Thursday, 5 July 2018

Unashamed Servant-Leadership - The Book Cover (A Vision Fulfilled) Part 2

The publishing of my book Unashamed Servant-Leadership was in progress.  The marketing staff from Langham Literature invited me to suggest book cover concepts.  I suggested two concepts but prayed that they would accept the first concept which was very personal and meaningful to me.

Around 1997, I was still a student at Singapore Bible College.  And I was worshipping at Christ Methodist Church which was my home church then.  I was traveling in the air-conditioned bus to church.  It was a long journey on an early Sunday morning.  I remember praying during this journey.  As I prayed, God gave me a vision.

This was a vision of two hands moulding a brown claypot.  God the Father was hard at work with this claypot.  As I prayed on what this might mean for me, I sensed that God was shaping and moulding me to exactly the design He intended me to be.  The claypot was brown in color - absolutely boring!

So, in my spirit, I said to God, "God, I don't want to look so boring.  I love colors and design. I want to look really beautiful."  See, I didn't think much about the usefulness of this brown pot but was more interested in the colors and design.  Still, the vision continued and I saw God's hands take an etching knife and etch designs on the pot.  As designs were being etched, in my spirit I felt the pain and went, "Ouch, ouch."  I knew then that whatever was not pleasing to God in my life had to be cleared.  This was a process necessary to be gorgeous for God.  In reality, it was a twenty-year process. After the design, the pot was painted in turquoise and gold.  It came out from the fire looking absolutely gorgeous.  God poured some water into this turquoise and gold pot and poured the water out into the nations.

Looking back, this has been my walk with God.  God shaped me - into a Christlike image with a Christlike purpose.  It has been painful to grow into this image and I am still a work-in-progress.

 I will never be perfect till I meet the Lord Jesus Christ but I pray that I am walking according to His will.  His Commission to me is great and I am thrilled to be in the service of the King of kings.

This vision of the turquoise and gold pot has come to pass not once but twice:
Firstly, it came to pass on a beautiful June day in Hawaii.  It was the last day of a leadership experience at Haggai International.  Dr. Joey Chuaunsu's morning devotion was about The Potter and the clay.  As he spoke, God reminded me of the beautiful turquoise and gold pot he had shown me twenty years ago.  I was very excited and had a huge smile on my face.  In my spirit, I knew that God was going to take the ministry that He has given me, Faith Ablaze International Ministries (FAIM) to another level of operations globally.  We are just a tiny outfit with a big heart for the nations.  After the devotion, I went up to Joey and started sharing about the vision of the Great Potter moulding a claypot (me) to be beautiful.  As I spoke, it dawned on me that I was actually going to be wearing a turquoise and gold Indian outfit that evening at graduation.  Imagine this!

Secondly, this vision came to pass when the concept was selected by my publisher Langham Global Library to be the cover of my book.  It is now completely on print!  I found it interesting that the water is first poured into Africa, especially North Africa.  The first African nation that I have ever stepped into was in North Africa.  Now, I did not advise the book cover designer on this - God knows everything!

I may never know or understand the global impact that I would make in my lifetime as I obey God.  I can only hope and pray that God would continue to see me fit for service for as long as He desires.

My books are available at various stores in print and electronic formats.  Please visit FAIM Resources page.

In addition, you can listen to a radio interview and read articles at this link

Enjoy reading and God bless you,
Rachel R

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Unashamed Servant-Leadership - The Long but Sweet Journey to Publication Part 1

My book Unashamed Servant-Leadership was released by Langham Global Library on 14 December 2017.  It has been an interesting six months plus as a new author. 

My doctoral dissertation on Asian Christian women leaders' growth, challenges and impact in the kingdom of God was a book-in-waiting. When I first proposed my research idea, both my research supervisors encouraged me to release the research findings as a book.  At different times, they told me, "this is cutting edge thought".  I put the idea of a book aside.  You see, I had no money to pay any publisher.  And I really desired a writing mentor.

I began praying and asked God to give me the best publisher who would be generous enough to help me.  One fine June day in 2016,  I met with Dr. Riad Kassis, a scholar and a director at Langham Partnership at the Global Proclamation Congress for Pastoral Trainers in Bangkok, Thailand.  In the course of the conversation, he introduced me to Langham Publishing and later sent me the necessary  documents to be submitted to the publisher.
I completed the forms and included my first chapter in my submission.  I was told that it would take some time to consider my submission.  By this time, I had begun to mobilize prayer for my book.
The publisher  replied me within a very short time!  They requested that I send my manuscript to better evaluate the possibility of publishing this book.

