Rev Michael Tan

Set Apart for His Service

Produced by Our Stories, His Glory Team

14 Rev Michael Tan_feature image for layout

Reading Progress:

Pastor Mike had planned to expand a minimart business with his church friend Rodney Goh. But after Rodney’s dream of them carrying stacks of eggs that came crashing down, Pastor Mike decided that their plan may not be such a good idea after all! Soon after, Pastor Mike had a dream too. He was among a large group of worshippers in an open space. A voice was calling them to come forth to serve the Lord. Pastor Mike was one of the few who raised their hands. This dream signalled to him that he was being called for God’s service, even if in his waking state he was not quite ready! Between the two dreams, there was also Reverend Isaac Lim’s invitation to become a full-time pastor. Call this divine vision and man’s intervention! Looking back, Pastor Mike’s pastoral career has been shaped by his ‘training’ in the business world and being involved in church ministries as a young Christian. Later on, Pastor Mike also had opportunities to hone both language and pastoral skills during his postings to different churches, to prepare him for the vocation that God had set him apart for.

If you watch When God Calls, a pastor recruitment video produced by the Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC), you will catch a glimpse of Rev Michael Tan (Pastor Mike, in short) as a minimart operator! This was not all—he had worked many jobs before he became a full-time pastor. So what was God doing with him in these jobs? Pastor Mike sees them as “training grounds for my pastoral ministry of relating with people from all walks of life”. 

Indeed, Pastor Mike was not ready for the call. Not before he had run the gamut of jobs the marketplace had in store for him. 

He first started working at Metro as Department Manager, and then as Promotion Executive in his brother-in-law’s garment manufacturing business.

• Pastor Mike working at a departmental store.

When his father passed away in 1983, Pastor Mike continued his father’s business as a ship chandler, supplying fresh and frozen food to the British, Australian, New Zealand and US navies. The minimart which Pastor Mike had started was also a ‘shopfront’ to keep in touch with his suppliers so that he could continue to operate the ship chandler business. 

When Pastor Mike ran the ship chandler business after his father’s passing, he came across business practices that were wrong and seriously unethical. These shady practices included being dishonest in the supply of goods as well as giving and receiving favours. 

“I was convicted in my heart to trust in God’s promise that He will honour those who honour Him—even in the business world”. Pastor Mike was determined to uphold what was ethically right. Even at the risk of getting less business or none at all from potential clients and buyers, Pastor Mike abstained from offering ‘presale favours’ to those in charge of procurement. Of course, there were other companies who were more than willing to do the contrary in their sales approach. “Undoubtedly it was by God’s grace that I could take a biblically ethical stand and was still able to gain a fair share of the clientele.”

Another ‘reform’ he had to carry out had to do with suppliers. As the ‘middleman’, after receiving an order from a ship, he would make efforts to ensure that his suppliers always delivered the full quantity of goods of satisfactory quality to the ships. 

“Though some suppliers were unwilling to adopt such a business approach, the Lord connected me with others who were willing to work with me for the long haul of getting more business from satisfied and returning clients.”

It was not all business. Pastor Mike’s ‘sideline’ was the gospel! “One of the fulfilling experiences I had in this competitive business was the sharing of my Christian faith and commitment with some of my clients and suppliers. Although none of them was ‘converted’, I knew my Christian witness would have sowed some seeds in them even as I had gained their respect.”

His years in the commercial sector gave him the kind of training that a pastor would need: “Working with people who had diverse interests and demands undoubtedly taught me PATIENCE!”

On the other side, Pastor Mike’s church life gave him training of a different kind. When he started to regularly attend the worship services and participate in the activities of Wesley Methodist Church (WMC), Rev Dr Tony Chi was the Senior Pastor and Rev Isaac Lim (before he attained his doctoral degree) the Associate Pastor. 

By then, Pastor Mike had become more active and more committed in serving at church, especially after his wife Dorothy was baptised in April 1979. 

As he attended WMC, Pastor Mike was deeply impressed by the church’s outstanding pastoral model of preaching, teaching, counselling and leading of the various ministries of the church with other leaders. Gradually over the years, as he became more involved in church life, his heart developed a desire to serve full-time in the church. “I was influenced very much by the godly pastoral role models who were instrumental in shaping my decision to serve God full-time.”

