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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,
Rachel



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.
Hallelujah!

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,
Rachel















       



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. https://worldrefugeecare.org/statement-world-refugee-care-president-jalil-dawood-president-trumps-executive-order-refugees/

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,
Rachel





Monday, 23 January 2017

One Woman's Personal Perspective on the Trump Presidency and the Women's March


Alright, it's my perspective and it's true, not alternative fact. You can deny it all you want but you cannot deny my thoughts or experience and the right to ask some deep questions. You also cannot deny that I love Christ and the people of the nations.

Trump's Presidency

My prayer times with God about the USA and Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were painful and heart-wrenching. I wondered why, all of a sudden, I had God's heart for the USA. Being a prayer warrior, I knew why - I had to be on my knees for the USA and the new President. And I began to pray that God will expose all the lies, deceits and be so clear as to who His President should be.
Without a doubt, three days before the Nov 8th election in 2016, I knew that Donald J Trump was going to be the President of the United States of America. But God's heart was too heavy for the USA. He was not lifting His hands yet. Thank you Jesus! And I knew that it would be landslide victory.

I did not understand the meaning of "landslide" victory until the day of the Presidential election. I watched as state after state went to Trump's victory. Half-way through, I understood (as if a light bulb just lit up) that a landslide victory was that it was going to be ALL RED in the White House. In my human wisdom, I had assumed that it would be just a big win in votes for Trump. The Congress and the Senate ended up on the Republican's side - ALL RED.

Once it was confirmed that the new President was going to be Trump, there was more to pray. The never-Trumpers and Clinton loyals seemed to be bursting in the seams with denial, anger, pain. The liberal media did badly - instead of helping people to heal and unite, they did the unthinkable - they stoked the fire even more. The violence and vulgarities by people who could NOT accept Trump as their new President was increasing.  I could not believe that even my country's newspaper was as bad as liberal mainstream media.

My questions and thoughts were: Why didn't Clinton supporters respect all other Americans and the electoral college for their decisions? This is a democratic process. Why are the celebrities so foolish and fanning the flames of dissension? They need to be taken to task. Why resort to violence? That is so evil. That you would even think of hurting another life? Why isn't the current President (Obama at that time) and opposition leaders not denouncing all this evil as rapidly as possible? Guess they want their supporters to entertain the thoughts of hopelessness. Why is vulgarity even necessary - rape Melania?? Seriously, that should be considered a threat and the person arrested but hey, no one did anything to care about a fellow citizen of the USA.

 Why was the liberal mainstream media not taking Hillary Clinton to task for security breach?  Why was the FBI playing tic-tac-toe?  And ISIS on USA soil, no one is concerned about this? Why isn't anyone concerned about the kind of adult games that some of their politicians have played..with children and women?  How can Hillary Clinton say that she is for women and still support the killing of babies?  Why isn't anyone paying attention to James O'Keefe's videos on Planned Parenthood staffers caught selling fetal parts?  Why can't the people look at the calibre of men and women surrounding the Presidential candidates and make a logical decision for the USA?  Why can't they see that they need a leader who is bold enough to walk the talk?  
Oh Lord, have Mercy on the USA.

I switched to watching Judge Jeanine Pirro, Tomi Lahren and Hannity.  I would keep updated with the social media posts by Dr. Ben Carson and Mike Pence (now Vice-President of the USA).  CNN, NBC and other mainstream networks with no journalistic integrity, showing arrogance and bias against a certain party were completely thrown out of my list and I have no plans to return to those channels.  Hollywood celebrities like Streep and Messing lost my respect.  Say what you like but when you begin to slam your own President publicly, it does not speak well about your manners.  Many times, I sat back and laughed at the immense foolishness of the liberal mainstream media.  There's a trending word now - alternative fact, seriously people? You did not know that alternative facts have been in play in the last 8 years and more.  Just google the lies and deception or even scandals from past administration.  

Well, the day finally came on 20th January 2017 - President Donald J Trump became the 45th President of the USA but not before threats of violence and disruptions to the Presidential Inauguration.  Is this the way to behave when you are a first-world nation, USA?  I was so disappointed at the behavior, attitudes of people who could not accept a Trump presidency.  It was, as if, any good Trump did, was not good enough still!  I mean, he was forgoing his salary as President and that says a lot to me; companies are coming back to the USA; and his children - did you see how they support their father??  

