennial with a résumé to prove it – she was a plankton-sized part of the finance industry before serving in a Christian organisation. She loves the sea and you will find her somewhere near the water during her holidays.