For Pastor Mike, WMC was “the seedbed of my faith and new life in Christ”. It was here that he encountered the living presence of the Triune God, was baptised and received into the church membership. It was also at WMC that he had his pre-Christian marriage to his wife Dorothy, blessed by Rev Dr Isaac Lim, who was instrumental in Pastor Mike going into full-time pastoral ministry. 

• Church blessing of Pastor Mike and Dorothy officiated by Rev Isaac Lim.

Pastor Mike’s initial plan was to serve as a lay ministry staff at WMC. He shared this with the then Senior Pastor Rev Isaac Lim. Instead, Rev Lim asked him to consider becoming a full-time pastor. 

Pastor Mike recalls: “I was utterly surprised at the invitation, and dumbfounded because I didn’t realise he saw the potential in me for pastoral ministry—something I myself did not see.”

The rest, as one would say, is history.

Looking back, even before Rev Lim spoke with Pastor Mike, the groundwork for his spiritual growth had already been laid through his years with the Methodist Adult Fellowship (MAF) which he had joined in late 1978 when he was still a seeker. 

Pastor Mike recalls: “The MAF was a motley group, yet a unique one comprising members in their 20s up to those in their 60s. Somehow, we inspired one another and did many different ministries together, including organising ‘Life in the Spirit’ seminars.

“The leaders were inspirational in the way they led and set good examples too in serving in various church ministries. They each had different spiritual gifts and talents and were passionate for group members to deepen their personal relationship with God and fellow believers. Although the age range in our group was wide, group dynamics were always mutually edifying. The majority of members practised authentic Christian love in showing patience, grace, care, forgiveness and support to one another. The leaders diligently motivated us to grow in our knowledge of God’s Word, with intentional learning and application of spiritual truths. Often knowledgeable Bible teachers were invited, and we were also encouraged to attend Christian seminars and conferences to broaden our interaction with other Christians.” 

Pastor Mike immersed himself fully in church life through the MAF. He was active in all the activities, from the choir, visiting homes for the aged, to the prison ministry and so forth. He stayed on with the MAF right through his four-year course at Trinity Theological College and only left in 1993 after he graduated.

• Pastor Mike leading worship at MAF meeting.

As recounted in the introduction, Pastor Mike’s friend and fellow choir member Rodney Goh had dreamt that the trays of eggs each of them was carrying came crashing down. Pastor Mike listened to God’s direction in this dream; it was a sign that their plan to expand their minimart business was not going to honour God.

• Pastor Mike and fellow minimart operator Rodney Goh.

The next dream, wherein Pastor Mike himself  was one of the few to raise his hand in response to a voice calling a group of worshippers to come forward to serve God, Pastor Mike obeyed too, both in and out of the dream. 

God honours a servant attuned to Him: Before starting his pastoral journey, Pastor Mike had to first settle his ship chandler cum minimart business. His hand continued to steer Pastor Mike and chart the course even as he prepared to attend Trinity Theological College (TTC).

“I had to end my business commitment with my existing business partner who was a non-Christian personal friend. My initial concern was that he would have to wind up the business and he would suffer great losses, while the staff would lose their jobs. Praise the Lord; the business partner was able to arrange for a manager to operate the business with the continued support of the existing staff. God really paved the way for the next leg of my training!”

So after TTC, he was all set to start this new season ministering to the Body of Christ. Pastor Mike was prepared for this. “I was accustomed to listening to my Creator’s heartbeat, primarily through His written Word and [the] writings of Christians, through His collective messages in sermons, to a particular group and through individual Christians and even non-Christians. He also spoke to me through occasional dreams and visions, as well as careful and attentive observation of situations, circumstances and events. In other words, the Lord is perfectly wise and sovereignly almighty in His ways of communication as He chooses.”

In 1993 Pastor Mike was accepted as Member on Trial (MOT) for TRAC Pastoral Ministry before being assigned to serve at Faith Methodist Church (FMC). 

