Eulogy for Rev Nicholas Yeo
Delivered by Datuk Roger Tan
On behalf of Holy Light Church (English)
Wake Service, 1 August 2021
Family members of our beloved Pastor Nicholas Yeo
Friends joining us via Youtube Live Streaming
When Senior Pastor Rev. Dr Chuah called me yesterday whether I could deliver a eulogy on behalf of the Church, I had no hesitation whatsoever to accept this honour for a man of God who had devoted more than forty years of his life to the faithful service of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hailed from Batu Pahat, Pastor Nicholas Yeo was the first Asian to take over the ministry Holy Light Church (English) or HLCE when he answered God’s call in December 1973 as a preacher. At this time, he was 31 years old and a former secondary school teacher who had just graduated from the Singapore Bible College. On 31 August 1979, Pastor Nicholas was officially ordained as the church’s first Asian minister.
The Rev George Hood, founder of HLCE wrote later that when the hopes of getting an Asian pastor were realised, it was like rain falling on dry ground, bringing new life and growth of the seeds that the foreign missionaries had planted.
Pastor Nicholas retired from full time service on 1 October 2009. In his more than 30 years of full-time ministry at HLCE, Pastor was fully supported by his wife, Lee Swee Keng. Our sister Mrs Yeo Swee Keng went to be with the Lord on 10 October 2018.
Much had been said and written about Pastor Nicholas Yeo. I would first like to repeat what was said about him in the obituary placed by the Church in The Star today:
“Always patient, kind and never envious nor rude, Pastor Nicholas was also not self-seeking or easily angered. Neither did he delight in evil. He always rejoiced with the truth and kept no record of wrongs. He would always protect, always trust, always hope and always persevere. As a shepherd looking after the flock in Holy Light Church (English), we had the best pastor with us.” I should also add that Pastor, often described as exceptionally handsome, had an impeccable command of the Queen’s English and possessed an elephant’s memory. Not to mention, all of us also loved his voice and yes, his singing.
In celebrating his life today, something which was not often said or written about and which must be said today for the sake of posterity is the crisis which our Church went through in the early 1990s. We have so much to learn from this child of God in the way he had handled it.
Of course, during that tumultuous period, Pastor Nicholas and his wife had gone through emotional distress and suffering, but what impressed the most of us was his calmness displayed publicly in the midst of all that. This had also prevented young believers from being discouraged. Indeed, many hearts might have been pierced and such wounds had taken time to heal. But they did heal eventually only by Christ’s stripes and His abounding grace.
To me, the reason was because Pastor Nicholas was forgiving and had suffered in silence. When defending himself, he did not retaliate or attack his accusers, knowing that this would only harm the body of Christ further in HLCE. Remember, Jesus, Job and Moses all went through the same experience. Like them, Pastor Nicholas had let God defend him and he only needed to be silent. Armed with these godly assurances, Pastor Nicholas continued to walk with dignity and honour. God later honoured his obedience when the English-Speaking Presbytery exonerated him.
Through him, he had also nurtured and brought many young people to know Christ. He was a Chaplain of the First Johor Bahru Company of Boy’s Brigade for many years. Indeed, we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and stedfast.
Likewise, God has also, through Pastor Nicholas Yeo, raised a younger and dedicated second echelon of leaders in our Rev Dr Chuah Seong Peng, Pastor Raymond Ho, Pastor Gan Kim Choon, Elders Lee Kim Chai, Koh Seong Kooi, Quek Tee Ken, Alex Tang, Tommy Leong and many more. Just as Paul said, ‘I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.’ Indeed, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who will make things grow. Hence, with that promise and assurance that the younger group of leaders would advance God’s work in HLCE, he handed over the leadership of the Church to Rev Dr Chuah in late 2009.
Church, he would surely want us, leaders and members alike to remember to take God’s word seriously and to always remain steadfast in the principles expounded in the Scriptures. After all, each time when he went through a difficult period of his ministry, he had always emerged in strong defence of the truth, always radiating the joy and gladness of the Lord in His service.
During his leadership at HLCE, he also experienced a roller-coaster tussle with the authorities over the acquisition, withdrawal of acquisition, the approval and finally the development of HisLand. He never lost hope of losing the land as he prayed unceasingly over two decades for HisLand project to come into fruition. And came it did finally. He was so passionate about it. He laid the first foundation brick and so when the Church gave him a lump sum as a love gift upon his retirement in 2009, he had it all channeled to HisLand development fund.
In our tribute to him today, we must always remember that Pastor always took us back to the basics in our walk with the Lord. He was not so interested in following the latest trend in Christian marketing strategies. He often took us back to finding out what God wanted to do here in HLCE. He wanted to see God do a work that could only be attributed to the power of God. In this sense, he was uncompromising in upholding the inerrancy and infallibility of the Word of God. He wanted his colleagues to be an exemplary preacher, and he taught them how to honour the absolute veracity of the Word of God in preaching. Needless to say, he was a faithful shepherd and warrior of God who had a deep love for God. For that reason, he was a leader among pastors, an encourager and influencer of ministers across the English Speaking Presbytery.
To his children and grandchildren, the Church would like all of you to know what a great man of God all of us had. May you always look to him and at his life to draw strength and love from time to time.
Dearly beloved, Pastor Nicholas had indubitably fought the good fight, finished the race and had kept the faith. He was a true shepherd at HLCE, but now just as it is written in Revelation 7:17 that the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be his shepherd, He will lead Pastor Nicholas to springs of living water and God will wipe away every tear from his eyes.
Till we meet again our beloved Pastor Nicholas Yeo Kok Peng, rest in peace and enjoy your reunion with Mrs Yeo. We love you and will miss you dearly. This Church will be eternally grateful to you and you shall remain a source of inspiration to us, our children and our children’s children for many, many generations to come. Your life and contributions would be registered for posterity as a testimony of God’s faithfulness in HLCE.
May I now humbly pray that a copy of this eulogy be kept in the archives of Holy Light Church (English) till the ends of the Earth.