Fueled by a strong calling to serve God

Putting great importance in the preaching of the Word, drawing from their deep study of the Bible and guidance of the Holy Spirit

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Years in the Ministry

Called to the Mission Field

In 1986, Singaporean pastors, Toh Nee and Lily Lim, were called to the mission field in Iloilo City, Philippines in their early 20s . Fueled by a strong calling to serve God, they were tasked to plant a church in the city with limited resources and manpower.

As Senior Pastors, they put great importance in the preaching of the Word, drawing from their deep study of the Bible and guidance of the Holy Spirit. They remain brutally honest and open to the congregation about what the Lord would teach them personally– whether it be an assurance, a revelation, or even as a rebuke. In his book, "Strengthen Yourself in the Lord", Bill Johnson wrote that one’s personal testimony is a unique experience that becomes a powerful tool through which the Gospel is shared more powerfully. Pastor Toh Nee and Pastor Lily exemplify this and through their testimonies reveal that they too are works in progress as their characters are being shaped and molded by God.

As the Bible commands us to love one another, the pastors put primary importance in the spiritual and personal welfare of the members, giving wise and sound counsel for encouragement, identifying problems and leading them to praying and seeking the hand of the Lord for solutions. They are always willing to spend time to listen and employ their gift of discernment to resolve conflicts and restore broken relationships.

Just as God made us to be a part of a body of believers, Pastor Toh Nee and Pastor Lily uphold the Lord's teaching that each member of the body of Christ is significant.

Caring for the needs of those from low-income communities in Iloilo City has been part of Evangel Tabernacle’s DNA to model Christ’s compassion to the poor. Through the years, the church has worked with international non-government organizations and individuals in feeding programs, distributing food and medicine, weekly community visitations for evangelism and providing financial assistance to poor yet deserving students.

Both Pastor Toh Nee and Pastor Lily actively see to it that Evangel Tabernacle will continue to contribute and play an important role in helping various communities in the city. Their work as missionaries were featured in an episode of “On The Red Dot”, a Channel News Asia documentary in 2019.

To be displaced from a comfortable life in Singapore and adapt to an unfamiliar life in a small city in the Philippines is an understatement. The pain of limited visits to family back in Singapore and having to adjust to a different culture and language and to work side-by-side with strangers became the norm. Yet, the absence, the questions, the what ifs, the loneliness– even the brief moments of un-belongingness, served to affirm that they were indeed, called to be in this part of the world for a good reason.

Doing the daunting work of nurturing and addressing the needs of a congregation and various communities, at times, discouraged and wore them out. Ministering to members who come from different walks of life– counseling, comforting, encouraging, teaching– even rebuking out of love– makes one wonder how they do it. How have they sustained this ministry for 36 years? One may think they desire perfection, or do it for show, or simply as philanthropic work ALL for the sake of world peace. But one thing is evident: they serve because of Christ’s grace and work on the cross.

A Blessed Partnership

Theirs is a partnership that demonstrates, teaches, ministers and inspires.

What is evident is the interesting dynamics– challenges included– both as partners in the ministry and as a married couple. They openly argue, discuss, tease, yet freely agree and show expressions of support and appreciation of the good they see in each other’s work. What is constant is how they learn from one another in their study of the Word and what they reflect from their regular individual personal time with God.  ETAB members have grown to love the candidness, humor, sarcasm and wit in the way they handle relationship dilemmas. From choosing Valentine’s Day gifts to other mundane concerns, their on and off remarks are sure to elicit laughter! 

Their relationship as a team and lifelong partners  is a rarity these days–  working to their strengths and learning from their weaknesses.  And while theirs is  far from the picture-perfect, blissful, saccharine life constantly seen in Korean dramas and other rom-com classics, they seek to pattern their partnership– both in their ministry and their marriage– after Christ’s relationship with His Church.

Pastor Toh Nee Lim

Pastor Toh Nee heads the pulpit ministry at Evangel Tabernacle. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and his continuing research and knowledge in Biblical History and prophecy have been very useful in his ministry. Pastor Toh Nee believes that the day-to-day study and personal encounters with the Lord in one’s daily walk can provide a much deeper and more personal understanding of who God is.

