May you enjoy these articles as much as I have.
- Amos Poh provides a glimpse into a teenager’s struggles and earnest desire to pray.
- Chua Yi Xian shares a psychologist-to-be’s tussle with relativism and Christianity.
- Evangeline Tan represent a daughter’s sincere cry for real communion with her father.
- Hilary Hoe walks us through the Book of Revelation as part of his Lenten journey.
- Lim Mei Yin talks us through her thoughts on God talking to us and how we hear Him.
- Matt Lawton interviews the entertaining Patrice Evra, whose honesty charms us all.
- Matthew Tan gives us a theological perspective of community and its importance.
- Michael Walker highlights unfulfilled potential by juxtaposing Rooney and Jeffers.
- Perry Noble diagnoses with alarming accuracy the signs of an unhealthy Christian.
- Serene Wee spells out the ten desired qualities of a godly man – her unattainable one.
A part of what I do for a living is to keep up with my youths by reading their blogs; I’m subscribed to nearly 70 (and counting!) blogs and each time they update, Google Reader feeds it to me; you learn a lot about people by being a phantom reader. I also subscribe to other websites and often enough, I chance upon a good article that is worth sharing…
This is my first attempt to show you what I read and I plan to do this every other week if I can keep up. Hope you enjoy these articles as much as I have.
- Bethenia Dixon refreshes everyone with a great perspective on giving – love her closing.
- Clarence Chua puts himself in the shoes of his semi-deaf father – a riveting piece.
- Dan Walker of the BBC captures Le Magnifique Eric Cantona in an exclusive interview.
- John Piper brings us back to 2002 and reminds youth workers of their great responsibility.
- Joshua Ng reflects on what it means to leave behind a legacy as a legend.
- Lim Jun Hong reminds us of the importance of being properly rooted in the Word.
- Perry Noble looks at the ten ways to fail as a minister – what a sobering reminder for all…
- Serene Wee provides an excellent insight into the situation in Japan, as told by a Japanese.
- Soann Chng writes about Cavan’s responsibilities as her firstborn – something I identify with.
- Steven Chan shares how he missed the earthquake in Tokyo by a mere 50 minutes.
You never know – you might just be featured next month! I’m a big fan of superb writers and always on the lookout for read-worthy articles.
I’ve decided to take on Serene Wee’s encouragement, and to just get started on writing; it’s heartening and humbling to know that my words have an audience. To remove deterrents, I shall cease to tag from this point forth. And to get me restarted, I shall spill my thoughts after watching Royston Tan’s brilliant film, “15”, as part of my school work.
1. The movie left me with a heavy heart and I found myself retreating and interceding for all 15-year-old youths and juvenile delinquents after the movie ended. I prayed especially for those in R-AGE and those whom I know have drifted away due to their encounters with crime.
2. As these were true-life characters, last night was the first time I actually prayed for movie protagonists – Vynn, Melvin, Shaun, Erick and Armani. This is the only instance I’ve ever committed on-screen characters to God, and know that He would show mercy and grace to these five boys, wherever they are now.
3. I discovered my pastoral heart for juvenile delinquents for a variety of reasons:
- I’m confident that, if not for Jesus, I would have ended up as one
- I could actually understand 100% of the profanities they used and 75% of the dialect they spoke
- They are lost, helpless and alone, like many other and any other young person
- They have no one to turn to because society, together with their parents, have turned away from them
- Their number one need is for the love of Jesus to reign in their hearts more than anything else
4. To the best of my ability, I will never allow a Normal Technical, ITE student or anyone who is not in the mainstream education track to feel out-of-place in R-AGE. The youth group is, and must always, remain a safe place. That said, I will also fiercely protect my sheep if they are in danger of being hurt by a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
5. Single-parenthood could well be society’s greatest destructive force. And by the way, parents, listen up and listen good – comparing your child to someone else’s is one of the worst things you could ever do for them. If you are still doing it, it’s time to halt and repent; oh trust me, you won’t like it if they compared your inadequacies with another set of parents.
6. The issue of suicide and death in teenagers’ minds is closer than I think; oh Lord, please make me sensitive to all the warning signs. God forbid that I lose a young person to premature departure. Not on my watch, Lord, please. The youths in R-AGE must NEVER, EVER trivialise suicide; death is not and will never be a way of escape. It is my prayer that the media is responsible for guarding the thoughts of impressionable teenagers.
