Monday, November 29, 2010

International Evangelical Church (Hok Im Tong) Singapore Christmas Celebration 2010

IEC Singapore are pleased to invite you to our Christmas 2010 Celebration:

King of PEACE

*sermon by Rev. DR Caleb Tong in Indonesian-Mandarin
with an English musical drama:
AN UNEXPECTED EXPECTATION 2 ---Amelie and The Three and A Half Kings

Sunday, December 12th 2010, 10:00 am

6 Shenton Way, DBS Building Tower One, DBS Auditorium Level 3,

Singapore 068809

Nearest MRT: Tanjong Pagar

Book your calendar now!!!You may invite friends as many as you want...Let's prepare for this enchanted adventure.. and have a Merry Christmas to you too!
Do not hesitate if you have any questions, you may reach us:

Fendy :+65 96152333

Juliet :+65 98597088

Leonardo :+65 92227529

Don't miss it!! & We'll See You There

♥ •.★.·*†*•.God Bless You.•*†*·.★.• ♥

Monday, November 22, 2010

Prayer and Power

"Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men and women.
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks."
-Phillip Brooks (1835-1893)-

I read this statement twice within these two days from two different books. Coincidence? I don't think so. I think God is trying to say something to me.

When I read the above statement, two things came into my mind:

First, what Peter Parker said in Spiderman 2 : "With great power comes great responsibility". Hmm... come to think about it, it's quite frustrating, right? You end up thinking about how much responsibility you will have to do.
I think the sentence is not complete. If I may add, it would be: "With great power comes great responsibility, and with great responsibility, comes great power."
Yup, there's God's encouragement for each of us to fulfill our responsibility :)

Second, I think about how my life would be next semester. I will take 5 subjects (same as this semester) and 1 audit. Plus... there will be placement. I will be placed in my home church. Currently, I still do not know what my responsibilities are, but one thing for sure, I will have more responsibilities compared to this semester.
The quote above becomes an encouragement for me to pray more. Praying... something that I have been considered as 'second class' compared to reading Bible. Yup, no doubt I enjoy reading Study Bible, commentaries, and books. But to pray? It takes much lesser than my time spent for reading. I think God is trying to remind me to get on my knees more...

Thank You, Lord, for Your Word. Help me to obey.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Personal Reflection on Trip to Cambodia

It's my attempt to write a personal reflection on my trip to Cambodia with 4 TTC friends. In order to make sense of it, I encourage you to read my two previous blog posts.
Trip to Cambodia part 1 and Trip to Cambodia part 2
Please pardon my English and please bear in mind that I'm only a 'rookie' in the world of Mission (This year is the first time I was directly exposed to mission trip or mission work and it's only short-term ones). Happy reading!

During our trip to Cambodia, we had a great opportunity to learn much regarding mission work in Cambodia. We met foreign missionaries, tentmakers, local pastors, staffs of international and local mission organization. I am grateful to be given a chance to interview them, discuss with them on the challenges or issues arise, as well as pray with them. Many inspiration and learning came through these interactions, which further my understanding on what mission is and how cross-cultural ministry is supposed to work.

Evangelism and mission: the rocky road of discipleship
Since the starting of the Mission and Evangelism class, I have encountered new concept and deeper understanding of mission. My perspective on mission used to be so narrow. For me, mission is quite identical with evangelism. I used to think that mission means going out to other parts of the world and share the Gospel to others, but this is definitely not what Jesus means in his Great Commandments (Matthew 28:19-20). Steven Hawthorne mentioned:
“the primary action word was ‘disciple.’ The other action words, ‘go... baptizing... and teaching’ were all commanded actions, but they each filled our part of what Jesus meant by the pivotal command: ‘Disciple all the people’... They (Great Commandment) were not mandated merely to expose people to the gospel. They were commissioned to bring about a result, a response, a global following of Jesus from every people.”

