Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saying Farewell 2011

Dec was a mixed bag in terms of weather and work. The month was not as cool despite several floods here. Weather-wise, I asked myself: Is this December? Then I was setting up a new office in SG. This meant visiting potential office spaces, advertising for and then interviewing candidates. And it's hard to interview in festive Dec. But it was fun to be in the MY office for our Christmas event and New Year briefing. The thanksgiving was having one overseas trip cancelled. This meant I had 6 instead of 7 trips in the quarter.

My personal highlight was our
family get away. The four of us took off for four days. With O-levels next Oct, it will be hard to go away in June so we went earlier. We are sure thankful for this memorable time out. Another family highlight was being at the movie premiere of Courageous. This is the ultimate movie on fatherhood... It was great having 7 Christmas and year-end celebrations with friends and family. Barely managed to squeeze time to ponder over decisions for the coming year.

Year-end was very meaningful.
On the night of 31st Dec, Richard and Yuet Mei hosted a farewell dinner for the Ongs. Our dear friends are relocating back to Perth very soon. The day was also Richard's last day of shift work and Pat's last day of work in SG.

That was the story of December and how we bade farewell to 2011.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You're still here?

November is a tail-end month with that pre year-end atmosphere. Very early Nov it dawns on me that 7 overseas trips in this final quarter of the year is dreadful. It is exhausting just to think about it. Then the weather this time of the year is supposed to be nice. A few days was not as hot but it was mostly hot and humid. Nov in 2010 was nicer.

An interesting phenomena is happening more and more as I look back over the past 6 months. Dinah and I keep bumping into friends who go, "You're still here?'. They have obviously not been reading this blog. Or I have not been keeping in touch as regularly. So Dinah or I would naturally re-tell our tale of an extended transition. Most would marvel at the multiple transitions we are going through simultaneously. Our pastor friends are quite different. They would go, "So you can speak for us now". There are several doors opening. Now we ponder over the options.

Let me share some thanksgiving too. One thanksgiving this month was to spend one entire weekend with my brother and sister-in-law, in between a business trip to London (photo). Another was being part of the Ministering Spiritual Gifts workshop here with Serena Shim from Sabah. A third thanksgiving was to have spent one weekend with our Chiang Mai church in northern Thailand. Very memorable Nov weekends indeed.

A big thanksgiving is the privilege to journey with Vincent and Jenny as they leave an established church to plant a new church. It has been a joy to walk with them. I rejoice with them as they venture out to birth a new faith community right here in Singapore. There are exciting days ahead.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Oct in Montreal

Oct is still warm and humid. The first two weeks of October was year-end (final) exams for our twins. I joined them on the study mode on weekends to do thesis corrections. The third week was a business trip to South Korea. This is only my second time in this fascinating nation.

Month-end saw Dinah and I making a ministry trip to Quebec in Canada. This is our first time here. Missing the three flights is a long story. I'll stay with the ministry side of the story. It is cold here even in the autumn. The location is Chambly in the south-shore of Montreal. We spend informal time getting to know individuals and couples on Friday and Saturday. Sunday was the house church worship service. It was a meaningful day that ended with us sealing a covenant by partaking the Lord's Supper.

Over the next 3 days, Eric took us
to the Gaspe peninsula where we meet with new friends in 3 towns. The journey took 9 hours one way but the landscape and scenery was spectacular. We finally arrived back in Montreal and spent our final night on Wed in Chambly with the team. Two guests including Harry joined us. The next day Eric took us to the airport. This was already 3rd Nov. We had 3 flights back to Singapore.

So Dinah and I spent 20 hours flying and then 5 hours in two different airports on transit. We reflected on this amazing trip and were so encouraged and blessed by Eric and the people in this new house church.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Virtual Home Office (VHO)

September is the first month to work from home. I have done this before but now it is a daily reality. This new work environment is another transition. I am still getting used to the virtual office and constant skype conferences. One good thing is no more daily commute to work. Another is more time with our twins. The not so good part is that this was a mostly hot and humid month.

