Sunday, May 16, 2010

Joel Wei Xian said:

Hello everyone I am writing this 3 weeks after coming back from the trip to west Kalimantan. The memories from the trip are getting hazy and the experience feels somehow distant and unreal compared to my daily life back in Singapore. The “spiritual high” has long died down and things seem like they were starting to revert back to the way things were before the trip. After returning from the trip I never found the time to quietly reflect on the trip and gather what I have learnt from the experience. I found myself procrastinating or caught up with mundane tasks. Now having to write about my experience I hope what little a can remember can encourage you.

Initially before the trip I was not keen on going for the trip. I felt I was not suited for mission trips and was fearful that responsibilities back home would fall apart while I was gone as it had in the past. I was not willing to let go of those responsibilities. I knew that short terms mission trips were good but felt I did not need to go for it. But through the encouragement of the mission team and realizing that God would take care of everything back home, I decided to go. I knew God was telling me to look at was He was doing at living waters and that everything was His work and he would look after it. The trip was my first ever mission trip and I felt I was not prepared for the trip even after the team meetings and truly when I reaching living waters the experience was nothing like what I could have imagined.

During the first few days at living waters, I was truly touched by God's goodness and seeing the children worship God wholeheartedly it moved me to tears. I could see that God truly cares and provides for them despite the circumstances they were born into and it also spurred me to have at attitude of thanksgiving for his providence no matter what the circumstances or how uncertain the future may be. The trip was encouraging seeing the miracles that God was doing it encouraged me to never give up hope and trust in God. It is not about seeing the miracles or what God has done but trusting and putting our hope in Him patiently and obediently, never giving up even thought we seeing no way.

As Pastor Ronny and the other missionaries shared their experiences there. It truly stuck me that they were normal people just like you and I doing impossible things for God. Their experiences, lessons and struggles they faced truly encouraged me as I could related to their problems and know God is a faithful GOD you can depend on. Seeing their breakthrough in their ministry encouraged me never lose hope.

The lessons God was teaching me during the trip were no different from things back in Singapore but being in a new environment and being free of repeated tasks and responsibilities, it was not difficult to listen to what God wanted to tell me. I also found myself worshipping Him more in a deeper way and that was not always the case back home. Upon returning to Singapore, I asked myself why I could worship Him more wholeheartedly there. I realized that back at living waters we were constantly reminded of God goodness in everything and it was easy to take it for granted back in Singapore. There my thoughts were on God and His kingdom for most part of the day and it helps me to worship Him more whole heartedly now and I hope it will continue and that I will not struggle to connect and surrender to God during worship, to truly worship Him out of the overflow of my heart.

Another change in perspective is the area of doing the will of God, during the trip many of the people in the team were at crossroads including me. They wanted God guidance and assurance for their next step in life. We realized that the only way was to truly desire to put Him first and make it our desire to want to do His will for His glory. Back in Singapore, I attended a celebration for my seniors graduating from university. As they recounted their university experience and prepared to start work. I could not help but wonder what I wanted in life. It was a bitter sweet moment for them as they recounted their experience during their time in university, I knew their experiences would soon fade as they move on and they had a sense of emptiness knowing whatever accomplishment they have done will be just memories. It spurred me to desire to want to know what God wanted me to do even more and do something truly meaningful and fulfilling. Knowing that true satisfaction can only come from doing what God wants me to do, I hope I will pursue and desire what God want for me. Seeing the older people around me as they go about their jobs and take care of their families, I asked myself are they really fulfilling God’s will for them. Are we living an illusion, as my friend Zhuang Mao put it, being occupied by many things but not God? I do not have the answer but I do know that there are some people who did not follow God’s clear calling for them. Will they be ever satisfied knowing they are not fulfilling God purpose for them? I hope that I will strive to seek God and not live an illusion. Do not think that we know enough or have done enough and stagnate there. Living as Christians should be a constant change towards Christ-likeness no matter what stage you are in life. Lets us not be too comfortable with where we are or what we are doing but continually step out of our comfort zone in faith. Let us also not be lukewarm but on fire for God constantly seeking and becoming more Christ-like.

