Cultivating Resilience Retreat: 11 October 2021 (Montfort)
I have always longed to go for a silent retreat – to get away from the hustle and bustle and to spend a day in quiet solitude with Jesus. Due to family circumstances, this desire to be at a stay-in silent retreat was always a ‘wish’. Thus, when Vereen my niece cum god-daughter, told me about a one-day silent retreat, I jumped at it. The moment she sent me the registration link, I signed up without a doubt. Days before the retreat, Vereen asked if I was excited but I told her that work pressure was too much and I ‘can’t feel anything’.
It was with this heaviness that I went for the retreat on 11 Oct. The retreat was held in a Catholic retreat centre and to me, this is a blessing as I could spend time in a chapel before the Lord.
My head was clouded like the cloudy sky that morning.
The retreat began with my favourite song – Be Still. This has always been my song whenever I feel down. As I closed my eyes to listen and pray, I could feel Jesus – tall and in his white clothes, walking and standing in front of each one of us in the room – praying over each one with his hands above their heads. He came to me – my head was bowed down but I could feel His presence. He was just there praying and blessing me. This was the first time of all the retreats that I attended, that I have felt Jesus’s presence so real and so clearly before me.
Alfred’s input session touched on a lot of points that really impacted me. The sound of the sheep and the voice of the shepherd, the cup that is half empty or half full, and being grateful for having a cup in the first place. It reminds me that God loves me and when I moved away, He always leads me back and nurse my injuries, and heals me. I need to empty myself of all the things that burden me otherwise God cannot fill it anymore.
Also, instead of praying for God to change my circumstances; I need to pray for change in myself.
The song, I Shall Not Want, helps me realized that the desire to be loved and accepted – that’s me all this while – has created fear – the fear of not being appreciated, fear of what I do will make others think badly of me – these fear as it grows lead to stress and frustration and the end product – depression, which hit me sometime last year.
After his input session we were asked to move off to our personal silent space. I found refuge in the chapel. I started journaling – telling Jesus how I feel and all the things that burden me. I started questioning. Somewhere in the writing it started to change. I was able to set out the individual things that were burdening me and even a solution to it.
By the time I ended my journaling it became a two column of what I need to decrease and what to increase. For instance, decrease trying to please others, worrying as it doesn’t help, complaining and even overeating, gaming and watching TV.
I have been escaping by playing a lot of candy crush (digital game) and lately – not a tv fan – but ended up watching a criminal series every night. By the time I finished I had no time to pray as I was tired – that was my escape – which led me to more guilt and pain. Today – the Lord is showing me all these is not going to help me. Of course I can’t stop overnight but my ‘action plan’ says reduce, reduce and reduce. Replace this with a schedule – to stop by 9pm and go to your room to pray.
When I looked at my journaling, I was surprised I had actually come up with clear concrete action plan – very unlike me.
The Lord was not done with me. In the afternoon, we had a song, ‘Comfort Song’, and I teared as I listened to it. Jesus was healing my wounded heart through that song.
“Lay your head down and stay awhile
Find rest with me favourite child
You were bought with a price
So this thought you must not forget
The story isn’t over yet”
I was reminded that Jesus paid for me with his blood – those times when I thought of ending my life – he reminded me I paid for your life with my blood and yes, I must have forgotten that. Still, He invites me to lay down my head upon him and rest – all because I am his favourite child.
I was already crying before the song was over. I experienced the assurance and affirmation of the Father.
I am very thankful to God for giving me this opportunity to come to him to rest, to be refreshed and renewed. I thank God for all those putting this retreat together – they were wonderful servants of the Lord. They have led me back to Jesus’ comforting arms before I plunge further into depression and can’t pull myself back. I know the road ahead continues to be bumpy but I will always remember that the story is not over yet. I am not alone as long as I keep my focus on Jesus who walks with me.