John Piper take further the concept of mission into worship by saying: “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church. Worship is. Mission exists because worship doesn’t.”
[2] So, what is worship? Steven Hawthorne elaborate: “Worship takes place when people recognize who God is and offer public acknowledgement and freely approach God, personally offering face-to-face gratitude and day-to-day allegiance. Worship is genuine relational interaction with God.[3] Therefore, mission is not equal to evangelism. Mission is discipleship, to make people follow Jesus, to live and to be like Jesus. In mission, it is expected that we bring people to experience the transformational power of the Gospel. It means that we want to see changes in their lives. Transformation in life is important as it will attract others to Jesus, and the result is multiplication instead of a linear growth.

From my conversation with several missionaries, I gain better understanding of the difference between evangelism and mission. Several missionaries like Jac (Harvest Inn) and Rev. Phi (Methodist School of Cambodia) mentioned to us how it is quite easy to ‘convert’ Cambodian, but to disciple them is still a big issue. Even the local pastors affirmed it. Many of them share the Gospel to others and when they invite the person to receive Christ he/she would agree easily to what they say and would pray the sinners’ prayer with them. In a church service, when the pastor called the congregation to receive Christ, many responded. The problem is, it is hard to say whether it is genuine or not. One of the local pastor mentioned that according to Cambodian culture, it is rude for them to say no to other, so sometimes they would say that they want to receive Christ just because they were afraid to offend the pastor! It is, of course, difficult (and impossible) to disciple people who are not genuinely received Christ as their Saviour and Lord.
The second reason of why discipleship is difficult is because their understanding of sin is distorted. It is difficult for them to stop sinning because they live in the standard of society. Some sin such as bribery; corruption; gambling; cheating in class, is considered as ‘culture’ in Cambodia. For Cambodian, doing those things is considered as totally acceptable because everybody else is doing it.
The third reason why spiritual formation takes very long and hard time in Cambodia is because of external factors. First, the demand of their profession to work long hours, even on Saturday and Sunday, makes it difficult for them to attend the worship service or to spend time in other activities that can help to build their spiritual life. Second, people consider Christianity as bad luck, so when a person admit that they became Christian, they were usually rejected or persecuted by people around them. It becomes a problem especially to the middle-upper class Cambodian as they don’t want to tarnish their reputation by admitting that they are Christian.

Upon reflecting on the situation, I came to a conclusion on the necessity of reading and studying the Bible for spiritual formation. As stated in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”, the Scripture function as a standard where the readers are made aware of what is wrong and right, what is sin and what is not. Furthermore, Scripture teaches us how to continually live in righteousness. It provides encouragements throughout difficult days in dealing with struggle, rejection and persecution. Some of the people we talked to also mention that it is not common for Christian in Cambodia to own Bible in their house. First, the Bible is relatively expensive. Secondly, there is high rate of illiteracy among Cambodian. For most Christian, the only time they can listen to the Word of God is during worship service on Sunday. In light of the situation, I think Cambodia needs more support in providing Bible and in radio ministry, which has been run wonderfully by TransWorld Radio.

The rise of tentmaking ministry: a tool of witness and discipleship
According to Ruth E. Siemens, tentmakers are:
“...mission-motivated Christians who support themselves in secular work as they do cross-cultural evangelism on the job and in free time. They may be business entrepreneurs, salaried professionals, paid employees, expenses-paid voluntary workers or Christians in professional exchange, funded research, internship or study abroad programs.”

During our trip in Cambodia, we spent our time with several tentmakers such as Jac (owner of Harvest Inn and renting tuk tuk), Rev. Dr. Kev (owner of a Cambodian NGO named Tabitha Services), the Tee couple (owner of Eden Cafe). I personally saw the rising trend of tentmaking. This can be seen through Jacob and Rev. Lowe who initially came to Cambodia as missionaries supported by the church, but later running their own business. The Tees also just recently started their venture after running their orphanage for a couple of years.
From our conversation with Jac, I understand that tentmaking is an effective way of discipleship. As a boss, he is to give example to his staffs (mostly local Christian youths). This is in line with what Paul said said “...but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate” (2 Thes. 3:8-9), and through the working life he can teach biblical principles. For examples, he can teach them to work hard and to be honest in dealing with their client when they deliver their tuk tuk. He also teaches them on other life skills such as how to do financial planning, which means teaching them to save money (most locals does not see the need to save money as they never plan for the future) and not to have debt (most locals would borrow money and spend so much to look good especially when they need to attend function such as wedding).