What do I do now?  The rest of the book was still in progress.  But I took another three months to re-shape my dissertation, chopping off at least 10,000 words.  I submitted the manuscript and waited.

Fast forward to April 2017 - It was on the second day of my trip to the Holy Land.  I remember that I was sitting at a cafe with my friends, emotionally and mentally exhausted after going through the Holocaust Museum.  Upon checking my emails at the cafe, I let out a loud, "Praise Jesus"!  Langham Publishing had written to offer me a contract!  What a wonderful surprise on the second day of my trip to the Holy Land.

Throughout this process, God was with me.  I prayed and invited some endorsers for the book.  I am thankful for brother Sundar Sangma from Haggai International,  Dr. Karen Hatley from Missional University, Dr. Sierry Tendero from the Philippines Council of Evangelical Churches, Women's Commission and Dr. Violet James from Singapore Bible College for their endorsements.

 The prayers of righteous men and women were answered by God when He allowed my publisher to release the book on 14 December 2017.  It was the perfect early birthday gift to receive while I was on a ministry trip to Mexico.

God was my writing mentor and fulfilled my heart's desire.  Here's an excerpt from pages 3-4 of my book:

Everywhere I travelled in the mission fields to teach pastors and leaders, men would be the largest group in my class.  Women’s participation in discipleship classes was negligible.  Once when I travelled to the Middle East to teach an inductive bible study course, I discovered that the leaders had expected a male teacher.  In Nepal, the all-male group of rural pastors tested my knowledge of the Bible for 45 minutes before they accepted me as their sister in Christ and their facilitator, teaching them the basics of discipleship.   As recently as 2016, the Christian brother sent to meet me at the airport completely missed me because he was expecting a male leader to arrive for a conference which had an all-male attendance.
In all my discipleship classes, the few women who joined learned so well that I could see the transformation in their thoughts and actions.  All the women I have ever discipled used the same course materials and were given the same assignments as men—they were not given preferential treatment—and they proved that they were able to think as well as their brothers in Christ.  In fact, some of the best students were actually women who were not ordained pastors.  Just like their brothers in Christ, the women’s goal was to obey God and to use their gifts accordingly.  These were true evangelical Christians who desired to be obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

My books are available at various stores in print and electronic formats.  Please visit FAIM Resources page.

In addition, you can listen to a radio interview and read articles at this link

In the next blog, I will share about the design of my book cover.

Enjoy reading and God bless you,
Rachel R

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Work Ethics and Attitudes

Afew months ago, I had e-mail encounters with a government agency in my birth-place, Singapore.  It was a tiny issue that took about a month or more to solve.  Normally, the government agencies in Singapore are quite efficient and I have always been very impressed with their helpful attitude and efficiency.
In Singapore, most of us like to 'get things done quickly' and move on to the next task.

This time, I was surprised that the particular agency staff kept asking me for details when I had clearly explained the matter or kept asking me to provide proof when it was already done.
When I asked the staff to respond to my questions - there was no response, no apology for the mistake made; instead, I was asked another question. 

I have learnt the following from this encounter with the particular department and my learning is limited to this group:

1.  Civil servants need to learn to apologise when they have made a mistake.
2.  Civil servants need to read correspondences carefully before responding accurately and with clarity.
3.  Civil servants need to exercise some flexibility and consider other factors when making a decision.
4.  Civil servants need to be trained in public relation skills.
5.  Civil servants warn about the law and penalty associated to breaking the law within an immediate stipulated time but the irony is that they themselves contacted me many months later.

On a personal note, I thank God for giving me a 'civil servant' experience in the government a very long time ago.  This enabled me to understand that sometimes, the civil servant-writer may not be the real decision-maker (especially when the email is copied to 3-4 others!).  Therefore, I need not be angry with such oversight in email correspondences.  However, I am appalled that a tiny issue took much time to be corrected.  That is a waste of taxpayer's money.

At times I wondered if the staff and immediate superiors from that particular department knew of their responsibilities attached to the rank/title.

After about a month, the tiny issue was resolved, still with no apology.  I shrugged my shoulders, noting my own disappointment with such a service and hoping that at times in a civil servant's worklife, it might be a good idea to re-visit issues such as service attitudes, public relations skills and ways to respond with a personal touch.

