Saturday, June 21, 2008

Praise be to the Lord.

I. Breakthrough: Letting go and letting God

When I initially signed up for this trip, on my mind were perceptions that this was going to be a mission with a humanitarian edge to it; a trip that sort of gets at the “felt” needs of people before addressing their “real” needs. In a sense the trip was like that, but there was hardly anything humanitarian about it, in fact, if anything it was an intense spiritual journey for me. The Radion staff were adamant about the team operating from the heart; from the outflow of His love instead of having to “force” out the compassion or love for the people. I believe this to be fundamental for outreach. Trying to love with one’s own capacity will dry one out–one either gets disillusioned or simply burned out along the way.

Several ‘breakthroughs’ occurred throughout the trip along this line. On the second day of house visitations to the elderly or destitute, the team had an intense morning worship session and I could literally feel Christ by my side and holding my hand. The next few moments during that worship were phenomenal: the moment I wondered if I was alone in my struggle, a fellow brother came up to pray with me regarding the struggles; and shortly after when I was asking the Lord what I needed to know before going out, another brother just came up and told me the Lord had just three words for me, “I love you”. Amazingly, the house visitations that followed on day were so much more fulfilling than the previous day when I felt spiritually dry inside. I caught a glimpse of what it was like to love with the love of Christ and not operate from my own capacity.

During one of the visits for instance, we met a middle aged Hmong lady who had one of her legs amputated from an accident and was struggling to make ends meet for the family. We sang the song “Still” for her and she just broke down. I have no idea of what intellectual/psychological/cultural relevance is a contemporary English Christian song to a Hmong villager, but somehow I could tell that His love certainly transcends language and culture–and He was reassuring this lady through our limited actions. I was in awe, and I still am whenever I recount that incident. Praise be to the Lord.

II. Let the little ones come to Me

I confided with my team that I have always been rather skeptical about children and religion. Why? Well, I have always thought that children simply did not have the intellectual capacity to perceive a God greater than them, and that they did not have the psychological ability to place others before self. The trip arrested this deluded train of thought in me.

For one thing, it was contentment and simplicity. No need for elaborate gifts or fanciful games–your very presence there meant the world to them. A team-mate related to me how her little girl refused to take another biscuit from her even though her own biscuit was slogged in mud after she had forgotten to take it out of her pocket when playing in the water earlier on. They treasure your little ‘gifts’ of biscuits; and cherish simple foods with such a depth of gratitude that shames many of us. Even during mountain trek, they went great lengths to help our old and tired bodies up and down–literally ‘taking care’ of us when it should have been the other way round. Even after the ‘official outings’, these children would still come down to the shophouse where we often hung out to and play with us. My little dude would even hug me every night after the day’s activities ended as he did not know when I would return to Singapore.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
- Matthew 19:14

However, it was not all just fun and games. Indeed, the children also possessed a childlike faith so real and touching–a gentle rebuke against our seemingly ‘wise and prudent’ Christian minds. My little kid was a relatively quiet lad, but his faith is astounding. During the first evangelistic rally, I felt a little discouraged when many children, including my little dude, did not really respond. However, the next night during another impromptu rally, he revealed to me that he was Christian and actually sang along to the song “So you would come” in Thai when our team used it to minister. He even took the initiative to pray for the non-believers during the altar call as well.

Also of particular testimony were the “street kids” that Radion adopted–these were kids shunned by society, orphaned and left abandoned on the streets to decadent life of drug-abuse and glues-sniffing. I got to see first hand their changed lives during the trip. No, they weren’t the saintly little kids that sat quietly down on your dinner table–they still make loads of noise and run about like anything, but the care and concern they showed others were amazing (one of them even helped us gather other kids back from a hilltop during one of the rallies); and they displayed a renewed sense of rigor to change for the better, knowing that God loves them for who they are.

During the last few days, many kids also made elaborate gifts for us in thanks (and the Radion staff also related to us how the children would skip some of their meals to save up money to make these gifts) and wrote simple messages like “I thank God for you” or “Jesus loves you” for us. We did not have fantastic children skits or colorful messages that excited the kids–all we had were our sincere hearts in sharing the love of Christ with them…and we received so much more in return in the lives and affection of these children–the glow in their faces and the magic in their touch that remind of His love to us as well. Praise be to the Lord.