Humanitarian ministry: giving the poor a new chance in life
The poor and the marginalized constitute a big portion of Cambodian society. Under Khmer Rouge regime many children were left without parents, many intellectuals were murdered and the country was left with tiny hope of the future. Today, social issues are still arising. Husbands would leave their families to earn a living in other city. There, they find other women and exposed to AIDS. They are either die or transmitted their wives at home. Hence, there are so many young women and kids abandoned.
I was touched to see many missionaries or mission organization carry out significant works that give focus to the poor (some of them in absolute poverty), the marginalized and the sick, just as Jesus gives particular emphasize of preaching the good news to them (Matt. 11:4-6, Mark 10: 17-20, Luk. 4:16-21, Luk. 6:20). Some of these organizations are Christian Medical Mission to Cambodia-Jeremiah Hope and Sihanouk Hospital, who provides free healthcare services, minor surgeries as well as major ones. Others are Place of Rescue, Care for Cambodia, and COSI/EWC who provide shelters for AIDS patients and their families, orphan kids, abandoned young women and the elderly. Most of them provide holistic ministry in which they provide almost everything from place to stay and food to free education/skills trainings. Some of this organization, such as Sihanouk Hospital, would even go the extent that they will create a system to carefully select that the fund/aid recipients are those who really cannot afford it.
Running orphanages is also a very good way to disciple Cambodian kids to live in God’s truth. Missionaries who run orphanages can teach them faith in Christ and nurture them. Providing them basic needs is a significant witness that opens way to the Gospel, and by living with them it is easier to nurture their faith. These orphanages are very important. They raise future leaders of Cambodia. When I see the future of Cambodia, I see hope.

Culture and contextualization: issues and challenges
With the bulk of foreign missionaries in Cambodia, culture and contextualization becomes the major issue. Foreign missionaries come to Cambodia, bring their culture with them and living hand-in-hand with the locals. There is a contact established between cultures. One might wonder what the appropriate role of foreign missionaries in culture change is. Don Richardson says, “The missionaries introduced culture change, but it was not arbitrary, nor was it imposed by force. The missionaries brought only changes required for New Testament ethics and for the survival of the people. Often the two requirements overlap.”
During the trip to Cambodia, I saw many types of mission organizations which run each in its own distinctive way. Some of them, like Place of Rescue (Mar) and Care for Cambodia orphanage (the Tees), tried hard to maintain the Cambodian culture within their organization. At the Place of Rescue, Mar (Canadian) speaks with each of them in Khmer language. She also arranges the housing to be similar like the local houses and she let them to do everything on the floor, even when they eat or the kids do their homework, because that is their culture of the people before they stay at the Place of Rescue. At the Care for Cambodia orphanage, kids are sent to the local schools. But I observe a different environment at COSI. COSI is still quite strong with its Singapore culture. I notice it in the way they prepare their school curriculum. It is very well-planned, organized, and systematic.
Jac told us that there is a tendency where the children who are raised by the care of foreign missionaries or mission organization will have difficulties to integrate back to society once they finish their time in the orphanage because the way they were brought up is totally different with the way most of other kids brought up. There is a sense of cultural clash with others. During the presentation by COSI coordinator, I found out that several youths who graduated from COSI, after failing to get a job outside, came back to COSI to teach or to be its staffs. COSI is also currently building a farm with the hope that giving employment opportunities to its graduates as a farmer there. Some of COSI graduates work under other Singapore missionaries like Jac. I wonder whether they would be able to integrate back with the society or they will, within their whole life, only be able to identify themselves with Singapore people or culture only. It is definitely a concern that needs to be taken seriously. Charles Kraft says, “Christianity should be perceived as excitingly relevant to the problems people struggle with in their context.”
[6], and here I am wondering: If they cannot even survive within their own society, how can they become ‘light and salt to the world’?
Other concerns regarding foreign missionaries also raised during our discussion in Siem Reap with several local pastors (thanks to Ps. Lu who arranged it for us). Those local pastors that I talked to mentioned that some foreign missionaries came with their own program and within their own timeframe and demand the locals to work hard to fulfil the purpose of the programs. The demand is sometimes too high and the locals are stressed out to achieve the target set. What is even worse is that there were cases where some foreign missionaries just left the local pastors when the timeframe given finished and the target was not achieved!
Some of the local pastors also complain on the way the foreign missionaries would ‘push’ their own culture in worshipping. Some of the missionaries would teach the locals ‘their way’ of worshipping. For example, the missionaries told the locals that they need to lift up their hands and speak loudly while praying, while, according the local pastor, Cambodians are relatively quiet people and are not used to lift up their hands when they worship as they are afraid that it will attract much attention. While writing this, I was reminded to one lesson in “Mission and Evangelism” class where the lecturer gave us a paper with a list of items (commands, practices, customs) and asked us to identify which items are essential to the church in every age and which are negotiable (may or may not be valid for the church in any given time or place). I think it is a very good exercise and a valuable learning especially for those who serve in a cross-cultural setting. They need to be able to differentiate the essentials with those which are not.