I was not a Trump supporter but when I saw how much people were slandering and hurting his family, I could not help but remember that God has already chosen him.  And I could not fight God on this one (Acts 5: 39a).  I had to humble myself and accept that even though Trump had his weaknesses, he has been chosen for such a time as this.  Is anyone so perfect? Some Christians think that God would not demean himself by choosing someone like Trump.  I think that God can choose anyone to fulfill His plans.  Did you even stop to think that God never demeans Himself in any way - He is so sovereign that he has everything planned ahead of time.  In mission-talk, we ask, "How do you fit into God's plans?  Well, how do you think Trump is fitting into God's plans?

So, this non-USA citizen accepted that Trump's words about women in the past are NOT acceptable but his apology is accepted; that Trump comes across as arrogant and egoistic but God is working in and through him; that Trump's decision to care about America First is right, because seriously USA, you are in debt.  Does not help that your last President added another 10 trillion to your debt kitty.
I mean, how can you even help other nations when you are in debt?  Shouldn't you be interested in wiping out your debt first?  Your last administration spent 10 trillion dollars but were they spent effectively in enhancing the quality of life, education, healthcare or even on your veterans and the homeless?  Does this not make you upset to see your own people in such neediness and that your last government did not do much about it?   

Women's March
Women, are you not concerned that millions of babies have been aborted and money is made by selling body parts?  And yet, you claim that the Women's March is a show of solidarity.  For what?  For killing millions of unborn babies?  And why did you lie to me?  It was not a women's march, it was a pathetic pro-choice march and an anti-President Trump march!  Did your march contribute to healing the nation of USA and bringing some unity?  This false solidarity is selfish and hurtful.  I get that you were trying to deal with the pain and anger of past experiences by showing disrespect and by mocking the democratic process.  I am truly sorry that you are going through so much pain because that is what I saw when you gathered together to march.  You exhibited your pain and anger for the whole world to see.  You thought that no one cares about you.  We do care about you; we care about your life as much as the unborn's life.  BUT we cannot agree to support an agenda that brings death by the millions.  It would make you, women, as no different from the terrorists or murderers.  It would have been a show of weakness for NOT standing up to life.  it would have been totally irresponsible on the part of those who care about life to encourage you to kill unborn babies.

You were hoping that by showing the world that millions of women were marching and being united in the march, it would create a buzz about the power of women.  Actually, it had the opposite effect for me.  I was so ashamed and saddened that you chose to march for the spirit of death, instead of life.  I was horrified that you chose to glorify death instead of life.  And I was appalled that you chose to contribute to an agenda of irresponsibility among women because you are effectively accepting the notion that a woman can sleep around with as many men, carry as many babies as her body allows and she still owns the right to kill each one of them.  You have not gone to the root of the problem - which in my personal opinion, is a lack of the value for life.  You cannot have sexual freedom and negate your responsibility as well.

I am so thankful that Planned Parenthood will be defunded!  When you kill innocents on the battlefield, and bomb explosions kill civilians, it becomes terrorism.  Well, no bombs exploded where Planned Parenthood operates but they definitely are involved in a sort of terrorism - you see, babies are innocent.

And yet, woman - yes, you who marched on 21 January 2017 - why aren't you marching worldwide against rape and assault of Indian women?  Why aren't you marching when jihad continues worldwide?  Why aren't you marching against child slavery?  Why aren't you marching worldwide against sex-trafficking of women and children?  Why aren't you, Christian women, marching when Christians are being persecuted?  Why aren't you marching when religious freedom is restricted in so many other nations?  Why aren't you marching when pornography and other sexual content are allowed on your electronic devices and become "locker-room" visuals? 

Finally, women who marched - Can't you see that there are more important issues to march for than for the spirit of death?  

I look at the vulgarities, the violence and the mockery that has been made by people who do not support President Trump and I do not see strength, maturity or courage. All I see is a spirit of vengeance, divisiveness and cowardice.  
Surely human beings are created to rise above the evil and negative to the good that God desires for us.

This blog has not been an easy piece to write.  I am trusting God to bring back true self-worth and respect for life to millions of women around the world.  I am trusting God to use the new President of the USA and his team greatly and mightily for His glorious purposes.  For as long as they will remain humble, God will give them the grace.  For as long as God has allowed this team to lead the USA, who is anyone to fight this plan?  God bless the USA and accomplish ALL His purposes in such a time as this.  Maranatha!