III. Corporate worship

Another deep-seated experience during the trip was the kind of corporate breakthrough we had as a team. I’m not just talking about worshiping together or having fruitful fellowship, I’m talking about a team broken by Him and collectively attuned to His will of both us and the land. Regardless of personality, background or spiritual maturity, I really felt the team becoming emboldened by the Spirit to move as one; and during many of the worship and sharing sessions, it was amazing to discern how the Holy Spirit imbued common themes amongst the members to encourage, admonish and spur one another on.

During one of the pre-trip meeting prayer sessions, the image of chair came to my mind and during the entire trip I was constantly asking God what this image meant. Nearing the end, it suddenly came upon me that the ‘chair’ was a symbol of a team that put him at the center-seat, perfectly aligned to His will and purpose and resounding together like different strings on a guitar strumming the love song of Christ. A beautiful analogy indeed, but I thank the Lord that the analogy never remained in abstract, but I got to see it happening over 10 grueling days with the team. Praise be to the Lord.

IV. Now what?

My greatest struggle pertaining to any mission trip is always re-entry and post-trip. Many of the lessons learned and experiences gain mean little if left embedded as memory in my mind. The real battlefield is here in Singapore. Yes we endeavor to go out there to ‘make a difference’ and to impact others, but I believe that in going out, the person most impacted is yourself–because God wants to transform you through such trips so that you can be a better minister in your local environments. This is the challenge but I’m thankful I do not confront it with my own strength. Praise be to the Lord.

Please do continue to pray for the Hmong people: both the Hmong Thai villagers’ salvation and the 5 street kids adopted by Radion, and the Hmong Lao refugees who face imminent deportation and persecution. Also pray for the Radion staff as they continue to bring the love of Christ to the Hmong community and give many destitute a second chance in life; and also for the Campus Crusade team that we may continue as a team that is inward, upward and outward looking. Also pray for yourselves–that you’ll continue to trust Him with all your heart and let Him work in and around You.

There must be more!

by His Grace,

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Back @ Singapore: What does the Lord require of you today?

Note to our supporters:
Thanks for all your prayers.

The Wave 2 team is now safely home in Singapore after touching down at Changi Airport at 12.05am last night. You have not been receiving any updates on this page because it has been a very very intensive series of "mass-evangelistic" events five days in a row from last Friday all the way till late into our final night on Tuesday. Right up to the last few hours in the village before we had to catch our transport home, the Lord has been rewriting our entire programme schedules beyond our recognition and bringing souls into His Kingdom in ways we could not imagine. Monday was originally set aside for purely rest and retreat. The Lord brought children to the shophouse in the evening and used us to engage them with songs. Through the songs, God brought about healings and salvations. Tuesday's night was originally set aside for a BBQ dinner and appreciation for the team. However, God intervened in the morning on the day itself, and inspired us to have a campfire for the children instead. Despite the little preparation and time we had, God brought about many more healings and salvations! We were filled with awe and thanksgivings beyond what words can describe when we saw with our own eyes what God can do with just five loaves and two fish. So many things happened and I have yet to reflect and process through all my thoughts, so this is just a brief summary for now.

Below is an email that I just sent to both the Wave 1 and 2 teams this morning after waking up and giving thanks that I am still alive after everything. I pray that the Lord will speak to you with it as well.

"With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,

with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has showed you, O man, what is good.

And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."

- Micah 6:6-8

Dear Wave 1 and 2 Teams,

Welcome back to Singapore!

Back from the mission field where we saw God's hands moving in wondrous ways that we could not expect or imagine, to the "usual" things of everyday life where you will find in the days ahead that it is harder and harder to "pray up, stay focused and push on" in our daily walk with Him. Some of us may have felt it already the moment we reached the airport, and it is only Day 1 back in Singapore for the Wave 2 Team.

Well, we already expected this to happen, remember? There is nothing wrong with you. Nothing is wrong with the so-called "ordinary" life.

