Yan's Corner - In Touch

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

4 Billion Hungry People Vs 100 Women

The women that made a difference ... Posted by Hello

This article appeared in the PostMag dated 28th May, a Saturday pullout of The Borneo Post. It was an interview by Frank Julian, a journalist of The Borneo Post while the Internaional President was in Sibu on 1st May. Thanks to The Borneo Post for permission to use this in my blog ... The Girls' Brigade Malaysia has just concluded its Annual General Meeting and National Officers' Retreat at Water City Resort, Malacca today. While at the Meeting, I shared with some over 100 women this statistic -

Three billion people go to bed every night hungry. However, four billion people go to bed every night hungry of a word of encouragement ...

Right after the sharing, one woman came forward and thanked me for the sharing sessions, and said specifically that she did not want me to go to bed tonight hungry of a word of encouragement.

I was touched....

SIBU: Little is known about the Girls Brigade. Many people equate it with other uniformed bodies such as the Girls Guide, Scouts or the Malaysian Red Crescent Society.

Girls in uniform doing drills, camping, tying knots, cooking and many other stuffs are what many people associate with the Girls Brigade.

What is so great about the Girls Brigade? What good is it to a member, to the people in general, or to the world?

"The Girls Brigade is a union of three Christian organisations for girls - all sister organisations of the Boys Brigade - The Girls Brigade, The Girls Guildry and The Girls Life Brigade. All three organisations provide training to develop the mind, body and spirit and to inculcate a sense of responsibility through useful Christian service," said Girls Brigade International Eighth President, Hee Piang Chin.

It all started in 1893 when Margaret Lyttle formed the Girls Brigade at Sandymount, Ireland. Seven years later, The Girls Guildry was formed in Scotland with the aim of helping girls to become mature Christian women. The Girls Life Brigade was later formed in England in 1902 with a motto "to save life" and the aim "to help and encourage girls become responsible, self-reliant Christian women".

The union of the three organisations was announced worldwide in the following press statement on Thursday, June 25th 1964. It was formally confirmed on June 10th, 1968 and the united body took on the name of The Girls Brigade.

The movement is international and interdenominational. Its worldwide membership embraces many races, languages and dialects. Today, the Girls Brigade can be found in more than fifty countries and nations throughout the world. It also has affiliation with Christian youth in Europe.
In 1927, a young Girls Life Brigade officer from the 1st Gateshead Company, Durham, Elsie Lyne came to Singapore to teach at the Methodist Girls School. She started the 1st Singapore Company and in July 1928, the Company was formally registered with the GLB HQ in London. This marked the beginning of Brigade in Singapore.

Lynne together with Agnes Richards and Miss Joyce Lovell later began the Girls' Brigade in Malaysia by starting off with Girls Brigade in Penang in 1938. Girls Brigade was formed in Sarawak in 1967 and in Sibu in 1970.

So much of history, but what good does it bring?

"Our aim is to help girls to become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ through reverence, self-control and a sense of responsibility to find true enrichment of life," said Hee during an interview at The Borneo Post's office here recently.

This was very much connected to Girls Brigade motto, which is to Seek, Serve and Follow Christ. Every girl is deemed to be important and they all can become leaders.

"We teach them how to handle social ills facing the society nowadays such as temptations, drugs and so on. It is getting more challenging in this Information Technology era where many children are addicted to computer games and exposed to lots of things in the Internet," said Hee who have been in the Girls Brigade for over 30 years.

In short she said the Girls Brigade, which is very much connected to the church does what is right for the girls by teaching them Christian values.

Asked what have changed since she first joined the Girls Brigade when she was twelve, she said the fundamental was still the same.

"What we do now is to make activities more appealing to the young ones, suitably with the change of time."

She said the Girls Brigade provides a great learning environment and a venue to make friends. It nurtures the spirit of comradeship among the members.

"In the Girls Brigade, we believe in servant leadership where we lead the girls not from the back or in the front but around them. The officers set themselves as exemplary to the girls and of course we did ‘kick’ them from behind when we train them," said Hee in jest.

Activities are no longer confined to drills or other girlie things. According to Hee, Girls Brigades in Asia Fellowship which members are Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Thailand, Brunei now send their members to serve in underdeveloped or developing countries in Cambodia, Mongolia, Myanmar and East Timor.

Taking Cambodia for example, Girls Brigade members were sent there in 1998 with the objectives to help the Cambodian girls and women help their family to escape from the clutch of poverty.

