Another new season, another new spiritual mentor and friend.
Well, Rev Lim Jen Huat is not exactly a stranger but a familiar face to most of us at Wesley Methodist Church. This season, Pastor Jen Huat has re-joined Wesley as one of our pastors.
Entry to Full-Time Ministry
Pastor Jen Huat’s full-time ministry started in 1992.
“On hindsight, I could see God opening the way for me and calling me into the ministry. There was no loud calling. But I just had a burning desire to serve God with my best.”
After he left his previous job at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Pastor Jen Huat went to Trinity Theological College (TTC) for four years to prepare himself. His early church postings were to Paya Lebar, Trinity and Wesley Methodist churches, before he left for Asbury Theological Seminary for studies from 2005 to 2007. Upon his return, Pastor Jen Huat was posted to Bedok Methodist Church for nine-and-a-half years before going to Agape Methodist Church for four years.
“It is a privilege from the Lord to appoint me to be His servant. Being an instrument of God’s grace to different people and in their different life events has been the greatest joy in my ministry.”
After being in full-time ministry for thirty years, Pastor Jen Huat thinks that the top five qualities that are most important for ministry are love, joy, patience, meekness and faithfulness.
Referring to friendship as his strongest anointing, he said, “What is most important for ministry is connection with people. Let people see God in us. Much of ministry work comes down to relationships with people. How we treat people will allow them to see God in us.”
A Marathon Runner
Besides being a faithful runner for the Lord, Pastor Lim Jen Huat is also known to many as an avid runner and regular participant in marathons such as the Standard Chartered and Sundown.
Since his first marathon in 1992, to raise funds for Paya Lebar Methodist Church, Pastor Jen Huat has continued running marathons.
Watch the video interview of Pastor Jen Huat here:
Video by Joshuah Lim, Carolyn Ong and Matthias Ho
Having been running marathons for over 25 years, these days, what Pastor Jen Huat enjoys most is his morning runs, especially the monthly ones he has with his running kakis (mates).
Said Tina, one of Pastor Jen Huat’s regular running mates: “I have been running with Pastor Jen Huat since 2015. He is a very consistent and excellent runner. Most importantly, he’s very kind and encouraging to us. In our monthly runs, he slows down to keep pace with the slower runners so that we don’t get left behind.”
Their usual monthly route starts at 5am, with the running mates meeting at East Coast Park.
From Fort Road, they would start their 21.5 km run towards Gardens by the Bay East, Marina Barrage, Gardens by the Bay, MBS Shopping Centre, Fullerton Hotel, Esplanade, Nicoll Highway, National Stadium, Tanjong Rhu, Casuarina Cove, Geylang Park Connector (where they would stop for a drink) and looping back to Tanjong Rhu, Gardens by the Bay and ending at East Coast Park.
Running over three hours, Pastor Jen Huat and his kakis would only stop by for a short break to have drinks at the Jalan Batu hawker centre near Kampung Arang, so that they could all get to work on time.
It is no wonder Pastor Jen Huat is also fondly known as the Marathon Pastor.
Pastor Jen Huat’s tough ironman demeanour belies his softer, creative and artistic side. When asked if running is his favourite pastime and recreation, Pastor Jen Huat gave a surprising reply — he also likes pottery and painting.
“I picked up the art of making ceramic bowls for the Sacraments when I was studying in Asbury Theological Seminary in the US. Since then, I have been making them, whenever I have the time.”
See a ceramic bowl made by Pastor Jen Huat here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4jwWdF0SLk
Pastor Jen Huat has a keen interest to connect art as an expression to Christianity. “Last year, I had my Sabbatical and besides spending my time catching up with old friends and hiking, I also tried my hand at oil painting. I managed to complete four paintings.”
An Officer and Engineer
Before entering Christian ministry, Pastor Jen Huat was a combat engineer officer with the SAF for nine-and-a-half years.