All Are Precious in His Sight

It has only been a short while since our mission trip ended and already I can feel the experiences disappearing from memory. Yet even as the details fade away, the essence of the trip lingers in my mind, and I thank God for guiding me to Living Waters Village, and to my first mission trip.

It may sound cliché, but for a long time, I had always wondered what it would be like to go for missions. The accounts I read about in books and heard from missionaries seemed so fascinating, so inspirational, and yet so much larger than life. I wanted to experience first-hand what a mission trip was like, yet a large part of me was very reluctant. It seemed to me as if missions was just for those 'on fire for Christ', and I never felt adequately 'on fire' on go for missions.

These thoughts, so familiar to me, once again assailed me in Bible school as we were presented with an opportunity to go for a short-term mission trip to Living Waters. As usual, I wanted to go, but it was just so much easier to choose not to, and let the 'better Christians' do God's work. This time round, a sharing from Pastor Ronny Heyboer convinced me to just give it a shot. As he shared with the class about what he had been doing in West Kalimantan, it struck me then that this man was, by himself, no 'superhero'. He faced many struggles too, but what made him different was that he was willing to let himself be a vessel for carrying God's love to the unreached people in Indonesia. I began to realise that at the heart of missions was in fact willingness – to love God's people as God has loved us, in whatever way we may be called to.

Well the mission trip itself was great, yet unexpected in some ways. I thought that we would be going there to deal mostly with children, but somehow I found myself spending quite a lot of time with the labourers who were employed to help with brickmaking. At first, it seemed odd to be amongst them. They were 'real men' with the capacity to do what we city guys were not able to do. Though we were welcomed warmly by them, I was secretly expecting them to soon grow tired with us. Yet I was proven wrong. Though their amusement at our ineptness waned over time, their friendliness never did. Though there were obvious language barriers, they shared freely about themselves and always tried to engage us, such as by trying to teach us Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Dayak.

Once, as we were taking a break, I was surprised by the familiar tunes of M2M coming from the handphone of one of the senior gentlemen with a well tattooed back. Little instances such as these seemed pretty funny to me as I encountered them, but as the days went by, I realised that these instances served to 'humanise' each of them. As I interacted more with them, they changed from being a collective group of 'labourers' to individuals who I could put a face to, who had different personalities, each with his own likes and dislikes, struggles and moments of joy.

By extension, I came to realise that it was the same for the many pre-believers in the world. Though numerous, each is treasured and known uniquely by God. On reflection, this was what was demonstrated by Pastor Ronny too. In treating each child in Living Waters as his own, he mirrored the Father's heart in that showing love personally for each and every child. Perhaps one of the keys to keeping missions alive in our hearts is to remember that each pre-believer in the world is more than just a statistic, that he or she is loved by God too, and that God wants each one to experience the fullness of His love too. =)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Joseph - Beauty Redefined

I thought I was getting it easy when the team assigned the seemingly frivolous responsibility of “official team photographer” to me. I knew I definitely wouldn’t have to rack my brains for creative skit and performance ideas, or to endure the stress and hassle of managing the donated items and gifts we were bringing to Living Waters (which is ironic, because the guy in charge of logistics, and thus the gargantuan responsibility of managing the donated items, had two years of experience as a photographer for a magazine. I’m sure I appreciated the irony more than he did).

If sacrifice is a required aspect of service, then I probably wasn’t being of service. I was enjoying my job (though I’d hardly call it a job), taking photos of the smiling kids, the bashful teenagers and the missionaries claiming that they were “getting that zoo feeling again”. The camera made interaction easy; I didn’t need a lot more than “senyum(smile)”, “ganteng(handsome)” and “cantik(pretty)” to communicate somewhat effectively. I confess that at times, the so-called responsibility of taking photos also served as a very good excuse to do a little less dishwashing or brick carrying, and for the initial part of the trip I saw no greater significance to being the team photographer.

Its funny how the pivotal point of the trip for me came in a rare moment when I didn’t have my camera hanging around my neck. But it was a moment that I couldn’t have captured. We were all attending a prayer meeting before the start of the Sunday service in the Aola room used for children’s ministry. My focus tends to wander during prayer meetings, and it didn’t help that most of the prayer was carried out in very rapid Bahasa Indonesia. But as my eyes started to drift around the room I started to notice the items lining the shelves and the walls. There was a familiarity about the items, the kind of stuff I would have donated had I heard of a place like Living Waters.