At the start of the retreat, I wrote in my journal:
“God, thank you for your goodness that I can attend this retreat today. All I can say is that my heart, my soul cherishes this present moment with you.”
I could never write like this in the past. I was only concerned about putting my heart and soul into my work and the busyness of life. I never saw the other way of giving my heart and soul into my relationship with God. I was simply just a Christian in name.
However, that morning, God put something into my heart.
Alfred talked about his experience meeting with the sick and those in comatose. He shared compassionately about seeing the person beyond their physical condition. There is a spiritual being; well and alive in that person.
Often, I feel physically alive but not fully alive. Beyond my frail physical body and my chaotic mind, I had forgotten where my soul lies.
It is at a place where no words are needed.
At the core of my heart.
In the deepest end, a hidden soul.
God showed me that this is where I should go. I looked up and marveled at the blue sky.
White clouds come and go by. A gentle breeze blew on my face
As if God embraced me in his way.
My mind is blank. My heart is still.
My soul starts to surface, bit by bit.
Slowly expanding and finally filled my whole being.
I smiled in grace.
‘My soul rejoices in the Lord.’ It was all I could only say.
We connected right there in my heart and deep in my soul.
My soul is now fully alive.
It was my most memorable encounter with God that day.
Lenten Retreat 11-14 Mar and 26-28 Mar 2021: The Seasons of the Time (at Montfort and Orchid Country Club)
“Having only begun my Christian walk not too long ago, attending my first silent retreat was quite daunting, especially as I was still learning to recognize His voice and having little background about Lent. But sincere thanks to Pastor Alfred, who reassured me, clarifying queries prior to the retreat, and providing just the “right” materials, spiritual exercises and guidance throughout the 3.5 days.
Those few days had showed me how it is truly like “to rest in Him and soak in His blessings customized for me in real-time”. Equally profound for me, am now more confident of the type of communication channel He has chosen to speak to me with as it became more apparent when all the daily distractions were put away. I need only let go of control and just be present in silence which I learned through this experience, and hope to adopt in my daily walk with Him beyond the retreat.”
“There is a right time for everything….”
I needed time away,
The day came.
Lord, have Your way.
He planted 4P+1P’s in my heart that sunshiny day.
The wind chimes lining the walkway invited me to play.
I did, music filled the air and joy the order of the day.
The little imperfect wooden cross invited me to pray.
I did, with words from the music I heard all weekend away.
The palm trees outside my window invited me to praise.
I did, it was PALM SUNDAY that very day.
It does not matter where that is,
So long as Christ takes His rightful place!
The 5th P helps me live from day to day.
It’s all about You Jesus – for Your glory and Your fame.”
Advent Beings in the Dark and End with the Return of the King Silent Retreat 27-29 Nov 2020 at Montfort Retreat Centre
Awaken – by EL
As I sat on the swing to reflect…….
Awaken to the fact
There’s something that I lack
a great pretender all my life
Just that it’s all a lie
I buried my disappointment
Every living moment
Always cheerful never down
I just put on my face of clown
My marriage failed
My career stalled
My family ‘s broken
My life felt stolen
Wrongly accused, problems with no end
Life’s a mess
Instead of God I just pretend
Looking back, where’s God
when will it all end
To be fair
Even that I pretend
Now looking back
I see the invisible hand that direct
Through it all , if not for your hand
today I could never stand
You were there protecting
My family and everything
Ensuring that even in despair
Hope abounds you were always there
Praise you Lord for your grace
To escape my mess and disgrace
And for your protection
Arise complete restoration
Show me Lord my dreams
Now that I am awake
Open up my path
So that I can become …
Who you want me to be
Poem inspired by God as I sat on a swing in Montfort centre reflecting on my life
Gratitude, Wonder, and Praise Guided Silent Retreat 9-11 Oct 2020 at Orchid Country Club Hotel
I serve in the Creative Arts Ministry at Church. It is a joy to be able to use banners and dance in praise and worship, intercession, healing rooms, and evangelistic projects.