Indigenous church: empowering the locals
William Smalley defines indigenous church as
“a group of believers who live out their life, including their socialized Christian activity, in the patterns of the local society, and for whom any transformation of that society comes out of their felt needs under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Scriptures... An indigenous church is precisely one in which the changes taking place under the guidance of the Holy Spirit meet the needs and fulfil the meanings of that society and not of any outside group.”

Despite the drawbacks of foreign missionaries mentioned above, there are some success stories where foreign missionaries help the locals to ‘stand on their own feet’. Mar started the ministry in Preah Khet Melea Military Hospital by visiting AIDS patient there, sharing the Gospel to them and sometimes taking care of their needs. She has been encouraging the locals to join her and guiding them for several years on how to minister to the patients. Now, the ministry is run independently by the locals. When we visit the hospital, there were approximately 20 Cambodian Christians, men and women in their 40s and 50s, from different churches in Phnom Penh. Such a joy to see their ministry!

[1] Steven C. Hawthorne, “Mandate on the Mountain” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 4th ed. (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009), 128.
[2] John Piper, “Let the Nations Be Glad!” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 4th ed. (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009), 64.
[3] Steven C. Hawthorne, “The Story of His Glory” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 4th ed. (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009), 51.
[4] Ruth E. Siemens, “Tentmakers: Integrating Work and Witness” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 4th ed. (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009), 761.
[5] Don Richardson, “Do Missionaries Destroy Cultures?” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 4th ed. (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009), 488.
[6] Charles H. Kraft, “Culture, Worldview and Contextualization” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 4th ed. (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009), 404.
[7] William A. Smalley, “Cultural Implications of an Indigenous Church” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 4th ed. (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009), 498-499.

Trip to Cambodia (Group Report 2 - Siem Reap)

This post is a continuation of the previous post.

Siem Reap, 3 Oct – 7 Oct
Having said our farewells in Phnom Penh, we headed to Siem Reap by bus on 3 October. After a long 6 hour bus journey, we were received at our hotel by Rev. Lu who immediately put us to work interacting with English students at the evening classes that are conducted at his school. The Mustard Seed School was started in 2008 by Rev. Lu of the Methodist Church in Cambodia with aims to generate income while reaching out to students and their parents. The school currently operates out of a small two-storey building and has approximately 70 students. Lessons are run by Rev. Lu, his wife and another Christian lady. Ministry to the students is done through morning devotions and regular outreach programs. Rev. Lu envisions that the testimony of the students will impact their parents. At present, income generated from the school is used for maintenance, operations, salaries, and to operate Pathway Fellowship Cambodia.

Pathway Fellowship Cambodia is a Church planted soon after the Mustard Seed School was started. Church services are held on the second storey of the school building. Approximately 25 youths and adults attend church service regularly. Through conversations with Rev. Lu, we gained an understanding of the vision for starting the school. Rev. Lu had been seeking a way to effectively reach the community in a financially self-sustaining way, and in a way that was helpful to the community, and also brought him in close contact with the villagers. Education was the open door.