Aola Room

Then it struck me. Everything I had seen in Living Waters, from the smiles on the faces of the children to the cheerfully painted buildings, from the bricks lying by the roadside to the freshly cooked meals we were eating, was a physical manifestation of God’s love, His love that had been laid upon Ps. Ronny’s heart, on the heart of his family, on the hearts of the missionaries and leaders there, and of the donors from all over the world. I was walking, living and breathing in a physical manifestation of God’s love. And it was beautiful.

I called that a pivotal point because from that point on being the team photographer, along with everything else I was doing, took on fresh meaning. Being the photographer was now a privilege, an opportunity to capture God’s manifest love, which I was beginning to see in every aspect of the Living Water’s experience. It was evident in the teaching sessions; the members of our team involved in teaching were evidently enjoying connecting with their students and making a very tangible difference in their lives, delighting at the potential and progress displayed by each child. It was a little subtler in activities that lacked an interpersonal factor, like manual labour or painting, but as my city dwelling limbs struggled to shovel the cement-soapwater mixture used to make bricks, I was distinctly aware that I was becoming part of a process of building God’s love, one brick at a time.

God's love: One brick at a time

I was coming to a new level of appreciation for the profound beauty of God’s love. There are no rooftop verandahs, no postmodernist architecture or private swimming pools in Living Waters, but when I recognized that everything I was taking in was a physical manifestation of His love, I saw a beauty that possessed a level of depth that man’s artistry alone would never achieve.

And the things of the earth, the marble floors, the dazzling chandeliers, and all the things that are beautiful by worldly and materialistic standards grow strangely dim. They grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace, channeled to the world as glimmers and glimpses of heaven, through the hearts and lives of those who come to Him as willing vessels.

Monday, May 10, 2010

City of God

It had been quite a trip. I went there with lots of uncertainties. Would I be of any benefit to the people? I can't understand, nor can I speak Bahasa Indonesian. Even at the most optimistic level, if I were able to speak God's Word, would it make a difference? Pastor Ronny is definitely more able to do that! And even if God wanted to speak a Word in season, why would He call someone all the way from Singapore, travelling 11 hours on the road to speak it? He has so many (better) saints there!

Still, with Dean's encouragement, and God clearing the way, I sent despite not knowing exactly why.

And stepped right into a different world. It was really a small glimpse of what the Kingdom of God is like. God reigned in that place. It was a place which God built - without His provision, none of it would had been possible. But that was just the start. He who began a good work brings it to completion. He sustains it by providing for every meal, every repair, every brick, every servant. He is magnified in the children's praises, He is remembered at every meal's prayer, at every scripture reading. By their love for one another, the children show themselves to be His disciples. They are united as one family. There is "no exact job description for anyone, but everyone looks around and helps out where there is a need" (Ronny, roughly quoted). Those who are great serve - by very practical means like washing and sweeping and carrying bricks. Those who are least are treated like the firsts, being given the best care and tender treatment.

There is always something to do in Living Waters. But there is always someone to do it.

In such a place, how does one help? What can you add to a City of God? It was then that I realised that this position itself would disqualify me from contributing. As long as I saw myself as being apart from it, as being from "Singapore", as being there to "give" (as though I was better off), I had nothing to offer. How could I offer anything? However, if I became a part of the family, everything made sense. As part of the family, I need not have a special meeting, delivered in a profound way to impact them. In fact, if I were given a special meeting, I would not even be able to carry it out properly. But as part of the family, I just had to do what I could. I cannot revamp the kitchen system, but I could wash a dish. I could not introduce a new curriculum, but I could teach a child or help a lesson. I could not even conduct a Sunday School class (unlike our talented team member), but I can sing a song, staple rubber bands and be beaten up as a failed Singa. I cannot declare God's Word, but I can hold a child to show him / her that they are loved...

Truly, building God's Kingdom is not difficult.

It was not a school which we painted there - it was God's school. It was not a training center that we cleaned, we were cleaning God's house and Sanctuary. It was not a brick we made, we were building the city of God. It was not a child we were playing with, we were making Saints.