This is a given - I need to be praying for the civil servants in Singapore.  I am praying that Christian civil servants will always take to their heart the truth of Colossians 3: 17  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


Monday, 1 January 2018

The True Significance of Christmas by Brother Walt

Recently, I received an article written by Brother Walt, a good friend.  And I thought that the true significance of Christmas has not diminished and will not diminish even as we cross over to 2018.  In fact, this piece of Good News has an eternal effect on lives.  So, with permission, I present to you this everlasting story in the following article:

The True Significance of Christmas

In our time Christmas has taken on many trappings - from Santa Claus to Christmas trees to colored lights.  The true significance of Christmas, however, is found in an event that happened over two thousand years ago.   

Of course, that event is the birth of a person who was called Jesus ("Yeshua" in Hebrew).  He came to be called in Hebrew "Yeshua ha Meshiah" (Jesus the Messiah), or "Jesus the Christ" (from the Greek language).   

In the person of Jesus, the living God took on human nature and was born to a human woman.  Jesus was God-in-the-flesh.  The second person of the Triune God, God the Son, became a human being, the God-man.  

Why did God, the Creator of the universe, become a man?  This "incarnation" of God was an essential part of God's plan to save fallen, sinful human beings.   

Soon after God created mankind, human beings rebelled against God and their sin of rebellion resulted in their alienation from God.  The sin of fallen mankind separates them from their righteous and holy Creator.  Because of their sinfulness, human beings are separated from God, both in this earthly life and also for all eternity.  This separation from God is called "spiritual death."   

But because God loves human beings so much, He implemented a plan to offer rescue ("salvation") from spiritual separation.  Man's sin requires that its penalty of spiritual death be paid for by the justice and holiness of God.  God's plan of rescue was that He Himself would pay that penalty for their sin.  God offers salvation to everyone who will turn to Jesus Christ in faith and receive God's gift of salvation.   

So, God became a human being in Jesus of Nazareth, the God-man.  God had to become a human being so that He could die as a sin sacrifice, as a substitute sacrifice, for human beings.  This blood sacrifice for sin also had to be God, so that His death would have infinite value and pay for the sins of all human beings who would receive His offer of salvation.   

So, God became a man in Jesus.  He lived a sinless life and then died to pay the penalty for sinful mankind.  Every individual who trusts in Christ as his / her personal Savior is forgiven of their sin and given the free gift of eternal life.   
Three days after Jesus the Christ was crucified, He was raised from the dead to prove that His sacrifice for man's sin was accepted by God.   

This is the message of the New Testament.  It is called "The Good News / The Gospel" - people, though guilty sinners in heart, can escape eternal punishment by accepting Christ's punishment as their substitute sin sacrifice.  Good News indeed!  Salvation is free to people but was costly to God.     

NEW TESTAMENT.  Here are some verses from the New Testament that speak of this offer of salvation from hell through faith in Jesus Christ:   

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish [in hell], but have eternal life."  John 3:16.     

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."  John 3:16.   

"For by grace you are saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."  Ephesians 2:8-9.   

"And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life."  1 John 5:11-13.   

"But God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  Romans 5:8.   

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 6:23.   

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood."  Romans 3:23-25.   

OLD TESTAMENT.  Hundreds of years before Jesus was born prophets of the Old Testament foretold of God's coming Messiah-Savior.  There are more than 300 prophecies in the Old Testament about the Messiah, His person and His mission.  

"For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given;  
and the government shall be upon His shoulders,  
and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6.  
"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;  
yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  
But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed."  Isaiah 53:4-6.  

"But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for Me One who is to be Ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days."  Micah 5:2.   

- Brother Walt

Blessed 2018 dear readers,  may you enjoy the walk with CHRIST daily

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Now What Do I Do About The Selected President of Singapore? - Some Personal Thoughts

I guess there needed to be something I am passionate about to write a blog.  I am passionate about my country, Singapore.  And in the same breath, when once I was proud of the Singapore leaders, I hang my head in terrible shame.  And it all has to do with the Reserved Election which was no election at all!

When I first heard about the Reserved Election, I thought hard and prayed about it as well.  And I was extremely upset that the leaders of Singapore will choose to force my choice.  On 15th November 2016, I wrote an email to the Prime Minister's Office registering clearly my concerns and non-support for the Reserved Election for various reasons.  See the major portion of my email addressed to the Prime Minister below:

I have been following the intention to have a reserved election for the next President.  While the argument that Singapore should have a minority race President is noble, it also makes one (me) feel that as a Singaporean, I am not able to rise above racial issues to choose my President.

