Profiles

Giving of his best to his Master, even at 68

Salt&Light rejoices with OM Singapore as they celebrate 40 years of God's unchanging faithfulness!

by Gracia Lee // August 27, 2021, 4:22 pm

Singaporean Ngoh Tee Peng, 68, is First Engineer on board MV Logos Hope and is serving with as much zeal as he did when he was on MV Doulos 33 years ago. Photo by Lucas Brito.

Singaporean Ngoh Tee Peng, 68, is First Engineer on board MV Logos Hope and is serving with as much zeal as he did when he was on MV Doulos 33 years ago. Photo by Lucas Brito.

While many dream of spending their golden years putting up their feet, 68-year-old Ngoh Tee Peng is putting his hands to work deep in the hull of a ship.

He is a first engineer on board the MV Logos Hope, where the majority of the ship’s 400 crew members are about a third of his age. But this does not faze Ngoh, who feels in no way inferior to his younger colleagues.

“I want to give the best of my years to God. I still have my strength,” he told Salt&Light confidently over Zoom from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, an island in the Caribbean sea where the ship is now docked.

“It’s like playing video games. I have bonus time. What am I going to do with my time? Play some more lah!”

The best years 

Ngoh has spent a good part of the past three years travelling from shore to shore with the Operation Mobilisation (OM) ship as it sailed around South America and the Caribbean.

Visitors at Vitória, Brazil waiting on the quayside to enter the ship’s bookfair. Photo by Camille Patureau (OM Ships).

Visitors at Vitória, Brazil waiting on the quayside to enter the ship’s book fair. Photo by Camille Patureau (OM Ships).

Married with an adult son, he goes on board for three to six months at a time – an arrangement supported by his wife, who would have gone with him had it not been for her health.

“My wife’s approval is very important. It’s not just my sacrifice, it’s also her sacrifice as well. If my wife is not good, I’d be on the first plane home,” he said.

Ngoh with his wife and family when they visited MV Doulos (in background), which now serves as a hotel in Bintan. Photo courtesy of Ngoh Tee Peng.

Ngoh with his wife and son when they visited the decommissioned MV Doulos (in the background), now converted into the Doulos Phos, The Ship Hotel in Bintan, Indonesia. Photo courtesy of Ngoh Tee Peng

Apart from struggling a little more with the stairs – the engine room is on the first deck and his cabin is on the seventh – he continues to serve with the same zeal and vitality he had more than three decades ago in 1986, when he first served on board MV Doulos.

“It’s like playing video games. I have bonus time. What am I going to do with my time? Play some more lah!”

MV Doulos, which has since been decommissioned, is the predecessor of MV Logos Hope.

Ngoh, who was 33 and single when he began his first term, had been inspired by the first two lines of the hymn Give of Your Best to the Master by Howard B Grose: Give of your best to the Master/Give of the strength of your youth.

As a marine engineer who had spent his entire career on ships and in shipyards, he figured that the “best” he had to offer was what he could do with his hands.

So, after spending four years saving up enough money to provide for his parents’ living expenses, he packed up and left for MV Doulos, spending the next three years labouring in its engine room.

Ngoh, then 33, when he first served on board MV Doulos for three years. Screengrab from Doulos 1989 This is the Life for Me on YouTube by George Booth.

Ngoh, at 33, when he first served on board MV Doulos for three years. Screengrab from Doulos 1989.

It was here that he got to know two men, a bosun (boatswain, or ship’s officer in charge of equipment) from Norway and a plumber from Canada, in their 60s whose quiet and faithful labour would inspire him for decades down the road.

“Even though they didn’t say very much to me, they worked harder than anybody else I knew without complaining,” he recalled.

It was their example that motivated him to return to serve on MV Logos Hope in 2017, two years after he was laid off from his job as a marine surveyor.

“I wanted to do the same, to inspire the young people,” he said.

Fixing what is broken

As an engineer working behind the scenes, Ngoh’s work on the ship may not be the typical picture of what missions looks like.

Explaining what he does on the ship in layman terms, he said: “If anything is broken, I’ll find a way to fix it. If it’s missing a part, I’ll find a way to replace it.”

"The ship is my sandbox," said Ngoh, pictured here working with a drilling machine. Photo by Lucas Brito.

“The ship is my sandbox,” said Ngoh, pictured here working with a drilling machine. Photo by Lucas Brito (OM Ships).

But he does not deem this job any less worthy than a “frontline” role.

Sharing what the chief engineer on MV Doulos once told him, he said in a true engineer fashion: “In any endeavour we measure the input against the output. The input is what we do behind the scenes. The output is what the ships can do in its ministry. In other words, as long as the ship is doing ministry, we don’t mind working behind the scenes.

