Sunday, February 4, 2018

If I Had Walked Away

Reflecting my past two and a half years in Li Xin Baptist Church, I can't help but wonder what would happened if I had walked away. It was an easy choice to make, LXBC was at her low point: members leaving the church, some considering to leave, worship team was in a mess, the spirit of worship was nowhere to be found, suspicion among members. I was new in town and working across the bridge. It would have been much easier if I had chosen to attend a church nearer to where I stay and easier for me to practice my faith.
Pastor Matthew and Ai Hua at my graduation
Yet I stayed. In hindsight, I don't think I made that choice on my own. God placed me here and I somehow had the heart and courage to say: this is where I will stay. While I'm glad I did, but it would have saved me from so much trouble and discomfort.
My First Mission to Thailand with LXBC
But if I had walked away, I think...

1. I would have missed the opportunity to allow God to mold me in my character.
I think the choice to stay led me through difficult situations that challenged me as a person greatly. My time in a very much broken LXBC, I have experienced anger, frustrations, unforgiveness and even rivalry and jealousy. It brought out the worse of me. 
The entire time, God was revealing the rough edges of my character and did various chiseling in my life. Perhaps chipping "Pride" off me and replacing it with "Humility" was the hardest part of the journey. I was driven into a corner where I have to apologize even when I do not think it was my fault (And they are almost always my fault). I was disciplined into letting go of all the "strength" that I have and instead relying on my weaknesses and ultimately the strength of God.
In short two years and more, God was preparing me for a greater purpose that I wouldn't have known by first molding my character so that I may fit His purpose for me. And this is the journey that I would have missed if I have chosen to turn around and walk away.
I would have missed an opportunity to see the better man that God is molding me into.

2. I would have missed the opportunity to witness God's amazing hand in leading this church into an amazing journey of revival.
If I say that God wanted me to stay in LXBC to bring about a revival, I would be pridefully boasting, because it simply isn't true. While LXBC is upon a journey of a great revival, I have no part in the credit. I am merely a spectator of His glorious work.
Indeed, everyday I am constantly amazed by the work He has done for a small church like us. He provided when we needed, He supplied when we decided to be generous, He lifted up when we were down, He blessed when we blessed and He led when we were lost.
To be able to be a witness to His amazing work empowers me to live a courageous Christian life because I know this God that I follow is a living, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-merciful, all-sufficient God! And to my honor, I had been invited to stay and watch this spectacular work of my Lord.
If I had turned away and ran, I would have missed a great episode of His display of wonders!

3. I would have missed the opportunity to partner with God in an amazing work of transformation.
Coming to LXBC was God's invitation for me to be a part of His great plans for the church. As I have said, God intends to bring LXBC to a whole new level where our hearts and worship burns passionately for Him. Part of His plan is to raise a  group of obedient young people from within the church to be rebuilders of His sanctuary.
Along with so many more brothers and sisters of LXBC, we have been invited to partner with Him to build LXBC into a church of solid Scriptural teaching, of passionate worship and of wonderful love relationships with our brethren. And it is amazing to be a part of this great work.

4. I would have missed the opportunity to meet the amazing brothers and sisters who set their heart ablaze for the Lord even in the face of tribulations.
Indeed, I would be in great regret not meeting these brothers and sisters who despite their own pain and trial, gave their all in life to serve a great God so passionately. I have been constantly encouraged by the magnitude of their selfless sacrifice for the church.
Some of them sacrificed the comfort of family time in order to serve brothers and sisters of the church. Some of them sacrificed "productive" time that they could otherwise work on a better paid job in order to bring the greatest praise to our God. Some of them sacrificed precious sleep and rest time that they may ensure all things fall well in place on Sundays. Some of them sacrificed the numbers on their hair in order they may bring out the best of teachings to the church.

These people, young and old, have been amazing testimonies to me and have driven me to go further miles for the love of God and of my brethren. They are the reasons why I continue to sing louder for the Lord and go higher for Christ Jesus.
Even in the face of their personal challenges, they pressed on, simply because they saw the glory of God and want more of Him. If I had walked away, I may missed the honor of knowing such amazing people.

5. I would have miss the opportunity to experience an all-out worship lifestyle that glorifies Him.
Honestly, if I did not stay, I may not be driven to live in a life that constantly worship Him. It was here that the Lord taught me to play music unto His ears; it was here that God taught me to lay down all that I am and count them as nothing; it was here that God taught me to simply worship Him, without needing to prove myself, nor to glorify myself; it was here that God taught me to honor Him and trust that He will also honor me as He pleases.
In the past, picking up the guitar was to prove the more of myself; today, picking up the guitar has given nothing to prove but His amazing grace in my life.

