Category Archives: Christianity

August SHUM

Last month, our bible study group was involved with SHUM (Surry Hills Urban Mission).

SHUM is a ministry that aims to bring the good news for disadvantaged people around Surry Hills area – this may includes people who are homeless, poor, unemployed, those with substance abuse and those with some mental issues.

SHUM is mainly run by Michael and every month there will be a different group of people committed helping him for the duration of the month. So for example our group was helping SHUM on the month of August and another bible study group from our church will do SHUM the month after.

SHUM group goes to Central Station every Tuesday nights from 8:00 to 9.30, they bring food (mainly sandwiches) and hot drinks for people at Central Station. However giving out food is not the aim of SHUM, by serving food and drinks, we’re hoping to engage disadvantaged people in Surry Hills in gospel conversations.

On the week before we started our mission, Michael gave as an orientation night, here are some of things that he expected of the group:

  • Aim to end every conversations by praying with people whom we talked to.
  • Pick a parable and learn to share it with people
  • Read news and give a Christian point of view of them
  • Pray and pray some more

So those were the main things that we did during the four Tuesday nights of August. Every night is different, the first 2 Tuesdays were busy and hectic, the last 2 were quiet. I had many interesting conversations, met many wonderful and interesting people.

An example of such encounter: on the first Tuesday, I met a guy called S, I spent the most of the time talking to him that night.

S is a pensioner and had issues with his current accommodation so he needed to find a new place. However this wasn’t easy due to his lack of rental history (and photo ID). Can’t help but feeling sorry for him, the task of getting a photo ID maybe trivial for people like you and me – but for him it is a challenge. He was told to go back to Melbourne (where he’s from) and get it done there, otherwise he needed to do it via the internet, which is difficult as he is computer illiterate.

I asked him about his belief, he told me that he’s a Christian but not practicing. We chatted a bit about this – then he remembered reading a horoscope column, in which it was told that he needs to start a commitment. He kept wondering what that meant. That Tuesday night, he decided to take a walk around Central Station and by chance met us there.

He then connected the dots, perhaps he said, the commitment mentioned in the horoscope column, is commitment to God. Very interesting conclusion, but I didn’t disagree – I told him that indeed God may indeed calling him through that.

In the end, we prayed together, for his accommodation issues and for him to find church and indeed commit his life to God. From all of the people whom I spoke to during the month, he’s made the most impression to me and I had hoped to see again on the following weeks, but I never did, I put him on my prayer dairy though – I hope to see again as a brother if not in this life, then in the life after.

I found my time with SHUM is very valuable, for people in our bible study group and for myself personally. For me, it is valuable as it has given me opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with people.
I was also humbly reminded that I lack skills in evangelism and I need to work on my willingness to talk to people.

I was encouraged by people in our bible study group who were very enthusiastic, bold and genuinely care for the people we met.
Ben our SHUM leader (Michael took a break on the month of September) was very encouraging too – he could easily turn an ordinary conversation to a gospel conversation.

I was reminded again and again how good and gracious God is, he does not discriminate, he loves everyone, rich and poor and he wants them to be saved.

In the end, I thank God for his love to people through SHUM, Michael, Ben – I hope and pray many will hear and receive the light that can’t be hidden in their dark lives.

If you are Christian, I highly recommend joining SHUM for a month, you can find more information about it here:

Through Gates of Splendor

Through gates of splendor is a book that chronicles the five missionaries served on Ecuador: Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, Nate Saint and Roger Youderian. It was written by Elisabeth Elliot – Jim’s wife, she wrote the book based on her recollection of the events as well as notes from the five men journals.

Ecuador consists of different tribes on Indian, here are some of them: the Jivaro indians (famous for their practice of head shrinking tradition), the Quichua, and the Athsuaras.

The five missionaries, initially served separately in different parts of Ecuador for few years. Jim and Ed were serving the Quichuas indians, Roger served with the Jivaro indians. Nate, the missionary pilot and his wife, manned the main post which is the hub that connects the missionaries. Indeed Nate’s job is transporting the missionaries, food and goods from the main station to the missionaries’ stations.

As time unfolds – they were led to reach to group of Indian called the Aucas. Jim and Ed had the vision of reaching them prior coming to Ecuador – and somehow God puts the same concern on the other 3 missionaries. And so they finally decided to leave their own ministries and join forces for the Aucas.

There are reasons why this tribe has not been reached with the gospel – this is a very hostile and violent group of people – murder and killing happens often.
Secondly they don’t settle on the one place for a long time – one of their customs is to abandon their home after a killing for fearing retribution. And a marred past with white people/foreigners who came and exploited them before didn’t help the case either.

Because no one knows where their exact location is – the first thing that they had to do is to actually find where they are. And so they set up a station near the territory that is known as the Auca territory for a couple months. During this time they minister to the indians around the area.

During this time they also periodically surveyed the territory for Auca settlements with Nate’s plane. And one day they finally found one settlement which was a great joy for them.

Again due to the nature the violence nature of the group – the missionaries can’t just walk up to them and say hello. They have to earn their trust first. And here’s how they do it – by doing gift droppings from the plane. Gift dropping is basically a practice where the missionaries fly over the Auca settlement with a basket tied under the plane – the basket is filled with various gifts that they think will be useful for the Aucas. One item of interest is the machetes – indeed machetes is the multi purpose tool that is very useful in the jungle.

So the git droppings continues to take place for few months. One day there were three Aucas came and visited them – this was the initial contact – and it was a great joy for the missionaries. Sadly though, just days after the initial contact, there was another visit by the Aucas – unfortunately this wasn’t a friendly visit like the first – the five missionaries were killed by the group of people that they were trying to reach.