The following is a devotion which God spoke to me today regarding the "ordinary" life:

"I once heard interviews with survivors from World War II. The soldiers recalled how they spent a particular day. One sat in a foxhole; once or twice, a German tank drove by and he shot at it. Others played cards and frittered away the time. A few got involved in furious firefights. Mostly, the day passed like any other. Later, they learned they had just participated in one of the largest, most decisive engagements of the war, the Battle of the Bulge. It didn’t feel decisive at the time because none had the big picture.

Great victories are won when ordinary people execute their assigned tasks.

When followers of Ignatius (1491–1556) endured periods of futility, he always prescribed the same cure: “In times of desolation we must never make a change, but stand firm and constant in the resolutions and determination in which we were the day before the desolations.” Spiritual battles must be fought with the very weapons hardest to wield at the time: prayer, meditation, self-examination, and repentance.

Perhaps you sense you’re in a spiritual rut. Stay at your assigned task! Obedience to God—and only obedience—offers the way out of our futility. If you sense your faith is unraveling, go back to where you dropped the thread of obedience." — Philip Yancey

This is a gentle reminder that our "ordinary" life is not ordinary at all because we serve an extraordinary God who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and the battle goes on and on. We are called to follow Jesus. We are called to be His fishermen. It does not matter where we are right now, but wherever we are, we must continue fishing. However, even more important than the fish, remember our breakfast appointment with the Lord (John 21:12). Do not forget that it is us that He desires more than all the fish we can ever catch!

My prayer to the Lord is simply this: that the Wave 1 and Wave 2 teams will remember the Lord everyday. Yes, only one prayer cry of my heart... that is for YOU to walk with the Lord every today.

Lord, please.

On a lighter note, I ate a fillet-o-fish at the airport immediately after reaching Singapore to satisfy my craving! Pwoah! Even through a simple burger (mini-fied version of "five loaves and two fish"), the Lord reminded me of His goodness and love in my life. Enjoy His presence and every small little blessing He lovingly places in your life today.


PS: Happy 18th Birthday Ning :)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Children's Outing

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
- Matthew 19:14

We had a children's outing today!!

And we are very exhausted now... age is taking a toil on me...

We climbed up a hill of 1.3km vertical height, took a walk with the kids, ate and sang, played with them in a river, and made a simple gospel presentation to them. 18 kids prayed and received Christ, praise God! The kids here are very very sweet and relational... miss them already...

Lord, we pray that you continue to bring about growth to the seeds that were sown today. These young ones will become mighty oak trees that will testify to Your goodness, grace and greatness from this village to the next and to the next. We commit them into Your loving hands :)

The old man here is too tired to blog... but he shall let the pictures do the talking. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, this will make it 2000!

Thanks for praying.


Friday, June 6, 2008

The Glory of His grace

God continues to awe us with His grace and might...

We just saw about 30 people home; they came for an evangelistic BBQ that was held at the shophouse. They were mainly the elderly and destitute whom we home-visited yesterday and the day before yesterday.

How glad we were when we saw them arrive at the shophouse! Out of the 30 people, about 12-15 people received Christ, including children.

I'm lost for words, really. As the videographer, in-charge of capturing precious God-moments, I guess I was partly on the lookout for worthy footage instead of being "in the moment", but what I remember clearly are the raised hands when Eugene, one of the Radion staff, asked who wanted to receive Christ. I remember scrambling in to catch that God-moment, all the while thinking... it's not to us, but unto God; salvation is His miracle.

So, all glory and honour to Christ our King, who gave us the privilege to partner with Him!

Li Ling

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Day 4 at Petchabun: Pre-Home Visitation

Even before we went out to do home visitation, the team started on "Unlearning Lesson - Part 1". Indeed we were a bunch of people with much to unlearn... ...

Worship, more than just mere words or lip service, it's really about the outpouring from our hearts. The team seemed to hit a glass ceiling ... no .. an iron curtain ... no .. it's an iron wall... There seemed to be a lot of passivity from the team members. There's a river of His presence God had already prepared ... but somehow, some of us just seemed to be satisfied playing at the banks splashing a little water around... some are satisfied going in ankle-deep ... some stopped at waist-deep but what God really desires is for us to dive in .. and just be 'drowned' with Him... We cant simply stop at the outer courts, but we need to go past the holy place and enter straight into the holy of holies, where His shechinah glory dwells.