I signed up for the Gratitude, Wonder, and Praise retreat (GWP) not knowing what to expect. I wanted to encounter God and to take my mind off work. My ministry leaders had asked for my participation in a digital Christmas project. My friends and I discussed the dance choreography and storyboard but I eventually turned it down as I was tired from work and its daily issues and concerns. One day before GWP, June our video editor met with me through a “divine” appointment. I told her that I will not be submitting any video for the Christmas project and she encouraged me not to give up despite my claims of not having enough time and being just too exhausted from work. That evening, as I was packing my bag for GWP, I was prompted by what June said and placed a white dance attire and dancing shoes into my luggage along with some banners and scarfs (veils) that I had already intended to bring and use for my quiet time.
I was surprised and amazed by what God is doing the moment that I arrived at GWP. I had assumed that we would spend most of our time in group meditation in the main meeting room. But when I received the retreat schedule the very first day, I learned that we had plenty of time to ourselves. When I checked into the room I knew in my spirit and heart that God will use this retreat for me to put together the Christmas project according to his design and plan.
God provided all the resources that I needed for the Christmas project. The environment was exactly the location when my friends and I discussed the storyboard of our Christmas project. With God as the director and Alfred who provided the prayers and prompts on Gratitude, Wonder and Praise, I started to notice and appreciate all that I had around me. The room was spacious enough for dancing, the ceiling was high enough to wave a banner, the lighting from the balcony was perfect, the coconut trees in the back provided a natural and calming background, the hardcopy of a bible in the drawer, the mirror, the orchid artwork on the wall all become part of the creative work. While being consumed and led by God in the creation of this Christmas project, I didn’t even have to worry about my meals as there was room service and meal vouchers!
I am most astounded by two simple pieces of furniture in the room. A chair and an orange colour footstool. The colour orange holds a special meaning for me and I kept looking at the orange stool and wondering about its significance. I needed a camera stand to hold up my phone and then I realized that by placing the stool on the chair this became my camera stand. I was also astonished at how clean the furniture was and how light it was to be able to move them around. Indeed, God is my Abba Father and my provider and he knows my deep desire and thirst for creativity. GWP has allowed me to create with my Heavenly Father and to truly experience that His Banner over me is Love! (Song of Songs 2:4)
Gospel Paradoxology Online Retreat
I have always been intrigued by the Paradoxical Teachings of Jesus, more so now in this seemingly paradoxical world. With much on my mind and heart about what is happening in the world with this sudden invasion of the COVID virus, I know this extended time away with God is not just paramount but also extremely timely. I need to inquire of the Lord for His purpose and plan for me during this extraordinary period. I so desire to know what it is that He is setting me aside to do now and more so post COVID. After 2.5 days of earnestly seeking and intentionally listening, my confidence is restored in the Lord with much clarity and peace.
For this, I’m thankful for the many many hours Alfred had poured into the research of the Gospel Paradoxology and the preparation of the retreat handouts. I have been so ministered to by the well thought out materials, from the reassuring Bible verses, to the beautifully penned prayers and poems from various Christian writers and saints. Every single stanza spoke to me at every different juncture which made the 2.5 days whizzed by too quickly. I only wish the retreat can go on another day or more!
Sharing one of my favourite prayers from the handout on Day 3 –
Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.
O Lord, my heart is ready, my heart is ready; my mind awake, attend, alert; my spirit open and ardent, abandoning all else, holding itself in leash, straining The Eye of faith, heartening for your step, distant and nearer, leaping with love, throbbing loudly, yet lying still;
Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.
~ Dean Eric Milner-White, My God, My Glory, 1967
Between Now and Then And Gospel Paradoxology Online Silent Retreat 2020
Silent retreat with Ps Alfred was a refreshing experience for someone whose idea of retreat was a group fellowship with many (read ‘busy’) team building activities. This is truly a personal retreat where the participant is just God and me, in the quiet and stillness that is not awkward or uncomfortable.