 The Singapore leaders need to trust Singaporeans to choose the right President for themselves regardless of race, language or religion (according to our pledge).  If Singapore schools and families guided by the government has done a great job in helping us to accept each other regardless of race, language or religion, then the government leaders need to trust us to choose our own President.

If a Malay candidate comes up and is able to shine, why not - I would vote for that person.  By having a reserved election, the government is effectively tying our hands.  What if both the Malay candidates are not as good as say, another Indian or Eurasian or Chinese candidate who would have made a better President?  Singaporeans would have been short-changed.  We would lose trust in the PAP, its intentions and your goodself, sir.

Sir, behind all these - I believe that there might be a strategic purpose of having a Malay President especially in current times where we are seeing the rise of ISIS and Islamic fervor.  But I doubt this is going to work as Singapore Malays are generally moderate.  The second reason, and which is the 'talk of the town' on Facebook, is that this reserved election was tabled so that a certain very qualified potential candidate would not re-contend for this post. 

Either reasons above do not matter to me.  What matters to me is that I am respected by Singapore leaders.  This respect is tied into the fact that you are willing to trust me to vote for the right presidential candidate regardless of race, language or religion.

I would like to register officially that as a citizen of Singapore, I am against the Reserved Election as it forces me to observe and choose from one minority group and imposes a restrictive decision.  This reserved election also restricts other potential candidates from campaigning fairly and winning accordingly.

Naturally, I was unaware at that time that Halimah Yacob (the potential president) was actually a Singaporean Indian!  Obviously, I received a reply from a certain Ms. Char who acknowledged receipt.  You know, the Prime Minister is probably too busy to read my email.

And now this  - we have a farce of a reserved election that brought up the race issue.  A farce because this Indian woman, a former Speaker of the House, was not elected by the people of Singapore!  While others may have been enthusiastic about the reserved election, I was definitely not for it!  And I was absolutely livid to discover the following which caused me to distrust this entire process and the leadership that I voted for (and before those opposing the ruling party say, "I told you so", please read my last sentence carefully):

1.  Halimah is an Indian-Muslim but states that she is a Malay.  Just because one adopts the Malay culture does not make one a Malay.  When one is not able to accept and admit the truth of one's ethnicity, it sure raises a red flag.  And as a leader of a nation, the expectation that a president will acknowledge his or her own original race (or birthplace) is real.  The reserved presidential election was apparently designed for the minority Malay community in Singapore.  As a Singaporean Indian woman myself, I am totally ashamed that another Singaporean Indian woman was not magnanimous enough to step aside.  

2.  MUIS and the Malay community may have nobly accepted this Singaporean Indian as Malay but that does not change the fact that she is INDIAN.  It's like stating that the Chinese community has accepted my dad (who is half Chinese and half Indian) as Chinese when really, his identity card states clearly that he is an INDIAN.  Frankly, if Malay is defined by ethnicity of an Austronesian people, then there is no denying that the current president of Singapore is an INDIAN and the reserved election for the Malay minority did not happen.  If Malay is defined by the religion Islam, then it throws the entire meaning of the reserved election into disarray.

 3.  Halimah Yacob, a politician, should have voiced her strong objections to the reserved presidential election if she truly cared about the Malay community that had accepted her.  She could have used her leadership skills and influence to remind the ruling party that a reserved presidential election is an acknowledgment by the ruling party that Singaporeans are incapable of using their God-given powers of assessment and analysis to choose the right President.  She could have risen FOR the people of Singapore to display her concern.  One has to wonder more about why she did not object to the reserved election.  Is it naive to think that she did not have the choice? - a question that will haunt me personally.

Halimah Yacob, the first female Speaker of the House has accomplished many things in her life, may be a good, sincere, authentic person and contributed much to her constituency and her faith but so have other Singaporeans.  It is unfortunate that she did not stand against other highly qualified Singaporean men or women from different ethnicities.  If she had won the people's vote fairly and squarely by working hard to show why she should be elected despite the fact that she is not a Malay, even I might have voted for her.  But alas, we will never know as we never had the privilege of voting for the best presidential candidate "regardless of race, language or religion".

Some Singaporeans might say, "Do not blame Halimah Yacob for what happened" but I have a serious response:  This is not a blame.  These are choice decisions that a person of high political standing has made and it is unfortunate that these decisions have caused pain among Singaporeans.

Finally, how would I respond from a Christian perspective?  I, too, now have to make choice decisions: I am called to pray for my leaders so that "we may have peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (1 Timothy 2:2).  But before I can even pray, I need to forgive the ruling party and Halimah Yacob for hurting me by not respecting my ability to choose the right President for my country.  I feel betrayed.