This new season brought Pastor Mike in the direction of ministering to the elderly, the sick and infirm, the incarcerated and disadvantaged, as well as Mandarin and dialect speakers. 

This was evident from the outset, when as a young pastor, he took on the bulk of the pastoral care ministry at FMC with hospital visitations, wakes and funeral services, homebound visitations and so forth. 

The then pastor-in-charge (PIC) Rev Malcolm Tan also assigned Pastor Mike to start a Chinese preaching point in Jurong West1 with a small group of church members from FMC. This marked the start of his work among the Mandarin and dialect-speaking community in that area. Pastor Mike recalls: “We started this preaching point in an underground bomb shelter in an HDB block. On Sundays, I would drive the church van to ferry a core group of members to hold the worship services there. I feel really privileged that I had a hand in planting the seed for what would eventually become Agape Methodist Church.”

• Pastor Mike leading the Faith MC Preaching Point in worship in a Jurong West underground bomb shelter.

In his subsequent two pastoral appointments, Pastor Mike also ministered to the elderly as well as to Mandarin-speaking worshippers. At Kampong Kapor Methodist Church (KKMC), he was put in charge of the Mandarin service. Homebound visitations and the bereavement ministry were also a significant part of his portfolio, as the 100-year-old church had quite a number of elderly homebound members in the English congregation. 

After KKMC, Pastor Mike was posted to the Methodist Church of the Incarnation (MCI). This heartland church had a Mandarin-speaking congregation of over 100, and Pastor Mike found himself in an OMO (One Minister Operation) role. 

“By now, my ministry ‘niche’ seemed to be quite evident: Mandarin- or dialect-speaking, pastoral care for the elderly and infirmed and the bereavement ministry.”

Pastor Mike was then posted to WMC, his home church in 2001, and here, among other duties, he was also assigned a ministry close to his heart. 

“You see, during my earlier years with the MAF, we were invited by the prison ministry volunteers from the Prayer & Praise Service to provide them support in the early 1980s. This was where we had first-hand experience in the incare2 and aftercare3 parts of the support given to inmates.”

There are the “highs” and the “lows” of this special ministry to ex-offenders. Pastor Mike describes the ‘highs’: “Seeing a severely battered and tormented soul turning to his Creator, being ‘born again’ in Christ and embarking on the new life journey of freedom from sin in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.”

And low points? “When the same Christian brother reverts to his old lifestyle, is reincarcerated or even disappears and becomes uncontactable.

“We have to deal with harsh reality when we minister to convicts. Too often we’re captivated only by the accounts of dramatic faith conversions among the inmates, life transformations and the success stories of convicts. But this is a unique ministry, one that’s complicated, costly and challenging. One must emulate our Lord Jesus in His welcoming of all with His eyes and arms wide open, even though He is fully knowledgeable of our fickleness and faithlessness.”

Pastor Mike oversaw the prison ministry at WMC from 2009 and was subsequently appointed by the then PIC Rev Stanley Chua as the Prison Ministry Consultant Pastor from 2017 until his retirement at the end of 2022.  

There is also another side to Pastor Mike, especially among those who know him well. Pastor Mike loves singing, and he is one of the basses in the 5pm Choir. This is yet another ministry that has shaped him in the early years of his Christian faith and journey. It was here that he received much inspiration from the devoted and selfless sacrifices of the choir directors Ms Vivien Goh, Dr Ling Ai Ee, Ms Tan Kee Boey; and choir members Ms Ada Ponnappa and the twin sisters Ms Adeline and Ms Evelyn Ow, whose faithful service inspired him to persevere in his pastoral ministry.

• Pastor Mike (back row, 1st from left), 5pm choir member.

He makes special mention of the late Mrs Jenny Chi, whom he saw as not only a stalwart of encouragement to the morning choirs with her regular show of support and concern of their welfare, but also a champion of the 5pm Choir which provides the music ministry to a service with the smallest congregation.  

Pastor Mike confesses that all that he has been able to do in ministry would not have been possible if not for the support from his better half—his beloved wife, Dorothy. From the start, Dorothy played a crucial role in his life and ministry. Pastor Mike describes how they met: 

“She literally ‘walked’ into my life. I often joked that she was ‘home-delivered’ to me. We first met when she came with our mutual friend to borrow my family car.”

