Category Archives: The Greatest Gift
The greatest gift one could ever give to a young person is to believe in him or her; may you and I give generously then.
Four final shots at our unofficial Perth Retreat Centre. Haha! :P
I’m glad I took the time and effort to write daily in the past nine days; now these wonderful memories are forever locked away and never forgotten (especially since I am so absent-minded). It has been a memorable holiday and certainly served its purpose of providing rejuvenation and revelation. With bated breath, I look forward to leading R-AGE, marriage preparations, restarting a new school semester next week and… My next holiday. (: For now, I believe I will enjoy re-reading these entries and re-living those memories:
- Day 1: high time to unwind. | Huiyi and I set foot in Down Under determined to unwind.
- Day 2: uptown girl and downtown boy. | One day was all we needed to see the city centre.
- Day 3: a tiny glimpse of the great outback. | We felt awed and dwarfed by God’s majesty.
- Day 4: mentoring on the road. | All roads lead to deep and meaningful conversations.
- Day 5: in wide open wonder. | Man could only complement what God delivers everyday.
- Day 6: the jewel in any family. | Prayerfully, may it be a foreshadow of Mummy and I.
- Day 7: it doesn’t matter where we go or what we do. | Love should be experienced together.
- Day 8: top eight regrets of this holiday. | I’ll add one more – wished this break was longer!
Day 9 passed the fastest. Before we knew it, we already had lunch and completed last-minute purchases at Cockburn (pronounced “Koh-burn”, not “Kok-burn”) Gateway Shopping City. We returned home after that and Huiyi and I attempted to seal our luggages while Ervina and Chin Seng prepared for our last supper at the patio. No one could actually tell that I was feeling quite sad that I would soon be saying goodbye to the lovely people here; I honestly thought it was too melodramatic to display my emotions so I held myself back.
Chin Seng powered up the outdoor gas-powered barbecue pit and brought out gigantic tiger prawns and huge chicken wings while Ervina prepared a refreshing spinach garden salad with red wine vinegar and a lovely concoction of mint honey iced tea. Even Granny Aw joined in the action and contributed an avant-garde spicy cucumber and parsley salad of her own. (I’m pretty sure Huiyi and) I felt the love that has been so generously lavished upon us as we waited for dinner to be ready. Ervina gave thanks for the final time as we tucked in to a sumptuous spread. I shamelessly asked Granny Aw if she would miss me… And she said, “当然会，你们走了这个屋子没有那么热闹”. My heart practically melted.
We snapped our final photos before we gathered in a circle in the living room and held hands to pray for one another. I was so inspired by the way Granny Aw prayed – fervent and full of faith! With one final sweep of the house, we ensured that we had left nothing but good memories behind. We sat in their grey Mazda 3 for the final time, linked up with Ervina’s grandmother along the way, and drove to Perth International Airport.
There was a part of me that wished that there was only four of us at the airport. Maybe without Ervina’s relatives around, I might have actually expressed some emotions because I needed an outlet! I already knew that I was going to miss them both so much and even as I type this, I feel a heart-wrenching sensation at the core of my being. Beyond all the sights and sounds, this couple was undoubtedly the highlight of Perth and I’m glad Huiyi and I spent the bulk of our time in their endearing company.
I love those Love Birds so much more after this nine-day getaway and I’m sure it will be a good reunion when we do meet again. Lord, thank you for bringing me to Perth but more importantly, thank You for placing Chin Seng and Ervina in my life.
Darling, maybe someday
Forever I will stay
Lord knows that’s what I’m dreaming of
And I’m trying to find a way
But for now the wind keeps blowing
It carries me across the sea
So don’t you worry now, because
I carry you with me
I carry you with me
(“I Carry You With Me” | Tyler Burkum)
For now, I’ll let the video and photo slideshow speak for itself. Will write a detailed entry soon! (:
Today, I celebrate the 24th birthday of the love of my life… And the beautiful lady whom I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with! It was, after all, this day four years ago that I set my eyes on you… I love you ’til the end! (((:
20th @ Vivo City Marche | 24th @ Peony Jade Restaurant
(By the way, we are wearing the same colour combination in both photos! Haha!)
A thousand apologies for the silence since the end of March. I’ve been completely swarmed, and this week looks like it’s going to be even crazier than the last. In the meantime, do enjoy an article I wrote for Eagles Vantage Point – a real privilege. Click here to see the online article, or just read on…
Generation Y Crusader!