"We set up a centre in Songkhem for us to teach the girls and women the many living skills that could improve their household economy. We teach them handicraft, English and other things."

The products, such as woven bags bearing the trade label "Villagework" are sold throughout the countries in this region.
It is to provide village women with employment, to bring meaning to their lives, to nurture their worth as persons, and to help them realise their potential and purpose in life. It is also hoped that the GB influence will be infused within this context of business as well.

The efforts very much helped to reduce if not prevent the Cambodian girls and women from involving themselves with negative activities such as prostitution, begging and others alike to support their living.

"We are working on East Timor. At the moment we are exploring what can be done in the country. After three to four months, a report will be made on the exploration and after that we will send some girls to run a camp there."

As an initial move a team comprising Rev Dr Lorna Khoo, Iris Lee, Lucilla Teoh, Moses Yeo Pee Hock and Jasper Sim were sent to East Timor to conduct a three-day training course from September 16 to September 18 last year.

Thirty five teachers from 18 schools, of 10 various villages came for the Basic Officers' Training Course. Alpha course was introduced as the Girls Brigade Spiritual programme and was well received too.

A GB half-day camp was organised on the third morning of the training (24 students from 13 schools came, age ranging from 10-18 years old). This camp served to allow teachers and students to experience their first Girls Brigade programme.

At the moment there are 12,000 Girls Brigade members in Asia and most of them are volunteers.

Talking about funding, Hee said it was a bit of a problem but it was not an issue to the Girls Brigade in carrying out its activities.

"We believe in God and that He will open some ways for us to do the good works. Some way some how, would meet the needs through good budgeting. The issue that Girls Brigade has is parents. Some parents did not understand what we are doing and percept that our activities consume a lot of their children's time. They worried that their children would not have time for other important thing such as study."

She stressed that Girls Brigade plays a good role in educating and building good character of the children.

Girls Brigade would continue to train and nurture its members into becoming good servants of God. Because of its good works, governments of countries where it has members recognize it. In Malaysia, it is recognized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Hee said Girls Brigade would continue its works in character development of the girls and tries to expand its wings to more countries or places especially in Asia.

LV Handbag

I like a Louis Vuitton handbag very much. I have been talking to my sister over the years that I like the LV handbag carried by a doctor’s wife. My sister, being a collector of LV, Prada handbags told me that handbag costs over 1,000 Singapore dollars. The price puts me off.

However, I have not stopped liking that handbag. Owning one is not a must. And buying a counterfeit LV, Coach, Prada, have never crossed my mind.

The Los Angeles Times reported –

While the savvy bargain hunter can tell the real Coach handbag from a fake, many discerning buyers are missing one critical detail – that purse or DVD for sale on the street corner might be funding a terrorist organization.

Lt John Stedman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was among those who testified that items such counterfeit Coach and Louis Vuitton purses as well as CDs, DVDs, and tobacco were among goods that have been seized and linked to terrorist organizations.

The California law enforcement agency said it established a connection between the street vendors and the Lebanon-based Hazbollah mostly through admission by those arrested.

If you think of buying a fake LV handbag, be sure that the money you paid does not go to assist terrorist organization.

Today's posting was actually written last Saturday (29th May) at KLIA while waiting for the transport to go to Malacca. Reaching Malacca, I shut myself out of the world while still enjoying the fellowship of 100 over women/girls from all corners of Malaysia in a Girls' Brigade National Officers' Retreat.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Forgetting the lyrics

One fine morning last week, I was playing Emi Fujita’s Camomile Blend in the car. Her sweet and soothing voice sang “First of May” very differently. My 9-year old son was in the car. Just as I was about to drop him off at his school’s gate, Emi ended her “First of May” with her “when I was small, and Christmas trees were tall, do…do….do….do…”. My son remarked, “I know why she has to sing do…do…do…, I suspect she has forgotten the lyrics”.

Two and half month ago, I strolled down Bintang Walk in KL, I walked into one of the music store. I heard a clear, sweet sound. I asked the sales assistant what CD she was playing. She handed me this CD, Camomile Blend Emi Fujita. I bought the CD and the other one Camomile Extra also from Emi Fujita.

For the past two and half months, I have been listening to this sweet voice and have not got tired of it. She sang many of the old songs like Moon River, Wishes (le couple ver.) & Red is the Rose beautifully.

Camomile is the result of a collaboration between Japanese vocalist Emi Fujita and Norwegian musicians Rita Eriksen and the band VAMP (Oyvind Staveland, Tobjorn Okland and Carl Apeland). The album has a total of 14 tracks, ranging from traditional Irish ballads to contemporary pop tunes.

