Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Nice City

We were at the Changi Airport with Limei and Deb on Friday. Our son had his weekly scouts meeting at school. It was good Limei was there as Deb was sad. Well this was our first time on ValuAir. We were pleased that the seats had ample legroom. This was also the first time we were seated next to the emergency exit. So the air stewardess briefed us how to open the emergency exit. Several members commented on my blog before we left that you would pray for our trip so the briefing was actually unnecessary but she was just doing her job.

This is my third visit and my wife's first visit to HK. We arrived at the very impressive modern HK airport. A member of the HK church met us. We travelled on the express train with two Brisbane friends. The airport express is very comfortable. Then we took a taxi to the hotel. We passed by the business district and the commercial buildings are impressive. The city buzzed with activity even late at night. The hotel room was small and compact. We had a quick bite as the sandwiches onboard wasn't a full meal. People smoked inside the restaurant.

Saturday breakfast was yummy tim sum. I love tim sum. Our conference started. Lunch was tim sum hosted by 2 Singaporean members of the HK church. I wanted to do mobile blogging but my wife insisted that I concentrate on the conference. We had fruits for dinner (lot of meat in the day) then more teaching. The first day was a long day.

We had Sunday breakfast with Jeff and Claud. The stranger seated next to me smoked. This was day 2 of the conference. Lunch was with 3 Singaporean members of the church and HK leaders. They are so eager to learn. The leader, Deborah asked us 8 questions. We had time off in the afternoon. My wife spent time with a friend. Connie who grew up in HK brought the rest of us Singaporeans to Causeway Point. You can get anything here and it's really crowded. I tried some famous dessert. Otherwise Sunday was another long day of conference.

Dinah and I had simple breakfast in our room on Monday. This was the last day of the conference. It was great having lunch with my old friend James. It was interesting to accompany him to a Traditional Chinese Medicine expert in HK. There were meetings in the afternoon. Then we had a special dinner on a boat. The view was simply spectacular. This ended another long but fruitful day.

On Tuesday we had tim sum breakfast with four of our youth leaders. Then it is off to more meetings. We lunched in. Hong Kongers sure eat large portions and quite a lot of meat. My wife was very relieved with dinner cause it was primarily veg. Then Dinah and I with 3 friends went to The Peak. The night time view was amazing. (Here is a photo taken by Gavin)

HK is probably more vibrant in terms of night-time buzz. The airport, skyline, the river boat cruise and Chinese cuisine seems nicer than in Singapore. HK is a nice city. But I still appreciate Singapore. Our city is cleaner, greener, more organised and feels safer. Homes here are larger and public places generally less claustrophobic and less smoky. We flew back on Wednesday and yes their airport looks even better in the day.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

An Appointment

Wednesday night was spent with some of our church leaders. (Attach a photo of us taken in Sep 03). Last night I defined what a breakthrough is, explained why God wants us to have a breakthrough and finally how we get breakthroughs. You can expect this lesson to be taught at this weekend's huddles around the church.

In the book of Ecclesiastes chapter three we read of seasons and times. There is a time and a season for everything. Currently we are asking God to breakthrough any dead works so that we can be who we are in Christ, so we can function out of love for God, out of faith in Christ and not do anything from a human perspective. I want to get out spiritual lethargy. My prayer is “Give us a breakthrough! Lord, come into my spirit and change my perspectives and heal my brokenness!” Breakthrough is a divine appointment I want to keep.

Today is Thursday. There were four meetings today. I was glad to have some time with Matthias and Yvonne between meetings. Uli's attachment started earlier and she has gone back to Berlin. I asked Matthias and Yvonne about two of our members who are doing missions in Germany. They asked about church planting in Europe.

Also my wife and I are clearing stuff so we can fly tomorrow with peace of mind. We're coordinating so that work-in-process gets attention while we're away. We have to bring folders and reading materials for the trip. My wife is not just packing for the trip. That's the easy part. She's drawing up a detailed schedule for our kids while they are here. Our twins will stay with two families (Pastor Lawrence and Pat as well as my wife's sister), so there are logistics ie handovers and pickups. My wife does a great job. We do have our moments. There was one trip where our kids got two skirts for the's day school uniform. My son chose to wear his school shorts that was unwashed rather than the fresh skirt. (Good choice)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

These Past Few Days

Sunday, 17th July was a full day. There was preaching in the morning and it was gratifying to see three new persons coming to faith . This was quickly followed by 3 back-to-back campaign launches. Then the campaign planning team had an evaluation after the third launch. Our family and I were supposed to swim in the evening. We hadn't swam since Tuesday thanks to the rain. But we were so flat out that we just went home and crashed.