The Y Generation hallmark
One distinguishing hallmark of the “Generation Y” young adult is his or her likelihood of switching jobs every other year. As I embark on the seventh year of my professional pilgrimage, I am privileged to have worked in the military, marketplace, and Christian ministry, in Singapore and Shanghai. Hence, I am inclined to associate myself with the ambitious yet fickle minded traits of my generation and our increasingly challenging landscape of being an active marketplace evangelist.
It is neither simple nor straightforward to shine for Jesus as a young adult in a progressively dark world. That said, I hope that my experiences and observations will encourage you to persevere as an ambassador of truth; I offer my thoughts on the intrinsic issues of having pride, maintaining integrity, leaving a legacy in the workplace, and how that may be linked to winning souls for Jesus.
My definition of “Marketplace Evangelism?” The intentional effort of ensuring that colleagues and business associates recognize your Christian faith and lifestyle through your choice of words, work attitude, and what fills your calendar after office hours. You should also deliberately and regularly attempt to minister the Gospel of Christ through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit during God appointed opportunities – the results are up to God but the effort is down to us.
Dealing with the evergreen issues of pride
You cannot escape it – how you deal with pride kicks off your first foray into the battlefield as a Christian in the marketplace. In my initial weeks in Shanghai, I adorned what my boss candidly referred to as, “The Typical Singaporean Mentality,” where I actually believed in my superiority over my Chinese counterparts.
I have repented, of course, but I remember feeling severely humbled when my supposedly inferior Administrative Manager demonstrated, with ease, how to negotiate both complicated Chinese laws and cunning Chinese businessmen with shrewdness; only then did I appreciate our vast differences and his vast experience. It was a sobering realization.
Regardless of positions or paychecks, we must carry in our suitcases an attitude to learn – from subordinates, peers, and superiors. After all, what do we have to lose except our repulsive and often obstructive pride? Observe what 1 Peter 5:5-6 (The Message) instructs, “…And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other… So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs.”
Displaying visible integrity in invisible places
I spent 21 months as a Marketing Manager in the alcoholic beverage industry in Shanghai. Sometimes, I had to accompany my boss to entertain clients at bars and nightclubs. In a (literally) dark place fraught with affordable sleaze, it becomes easy to forsake your Christian values, especially so if you are a visually stimulated, testosterone filled man. I recall a conversation with the twenty year old girl who was paid to host me – smack in the middle of our superficial chatter, I asked her, point blank, “Why are you doing this?” Rather than taking her home that night, I sincerely hope that she took home my probing question instead.
Temptation is real and it charges at us with alarming regularity. We must be aware of the different types of temptations in our various arenas of work. Fight the temptation of sluggishness and haphazard work; fight the temptation to abuse the privileges of position; fight the temptation of excessive occupational indulgences (like alcoholism); fight the temptation of a secret and decadent overseas lifestyle or when no one is observing.
Leaving behind a legacy of authenticity
Be true to yourself and stick to your convictions – pretending to be a good testimony is short lived and strenuous. I believe that it is acceptable to mess up occasionally or have fragments of bad attitude in the beginning; it is how you repent and recover from your mistakes that truly matter. I am persuaded that a non believer would find it more refreshing to see an imperfect believer making blunders and bettering himself from it.
A former Singapore Armed Forces colleague commended me for heading into full time ministry because it was something I had told them I would do eventually. And when he learnt that I am ministering in a church now, he spoke of the respect he had for me.
Let us not measure our successes by material achievements nor prestigious positions but by the unique footprints we leave behind. We must remember that our testimony is not what others think of us but what they think about Christ in us. I quote Steve Green in his timeless song, “May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe and the lives we live inspire them to obey. Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.”
Getting the Church involved
The Church must teach her youths and young adults how to remain relevant instead of teaching them to be perfect religious snobs. What does it mean to be in the world but not of this world when sometimes their behavior and demeanor suggest that Christians are sometimes out of this world?
It is imperative for the Church to impart a humble spirit and a non judgmental attitude if she wants her people to reach the lost in their world. Believers must learn to write their own testimonies and be equipped to share it anytime and anywhere; they must also know when and how to step out of their comfort zone and to bring comfort to a society that is hurt, confused, and searching for more.
I have discovered that being available and meeting felt needs are the most effective ways of marketplace evangelism; and usually these two work in tandem – you should be available for them whenever they have needs. I encourage my young people to be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit whenever they converse with people, so that they are able to recognize when they should transit from a worldly dialogue into a spiritual conversation.