Seeing God's Hands in Difficult Journey
Living in the 21st Century, it is easy to be consumed by consumerism and treat the church of God as such. As consumerism creeps into churches, it drives churches to do crazy things and lose sight of Christ. 
If I may encourage young people around me, I would want to encourage you to fight against the sweeping current of consumerism and take ownership of our church. We can be tempted to jump to another church because they offer better worship, better sanctuary, better message or even better friendship, but we often forget that the churches has greener grass because someone worked to build it. So then, maybe the same can happen to our church too. But if we, the young people, who has all our youth, energy and life to offer the church, decides to leave at the first sign of danger, who will stay and rebuild?

Perhaps today God is inviting us into a partnership to rebuild His church, may I also invite you to stay even when it is difficult? And when you hold on long enough, you will definitely see God's Hands working through you and everyone who stayed.

If I had walked away, I would never know the great things that I would miss.

Forward in Faith

Sunday, December 24, 2017

November? No, Remember! Part 4

5. Project Kwam Wang - Sabaidee, Laos!
I don't think I can ever say this enough: Laos is an unforgettable nation, mainly because of the unforgettable journey that God had taken me through. The initial idea was to paint a school building in Vientiane, but imagine our shock when the team saw a building with 2-walled rooms. Instead of complaining, the team quickly came together to lay bricks and cement. 5 days later, we have classrooms with 4 walls and whole school of happy children.

The highlight of the trip came later. To catch our flight in Lua Prabang, we took a 6-hour bus ride into Vang Vien, a magical, spectacular heaven-on-earth. The 2-hour tubing experience to enjoy the peace and scenic view of Vang Vien mountain range, the lovely morning breakfast with a morning sunshine and green mountains. It was a great time of serenity and reflection.

Then another 6 hours of bus ride across the mountain into Lua Prabang. Tasted one of the best, cheapest beer, Beer Lao! One thing that has really been unforgettable, was that magically beautiful Kuangsi Waterfall. It was dreamy!
Red bull? Read again!

Coconut Pancake. Tracy insisted that I try.

That amazing Kuangsi Waterfall.

The biggest take away from this trip was the change of my mission mindset. Meeting Wei Ling, our local guide and coordinator, who is a Singaporean residing in Laos, was perhaps by divine intervention. As a fellow Christian, she shared with me how some churches approached mission here wrongly because of most churches from developed worlds has the wrong idea of what Laos is as a nation. There is no persecution per se. The government is willing to turn a blind eye from those who choose to practice the Christian faith so long as their presence does not threaten the government.

Perhaps mission in Laos isn't really about saving people from an iron-fist, socialist government. They don't need saving, they need the Gospel, and our high-and-mighty, holier-than-thou, better-than-thou attitudes do the exact opposite of what the Gospel needs.

Keep Laos in prayer. God is working in this nation, and who knows, maybe we will be the ones who will bring love, friendship and ultimately the Gospel into Laos?

6. God - The Same Yesterday, Today and Forever More
I intended to write longer. Trust me, so much has happened in the past months I have no time to process them thoroughly. By the time of writing this post, it's been a month since Part 3 was written. Yet, one thing has never been clearer to me: I am living in God's constant blessings. To that I must thank God, for the things He has shown me, for the goodness He has given me.

In the midst of God's abundant providence, it's strange that I still find myself envying others for the income they have, for the places they travel, for the things they own. However, sitting down and recounting all these has helped me to realised that I have far more than enough. I am ashamed, for I have been too focused on what others have, not what God has already given me. Yet I am glad, for the grace of God has allowed me to once again praise Him for all He is.

To all who cares, I am alive and well. In fact, never better. Praise God, for He is good!
Love • Christ • Unity

Sunday, November 26, 2017

November? No, Remember! Part 3

4. Thailand - Open Doors to the Land of Smiles
Two years ago, Chumphon, Thailand did not give me a reason to return. It's a beautiful place, but I was struggling to find my own identity in Christ at the time, I wasn't in focus throughout the mission. Fast forward two years later, I returned to the place, no longer struggling with my identity, but with much weariness in my soul. Little did I expect that Thailand would be a place of healing and spiritual replenishment. The vibrant spirituality of the brothers and sisters in Thailand had brought me into worship focus where my songs and my soul are on Christ alone.
But rest and retreat wasn't our intention, our mission was to bring the Good News to the children of Chumphon, Thailand through Bible stories and activities. And so we did: over 60 children heard about Jesus Christ and the love of God, 53 of them accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. If God isn't awesome, then who is?
This trip was a trip to recall God's goodness in my life thus far. During the night at Chumphon Railway Station waiting for our train ride back to Penang, Chea Yeong and I shared a great moment of conversation. It helped me to recount some of my mission experiences: My first mission to Lenggong, Perak with USM KKJ Christian Fellowship, my solo return mission to Lenggong, my first oversea mission in Timor Leste, my missions to Thailand and etc. I can't help but noticed the transformation of my character that God brought me through the years. In fact, Pastor Matthew observed that my heart of worship had shifted from self to God, which to me was a great encouragement and a great testimony of God's goodness and faithfulness in my spiritual journey.

