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pierce – a picture with a thousand words.

I thought it’d be good to publish the PIERCE testimonies here for those who weren’t at the service when it was printed and distributed, R-AGE @ GI youths as well as all the knights and prayer warriors of this historic camp.

This was designed by JH and her publishing team, consolidated by the hardworking YX (who also initiated this project) and made possible by the gladiators who contributed. It was a joy for JH, YX and I to have read these testimonies before they were published. Do save the soft copies into your computer and remember the good things that God has done at the second and final youth camp in R-AGE history. And allow your heart to be encouraged all over again!

I’m so privileged to be pastoring this amazing youth group. I love you, young people. (:

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ministry is about meeting felt needs.

During one of the PIERCE mealtimes, I had the privilege of speaking with IP; we caught up on many things – from how I first met him when I was working in 1VOX to how I am now working in church, and how he moved from a pastoral staff in a church to a counselling staff in a school. To be frank, I really enjoyed our little dialogue because of how encouraging he was; I was so ministered by IP’s genuineness and sincere desire to communicate heart to heart, and my spirit was really lifted by that small exchange of words.

Of the many things I caught from his spirit over lunch, this would be my greatest takeaway – he challenged me to “meet felt needs”; he went as far to say that meeting needs is just about the best thing a church could do as a church. I thought about it for a while and I realised that in my ministry, I’ve subconsciously been applying it and I really thank God for that; I saw the needs of my Shepherds and so I set up the DYLM leadership cell group; my RLs saw the needs of their CMs and so they set up the CM cell group; and the CMs are actually investing their time and energy into their cell group to meet the needs of their own cell kids. It would be challenging for each tier of leadership to meet the cascading level of needs if their own needs weren’t met.

Everyone has a variety of needs. Adolescent youths would have needs for identity and belonging; upper-secondary students would have needs for security and recognition; leaders in tertiary education would have achievement and esteem needs; those from a single-parent family like I do would have needs for acceptance and safety; those from financially-troubled households would have physiological needs for food and shelter; and of course, those healing from failed boy-girl relationships would have needs for trust and courage. Bottom line is, there are needs to be met!

Now let me go offtrack for a little while. Of course when I think about needs, Maslow’s much-studied hierarchy of needs spring to mind. While it is a trusted model for sociological and academical application, I find that model inadequate simply because it addresses needs from a secular standpoint. Conversely speaking, I believe that one’s greatest need is to fill the God-shaped hole. And if I may borrow song lyrics from Plumb’s ‘God-shaped Hole’ – “that’s a void only He can fill” . I firmly believe that while meeting real needs are important (after all, Jesus did meet physical needs in John 5), the most important need to meet is the need for God – if that need is not met, nothing really makes much sense. Still, therein lies a great need to meet real needs. RP sums up my sentiments:

Jesus had an extraordinary ability to see beneath the myriad of layers of people and know what they longed for, or really believed, but were afraid of revealing. That is why His answers so frequently did not correspond to the questions He was asked. He sensed their unspoken need or question and responded to that instead. Jesus could have healed lepers in countless ways. To the leper in Mark 1:40-45, He could have shouted, “Be healed … but don’t get too close. I just hate the sight of lepers.” He didn’t. Jesus reached over and touched him. Jesus’ touch was not necessary for his physical healing. It was critical for his emotional healing.

Can you imagine what it meant to that man to be touched? A leper was an outcast, quite accustomed to walking down a street and seeing people scatter, shrieking at him, “Unclean – unclean!” Jesus knew that this man not only had a diseased body but an equally diseased self-concept. He needed to be touched to be fully cured. And so Jesus responded as He always did, with total healing for the whole person.

I had a good chat with JK over lunch today and he shared some of his immediate needs with me. I told him that I was more interested in meeting his needs than having him meet ministry needs. “What you do in ministry is secondary; I’m more concerned about your primary needs”, I said. I encouraged him to get active with the CM cell, and to give his peers an opportunity to reach out to him, as well as for him to mutually minister to his peers. No man is an island and the sooner we realise that the sooner the body of Christ can be in action; we need one another to build one another – no one can do it alone.

Hence, it is my prayer that as you read my thoughts today, you’ll be reminded to either remain connected to your cell group and church, or that it’s time for you to start get acquainted with godly Christian fellowship. A few days ago, I asked IP over a text message if he had any prayer requests. His reply resounded so strongly with my heart’s cry for ministry and how I’m praying that R-AGE would truly become an Acts 2 youth group:

“My prayer needs? To see (R-AGE @) GII grow into the fellowship like in Acts, digging into the Word, meeting together weekly breaking bread and soaking in His presence.”

IP, I will remember what God taught you (and what you taught me) – and I will always have “meeting felt needs” at the top of my ministry priorities. Thank you for such a powerful and profound message – it was something that really pierced my heart during the camp and now, after it. We are in the ministry of meeting needs; if we fail to do that, then we have missed the whole point of church.

off the record, for the record.

I’m genuinely stunned by the level of interest in my celebratory announcement – 335 hits! That’s madness, really. This is a record-breaking number of hits and it beat the previous record-breaking day by two-fold. Anyway, HY says it’s an anomaly and I concur. Nonetheless, thank you for sharing in our Dawson joy! God is good and I praise Him.

I had planned to write in advance and schedule posts during the course of the coming youth camp but since I enjoyed blogging by email via my mobile phone during Retreat, I shall attempt to retain this practice because I believe that God will continue to speak to me during Pierce, and I want to register it.