Get one and listen – with a good book and a cup of hot coffee. It’s definitely a good way to de-stress yourself from a hard day work. Even if you forgotten the lyrics, you can do so with "do...do...do..." Who cares?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Star Wars, Shoe Wars

I have two confessions to make –

I have only watched Star Wars 1. I could not remember what’s it about.

I have no intention to watch Star Wars Episode 3.

I am really not a “cool” woman. But, everybody is talking about it. I thought may be I could invite a young friend to write in my cyberhome in order to stay “current”. So, I asked a young doctor to tell me what it’s all about. Here it is –

To be truthful , it was a bit boring initially. I could not work out what was happening. And I nearly fell asleep.

Then with my good memory of Star Wars 1 and 2 , the picture became clearer to the ordinary audience like me.

The third episode is actually meant to precede SW 1 and 2.

The SW 3 movie showed how Luke Skywalker and his sister came to the good side and their father in the bad side. And why their father DarkVader is in the black metal suite.

A long movie and if you want to see , I think you may consider taking a cup of coffee before the show to keep you awake.

Not so good as SW 1and 2.

The sound system plus the movie nearly made me sleep ......

Now back to my Star Wars 1. I was chatting with a colleague of my age, 40 something. He said people of our age watching Star Wars could be more for the memories of Star War 1 or 2. I almost exclaimed “YES”. It’s the memories.

I remember watching Star Wars 1 with a guy. I could not remember his name. But, I remember he looked like a Taiwanese film star. This Taiwanese film star later jumped to his death in a suicide.

During those days going out to movie with a guy meant something. You kept a distance. You made sure shoulders did not rub. Hands did not touch. And most of all, you did not meet anybody you knew.

Yes, nothing happened throughout the movie. I was sent home – no holding of hands, no accidental touch throughout the movie. No popcorn. No talking during the movie…

Yet, I could not remember a single scene of the Star War.

But, the “war” really started after the movie. It’s not “star war”, but “shoe war”. This guy went to Kuching the next day. He called one night asking me my shoe size. Wearing few sizes bigger than the ordinary girl, my shoe size was as sensitive as the age of a woman. I was offended and never wanted to see him anymore.

So, that ended the “Star Wars”. Later, I found out that his sister owned a shop selling shoes, he was trying to be nice to get me a pair of shoes from his sister’s shop.

We started with the “Star Wars”, but ended with me walking out of his life, not in his shoes.

I am - Somebody

The other day I was trying to search for the background to a poem titled “I am – Somebody”. Many years back I remember hearing this on one of the children’s program. Here is the background to the poem and also the poem itself -

I Am - Somebody is a poem by Reverend Jesse Jackson, which he recited on Sesame Street in 1971. This inspirational free verse poem was unparalleled with anything ever attempted on children's television in content and delivery, and to an extent still is. The poem fulfilled Sesame Street 's initial curriculum for serving the under-privileged city youth, as well as offering cultural understanding. Kids of all races were scattered all over the Sesame Street set, on the street, benches, fire escapes, led by Jackson in the poem.

The following is this poem, in the original structure as written by Reverend Jackson. Lines of "I am/Somebody" or "But I am/Somebody" were recited both by the children and Jackson.

I am
I am
I may be poor,
But I am
I may be young,
But I am
I may be on welfare,
But I am
I may be small,
But I am
I may have made mistakes,
But I am
My clothes are different,
My face is different,
My hair is different,
But I am
I am black,
Brown,or white.
I speak a different language
But I must be respected,
Never rejected.
I am
God's child!

Thanks to “google” for such wonderful search engine. I also stumbled into a site called “I am somebody” and was really amazed by the hosts of this cyberhome. The site contains poems on “I am somebody”. I could not stop myself to write a note, and much to my delight, the host wrote to me and sent me a poem –

Hi, it was good to hear from you!
God bless you!

