Andrew Ong (Interviewed by Lay Leng)
The first words of Andrew caught my attention. In describing how he received his kingdom assignment, Andrew shared, “You see a gap, what do you do? You don’t have to wait for the government, you step up. You hear God and you obey.”
Step up Andrew did. Onto his bicycle and into the mission God has entrusted him with. For Andrew, discipleship has always been a clear mandate for his own growth and partnership with God in the advancement of His kingdom. Hence, the journey to discover his current kingdom assignment has been anything but aimless.
It all started in the year 2019 with a health check that revealed his cholesterol levels were “off the charts”. An avid cyclist, Andrew decided to cycle more regularly. He also switched to healthy eating habits. After six months, his efforts paid off. Both his weight and cholesterol levels dropped to the healthy range. He also began feeling healthier mentally. Andrew went on to co-found Break the Cycle SG and he was named one of Singapore’s Silent Heroes last year for his role in the initiative.
Andrew said Break the Cycle SG has everything to do with mentoring and discipleship as the initiative aims to use the sport of cycling to help ex-convicts – as its name aptly suggests – break the cycle of reoffending. An ex-convict and drug abuser who had been behind bars twice, he said his heart for the work stems from his personal faith story.
As a teenager, Andrew had gotten caught up in gangs and dropped out of secondary school. At 18 years of age, he was jailed for nine months for rioting. He encountered Jesus in prison after a reading a New Testament Bible that he found in his cell. However, after he was released, he went back to his old lifestyle and ways, including abusing drugs. He was also jailed two weeks in the Detention Barracks for going AWOL after quarrelling with a superior. In 2000, when he was 22, he suffered a drug overdose.
“I’m convinced that it’s the power of the Gospel that saves, because of how He has changed my life. It was like a wake-up call. I was lost during my growing up years and questioned how I had become this person that I disdain,” he said. It was then that he was “ambushed” by the grace of God.
He recounted, “I realised that God had been at every juncture of my life despite me spurning his advances to return to Him.” That night, he surrendered his life to God. It was a turning point in his life. His cravings for drugs disappeared completely after that, he said. He broke off old relationships, quit his job in the night scene and started going to church more regularly. He also spent a year at a church seminary and later went back to school, working his way up to obtain a university degree in Communications Management – all this, so he could be better equipped to serve God.
Back to how God has been leading him to marry his passion for cycling and His mission for him. While working from home in his previous full-time job during the pandemic, Andrew began to realise that while work, family and ministry were vying his attention all at the same time, he invested the most time and energy into the work with the ex-offenders. He checked in with God if he was to devote most of time into this mission of championing the interests of the ex-offenders’ community. That might mean resigning from his salaried job. While Andrew was willing to obey, he could not imagine how God would provide for him. He was well aware that the interest group could not pay him. He told God He has to provide for him. Our God is a great God and He is a God of surprises.
Within a month, Andrew received a text from a charity regarding a job opening. Two other offers came. All three were paid jobs and serving the interests of ex-offenders. While recounting this, Andrew laughed, “It has to be God.” From the offer made to stepping into his current post, it took six months. (Note from editor: While discovering a kingdom assignment, a waiting period is often needed. It is how well we wait, not how long.)
So one thing led to another. From seeing a gap to stepping up to what God has called him to do, Andrew focuses on stewarding his walk with God. He lives out the Archippian tagline to “Focus on the aligning. Let God do the assigning.”
Today, Andrew is welcomed into the charitable organization HCSA Community Services that helps ex-offenders rebuild lives and reach out to single parents and abused teenage girls. He is a disciple of Christ, anything but aimless.
Andrew’s beautiful story reminded me of a chapter in Alignment Check “Run in Such a Way” where Henson writes, “Salvation is free, a gift that we can never earn. However, prizes – crowns – are only given to those who train hard and run all out to complete the race in the best time possible. This should be the focus of every believer in Jesus Christ. It is no coincidence that the race is used as a picture of kingdom subjects moving purposefully to fulfil their kingdom assignments.”
Cycle on, Andrew. We are so proud of you!
A strong believer in the power of community, Andrew is married to Sharmaine. His life mission is drawn from Paul’s words in Acts 20:24: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”