How would you describe yourself as a professional?
You should ask God for a personalized vision statement to anchor you at the marketplace!
Midway through my stint in Shanghai, my company instructed us to update our personal particulars and there was a field that read “Briefly describe yourself.” I struggled to describe myself without using John 15:5 or my life motto that was derived from it. Anything that was religious in nature would be irrelevant to my organization. I remember staring at the monitor with complete blankness. So I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to inspire me.
Thirty minutes later, in one fell swoop, I penned a statement that would foreshadow the testimony that I would eventually leave behind: “I am a Bible believing Christian who desires to know God more by working excellently, learning earnestly while pursuing a God pleasing balanced lifestyle for the glory of God!”
Joey Asher Tan is a 27 year old Youth Minister with Grace Assembly of God Church, Singapore. He answered God’s call by heading into full time ministry in October 2009 and pastors 120 young people in the Grace Assembly of God (Bukit Batok) youth community.
I regret not doing something crazy but radical during my evening run just now.
The final part of my jogging route took me to Holland Grove View, just off Mount Sinai Road. I sneaked glances into those huge house as I trod down a small road flanked by luxury cars. (I digress but isn’t it interestingly dichotomous that Mount Sinai Road and Ghim Moh Road share the same tar? What a world of affluential difference!) It was 7:30pm – dinner time. One in four households I ran past were sharing a meal over the dining table. And at every single gathering, the Holy Spirit pointed my attention to the father figure.
Without fail, I immediately spotted the head of the home. And by the time I hit the third household having dinner, I remember being prompted by the Spirit to go to the fence of this huge white bungalow, for it was just outside the dining room. I felt moved in my spirit to deliver the following words of encouragement to the elderly man clad in a white tee:
“Hey you! Are you their father? You don’t have to know who I am but I want you to know that what you’re doing – it’s great. Keep having meals with your family as often as you can, please. You’re doing an amazing job as a father. Don’t underestimate the importance of simply eating together!”
But alas, I didn’t. And within two paces, my window of opportunity vanished. I didn’t run by another house again with the dining room within shouting distance from the road. Then I started to reflect – on how I wanted my family to look like a decade from now. Due to external upbringing and an internal resolve, I was quietly confident that I would be a good husband and I was determined to be a father but I didn’t want to take anything for granted. Being a good 一家之主 requires planning, effort and sacrifice. I don’t need to be a father to know this.
Immediately I started to recall all the good father figures that God has graciously placed in my life to inspire me, and set an example on how a household should be led and how children should be brought up. I began to thank God for great men like Pastor Ronald Yow, Uncle Kheng Leong and Peter Lim, just to name the first few off the top of my head. With these wonderful examples, amongst many others, I nearly slipped into an unnecessary melancholy comparison due to my lack of a fatherly figure, but I decided to celebrate God’s faithfulness in these families instead.
My message tonight is simple.
If you are a father reading this, and have been consistently investing into your family – keep going! You’re doing a great job! And I am certain that your rewards will come when you still have communion with your grown-up children when you’re old and gray.
If you are a father who is distant, or have a desire to want to reconnect with your family – my brother, this is your time to redeem what was lost. Your career must never, ever be at the expense of your children and your wealth-accumulation must never be at the expense of your wife.
Fathers – never underestimate your role in your children’s lives!
If you are a son or daughter reading this – why don’t you just take a minute to walk to your father, hug him, and tell him that you love him and appreciate all that he is doing and has done for the family? I’m sure he’ll be shocked and may even think you’re nuts, but deep down inside, I’m also sure that it will swell his heart swell with warmth and pride. Go now!
And if you, like me, are disconnected from your father – why don’t you take this time to pray for him and thank God for the many good fathers that are around you?
Well, since we’re on the subject of encouraging dads to be dads for life, why don’t we use Facebook or our mobile phones to encourage a father right now? We don’t have to wait for Father’s Day since fathers play their roles as fathers, not just once a year, but everyday.
One of the many lessons I caught from EC was this: “You bring both criticisms and compliments before the Lord.”
It’s easy to go to God when you feel either discouraged by people’s negative comments or disappointed by a poor decision made. It’s only natural that during these times we turn our eyes to Jesus to look at His wonderful face in light of our woeful situations. After all, our God is a God who comforts and we will find many instances of Scripture which assures us of this attribute of God.