After shower and dinner, we felt refreshed. Then I saw members and one pre-believer responding to my blog. The responses grew as I read at different points in the night. People are actually reading it! It's great to get to know so many members as I click on their response to go to their blog. The day was long but what an ending. Yes we slept well.

Monday was a another full day. Wan Leng and Hong Teck from our IT Dept worked to get the campaign webpage up by 1 pm. I helped to edit the content. We just made it in time. Then it was off to lunch celebrate Limei's birthday. Limei is our amazing assistant. What would we do without her? Her birthday is actually this Friday but my wife and I will be flying off for a conference on Friday so we're celebrating early. Then it is a series of meetings in the afternoon. Our family finally got to swim on Monday night. Monday night was also the first time we allowed Daniel to sit in the front passenger seat of the car. With glee on his face, "This is SO exciting!" It's Deborah's turn tomorrow night.

Tuesday is our day off. It's often slow paced consisting of errands. My wife started packing for our upcoming trip and the kids' things because they will stay over with two families here when we're away. Yes Deb had her front-seat experience. She was just as thrilled as her brother. Each new experience for a child is such an adventure. In the afternoon we swam again as we may not be able to exercise much in the upcoming overseas conference.

Today's Wednesday. I'm focusing my devotion time on breakthrough. This is a short reflection... Our Lord God is known by many names in the Bible and His names reveal His character. The Scripture is 2 Samuel 5:20. Before the breakthrough, the scene in the Scripture is called Valley of Rephaim (1 Chro 14:8-11) meaning house of the giant. The enemy thought this point is where he is the strongest. After the victory, King David called it Baal-Perazim meaning God broke through in the strongest place of the enemy. The word literally means 'Lord of the Breakthroughs'. This is where I want to be. Let's make our way here.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Breakthrough Living

Our church is going to start a journey of breakthrough.

Many may think a breakthrough is a peak or mountain top experience. A breakthrough isn’t the highs or the lows. In all things we may find the imprint of the hand of God leading, embracing. And I am free to respond.

A breakthrough comes when you take a new look at your life – a long, loving look at where you are stuck and whether you are prepared to hear God’s voice say to you: “hang on tight, you are about to come unstuck”.

A breakthrough comes when we apply the good news and give our situations a little shake and see who’s at the other end. Then we see breakthroughs to fuller living. We see our small life invaded and enhanced by the Absolute Life. We see breakthroughs in all aspects of our spiritual lives, in our studies, in our marriage and in our businesses.

Often when I’m on the verge of a breakthrough, the enemy tries to discourage me. So we’re got to learn to pray and overcome spiritual attacks with a degree of excitement because we know that something great is right around the corner.

Breakthrough moments happen when your life and your faith come together. Christ in Luke’s gospel calls it a mustard seed faith that can move mountains. No doubt we’re already got the life and the challenges. Now all we have to do is to put the two together. Then as Christ says, you’ll start to move mountains around you.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Guests from Germany

We are currently hosting three church leaders from Germany for three weeks of attachment. Ulrike Bachmann "Uli" is the young lady on the right. Yvonne Fiedler and Matthias Keller are on the left. Uli and Yvonne are from Berlin. Matthias is from Chemitz (East Germany, 300 km from Berlin). I first got to know them during previous ministry trips to Germany. It's great to catch up again this time in Singapore.

Last Sunday we invited Uli to shared a testimony at worship service. She told us she had just finished uni in Berlin. Then she shared what she learned here. She said, "The people's life really inspires me. May Hoong for example works long hours (as an architect) yet she makes time to shepherd her sheep weekly. Seeing such examples of sacrificial people, I have no excuses when I start my first job in August." It was a very heart-felt testimony.

Today Dinah and I had lunch with all three of our guests and we asked them first hand about their attachment so far. Matthias said because he comes from a church made up of primarily uni students, he appreciated learning about adult and family ministries. He also liked what he learnt about church corporate communications. Yvonne was keen to learn about helping Christian couples prepare for marriage.