Where the Spirit of God is, there is freedom and joy. How many children in Singapore are as happy as those there? How many adults have jobs that give as much meaning as the missionaries? How many tribes will be impacted because these children will go and bring back the gospel message to them? I am sure many Sunday School Teachers will give their left hand to have their classes and children like those in Living Waters.

It is more real than this illusion which we live in.

Would all these fade away like a dream,
drowned by routines, stiffled by the everyday, smothered to an ember? It remains to be seen. May the Lord fan this into flames. And to thank Him for this privellege of allowing us to build His house.
- Zhuang Mao

Returning to Reality...

I vividly remember the wild whoops that followed when David announced that we were 15 minutes away from Living Waters Village. Grimy hands exchanged hi-fives and a bunch of us at the back of the bus erupted into enthusiastic choruses (or screams, rather) of old kid songs. It was surreal as we pulled into a gigantic porch of sorts. Piercing bright lights and tall pillars beckoned as I peered out of a window. I can still see myself stepping off the dusty old bus, wide-eyed and feeling mildly wonky from the ride that had just come to an exhilarating end. After toddling about in our jelly-legs for a bit, we unloaded our things and scurried towards the main entrance to the dining hall for dinner.

Though we had been living the dream (we ate, drank and slept) for the past 12 hours, nothing pretty much prepared us for the sight that awaited us within. As someone opened the doors, I at the back, could vaguely make out a sea of gazillion unfamiliar faces returning our gazes in excited anticipation. Everything that followed after that felt like a dream. Little did we know that these tiny strangers whom we dined with that night would turn out to be the sweetest angels on earth.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of my stay in Living Waters was the time spent with the kids. Watching them go about their daily lives taught me more than I could ever imagine. Riska and Resti were one of the first, and probably the most memorable, of the many friends whom I made there. What I love so much about autiful watching her overcome her self-consciousness as she opened up to me in those few days. She’d always be the first one to spot me, throwing her slender arms round my waist and Riska is that child-like quality hidden behind her reserved, melancholic countenance. It was begoing “kakak!” As for Resti, her quiet confidence taught me a great deal. The world preaches forceful and arrogant confidence, but Resti gave me a glimpse into the kind of confidence that God advocates instead; that which is humble and gentle.

And then there were Thesa, Badol, Awang, Mondan and more. It pretty much blew my mind to know that each one of them had a story to tell. Through the love that they showed, they unknowingly taught me more than I taught them in those few days that I was there.

Over the next few days, that dreamy quality of the whole atmosphere there faded and it started dawning upon me that this was reality; a new kind of reality which I found myself getting accustomed to. It was reality with God being very much in the picture.

And there was always something new to learn with each sunny day that came along.

There was one time when I was sitting slumped against the wall with Thesa on my lap and watching the boys throw cicadas around. Seeing the grins on their faces and hearing their high-pitched chatter made me rethink the way by which I defined happiness. I had always subconsciously alluded happiness to achievement, acceptance and the like. But during the trip, it dawned upon me that real happiness is… simply where God is. It wasn’t something new, but a deep realization just hit home that day.

With every building we passed, whenever we walked on the dusty dirt roads of Living Waters, I’d always be reminded that it is a bold statement of faith; belief that isn’t poisoned by doubt, but irrational trust which God honors. It sure is comforting to know that Noahs do exist even in the present; not just for the sake of their beneficiaries but also to inspire people out there leading comfortable lives like you and I. Ronny’s testimony has taught me a great deal about trusting in God. It sure is hard to imagine how our faith in God should be like originally, especially since it has degenerated to what it is today; a tiny, unrecognizable trickle. Nevertheless, I take this as a challenge to put myself on the line and trust God more. Surely He can do more with my life than I would be able to, on my own.

There were many more other lessons that I gleaned from this trip and I trust that they would stay with me for a very long time to come. The atmosphere of love and joy there was unbelievably tangible.

Leaving Living Waters was a pretty solemn affair, with the children being unusually quiet. I hated having to tear myself away from the friendships that I had formed with the kids over that week, but there wasn’t much that I could have done about it. I should have anticipated that moment, I guess.