7. Rebellion isn’t a phenomenon to be mocked at or shunned. No, it’s a real cry for help more than anything else. There is real fear in those bloodshot hooligan eyes. Oh Lord, make me sensitive to reactive rebellious behaviour and give me favour and access into the lives of these youths; I know one of R-AGE @ GII’s reasons for existence is to reach this special group of youths.
8. Troubled youths, beneath all the bravado they exhibit, are lonely individuals searching for love and acceptance in a family cluster, just like regular ones.
9. How will I be remembered amongst the people whom I have the privilege and honour of walking and crossing paths with, be it for an hour or a year?
10. The way we view life determines the way we approach it; I thank God for making me an eternal optimist. However, I earnestly pray that I would become sensitive to pessimists and emotionally destructive people – may God expand my capacity and patience for them and to love them the way He does.
11. Sometimes, the most powerful way to tend to each other’s wounds is to be silent; when dealing with someone who’s hurt, the last thing you want to say is something he or she already knows. Just shut up and be present.
12. A better education should never give young people the opportunity to be snobbish and arrogant bastards (please, forgive the language). Instead, it should move these educated privileged ones to return something to society and make a difference to the lives of those who are not as educated as they are. Education must enlighten and exude goodwill and compassion, not apathy and individualism. Don’t ever be a NATO – no action, talk only. Respect must be imbued into our syllabus and fused into our upbringing, regardless of race or religion. The “educated”, for all its worth, must remain a neutral, factual word and should not condescend the “uneducated”.
13. Unity indeed, is strength. Oh Lord, help me to unite the youths whom you have given to me for a good and godly cause. I pray that You would cause division and divide amongst youths who are banding together for a destructive purpose – from gossip to gang fights – for it is just as damaging.
14. I make an impassioned plea to all youths who will ever read what’s been written here – there is always a better way than foolishness; the recklessness you demonstrate today will echo in the short-lived eternity of your life. And you may just live to regret it. I don’t wish that to happen to any young person. One of the saddest thing to hear from someone is, “I told you so…”.
15. Living without hope or purpose could well be death tragically experienced while alive. I am thankful that I am not living to die, but dying to live. I am convinced that the causes and ramifications of gangsterism is loneliness and rejection.
Let’s go through some of the things I said during my vision-casting sermon, that R-AGE @ GII will stand for:
- Redeemed youths redeem youths
- Youth Communities will grow, glow and go
- Ministry Extensions will reach, relate and reveal
- Youth services will be engaging, excellent and exciting
- Meet felt needs earnestly, lead passionately, connect authentically and believe wholeheartedly
Oh Lord, please this a youth group that redeems a generation for eternity!
All right, this post comes 125 entries later, but as the cliché goes, better late than never!
Many moons ago, I set up a competition to give away a handsome, spanking new branded NKJV Bible (worth $40+) and there were a number of people who very kindly submitted their reflections. I took a million years to decide on the winner and when I finally decided on the winner, I never found the right opportunity to pass her the gift! But last Friday, we finally met and I was delighted to give her the Bible.
Basically, the task was to extract a quote or an entire article to reflect on, and the winner is… SERENE WEE!
Thank you for taking part in this little competition and thank you for your support! Please allow me to share with you her two-page winning essay; she has written her insights based on the article, “you plant seeds, not pluck fruits.” I sincerely hope you enjoy reading her thoughts as much as I have!
Please consider this my entry to your competition. Reason being, this post came at just the right time in my life, and my thoughts about them are particularly personal. As you know, I am not all that involved in the youth ministry, but as a children’s church teacher a lot of the things you mentioned I find applicable to children’s ministry as well.
Childhood is the soil which determines what sort of teenagers and adults these kids grow into. If that is any indicator, then I must admit that I am literally stunned sometimes. I think, “If they can be so selfish, so rude, so cynical even at such an age, what then?”
“let them be, let them fall and let them learn”
This struck me particularly because I realise there are times when “No! Don’t do that!” doesn’t cut it anymore. Not that setting boundaries is not important, but after one whole week of being restrained in a classroom of 40 children, constantly shouted at to keep quiet, I think church teachers should strike a better balance when we see them on Sundays. Honestly, this phrase of yours really got me thinking about the children’s perspective, and how they may react to my actions, more.
“I encourage you to manage your expectations”
I think sometimes we’re so caught up on helping the child to achieve the “best” and forsaking the process, just as in the secular world. I was doing a craft with my class the other day, when this boy asked me if he could colour his foam flower with a marker. I looked at the flower and the flower itself was coloured, so I thought, if he adds colour on it, it wouldn’t look nice. So I said, no. But later I wondered why I wanted to wrest artistic license from him just because I thought it would look nicer. The craft was for mother’s day, and is not the child’s own effort, creativity and sincerity more important than “niceness”? With my control, he had one less chance to learn. And this is of course applicable in so many things.