But I cannot hold onto to the past.  I need to move forward and let myself be healed in the process.  And the best thing one can do for someone who has hurt you would be to forgive and bless them.  This is my choice decision.

 I bless them with God's wisdom as they need this very much.  I will thank God that Halimah Yacob is at least a citizen of Singapore.  I will also bless Singaporean Halimah Yacob to receive the TRUTH that sets all people free in the Lord Jesus Name.  I will bless this selected president to succeed.  And as a fellow Singaporean woman, I will hope that she will make our nation proud.

Singaporeans, let us be proud of our races and mean what we say when we recite the Singapore Pledge.

And as for the ruling party, I will wait till the next election to exercise my right to voice with a vote.  Maybe, I will still stick with you and maybe I won't.  Time will tell as we pursue to build a democratic society.

May God bless Singapore,

Sunday, 30 April 2017

God's Daily Surprises & Gifts in the Holy Land and Jordan!

It has been slightly more than week since I returned from the Holy Land.  I am taking longer to recover from jet-lag.  But here I am, finally putting words down so that God's goodness to our Holy Land Adventure team can be praised!  Yes, please give Him all the glory, praise and honor.
But let me go back to 2016 and take you down this adventure trail with Christ.

Pre-trip Preparation

July 2016:  I was really excited that a team would join my often solo ministry trips to just about anywhere.  This was going to be different as only three people in the team actually knew me; the rest were people who had minimal contact with me.  And so, we began praying and meeting via Skype once a month.
Especially with the core team of two brothers and one sister, we would prepare ourselves with the Word, intercultural issues and intercession.
We were supposed to partner with another ministry in the Holy Land (more about that later).

Throughout the next six months, we saw people dropping out of our team or being unsure of going with us.  Still, this did not deter us (volunteers with Faith Ablaze International Ministries) [FAIM]; we trusted God explicitly.

Fast forward to 13 Feb 2017.

Praying and Fasting for the Holy Land Adventure

God impressed upon me to fast and pray for the Holy Land Adventure for 50 days. It was to be the Prophet Daniel's fast (Daniel 10:3).  I did not have a variety of prayers but I found myself desiring for God's answers to prayers for salvation for people I personally knew, for four impossible miracles that would have personal and global impacts and for the hearts of my team to be prepared for spiritual encounters and to be a blessing to the people.  Especially, we had two children on the team.  One was a three-year-old named Jaidan and the other was a nine-year-old named Neha.  I have never led a team with children as members!  But there was an intense desire to see the children used by God, yes even for Him to speak through them.

50 days is a long time to fast.  The Prophet Daniel only took 21 days!  I did not question God on the number of days; I have learnt not to question Him when He speaks so clearly.  So, yes, 50 days was a long time but I benefitted from it - my spirit was more sensitive to God; I was feeling healthy and was definitely fitter.  There was that tinge of irritability when I was I driving on the Honduran roads - I confess.  Repentance came in many forms - for self, for my ministry and for the nations.

But this is What God did!
1. By the 3rd day of my fast, God had revealed that my team would not be involved in ministering to women leaders in the Holy Land.  I was crushed but perhaps for 10 minutes.  On the 4th day of the fast, God showed me very clearly as to why He allowed it.  Upon such a revelation, I began to thank God and my joy was restored!  His plans are forever greater than my own plans!  God had a special trip in store for us and NO ONE was going to thwart His plans for this team.  I discussed this major setback with my coordinators and the resounding response was:  God has better plans for us!  We are more excited about the trip now!

2. Interestingly, God did not fund me for the hoped-for ministry.  Instead, He used a FAIM supporter to help me buy my ticket to the Holy Land in late 2016, and then used this same supporter to help me with expenses in the Holy Land.  On the 2nd day of being in the Holy Land, I received a text from this generous supporter telling me to use the amount deposited into my account for the trip.
You see, NO ONE knew that I was short of funds for this trip except God.

3.  God moved another supporter to help me financially during the time of my fast and that contribution helped with a portion of my lodging expenses.  The life of depending on God for everything is indeed challenging but oh so worth it!  Hallelujah!

I love this part about God!

Just 1-2 days before my departure from Honduras to the Holy Land, my friend Douglas Freeland messaged me and said that he had a vision of me in the Holy Land and that God was going to SURPRISE me and my team.  Douglas did not know that I had plans to visit the Holy Land at that specific moment.  Wow!  I took this word from Douglas.