Blessings of love and a very blessed 2017,
Rachel
(not a USA citizen but someone who has a heart for God's purposes in the USA)








Monday, 26 December 2016

Thoughts in a Foreign Land on Christmas Day

The year is 2016.  The fire-crackers and fire-works are going off in my city in Honduras.  Latin dance music is blasting from a home nearby and I am unable to tell if this sound is coming from next door or from the back of my house.  People are celebrating one of the most popular holidays in this nation.  Christmas, generally, seems to be about feasting with family, friends and strangers who become friends over the feast.
To the Christians, Christmas is about reflecting on the birth of Christ some 2000+ years ago in a town called Bethlehem.

Another Christmas weekend and I am home alone in a foreign land.  Christmas Eve was special to me this year. I usually wake up very early - as early as 3 or 4 in the morning.  It's one of the best times to be awake and have a conversation with God.  Sometimes, I just think about God and listen to worship songs.  But this Christmas Eve, I woke up exactly at 3:33am.  I immediately thought of Jeremiah 3:33. This last week has been intense; God has been waking me up with worship songs in my head and one time, with Aleppo as my first thought.

My first response was, "Yes Lord, I want to hear from You".  And for the next two hours, I was listening to worship songs and having an intense conversation about many things.  Yes, I multitask a lot.  Have always been a multitasker and I don't think that's going to change in a long time.

The radio station was playing We Three Kings of Orient Are and I pondered on how the three kings must have persevered in their travel from a great distant, bearing gifts in the hope of seeing the baby Jesus.  Obviously distance was not going to be an issue in their pursuit of what God had already planned.  This perseverance to discover and to see this new-born king is commendable.  Imagine traversing the vast desert over days to finally come upon a baby boy in a manger.

The distance we walk or run cannot be an issue in what God has already planned in our lives.  Some of us have traveled away from our comfortable homes to foreign lands which are yet to offer the kind of top-notch efficient customer services, clean toilets, safe hotel rooms...etc.  Some of us have traveled to foreign lands because our beloved homes have been destroyed and we have seen loved ones being persecuted and massacred.  Some of us continue to live the lifestyle of luxury in foreign lands.  And some of us are simply existing daily in a foreign land doing business.  All of us have one thing in common - we are in foreign lands to pursue something or someone which / who is already part of God's greater plan in our lives.

The journey becomes easier when we accept that even these foreign lands and its peoples rightfully belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, King of kings.  The journey becomes easier if there were 2-3 traversing along the desert - together with one goal to see the King.

In my journey, I am thankful to a few friends who  have been by my side to help me in every aspect of my life.  I am thankful that with their help and prayers, they allow me to see, be and share the King of kings to many others.  Yes, distance is not an issue for me - send me to the ends of the earth, O God!.

While distance is never the issue in the pursuit of God's perfect will, it does get lonely during this last week of December but I am never alone.

After all, the promise in Matthew 1: 23 still stands.  Jesus is the greatest reason for this season and He is God who became flesh and lived among us.  I thank God the Father for His grace, truth and the love shown to us through Jesus, Son of God.  With you, I celebrate the Main and Greatest Reason for the season.

May the Spirit of Christ be real to all of us genuinely seeking God during this Christmas season.

Rachel

+Distance is never an issue - seek God and close the gap.


Friday, 21 October 2016

Mutuality & Community - A Reflection of God

I wrote a blog a few days ago, referring to Dr. Jackie Roese's article, for GProConnext.  