“There are people on the frontlines – those who go out and do events. And there are people down below – the angels (housekeepers) who will keep cleaning the toilets, the galley who will keep cooking, the engineers who will keep running the machinery. All to keep this tool of God going so that we can have continuous output.”

Even though Ngoh works behind the scenes, he believes that his role is part of what it means to serve God in missions. Photo courtesy of Ngoh Tee Peng.

Even though Ngoh works behind the scenes, he believes that his behind-the-scenes role in the OM ship is part of what it means to serve God in missions. Photo courtesy of Ngoh Tee Peng.

Recently, however, because of Covid-19, the Logos Hope ship’s book fair – its main platform for outreach – has been closed to the public. “That has been a big struggle for all of us, including myself,” said Ngoh, admitting it became difficult to see the purpose in his job.

“If God is still keeping this thing going, even though we don’t see the measurable output, we keep it going.”

Yet he noticed that God has continued to sustain the ship thus far despite the fall in funds and manpower.

“So if God is still keeping this thing going, even though we don’t see the measurable output, we keep it going,” he said.

While crew members have not been able to do much external ministry in the past year, they have spent more time training and equipping themselves in missions, he said.

He added that he is amazed at how new volunteers have still been coming on board despite the uncertainty of the ship’s ministry.

“God is still using the ship though not in the same way as before. How is it going to look in the future? We don’t know. But as long as He keeps supplying the resources that we need, we’ll keep going,” he said.

Inspired by a “puzzling verse”

And so he has kept going day by day with inspiration from the Spirit, he said. 

Handwritten in black ink on a little whiteboard in the ship’s welding shop is Exodus 31:3-4, taken from when God had instructed Moses to build the tabernacle. It says:

“and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills — to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze”

A puzzling verse on the wall of the ship's engine room.

A “puzzling verse’ from Exodus on a whiteboard in the ship’s welding shop. Photo courtesy of Ngoh Tee Peng.

It was a verse that had puzzled Ngoh when he was a new believer, until he came to experience its truth.

“God gives me inspiration when I’m stuck. He says, ‘Do this. Do this.’ So I just move as though someone behind me is giving me instructions. I experience it exactly as the verse says,” he said.

Evidently passionate about working with his hands, he has even made a rice cooker from old diving bottles and a hot plate from scrap material – he even has videos to prove it.

“The ship is my sandbox,” he declared. “For me, it’s a fun time. It’s a good life!”

Outside of work, he does not try too hard to integrate into the social circles of other crew members as he is much older than they are.

“If they want to talk to me, they’ll know where I am. I sit in the same place at the table every night,” he said. “If they have a problem, they come and talk to me. Or if I see a problem, I’ll go and talk to them.”

Ngoh with the crew on board MV Logos Hope. Photo by Lucas Brito.

Ngoh (second from right) with the crew on board MV Logos Hope. Photo by Lucas Brito (OM Ships).

His presence, nonetheless, has not gone unnoticed. 

He shared that a fellow crewmate from Papua New Guinea recently told him that he is making an impact on people by the sheer fact that he is serving on the ship despite his age.

“That was encouraging to me,” he said.

Service for life

In April, he completed his 18-month commitment on board the ship, which is his longest one yet. He looked forward the most to spending time with his wife, relaxing and watching TV, he said, breaking into a grin.

The good thing about being his age is that there is no need to stress about his next steps in life, as compared to when he was in his 30s, he added.

“The first time, after serving on the ship, I had to figure out how to find a job when I got back. But now, I don’t have to be anxious, because after working for 30 years I have savings. So I need not worry about anything,” he said.

How much longer does he plan to serve?

“Well, akan datang,” he said. “We’ll see.”


Will you give God the best years of your life? Discover opportunities to serve in OM here.

40 God Stories

To commemorate their 40th year, OM Singapore has published a book, Unchanging: On Mission With a Faithful God, capturing 40 God-stories of Singaporeans, including Ngoh Tee Peng, who love God and His mission in many parts of the world.

“The quintessence of OM rests on the premise that God can use anyone, anytime, anywhere, whenever one hungers for Him. It is about giving God a chance to work in and through us,” said Rev Keith Lai, President of National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS), who served on board OM’s Logos ship.

“The 40 curated stories in this book testify to this truth. What a motley bunch of most unlikely individuals. What diverse and interesting backgrounds. But all with an underlying common thread – a touch of God’s grace stirring in their hearts to leave home and venture into the fathomless unknown.” 

To purchase the book for yourself and your friends, click here.

About the author

Gracia Lee

Gracia is a journalism graduate who thoroughly enjoys people and words. Thankfully, she gets a satisfying dose of both as a writer at Salt&Light. When she's not working, you will probably find her admiring nature or playing Monopoly Deal with her little brother.

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