Dorothy was also God’s agent of Pastor Mike’s salvation. During their courtship days, she started attending Wesley through a sister in Christ who was also her colleague. Pastor Mike was her ‘chaperon’ seeing her to and from the church. Upon her faith conversion to Christ, she shared her burden for Pastor Mike’s salvation with some church members who prayed fervently for him and persistently invited him to join their fellowship meetings. 

Dorothy’s baptism day was a life-changing moment for Pastor Mike during the earlier years. He had arrived late due to work, and who was there to greet him at the door but Rev Isaac Lim (the then Associate Pastor of Wesley who later became the Senior Pastor and TRAC President). Instead of feeling sheepish about not being punctual, Pastor Mike recalls the story of the prodigal son returning to his father’s house and being welcomed by the father!

• Wedding of Pastor Mike and Dorothy.

Eventually, Dorothy took on other roles. She was the ‘employment agent’ whose sister-in-law was responsible for landing Pastor Mike’s job at a departmental store; and she became Pastor Mike’s right-hand lady in managing his father’s ship chandler business and later in the minimart.

• Managing the minimart in Ang Mo Kio with Dorothy’s help.

Dorothy explains the extensive ‘training’ she was put through for the jobs she had to undertake as Pastor Mike’s other half, and how she was able to juggle many jobs at one go, with family thrown in as well. Like her husband, her training also involved caring for the elderly:

“My ‘strength’—physical, mental and emotional—was the result of ‘strict training’ throughout my childhood and young adult life. From just eight years old, I was ‘appointed’ to be my homebound grandmother’s ‘personal attendant’ instead of studying in school. She was my filial father’s honoured and beloved mother. Hence, I had to keep watch over her and ensure her safety as she moved about slowly at home. When the ‘matriarch’ was taking her rest, I would help my mother in all the domestic chores in a family of 10. This ‘secondary role’ became my primary responsibility after the demise of my grandmother when the family moved into a double-storey six-room villa. Because of these responsibilities, I was only able to start my education at the age of 11!”

Dorothy held the fort almost all the time, confesses Pastor Mike. She was the sole caregiver who looked after Pastor Mike’s aged mother and their young children during his theological training in preparation for full-time ministry.

She had left her own job to help Pastor Mike’s minimart business. It was not easy, she recalls:

“My first full-time job was as a sales staff in a department store. This job entailed standing and moving about during peak periods from 10am–10pm. When Michael first started to manage his dad’s business, due to staff cost and the special demands of the business, I had to help out as much as I could even though I was working full-time in a public bus service company.

“When he expanded the business to set up a minimart, he needed a manager to oversee the operation while he himself attended to the bulk sale contacts. After many struggles, I finally decided to leave my longtime job to help him. I was literally starting a new career! In this new challenge, understandably there was a whole gamut of trade knowledge and business acumen I had to learn from scratch: purchasing, merchandising, dealing with salespersons, customer service, shop security, daily sales summary, staff supervision, etc. Whenever Michael was out dealing with bulk-order clients or being involved in church ministries, I would be left to manage the store with two other lady staff.  

“I must emphasise that my role in the business would not have lasted so long if God had not provided the two hardworking, honest and loyal staff in the shop as well as a trustworthy, responsible and loving domestic caregiver at home to my two sons who were then just three years and a year old.”

She relieved Pastor Mike from being ‘distracted’ by their family affairs and encouraged him to stay at the TTC campus throughout his four years of theological training, remembering that he was returning to life as a student after more than 20 years from the discipline of study. To supplement the household income, she provided full-time foster care to two children during the initial years of Pastor Mike’s pastoral ministry.

As Pastor Mike was away at studies, Dorothy helmed the household. It was, as one might imagine, nothing short of challenging. Yet Dorothy simply referred to her role as “Yat Keok Tek” 4.  And she could still quip about it:

“In all honesty, when our four sons were in their adolescence, the most ‘stressful’ times I had were occasions when they got into heated arguments. You can imagine the daunting task of playing the referee to keep two or more big 1.80m and 1.88m physical frames from coming to blows. Yet I kept all these ‘happenings’ from Michael as I did not want him to be ‘troubled’.