Within the next five minutes, another friend Patrick Koh sent me a Scripture verse that became the theme Scripture for the adventure - Job 5: 9

Earlier on, Patrick had encouraged me with
2 Corinthians 9:  8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

And to top it, my cousin Jerusha Seenyen told me this:
 Rachel, there are many things to pray for you but I am  burdened to pray especially for your trip to the Holy Land.  There is going to be RESTORATION during your trip.

I knew that many people prayed for us during this trip.  In moments of challenges, I kept claiming Job 5: 9.  In the daily surprises that God gave us, I joyfully shared with my friends and I witnessed with my own eyes, the restoration God brought at every devotional session during this adventure.
Glory to God alone!

And what about my prayer - for everyone to have special encounters?

God answered my prayer for the children to be used on the very first evening together.  We were discussing about our cultural perceptions of God and biblical perspective of God.  When I asked for feedback, I decided to include the children. The children added onto what we adults had already thought about God.  Jaidan said, "God is my Helper" and Neha said, "God is my Father".  All of us adults simply knew that God spoke through them.

Everyone's life was touched by God but here are some memorable moments for me (the others will need to write their own blog!):

How God organised last-minute bookings for our lodgings when I found out that we were not going to minister and He did all that in less than 24 hours!

How God allowed for my team to spend our devotional times at least 5-6 times at the Garden Tomb and I am thankful that FAIM volunteers helped me with the Holy Communion.

How God delighted the team at Bethlehem Bible College Guesthouse with great guest-rooms and service.

How God gave me two heart-shaped pebbles from Carmel Beach, within five minutes of asking Him cheekily.

How I was pleasantly surprised when three couples on my team wanted to renew their wedding vows at the church in Cana!  I have never done this before and reached out to my amigo Patrick who promptly sent me the words.  Thank God for such a quick response and internet connections.  It was an emotional experience for all of us!

How five team members wanted to be baptized in the Jordan River!  I knew that at least two wanted to be baptized but five was a good surprise.  And just the day before, my friend Douglas had told me that more will come to be baptized.  That was an experience to baptize them all in the freezing (by my standards) water.  Hallelujah big-time!

How God gave us the gift of visiting the life-sized Tabernacle at Timna Park.  We got educated.

How we saw the oldest city in the world, Jericho from the cable car!  Totally unplanned.

How God allowed me to bless a couple of female soldiers at the Wailing Wall and a couple of male soldiers at the Israeli-Jordan River borders.

How I saw tens of angels in the sky above the Bethesda pool.  Grace was the first word the came to my mind when i saw the way they flew.

And oh...that awesome Upper Room experience as a team where we sang before the Lord and sensed His glorious presence. It is one of my most precious times with the Lord Jesus.

How God granted all our team members bird's eye view of the Tomb during the Resurrection Sunday Service.

The Art Part of God's plans

We had two nights of Holy Spirit inspired art sessions where we relaxed before God.  This was led by another Holy Land adventure team member.

The Celebration and Dance Parts of God's Plans

How we celebrated a surprise birthday for a FAIM volunteer at Connect Cafe in Bethlehem and danced to 10,000 Reasons (Wish I could show you the video).

How we celebrated Palm Sunday Service on a Saturday at House of Bread Church.  It was great to meet some of my Palestinian Christian friends.  We had a surprise invitation to visit and minister to a Palestinian Christian family.  Three of us were privileged to experience this and we totally love this family.

How we celebrated our first Sunday with two churches - the Jerusalem Alliance Church and here we discovered that our 'driver' Simon was not only biblically educated but also a very talented worship leader!  And St. George's Cathedral in Jerusalem.

How we danced to Hebrew music onboard the boat while sailing the Galilee.  Just wild!

How we celebrated another surprise birthday for a Holy Land adventure team member on the very last day of our trip in Jordan!

The Music Part of God's Plans

How FAIM team-mate who is also a church choir director was blessed by God's affirmation of his gift as a choir director, musician and singer.  He led us into bursts of hymns at various churches during our trip and we had other nations join us spontaneously; God ministered through our singing to a Russian lady in one such moment.

How God surprised my team-mate such that he was able to play the pipe organ at St. George's Cathedral in Jerusalem and ministered to people who surrounded to listen.

How God surprised the team with the opportunity to witness an internationally recognised choir: Alternsteiger Vokalensemble!  And we did not have to pay a single cent to watch such gifted talent!

