“You quit law to become a church intern? Are you crazy?”

“You love to argue, you should be a lawyer when you grow up!”

I had always been a rebellious child. Whenever my parents or teachers said something against me, I would retort endlessly. Many around me would tell me, “You love to argue, you should be a lawyer when you grow up!” To be fair, I did have a deep interest in matters of law and justice. Hence, upon realizing that my basketball skills would not qualify me as an NBA player, my only ambition was to be an outstanding lawyer.

Praise God, I successfully secured a scholarship, allowing me to finish my law degree and obtain my qualification. Throughout the 4 years in law school, every moment felt so fulfilling. Law gave me a purpose, a desire to contribute to society. After graduation, I went on to become a lawyer, and eventually got into the law firm I wanted. At the firm, I had the freedom to develop my abilities with the support of my team and a caring boss. Unlike some of my friends, I was given fair treatment in terms of working hours and salary. In the short span of a few years, my boss took us on vacations to Japan, Korea, Australia and more, with 5-star service throughout.

That seemingly ambitious childhood dream of mine, had finally come true.

“You’re gifted in Bible teaching, why not consider full time gospel ministry?”

In the 5 years working at the law firm, I never compromised on serving in church due to my job. As usual, I regularly attended services, small groups and courses. I also taught in Sunday School and led Bible study groups. When I saw how many Christians around me (especially those who just joined the workforce) couldn’t serve at church due to heavy work commitments, I realized what a blessing it was to be able to have a good balance between work and church life.  So, I continued enjoying this “Christian/Lawyer” life that I had. From time to time, my pastors and church members would ask me, “You’re gifted in Bible teaching, why not consider full-time gospel ministry?”

Whenever this question cropped up, I would quickly dismiss it (and at times even felt annoyed). I thought, “I’ve been serving God in the marketplace and in church. Why should I give up being a lawyer? I have the best of both worlds!”

As a lawyer, not only could I contribute towards social justice, I could also be a gospel witness in my workplace and earn a comfortable salary at the same time. So, whenever the question of full-time ministry arose, I would also always reply with a polite smile, “I’m sorry, but I have no plans to do so at the moment”.

“Doctor, I’m no longer afraid of death”

I conveniently pushed all thoughts of full-time ministry to the back of my mind. But as I continued to lead Bible study groups, I gradually saw the great power of God’s Word, and how the gospel could transform human hearts.

My small group members started shifting their trust from worldly material pursuits to the eternally priceless gospel. Their awe for the gospel totally changed their lives, causing them to want to live God-pleasing, holy lives.

I was struck – how great and awesome is the power of the gospel!

Only the gospel can change human hearts and turn people to God. This is something that neither a perfect justice system, nor the most outstanding lawyer can achieve. 

The latter half of 2016 was a turning point in my life. At the time, my pastor’s mother-in-law, who was a new believer, was suffering from a terminal illness.

To help the pastor’s family encourage and strengthen his mother-in-law’s faith in the gospel, a few of us from church got together to translate a book by a Christian author who suffered from terminal lung cancer so that the family could read it to her by her bedside (Hope Beyond Cure by David McDonald). In a mere few months, God caused her to go from unbelief to belief, from belief to a strong conviction, and from a strong conviction to having a deep awe of the gospel. While receiving treatment in her critical state, she even told the doctor: “I’m no longer afraid of death, because I know that my Saviour Jesus is waiting to receive me into heaven!”

Walking alongside the dying had taught me a valuable, shocking lesson! Death would mercilessly erase all power, wealth, relationships, pleasure, health and freedom. My pastor’s mother-in-law made me realize this: In the face of death, the thing that matters most is faith in Jesus Christ and the hope of eternal life.

I started to question my desire to ‘have the best of both worlds’: to serve the gospel and be a lawyer; to serve the church and have a comfortable life. If the gospel is really the only thing that saves and gives hope and comfort to all humans in the face of death; if God gave me the gifts and resources to serve the gospel, why was I so unwilling to consider giving more time and energy for the sake of the gospel?

“Stop collecting shells!”

As I was reflecting on the direction of my life, I heard a sermon that forever changed the course of my life.

That day, I was at a clinic for a medical check-up. While I was waiting for my turn, I was listening to John Piper’s sermon entitled ‘Don’t Waste Your Life’. The sermon’s conclusion was challenging: A lot of people are wasting their lives, chasing and enjoying the world’s dreams. A lot of people want to retire early, move to the seaside, enjoy life and collect shells all day long. But at the last chapter of your life, when you stand before the Creator to give an account of your life, all you have to offer is: “Here Lord – see my shells”.

After listening to the sermon, I sat in my chair at the clinic as tears flowed down my cheeks. All this while, I’d been busy collecting shells. My hands were full of shells, and I didn’t want to let go. I was chasing the shells of financial freedom, human validation and a comfortable life.

Even though I had witnessed the power of the gospel and the world’s urgent need for it; even though God granted me salvation along with all kinds of blessings, I was only willing to give back a little time and energy to God in return. I wanted to use all the resources I had to chase after shells, just like the rest of the world.

That day, my plan was to do a medical check-up, but God’s plan was to give me a spiritual check-up. I realized the spiritual symptom I’d been ignoring. I had to stop wasting my life, I had to stop collecting shells. Because one day, I would stand before God. I would have to give a detailed account for my life, and whether I had really responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ with genuine gratitude.

That moment made me start considering full-time gospel ministry and to pluck up the courage to embark on a two-year full-time church internship.

Are you collecting shells?