I came across an article by Dr. Jackie Roese accidentally.  But I must say her writing resonates with me, and perhaps with other men and women of God.  This issue of women in leadership has been contentious for the longest time.  Why must it be so?  Coming from Singapore, one of the most educated nations in the world, it is extremely difficult for me to fathom that Christ-following women's leadership is limited to certain categories of the church population - mainly to children, youths and women.  Worst still, in some sectors of God's kingdom, it is expected that the woman follow instructions from a male leader.  Or put it another way, women can be leaders but there is a limit to how far they can advance in the kingdom.  
My interest lies in the faithful usage of gifts and talents given by God.  If a brother is far more gifted and better in serving in a particular capacity, so be it.  If a sister is better, so be it.  But they must have heard from God first and foremost and be approved by their leaders.  Herein lies the problem - what if a women is called to lead or to pastor or to preach or to teach? Would the male leaders in that particular church encourage her with whole-heartedness, even daring to equip her with the leadership and homiletical skills?  Would permission be granted to her to  "do all to the glory of God"? (1 Corinthians 10:31)
When I belonged to a certain Methodist church in Singapore, I was taken by surprise when my pastor invited me to preach at a Sunday worship service.  My first words were, "What caused you to invite me?" I could not believe that this elderly man actually invited me.  My then-pastor replied that he was praying for me and he believes that God asked him, "When will you give her the pulpit?"  He knew that he had to invite me and was doing so, out of obedience.  Praise God for his courage as since then, I have preached in many churches in various nations, sometimes seeing hundreds accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  All glory to God!
Frankly, we have been dialoguing and being politically correct (oh, those famous two-words for the season-'politically correct') and I have seen how dialogues can bring out the anger and indignation in a person.  Any topic to do with women is sensitive but we are not all about hairdos, fashion, shoes and handbags.  Or making coffee, getting files and folders, teaching art or hosting felllowships.  We think - we can think and we will think. We want to be able to reach anyone whom God assigns us.  We are here to glorify God with the love of Christ and by using our gifts and talents as best as we can.
My heart resonates with Roese's article because I have observed and experienced the misconceptions about Christian women in leadership, as have many other women I know.  And I especially like this quote from her article 3 Things Christians Get Wrong About Women Leaders: 
Within God's self, there is giving and receiving, affecting and being affected—mutuality. The creation of man and woman reflects the community of our Triune God.
There is not only mutuality and community in a Triune God, there is beauty in the entire concept of a unity that can only be achieved in the Lord Jesus Christ. In God's perfect world, we are called to rule the world together.  It is my hope that as Christians, we can bring some perfection related to the kingdom of God into an imperfect world.
In the same article, Roese says, "The Church is crippled by the male-female divide. Commentator Carolyn Custis James says, "When men are called to full-fledged Kingdom living but the other half of the Church is asked to sit on the sidelines, there is no Blessed Alliance, the Bride of Christ limps, and we misinterpret God's oneness."



Blessings,
Rachel

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Honest Responses: On Praying & Financially Supporting Missionaries

We are three-quarters into 2016.  It's that time of the year where most of us, missionaries or not, probably look into our budget and see if we have enough to move forward, whether we need to make some adjustments along the way and how we can possibly live within our means.

Most of my friends know that my ministry depends on donations given by cheerful givers.  Personally, I value the prayers of our intercessors and definitely appreciate the timely financial gifts that sustain Faith Ablaze International Ministries (FAIM).  But this time, I was compelled to find out some personal beliefs and thoughts about why some Christians would want to pray or give financially towards missionaries.  Here's a biblically based article written by David Peach that might interest you: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/importance-of-missions-7-reasons-to-support-them/ .


The assumption here is that both prayer and giving financially are ministries.  The following are honest responses from followers of Christ living in different continents, albeit mostly from Asia:


1.  Partnership with missionaries is an integral part of God's eternal work among the nations


Supporting a missionary makes one an integral part of​ a ministry. When one cannot participate in a mission work oneself, then supporting that mission work financially and prayerfully causes one to feel as much a part of that work as the missionary oneself. 

Myrtle T, Finland

I would be encouraging and be a part of the true missionary who is imparting the life-transforming Gospel to others.
- Jenipher O, Kenya

Hands-on involvement in new frontiers is not always possible for everyone but we can be partners in the mission field by supporting full-time missionaries through regular financial support (which shows a personal commitment to the missions and ministry in the long-run).
- CMK, Middle East

We participate in the expansion of God's kingdom through supporting those who taught us the Ttruth of Life (Galatians 6:6).

Rachel, Middle East

To let you know that you are not ploughing, planting and harvesting alone but you have those who, support you in other ways even though they are unable to be with you physically.

- AW, Singapore

We spend money on many things for necessities and our wants, which is not wrong but can, sometimes, be frivolous.  Ultimately, supporting missions is an investment for eternity.  If one's contribution can lead to souls being saved, then it's money well-spent.

- Calvin M, Singapore

Sowing into the ministry (of missions) is partnering in sowing and harvesting souls for Christ.  Behind a missionary, there must be a team of co-laborers.