This one I wrote for people like you:

Giving thanks - leaving comments

To be somebody is to give thanks
For the small things in life
It is to leave a comment
On a poetic blog of a stranger
Expressing appreciation with one word: cool!
Telling how you will use it
In blessing relatives and friends
When your footsteps are a trail

Of thanks and appreciations
Of positive and encouraging words
Of real and virtual smiles
Then everyone you encounter
Will think that you are really somebody
To be somebody is not to take things for granted

But allowing yourself to be surprised
At any little token of goodness
And every expression of kindness
Giving glory to the Creator
He is the source of the beautiful life
Of a grateful heart

Yours in Christ

Visit my websites:

Visit the sites above and be delighted. Here is one for frequent travellers that gives me much insight, also from Erling –

Spending time in airports
To be somebody is spending time in airports
Waiting for the next flight
Hoping it is not delayed or being cancelled
Looking forward to arriving the destination
To be somebody is to make time meaningful
By observing unique people hurrying to their gates
Or study those who are waiting like you
Spending time waiting for the next flight
To be somebody is to utilize the waiting time
- in airports or elsewhere
Through deep meditation or silent contemplation
Or by releasing your creativity
By writing simple poems

If you don't write poems, like me, learn to appreciate poems, leaving some comments. Any site of good poems and delightful thoughts is here http://desiderata2000.blogspot.com. Visit and leave your comment and be somebody!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

I am Miri

My two journalists are featured in the “I am Miri”. “I am Miri” is a series of “faces” being featured in the celebrations of Miri elevating to City Status on 20.05.2005. The faces chosen are based on races and professions.

I am very impressed by this series of advertisements with just two faces everyday labeled with names, race and profession and “I am Miri”.

Yes, a city is all about people, isn’t it not? A story was told of an old man who was sitting at the entrance of a city. He was approached by two men and he gave him totally different opinion about the city.

The first young man approach him and asked:

“I am not from here. Tell me old man, how are the people of this city?”

Instead of answering his question, the old man asked:

“In the city where you come from, how were the people?”

The young man responded,

“Egotistic and wicked, so much so that I could no longer take it. That is why I prefer to leave.”

The old man then said, "Pity, my dear. I shall advise you to continue on your way. People here are equally wicked and all are egotistic."

A little later, another young man approached the same old man and said:

"Greetings to you who is wise with age! I should like tosettle down in this place. Tell me, how are the people wholive in this town?"

And, the old man asked him:"Tell me first, where from do you come, and how were the people there?"

The young man said in an enthusiastic voice: "Honest, good, and welcoming! I had only friends there, and oh how I was pained to leave them!"

The old man said:

"Well, here, you will also find only honestpeople, welcoming, and full of kindness."

A merchant who was watering his camels not far from these exchanges and had heard all, asked the old man:

"How is it possible, old man, who I know tobe wise, to give two truthful, but diametrically opposite, replies to the same question? Is it a case of April Fools?"

"My son," said the old man, "Each one carries, in his heart, his own universe. And, that is what he will find every place he goes.Therefore, regardless where he goes, that will always be what he finds."

I am Miri, I am honest people, welcoming, and full of kindness. Shall we wish “I am Miri” such a city with each one carries in his heart – honesty, welcoming, integrity, kindness?

Shoes, Choices and Decisions

I have a dream that I have been dreaming over and over since childhood. It’s a dream about going somewhere without shoes. It may be going to school, going to work, going to a party, or going on a trip. There are different occasions, but the horrible part is always “with no shoes”. Or sometimes, it was dropping the shoes into the river or from a tall building.

During my childhood days, I stayed in a small village. Having a pair of shoes was then a luxury. Most of the children went to school bare-footed. I was no exception. The school was about 20-minute walk from my house. It was a small road.

I always interpret the dream as “fear” and “insecurity”.

On one occasion when I was conducting a Million Leaders Mandate to a group of Girls’ Brigade Officers, I shared with them this dream. I could not remember why this dream was shared. But, I know it was shared in connection with the lessons that I delivered on fear and insecurity.

One of the participants thought it could be “choices”. She thought I have too many choices and could not decide which shoes to wear, and ended up with not wearing any shoes.

Last night as I prepared my lessons for sharing during the coming Girls’ Brigade Malaysia National Officers Retreat in Malacca at the end of the month, I came across this very interesting story on shoes and choices. Here it is –

Joseph Henry used to tell a rather strange story about hischildhood. His grandmother paid a cobbler to make him a pair of shoes.

The man measured his feet and told Joseph that he could choose between two styles: a rounded toe or a square toe.

Little Joseph couldn't decide. It seemed to be such a huge decision; afterall, they would become his only pair of shoes for a long time.The cobbler allowed him to take a couple of days to makeup his mind.

Day after day, Joseph went into the shop, sometimes three or four times a day! Each time he looked over the cobbler's shoes and tried to decide.

The round-toed shoes were more practical, but the square toes looked more fashionable. He continued to procrastinate. He wanted to make up his mind, but he just couldn't decide!