“Their encouragement is a bonus, not a necessity; I’d love to receive it, but I do not need it to do what I am called to do.”
Yes, yes and yes!
“For if a leader is motivated by recognition and appreciation, he is sure to be left disappointed and disillusioned at some point.”
It is through personal experience that I know this to be true as well. I am a person who is very motivated by appreciation. Give me one nice phrase and I could probably remember it for life. But this can really distract from the primary purpose of ministry. Not only in terms of wanting recognition more than serving God faithfully, but in terms of what KIND of recognition is craved for.
In children’s church there are weeks when we have to do master teaching, which is basically teaching the lesson. Teachers have the freedom to structure the lesson as they will, and they can add in whatever games, object lessons etc. that they think would help bring the point home better. After weeks of hearing other teachers say “oh you teach so well”, and “oh the background you use for your powerpoint slides are so nice!” I found myself one night before a particular master teaching session, trawling the internet for nice backgrounds. My dad looked at me and said, “Instead of spending so much time on this, why don’t you spend more time praying for the children?” Wake up call!
And sometimes when leading worship (yes we juggle multiple roles in CC haha), I find myself judging the success of the worship session based on how many children are singing, and how many are raising their hands. While I do believe an outward expression of praise is important, I’ve come to realise, that I cannot simply look at the surface. The last thing the world needs is to have children learn hypocrisy at a young age. And if the children DON’T sing, will I then stop praising God with all my heart?
A lot of times too, teachers tend to take some form of pride in their ability to handle the classroom. And again, while I view that to be important, how sad is it that I should be praised for being able to make a rowdy class keep quiet. This to me, is again, simply on the surface. To show love, I believe I ought to dig deeper.
“that it is our job is to plant seeds, not pluck fruits.”
The way I read this goes hand in hand with the idea of patience. Matthew (Tan) once encouraged CC teachers that though they may not see it now, the children they teach may one day grow up to really love and serve Christ – men and women of God. Perhaps it’s because I am not that old myself, but I will think, “Huh, must wait sooooo long lehhh.” And that is the thing about planting seeds. Because seeds take time to grow, it’ll need a lot of patience to see them grow to fruition, or, like you said, we may not have the privilege to see that at all.
And so it hearkens back to what rewards we are looking for. The ones in heaven, or the earthly ones?
But my children do surprise me. Some surprise me with little bouts of maturity, way beyond what I expect from them. Some rough and tough ones surprise me with their gentleness. Some surprise me with their creativity. Some surprise me with their smiles and loving words.
First and foremost, thank you for all your submissions! I didn’t receive as many as I had hoped for, but it was certainly more than I had expected! I’m happy either way. Of course, I lay the blame of the not-so-hot response on the laid-back Asian mentality and the aiya-don’t-want-lah-so-paiseh attitude. It’s never my own undoing, right? :P
Anyway, I have looked through and enjoyed reading all the submissions! I have already selected the winner and will announce the result in the coming days, together with the winning entry! Keep your eyes peeled on this blog because for the first time in my blogging history (do allow me to self-hype), I will publish someone else’s writing in its entirety! Nonetheless, since it’s my competition, I will bend my rules and declare that I still accept entries until 20th May, but the bar has been raised and any subsequent entries would have to better the existing ones by a mile!
On a more serious note, I humbly request that you keep a few of us in prayer, as the Spirit leads you, over the next few days. ET, SW, TT, NL, LS and KJ, together with KK and I, will be at a camp called iJourney, from Monday to Wednesday. This annual programme is conducted for the Secondary 1 Normal Technical students and selected Secondary 3 student leaders from Dunearn Secondary School. It’s a great opportunity for us to plant seeds in these young lives, as well as to be demonstrate Christ-like testimonies for them.
I have already written in advance and have scheduled daily posts to (still) be published at the stroke of every midnight. So if you keep reading and commenting, I will surely keep writing. I told LK that writing daily has become such a habit that this catharsis is turning into an obsession. And I think it’s a good one.
For now, I think it’s time to kill the monotony of words and to colour the blog. I took this picture of the magnificent birds’ eye view of the Seogwipo World Cup Stadium in Jeju, South Korea, when I was atop the hot-air balloon. I remember telling myself that this would be the closest that I’d ever get to any World Cup. This is the breathtaking scenery 150-metres above ground! Enjoy!