I took my first online silent retreat in April 2020 with the focus of transition in “Between Now and Then”. Frankly, I wasn’t sure what to expect but through meticulous direction of each activity, I experienced God’s guiding touch and encouraging revelations that motivated me to pursue the second retreat, The Gospel Paradoxology.
Each spiritual exercise was very well curated and yet the experience was so uniquely personalized. As a strong visual and sensing person, I like the creative approach to exploration and discovery, yet not lack of words to describe the journey. It reveals the multi-facets and traits of God, who created us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and will. As the Creator, He knows how to exactly reach out that makes sense to me.
I now have a deeper understanding of the practice of Lectio Divina and Prayer of Examen through both the retreats. Though still work in progress, the practice of seeking His presence through stillness is something that I look forward to amidst the storms that are raging around me.
Gospel Paradoxology Online Silent Retreat 19-21 Jun 2020
We are the church. I believe that our home is the church and a sanctuary for God and this belief is further enhanced during this Covid-19 period. So when the opportunity to join this retreat came, I was very grateful to be able to join even though it was oversubscribed and journey alongside with my husband.
During this retreat, I got to experience God in the ordinary day-to-day life and embraced disruption as a form of grace. Most importantly, I became more aware of God’s presence in my own home. Sometimes we think we need the perfect circumstances to experience God, like being in a retreat center, or when my kids are not around, or when I have my own space and so forth. However, I learned that I should never limit the presence and ways of God to my own understanding, and trust that He is able to meet me in whatever circumstances as I seek Him with all my heart, mind and soul.
The material provided during the retreat was superb and more than enough for the retreat period. It allowed me to dwell in the themes and topics surfaced during the retreat and even after it ended. The spiritual exercises were simple yet so impactful in facilitating our journey of experiencing God in a powerful way.
After this retreat, my husband’s sleep improved as he started to include morning and evening mediation into his routine – a spiritual practice which we adopted from the retreat. We praise God for this answered prayer ❤
Between Now and Then Online Retreat 20-22 April 2020
Being a task-oriented person, the idea of a silent retreat does not appeal to me. How can one be silent when there is so much to do? But God knows better.
Two years ago, I was led to a retreat conducted by Alfred (One Path) and it changed my life. I encountered God intimately. It was in the silence that I met and heard from Him. My heart was filled with joy and peace, an experience that I have never felt before. I became a strong believer of silent retreats. When we quieten ourselves and come away from life’s busyness we can really be intimate with God.
Having experienced God in such retreats, I started Rere Travel Planners early this year. One of its purpose is to organise silent retreats. Things were working out quite well until COVID-19 came. Everything came to a halt. It was very disheartening. I knew I needed to seek God and get away in silence to hear from Him.
That was when I received an email invitation from Alfred to participate in One Path’s online silent retreat. I wasn’t sure if an online retreat could replace a physical one. Can I truly be silent with family members around? Will I be able to hear from God? But I was reminded of Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart”.
The theme of the retreat could not be more spot on – “Between Now and Then” -Transition. There were spiritual exercises and questions that allowed me to reflect and listen to God. It was a much-needed respite. It gave me clarity and I slept much better. I was energized and felt assured of God’s plan for me. I believe God is using Covid-19 as a transition to prepare me for the road ahead.
I am thankful to Alfred who was patient as he guided me during the retreat. God never failed to show up and I have been tremendously blessed from the online retreat. All glory to God for His amazing love, grace and mercy!
Workshop Review Jan 2020
A Workshop Series at Bukit Panjang Gospel Chapel, January 2020
Ps Alfred Quah’s teachings on “The Ancient Paths – Rest and Restoration” ( 5, 12, and 19 Jan 2020)
M K Chua, BPGC
I am blessed by Ps Alfred Quah’s teachings on the Ancient Paths that take us into a deeper meaning, purpose, and satisfaction of the Christian soul life – the essence of our being in Christ. His three topics (of five in all) covering the paths of being, devotion and remembrance draw us to a special relational frame of connecting with God in comparison to our often hectic lifestyle and work-life.