As Combat Engineer Officer, Pastor Jen Huat’s responsibilities included supporting the army and impeding enemies: “My tasks included opening up pathways for the army, creating and maintaining bridges for river crossings, building minefields, demolishing bridges and setting up booby traps for forestalling enemies.”
“I gave the army ten of my prime years, but the army has given me something that I carry with me for a lifetime — a disciplined life.”
Prior to the conclusion of Pastor Jen Huat’s SAF contract in 1987, he started to think about what he would like to do after its end. He wondered if he should renew his contract with SAF or go into full-time ministry.
Underlying it all, Pastor Jen Huat desired a life with more meaning:
“I wanted to make my life count for God”.
A Sportsman and a Boy’s Brigade Leader
Pastor Jen Huat is not only a long-distance runner, he was also a consummate athlete.
A rugby player, school sailor and school life guard, Pastor Jen Huat had immersed himself in sports during his school days. Amid all that, he also found time to join the Boys’ Brigade (BB) in upper primary school.
Being in BB during his younger days made a big impact on his adult life. “BB was where I learnt more about Scripture, worship and fellowship, apart from the chapel services in school. It led me to formally receive Christ in Secondary One. BB also formed the foundation for me to sign on with SAF later on in life as I love the outdoor camps and uniformed group experiences.”
During his days at Anglo-Chinese Primary School (ACPS) and BB, Pastor Jen Huat joined his friends to attend Barker Road Methodist Church.
It was at Barker Road Methodist Church that Pastor Jen Huat started to serve God more through the Methodist Youth Fellowship.
“I spent a lot of my time during my younger days and the school holidays at the Methodist Youth Fellowship, at the local church and national level. They helped to ground me in my faith.”
His Growing Up Years
Pastor Jen Huat and Liza have been married for 24 years and are proud parents to their only son, 18-year-old Theodore Joash. A typical routine on most days sees Pastor Jen Huat going for a run then sending his son to school before he goes off to work. “I get to spend quality time with my son this way.”
Growing up in a family of five, Pastor Jen Huat was the middle child with an older and a younger sister. Although he grew up in a non-Christian home, Pastor Jen Huat’s parents enrolled him in ACPS.
Given their family’s ancestral worship background, Pastor Jen Huat recalled that it was God’s providence that almost all of his cousins and him were sent to ACPS, saying, “It could only be God’s prevenient grace.”
“My parents liked that being in BB and church helped me to keep good company but did not really approve of my baptism. I remember my parents were very upset when I sought their permission for my baptism, on my 21st birthday. My mom had cried then. She had only broken down twice because of me in my life. But my parents later relented, and I was baptised the Sunday right after my 21st birthday,” expressed Pastor Jen Huat.
“And a decade or so later, I became a full-time pastor because God opened doors for me.”
A Race to the Finishing Line
When asked where he would see himself in the next five years, Pastor Jen Huat said, “Pastoral ministry, mentoring young pastors and expressing my spirituality through the arts such as painting and pottery.”
For the long term, Pastor Jen Huat is more concerned with how and where the Church can continue staying relevant and bringing the gospel to our community and the world. “There have been so many changes during the pandemic. The world has changed in so many ways. How do we prepare for the new world, like the metaverse? We have to be connected to the real world.”
He added, “We have to think about the hard questions and consider the various platforms to talk about current issues, even the controversial ones. For instance, the pulpit is one platform and counselling is one platform.”
For now, he is just happy to be back at Wesley and looks forward to connecting with old friends. “I will be overseeing the Pastoral Care and Counselling Ministry alongside Pastor Chin Nam.”
And just like running the marathon, to Pastor Jen Huat, the journey of following Christ and full-time ministering is one that takes purpose, planning and preparation.
“Our spiritual race is exactly like running a long marathon and not a sprint. It requires faith, focus and fortitude in God and friendships with our Christian companions,” mused the multi-talented, personable, reflective, down-to-earth and grounded Marathon Pastor.
“Only with these can we make it to the finishing line.”