I shall leave you with a slideshow of a series of 30 encouragement cards which I have specially designed for Pierce; these will be the main vehicles of an improvised “Angel and Mortal” game that the campers will enjoy and learn from throughout the three days and nights. All pictures are original and were taken during my recent travels.

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A slight sidetrack here. I believe God has begun to develop a new gift in me – prophecy. I shall withhold details for now but I think it’s a landmark I’d want to journal down for it will demarcate a new journey in my spiritual development. I look forward to a breakthrough in my spiritual gifts. I desire to walk and live by the Spirit!

inside outside upside down.

On days that I’m tired and uninspired to write anything noteworthy, I shall succumb to previously-written articles. Somehow I look forward to the break at retreat. For that week away. I’m deciding between live updates or pre-scheduled posts. But for now, in the light of the coming youth camp, here’s an article I wrote after the Inside-Out youth camp in 2004, at Fairfield Methodist Secondary School, where I was camp Dean. I’ll reprise that role in the coming Retreat and I do look forward to it. Enjoy the read.

If a Chinese man decides to become an Indian man one day, speaking in Tamil alone will not change his race; his anatomy and his shade of melanin must be altered to achieve this biological change.

An overweight man cannot look slim just by putting on tight-fitting clothes; a change of clothes will not change his physique, he needs to be altered physically.

A timid teenager lacking in self-esteem cannot find his self-worth and security by hanging out with confident and assured peers; he does not become who he socialises with; his alteration must be mental.

Even a sex change will not make a man feel any more like a woman; unless he is altered psychologically, he will innately know he is still a man.

One cannot modify the external to change the internal. The change must take place from within.

So similarly, a mere believer of Christ cannot become a true disciple of Christ unless he is transformed from the inside out. In Romans 12:2, Paul urges us to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Now, that is the theme of the annual R-AGE camp. This camp is aptly named “Inside-Out” and it is a fitting conclusion to a year embarked on discipleship.

In the short duration of four days and three nights, the youths participated in a host of activities that perpetuate the lessons of discipleship. They are put through unforgettable structured experiences; attend knowledge-enriching workshops and life-changing sermons; play large-scale and small-scale games that foster relationship-building; and not to mention living together with everyone else and learning from one another.

Along with the usual works of a youth camp, the committee aspires to impart a lifestyle of discipleship into the campers – the call, the cost and the commitment. Doors will be opened for mentorship to take place.

As the camp dean, my primary job is to look after the well-being of the campers, especially their spiritual condition. I believe it is crucial that the young people are changed from within if they are to live out their fullest potential. There is little significance in attempting to correct the facade if nothing is done to correct their attitudes and their cognition process.

Our church is blessed with intelligent teenagers who are acutely aware of the happenings of the world as they are well-educated and also because most of them come from affluent families. Teenagers are no strangers to the temptations that this world offers and are greatly exposed to the lures of the world.

Their scrutinising nature fuels their continual thirst for knowledge and the truth. And this either leaves them fulfilled by the Word of God or deceived by the lies of the devil.

Therefore, there is a great need to guard their vulnerable minds and correct all the wrong teachings they have received. This is made possible with tender care, proper guidance and assiduous re-education. Hopefully, by the conclusion of Inside-Out, our youths will learn to fix their eyes on Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of their faith; this conviction will empower them to worship God in spirit and in truth, befitting the theme of worship for 2005.

Everything around us is constantly changing – even you and I. But Hebrews 13:8 assures us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! Who better then, shall we place our trust in?

youth camp update #3 – launch of camp tee!

I just got back from second last youth camp coordination meeting with the GII super Shepherds and boy I tell you, the countdown to 15 June is getting more and more exciting! PIERCE is going to be historic, without a shadow of a doubt. We’ll be doing many things for the first time and I shall keep all of that secret because I do not want to diminish your camp experience! The 11 of us simply cannot wait to execute all the programmes that we have painstakingly planned specially for you campers!

Tonight, together with ET, I’d also like to officially launch the youth camp t-shirt? Why with ET? Simple – this chilli-padi is the proud designer of the PIERCE logo, name tag and t-shirt and I’m super proud of her for accomplishing this task! Her (first published) work of art will now be proudly adorned by nearly a hundred people. Well done, ET! This is certainly a special achievement to rejoice over because this is the first ever R-AGE @ GII t-shirt of any kind! (On a personal note, I believe that ET will go on to become an excellent designer IF she puts in every effort into learning and mastering her craft!)

GOLD prints + blood RED tee = gorgeous.

We cannot wait to issue this memento to you – at the camp itself. Aren’t you glad you only paid $7 for this? For those who didn’t sign up for the camp – don’t worry; we will make it available to you immediately after the camp, on 19th June (Saturday), after R-AGE service. But there are only 20 extra pieces printed, so first come first served!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the countdown to PIERCE begins! Less than two weeks to go before we all go crazy at the best ever youth camp of R-AGE! Be excited!

youth camp update #2 – wield your sword.

The most exciting youth camp yet in the history of R-AGE will be titled…

“PIERCE”

For the word of God is living and active,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and of spirit,
of joints and of marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

As my instruction manual for the organising committee thickens, so does my excitement. Remember the dates: 15-17 June, week after retreat. You should have no reason to miss it, because we are going to talk about this camp for the next decade – don’t miss out on 10 years of chatter. Let’s attain 100% attendance. May PIERCE carve its lessons upon your heart for the rest of your lives – you will experience the power of the Word of God.

Official publicity begins after Easter – be ready.

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