I am the eldest child of an Asian family, whose parents migrated from Hong Kong to pursue a more prosperous lifestyle. As an Asian kid heading into primary school, I wasn’t well received by my Caucasian classmates, often being bullied and the target of racist Chinese jokes; not only so but I was also the target of some racial prejudice by some of my primary school teachers. This made it quite difficult for me to fit into school and find a sense of belonging; it was quite hard to earn the trust and respect of my peers at the time, especially because I didn’t excel at anything they valued (eg: sports). Eventually I found acceptance through some friends because of my academic intellect, which at the same time attracted “nerd” jokes. But at the least, it gave me a sense of individuality, belonging and acceptance.
So it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, and for anyone who used to read my blog regularly (years ago) it would seem as if I’ve disappeared off the face of the planet. I stopped blogging regularly these last couple of years for a few reasons – but most of them can be attributed to my life being busy with full time work, and the rest attributed to my personal struggles in my walk with God. Things haven’t been easy for me these last 4-5 years, and it has troubled me to not have been able to keep in contact with people since the end of my university days. I hope to be able to give a quick summary here to help people get up to speed with my life.
It’s been a great deal of time since I last blogged, and on one hand it’s felt easy to just drop the habit completely; but on the other hand I still feel compelled to share some encouragement with the people around me who might read this. Much has happened in the year and a bit since I last blogged or posted an article. I have done much reflection and I think perhaps it is time to share what I’ve experienced over the last period of time I’ve been silent.
“And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:21
When I reflect on the struggles and difficult times in my life, I often come back to the story of Job, and in particular the statement he makes that God is one who gives and takes away. I often see the story of Job and one who at the beginning lost everything except his life, spends many chapters wrestling with his friends about how to make sense of what has happened, and at the end after conversing with God he receives much more from God than what he had originally. And I realised that though I turn to this book in the Bible to find comfort when God has taken away things in my life, I should also be considering the things that God has given me too; we subtly miss the fact that God gives Job many things at the start before he took them away (well, I subtly missed that point).
I suppose my previous post gave a quick overview of some of the major areas of my life at the moment. However I did notice that I didn’t say much on how the idea of “patience” has been impacting my life. As I have already alluded to in my previous post, things have been a lot more of a struggle in my life, and whilst I have been anxious in many areas where there has been struggles, I feel compelled and reminded by God’s Word to wait upon him and be patient.
I guess I haven’t really blogged in a while, so I apologise in advance if my writing is incoherent or has grammatical errors. I suppose the simplest way to summarise the last year and a half (and not just the time since I last posted, which was in February), would be the word “patience“. Patience is something I struggled with in the various circumstances that God placed me in over the last year and a half. Patience is something I learnt a fair bit about from my experiences with different settings and people. And patience is something I still continually strive for as I try to make sense of God’s plan for my life.
One of my focuses this year has been Christian discipleship. It was something I became a bit more familiar with towards the final years of university; and it’s funny thinking back to when I was in first and second year, where the idea of sitting down with one person and having deep conversations about life, God and the Bible seemed very uncomfortable. In third and fourth year, I started to see the value and importance of building those sorts of “intimate” relationships with Christians and non-Christians and the way it impacts our growth as Christians, and those investigating Christianity. This year I have tried to embrace it as much as I could, as part of the way I would undergo ministry in the long run; there were still so many things to experiment with in making one to one discipleship more effective. And then of course there was also a need to see how I might be able to fit one to one discipleship into my full time work routine (I’d like to order the words the other way, and have work revolve around ministry, but time-wise it still seems apparent that I spend more time doing full-time work than ministry).
Let me continue on from my previous post and reflect on the other areas of my life for this year. Previously, I addressed full time work as succinctly as I could, seeing as it took up the majority of my time in a week. There would still be much more to say about work and all, but I suppose for now it is not the most urgent thing on my mind; ironically, it feels like work should be the most important thing for me now, giving the amount of time I invest into it daily. But in trying to keep a healthy perspective of (my) life, I’ve invested more energy and thought into ministry instead.
It’s now been pretty much a whole month since I started full time work, and the last four weeks have definitely been a huge struggle in getting used to this weekly routine and restructuring the different parts of my life. Despite all the challenges I’ve faced and know that I will face, God has been guiding me in the last month and helping me adjust to this new lifestyle. As I’ve gone through full time work in the last few weeks, I’ve been asking and wondering questions about how I should be living as a Christian in the workplace, as well as how I should still be serving my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, particularly those back at church. The biggest realization that prompts me to have to carefully consider how I should live out my daily life is the fact that I no longer have the same amount of free time that I used to have back in university – those days of what I would call in hindsight “bliss” are now gone, and the freedom to spend time with others (or just procrastinate) is no longer there.
It has been four years since I started this “chapter” of my life. The first post I made for this blog will give the context as to where my life was back then. And four years later today, I can now make a comparison and review how far I’ve in that time. Things are somewhat drastically different comparing where I am now and where I was four years ago. God has brought me much farther than I could have imagined all those years ago; and it only makes sense that I reflect and recognise what God has done in my life – that you the readers may be encouraged by my life, and also that I may work out how I should be moving forward.
There are many things that I need to be grateful for, and many things that I would never have imagined I would be doing today. And there are of course struggles that I still face. These are all to show that living and growing as a Christian includes reflecting on the past and also thinking hard about the future. Let’s start with the most broad heading and then I’ll proceed to smaller matters.
Perhaps now would be more or less a good time to reflect on my ministries for this year. Of all the things that will change from this year to the next, it’ll be my ministries (and relationships stemming from them) that will be tossed around the most. It saddens me to be stepping out of a lot of people’s lives in terms of the responsibility I was given to help them grow as Christians and such. How “effective” you are as a leader can probably be evaluated by how attached you are to the people under your care, and how much they were to you. Of course I wouldn’t be lying when I say that there were groups of people I wasn’t as attached to as others, and at that fact to not be attached in a way that suggests I was a “fair” encouragement to them. But sometimes this cannot be helped – not all relationships move smoothly as one may desire, and that may not be a fault from either party; that’s just the dynamics of relationships and ministry.