 How God favored my team-mate's selection of songs for our 12-day devotion time.  It was like a practice session prior to Resurrection Sunday at the Tomb.  At least 5 out of 7 worship songs we sang for 12 days were sung during the Resurrection Sunday English Service! Just amazing when we have eyes to see His hands in every single detail.

And God's People whom We Met are the Best!

Joseph from GEMM Travel "held our hand" throughout our pre-trip and during our stay in Jordan and the Holy Land.  His selection of restaurants was just outstanding.  Haitham from Jordan Gateway Tours offered one of the best airport-coordinator services my team or I have received.  Jihad, our Jordanian guide was knowledgable, amiable and patient.  Makhoul, our guide in the Holy Land was extremely patient with us and was very knowledgeable too.
Our team had the best people to help us!  We were blessed to be able to pray for each one of them.

We were so blessed with Nizar, the manager from St.Gabriel's Hotel in Nazareth.  He went out of his way to help get a left-behind journal to my team-mate before the Holy weekend holidays.

We were served beautifully by the nuns, especially Sister Herminia and Elias from White Sisters (a Catholic retreat centre).

Then, I had the pleasure of introducing my personal friends to my team; namely Kenny and Sanaa.  We met on separate evenings for meals.  It was good for my team to receive some life insights from both of them.  We love them both!

And so many more miracles for us...everyday. What Douglas, Jerusha and Patrick communicated to me came to pass.  Our faith in Christ is real and we do know that we believe in a God of Miracles.  God loves to surprise us.  Even when times and situations are difficult for us, God is only a blink away, a breath away, a prayer away, a friend away.

What did I learn from this trip?
God's plans are always the best.  He reveals Himself in surprising ways.  God loves to be known.  We need to tell more people about Christ by our words and deeds that match with our faith in Christ.  We need to be surrounded by friends who will have our ministries lifted to God's throne of grace and mercy.  We need to pay the price of our time and efforts in our faith in Christ, for the mighty moves of God!  We need to ask God for only His plans to succeed in our lives.

And oh...finally to be pleasantly surprised with a Business class upgrade on Air France from Jordan to France!  Love my life in Christ!

Renewed to love and live in Christ even more,


Monday, 30 January 2017

A Trigger Question about Prez Trump's Immigration Policy

So in the midst of all these executive orders being signed by President Trump, Christians and non-Christians taking sides; Americans and non-Americans taking sides, one of my good friends in West Asia asked me a pertinent question:  
I assume there's a point where you may say you do not support a policy even if it came from Prez Trump? I wonder where that line is for you..

My response was: I am waiting for that line too. At this point, I just see the lawlessness of the past catching up with the present. 

That's a really good question.  Like I said in my previous blog, I was not a Trump supporter but accepted it because I truly believe that God has appointed him for such a time as this.

Many people are up-in-arms about the current temporary ban on the refugees' entry into the United States of America.  There is also a deep concern about temporarily banning the green-card holders who have legal residence and work in this nation.  Christians are being told that they are operating out of fear or lack of love and compassion if they would not accept the refugees.  I refer to two links for your information:

1.  This link begs the question:  Where were the protesters when former President Barack Obama banned all Iraqi refugees for six months in 2011?

2.  This second link is from Pastor Jalil Dawood, a refugee himself and his view on President Trump's executive order.  It is a must read since it is written by someone who has gone through the pain and suffering, the entire process of vetting and entry into the United States of America.

As a Christian who is not an United States of America citizen, I tend to look at this issue as a case in high tension like the tight rope-walker who probably has the confidence of walking on the tight-rope but everyone else looking at him or her is afraid or in awe, both  experiencing a jaw-dropping stunt.

As a Christian, and as someone who has ministered to Muslim and Christian refugees from Afghanistan and Iran, and now who are my personal friends, I feel for their plight though I probably do not understand the intensity of their plight.  Their testimonies are horrific, sad, inspiring and our emotions are on a roller-coaster.  These refugees wish to get to a 'safer' place so that they can begin their new lives.  The ones I have met were in a 'safe zone' outside of their home country, but still had to wait up to 2-3 years and more to get passage to their asylum country.  There are a lot of processes and vetting that needs to happen, apparently. In reality the refugees, who have shared with me, still yearn for their country and they are very sad to leave their loved ones, to see the wickedness that rage in their beloved land and to know that they will likely never return to their original home again.

The beauty of it all is that Christians in the 'safe zone' country reached out and continue to reach out to them in compassion and enthusiasm.  The refugees are treated like family, coming into the homes, worshipping and fellowshipping.  I had the pleasure of attending a celebration party when a couple of families got their visas to travel to the asylum country.  It was a huge dance party and everyone was happy that someone was approved.