Despite the very meaningful experience, it was a really tiring trip for all of us. In fact, we were so tired after our three day ministry with Rev. Lu that we hardly had the energy to enjoy our visit to the Angkor Watt National Park on our last day in Cambodia. Over the course of 10 days, we had the opportunity to see many different models of mission work. Starting from the tent-making social entrepreneurial work of Harvest Inn and Rev. Dr. Kev to the traditional institutional mission efforts of MMS and OMF International, we saw missions in many different new perspectives. Our visit to the humble orphanage that the Tees run and the Place of Rescue that Mar runs also left indelible marks in our hearts of the deep humanitarian work that needs to be part of the Christian mission, a work that many non-Christian NGOs have unfortunately taken over from the Christians. Most importantly, spending those last three days with Rev. Lu reminded us that the end goal of missions should be self-sustaining indigenous work.

Our experience taught us the urgency of mission work. The deep need not just in Cambodia but across the world for God’s messengers to share a message of hope to those who are trapped in darkness both physically, socio-economically and spiritually. Our trip (or post- trip) has also taught us of our failure to pray for the missionaries and the mission field. In the process of putting this report together, we were once again reminded to live up to our promises to pray for the missionaries that we spent time with. A promise that we have too often forgotten. It is indeed our prayer that God will use us and the Gospel to bring hope, love and security to the people of Cambodia.

Trip to Cambodia (Group Report 1 - Phnom Penh)

As some of you might know, last August me and 4 TTC friends went to Cambodia to observe the mission work there. The trip was done as part of a requirement for "Mission and Evangelism" course. I have not blogged about it at all because I waited for our group report :p Here we go....
PS: names are made confidential

As part of our Mission & Evangelism course, our team of five – Je, Ma, St, EY and Yu– embarked on a mission observation trip to Cambodia from 28 August to 7 September 2010. Cambodia has long been the destination of many missionaries, churches, non-governmental organisations and international agencies and they have brought both financial aid and the gospel of Christ to the Cambodians especially since the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Cambodia is a beautiful country situated in Indochina and shares land borders with Thailand in the north and west, Laos to the northeast and Vietnam to the east and southeast. It has a coastline on the Gulf of Thailand in the southwest. According to the census carried out in 2008, it has a population of 13.4 million. It is estimated that the local Khmer people make up approximately 90% of the population. Our experience in Cambodia has left us with warm memories of a gentle and polite people and culture.

In the 20th century, Cambodia has been through very rough times having been scarred by the Vietnam War and later, the rule of the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1978. Under the Khmer Rouge, it lost an entire generation of the educated population. On our first day in Cambodia, we visited the genocide museum in Toul Sleng which tells the story of the horrors suffered by the Cambodians during the Khmer Rouge era. After the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia continued to suffer under Vietnamese rule until the constitutional monarchy was reinstated in 1993.

Today, Cambodia is still stricken by poverty, illiteracy, poor healthcare and the rise of AIDS. Children have lost their parents, people are maimed, and a huge percentage of the population live in extreme poverty. We caught a glimpse of poverty in Phnom Penh but were told it was only a fraction of destitution experienced in unreached areas in Cambodia. Our trip was divided into two phases. Phase 1 was in Phnom Penh and spent interviewing missionaries and mission organisations while phase 2 was in Siem Reap where we spent time with a local Cambodian pastor and ran a few programs for the children there. We have structured the report chronologically to reflect the time we spent on our journey in Cambodia.

Phnom Penh, 28 Sep – 2 Oct
The first place we visited in Phnom Penh was Harvest. Harvest is a tent-making ministry started by a Singaporean missionary, Jac, who is supported and sent to Cambodia by TMChurch. Harvest projects are social enterprises that seek to provide vocational training and education to Cambodian youths and young adults, and to support their livelihood. Harvest operates out of a single building and is run by young Cambodians who are supervised and mentored by Jac earning income through rental of the rooms in the guesthouse, sale of food and beverages at the cafe, catering of Nonya cakes, and transportation services.

