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perth day 5: in wide open wonder.

Gracefully powering Albany – taken by Huiyi on my iPhone 4.

You could never, ever, get sick of looking at the awesomeness of God’s beautiful creations – be it rock formations, waves crashing onto the coastline or just another sunset; Man could never recreate anything of this magnitude and yet God’s work takes place on a moment-by-moment basis, every single day of our lives! Is there a day that the waves would stop crashing or the sun stop setting? God is consistently faithful indeed.

To wake up from an 8-hour rest always feels good; to arise to the smell of baked bacon – that’s even better; and to walk out to bright sunshine, fresh air and air-conditioned temperature – I couldn’t ask for more. How could I not relax in such amazing conditions?

I already had a good feeling about today during breakfast – when Chin Seng and Ervina reminisced about their initial days in Perth and the struggles and victories they experienced, both individually and as a couple. I could relate to some of those settling-down blues as I experienced it in my first couple of months in Shanghai – those kind of days make you want to return home immediately.

I volunteered to take the steering wheel for most parts of today and in Australia, a driver’s best friend is Miss GPS. Our itinerary today were within close proximity of each other. We started our day with a brief visit to the strawberry park; this open-air one felt slightly different from the enclosed one at Zhao Tun in Shanghai; of the three strawberry farms I’ve visited (the other one in Cameron Highlands), I like the Shanghai one best – simply because I could eat the strawberries as I picked it.

Next up, Whale World, where we learnt about the history of the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company and how it played an integral role in the entire make-up of Albany; in short, the whaling industry made Albany. I’m relieved that these seemingly inhumane killings are now a thing of the past. Lunch served at the Whalers Galley Cafe was just as good as yesterday’s dinner; meals in Australia are costly, so I’m glad that portions are huge enough to share. The little wildlife farm at the back of Whale World (called Discovery Bay’s Walk on the Wild Side) felt like a repeat of the first wildlife farm we visited.

Sights and sounds started to get awe-inspiring when we made our way out of the man-made Whale World…

First, to The Blowholes at Torndirrup National Park. Wikipedia does a better job at describing it – a blowhole is formed as sea caves grow landwards and upwards into vertical shafts and expose themselves towards the surface, which can result in quite spectacular blasts of water from the top of the blowhole. There was a local who literally sprawled his body across a blowhole. What he did looked cool but honestly, it was a stupid thing to do for he could have gotten blown away by the blast!

Next, to The Gap and The Natural Bridge, also in the same park. No words would describe what I saw, so it may be better if you googled these two terms instead if you are keen to see what it looks like and how it was formed (since my photos are still sitting in my DSLR). We enjoyed these natural phenomenons against a backdrop of the setting sun and I must say every shot taken looked brilliant.

Finally, our day reached a literal high at the Albany Wind Farms, where we saw 12 gigantic (!) high-tech, sci-fi looking wind mills. From a distance, these blades looked like they were revolving slowly, but they are actually rotating at a speed of nearly 200 km/h! We also learnt that wind power accounts for 80% of Albany’s power supply; I can understand why after seeing these giants in action in front of a dramatic purple-hue sunset.

That more than sums up Good Friday… The girls are preparing a sumptuous dinner as I write this entry… Oh man, I can’t wait to sink my teeth into beef steaks, pork chops and potato salad over D&M dialogues… It’s going to be a great evening!

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how do you spot potential?

All right, it’s time for me to make a comeback on WordPress! I’ve struggled to recover my writing momentum after a five-day hiatus and being away in Cameron Highlands over the last few days didn’t help my cause. (It was a great break though!) Nonetheless, I shall give myself an easier head-start with a shorter entry tonight to break the silence.

Since PIERCE ended, I’ve had youths indicating their interests to be emcees, cell mentors, ushers and basically to serve in R-AGE. Of course, this delights me (and my shepherds) to no end! More significantly, this morning, I’ve had the privilege of welcoming the latest member to my beloved GII leadership family – NC! She shared with me her journey with God enroute to the DoYouLoveMe cell group and I just sat there at Ya Kun, and acknowledged the good work that the Lord is doing in her life. Her addition to the GII Shepherds means that “Plug & Play” will now be a monthly feature in the R-AGE @ GII services. (And everyone says “HURRAY!”) I can’t wait for the first installment in July!

I’d also like to record my answer to her question – “How do you spot potential in a young person?” I thought about it for a short moment and this was my response to her.

First and foremost, before you even identify any potential, you must get to know who the person is and this takes time and effort. The young people in this day and age are generally less likely to initiate approaching you, hence it’s important that you take the first step to be acquainted with them. Without any prior (or basic) knowledge of their background, personality and unique talents, you’d never get an idea of who they can become and how they can contribute to God’s kingdom.

Once that is established, it’s really about observing them. Again, this takes time and effort and most people write youths off very quickly, before they get a chance to express what they’re capable of and show you a glimpse of who they can become. I always believe that if you stick around long enough and are regular enough, young people will open up to you by the sheer virtue that you are ever-present; I’d like to believe that it’s never about charisma, but about consistency. No excuses for the introverted phlegmatic.

Now, I think I have an almost “blind” belief in young people because I trust God. I know He’s in charge of the process and I believe that He is in control of the outcome. Everyone is different and every person will become a unique jigsaw in the masterpiece of God; while some may have more significant roles and are more active than others, there is no one who is more or less important than the other – that’s my conviction, at least. So I tell myself that all I can do as a leader in authority, is to sponsor opportunities for young people to reach their potential, just like how my mentors have done so for me. I’m not afraid of making mistakes – even errors in judgment – and I think this helps the youths under me to feel that the pressure is off them. I always tell my youths that the only thing I expect them to do is to make mistakes – because I did and screwing up did me a world of wonders. Of course, I’ll try to prevent it, but I do not strive to stop it from happening. Some walls are meant to be crashed into; I always believe that God uses every single experience for His glory.

Often, I ask God to give me a vision of the “developed state” of the young person or leader that I am journeying with. I take a step of faith to believe that whatever I envision, I will play a part in helping that young person to realise his or her potential. The sense of satisfaction I enjoy when I see a youths soar in their capacities and capabilities is beyond what money can buy and what the world can offer. In an almost divine manner, God has been faithful to me – for most of the youth leaders and youths that I’ve worked with, they do eventually turn out to be what I’ve envisioned them to be. I thank God for giving me a “radical audacity” to dream and to see beyond what others can see – sometimes I even have the privilege of seeing beyond what the young person I’m journeying with can see. Don’t get me wrong – I’m far from being a soothsayer – I just try to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and act upon what is prompted in my heart.

Of course, there are some youths who didn’t quite develop the way that I had hoped that they would. Did I despair? I used to. But the older I get, the more I learn to trust God, because I know His plans for that young person are far greater than mine. God’s detours are better than Man’s direction. I’m reminded time and again that God is God, and I’m just a privileged mentor. I’m a risk-taker though, and I love to see young people lead young people. To an extent, I find myself in the process of lowering the average age of leaders in R-AGE and somehow, that gives me an immense sense of gratification – more than half of my key leaders are barely 21 years old!

After I finished my breakfast appointment with NC, I had lunch with SY and I remember telling him how he carries the potential to be one of the pillars of the cell mentors corps. He shared with me his keenness to take on the role of a service emcee (which thrilled me greatly!) and I told him that I can’t wait to retire from being an emcee because it’s such a powerful sight for him (and his peers) to take ownership of the ministry.

As if it’s not obvious enough already, R-AGE @ GII is on the threshold of revival. I feel it!

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