Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kimi Wa Aisareru Tame Umareta: You Are Born To Be Loved.

Just came back from the monthly OMF prayer meeting for Japan, having gone with Joyce, Shuyi and a sister from NUS ministry (Wan Xian). Asked Spencer along too, but he couldn't make it. Was very blessed and refreshed by the fellowship with like-minded bros n sisters from other churches as we prayed together for the missionaries and churches in Japan.

The thing about the OMF prayer meetings is that honestly, it's really very... soft and gentle, the way the Christians pray tog. And since we're all from different denominations, for those of us who practise praying in tongues, we don't do so in there (or very softly), so as not to make our non-praying-in-tongues bros and sisters feel uncomfortable.

There were 4 things that I really want to thank God for...

1. I learnt about praying with compassion. Shuyi and I got to pray together with this couple. As the wife prayed, I sensed compassion overflowing in her prayer. I was really warmed by the depth of compassion overflowing in the sister's heart as she prayed for the needs of the missionaries, and lifting them up to God in prayer. She went beyond the written needs, and thought carefully about the unwritten needs of the missionaires, praying over them to God.

And it struck me that there's so much to learn from the compassion and gentleness of this wonderful couple. It overflows even in their prayers.

So when it was my turn to pray, I prayed... and asked God to stretch my heart to have this kind of compassion in my prayers too. Hee. Well, it does seem that we brothers generally pray more for God to give the missionaries strength, boldness and power to go forth and to equip them and give them directions, while the sisters pray more for compassion and comfort, meeting their needs and so on. So interesting to see how men and women are uniquely created, reflecting different aspect of our Father in heaven!

2. Found out that the couple we were praying tog with did children's ministry in Japan! Whoa! Got his email. Wanna email him more questions about his experiences and challenges and practical advice for doing children's ministry cross-culturally.

So I got the inspiration to start a storytelling outreach club for HopeKids to reach out to, say, Chinese children, by teaching them English through telling stories.

- Pick up practice by volunteering at Bishan Library on Wednesdays.
- After a month, start the project. Gather a team, and start advertising by word-of-mouth / flyers / emails.
- Prepare video recording.
- Ask HT for advice.
- Oh yes! Pray... commit to God and see what His counsel is first.

- Start preparing by starting in July the volunteer storytelling.
- August: do storytelling ministry.
- Persevere till Dec, then evaluate.

- What will be my other outstanding projects? How does this fit in with the Big Picture?
- Work / ministry calling?
- Most imptly, is God calling me to do this? How do I know?
(People will ask me how am I going to do this/that... what are the considerations... these are good questions, but I realise a lot of them forget the most important question of all: HAS GOD CALLED YOU TO DO THIS?)

It's like what my shepherd advised me:
Ready in a practical sense..$sense, personal direction sense, time frame etc.. [...] These are good and useful to identify potential blockades. But have to bear in mind that blockades may not be neccessary a binding one if it is one that is possible to overcome or even be overcome in faith.

Understanding sometimes it may requires a bit of faith in making certain leap.

These would seriously require God's assurance or guidance. Man can only see that far, God sees further.

Had Peter from the bible asked if he was ready to walk on water, don't think he would have..It was a faith thingy at that time that surges when he sees Jesus.

Also remembering that Moses wasn't technically defined by human standards as "ready" to go back to Egypt to talk to Mr Pharoh when God asked him to.

In summary, a balance of human perspective and God's perspective would be needed to answer that actually not so very easy to answer question.

It's like what Weizhu said in his blog some years ago. To paraphrase him, "I realised that Jesus asked me to count the cost of following Him: not so that I can choose whether I want to follow him or not, but so that I can know my own desperate lack and inability to pay the cost... so that I will learn to depend on Him even more."

Or to quote a missionary to China: "God's work done God's way will never lack God's supply."

3. Reminded that church is about PEOPLE, not programmes. I asked the husband as he gave us a lift to Novena MRT (the sisters were all crammed in the back of the car, while I was enjoying the luxurious space of a front seat LOL): "What's the most impt lesson that you learnt from your 2 years missions in Japan?"

He thought for a moment, and replied, "Church is about PEOPLE, not programmes. You see, in our church in Singapore, we have outings week after week, join this and that, do programmes... but what really counts is that people matter to God. To minister to them."

Which leads on to the last point...

4. Kimi wa aisareru tame umareta. One brother, Nelson, who had just come back from Japan, shared with us about his missions experience in campus. He shared about how there are different social groups in the same campus, and there's an elite group of high-achievers and the low, low group of social outcasts. So his ministry group tried reaching out to the elite group, those who would become the future leaders and movers and shakers of Japan. But they were unsuccessful, probably because very hard to get into their social circles.

So the church decided to reach out to the 'outcast' group instead (since that was the only group responsive to them)... and after some time of sharing the gospel and sharing the love of Christ with these social outcasts, they eventually had a small group of Christ-followers.

Then one day, one of the 'elites' got to know them and joined them for an outing/service. He enjoyed himself... and started coming back again and again, even though the group he was joining were definitely not those socially relevant elites he was used to relating with.

Finally, some of the bros and sisters decided to ask this 'elite' guy how come he enjoyed hanging out with them so much, even though they were not the most socially attractive group. He simply replied: "When I saw how you loved one another, I realised that this is so unlike the friendships that I have in my own group."

When Nelson finished sharing this testimony with us, he concluded, "'By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.'"

After he said that, the whole room was filled with an awed silence, and everyone was lost in deep thought about what he had said.

I thought about a couple of years back, we had tried to reach out to the 'elites' of society before. But it didn't really work out. So I looked at the whole thing, and asked God where do you really want us to start?

Come to think of it, where does God really want us to start? To start among the poor and needy, the lonely and the outcast, the prostitutes and tax-collectors, the hoi polloi, the lowly, the humble, the outcasts, the trash of society.

Yes, we want to change the world. But I think God doesn't just want us to change this world. He wants us to show this world what a world redeemed by God actually looks like.

In short, we Christians are all walking betas of the kingdom of God, showing the world living, walking previews of what it's like to be a child of God. And that starts by showing a watching world what the Church is actually meant to look like... a place where everyone who is seeking God is welcomed into the family, and never rejected or despised, but born to be loved and embraced.

1 Cor 1:26-31
26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

"And the good news is preached to the poor." That was the conclusion of Jesus' reply to John the Baptist when he was wondering if Jesus was really the Chosen One come to usher in the kingdom of God. "Blessed are the [bankrupt] in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God."

All of them, these bankrupt souls, all of them... they were all born to be loved.


I think I'll end off here with the first lyrics of this beautiful Japanese Christian song that we sang for worship: (

Kimi wa aisareru tame umareta. You are born to be loved.

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