I have now come almost to the end of my 2-year church internship. The journey was far from easy, at many times even tougher than being a lawyer. But by God’s grace, I’ve been slowly letting go of my shells, and instead grasping tightly the eternally glorious gospel.

Law, at its best, can only bring humans temporary justice and freedom; but only the gospel can bring people into the eternally just and free Kingdom. Working as a lawyer, at its best, can give me a few decades of a comfortable life; but only the gospel can grant me a life that is eternally rich, glorious and abundant.

What about you? Are you also busy collecting shells?

I realize that not all Christians should pursue full-time paid gospel ministry, because our circumstances and gifts are different. And of course, full-time ministry is not the only way of serving the gospel.

Nevertheless, Jesus has called each one of us to take up our crosses wholeheartedly, not to aimlessly collect shellsThe gospel ought to be the centre and goal of our lives. So, whether you’re a lawyer, doctor, teacher, office worker, housewife, or a student, let me encourage you to ask yourself:

In the final chapter of my life, as I stand before the Creator of the universe to give an account of my life to God, will you be able to say with Paul:

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”

~ Philippians 3:7-8

If you know you can’t, ask God to do a spiritual check-up on you and don’t ignore your spiritual symptoms. May God help us leave our shells behind and make us vessels who wholeheartedly love and glorify Him!

Giving up everything for the gospel is not crazy.

Gaining the whole world yet losing our soul is.

My Story

Hi there, I am Jeffri, I was born and bred in Malaysia. I am passionate about basketball, I am a die-hard fans for Liverpool FC and Stevie G, I used to enjoy debate. After getting married with my beloved wife Lydia in 2018, I began to serve as a full time trainee in St Mary’s Anglican Cathedral (Kuala Lumpur). Lydia has also been working for Equip Gospel Ministries (a Reformed Evangelical theological training centre).

I have set up this blog with the aim to share life, faith and interests. In my blog, you will see how proud and rebellious I was since young, aspired to grow up as a high achiever yet and lost myself during the journey. I have always been struggling with pride and self-abasement (even until today), and I came to know the Gospel when I was stuck in deep desperation, which in turn started my journey to follow Jesus Christ.

I am from a family which is deeply rooted in Chinese beliefs and culture. It was impossible for anyone to discipling me when I was young, hence, my mum decided to follow her friend’s advice to bring to kids’ classes in church, hoping that I might become more teachable. During these lessons, although I often heard about the Gospel of Jesus, and how Jesus died for the sins of men, all these events summed up to be merely a touching story to me.

Therefore, during my high school days, I found no interest in the Gospel. I was fervently pursuing achievements and satisfaction in my academic results, debate, basketball, and relationship. In fact, I could fulfill most of my dream with hard work. I was very proud of my successes, and I thought I had a bright future.

The morning sun never lasts the day. Due to my own fault, during my second year in University, my courtship fell apart, my friendships were affected, and my study was hugely impacted till the point that I might not be able to get a scholarship to continue on with my third year. All of a sudden, I lost control over my life. My life no longer steered according to my planned script. All I felt about future was darkness, pitch darkness.

These hurts caused by my repeated mistakes (and sins), have made me realized my ugliness and shamefulness. I doubted if God would ever want to accept a wretched man like me. I was directionless, I started to read Bible, hoping that I can find an exit for my desperation.

In the following year, I went to the UK and regularly joined a Bible study class hosted by a Liverpool church. As we read through Paul’s letter to the Romans, I gradually came to understand the Gospel. I was surprised that God accepts me, not because how good I am, but solely because Jesus has died for a wretched man like me, and fully paid the price of my sins. This Bible study class truly solidified my faith in the Gospel.

Although, I know the biblical truths with my mind, but frankly, my heart response has always fallen short of the biblical standards. The deepening of my biblical knowledge, have not necessarily convicted me to desire God more, or kept my heart away from sins. Indeed, as I strive to live out a life worthy of the Gospel in my daily life, my work, my marriage, I still face various temptations, struggles and challenges.

I also notice that many Christians around me share the same struggle as me, as they seek to follow Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, due to everyone’s high tempo lifestyle, and our ‘do not disturb others’ culture, it has often led us to face this challenge alone. We do not wish to bother others with our problems, and in turn, we do wish others to bother us as well.

Therefore, I wish that through the sharing in my articles (PS: mainly in Mandarin but you may use the in-site Google Language Translator to translate them to English), you will know that you are not lonely in this battle. I sincerely hope that by revealing my feelings and vulnerabilities, it will also encourage brothers and sisters in Christ to build trustworthy relationship under a safe environment.  My prayer is that with the sharing of the biblical truth I have learnt, you will come to know the good news of salvation by Jesus Christ, and turn to Him as your personal Saviour.

Let theology drives our desire for God,
let honesty stirs up our relationship with one another

Support Us

During these two years of full time ministry internship, I am convinced that Gospel is the most essential truth for everyone, and I realize that churches are facing a huge challenge as ‘the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few’.

With the encouragement from my church and wife, and after prayerful consideration, I believe that further theological study will be necessary and beneficial for me to be equipped for a long-term ministry.

Therefore, Lydia and I are planning to pursue a full time Master of Divinity program at Sydney Missionary & Bible College, for 3 years beginning from next year 2021. After that, we intend to return to Malaysia and serve in Chinese ministries.

As such, we hope to raise fund for our expenses (AUD1 :RM3.3):

  • Initial costs          :AUD 11,700   (one-off)
    (flights, visa, necessities, arrival quarantine etc) 
  • Recurring costs  :AUD 18,800   (yearly) 
    (textbooks, living costs etc) (monthly AUD 785/person)