One highlight this month was to hear Gary and Barb Rosberg, a couple who are marriage coaches. Getting to meet them and getting coaching was quite refreshing.

Another high point was having extended time with my new colleagues. Port Dickson was hot and humid like Singapore, except for one rainy afternoon. But it was great getting to know colleagues, training and having fun together. It was so good that this multi-racial and religious team enjoyed each other's company.

One downer this month was having to write a 12-page Mission Outcomes Assessment. Its compulsory in order to graduate and we are given 30 days to complete. Thing is that no marks are awarded for this work! And this comes after completing the thesis, so psychologically you feel that you have completed.. then this comes along. So writing was very h-a-r-d going. But its finally done!

My daily September prayer was three-fold: a) Lord, save us from this heat and humidity, b) would you send cooler weather soon, and c) please help me with this 12-page paper.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pretty Crazy

August was pretty crazy. Dinah and I spent the first few days of August furiously preparing for a super long ministry trip.

First up was the regional
conference in Manhattan. There was actually a pastors' retreat followed by the conference. I remembered to take a photo with first-time conference delegates from Quebec.

Next up was Chicago. The people of Hope Chicago were quite fun. They took us bowling and to a barbeque. Somehow we did not take any photos :( Thankfully some of our friends did and posted them on our Facebook page. You can check it out there.

Final stop was Colorado Springs.
The landscape was picturesque, the people were friendly and the meetings were fruitful. Here is a photo from Dinah's phone.

The last few days of August was spent frantically packing up my office in Singapore. The massive jet lag did not help but our twins were a massive help. Lawrence, Pat and little Jonathan showed up on one Saturday to help. When I moved out on Aug 31, only 7 cartons remained. Not bad after 16 years.

The transitions continue...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July Adventures

Towards the middle of the month, we got to meet Dr Wei-Jen Huang. I was aware that Dr. Huang is a clinical psychologist and a faculty member at Northwestern Uni. School of Medicine. Only later did I realise from Dinah that he is actually well-known especially in China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia for his work on couples’ therapy and relationship education... The three of us did discover a mutual fondness - for xiao long bao. It was a blessing getting to know this learned man of God over dinner.

The low point of the month must have been the sore throat in the second week and then the ulcer in the throat in the fourth week. I hardly get sick so being unwell twice in a month was quite sad... Continuing from May and June, the month of July felt exceptionally hot and humid.

One good thing about the hot and humid season of the year is jumping into the pool. Then this is also durian season with cheap durians. Sadly, the unwell throat restricted both swimming and durians. But I did get a good sweat this season (and in the process discharge toxins). The other good thing is that this will be the last of the hot and humid months. This only means cooler months up ahead...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A New Chapter

The month of June in 2011 has been just an awesome month. It marks a new life chapter on several fronts.

The opening story is on rejoining the marketplace after over sixteen years. This caps a three-year journey of multiple transitions. This new career transition is a big learning curve, which I am told will take 6 months or more. Work projects in June included a business trip to Vietnam. This was my first time in this nation. I have never seen so many motorbikes in my entire life. This trip also accorded a special opportunity to visit several old friends too.

The highlight for our family is our annual visit to Sabah. I was so glad to visit my parents and especially to spend Fathers Day here. Dad turns 78 this year. He gives quite a few mangoes among other gifts to bring back to Singapore. (Here's a pic of the mangoes in my parent's home.) It was also a blessing to spend time with my brother's family and my sister's family. The church in Kota Kinabalu took the opportunity to get me to address church members on CATALYSE.

Another high point in June was handing in my 70-page thesis on Global Churches. This month-end submission effectively concluded the MA requirements, bringing my three-year academic journey to a sweet conclusion.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Another Transition

Our family has been engaged in a three-year journey of transition. Dinah and I have spent much of that time reflecting and learning.