Pastor Mike is more than grateful to his helpmate. “All this she did at the expense of her own personal growth and development,” confesses Pastor Mike, who describes Dorothy as the “humble, helpful and kind-hearted pastor’s wife who left indelible marks in all the churches I served in”. Pastor Mike unabashedly describes her as “a close copy of the Proverbs 31 Woman of God”. 

His tribute to her? “Dorothy is truly a ‘Gift of God’ (meaning of the name ‘Dorothy’) to me, to our children, to my biological family and to the four church families of Faith MC, Kampong Kapor MC, Methodist Church of the Incarnation and Wesley MC!”

What does Dorothy see as a rewarding part of being a pastor’s wife? 

“To be accepted, appreciated and affirmed for who I am—simple, unassuming and candid—by many people from all walks of life in the churches we served in.  

To have the trust and confidence of those who shared their personal struggles with me as they know I would never divulge what they have told me; not even to Michael without their permission. To have become the ‘unofficial god mum’ to many ‘unofficial’ godchildren.”

Any history of Pastor Mike would be incomplete without a description of his role in WMC’s Mandarin Ministry (MM). Pastor Mike recalls the early ‘dark’ days of the MM. In 2012, the church was rattled when a part of the Mandarin congregation left Wesley to start out on its own.

This congregation had already been running their own activities and was detached from the church for many years. It was now left to Pastor Mike to regroup those who remained, reorient the doctrinal imbalance as well as realign the ministry to be in sync with the plans and direction of the church at large.

Pastor Mike was well-equipped to take on this difficult task. His bilingual ability was fostered very early on with the opportunities his father provided. His father was not a Christian and had been a waiter and kitchen hand holding menial jobs, till a kind friend helped him to start and prosper in his own business.

Despite his non-Christian beliefs, Pastor Mike’s father chose to put him through 12 years in a Christian educational environment, becoming the only child in his family to spend so many years in a missionary school. 

Additionally, the neighbourhoods he grew up in honed his ability to speak dialects like Hokkien, Teochew, Hainanese and Cantonese. Pastor Mike was able to pick up Cantonese on account of his being cared for by a ‘majie’5 who organised for him, his sisters and mother to watch Chinese movies or movies featuring operas in the cinema on weekends. His exposure to Chinese culture was boosted in this way as well. 

As a young boy, Pastor Mike had also observed how his father honoured and took care of his mother (Pastor Mike’s paternal grandmother) who lived to the ripe old age of 96. Hence, he developed an affinity with elderly people. It would seem that both Dorothy and Pastor Mike are of the same ilk! Going further back, Pastor Mike was set apart even before he was born! Despite his mother’s intention to abort him, he became the youngest of eight children (with two older brothers and five older sisters); and he was doted upon by the same grandmother who would hug him and lovingly ask about his well-being each time she saw him. Hence, he is comfortable in the company of the elderly. Pastor Mike believes that “being available, to be with them and to lend a listening ear” is key to relating with old folks and continues to apply this in his ministry to the elderly.

• Pastor Mike’s grandmother.

This has stood him in good stead as a frequent visitor to the elderly who are homebound, and in hospitals, listening and empathising with the woes of the sick and lonely. Pastor Mike regularly presides at funerals and comforts the bereaved. He also makes it a point to visit the parents of believers who have yet to come to the Lord. Many church members and non-members recall the role Pastor Mike played in the exposure and eventual conversion of their parents and parents-in-law. They all testify to the knack he has for the elderly.  

WMC member KC Tan, whose late mother was a recipient of Pastor Mike’s visits, recalls: 

“Pastor Mike visited my late mother, who was not a WMC member (she previously attended Telok Ayer MC till she had difficulties walking), on and off for close to 16 years, and later monthly to bring her the Communion elements. He spoke Hokkien to her, which warmed her heart. My eldest sister also looked forward to Pastor Mike’s visits. He was like a relative more than a church official, as the family would prepare food for him each time he contacted the family to say he was coming. He was our obvious choice of pastor to officiate at my late mother’s funeral.”