Like a little lightstick which has to be thoroughly broken before it can shine, the team was 'broken'; where the 'Self', the 'I' is broken ... where we decreased and Christ increased in our lives. Well, more is to come until we are truly broken, completely crushed in the Lord.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

House Visitation Day One

Sawatdii khrap! Sabaay dii may

Greetings from Khek Noi once again, we wish His grace and peace upon you brothers and sisters in Christ!

Today the team awoke from long night's rest despite the F1 car engine that relentlessly roared throughout the night (i.e. snoring souls).

A key element in any mission trip does not concern the field or our programs, but rather it concerns our heart preparation. Worship and devotion today was serious business as well. Not business with the Hmongs or with Radion, but business with the Master of our souls.

The team's inward-looking spiritual posture was confronted mid-way through the worship and we went into another time of intimate self-reflection to examine our hearts; to ask ourselves whether we were more concerned with our own weaknesses, or with His strength. Marvin's devotion in particular reminded all of us not to be "lao jiao pings" (Matthew 11:25-26). Being an older team than Wave 1, with many of us either church/ministry leaders or university students at home, we were indeed a bunch with much to "unlearn" in this trip so that we could all humbly ask for more of Him and less of us.

After a sumptuous lunch of rice (what else), fishball soup, roasted pork in special thai sauce (Yvonne says it is "simply shiok"), papaya salad and kangkong, we proceeded to head out for our first home visitations.

The first home we visited were a slightly mentally challenged couple whose children were malnourished due to lack of food, especially milk. The dire look on their faces was enough to 'floor' most of us. The four packets of kuay-teow seemed very inadequate and all we could do is to pray for them and to show them love.

In the second home was a family of four. What struck me most was the story of one of the daughters who was staying with them. What happened was that a guy actually took advantage of her and left her all alone when he found out that she was pregnant. As I (Yvonne) held her hand to pray for her, I felt a surge of emotions. The feeling of being obfuscated, not knowing what to do next or what the future holds. But one thing I know, that the Lord will be holding her hand and will see her through the trials. Just fyi, the head of this particular household came to accept Jesus Christ into his life today! Praise God! We are excited for the salvation but not surprised because we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

We moved on to the third and last home. For the third house, it was pretty run-down with a damaged roof. Thus, when it rained, water seep in contiously and caused the interior of the house to be wet and soggy. Apart from the physical condition was the spiritual state of the lady we ministered to. The weathered look on her face speaks of hardships and a weary heart. There was nothing much we could do but to pray, hug her and give her a heart-shaped origami representing that we love her. Those were our five loaves and two fishes but God used them. As we were about to leave, Eunice told Ben to tell the lady that she truly admires her for bringing the kids up single-handedly and encouraged her to continue to perservere on. This word from the Lord stirred up the heart of this lady and she started sobbing. Her sobs revealed many suppressed hurts and loneliness. Before we left, I felt a word from the Lord from Revelation 7:17: For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. I passed her a packet of tissue, telling her that it would only temporarily wipe the tears off her eyes but I encouraged her to hold on to the promise that God had given, that is one day her tears would definitely be wiped away permanently (itaics mine). We're truly blessed by these home visitations.

Derek, Yvonne

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cold Wet Orientation

Dear all,

We are safely in Khek Noi... praise the Lord. We arrived in the village on Monday evening and quickly settled down to rest. Thank you for praying for us, and special appreciation to all of you who came to the airport early in the morning to send us off!

Today we had our "cultural training" and "village orientation". As I am typing now, we are at the shophouse, cold and wet. This was largely due to a part of the "orientation" programme which took place at a muddy river with the "street kids" in the rain. How could we not follow when they jumped into the water instinctively??? It was a classic sight to see the drivers' faces when they saw us walking back to the vehicles all wet and dirty. And this is only Day 2! By the way, they are the same two drivers who were with the Wave 1 team.

Please pray for our good health. The weather is really cold and pouring, and we are still adjusting to the new environment.