Finally, one day he went into the shop and the cobblerhanded him a parcel wrapped in brown paper. His new shoes!

He raced home. He tore off the wrapping and found a beautiful pair of leather shoes - one with a rounded toe and the other with a square toe!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Blessings - from happiness to greater happiness

I was driving from my house to a factory to pick up some printed matter. It was a 20-minute drive to the end of one of the main roads in Sibu called Lanang Road.

My 9-year old son was with me. We enjoyed the drive.

(Conversation 1)

“Mummy, I know how to make the teeth sparkle, shine and whitish.”

“Oh, how?”

“You mix a little Colgate with a little of Darlie and use it to brush your teeth. Then it is clean, shinny and sparklingly white like mine. See?”

“Really, that’s very smart of you.”

“I am going to invent one type of tooth past called Coda.”

Coda, why?”

Co as in Colgate. Da as in Darlie.”

(Conversation 2)

“Mummy, with you, it is like heaven.”

“Thank you, dear.”

“The song by Guang Liang said so. He must be referring to his girl friend. But, I think with mummy, it is like heaven.”

(Scene/Conversation 3)

In front, a truck blows a tire and careens across two lanes of traffic. One car is headed toward the truck. It looks like a terrible clash is not avoidable. But the car comes to a stop just in time.

Two hearts pounding while witnessing the scene.

“What a luck!”

“What a blessing, mummy.”

Yes, what a blessing. A blessing brings happiness, and greater happiness if you know the meaning.

“To feel lucky” is to say “In good and bad feelings, I have been getting more than my share of good feelings.”

“To feel blessed” is to wonder “How is this God-sent happiness going to lead me and those around me to greater happiness?”

Put it this way, when you say “grace” before a meal, first, you acknowledge that the food comes from God. You thank God for the blessing. Second, you ask God’s purposes for the food – your nourishment, your enjoyment to be fulfilled. The essence of the grace is – “Take this food that you have given me, and use it to do your work.” Ultimately, it is your good and God’s glory. It’s blessings in your life and overflow into the lives of those around you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Have a good sleep first

Lately, I am in a low valley, deep deep down. Today’s posting is pick up from Desiderata’s Let it be. (http://desiderata2000.blogspot.com)

Yes, there are many songs and music that comfort our soul in the low period –

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom let it be
Let it be..

Let it be …. That really gives openings to our hurts. And certainly, wise.

When I was younger, a group of friends used to say this – It does not matter whether there is one person more or one person less in this world. Life still goes on. Nobody is really that important. I begged to differ from them. I thought if there is no Battles, life still goes on, but something is missing. At least we would not have someone saying to us when we are down in a song – Let it be! Many people are actually angels sent by God to tell us – Let it be! Remember the Bible says this –

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it – Hebrews 13:2 NIV

I have a friend who went through many trials and tests in life, she loves “Let it Be” very much. I think it’s cool when she said –

Let it be, have a good sleep first….

Monday, May 16, 2005

A superb teacher, preacher, wonderful story teller

Many years ago, I talked to Dr David Lowes Watson. In an interview with him, I have used these words –

Dr David Lowes Watson – A Wesley Scholar, superb teacher, preacher, devoted disciple and wonderful story teller …

When I was small, I was always fascinated by teachers who could tell stories. It’s Teachers’ Day today, join me to have a very pleasant walk this superb teacher and wonderful story teller … from jogging, driving, playing football, computer, small group program to cooking breakfast…

It’s all about Covenant Discipleship… Be amazed by how Dr Watson answered each of my questions by telling a story.

What is Covenant Discipleship?

Story No. 1 – Running

When I was studying in Oxford University, I resolved to keep physically fit, and decided to run each morning before breakfast. The first week I ran every morning. The second week I missed a couple mornings. The third week, I missed all but one morning. The fourth week I missed altogether. The following year I took a precautionary measure. I asked the person next door if he would like to go running with me. On the days I was late, my friend would bang on the door with a cheery word, “Time to be going!” We made it through the year, every morning.

Watson said, “Some things are done better by two people than by one …. Anything which is subject to human limitation or error requires the collegial presence of another person to ensure reliability.”

Covenant Discipleship is a way and a wish Christians be accountable to do what they can do. There are certain things which are difficult to do on your own, so you have to do with someone. It is where the members tell each other what kind of journey they have to take as disciples. They give an account of what has been to be a Christian over the week, thus helping each other in the Christian journey. They do this by means of a covenant which they themselves have written. By making this agreement they give some shape to the two great commandments of Jesus to love God and to love the neighbors.