It is a joy to host overseas church leaders. Even our kids got to meet these fine young Germans. As a church, we remain committed to equipping leaders do a better job in leading the local church. Our lives are enriched interacting and learning together with people from around the world.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Thirteen Years Today

Dinah and I got married exactly thirteen years ago. Today is our wedding anniversary. As we arrive at our thirteen year mark, I realise that I am so very blessed to be married to a Godly woman like Dinah. Our kids are so fortunate to have a Godly mom like her. I am so grateful that God put her in my life. This anniversary is a special time of thanksgiving and for me to count my blessings.

I also thank God for our wedding anniversaries. Last year we spent our 12th wedding anniversary with church friends in Melbourne while speaking at their church camp. Before that we celebrated our 11th anniversary in New Jersey. I was on course at the Princeton Theological Seminary and Dinah and the kids joined me. (Airfares were low due to SARS and the war.) Then in 2002 we spent our anniversary with church friends in Zurich while attending to church matters there.

This year we decided to celebrate the day before our actual anniversary, which was a Sunday. The kids would be with Claudia. Last week Claudia had offered to take our kids out and we took up her offer. (Thanks Claud)

Sunday came and we had a guest speaker, Rev Melvyn Mak. He was a blessing. After the worship service, I hosted lunch for him and then made my way home. Dinah had gone home first. She was battling flu symptoms and my own health wasn't that great either. We both took a short nap. Then we went out to have a quiet dinner.

We thoroughly enjoyed dining together at this nice restaurant. We even got the waiter to take a photo of us. That photo didn't quite turn out as expected. Here's an older photo.

It has been a very good thirteen years. I look forward knowing that our best years are ahead of us.

Friday, July 08, 2005

My First Mentor

Almost twenty years ago, I spent six months in Sabah before going to uni. In that time I tried everything under the sun. I even got a job at a property development company. After about two months I was either still bored or wanted more challenge. So I tried church, which was the traditional church mom was going to. This was the same church she made us go to when we were young.

I had never been to a small group and out of curiosity decided to check it out. It turned out to be the youth group (there was no young adult group). There I got to know a young pastor by the name of John William. He was well educated and enthusiastic about Christ. This was the first time I had close contact with a spiritual leader. His joy and commitment in serving made an impression. So I thought to myself, "If and when I ever serve, it will be wholeheartedly and with joy."

When I left for Perth, he gave me a book 'Spiritual Leadership' by Oswald Sanders. This must have been the first book I read on leadership. Some months after I left he moved to London and we lost touch.

Early this year he met my younger brother. So out of the blue I got this email from him. He kept saying how surprised he was to hear from my brother that I was serving as a pastor. He never imagined me as a pastor - that makes two of us.

He came into town on Monday and dropped by the office yesterday. We caught up and my wife and kids joined us for dinner. My wife even took a photo of us together. Over dinner John kept telling Dinah how thrilled he was to know what we were doing.

For me, it was so great catching up with my first mentor. He left today to go minister in West Malaysia. I thank God for what he left in my life, that his example shaped my understanding on how to serve God. This inspires me even more to help others along as I have been helped.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Pat's birthday

Sunday, the 3rd of July was a full day. We had corporate worship in the morning and we had a leaders rally in the afternoon. Then we celebrated Pat's birthday the whole night. Here is a photo of Pat's birthday dinner. (Her husband, Lawrence and Claudia's husband, Jeff both happened to be in Australia.) After dinner Charmaine joined us for a cinematic treat for Pat.

I asked my wife to share something on Pat on the occasion of her birthday. This is what my wife said. “When our twins were three, she paid for their twice weekly playgroup. This was initiated by another close friend Li Chuang and another friend Lisa joined in too. Then from age 4 to 8 (for the last 5 years): Pat decided to set aside a sum of money from her personal budget every month as an investment for our twins’ music education – making it possible to purchase Daniel’s cello and pay for his weekly lessons. Such was her commitment to bless the twins as her own.

Over the last few years, she’s been cutting back on her work hours at the dental clinic (which means less income) so that she can devote more time to serve alongside her husband in our Adults ministry.

Not to mention the many times when she had to adjust her busy schedule to mother our twins when their mom and dad were overseas for many days.”

I did not know many of this. But I do know that those who refresh others will be refreshed. Once again, happy birthday Pat. We love you.