As Jesus invites us to come to him and find rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30), so clarifying our wants, knowing our center of gravity, and finding our rhythm in the said paths respectively become essential considerations to an anxious-free yet active rest in Christ. My take is that instead of being bound by the contents of our life and its attendant rule-governed behavior, we are now free to be bound by the relational frame of a personal and satisfying life in Christ. I look forward to Ps Alfred’s sharing of his remaining topics: of poverty and of passion so that we can all benefit the more in our walk of faith in Christ.
Ps Kelvin, BPGC
Through many engaging platforms, Ps Alfred Quah captured the attention of my congregation throughout the three sessions that he had with us. That is no easy task as the participants’ ages ranged from 17 years all the way to those in their 70s! Ps Alfred’s thoughtful reflections coupled with his heartfelt sharing challenged all participants to long for and to embark upon our own spiritual pilgrimage of the Ancient Paths.
I have personally benefited much from Ps Alfred’s sharing which has spurred me to reflect on my own personal walk with the Lord and to focus on the one thing that is most needful. As a result, I am reaping the benefits of a deeper love for God and a restedness in my soul. I look forward to more sessions with Ps Alfred in the future. I highly recommend him to individuals and churches who are looking to grow deeper in the Lord and to experience the Abundant Life in Christ!”.
Kwanglim Prayer Mountain, South Korea 2019
Nature Sounds delight I hear Be Your presence ever near Grant it be Your guidance too The pause "be still" and look to You Tender mercies You have brought Creatures near to view (birds blue and green) Impact the memories of time gone by To bring me back to You Lord teach me Your patience to be still To draw me nearer will And keep me from the world apart To draw me closer to Your heart May the wind be still or change To Your Presence impart Only to offer life and peace In goodness tensions cease. ~ Darlene Yip Listen to the wind, it talks Listen to the silence, it speaks Listen to your heart, it knows. ~ Native American Proverb
Scotland Pilgrimage Review 2019
Andrew & Evelyn Goh
Why did we join this pilgrimage:
Andrew and I love walking. When the invitation came from Alfred for this retreat in May 2019, without hesitation we enrolled for this walking pilgrimage. We have participated in silent retreats in Korea, Chiangmai organised by Alfred before, but a walking retreat would be a different experience.
What did we experience:
Like in the musical ‘Sound of Music’ we enjoyed the scenery in walking through the rolling hills, meadows, being close to nature, the sound of the sheep, cow, farms. However, the walk is not smooth going all the time. We faced some tough terrains, swampy lands and long hours of walking.
So how did we make this a time of being close to God:
Through the daily morning and evenings time of contemplation, worship, praying and sharing. During our simple lunch break we had a time of contemplation as we rested. Try as we did to be silent during the walk, it can be difficult at times as we meet other fellow trippers saying a few words to us.
So what did we do:
We soak in the beauty of the countryside, the sceneries, the rays of light, clouds, shared with each other our thoughts as we walked – words of life, the Scripture. Also encouraging each other when the walk gets tough. We allowed God to speak to us through nature.
At one stage, Andrew was lagging behind and he had to hurry to catch up and felt left behind… but he remembered he is not walking alone, as God was walking with him.
For me – just to be able to walk in the open, soak in the beauty of creation makes me want to sing out loud to Him. It was also such joy when we were able to worship God in the open and allow our voices to be raised and heard by anyone who is near our vicinity.
So was the trip worth it:
Yes, even with aching legs and walking through swampy land, rain and some inconveniences. Knowing that God was always with us, watching us as we moved step by step, day by day. This was indeed a trip we would not want to miss and especially knowing that we are in the company of brothers and sisters-in-Christ, and of course with a spiritual leader as in Alfred Quah.