When I returned home the next day and stepped into my room, everything felt foreign; the clean water that gushed from my tap and the strange silence that stung the air. Scenes from the trip were still fresh in my mind.

I soon realized that keeping myself huddled up in the memory of my experiences from the trip was worthless, so I made it a point to share them, in hope that others would be, in turn, inspired to push the boundaries of their walk with God more. God has, through this, realigned many of my perspectives and developed, in me, a greater appreciation of His love. Looking back, I do feel that I should be effective wherever God places me, and not only while on a mission trip. So, that’s very much my focus for now.

I remember intending to write “Hope to see you again” in Bahasa in a note to Riska. However I mistakenly wrote “Harap berjumpa lagi”, which meant “See you again”.And so, my limited command of the beautiful language resulted in me giving my word that I would see her again instead. Henceforth, I made a resolution to keep my accidental promise someday.

Alright, who am I kidding. I’m just finding an excuse to return to reality again :) - Hannah

Charis - Dare To Dream!!!

The days spent at Living Waters would always be etched deeply within me. During the trip, God once again proved that He is indeed our faithful God and He never fails to open doors for us along the way. Our trip to Living Waters wasn’t all smooth (both literally and figuratively). We encountered problems with the custom officials on two accounts but God intervened!

After 11 hours on the roads, we finally entered the Miracle Zone: such an apt name for this place, where literally every single building was provided for by God. We were ushered into the training centre and were greeted by almost 400 children. Its amazing how God has brought each and every single one of the faces I saw that evening to this place to just be able to experience His goodness and love.

Early next morning, we joined the children for their daily early morning prayer. A guitarist started strumming simple chords on his acoustic guitar and all the children started singing in unison. Tears welled up in my eyes, even though I did not know the meaning of the song at that moment, the voices of young kids early in the morning singing at the top of their voices just touched me so deeply. From that moment on, I knew that God was showing me that He could do great things, even through kids. I was ashamed of myself really, for putting God in a box, for limiting His ability to work wonders. Back home in Singapore, in my own youth group, I used to pray that one day the kids will express their love for God so freely through worship. But as time went on, nothing seemed to happen and I was discouraged. I stopped expecting breakthrough of any kind. But throughout the trip, God had reaffirmed me that He is God and He can do great things if we put our trust in Him.

Through the trip, God has really stretched my faith level. Being tasked with planning and conducting music lessons for both the musicians at Living Waters and the children at the primary school was really challenging. I was initially pretty apprehensive about how to go about conducting these classes. But God is good always: He sent people along my way to suggest ideas, and to help me conduct the lessons, He sent an awesome interpreter/friend/musician (Kalis!) to help out throughout the entire week’s lessons. Indeed, when we avail ourselves to be empty vessels ready to be used by Him, He will work mightily through us and I am glad to have been part of God’s work over at the Miracle Zone. One thing that I will never forget is the kids’ hunger to learn. During the music lessons, we assigned them simple tasks to practice at night. We happened to walk pass their rooms late at night, and to our pleasant surprise, they were practicing and revising what we had covered earlier!

I just really thank God for this chance to witness His Kingdom being built. As one of my teammates said, His kingdom is being built brick by brick, paint stroke by paint stroke, brush by brush. And I’m glad to have been able to experience His love for the children there through the missionaries over at Living Waters. The trip allowed me to dream big once again, to want to do big things for God. Of course, I am very thankful for my 21other teammates: working together with them, painting, cleaning, sweeping, teaching and all was made so much more fun with them around :) God is indeed great and I know one day, I will return to the land of Kalimantan and visit this Miracle Zone I’ve come to love. :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

God showed me how He builds Everything from Nothing!

The 11 days away was an amazing experience for me. Through this trip to Kalimantan, God has taught me many new things and shown me so much of His beauty, I cannot even begin to describe how awed I am. 7 full days at Living Waters was enough to reveal to me a whole new aspect of God's majesty, and enough to birth in me a renewed passion to seek after the things of God's Kingdom. It being my first mission trip, I had no clue as to what to expect in the natural sense; but I had two main purposes in going. The first was to avail myself so that God can work through me in this area of His Kingdom's work that I never involved myself in before. The second was simply to witness God's hand at work in the nations. Both purposes were, without a doubt, fulfilled by God.

