A look back at 2012 and saying hi to 2013

Indeed, 2012 has been a happening year, as always. On the first morning of 2013, it is perhaps apt to look back at 2012 to see what God has really brought me through over the past one year.

January

January 2012 started off with a trip to Chiang Mai to attend the Missional global conference. It was an eye opener and perhaps an invitation to change mindset in how we do church. The key message is really this: whether we are willing to let go of the old ways of doing things in order to live out the calling of God to fulfillthe Great Commission. Although there wasn't a lot of people from Hope Singapore, but the message was consistent with what Hope Singapore was about to do, being led by God, as we moved into Axis. January 2012 also marked my last service serving as a stage musician - due to some complication, we could not move into Axis at the turn of the year. I have to admit - I miss serving on stage as a musician but it was a decision I had to make to gain focus on other more important things that I know I must do.

February

This month marked the start of my involvement with Breakfast With Love, a monthly event that Hope Centre and Kampung Glam YEC organise together for the elderly in the area. And it thus also jumpstarted my involvement with Kampung Glam YEC. To be frank, I would never imagine myself being involved in a YEC but after that, I believed that I was conned by a lie that I believed for many years, due to a particular person's unhappy experience. I also started planning for my second trip to Japan at around this time. I must say that my trip to Japan in Nov 2011 changed my perspective on Christian social involvement, and hence that influenced my decision to get involved with Hope Centre's effort with Kampung Glam.

March

The highlight of March was perhaps my second trip to Japan, volunteering with Crash Japan Tono base, otherwise known as Iwate Ministry Initiative currently, and helping out back at Watanoha Christ Church with OM. This trip perhaps reinforced my passion for mission, and my compassion for people. Even as I think about the people there, I thought to myself, I would like to go back there to help out again, if God permits. The one thing I realised over there was interesting, as I was able to use my guitaring skill to bless the people over there. But March contained other high points as well. There was the announcement of an unexpected promotion at work. I think this promotion was the blessing from God, or rather comes from the grace of God. I would see it as a testimony of my faithfulness to both my work and my service to Him.

Of course, there was the wedding of a dear brother and sister which I was privileged to serve as a guitarist in their church wedding. It happened one week before my Japan trip and I thought to myself, how come everytime I go Japan, I am helping out in a wedding one week beforehand?

April

April was the month that we had an official opening at Axis. Thinking back, the journey from Nexus to Axis was long. We had quite a number of fund raising activities to raise funds for Chairs for Souls and some individuals contributed quite a lot to the cause. Come to think of it, when I attended the official opening ceremony and the celebration services, I think I just thank God not for the venue, but for a church which I can call my spiritual home. It was in Hope that I was able to grow and be nurtured as a disciple. During this period, work also took an interesting turn as the nature of work began to change.

May

In between April and May was quite interesting also as I became clearer of God's direction for me in my life. A couple of talks with some people who have seminary experience and clear message from God for me to be equipped started to point me towards going for a theological education, instead of mission in this season of my life. Many factors culminated in that decison and it can been really seen as a divine intervention. As I was reflecting on the learnings from the Supernatural conference conducted during that time, I think I gained a much better appreciation of what God intends to do in my life. The full story of this can be found in this blog, if you are interested.

June

I started attending Hope Sem classes for fun following my decision to sign up for bible college. And thus started my journey of frantically buying books over Amazon over the past few months, till the point that I have to force myself to stop due to space constraint. It was also the month that I decided to try out a new experiment in my LG, the first of its kind in Hope, as far as I am aware, or at least in the ministries that I have served in so far. As the LG grew larger, it became a bit untenable for me to conduct LG sessions once per week and expect people to be ministered. Hence, a discussion group system was started and thus started my stint of running two LGs per week.

July

With the starting of the discussion group system, it was also around this period that we have new members from the uni group joining us, and it was also about this time, when my leader left for another church. What can I make sense of this experience? In some sense, it is perhaps a painful thought, as I reflect back, that in all of my stints as LGL, I found myself 'abandoned' halfway through. This recent one was more palatable as there was a divine purpose for the leader's decision. It forced us to take more ownership of the LG and by extension, the unit as well. It became one of the most challenging periods that I have ever encountered as we walked through the next few months.

August

August was a quiet month. But I remember that in one of the prayer meetings, I was reminded that no matter what happens, God is always in control and He has complete sovereignty over everything. Such understanding became very important as I began to reflect on my own limitations in my own ministries and my own life.

