West Loop’s first sermon in 2008: Where is your vision?

123Editorial note: While searching for an old email, I happened to find the first sermon preached at West Loop UBF on Jan 6, 2008. It is over 6 years ago. I feel strange and nostalgic reading it. It reminded me of A Real Testimony by Ben Toh from 1998.  UBFers will likely welcome what I wrote and may wonder why I am no longer like that, while exUBFers might suffer from varying degrees of PTSD. The full sermon can be read here. What I copied and pasted below is my personal application, which I preached verbatim.

Proverbs 29:18a says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” I grew up in Malaysia, with no vision. But when I was 17, someone said, “You can enter medical school.” A vision was planted, and without ever having considered it before, I applied and entered medical school within a few months. Five years later I became a doctor.

During my medical internship in Singapore, while taking a shower, a fellow intern said, “I’m going to apply to go to the U.S.” Another vision was planted, and I immediately decided to come to the U.S., despite objections from family and friends and many difficulties. By God’s providence, I came to Chicago in 1980.

After coming to Chicago UBF, Dr. Samuel Lee began shepherding me. Those of you who know me know that I am stubborn, forceful, opinionated and highly infuriating. But through Dr. Lee, God planted a vision in me that even an unlikely person like me can shepherd American students and raise 120 disciples. Dr. Lee’s vision was unforgettable. Dr. Lee always communicated to me that I was great. But whenever he did I trembled, saying to myself, “If only you knew how sinful I am!” But he never deviated in always communicating to me unconditional love, trust and respect, despite my countless flaws, failures and sins for over 2 decades. In this way, God used him to plant the fear of God in me. In this way, God burned a fire within me to raise disciples of Christ all my life no matter what. Only by God’s mercy and the vision of Dr. Lee, God blessed my house church to establish pioneering house churches in the U.S. and to pioneer 1 nation, the Philippines.

When Dr. Lee passed away in 2002, I began praying for my own kids and for our 2nd gens. I felt a disconnection between us because there were generational barriers and cultural barriers. So, our 2nd gens subliminally thought of UBF as “my parent’s church.” But God granted me a vision that they are the best kids in the world, because they have 2 great attributes: 1) they honor the Bible as the word of God, and 2) they want to live a moral life. Then with the prayers and tears of countless UBF parents, God blessed our Young Disciples ministry over the last 5 years until 200 attendants came to our YD winter retreats in recent years.

What is my vision for our West Loop UBF? My vision is borrowed from Dr. Lee. Dr. Lee’s vision was to love and raise American leaders. According to his faith and vision, God raised so many great Americans, beginning with P. Ron, Dr. Jim Rabchuk, Dr. Joe Schafer, P. Teddy, Dr. Helen Rarick, Dr. Sam A. Lee and countless others. Similarly, God put in me a desire to support young leaders, so that God may raise them to be great servants of God. By God’s leading, God has granted us a handful of already great men and women of God for West Loop UBF. (Rhoel, Henry, Tim, Jim, Arthur, Len and Ruben. Their wives: Elena, Susan, Angie, Jenny, M. Helen, Liliana, Tif. We also have Michelle, Damon Mui, Oscar, Dindo, Iris.) Because of each of them, who are all far greater and better than I, I stand in awe of God. Because of them, and the prayers of many, and by the great mercy of God I see the vision that God will make us the best UBF chapter in the 21st century, by catching up to Triton, UIUC, LP, West LA, IIT, and Chicago UBF, to whom I am forever indebted.

I feel funny reading what I wrote just over six years ago, and the way I wrote it. Feel free to feel confused, confounded, or to cringe, cower, comment, compliment (perhaps!) or critique.


  1. “I see the vision that God will make us the best UBF chapter in the 21st century”

    +1 AMEN AMIN and Hallelujah!

    • It’s interesting that you picked out the statement that when I said it, I remember that people were either not enthusiastic about it, or they were laughing or coughing uncomfortably when I said it. Gosh, Brian, it seems like nothing escapes you!