KC’s eldest sister Kee Hen has this to add: “Rev Mike introduced many Mandarin and Hokkien songs to Mother. He also brought CDs for her to listen to. She was grateful that Rev Mike took time to visit her when she was in and out of hospitals and to pray with her. Even in her last days, my family still played these songs for her, which by then were Mother’s favourite and familiar songs. I think Mother was at peace when Rev Mike came to conduct her last communion by her bedside, still singing her favourite songs into her ears. I remember Rev Mike touched her lips with the wafer and juice (as she was not able to eat anymore by then).”

Justin Ong, MM Chair from 2019 to 2023, has known Pastor Mike for more than a decade. He testifies to Pastor Mike’s competence in Cantonese thus: “12 years ago, my wife and I had a burden for the salvation of my in-laws; we started bringing them to the evangelistic outreach services organised by Mandarin Ministry. Pastor Mike spent time talking to my in-laws over food fellowship after service. My in-laws enjoyed very much the conversation with Pastor Michael in Cantonese.”

Justin’s leadership of MM likely started on a good note on account of Pastor Mike. “When I was called to serve in Mandarin Ministry, I immediately felt the warmth of a closely knit family; the congregation has a deep respect for Pastor Michael, as a result of his selfless and dedicated shepherding of Mandarin Ministry.”

Justin especially appreciates Pastor Mike’s care of a co-worker’s extended family as powerful witness: “When my wife’s brother-in-law passed away having succumbed to cancer, Pastor Michael came for the wake to comfort my in-laws; this act of kindness touched their hearts.”

Besides crediting Pastor Mike for having a heart for seniors, especially for their salvation, Justin sees him as a “passionate prayer warrior, who views prayer as a spiritual anchor for the good ministry work of God, spending personal time praying for those in need, those coming to church in wheelchairs, and visiting those who are immobile and homebound, extending God’s love and care to them.” Hence, he looks up to Pastor Mike “as a model of compassion and faithfulness”.   

Angelyn Peh, who was MM Chair from 2012–2019, had worshipped in MM for many years but it was not until 2010 that she encountered Pastor Mike in a special way. “Pastor Mike came to share about the meaning of Ash Wednesday. Using ash, he marked a cross on our foreheads—all 50 of us. That was the first time I learnt about the meaning and significance of how we are ash and will be returned to ash, and of remembering how Christ died for us. The event led me to think of how we are but on a journey to shine for the LORD, that Christ is LORD, Christ is my light, and that I shall boast of nothing but Christ.

“I do not know how to describe that feeling but I was very touched by the liturgy he presented that night.

“My heart was full of warmth. It was then that I believed the LORD was preparing me to be the next Chair of MM.” 

She continues: “At the most challenging time in MM, he walked through it with us with lots of love and care to make us feel secure. His persistence in the prayer ministry has shaped the MM prayer. It allowed MM to continue focusing on prayer even during the COVID period.  In fact, that was when MM started a daily prayer online. He supported the prayer without ceasing and was very persistent in doing this. The online prayer group (accessible via WhatsApp), has grown from the initial 50 to over 100 now.”

Angelyn sums up Pastor Mike this way: “As a pastor, he is very patient and has a very good listening ear; as a Christian, he carries the Lord’s love everywhere he goes; the MM congregants appreciate that with him, it’s all about love, love and love; as a person, he is very generous, helpful to people who are in need, and never wastes any resource—neither food nor money.” 

Justin Ong remembers being impressed by Pastor Mike’s other ‘skills’. “I remember vividly  a church camp fun-night programme [where] Mandarin Ministry performed a skit drawing inspiration from the famous Hong Kong TV serial “上海灘” (The Bund). Pastor Michael acted in the skit, displaying his awesome singing and acting talents. He is the only pastor in my memory who would let down his hair and join in the fun with the congregation.”

• Pastor Mike the ‘actor’ at a church camp.

Pastor Mike himself attests humorously to his affinity with music. “I can appreciate almost all types of music genres and in any language (even without understanding the language). So, ‘M’ is for ‘Music’, ‘Michael’ and ‘Musically Mixed-up’.” 