This season has been
particularly turbulent. The single biggest issue is the significant uncertainty over our longer-term future. Permanent relocation is very unsettling. This and being stuck in an extended transition feels like one of life's most difficult moments. Being neither here nor there has been our wilderness experience. (Talking about wilderness, here is recent pic of the Egyptian desert.) Practical issues such as visa matters added to the already-heavy human psychological adjustments that change produces. Facing constant questions from friends and family piled on to the mounting helplessness.

The biggest challenge has been to stay true to a sense of destiny. It is so easy to be knocked off course and very tempting to just walk away. But what would I do with this heart for the nations. Recent times have been tough. But it has been an honour to take care of people for 20 years. I desire to continue to live for the good of others.

Through all this the question of, “What next?” remained unanswered. So we found ourselves being brought to our knees so many times. Other times we found ourselves learning how to live positive amidst uncertainty. Through it all, I have just felt so thankful for the friends that He has placed around us who have stuck with us during this journey.

About just over half-a-year back, what seemed to be a glimmer of light began to appear at the end of the tunnel. Out of the blue, an opening came knocking. I was approached to join a mobility solutions firm. This came as a surprise, but a pleasant one. I explored this fascinating possibility. My attitude was to be open to what He might be saying, including through those around me and those over me in the Lord. We also considered the prophetic words received from different ministers.

The past three years
has been a long transition. But things are a bit clearer now. It is May and this brings yet another transition. (As I write, I am mindful that our nation experienced a political change in May too.) For me personally, I feel that the Lord has released us. In this new season, I will now once again serve in the marketplace. In fact, here is a pic of a very recent work trip to Cairo. I do believe that the Lord is repositioning His teams, here and around the globe, for a greater purpose. Within my heart, there is a rising anticipation for the new thing that He is doing in our midst.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Interesting People

We have been crossing paths with interesting people in recent months. Recently we had dinner with HB London.

I had heard him teach in Singapore once, quite some years back. That one message made an impact in my life. This was the first time I met HB in person. Dinah and I went to his hotel and took him out to dinner.

It was an early dinner on the 5th April 2011. We got to know each other over a meal. He told about his life, his cousin James Dobson, his ministry as pastor in the Church of the Nazarene and currently in Focus on the Family USA. He asked about our family and ministry. He asked about Singapore.

After dinner we took HB back to his hotel. The next day was our early morning flight to the US for 2 weeks of ministry. We went home to pack but I will remember the time tonight.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mar 2011

The focus in March is my thesis. This is the final subject in my masters programme. Except for 5 days overseas, the bulk of the 31-day month is spent on this. My hypothesis is Global Churches: Connectional, coordinated and church-planting. I present the case for more global churches to make disciples of all nations in the context of a globalised world. So far one professor and two denominational leaders have said, "There is something here". I think so too :) Draft 1.0 was complete in March though it is 5 pages more than the 70-page limit. The reference list alone is already 14 pages. Well I will not be able to look at this paper again until May.

Another highlight is the trip to Bandung. The purpose was the HIM regional leaders' retreat. This was my first-time here. One memory is having time with Beng and Mel. We catch up. They also expose me to exotic street food. The volcano Tangkuban Perahu is another highlight.

I also turned one year wiser earlier in the month. Overall this was another good month :) This pretty much sums the month of March in 2011. Till the next post then...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Feb 1st in 2011

Never did I imagine what a day this would turn out to be. It starts when our family pray in the car on the way to school. We pray for this first day of February and for the next two years ahead.

The day goes by and is turning out to be a normal Tuesday. In the afternoon my friend Tiong Howe calls. He had already asked to have dinner last week. So I think this call is a reminder about dinner (tonight). Instead he asks if I want to have coffee. I said, "Sure" thinking that perhaps he is busy tonight and has decided to have coffee instead of dinner.

In the next breath he says that we are going to have coffee with Ravi Zacharias. What a surprise.

I travel to the airport and call Tiong Howe. We meet up and the three of us have coffee together. Ravi and Tiong Howe know each other well and I know Tiong Howe fairly well. But this is my first time up close and personal with Ravi. He is such a gentleman and a Godly one too.