From the very moment we stepped into Living Waters, upon being warmly welcomed by all the children, I sensed the miracle hand of God at work in that place - the awesomeness of God's glorious hand so evidently at work in Living Waters. I never sensed the manifestation of God's love so strongly before as I did in Living Waters. It touches my heart to know that God loves each and every child; that He has provided them with a new home, a new life, and a purpose-filled future in Him. This revelation of God's love helped me to see the children through His eyes, and to love them knowing that each one is uniquely and wonderfully made by our Creator. Recalling the times spent playing with them, frantically escaping from the little ones as they attempted to force captured insects into my hands, embracing them while they sat on my lap to draw and show off their artistic talents, admiring the budding photographers who took random snapshots with my camera, I already miss them so.

Much as I yearn to relive these precious memories, I miss the daily morning prayer meetings even more. Each morning, at 5.30am and barely awake, I would drag my feet to the Training Centre where all the children would have already gathered and readied themselves for conversation with God. Without fail, what would come next would wake me up, even if I did not understand their language. The heartfelt singing by the children was like angelic voices from Heaven, and every utterance of prayer so honest and sincere that it put my prayers to shame. There, I learnt what simple, childlike yet powerful prayers are. And I learnt the sweet sound of praises that delight God. No wonder God loves His little children!

I am blessed to have spent a week at Living Waters, to have invested a little of my life into God's Kingdom and His children. It was a joy helping out wherever help was needed, such as cleaning the training centre and the medical centre, painting the primary school, teaching music lessons, etc. I was also greatly encouraged by many in the team who stepped up in faith during the trip to conduct English and Music lessons, share testimonies, etc., and simply put God's agenda before theirs. Because truly, in our weaknesses God's strength is shown.

Of course, my experience was made THAT much more enjoyable by my weird/crazy/quirky but awesomely fun friends cum teammates (: Not to mention, the several wonderful first experiences I had, such as riding atop a vehicle with the wind blowing in our faces as we admired God's beautiful hills and blue skies surrounding us, as well as mastering the art of avoiding rocks and logs and whatnot while swimming downstream in the river.

I cannot wait to return to Living Waters. Soon, I hope. This is God's wonderful work that I want to continue to be a part of. The very existence of Living Waters has inspired me to dream big for God, and to believe that God will bring His vision to fulfillment through me if only I am obedient and faithful. I am excited to witness once again the continuous expansion of Living Waters - a testimony of miracles upon miracles. I look forward to seeing the Medical Centre in action, to see more colourful houses built for the teenagers, and to see the Hospital and Worship Centre in time to come. God's work is always exciting! (: - Xiang

His Love @ Living Waters

MISSION is a big word that doesn’t really seem to fit into my small world. It seems noble, far and unreachable. I admire missionaries who possess all the qualities to save the world. Pastors and leaders are always screaming this tagline “They need the best people out there!” I felt intimidated. I’m definitely not the best. Great. I’m out of the picture. This whole perspective in my 6 years of Christian life came tumbling down after this trip. I’m still not the best person, but God makes me realize that it’s not about me being the best, it’s all about Him! He has caused that stirring and restlessness to convince me to go for this trip. He has given me His peace despite of the uncertainty of the process and outcome. I could almost hear Him whisper “Let Me show you what I can do!”

Interestingly, God has started showing me right at the start of the journey. His journey mercy despite the flight was delayed for 2 hours; His intervention at the customs that enabled us to retrieve all the donated items successfully; His providence of a wonderful place to house our big team of 22 to spend the night in; and His divine appointment of each individual in this mission team. The diverse personalities in this body of Christ had somehow added spice and an unspoken challenge for this trip. I waited in quiet anticipation on how I could fit in this unique genre as I travelled along the bumpy road in that small and threatening run down bus.

