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Last updated:  19/3/2019



Salt & Light Feature:

Running 200km in 45 hours: Hospice president Dr Tan Poh Kiang says, it is “God’s path for me”


Salt & Light reveals and details the motivations and aspirations behind Dr Tan Poh Kiang's fundraising cause, as well as the passion and inspiration behind his support for HCA's work in palliative and hospice care.

Read more to hear Dr Tan speak about his personal journey through the years of following his calling, and using his unique talents to do good.

Article can be found here:

Straits Times Feature:

"It Changed My Life: This doctor is set to run 200km in 44 hours"

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On 3 March 2019, Dr Tan Poh Kiang was featured on the Sunday Times (page B9 of the Insight Section, or article found online) - the article featured his individual experience finding his calling to serve others as well as his motivation to run an ultramarathon to support HCA and its work. 

Find out more about the race and his journey of volunteering and running for a good cause, and don't forget to check out the Straits Times video!

Video and article can be found here:


In our time, charity is universally taken to refer to generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless. But in the old English language, it was a word that referred to a Greek word “agape”, meaning the love of Christians for other persons, corresponding to the love of God for humankind. As such, simplistically using the word love as a convenient substitute robs from charity its nuanced meaning. Charity - often simply called Christian love - is unlike any other expressions of human love, even though there are many similarities. Two dimensions mark charity as different, namely its sacrificial nature and its willingness to forgive.

Scripture records in Romans 5:8 an amazing declaration: But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. This cosmic gesture of affection can only have come from our heavenly Father because in giving His Son to die for me, He is acknowledging two facts: I am an undeserving sinner, and I have no means to repay this debt. This is divine magnanimity that reveals to me a mystery - to love the unlovable.

Once we recognize that the love God has bestowed upon us is not merely an emotion but an act of the will, we are forced to reevaluate how we love others. Specifically, we must reevaluate our categories. No longer can we parse our fellow humans into the categories of “lovable” and “unlovable. If love is an act of the will - not motivated by need, not measuring worth, not requiring reciprocity - then there is no such category as “unlovable.”

Obviously loving someone who is lovable is humanly natural; it is loving the unlovable that takes us out of the ordinary and comfort zone. Which is why many say that it is easier said than done and do not even bother to try. The excuse is plausible: I don't want to be a hypocrite. I was assisted tremendously by the idea of “disinterested love”. Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622) taught and wrote about a new kind of love, “Disinterested Love”. Disinterested love meant a loving attraction to a person or thing only because of the love of God. By love, Francis meant a movement of the heart towards what is found to be good…. an outpouring and progress of the heart towards the good, which aims at union with God.

The other aspect of charity is eloquently described in Psalm 103:10-12:

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Love forgives. And because God forgives, I am expected to forgive those who have transgressed against me. And if I ever wonder how serious the Lord is about forgiveness, Jesus told Peter he had to forgive seventy times seven in Matthew 18:22. Unfortunately I am a poor imitator of God's forgiveness. I am fundamentally unwilling to forgive those who have wronged me, especially those who are unrepentant and even when I try to forgive, I have to try over and over to make any decent progress.

There are only two motivations for me to forgive: a) God expects me to b) I set a prisoner free each time I forgive and that prisoner is me. How then do I overcome my reluctance to forgive? I have learned to focus on my own pitiful state and the amazing grace that the Lord has forgiven me even though I am unworthy. I have also learned to be patient with myself because unlike my Lord, I have to make repeated dismal attempts at authentic forgiveness.

It is said in the King James version of 1 Corinthians 13:13: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. I have finally come to appreciate why charity is ranked above the other Christian virtues. It is when I am able to express true charity that I am most like my Lord. The Apostle John has summed up this pivotal truth in 1 John 4:10-12:

10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

May His love be made complete in me.

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“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes: but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” - Jeremiah 17:7-8.

Hope is not like weather; it does not fluctuate. For if it does, it is not real hope. The idea of a constant, ever-dependable hope does not correlate to our day-to-day experience; yet many Christ followers often swing from feeling assured to struggling with despair. That hope as depicted in the Word of God doesn't seem to resemble much to the common man's experience must point to the fact that we have been mistaken about the nature of true hope.

Most of us are prone to treat hope as part of our wishful thinking. We wish for something we desire and we hope to acquire that which is our heart's desire. The outcome is predictable: we are elated when we get what we want; we are devastated when our desires are unfulfilled. This is false hope.