Later we send off Ravi to catch his flight. Now Tiong Howe persuades me for an early dinner since we had already set aside the time. We catch up over a meal. After dinner he insists that he needs new bibles. So we go to the Faithworks bookstore. Here he picks up new Bibles including for Dinah and I too. This friend is sure full of surprises. But what a day this has been.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


CATALYSE means to produce fundamental change in or to transform. CATALYSE is also the name of our global master-plan for the five years from 2011-2015. This consists of 6 strategic priorities supported by 16 initiatives. This strategic planning process started in Nov. 2009 and ended in Dec. 2010. This whole process culminated in the recent launch of CATALYSE.

The Strategic Planning Team (SPT) arrived very early in Chiang Mai to prepare for the global CATALYSE launch scheduled at the Jan 2011 Passion Global Conference (GC) and for the implementation meetings straight after the GC. A total of 150 international and 120 Thai leaders joined this GC. An additional 130 Thai leaders joined the night sessions. Children ministry leaders flew in hoping to hear Pastor Bill Wilson, our guest speaker from Metro Ministries. Most delegates came keen to discover how our movement intended to move forward.

CATALYSE was launched on Friday, 21 Jan 2011 on the last day of the GC. The bright CATALYSE backdrop draped the entire wall on the stage. The Launch started with a meaningful Northern Thai cultural presentation. The Thai drums signaled a community going into battle. This drum presentation was a traditional victory declaration before warriors went into battle. The CATALYSE commissioning documents for our 16 Initiative Leaders were transported on the sedan procession. This procession is a traditional Thai practice for transporting someone or something important. These opening items blended the futuristic CATALYSE with the richness of tradition. The underlying message was a church planting movement that respects the diversity of cultures that God has created.

Next Pastor Simon rallied our pastors and leaders to get behind CATALYSE. He exhorted us to get on board this change process in the next five years. I then presented CATALYSE. I traced back to the Charismatic revival which started in the 70s and continued to the 80s. Our movement's first church was birthed in 1981. I reminded the conference that we are connectional rather than a congregational church. I concluded that our second-generation connectional movement is starting a transformational change process called CATALYSE.

Then Pastor Simon and Dr Wilson laid hands to commission our 16 Initiative Leaders. All our pastors also stepped forward to stretch forth their hands to pray. The CATALYSE Launch was the closing item of the first GC in this new five-year window.

The next day our Initiative leaders and members gathered for Implementation meetings. The room felt electric as excitement filled the atmosphere. God continued to reassure us that we are going down the right path with four prophetic messages. The break out sessions got better. This culminated with team lunch. Thanksgiving was the theme as SPT debriefed after lunch. It has been quite a long week but a very fruitful one.

The launch of CATALYSE was historic for us being the first-ever global master-plan in our movement’s 30-year history. The entire planning process took 14 months but the implementation and transformational change process will take 5 years. With the launch of CATALYSE, the Lord has sparked a transformation in our movement.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Nairobi-flavoured New Year's Eve

Yesterday was quite memorable. It was Friday, the 31st of Dec 2010. This was the last day of the year.

I started the day working on a chapter of my thesis. Next we had a staff year-end lunch. We had Teo Chew porridge whilst catching up with co-workers. All of us were spread across four tables.

Then I welcomed 4 young men at the Punggol MRT station. Maxwell, Ernest, Kinoti and Gibson are from our church in Nairobi here for leadership exposure. We arrive at our place and settle down with afternoon tea. Eager to learn, they ask a wide range of questions over the time we met. They are such fine young men.

Next Dinah, the twins and I enjoyed an extended dinner with Li Chuang and Lisa. We are so encouraged that they have done such a great job with the men. We catch up till late and yes, we crossed into the New Year with Li Chuang and Lisa in a moving vehicle as we drove them home.

Yesterday was indeed special. It was a Nairobi-flavoured New Year's Eve. It is such a rare privilege to be with our young leaders from Kenya and our old friends who are missionaries, as time transitioned from 2010 into 2011.

Here's wishing you a happy New Year, saying good bye 2010 and welcoming in 1-1-11.