September

September was a milestone month as I finally submitted the forms I needed for AGBC matriculation. It wasa pretty milestone moment. I procrastinated for sometime since I made the decision to be enrolled as I hestitated to inform my family on my decision, afraid that they will be concerned that I am going off to be a pastor. In some sense, when I finally sought the permission and when I finally submitted the form (although I have to go through some trouble in getting the medical examination done and the referral forms signed), there was the feeling that things will depend a lot on God from hereon. I did receive a warm welcome from the registrar when I submitted the form. And the way she put it to me, it seemed as though my matriculation would be more or less confirmed and so...

October

October was a quiet month. We were preparing for the barrage of birthdays, but it was also a month when I began to face challenges over some conflicts in the LG. I sometimes asked myself if I should exercise hard church discipline and 'excommunicate' the errant members, whether they were in the right or wrong.

November

November was the month that it was confirmed I will be starting my study. I went down for the matriculation interview and I was matriculated on the spot. I sometimes have questions over the issues and concerns that the deans had over my matriculation, cos they took a while to inform me of the decision as they asked me to wait outside the interview room (which was the principal's office). The promptness of the decision was in some way a pleasant surprise for me. I was expecting myself to be matriculated but I had never expected the decision to come on the spot. It however allowed me to have a peace of mind and concentrate on my preparation.

This month also saw one of the most 'siong' period of attending weddings. I was fortunate enough to serve in the wedding ceremony and dinner of my shepherd. It was also during this period when I was regaining some joy back in playing music after a long hiatus. I must also say that this is the time when I was seriously considering getting a Variax.

December

The last month of the year 2012, I was preparing for restructuring of the LG. At long last I finally have a chance to restructure the group to something more palatable for people to handle. I must say, though, that the journey in preparing for the restructuring was not easy as I have to question myself on the virtue of the arrangments. It was also during this period that I started my pre assignment for my NTF module. For the first time in my life, I have to finish reading all my textbook before the semester starts. Obviously, a post grad course in theology seems more rigorous than a normal post grad course.

I also volunteered with World Vision. Over there, I met up with many people and I have to say, the experience brought a new perspective on prayer. I remembered that on one occasion, we decided to pray for the children to have sponsors coming along and people to come over to the booths to contribute. Lo and behold, after the prayer, people actually came and we were on consecutive 'winning streak' which the staff shared that it was almost unheard of. I also had the privilege of ministering to the staff, who used to work in the corporate world until God called her into full time with World Vision. Her struggle was so pronounced in her sharing that I could immediately tell that she could not let go and I was glad that God could use me to encourage her,

As I step into 2013, reviewing all that has happened over the past one year, there are a few fresh insights which God has given me. These are not new to me, but given what happened over the past one year, they took on a whole different meaning.

Firstly, it was the fact that God is gracious. One of the main messages of the Christian gospel always hinges on the grace of God. What does a life being touched by grace would look like? How should we respond to the grace of God? Do we not realise that the grace of God is new and everlasting every morning? Do we forget all these and get condemned and trapped by what happened in the past? This does not mean cheap grace but it does mean that we take the grace seriously and consider how we should live our lives in view of God's grace and mercy.

Secondly, it was the fact that God is trustworthy. This comes towards the end of the 2012, as I was preparing for a lot of changes that will be taking place in 2013. As I have posted previously, we need to trust in the Lord and not lean on our own understanding when the going gets tough. As human beings, we have the habits of wanting to take things into our own hands, but what does it really mean to submit to God and trust Him? When there are uncertainty, do we want certainties first before we move on or are we willing to trust God and move ahead, assuming that we are clear that He wants us to move ahead? In fact, this insight 'returned' so late that I have the tendency to think that it is going to be the theme for my own life in 2013 - the year of trust.

I looked back at my new year resolutions for 2012 and I thought to myself, have I achieved the resolutions? I think I still have a long way to go in living a simple life though I think I am beginning to see the world on how God sees, even when it is not as expected as I wished to. He let me see a totally different perspective, in some sense, a wider scope of the Great Commission.

Moving forward to 2013, I think I have come to the point resolutions might really mean nothing to me. There are a few things that I hope to achieve this 2013 and those include things like rising new leaders in the LG. It might sound that there are little goals, but given that the general direction for my life has been set by God, I will leave the piece of paper blank so as to allow space for God to write on it, to allow Him to steer my path.

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