by Tan Lay Leng
It is easy to be misled by the initial impression of Andrew’s aloofness but a delightful conversationalist, he has a knack of punctuating his sentences with a childlike chuckle. Our conversation focused on discipleship, a subject that is close to Andrew’s heart.
So, how would a disciple of Jesus fulfil his or her kingdom assignment?
With conviction, Andrew replied that discipleship is what keeps him going on his kingdom assignment in building a community of kingdom seekers or Christ followers.
“Discipleship is relationship, it is not membership. It is not a church programme,” Andrew said, “there’s nothing glamourous about discipleship. It is hard work and it happens behind the scenes. Very low-profile and goes unnoticed by others.”
He added that in our performance-driven society, it is sad that even in our churches, most understand success as the title; social status; being associated with people of standing or pursuing the ‘perks’ that come with serving in a typical contemporary church. Does all that ‘success’ overshadow Christ in you? Will others continue to follow you when all these ‘successes’ are stripped away? Or will they follow you because of the Christ in you?
Recognising that trust is critical in relationship-building, Andrew makes a conscious effort to stay vulnerable with those he journeys with. By confronting his own weaknesses, he encourages them to be authentic too. As he walks with them at where they are, he guides them closer towards God.
He emphasizes that in a mentor-mentee relationship, the mentor is not ‘above’ the mentee, both are on equal standing in Christ. Neither does the mentee belong to the mentor, but to Christ. Both should relate to one another from a place of humility as the goal is for both parties to grow to be more Christ-like.
Andrew experienced his own awakening while he was based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Being away from Singapore and living in a communist country led him on a journey in redefining what Church is in the context of scriptures (not culture), and how it should be expressed and lived in the context of the kingdom of God. It was also in Vietnam that he first met Henson at the International Christian Fellowship where Henson was the guest preacher during an Easter Service. Andrew stayed in touch with Henson and later on learnt about Henson’s plans to start Archippus Awakening. The message resonated with Andrew and he bought Henson’s book Say To Archippus, which he finished reading within a few days. For the first time, he felt validated about his journey to live kingdom; to follow Christ, and not to follow the crowd.
(Read more: I encourage every Christian to read Say To Archippus)
When asked what his challenges were with his pursuit of his kingdom assignment, Andrew confessed that aligning is the hardest because it is really about dying to self. You are not willing to give up your old ways and that includes the preconceived notions picked up while growing in a church environment, which we assumed are truth and kingdom, but when measured against scripture, are not. To identify the old mindsets and to unlearn and relearn can be very uncomfortable and inconvenient. It is very easy and convenient to slip back to the old ways.
In the past, like any dutiful church member, Andrew used to fill up his seven-days-a week with church activities. There was so much doing and simply no time to pause, reflect and hear God. Even if he did spend time with God, it was about ministry. It was not about enjoying God.
“The right way to alignment begins inward,” Andrew added, “we need time to sit with God and discover more who He is to us. When we know who He is, then we discover our true identity; who we are in Christ. Assignment or purpose comes when you know your identity.”
True alignment cannot come from any other person except from God. Because He is our King and Creator. Hence, we need His leading first-hand, or else we will end up just doing what other people expect from me, but not doing what God wants. Which means, instead of receiving a personal revelation from our King, we may end up copying what others are doing; just the form, but not the being.
These days, Andrew wisely finds pockets of times, during his travels and waiting times, to keep his close connection with his King. Moving forward, Andrew desires to share his God-given victories over old mindsets to influence other ex-offenders through an after-care mentoring initiative to help them integrate into society and be successful in their careers. Because he is an ex-offender himself, his heart is to see them lead a dignified and victorious life for our King.
Henson writes in Alignment Check, “…with discipleship, it is all about Jesus. Discipleship may concern, involve and affect you, but it’s not about you. Every disciple knows he’s in it because of the Master. For the Christian, it is all about Jesus.”
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”” Matthew 16:24
That is what discipleship is essentially: Denial of Self. Devotion to Jesus. A disciple aligns with the master. A kingdom subject aligns with the King. Jesus is the real deal. Who do you say Christ is? Is He YOUR King?
Andrew is married to Sharmaine. Both of them relocated to Vietnam for four years as ‘tent makers’ preaching the gospel of the kingdom. Back in Singapore now, they continue to fulfil their assignment in building a community of kingdom seekers.