Monday, February 28, 2011

Learning From A Church In Segamat

A massive flood that hit Segamat in February 2011 brought much sufferings and pains to the residents in this small Malaysian town. Many flood victims lost everything as their homes went under water. This flood was worse than that of 2006 and this time, lives were lost.

A local church, Charisma Assembly, did not just pray but they swung into action. Pastor Steven Wong initiated a flood disaster relief mission with the help of his church members. For two days, the flood victims from more than 1500 affected homes received rice, Milo, biscuits, noodles, towels, toiletries etc.

Charisma Assembly is not a large or rich church but it raised RM 200,000 to provide for the post-flood relief mission. With 1500 families, that worked out to be RM 133 per household. Regardless of race or religions, all deserving victims were given coupons to receive their supplies. The guideline was to target primarily families that lived in single story houses - in short, the less-fortunate residents.

The relief work needed careful planning and a lot of leg-work. The church volunteers visited many homes so as to identify genuine flood victims. That was to make sure that only those who lost much would receive the help they needed and also no one family receive multiple portions.

The flood relief effort by this church speaks volume to the residents of Segamat about the love of Jesus. This is the Gospel in action. People may hear about Christ but now they can see Christ revealed in the actions of love and care. 

May we all learn from this small church in Segamat and become obedient to the call of God by becoming relevant to our community.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Facing Our Mortality

We all have dreams about the perfect life: a life without pain, sadness, conflict, or war. The spiritual challenge is to experience glimpses of this perfect life right in the middle of our many struggles. By embracing the reality of our mortal life, we can get in touch with the eternal life that has been sown there. 

The apostle Paul expresses this powerfully when he writes: "We are subjected to every kind of hardship, but never distressed; we see no way out but we never despair; we are pursued but never cut off; knocked down, but still have some life in us; always we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus, too, may be visible in our ... mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:8-12).

Only by facing our mortality can we come in touch with the life that transcends death. Our imperfections open for us the vision of the perfect life that God in and through Jesus has promised us.

Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Giving and Receiving Consolation

Consolation is a beautiful word. It means "to be" (con-) "with the lonely one" (solus). To offer consolation is one of the most important ways to care. Life is so full of pain, sadness, and loneliness that we often wonder what we can do to alleviate the immense suffering we see. We can and must offer consolation. We can and must console the mother who lost her child, the young person with AIDS, the family whose house burned down, the soldier who was wounded, the teenager who contemplates suicide, the old man who wonders why he should stay alive.

To console does not mean to take away the pain but rather to be there and say, "You are not alone, I am with you. Together we can carry the burden. Don't be afraid. I am here." That is consolation. We all need to give it as well as to receive it.

Henri Nouwen 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Monopoly and Love

After a hectic 17 days ministering in the Philippine, the 3 days at Refreshing Springs was a welcomed break. It was a time of knowing my wife better. Grace is a wonderful person but nothing is like really knowing her. I thank God for her keen sense of knowing God's working in our lives. We talked about all the past blessings and how God had opened many doors of ministry opportunity. The more we talked, the more in love I was with my wife.

Those few days together were spent not only talking but also playing Monopoly. Sometimes, through games we get to know others better. Grace is explicitly honest. No scheming and no cheating. I remember years ago, I was playing a simple card game with a Christian couple. The wife kept cheating that all of us at the table were visibly embarassed.

Amidst laugthers and jests, the two of us challenged each other in this board game of chance and strategy - and getting to know each other so much better. Grace was a gracious loser and I hope that she thought that of me too. 

A group of campers came to Refreshing Springs for the weekend and God opened the opportunity for us to heal the infirm and share the Gospel. 

What a wonderful God we have... so full of love. It is Him who strengthens our relationship as husband and wife. It is Him who give us the privilege of serving Him together. It is Him who gives us this life together. We are forever thankful that we have a big, great and wonderful God.

Albert Kang

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dressed in Gentleness

Once in a while we meet a gentle person. Gentleness is a virtue hard to find in a society that admires toughness and roughness. We are encouraged to get things done and to get them done fast, even when people get hurt in the process. Success, accomplishment, and productivity count. But the cost is high. There is no place for gentleness in such a milieu.

Gentle is the one who does "not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick" (Matthew 12:20). Gentle is the one who is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of the other and enjoys being together more than accomplishing something. 

A gentle person treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly, and touches with reverence. 

A gentle person knows that true growth requires nurture, not force. Let's dress ourselves with gentleness. 

In our tough and often unbending world our gentleness can be a vivid reminder of the presence of God among us.
Henri Nouwen 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Returning to God's Ever-Present Love

We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior. God doesn't approve of betrayal, violence, hatred, suspicion, and all other expressions of evil, because they all contradict the love God wants to instill in the human heart. Evil is the absence of God's love. Evil does not belong to God.

God's unconditional love means that God continues to love us even when we say or think evil things. God continues to wait for us as a loving parent waits for the return of a lost child. It is important for us to hold on to the truth that God never gives up loving us even when God is saddened by what we do. That truth will help us to return to God's ever-present love.
Henri Nouwen 

Becoming Kind

Kindness is a beautiful human attribute. When we say, "She is a kind person" or "He surely was kind to me," we express a very warm feeling. In our competitive and often violent world, kindness is not the most frequent response. But when we encounter it we know that we are blessed. Is it possible to grow in kindness, to become a kind person? Yes, but it requires discipline. To be kind means to treat another person as your "kin," your intimate relative. We say, "We are kin" or "He is next of kin." To be kind is to reach out to someone as being of "kindred" spirit.

Here is the great challenge: All people, whatever their color, religion, or sex, belong to humankind and are called to be kind to one another, treating one another as brothers and sisters. There is hardly a day in our lives in which we are not called to this.

Henri Nouwen