It is the other part that we often struggle to bring before God. Well, for me at least – I know I frequently resist letting God screen the compliments that people feed me. How foolish and conceited I have been!
I believe that you can test a man’s competence and calibre by watching him through tests and trials. But if you want to test a man’s true character and source of confidence, you only need to give him power and popularity. The maxim stands true: absolute power corrupts absolutely.
God has been faithful to me by constantly putting great people around me – those who believe in me and affirm the things I do. While I am grateful for these necessary sources of encouragement, I have now become acutely aware of its accompanying dangers too. I am certain that as I grow in capabilities and capacities, compliments will continue to surround me. Don’t get me wrong – I won’t shun it or play the modesty game. No, I’ll present it before the Lord instead and ask Him to help me discern it.
I must not believe my own hype; I must not be deceived by people’s hyperbole; I must not achieve a state of haughtiness. Oh Lord, help me to conceive humility! Seek not the applause of men but the approval of God – I must live out this axiom and find true security in God alone. Yes, humility, integrity and sufficiency must indeed come together.
Fill me with your wisdom, oh Lord, and give me an insatiable appetite to seek true humility. May the only thing I boast about be what Christ has done for me on the cross of Calvary!
Henceforth, I shall commit to my Creator both criticisms and compliments so that my convictions are continuously corrected and my character is constantly changed for the sake of Christ! Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing; I am absolutely nothing without Christ. What a sobering statement.
I found an interesting post which I wrote seven years ago and I thought it made for good reading. It’s regarding my dream girl – so impossible to find I called her the unattainable girl. Here’s how I described her…
- She shouldn’t just be a Christian. She must be in love with God so much she inspires me to fall even deeper in love with Him.
- A family person, because I am. I think being family oriented is of utmost importance.
- Has a kind-hearted nature. You know, the kind who will gladly help a granny cross the road, return a wallet, give up a seat, etc. She should have a big and generous heart!
- Doesn’t necessarily have to be pretty, but she must be beautiful. Get it?
- Her confidence should exude in the way she carries herself.
- Some girls have a glow… And some girls have a Jesus glow.
- I always believe a healthy body produces a healthy mind i.e. be physically fit. We can exercise together!
- Well, being patient and understanding are cliché traits to ask for, but when those are essential when it comes to dealing with me.
- Please do not be whiny… And please do not cry all the time… And please do not go “Sooooooo cute!!!” too often.
- Crazy about children, because I’m thrilled about them! I can’t wait to be a father!
- I hope she’s NOT taller than me. *hopes* I wanna look good beside her!
- Football is part of me, so it’d be great if it was part of her. This would be way cool but it won’t be important though. A bonus if she cheers for TeamR-AGE and Man Utd.
- Be ever so supportive of what I do and what I ought to do.
- Nice hair, eyes and complexion, because I don’t have these.
- A captivating smile to take my breath away, a tender touch to cool my hot-temper, a soothing voice to calm my kancheong-spider nature and an affectionate hug to assure me everything’s gonna be all right.
- Oh I certainly hope our conversations are filled with laughter, wit and genuinity. She should be capable of small talk and big talk too. Oh, and please pretend to be amused even when I start to say lame things… One day my mojo will run out. Hopefully only when I die.
- A lively and intelligent mind to stimulate the relationship and the conversations, and to always keep things fresh.
- Being sweet and thoughtful are lovely traits to have as well.
- She’s single, available and wants a long-term relationship? She’s a wife-to-be, not a girlfriend.
- She must not snore… Although this won’t be applicable during the initial years of courtship, but still…
- Last but not least… She loves me as much as I love her. Balance you know?
Sounds like a great deal? Haha. Maybe. Probably. Well, I know I definitely do not deserve a girl like this (if she even exists in the first place). But hey, I did not deserve Christ too. So, I won’t speak too soon… Optimism lights my path. Hehe…
So that was seven years ago, eons before I even set eyes on Huiyi… I thank God that she’s everything I want and need, and all that I am searching for. I may not be the best she knows or vice-versa, but I believe we’re the best for each other. I thank God for sending me Huiyi and if God-willing, I look forward to spending this lifetime with her. (:
Post script: I shall alter trait #21 in light of being with Huiyi. If you are searching for a girlfriend, please make sure that she inspires and motivates you to LOVE HER MORE THAN YOU LOVE YOURSELF BY SIMPLY BEING HERSELF. This was one of the factors that really drew me to Huiyi and she didn’t even need to do anything to attract me this way, except to be herself!