There is another common manifestation of hope that is even more severe. I have lost count of the number of times a Christian had been diagnosed with advanced cancer and he was told by well-meaning but misguided individuals that a) they had a prophetic word from the Lord that He would deliver the sick person from the cancer or b) it was not the Lord's will for His children to have cancer and therefore the sick person would be cured. What always happened was that the sick one and his family would hang on to that prophetic pronouncement like it was absolutely going to happen. Some ill-advised ones had even followed really bad advice to just “go by faith” without conventional medical therapy. None of those I knew had been delivered; they had all gone home to the Lord. Tragically a few had died in bitterness because the Lord had not miraculously healed them. Had God forsaken His children when they were critically ill and in need of His healing? God does not fulfill that which He has not promised. There is no place in the Bible that teaches it is the Lord's intent for His children to enjoy perpetual good health on this side of eternity. On the contrary, there are many places in His Word that reminds us that this is not our real home and that we are just passing through. To claim God's promise when He has not offered, to offer divine intervention without the Lord's authority are dangerous behaviours. This, too, is false hope.

What then is biblical hope? Biblical hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in His faithfulness. Examples are:

- That Abraham and Sarah would have a son even though they were very old.

- That God would send the Messiah through a virgin.

- That Jesus would die and rise again in three days.

- We will be with Him in a mansion with many rooms eternally.

- That Jesus will come again as our Judge.

If and when God has promised, our proper response is to believe and accept His promises. That is the basis of true hope. This is an unshakable hope that underpins the tree planted by the river in Jeremiah 17:7-8. With such hope, we will not fear the heat nor be anxious in a drought. My hope is real because my hope is in my Lord Jesus Christ.

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For we walk by faith, not by sight.

2 Corinthians 5:7

Of the few virtues in life I aspire towards, faith is the most challenging because it is easy to understand but extremely difficult to live by. One can be glib and claim that he lives by faith but when requested to illustrate what he means by that, he will have a hard time substantiating the claim. Faith, it appears, is better appreciated by what it is not. That is why there is a popular Bible quote in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that church folks often use: we walk by faith and not by sight. It is likened to a game we used to play when we were younger where I was blindfolded and had to listen to a buddy's detailed verbal instructions to navigate through a series of obstacles. It was a game designed to teach trust between friends. That simple game represented well the aphorism viz: if I can see, I don't need faith.

Faith is less an event but more a slow conversion from using my own sight (which is limited and often misguided) to trusting my God (who often keeps me in the dark until something I couldn’t imagine happens). The trade-off seems highly illogical and unpredictable. That, too, is the phenomenon of faith.

The Bible describes sufficiently how faith work in all aspects of my life. Whether I am about to embark on a new adventure or when I am in thick of action and there is no finish line in sight, faith is the ingredient that helps me overcome my doubt and fear. In fact, it becomes obvious how indispensable faith is to relating to the unseen Sovereign God when you read in Hebrew 11:6 a divine shout-out:

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

When we enter a new chapter of life, commence a new job, or travel to a foreign land, it is human nature to have the jitters pondering about the unknown. Questions beginning with “what if” pop up in rapid fire because we leave our comfort zone. No amount of human reasoning can assuage the wild guessing and trepidation. Only the Lord's declaration in Jeremiah 29:11 can calm our disrupted spirit.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Only by obedient surrender and intentional choice to believe such a declaration will we have the faith to leave the known for the unknown, to depart from where we are in control to where He is in control.

There are also times when we are in the midst of a stage of life where the going gets tough or we have lost our way. Such are tribulations when we become discouraged and wonder how it will possibly end well. Faith is what happens when we start to claim God's promise in Deuteronomy 31:6 which assures us:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

Faith means that I am convicted by the principle that the God who had saved me from six troubles will not abandon me in the seventh. Such a deep-seated belief serves as a reliable anchor when I find myself in a stormy sea. There are times in our lives when we are tossed into fiery trials - when we suffer pain, deprivation or loss - that faith is God's assurance that we have a promise to hang on to, draw strength from as well as find solace.

I spent most of my life beating myself up for not having enough faith when I walked through challenging times. I am learning that I had been mistaken when I read again a enigmatic teaching by Jesus in Matthew 17:20: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." It is not the size or measure of my faith that matters. What matters is the object of our faith. If I fully understand the biblical definition right, I shall no longer fret over how much faith I have.

I am thankful that my faith is not static. Even when I begin with doubt, my position shifts as long as my faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is how a finite creature relates to his infinite God. Because He is God, I only need faith no larger than a mustard seed. And the best thing is - as long as I have authentic biblical faith, I do not need to see what is ahead.

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