When I first set my eyes on Living Waters, I couldn’t believe what I saw. I was half expecting some old and run down buildings or huts (maybe the 11-hour bus ride had made me succumb to a lower expectation?). Instead, I was greeted with relatively new, cool and sturdy buildings; built and semi-built. As our leader, David excitedly pointed to the new structure at the entrance of Living Waters, I could finally understand his excitement. The place had been expanding every minute. These buildings stood coolly, reflecting God’s marvelous works and His shelter for the children and people living there. I surveyed the whole area with wonder and amazement. It was hard to imagine that this very ground that I stood was once a forest 7 years ago. All these existed because of a vision that God has given to Ps Ronny, and his incredible faith to act upon that vision. He shared testimonies after testimonies on how God always managed to provide all the necessary funds and resources in the very last minute. His faith allowed God to entrust him with greater things that one can ever imagine. I wonder how often I have limited my faith in Him, containing Him in a box. As written in the book of James, “Faith without works is dead”. How true it is! It’s not about having that perfect faith, but having that faith that allow and trust God to accomplish greater things in my life is something I need to learn about. Awesome! :)

The children called him “Bapak”. Ps Ronny was the father of Living Waters. Though there were as many as 400 of them, his love extended to each and every little one. He lectured them gently but firmly from the correct usage of the various cloths to washing the dishes thoroughly. Even for that 1 in the 400 who had a hearing problem, he went all the way to get a better hearing aid simply because he loved him. Like any other doting father, he wanted to provide the best for his children; sufficient food, cozy bedrooms, schools, medical clinic and even sending them to the university. There were much more examples of such great love which were left unspoken but deeply felt. His children also loved and respected him dearly. It suddenly occurred to me that this was not an ordinary welfare organization or an orphanage, but a big and cozy home with an ever growing family! God’s love was magnificent in this place. The Heavenly Father magnified His love and the earthly father displayed His love. Cool and awesome combination that I have ever seen!

Simplicity is sweet and beautiful. The children led a simple, disciplined, happy and contented life. They followed a daily routine of attending prayer meeting at 5.30am every weekday morning, having lunch at 12pm and dinner at 6pm. They were punctual and sat in organized and well laid tables during meals. They waited for grace to be said and “Selamat Makan” before they started eating. They waited patiently for their father to speak at every meal. They had meat in their meals only once a week. They squealed with joy when their father rewarded them with new or rather, donated clothes for keeping their bedrooms neat and tidy. They sang and jumped with all their hearts during worship. They played with insects, sand, trees or whatever they could find there or simply just running around. They received simple birthday gifts (such as a can of coke) with tears of joy and gratitude. They were curious and friendly towards strangers. On our very first night, the bolder ones would advance to play with us while the rest would stand at a distance and smile at us shyly. They attempted to make conversation to connect with us despite our limited languages. They were just so innocent and real that made them lovable. As I looked at them, I reflected how often I had complained about the lack of wants, how often I had coveted for what I don’t have. I felt ashamed watching as they lived their lives in pure confidence and secured in their Father’s love. How I wish for this simplicity in my life!

I did my best in whatever work I was assigned to, from making racks to cleaning the medical clinic and fighting spiders in the process. I felt the joy and satisfaction just by being a little part in His magnificent works there. Never mind about the bruise on my legs, never mind about the blisters on my hands, never mind about the strong detergent smell in the drinking cups, never mind about the brown tap water, never mind about sweating in the sun and draining that muddy and mosquito-infested water from that semi-built building, never mind about the minor friction with some of the team mates, I’m just too happy and thankful that God has brought me here to learn, to be reminded of His great works, His goodness and His love. I’m just too happy to be that small tiny piece in His big picture. I’m just too happy because He has shown me! It is time to start trusting Him for greater things. :) - Cheryl

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Intro Livi...

For those of you who don't know me (which is probably most of you) my name is Livi and I have just started working with World Outreach / Nations2Reach.

Ever since I was teenie weenie I had dreams about living amongst different cultures and helping the unloved and oppressed. I spent some time overseas and completed a missions internship in Japan - where God taught me so much about his love for all peoples.

I have been back in NZ for a year now. Last year I was trying to decide what God wanted me to do next! I had my ideas of starting an orphanage over in Russia or Africa - with my background in teaching!

Then I looked at NZ and I looked at the youth and the amazing potential for them to go and storm the nations. When I looked around me when I was in other cultures I noticed that so many of the people volunteering their time were older! I know that this generation is going to hugely impact the nations!!

