THE 12 YEARS OF REACH COMMUNITY CHURCH
A testimony of God’s Goodness
The Reach Community Church commenced upon my hearing the Call of God unto me with my wife sensing the confirmation. The Lord spoke to me from Joshua 1:1-8. We were to step out into a beginning. Like Joshua, I need to cross my River Jordan without Moses which was my past. At the same time, I had the assurance of God’s faithfulness and provision of the miraculous upon me as long as I remain strong and courageous.
“Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:6-8 (NKJV)
Miracles accompanied The Call
As I embarked upon God’s Call to plant this congregation, The Lord demonstrated the miraculous, and some of these being:
- The name of the church “REACH” was revealed to my by God but such a common name as this was not registered for a church name by other. As such I registered it.
- The Vision of the church was written out with the stroke of the pen as if it was downloaded from heaven.
- I was directed to lease Monash University, Parkville for the church service, and that God’s favour shall be upon us. We were offered the place with a 75% discount. This was an offer without precedence.
- A prophetic word given by a Pastor confirmed that my Call was ordained of God as I started this new congregation.
My wife and I were very encouraged that our three children accompanied us readily; Matthew volunteered to lead worship, Rachel said she would help with the Sunday School, and Nathan then only about 14 years old said he would assist with the sound system. The latter two ministries were then not evident. So the first service commenced on Sunday, 16 June 2002. The Lord has always been Jehovah Jireh, our Provider of all that we need to be blessed all these years. Not one of God’s Promises have failed.
“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)
Take The Gospel out of Australia!
About two years into our church journey, The Lord laid upon my heart to fulfil The Great Commission beyond the limits of Australia, and I was to minister in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). Then I had never met or known any Burmese people but in obedience, a Brother at church and I prepared ourselves to go. We bought our airfares months ahead without any itinerary when we embarked there. When the time was near, I was asked what we ought to do, and my response was that we still proceed. However a month before we left, I met a Burmese Leader at a conference. This encounter became an adventure and a part of the life of this congregation. Since then, we have not ceased training Pastors and Leaders through seminars, and ministry in urban and remote villages. Besides the spiritual nurturing, we also provide the finance of a few churches for many years.
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)
Go on to new heights
During this time of our journey, it was not without any pain and challenges. We grew and then we fell back with people leaving for all kinds of reasons. On top of these, our problems were exacerbated through the difficulties with the use of the facilities at the university. During this length of time, The Lord also stretched me as I went through the tough season of my life, and the congregation. It was also then, God added another challenge. My life was like a pendulum; swinging from one end to help the church, and now with an added call to reach out to assist those on the outside of the congregation. I heard God called me to minister to drug and alcohol addicts as well as accept the responsibility of being a University Christian Club Coordinator. Not long after, I was taking on this role in Monash University and University of Melbourne! I was told I had no experience to minister to the addicts but my response was that if the church does not go, then who would? And that God shall open doors as we stepped out into the deep end like Joshua. So I took the plunge out in obedience, The Lord backed up His Call with the miraculous. As hands were laid upon these in bondage, their addiction left. Many felt the power of God touched and delivered them from their demons of bondage. A weekly Bible Study Group commenced at the Flemington flats for those new believers. Although this ministry ended but the university charge continued for 9 years until 2012.
“And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.” Romans 4:19-21 (NKJV)
Cry for our City and Nation
The ringing of “There is only One Church in the City but there are many congregations” has always resonated in me. I had been a part of a Pastors’ Network that espouses this statement. On the way home from a meeting of this fraternity, I was led to ask a Brother about me starting a CBD Pastors’ Prayer and Fellowship. He was in agreement. However I was told many have attempted but failed, and that our City was a difficult one. Knowing that with God all things are possible, I marched on and initiated appointments with many leaders. Today, after 10 years, this fellowship is still advancing fortnightly with lunch and love. Our church readily assists the progress and development of fledgling churches and also those in need with training over spiritual and administrative matters including mentoring. I am so proud that our congregation understands that this is Christian charity in action, and that we are truly living forth the Word. This is having a mega vision to see the need to love beyond the walls of our congregation, and to recognise the success of another Pastor or congregation is also our success.
“Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession.” Psalm 2:8 (NKJV)
Reach the generations
Although the congregation commenced with young families as its target, I believed we need to also minister to all generations for God’s love knows no bounds. God loves the whole world. The young are important and so are the old. Society recognises an ageing population in our midst and the importance to care for the welfare of the greying community. Some of these are war veterans who fought for the freedom we enjoy today, others served us though industries and commerce to make our nation great and prosperous. Celebrations to commemorate these exploits and achievements are annual affairs. A Government Department is created to administer such observance. What about us, The Church? Since 2014 I have made time to spearhead this ministry to reach out to the senior citizens. It is to develop a group to prepare themselves of a higher calling or to get out of retirement to serve in The Kingdom of God. It is to add significance to the contributions that have made to society. It is to ensure their latter years are as meaningful as their former ones. May there be an increase of many of the retirees in our midst who shall still be as bold as lions. May these train the younger men and women in the art of war and ways of God.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3: 20-21 (NIV)
Equip the people to reproduce
Throughout the test of time, my focus never changed despite having heart wrenching experiences, and having often to walk through the valley of the shadow of death alone. Often there were needs to scale seemingly insurmountable hurdles or having to die the death of a thousand cuts. The hardest is often to see words of death which pierce the heart by those closest to you or to witness a dear Brother and friend walk away, having you to pick up the pieces. Throughout such seasons of barrenness, God instructed that I continue to equip without relenting. People come and go but my eyes are to be upon Jesus alone who is my security. I had to continue to plough, break up the hard ground, sow, weed, water and wait for the harvest. I was not to look back but cast my vision forward through eyes of faith. Yes, leadership meetings, trainings and discipleship are no easy roads but these time honoured ways with well beaten paths are for a good reason. So the STEP (Saints Training & Equipping Program) Classes, Ministry Training and Leadership Training sessions are the bedrock of our congregation. Like the lame man who was healed at the Temple Gate Beautiful made his way into the temple step by step, the STEP resources have helped leaders outside our church and country.
““Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.” Deuteronomy 6:1-2 (NKJV)
A culture of worship and prayers
I am a firm believer that we need to accord unto God all the glory, honour, and praise for there is no one like Him. Under heaven there is no other name where we can find salvation except by the Name of Jesus. If so, we who are saved need to literally shout to The Lord as part of our testimony through adoration of Him through singing. Our worship is to be demonstrated without shame using all our faculty to sing and praise Him. We are to sing Him a new song, one that is penned out of an intense and intimate love of our Saviour. He died to give us a glorious and meaningful life. The praise of God lifts us unto another dimension, releases the power and manifestation of God, ushering in The Awesome Presence of God. Every saint is to worship God through praise and prayers, either personally or corporately, facilitating the atmosphere for a fresh and en-ergising and re-vitalising encounter with God in The Holy of Holies. At this intersection, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit is most conducive for release. The Sunday Celebration Service and Monthly Ministry and Prayer (MMP) have evolved as opportunities for all to lift God’s Name high. This outcome being that our triune being get blessed body, soul and spirit.
“I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.” Psalm 52:9
Fulfilling our Vision
The Vision of the congregation reads, “Exalting Jesus, Equipping People, Extending into Cities and Nations” prevail until today after 12 years. As a congregation, we shall move together in unity as one to go higher, deeper, further and stronger to break new grounds, enjoy miracles upon miracles. Today, I have witnessed the young children progress from being in Sunday School but now participating actively in Youth Group, with many being groomed as leaders of tomorrow. Others have stepped up from youths when they became a part of this family of God, and now advanced to become an integral part of the next phase in the Young Adult Section. I have seen newlyweds of years ago transformed as matured parents and leaders, and now teaching STEP Classes. Others have gone to develop fresh materials relevant for our current times or using technology to contextualise our service. Many have understood that adherence and living out The Word is of paramount importance. We all see teaching and preaching biblically and expositionally as the Gold Standard. I have witnessed three generations developed out of this congregation, and what a joy to see their faith and service unto The Lord. We have great Chinese Leadership at the helm to steer this Section to a higher level, and to become a congregation on their own. From where I am, I see a succession plan in place to make this congregation strong from here on in our new premises to many others, locally and globally. There are plans now to do more in the Philippines, and then it shall be off to Vietnam.
Thank you for the honour
In conclusion, I thank God for you all, and I love the saints at the Reach Community Church, and appreciate the privilege I have in being their Pastor. There is nothing I rather do than be in fellowship and service with you. Although there shall always been challenges in our journey as a Body, there is so much joy in walking with you unto maturity in Christ. Your trust in my leadership and your contending by my side have given me great esteem and pride. The countless hours of sitting under my tutelage is a marvel and miracle by itself. Your children have also given me great joy to tease, tickle and many high fives. Your belief in my rally to pursue God, and obey Him in securing a building of our own has been another great attestation of the favour of God upon us since our inception. Your generosity in giving to the cause with time, talents and your tithes shall be returned to you in many folds. Remember… to obey God and follow His Will only leads to fulfilment and joy in witnessing the miracles, signs and wonders of The Lord. A walk by faith upon hearing His Voice, and stepping out in believing God to provide is not easy as even in the Will of God, there are storms, trials and testings. Abraham obeyed The Call of God and stepped straight into a famine. Jesus took up His Cross and had to endure the sufferings of The Cross in His response to His Father’s command. But there is no mediocrity and humdrum for the way is straight forward. Obedience produces focus that eliminates dilemma. Keep be in stride with God, keep up building the unity and passion as living sacrifice to The Lord. Honour others also and prefer them over yourselves. Together, we can fulfil The Great Commission, and live out our Vision! It has been so exciting in the last 12 years. Once again, thank you for the honour accorded to me to be your Pastor, and following me as I follow Christ our Lord. I salute you all!
Victor & Crystal Soo (Pastors)