He enjoys fishing, badminton and appreciating various art forms including, of course, music. He loves hymns, but there are too many to be listed here. Yet one that can’t be too far from his heart must be Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, which he and Dorothy chose for their wedding. His favourite Scripture verse is Ephesians 3:20–21: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  

How does Pastor Mike view his ministry journey? 

“All these years, as a witnessing lay person or in my pastoral ministry to non- or pre-believers steeped in non-Christian spiritual beliefs, I have never won any of them over by Christian Apologetics or plain reasoning. Those I ministered to and came to accept Christ were the fruits of God’s Providential Grace working incessantly in their lives through: a) the faithful lifestyle witness of genuine love, care, patience and prayers of their Christian loved ones and/or Christian friends; b) hardships and sufferings, e.g. failures, financial difficulties, injustice, betrayal, broken relationships, illness, loss of loved ones, etc. and c) disillusionment with the ‘gods’ they devotedly worshipped and served but who couldn’t afford them true peace and hope.” 

This comes from a person who grew up in a family that practised a diverse and eclectic mix of spiritual and religious beliefs. “My late father as the ‘family spiritual head’ was influenced by the Chinese traditional values of filial piety in ancestor worship, Taoism beliefs in the veneration of deities and ghosts, folk religions of ‘feng shui风水’ and other superstitious practices, some aspects of Buddhist teachings, etc.” Understanding these practices and cultural beliefs really helped Pastor Mike to witness to those who are steeped in these beliefs too.   

In December 2023, Pastor Mike went to Copenhagen to officiate his late sister’s husband’s funeral (having done a similar ministry for this same sister 13 years ago in 2010!).

Aside from this, Pastor Mike has a very full plate. He continues to conduct funerals, officiate at weddings and wedding anniversaries, baptisms for the non-ambulant in their homes, makes home and hospital visits, counsel, preach at worship services, outreach and fellowship meetings. Pastor Mike shows no sign of stopping or slowing down!

What are his other plans? “I aspire to be ‘Renewed’ and be a “Rel. Res. Rev. Michael Tan”, i.e. a “Relevant, Resourceful and Revived Michael Tan to my peers and the younger generations. 

“This to me involves keeping up in understanding the fast changing social and spiritual landscapes nationally and globally, being equipped and prepared to offer guidance and counsel to those seeking scriptural reference for practical Christian living, and providing personal ministry of comfort, guidance and encouragement to members of the Body of Christ facing ever increasing temptations, troubles, trials and testings of their Christian faith.” 

Also, it’s  time to finally attend to his family. When the time comes, Pastor Mike desires to be grandfather to the children of his four sons: Amos, 39 (married to Claire), Bartholomew, 37, Caleb, 33, and Davniel (a hybrid of David and Daniel), 29.  He wishes to spend time with them, having missed out on this when he was busy being a full-time pastor serving God’s people. 

May the Lord bless Pastor Mike and his family abundantly with His joy, grace and favour.

• Pastor Mike and family.

End Notes:

1 Chinese Preaching Point in Jurong West: It was not possible to have a Chinese service in the church because the premises were shared with Queenstown Chinese Methodist Church.

2 Incare refers to the work done by volunteers with long-term entry passes who are assigned to different clusters of the prison housing units for chapel services. The purpose of this is to build friendship with inmates via worship, testimonies, sharing of God’s Word, prayer and caring dialogue with them.

3 Aftercare refers to the follow up ministry run by volunteers for released convicts in their reintegration journey both in the church and society through a variety of means: attendance at church worship services, support group meetings, recreational activities, etc.  

4 Yat Keok Tek: this is a phrase in Cantonese whose literal translation in English is “one leg kick”, but which actually describes a role or situation in which one is, usually not by choice, forced to do everything single-handedly.

5 MaJie: these were mainly women from Guangdong, China, in particular the district of Shunde, who came to Singapore and Malaya to seek a better life through working in the homes of wealthy families. They were known for their domestic skills. Their hair would be coiled up in an elegant bun or worn in a single plait down the back, and they would be clad in a white blouse and ankle-length black trousers. Here, they were known as “amah”, the Malay word for Chinese female domestic servant. More information can be found at this link.

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