One of my deepest cry in my prayer while in Chumphon was for the spiritual growth and revival of Li Xin Baptist Church. Much of these cries stem from my great love for her and my brethren. The young ones are tired and distracted and the old ones are weary and needy. I asked God to bring about a great power that sweep us off our feet, that we will all rise up in faith and put Him at the center of our every day life. I asked God to bless me as He placed me in LXBC to serve.

Brace yourself, Li Xin Baptist Church. God is going to do great work in our church. You best be ready to obey Him.
8 people from 5 different churches to serve that One God on high. A great testimony of God's amazing power to use the weak to do the seemingly impossible.
To Part 4

November? No, Remember! Part 2

2. Li Xin Baptist Church, My Family Away from Home
It's been all a tremendous ride in this journey of life with them. We celebrated our 24th Anniversary. Even though we intended to have just a small celebration, but it went off like a snowball and the whole thing blew up like a great concert. I had the greatest time of worship with the church, having more than 20 songs in a long chain of medley. Imagine that!

More importantly, the English Congregation pulled off our most elaborated performance yet: a sketch + a dance. Thanks to our director Chea Yeong who managed to bring the whole congregation together to do something that we will remember as a congregation. The preparation was not easy. We met after work to practice. Though there were conflicts but it also brought us closer together as we learn to love one another in the process.
Our spirits for prayer had been refreshed once again during our Prayer Retreat, this time in Batu Ferringhi. While we hate that our time is short, we were tremendously blessed by Pastor Koe's teaching on the spirit of prayer and practical ways to help us in prayer. Personally, I was so moved by the Spirit I was in tears. I missed so much the intimacy that I share with God in prayer, yet so many time I have easily given up the privilege to come to Him in prayer.
The Sunday School had an outing to Audi Dream Farm in Balik Pulau. I had the audacity to tag along. I mean, why not? I'm a child, at heart! It was just amazing to experience animals in close encounter.
The Church is never perfect, not because God is flawed, but because the men and women He calls are broken and fallen. Yet, it is this same imperfection that magnifies God's perfect love. And as God loves us, His love is manifested in our display of love and forgiveness for one another.
3. Vocation with a Passion
Every morning as I wake up, it can be quite a challenge to bring myself. I mean, I am excited to go to work, no doubt about it, but my habit of staying up late at night takes a toll on my body and makes it hard for me to wake up at 5:30 in the morning.

That being said, I am excited as usual to be at work. I think I have come to realization that where I am now, is exactly where God wants me to be. Every waking moment has its purpose. Of course, work is never all fun and joyful. As most people do, to put it mildly, I have unlikable bosses and repulsive co-workers. I complain quite a bit too. But every moment God is calling me to love the unlovable, to forgive others, and to seek forgiveness for my own weaknesses too.

So, here I am to stay, as I am called to be faithful to the position Christ has for me. His Word for me:
One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much. 
Luke 16:10a
To Part 3

Saturday, November 25, 2017

November? No, Remember! Part 1

Time just dashed right before me, especially when I get so caught up in the actions in life, I hardly have time to stop, reflect and record.Yet so much has happened in the past 4 months: places I've traveled, people I've met, things I've experience. It's time to count all my blessings.

1. Sabah, Land Under the Wind
I was extremely excited for this trip. While it may not be out of the country, but it's certainly my first vacation after nearly 2 years as a working adult. To be able to save enough to afford a getaway is by itself a great testimony of God's great abundance in my life.

Sabah was unforgettable. Even trying to recall the experience 4 months ago was enough to captivate my heart again. Her beautiful nature, breath-taking scenery, wonderful people and generous food portion stole my heart for the place. Especially Kundasang, the doorway to Mount Kinabalu. I've lived in the city for far too long, the idea of waking up to painting-like mountain view is just mind-blowing.

The serenity of Kilimu Village: a small, hidden village just a few kilometers away from Poring Hot Spring gave both Gabriel and I a day of time-out, of mental escape and of spiritual realignment. In the village's SIB church, we experience both of simplicity of village life, yet a vigorous passion for the Lord.
The islands of Sabah are enchanting. Gabriel and I parted ways for a day and I went on a solo day trip into Pulau Sapi. I even went on riding the former longest zipline in Asia, flying from Pulau Gaya into Pulau Sapi. The view was spectacular. My camera did not work during the fly, but what I saw was indescribable. even with a video. The water was so clear I could see the corals and fishes underneath.
My time in Sabah was a time to learn to let go of my desperate need to be in control and let God take me on an exciting journey in the pace that He wants me too. Much of my properly planned schedule for the trip didn't work, but I asked Gabriel to constantly remind instead to enjoy the ride, not to be frustrated by my foiled plans. And indeed, it was one heck of a ride in Sabah with God.