Having lived in Cambodia and supported Cambodian missions for a long time, Jac saw the plight of the Cambodians and was convinced that missions could take on a more practical and sustainable approach as compared to the traditional model for missions. A social enterprise was the model that fit the bill. The building where Harvest operates was bought from donations and converted into a guesthouse. Income generated is used to support the livelihood of the Cambodian employees and to maintain the business. Through this ministry, Jac aims to mentor the employees of Harvest (who are all Christians), and equip them with useful skills for life and work so that they can be skilled labourers for Cambodia’s workforce and a testimony in their future workplaces. Eventually, Jac intends to pass this ministry on to a Cambodian Christian allowing it to become fully indigenous.

Following our visit to Harvest, and after pushing our Tuk Tuk through a knee-high flood, we got to spend some time with Rev. Phi, the principal of the Methodist School of Cambodia (MSC). MSC is an initiative of Methodist Missions Society (MMS) in Singapore and provides education from nursery to primary and secondary grades for Cambodian children following Cambodia’s national education syllabus. MSC currently has about 300 students and seeks to “Mould young boys and girls to become thinking, caring and giving people.”

While MSC is a paying school, i.e. students are required to pay school fees, MSC maintains a scholarship for several students through its Student Sponsorship Scheme. Rev. Phi also shared with us the many challenges that he faces with some supported students who are also victims of domestic abuse and sexual exploitation. MSC unashamedly emphasises Christian education and hopes that students will grow to become leaders of Cambodia who are well educated and morally upright. Already, MSC have seen tremendous success with many middle income families sending their children to MSC and holds a reputation for being one of the top schools in Cambodia.

The following morning we joined a local congregation for worship at Toul Kork Church which is located right on the premises of MSC. The church had a fairly large congregation (close to 100) and the Sunday morning worship service was bilingual in both Khmer and English. The church was mostly attended by middle income Cambodians and was comfortably equipped with leaky air condition and a contemporary band setup including a trumpet. It was a most interesting service and began to raise questions of cultural contextualisation in our minds. Over lunch, we got to meet Rev. Dr. Kev and spent some time learning about Tabitha Services, a Cambodian NGO committed to begin the Great Commission Companies and further our understanding of tent making work in Cambodia.

On the third day, we visited Christian Medical Ministry to Cambodia / Jeremiah’s Hope (CMMCJH) which is a nondenominational, international, Christian mission dedicated to providing excellent medical care to the poor and quality medical education to the healthcare community of Cambodia. There we met with Sok, the Country Director, and Nary, the Administrator Coordinator who explained to us that the main work of the clinic is to provide major surgeries for free. CMMCJH would schedule surgeries and organise a group of doctors from abroad to come in for approximately two weeks just to perform those surgeries.

During our conversation, they also revealed that besides AIDS, two major health problems for Cambodian are thyroid and motor accidents. As there are only two local neurologists in Cambodia, there is always a need for neurologists to perform surgeries for patients with head trauma. One of the two neurologists Dr. Sim, is already with the clinic. CMMCJH is in the midst of building their own hospital and surgical facilities and hopes to move their operations to the new hospital next year. From CMMCJH, we headed over to another medical facility, the Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope.

The mission of the Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope is to provide a centre for the further education and clinical training of medical professionals, while delivering 24-hour high-quality, free medical care for the poor and disadvantaged in Cambodia. Grace, a Development Associate at the hospital, explained to us that the hospital was established in 1996 under the collaboration of Japan Relief for Cambodia, World Mate and HOPE worldwide. As of May 2010, the hospital has treated more than 1 million people. Grace explained that the hospital could not meet the huge healthcare demands and as a result, they have to be very selective of their patients to ensure that the recipients of the free healthcare really come from very poor backgrounds.

Going from medical facilities, we went on to what turned out to be one of the most amazing organisations we visited in Cambodia. Care for Cambodia (CfC) endeavours to give people in Cambodia the freedom to live a life with hope, love, joy and peace in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ by providing care for the children and young people, especially the poor orphans. CfC began in 1997 by giving employment opportunities to widows and other poor people by teaching and resourcing them to sell traditional crafts for a living. In January 2001, CfC started taking in orphans and abandoned children, especially children whose parents died of AIDS and provided them with a home and education in local schools.