I love the refugees I have personally met. In one case, three beautiful women who were awaiting their visas decided to return home because they sensed that God wants them back in their land.  Our hearts broke upon hearing their choice but we needed to accept and respect their call by God.  The women have returned, they are showing God's love and we are praying for their safety and courage to keep standing for and with Christ.

Let us not forget one more point which the Apostle Paul teaches us in Galatians 6: 10.It is not wrong to look out for the family of believers first.  If we cannot take care of our own, how can others understand and trust that we can take care of them too??  Don't we apply this concept in our own families?  Do you not take care of your children first - we do know that it is a God-given responsibility.

On the other hand, I am looking at the bigger picture with regards to this executive order to temporarily ban refugees and green-card holders from the seven countries:

1.  First of all, this was not a lone decision by one man although he is putting the signature to the order. Let us think logically: it is a team of advisers, policy-writers and implementers who would need to discuss the matter before the main guy signs it off.  It is meant to be for a short time so that certain extreme vetting procedures can be put in place.  

2.  And it sure does not help anybody in the United States of America when there is an intention to introduce and effect sharia law, unless of course, you agree to sharia law.

Technically, no refugee can demand to enter any country.  Visas are given and one can hope that out of good faith, entry will be granted.  But only a citizen of the country has that right to demand entry if he or she is denied this right.  We do need to respect each country's sovereign power, law and order.  And that respect begins with the people of the country.  

*Note that you can find many more links or videos related to Sharia law in the United States of America.  Just search for it.

3.  This decision, while sadly affecting people and families from the seven countries, does not affect many more from tens of other nations who come into the United States of America to begin new lives.  The vast majority who hold green-cards are not affected. 
But let me not belabor point by point.  David French from the  National Review has done a great job in articulating the facts.  French points out some crucial points related to immigrants that should calm all citizens of the United States of America:

Indeed, given the terrible recent track record of completed and attempted terror attacks by Muslim immigrants, it’s clear that our current approach is inadequate to control the threat. Unless we want to simply accept Muslim immigrant terror as a fact of American life, a short-term ban on entry from problematic countries combined with a systematic review of our security procedures is both reasonable and prudent. However, there are reports that the ban is being applied even to green-card holders. This is madness. The plain language of the order doesn’t apply to legal permanent residents of the U.S., and green-card holders have been through round after round of vetting and security checks. The administration should intervene, immediately, to stop misapplication. If, however, the Trump administration continues to apply the order to legal permanent residents, it should indeed be condemned.

Do I have any questions? - you bet I do!  So, why aren't other Middle Eastern or South Asian nations supporting and contributing towards terrorism joining the Sensational Seven? So, it is not a Muslim ban, is it?

So, where will I draw the line with regard to any of Trump's policy? - the question put forward by my dear friend.

I think of my own country, tiny Singapore, where leaders make decisions and there are people who are not happy with the decisions and there are people who welcome their wisdom.  Time usually tells if something is working or not. Or if someone is right or not.
And it is a leader's responsibility to either improve on or reject altogether after analysing the consequences of the decisions.  The clear problem here is that no one is interested in giving the Trump administration time to do their job. Every unhappy anti-Trump person, including those from nations outside of the United States of America, are very quick to channel their focus on the worst part of his addresses.  
Sometimes I think of the critic, if you can do the job better, why didn't you sign up?  

Honestly, I want to say that it is good that I need not draw a line to any of Trump's policy decision as I did not vote for him and he is not my President.

But as a Christian global citizen who has been and continue to pray for President Trump, his administration, the people of the United States of America and against the obvious divisiveness and raging media attack on the new administration,  I think that I will draw the line, after much prayer on the following possibilities:

A.  If national security is compromised and effectively puts citizens and guests of the United States of America in danger.
B.  If murder of life in the womb is considered normal.  This is the most wicked thing that anyone can do.
C.  The Constitution is opposed, freedom of religion is mocked and sharia law is allowed to take root.

.....and I guess I could go on but I will stop with the above three.

Meanwhile, it is my responsibility and the responsibility of all Christians to continue to pray for the leaders to make wise decisions and not slander them explicitly or implicitly.  And we do need to understand that God loves both the refugees, green-card holders and the leaders who made some decisions about them.  We also need to understand, and this I agreed with my dear West Asian friend, that sometimes, we need to agree to disagree with respect and love intact. 

Blessings my friends,