Saturday, December 30, 2006

Flood for Thoughts (1)

Many days of continuous downpour has led to flooding in many areas of Johor. Yesterday, along with Christians from various churches and organizations, we headed for Kota Tinggi to distribute food and necessity items (e.g. candles, soaps, toothbrushes, toothpastes etc.) to the flood victims. When we reached the residential area, the water has almost subsided, although at some areas the water was still as high as knee-level. Nonetheless, we could imagine the severity of the flood through the watermarks which were visible on the walls (some reached up to 2m).

When we arrived to the houses, many of the residents were busy cleaning their houses (one said it was the 3rd time in a week), many others were sitting aimlessly in the house (perhaps still overwhelmed by the impact of the flood). Nonetheless, the sight of innocent children playing happily with pools of water brought some life to the otherwise gloomy scenario.

Even though it was an one-day experience, it was nevertheless an enriching one. Few thoughts came to me:

1. Ever since I was young, perhaps through the Christian education that I received in church, I always perceived that we are given the responsibility to go and 'save' others. If we do not go and share the gospel with others, they will not hear the gospel; and without hearing the gospel, they will not be 'saved'. Thus, whenever we go to non-believers to share the gospel with them, it is always us doing them a favour.

Yet, as I move on in my life journey, I become more and more convinced that God wants us to go not because the people need us to share the gospel with them, for God could easily speak to the world at one go from heaven, or he could send his angels to any corner of the world to proclaim his good news at any time. Why us?

I believe God commanded us to go out and share his love to others because this is his discipleship program for us. It is only when we are willing to go out from our comfort zone, allowing ourselves to feel inconvenient and uncomfortable as we enter into a new environment, picking up a new language or adapting to a new culture, that our character may be refined and our love for others may be challenged as well.

The experience of going by foot (sometimes across water) from door-to-door in Kota Tinggi, carrying heavy packs of food and necessity items to the victims is a humbling process for us. It is not just about us going out to be the provider, sharing Christ's love and fulfilling the needs of others. More importantly, we need to go and active engagely ourselves in these uncomfortable experiences, for it is through these experiences that God is able to disciple us to become more like him.

Frankly speaking, do I like these experiences? Do I like to wake up early in the morning and go to the flooded area to distribute those items? I believe our human nature will say a big NO. But since this is God's discipleship program for us to go through, I (we) have to go anyway.

(to be continued)


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Rain's Reminder

It has been raining cats and dogs for two full days. I am starting to miss uncle Sun. Almost everywhere is flooded (tells us something about the efficiency of the drainage system in Malaysia) accompanied by crazy, heavy traffic jams. Most of us are complaining about the duration of the rain and the inconvenience caused by it.

Perhaps if we look beyond the trouble that is caused by the rain, we would be thankful that God provides rain consistenly in this part of the world, where water supply is never a problem to us. Consider many other areas in the world that will never be able to enjoy adequate rainfall, thus adequate water supply. If the rain were to fall in those areas for two full days, how grateful and joyful they would have been.

Furthermore, the cause of the abnormal climate changes in many parts of the world today can be traced back to the damage man has brought to the environment through pollution. God gave man the privileged responsibility to take care of nature, yet man consistently exploited nature for his own benefit, inevitably leaving scars on the beautiful face of nature.

Perhaps the abnormal downpour serves as a reminder to us of how far we have come in mistreating nature. The next time we think of littering, spitting or smoking, think again. Let us learn to love nature and take up the responsibility of restoring the beauty of nature, even in the small actions that we take.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Talking About Ourselves

Our sensor of self-righteousness is constantly detecting signals of people whose behaviour and condcut we find disapproving, based on the standard that we set. No matter who the other person is, as we spend more time with a person, we will get to know him better (strengths and weaknesses), for his actions and speeches reveal to us much about his character.

Yet our response reveals to us even more about our own character. When our employer mistreats us and we start complaining to our colleagues and criticize about our employer behind his back, are we better off than our employer? When we find our friend's behaviour irritating and we start sharing with other friends about it, are we better off than our friend? Just when we think that we are better than the person that we dislike, our response shows us otherwise.

When we cross paths with someone that we dislike, I believe it is a test from God, a test of our character. I believe the most powerful response for us is to pray constantly. For the more we pray for a person, the more we will find ourselves loving that person.

Still, we can respond in the way that we usually do, using our mouths to criticize and gossip about that person, but at the same time proving to ourselves that we are actually talking about ourselves.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Disciple's Journal (1)


Our master once said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." Jesus intruded into this broken world only with a mission in mind: to search for the broken souls and minister to their needs. Even when he was moving from one village to another, he would always stop along the journey to attend to the needs of the broken souls.

Although he knew that he would be criticized heavily by the counterparts of his day, although he knew that his reputation would be affected, he chose to spend much of his time with the outcasts of the society (e.g. prostitutes, tax collectors and lepers etc.), for they were "the sick", they were the broken souls whose needs were unattended to. Jesus came not only to proclaim the good news, more importantly, he came to live the good news - to minister and restore the broken souls.

As a disciple of Christ, I cannot remain comfortable staying within the four walls of the church, nor can I feel satisfied ministering to the Christian community alone. I need to go out to the world to search for the broken souls, to live among them and minister to their needs. Yet, the cost is very high. My safety is at stake: When I come across a person with AIDS, will I dare to approach him as what Jesus did with a leper? My reputation is at stake: Will I dare to minister to a prostitute as what Jesus did without fearing that my reputation and image may be affected?

If a person wants to follow Christ, he can no longer cling on to everything that he has - life, safety, time, reputation and money etc., for it is only when he has no attachment towards these things that he can offer himself totally to the mission of Christ.