Managed by Khe Tee(Local Director), Fi Tee(International Consultant Director) and Nor Tee (International Adviser), CfC currently has 44 children aged between 3 and 19 years old. CfC not only sends the children to local schools but also gives them home tuition and instruction in agriculture, sport and creative arts. The children in CfC experience a very close Christian community and are, from our observation, very well loved by the Tees. We spent half day with them hearing their hopes and prayers for the ministry. We also had a great time with the children, interacting with them over song and dance after a warm fellowship meal. Truly, it was a most fantastic experience.

In recent weeks, Nor has also started Eden Cafe providing job opportunities for Cambodian Christians who leave the orphanage. Similar to the model of social enterprise missions, the aim is to provide a source of livelihood for Cambodian Christians and equip them with useful practical skills so that they are able to find work. As the cafe had begun operations for only a short time, future plans for how the business will be operated and sustained were not apparent.

The next day we took a long drive to Community Outreach Services – Immanuel Children Village (COSI) run by MMS. Despite the drive, our visit to COSI was a brief one. Ps. Fran, took us to the farm where he demonstrated their latest community initiative (FAITH – Food Always in the Home) to encourage the neighbouring communities to develop natural and sustainable farms through agricultural technology. Coming from the Tees orphanage the previous evening, we observed stark contrasts between the two orphanages. Where CfC was a small close knit Khmer community, COSI was a behemoth of 120 children with 12 house parents set on a 3.7 hectare compound built astonishingly like a Singaporean school.

From COSI, we dropped by the Emmaus Woman’s Centre (EWC) which train young women in skills that will allow them to learn a livelihood. With roots as a women’s shelter, today, EWC provides a free 12-month residential training program for young women to receive spiritual, vocational and educational training. EWC provides everything that the women require over the 12-months and keeps them in a safe environment where they can be trained in biblical discipleship while learning livelihood skills. Graduates of EWC then head back home to help support their families and also serve as Christian witnesses in their villages. COSI and EWC were very different from the other facilities that we visited and the uniquely Singaporean culture and style was very evident in both these organisations.

Heading back to the city, we visited Transworld Radio (TWR) in Phnom Penh and met the Cambodian team. TWR has a lovely premise in Cambodia and we visited their office and recording and production rooms. TWR is an international Christian radio network which broadcasts Christian programme through radio stations and makes available Christian content in audio form. TWR broadcasts and communicates in as many as 200 languages and has reached people in over 160 countries. In Cambodia, TWR seeks to reach children, youths, women and church leaders through their radio programmes and audio material. TWR’s ministry in Cambodia is of great importance in view of the high illiteracy rate and poverty amongst Cambodians.

The TWR team also engages in fieldwork – they visit provinces throughout Cambodia and run Christian programmes in rural areas. Additionally, TWR corresponds with their listeners. More than a thousand letters arrive at their office in a month. TWR carries out follow up work and builds relationships with listeners who get in touch with them. We spent about an hour in dialogue with the TWR team, understanding what they do and hearing stories of how they bring Christ to Cambodia. They also shared prayer concerns for their ministry and Cambodia. Like all the other organisations that we visit, we ended our time at TWR in prayer for the people of Cambodia and God’s work there.

On our fifth day in Phnom Penh, we visited Place of Rescue which was founded as a Cambodian NGO in 2003 by Mar. The place accommodates families living with AIDS, orphans, grannies and young unmarried pregnant women. Currently the place houses approximately 250 people, in which 190+ are orphans; 27 are HIV positive; and 20 grandmothers. The place is managed by Mar, a Canadian lady with her team of locals. Mar took us on a tour around the compound herself and we got to see how everything was done in the houses for the AIDS patients, orphanage, school and grannies houses. She also hosted us in her little house where we talked about the development of Place of Rescue II which was established in another province of Cambodia.

Place of Rescue also coordinates regular visit to Preah Khet Melea Hospital. Every Wednesday morning, a group of approximately 20 people from different churches in Phnom Penh gather for prayer at the hospital and then go in small groups of 2-3 people to visit the patients, some of which are HIV/AIDS positive. They visit the patients to share the Gospel, pray, and give gifts of food. We had the opportunity to join their team and visited the patients in the hospital with the locals, praying for them and providing support and financial relief to the patients where possible.