That’s just short story on what happened but I’d like to encourage you to read the book yourselves – as it is very encouraging book to read. Because some of the parts is taken directly from the journals you’ll get a picture of what’s going on through the missionaries head, how they came to be called to serve in Ecuador, how they leave the good life behind, how they struggle, how they make decision etc.

Here is one of many deep insights from Jim’s letter to his parents as he finishes Junior college

There is no such thing as attainment in this life; as soon as one arrives at a long-coveted position he only jacks up his desire another notch or so and looks for higher achievement – a process which is ultimately suspended by the intervention of death. Life is truly likened to a rising vapour, coiling, evanescent, shifting.

How true is that.

There are some points that I took from the book:

  • Although the book was centred around the 5 missionaries – but I found it also highlights the character, godliness and conviction of their wives. You got the strong impression that the wives surely loved Jesus more than their husbands – otherwise how can they follow their husbands (some of them coming with their children), leaving the comfort life to reach people who are hostile to them and even allowing their dearest husbands knowing the ultimate price that they had to pay and indeed did they pay.
  • Missionary work is hard and a long process (needless to say). You don’t just land on a foreign land and start preaching the next day – no, there’s endless of preparation and logistic and when you are there you need to have a lot of patience to see the fruit of your labour – and sometimes it seems that there is little or no fruit – see Roger’s journal excerpt below.

This is taken from of Roger Youredian’s journal when he was struggling with the reality of missionary work:

A missionary plods through the first year or two thinking that things will be different when he speaks the language. He is baffled to find,frequently that they are not.
He is stripped of all that may be called ‘romance’. Day in unbroken succession; there are no crises, no mass conversions, sometimes not even one or two to whom he can point and say ‘There is a transformed life. If I had not come, he would never have known Christ’
There will be those among the Indians who say that they accept Christ, but what of the forsaking of the heathen custom and turning from sin to a life of holiness? The ministry watches, and longs and his heart sickens.


Jet and Matt Baptism

Jet and Matt were baptized last Sunday, 13/02/2011, among with other 3 other GFI children.

It was a humbling and a moving experience for us, we are now making our commitment to bring up our children as God’s children publicly. It was also a good reminder for me on what baptism really (in this case children baptism) means.

I’ve taken an excerpt from Baptism Service which I think does the explaining of children baptism really well (note: I’ve reformatted them slightly – emphasis are mine, I’ve also listed Jet and Matt not the other children):

Baptism: An explanation

Jesus said:

“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.(Mark 10:14-16)

Children are baptised on the understanding that:

  1. They will be brought up as faithful followers of Jesus Christ, and that
  2. When they are old enough they will take upon themselves the promises that are made on their behalf.

Therefore, let us pray that God will grant to Jeremiah and Matthew that which by nature they do not have, that by the work of God’s Holy Spirit they may grow up to know the forgiveness of their sins, and to put their trust in the Saviour who laid down his life for them.

The meaning of the children baptism is simply summarized by the 2 points above, for us the parents to bring up as followers of Christ (our promises), with the hope that they themselves one day confess that Jesus is their Lord and Saviour.

Oh, how we long for that day to come.

The godparents were also making a promise, their promise is to pray and seek to encourage both Jet and Matt in the name of Jesus Christ. Kuku San is Jet’s godfather and I i Chen is Matt’s godmother.

And then the congregation prayed together.

We receive Jeremiah and Matthew into the congregation of Christ’s flock and pray that they will not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, but will bravely fight under his banner against sin, the world, and the devil, and continue as Christ’s faithful soldiers and servants until the end of their lives.

Amen.

Amen indeed.

IMG_3956 Matt got wet first.

IMG_3958Jet went next, Kuku San was supposed to hold him but he was so scared – so I had to hold him instead.

IMG_3959 See Jet, it wasn’t scary at all – it’s just water (from the rest room :) ).

Thoughts on Pornography

I had lunch with a couple of guys last week and I had a really rough time then. I do love having lunch with this bunch. However this lunch last week was particularly bad. The group just went on and on with porn discussion – for the whole lunch hour!

It was started by a comment on how the women are starting to bare more skin (now that summer has come). The conversation spiraled down quickly to lustful discussion of women and all kinds of porn. I felt really troubled with the topic being discussed and was very upset at the fact that I did not do anything about it.

Though I wasn’t actively participating – I DID stay and listened AND not saying any objection whatsoever. I am angry at my own silence. They did notice that I was quiet and they thought I was just being shy. Did I say why I was uncomfortable? No. I should have said that I was uncomfortable or I could have just walked away.

Yes, the relationship between me and the group might be strained after that, but so what? I really hate this part of myself, on always trying to please everyone and avoiding conflicts. So why was I uncomfortable? Continue reading

On Parables

I was reading Matthew 13 today, found Jesus’ pattern of telling the parables quite interesting.

Jesus usually told the parables first to the crowds and then when he was alone with his disciples, he explained the meaning of the parables. Want to know why? Read Matthew 13:13 onwards.

I was also surprised to find the Parable of the Weeds right after the Parable of the Sower (I always thought it’s called Parable of the Seed somehow – although I think it should be called the Parable of the Soil) – what’s with the agricultural theme here?

Noting something interesting about the Parable of the Weeds – Matthew 13:28-30 – the master doesn’t allow his servants to gather the weeds in fear that they might root up the wheat as well.. Well, Jesus didn’t explain what’s the meaning of this – so probably it’s not the main point of the parable.