We have the best kept secret of all time - that some people haven't yet heard! I believe that as we give of ourselves to people that have little, God will grow our capacity to love on the unloved. Instead of me - little old me - going over and starting an orphanage - what if I help others to find their passion and send them out of our nation to reach the lost - those who have never experienced the love of God! So here I am today! One little person wanting desperately to see God glorified where he has never been spoken of before!

One person with little to give but standing here saying, "here am I God - send me!"

This year we will be going to the nations of Indonesia and Thailand. We come as we are and pray - God use us. I am passionate about people - from every nation, tribe and tongue! I want to see each one when I get to heaven!

I pray that as you are reading this God would really begin to solidify what it is he has commissioned you for! I pray that he would stir an unquenchible hunger for him!

I pray that as you cling to God you would be flooded on with bundles of blessing and favour!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pearl's Insights

Hello to you who are reading this! My name is Pearl and I've just been on my first trip to Living Waters Village in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. I've been reading and hearing about the ministry for the last two years and this time round, to witness the progression of the work going on there was an eye-opener.

Right from the beginning of the trip to the time we were almost due to leave the place, surprises seem to keep knocking on our door. Communication was lagging between team members as half of them resided outside of Singapore. The ticket we were supposed to book for our flight to Kuching was fully booked, so we had to fly without the team leader. The day before overseas team members were to fly in, one hasn’t got her passport, another was stuck in the floods of Bangkok. How very exciting.

Nevertheless, with the exception of our beloved team member who stayed back in Bangkok, the rest of us made it safely to Living Waters Village :-) As I mentioned, surprises knocked on our door pretty often. On the morning we were due to conduct Sunday school for the kids, we realized there was no available interpreter! How’s that for a start? Thank God that He brought Laura to us. We met over breakfast and realized she’s one- Malaysian, which means she can speak Bahasa Melayu and two-she’s the main person for children’s ministry in her own church. She was definitely God-sent because I had no prior experience in conducting children’s ministry! Was I grateful to both she and God.

Now, if the morning episode was not enough, another surprise came in the afternoon. The team met up with Rachel and Marlinde, both whose families are based there. They liked what we taught in Sunday school on creation and wonder if we could teach English in the school next week (which is the very next day) riding on that theme. Well, that didn’t sound very exciting for me – not for me who thinks she has goofed up badly earlier in Sunday school. Moreover, we all came with the mentality we were here to do intensive labour work. No where did my team leader ever mention in the meetings that we’re going to teach but still – we taught.

Can I share with you something I learnt on this trip? No matter how bad we think we goofed up. No matter how unprepared we are. No matter experienced or not experienced, if it’s part of His plans, His grace will carry us through and carry us did it. Five not-so-familiar people gathering together to try to plan a teaching curriculum with very little background knowledge (we know there are 5 classes and their age groups and that’s about it), that sent P-A-N-I-C running across my face. Apparently God knew me better than I know myself. Just as I was doing my reading before bedtime with my Daily Bible, Exodus 3:1-4:31 was waiting for me. Moses met God, whom wanted to send him to Pharaoh. Moses, like me and some of us in the team, weren’t too excited. He out rightly told God, just as I did that “I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” Yet the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach what you shall say.” There was no argument.

So Monday came. We worshipped, prayed, planned and prayed. We had a good start though the students were shy in responding. Still, it was good. We did more planning and praying. By His grace and anointing, we managed to plan out the teaching a day at a time, everyone taking different responsibilities. There were no major disagreements; we worked well on a whole, just as how the body of Christ should work. The students were also warming up to us. Before we knew it, Friday had come! There are so many more things I would love to share (which I would on my website at but in a nutshell, this journey was simply amazing.

On this journey, God was speaking to every one of us. He was reminding one of His faithfulness. He was showing one how planning is essential (as the saying goes: we fail to plan, not plan to fail) Showing another how time could be better used than just having fun. Renewing the strength of one. Revealing the destiny of another. Isn’t it amazing what God can do on just this one trip?

We saved no souls on this trip but we built relationships and I look forward to seeing them grow when I go back. That’s where making disciples starts... in building relationships. In your backyard, build relationships. At your workplace, build relationships. In school, build relationships. Personally, this trip taught me that missions starts in the heart. And it can be wherever you are, not just when you step out with your passport. God bless.