- Daphne H, Singapore

It is partnering with missionaries.  It is also strategic that I can reach out through such partnerships to many nations which otherwise I would not be able to reach.

- Evelyn L, Singapore

So that the missionaries can teach and help others to understand the love, mercy and power of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

- JS, Singapore

I can contribute to the work of the kingdom by prayer and financial support of those who are called since I am not called to the frontlines.  Romans 10: 14-16 comes to mind.

- Kevin A, Singapore

Why pray?  Because we pray and hope that God will allow the little we give to become a part of His miracles and answers to prayers.

- TKT, Singapore

When one is approached to support a missionary or other ministries financially or through prayer, it is an invitation to join the mission itself.
- Cindy H, United States of America

Our prayers help sustain them through emotional and spiritual battles which they face daily...while our prayers hold them up spiritually, our financial gifts help provide for them physically.  Our gifts, no matter how small or insignificant to others, collectively amount to a 'big deal' for them....

Whatever little we can offer will amount to much, as we give it, trusting and believing that God will multiply it.  We need to spread the Word, and they need us to help them spread the Word.
- Patrick K, United States of America


2.  True disciples are expected to obey the Great Commission by supporting those called to the frontlines.

By supporting them in prayer and financially, we are doing what God has prepared us to do by being God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).

- Rachel, Middle East



The Lord expects this (action of praying and giving towards missionaries) from His children (Matthew 25:40).  It is a sign of being true disciples of Christ (1 John 3: 18)

- Reymund, Middle East

God commands all believers in Christ to give to those in need, especially to those in kingdom work (Romans 12: 13).

- Sandeep, Middle East

If I see the brother or sister in need, I would help (Matthew 25:40).

-  Caroline M, Singapore

It is God's Commission for all of us to disciple the nations.

- Evelyn L, Singapore

To support missionaries financially is an opportunity to participate in the Lord's Commission to make disciples of all nations.

- LBH, Singapore

To support the cause of God's divine mission through dear ones serving in the field.

- PI, Singapore

All believers are commanded to go to the nations (Matthew 28: 19-20).  One way of going is to support those who are serving in/among the nations.

- Karen H, United States of America


It's part of the great commission. We are to promulgate the gospel throughout the world. Others may not be able to go to certain areas, but they can support those who do go. Prayer and financial support are both important. Prayer seeks heavenly intervention, and finances meet needs so those on mission field, who sacrifice to be there, are able to do God's work in those areas. 
- Michael I, United States of America


3. Christian love through prayer and financial support for the missionaries is a blessing for all!

One can only gain blessings when supporting missionaries! 
- Myrtle T, Finland


There is a reward for supporting missionaries (Matthew 10: 40-42).

- Ato A, Ghana







If I care for those families already in the frontlines, I would help them abundantly with my prayers and my earnings as blessed by the Provider.
- Anu A, India

Supporting is actually a ministry in itself, one that stretches and affirms one's own faith.
- M.T., India

In God's family, we uplift one another in whatever way we can.
- Susheela M, India

Christians are called to different ministries and have different giftings.  There are those who are just givers and they receive blessings through their giving towards missionaries.
- Donald O, Kenya

Financially supporting the missionaries not only blesses them but blesses you!
- CMK, Middle East

We do so to glorify God but also to tell you that we love you.
- AW, Singapore

Because the missionary is a friend and I admire his/her person's love for God that he/she is willing to give up all.

- Rachelle T, Singapore

Giving specifically to the missionaries honors God as they are God's laborers who work hard  and they deserve 'wages'.  

- TKT, Singapore

It is a privilege for any Christian to pray and support a missionary because we love Jesus.
- Violet J, Singapore

In summary, I believe that if followers in Christ wanted to participate in the Great Commission even though they may not be 'called' to cross geographical boundaries, they CAN!  As most responses indicate, it is a privilege given to all to support missionaries and ministries with prayer and financial gifts.  Every little gift counts towards a collective blessing for the missionaries or ministries.

I am thankful to all those who were willing to share their heartfelt responses with me.  You encourage me with your words.  And I pray that many intercessors and senders (givers) will understand their role in being a great blessing to the nations. To God be all glory when giving and receiving are done in the love of Christ!

With the joy and love of Christ,
Rachel