Ireland Pilgrimage Review 2018
The Ireland/Connemara pilgrimage came at a time that I was making a transition in life. While relishing in the glorious wonders of nature, the camaraderie forged between fellow pilgrims and the soulful worship along the journey, I could sense His presence through it all. His quiet assurance that things will be fine gave me renewed strength to face the challenges ahead in my transition.
This is the first time I’ve embarked on a walking pilgrimage in Ireland but I hope it won’t be my last. I’m grateful to Alfred for organising this trip – it’s an experience I’ll never forget and I would highly recommend it.
Eugene Peterson said this on the subject of pilgrimages: “Pilgrimage is the ancient practice of walking, usually with others, to a holy site while paying careful attention to everything that takes place within and without, soul and body, all the ways that are inherent in the Way, along with the companions who are also on the Way.” Ireland, with her rich Christian heritage, is certainly a land of spiritual significance. As one of the places where Celtic spirituality thrived and from which Christianity spread to the rest of Europe through the Celtic saints from the 6th century, the environment makes it very conducive – for reflecting on what God had done in this sacred land in the past and for contemplating on what He can continue to do through His willing servants.
The natural beauty on full display in the expansive landscape that lined the Western Way made it very easy to commune with the Creator as we walked different sections of the route each day. We encountered “thin places” – surreal physical spaces where heaven and earth seem to touch – almost everywhere. The vast countryside, wooded tracks, quiet pastures, serene streams and rivers, and majestic mountain ranges and peaks somehow had a way of making our hearts receptive to the voice of the Spirit, as well as open to what He wanted to speak to and do in us. Walking the pilgrim route was like going for a silent retreat – just that this was not done in the confines of a room but out there in the glorious open, not being stationary in one place but on the move through nature.
I came to this pilgrimage seeking and hoping to get some clarity from Him with regard to certain decisions for the next season of my life’s journey. I left Ireland with a heart strangely warmed, knowing I’ve encountered Him and enjoying the whole experience of journeying with other like-minded fellow pilgrims. There was definitely something that happened, “within and without, soul and body” and I’m greatly blessed and deeply enriched.
Many unexpected challenges. Had I known I would have decided that I wouldn’t be able to do it. But as I struggled up that steep climb, I had tried all ways to lighten my load. I tried carrying the haversack in front of me, on my arm, in my hand, alongside of me. Nothing seemed to work. If I could I would have tossed my haversack and abandoned it. Finally it was as it should be- strapped on my shoulders and carried on my back! Thanks be to God! He saw me up.
There was an evening when we arrived at our B&B and I had a room upstairs. I remember how I groaned my way downstairs for hot water. My legs and thighs were aching from board-walk stretch. I went to bed that night thinking my legs would not be able to survive another walk the next day. But thanks be to God and to my very pleasant surprise, hardly a muscle or bone ached and I was ready for the day’s walk.
I experienced what it was like to transform from a busy city dweller living life in a cramped concrete jungle to a simple sojourner (pilgrim) who becomes exposed to the rugged beauty and vulnerabilities of the vast outdoors as I walked through hills and valleys, crossed streams and fields, mingled with sheep and cows, touched and smelt pretty spring flowers… my body, soul and spirit was refreshed.
Unlike other trips, I was freed of agendas, programs, teachings, etc. that crowded my mind and I could just simply be at peace with myself and enjoy the beauty of God in nature and His creation.
Many scripture passages like Psalm 23 came alive as I observed the sheep and walked the land. Surprisingly it was the hiking pole which taught me the importance of the shepherd’s rod to comfort and guide me. My hiking pole was a great help which I relied on to help me climb up and down, support me on muddy slippery terrain and I came to appreciate that I couldn’t have manged without it! On the whole it was a rewarding and challenging experience for me.