Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The End of the World

Sarah graduated on May 21st 2011

My host Jim Rouston showed me the news paper that had the caption "End of the world on May 21st 2011 at 6pm." I told Jim that I would be attending my daughter, Sarah's graduation on that day as predicted by Harold Camping to be the end of the world. Many of Harold Camping's church members sold off their houses and property and camped in a remote place in America waiting for the end to come!

As the plane flew from Billings to Grand Rapids, I knew that the end of the world would not happen for the simple reason that no one will know the sudden coming of Christ. Jesus already told his disciples that "no one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." (Matt 24:36-42). It is baffling to me how a veteran pastor like Harold Camping could come up with a calculation of the exact date of the return of Christ. It is equally mind boggling to see so many mindless Christians who bought in Harold Camping's prophecy when the teaching of the Bible is so plain for all to see.

Sam and I sat there in the sport stadium where thousands of parents, friends of the graduands and the graduates eagerly awaiting the commencement of the opening service. When Sarah's name was called and she went forward to received her scroll, I clapped the loudest and shouted for joy unashamedly. That's what parents would do that for their children. Sarah had done us proud. She has always been a high achiever in schools. She graduated with honors degree and was on the Dean's list for every semester in all the four years! Her professors were full of praise for her, not only her academic excellence but also her attitude and posture of learning. Sarah is a keen student, possesses sharp mind and yet humble. Calvin College professors had shaped her mind and heart to love God and to serve others with humility.

I thought I would never be able to send my children overseas for their tertiary education. God had demonstrated his faithfulness by providing more abundantly than I could imagine and ask of. God poured down his blessing from heaven and we were soaked in His grace.

Since coming back on May 2011, within half a month of her return to KL, Sarah was offered a job in a local college as a lecturer. She has always wanted to teach and to mentor students. She knew her vocation and she is passionate about teaching English literature. I am so glad that she has found her sweet spot. I know that even if the end of the world would come tomorrow, Sarah would still methodically, joyfully drive the old Proton Wira that her mum has kept for her to the college early in the morning, beating the traffic jam and fulfilling God's calling in her life. Never mind the meager salary, never mind the long journey from home to the college, what matters is God has called her to be faithful. I too would want to be found faithful, devoted in preaching of God's word, the shepherding of God's people, mentoring young people and planting churches even if tomorrow is the end of the world.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Do Small Things With Great Love

Many people want to attempt big things and achieve great success, Christians are no exception. I find that many Christians would not want to do small things in the church. Mother Teresa’s philosophy of life came as a big shock to many. She advocated that “one can do no great things, only small thing with great love.” She was merely echoing what her Master had said long ago. “If you are faithful in little, you will be faithful in much.” If we can do little thing with great love, we will invariably be found faithful.

When I first conceived the idea of starting a Children’s library for Puchong Community, a handful of women were supportive. Little did I know that when I handed the book “1001 Children’s books a child you must read before you grow up” to Alicia, the passion rubbed on her. She spent countless hours from designing the logo of the library, buying books and cushions, wrapping nearly 1000 books, labeling them, getting book shelves from Ikea, arranging the books and doing thousand of little things with joy and gusto. I can’t ask for a better church administrative assistance than Alicia. Other women came around and make the dream comes through. These are the quiet disciples of Christ who show their love for their Master by doing small things with great love.

The Children’s Library was launched last Saturday. Many parents brought along their children and they were not disappointed. Colorful, high quality and award winning children classics lined up the brand new bookshelves. Amidst the noise and adults chattering, scores of children sat on the rug and couch engrossed in reading books. The younger ones had their mum and dad reading to them. The highlight of the day was the story telling session. Joshua Lye was in his element, reading the story with animation and sound inflection that had the children mesmerized.

The church served plenty of yummy kuih and cakes. No one asked how much he must pay. It is absolutely free of charge. There are no fees for borrowing the books to read, for listening to the story narrated, for a cup of hot coffee or tea with curry puff and kuih. The ambience is great although the noise level is a bit high for a library setting. No one was complaining, as the celebrative mood was obviously loud. I overheard someone commented: “How I wish I had all these books when I was a child.”

While many are lamenting that the English standard of Malaysian students is appalling, this small church (City Discipleship Presbyterian Church, Puchong) that was started a year ago, embarked on a journey to inspire lifelong readers, one child at a time. Imagine the children from Puchong Community who walk in to the Children’s Library, who are enthused by the great stories of the children classic and begin to develop and acquire a love for reading, invariably their proficiency of English will be raised.

Manning the library, reading story books to little children, picking up books from the floor and sorting them out and putting back on the shelves, buying refreshment, cleaning up after the library hour is over, these are so mundane and nothing great about them. But when they are done with great love and with great passion and vision, the ripple effects on touching the lives of the children cannot be measured.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Man to Watch

The Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng was full of praise in his speech for this young man at the wedding dinner. It was a heartwarming evening for me to hear several politicians praising Steven Sim. These were not political speeches but wedding addresses. These were expressions from the hearts with no garnishing. I cheekily posted on the facebook my prediction that in 20 years time Steven Sim will take over Guan Eng as the CM of Penang.

At the age of 29 Steven possesses 3 qualities that we look for in our politicians: intelligent, passion and integrity. When Steven was studying in University Malaya for his Computer Engineering degree, he was also reading Law as a hobby. The articles he wrote reflect his mental sharpness and his girl friend then thought that Steven plagiarized some authors from Oxford University. He was that good. Joreen, his girl friend fell in love with his mind. There is such a thing called ‘beautiful mind.’ Steven is now reading Master of Philosophy. This is not a surprise as I have noticed his love for philosophy since in his University days. He is incredibly intelligent. He learns fast

Many years ago, I ear marked Steven to either be a pastor or a seminary lecturer. I encouraged him to study theology. What I did not know was that his theological knowledge and thinking was already way ahead of an average pastor. But God has a different script for this young man. Steven gravitated more and more to politics. Pastor John Newton, who initially wanted William Wilberforce to study theology to become a pastor, recognized that God had called William Wilberforce to politics. His friend William Pitt assisted William Wilberforce in making the decision. Good that William did not become a pastor, otherwise slavery trade might continue unabated to present century. I affirmed Steven’s calling to serve God in political arena. That explains his passion. Steven is the youngest Councilor ever appointed. He was so eager to get back to work that he wanted to postpone his honeymoon. Can you beat that? He did go for his honeymoon after the wedding as I told him that this is non-negotiable.

Steven is a man of integrity. His political mentor Chong Eng attested to his character. I could see that this man is uncorrupted because he is a God fearing man. He is surrounded by a group of DAP comrades who are uncorrupted. Such political culture of not taking bribery but serving the rakyat with humility, influences Steven to be the kind of politicians that the nation most needed.

People often asked me what is it that kept me going as a pastor, what brings joy to my heart? It is this: to see your mentorees found their calling and serving God faithfully and doing little things with great love for the people.