During his two years’ service in the military in Singapore, Pastor Toh Nee, then already a born- again Christian, was not aware that his daily devotion to Bible reading and meditation made an impact on some of his companions in the camp. Many years later, he would be told how his Christian faith has brought them to follow Jesus.

To listen to Pastor Toh Nee give the Sunday sermon is to hear a thorough and intimate sharing of the Word of God, one that comes out of a deeper study of the ways of the Lord, coupled with prayers and reflection of God’s bidding.

Warm and welcoming, one might think that Pastor Toh Nee is all serious and reserved. But his wit and a good-natured joke up his sleeve would surprise everyone, including knowing how he loves to drive long hours, going as fast as 90 to 100 km per hour!

Pastor Lily Lim

Pastor Lily is a “super woman” of many talents not only because she has boundless energy to do great things tirelessly, but she is also blessed with the natural ability to wear many hats and do multitasking quite efficiently. The term “superwoman”, however, applies more to her capacity to show love and generosity to many people, giving all of her gifts to help, support, encourage and build up those who come into her life, and showing them actual evidence of God’s goodness.

While she shares the pulpit ministry with Pastor Toh Nee in preaching and overseeing the administrative work at ETAB, her passions and giftings are in Bible teaching, mentoring leaders and counseling. Pastor Lily studies and invests time securing the best materials to fit the needs of the various ministries for growth, training and nurturing.

Outside of her ministry and church management, Pastor Lily is passionate about her cooking and is blessed with an epicurean taste, able to combine authentic Asian flavors with international dishes that never fail to impress her family, friends, members and guests.

She is one cook who never shrinks from the challenge of preparing several dishes for a full international dinner buffet for as many as 1,000 hungry members or for the community in celebration of spiritual victories! Cooking for 1,000 or for 8 members in her cell group, the love and generosity she pours into every meal is felt.

Pastor Lily’s humor and wit provide a healthy balance with the demands and concerns of her ministry. Her anecdotes of how she is still adjusting to the ways of the Filipinos even after 36 years, to funny everyday encounters can already pass for a script for a one-woman comic act. Her observations and experiences teach and remind how funny and ironic the human experience can be. Pastor Lily also has the amazing ability to shift from something funny and mundane to a powerful delivery of a thought -provoking message that convicts and rebukes, yet leads to hope and deliverance.

Supportive of Members’ Talents and Gifts

Pastor Toh Nee and Pastor Lily recognize the power of art in teaching the Word and spreading the Gospel. Through the years, music, dance, theater, visual art, film, literature and other art forms have been used in the church to introduce the gospel in creative ways that addresses life’s challenges. Regardless of age, members are encouraged to develop their gifts by creating and performing– allowing them to discover more about their skills with confidence.

Joy and Jan: Blessings of Children

Pastor Toh Nee and Pastor Lily are proud parents to two daughters, Joy and Jan whom the Lord have blessed in many ways as they shine in the fields of language, education and science.

[L-R] Daryl, Jan, Rev. Lily, Rev. Tohnee, Joy, Ben

Joy, their older daughter, is currently a Research Fellow with a PHD in Biomedical Sciences at A-Star in Singapore. She is married to Ben Goh, an Engineer. Jan, the younger daughter, pursued her Masters in Applied Linguistics at the Université Paris Sorbonne with a full scholarship and is currently an Acting Level Head French Teacher for the Ministry of Education Language Center in Singapore. She is married to Daryl Yong, an Engineer.

Both Joy and Jan continue to serve the Lord in various ministries in Singapore.

Christ-Centered Ministry

By God’s grace, Pastor Lily and Pastor Toh Nee continue to live up to the call they answered 36 years ago: to preach the Word to many and nurture the body of Christ in the City of Iloilo, Philippines. The trials, victories and breakthroughs of their spiritual journey as missionaries continue to shape the vision and ministries of Evangel Tabernacle– beating to the heart of a strong Christ-centered Ministry.