On our last day in Phnom Penh, we got to visit the headquarters of OMF International in Cambodia. OMF International is a Christian missionary organisation that serves the church bringing the gospel to some 12 countries in East Asia and has pioneered ministries in other countries by creating opportunities for missionaries to share the love of Christ in East Asia. Under OMF International is the OMF-Cambodia which started in 1975 when their missionaries went to the Thai-Cambodian border and ministered to refugees during the war.

Presently, OMF-Cambodia works in youth centres of 23 provinces all over the country. It desires to plant and develop churches in Cambodia but they do not start new projects. Instead, they only train some pastors and key leaders to support the existing work in the provinces. Missionaries that OMF sends into the field are on terms of 4 years plus 1 year furlough. Even though OMF-Cambodia faces a lot of challenges especially in terms of the locals viewing Christianity as a western religion, they still do their best to support existing work of various churches in the provinces. We spent 2 hours at the headquarters and left praying that this organisation will continue to be a channel of God’s blessing to the people of Cambodia.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

TTC = Liberal?

Even before I applied to TTC, I heard that this college is labeled as "liberal" and some people advised me not to apply here. Hope this blog post from my senior at TTC provides clarification.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Summons

Today is the official closing day of my first semester at TTC. We had a closing ceremony, and we sang a song titled "The Summons". This song left a great impression on me. Nice song and great lyrics... Really made me ponder...
You can check the video below...

The Summons

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown?
Will you let my name be known
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?
Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen,
and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you've found to reshape the world around,
through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In Your company I'll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I'll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

Following GOD is not easy.
It takes daily commitment on the renewing of 'me': my characters, my understanding, my thought, my deeds, my everything.
To let go my dream, ambition, and plan.
To not have control of me and my future.
To let go of the 'me' and let God shape me to become the 'me' that I never expected.
It can be scary... but it is amazing... to see how God has brought me here and now. Sometimes I do not dare to think where God will bring me, because I know that it is beyond me.

The song also reminds me of my quiet times a few days ago. Let me quote Oswald Chamber's "My Utmost of His Highest" (10 Nov):
-After sanctification, it is difficult to state what your purpose in life is, because God has moved you into His purpose through the Holy Spirit. He is using you now for His purposes throughout the world as He used His Son for the purpose of our salvation. If you seek great things for yourself, thinking, “God has called me for this and for that,” you barricade God from using you. As long as you maintain your own personal interests and ambitions, you cannot be completely aligned or identified with God’s interests. This can only be accomplished by giving up all of your personal plans once and for all, and by allowing God to take you directly into His purpose for the world. Your understanding of your ways must also be surrendered, because they are now the ways of the Lord.
I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him. I should never say, “Lord, this causes me such heartache.” To talk that way makes me a stumbling block. When I stop telling God what I want, He can freely work His will in me without any hindrance. He can crush me, exalt me, or do anything else He chooses. He simply asks me to have absolute faith in Him and His goodness. Self-pity is of the devil, and if I wallow in it I cannot be used by God for His purpose in the world. Doing this creates for me my own cozy “world within the world,” and God will not be allowed to move me from it because of my fear of being “frost-bitten.”-

For me, to follow God means to never have plans for my life and to let God plans for me. It sounds crazy, because people would ask me, "What will you do next?". Usually I will answer, "I hope to be able to study further, my passion is in teaching, so long-term plan is to be a lecturer in a Bible School in Indonesia."
Can you see the 'me' in my answer? MY passion, MY plan, MY hope. Not HIS plan or what HE wants me to do. I sometimes think I should just answer, "I am not sure yet. I leave it to God. He will let me know in His time." Well... I guess I'm too proud give that kind of answer.
I need to constantly remind myself to be open to His ways and His will. It is, of course, still possible that I will never be a lecturer, or I will not serve God in Indonesia.

One thing I believe: I can be anything and anywhere, as long as it is what God wants me to be. LORD, keep my heart always open for YOU and YOU alone!