Okay, just a short and simple update.

More to come!

Jacob =)

PS: Aun's cooking is aroy mak mak mak mak mak mak mak mak !!! :)
Sawadee! After a two hour plane ride and a seven hour bus ride, we have reached Khek Noi Village in Phetchabun. We thank the Lord for granting us a safe journey. We also thank our supporters who have sacrificed their precious sleep to send us off at the airport as early as 5am! We also thank our prayer warriors for keeping us in prayer. Our hospitable hosts have kindly opened up their house for us to stay over the course of the next ten days.

We are now blogging at RADION's headquarters which is a ten minutes drive from our hosts' house. It is a three storey shophouse which provides shelter for the street kids. We spent some time mingling with the kids before dinner and found out that they really wanted watches. One of our team members, Alvin presented the street kids with watches and they were really happy and excited.

Come back soon for more updates.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

For greater things, I ask of the Lord.

"We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered.
"Bring them here to me," he said.

- Matthew 14:17-18

Lord, the "five loaves and two fish" will remain as "five loaves and two fish" in our own hands. But we offer the little that we have unto You, our lives and everything. Take them, break them and use them for Your purposes. May we be a blessing that will glorify Your name in the land.

I feel strange as I am writing this post right now. On 27 March 2008, I made my previous blog post here on the final day of the Wave 1 mission trip, signing off as "my last blog post in this website" and was certain that I would never blog again. I have never posted any blog entries in my life before the last trip, and was only using this website to provide some quick updates from the mission field for our prayer supporters back in Singapore. Once again, the Lord is showing me that He is full of surprises. So here I am, happily eating my own words and preparing to make my way to Phetchabun again in a few hours time with the Wave 2 team that will be there from 2nd to 11th June! Wa ha ha ha ha =)

Some quick updates on what God has been doing between my previous post and the current one:
1) The Wave 1 team gave thanks and glory to God for the 100+ lives who came to know Jesus during their short stint in the village. For many of the team members, the trip marked the first time they witnessed how real and powerful the Holy Spirit is. When the Holy Spirit swept through the refugee camp with the Hmong-Laos people breaking down in tears responding to the name of Jesus, everyone could only stand in awe of His presence. Their hearts were broken, and they wept and wept with the people there.

2) Before the trip, the Wave 1 team members thought they were called to a village to give. During the trip, God outgave them. At the end of the trip, they knew they could never see lives in the same light again. They came back to Singapore and heard testimonies of how the reports of the mission trip had encouraged many people, and is continuing to use the lessons that God had taught them to encourage many more people. They also "adopted" children in the village through the "Street Kids Outreach" project by RADION International.

3) The Wave 1 Team Leader was burdened to return to the village one day to serve the poor, and she quickly linked up with RADION for the next project. A Wave 2 team, made up mostly by university students from Singapore Campus Crusade for Christ, was formed to make a trip to the same village and resume some of the work there from 2nd to 11th June 2008.

4) The Lord taught an awkwardly out-of-place and over-aged member of the Wave 1 team to "number his days aright that he may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12), and the fellow quitted his full-time job so that he can use more of his numbered days on earth to do more crazy things for Jesus. For now, he is reportedly seen tagging along with this new Wave 2 team so that he can resume his blogging career on this website again. He needs to reach the airport in about 4 hours time, and he has not started packing his bag yet.

Oh well. God is full of surprises ya?

Right now, I am praying to God that for this coming trip, I will not be relying on the things I think I already knew from the previous trip, because I know the Lord is going to do something new. I am asking Him for more... for greater things. For more surprises :)

I thank God for all the supporters who had partnered us with prayers during the Wave 1 trip. Your prayer support had meant so much for us and for the people in Thailand. Please continue to do so for this Wave 2 team.

I thank God for the supporters of the Wave 2 team members. Please follow us closely in this trip, and watch how your prayers will make a difference to God's work in this place.

I thank God for the Wave 1 team members. All of you are absolutely awesome!!! I know you are interceding for us even as you are reading this :)

I cannot thank God enough. Watch this page for more thanksgivings to come!

Thank you.

Jacob Ng