Why is it important for the Church?

Story No. 2 – Driving

When you get into the car, you have to be flexible to traffic. However, there should be some form of structure and direction which each driver should follow. The law says you have to drive on the left side of the road, if you drive on the right side of the road, you will end up in accident. So, there is the structure and direction there to follow.

Dr Watson said: “Very often we do not give clear direction to the people on how to live Christian life, we allow them to make their own choices and to their own convenience.”

We talk about designers’ jeans, T-Shirts, shoes, dresses. We also start designer discipleship in that we design discipleship to suit ourselves, rather than to the teachings of Jesus. In Matthew 25, it is written that when you reach eternity, you will have to give an account of what you have done or not done. You would have to provide answers to When did you see a stranger and invite him in, when did you cloth the poor, when did you visit the sick and those in prison ….

Dr Watson said, “It does not matter what you believe rather it is what you have done.”

Thus in Covenant Discipleship, loving God is manifested through devotion and worship, while loving neighbor through compassion and justice.

Where does Covenant Discipleship fit in the church?

Story No. 3 – computer

Many years ago, when we first installed our computer system that consisted of 150 terminals, we have to call the consultant on every single problem. It became so frequent that the consultant made it a point that he could only be consulted on two conditions. No. 1, we have read the instruction book. No. 2, we have done what the instruction book tells us what to do and it does not work. At that time, the instruction book consisted of five volumes and nobody really bother to read.

It is like our relationship with Jesus. He has given us the teachings and instructions, if we have not read them, if we have not done what He has asked us to do, please do not call Him.

Dr Watson said, “Covenant Discipleship keeps us focused.”

Not many people are ready for Covenant Discipleship. It is not a program like a Disciple Bible Study which many are ready because it is study of the Bible.

Covenant Discipleship is a weekly check-out. In order that the ministries are centred in Jesus’ teachings, the leaders need to be checked every week.

If compassion, justice, devotion and worship are not kept in balance, disciples are not in obedience to Jesus. We live a life that suits our needs.

Dr Watson said, “We do what we think is right, instead of basing on the teachings of Jesus.”

Covenant Discipleship is on mutual accountability by checking on each other. How do we make sure that it would not get out of hand?

Story No. 4 – In the game

When you play in a football game, if you score, you would be pleased. But, if you are wise, you would not boast about it. Because, next time you may not score. Similarly if you lose in the game, you would not be blamed by others because they may lose next week

So, if you are actually paying in the game, you understand.

Dr Watson said, “Covenant Discipleship is not checking on each other, rather, it’s helping each other.”

Each group writes its own covenant, it’s not a kind of check-list. The covenant is written based on the Jesus’ teachings and the group tries to live up the teachings.

The objection that Covenant Discipleship is based on checking each other and thus may get out of hand usually comes from those who have not joined a group.

Does Covenant Discipleship remove “disorderly walkers” from the group?

Story No. 5 – Do you always behave like Hitler?

When I was a student of Oxford University, I felt that Jesus has called me to be leader of one of the Oxford groups. I took up the challenge. And I really felt that I have been a good leader and have done a good job.

One day, one of the members came to me and said, “Do you always behave like Hitler?”

It was difficult for me to take it, especially when I thought I have been doing a good job.

Dr Watson said, “Even if you think you have done a good job, you may not be in the eyes of other Christians.”

We need other Christians to help us, to move into more challenges, and obedience to Jesus Christ.

In the Covenant Discipleship group, no body judges, nobody gets negative, when we fail to fulfill some of the covenants; it’s that we are not ready.

On a visit to Newcastle John Wesley gave an illuminating inventory of those “disorderly walkers” in one of his mass expulsions while visiting Newcastle in 1743:

The number of those who were expelled was sixty-four:

Two for cursing and swearing.
Two for habitual Sabbath-breaking.
Seventeen for drunkenness.
Two for retailing spirituous liquors.
Three for quarrelling and brawling.
One for beating his wife.
Three for habitual, wilfull lying.
Four for railing and evil-speaking.
One for idleness and laziness. And,
Nine-and twenty for lightness and carelessness.

Dr Watson said, “We help each other to listen to Jesus more sensitively in the CD group.”

Can you distinguish whether a person has been in or exposed to CD?

Dr Watson said, “Not at first. But when you get to know him, you will see that he is more focused on all the teachings of Jesus.”

What weakness do you see in the CD, if any? How do you deal with follow-up making sure there is a periodic freshness and newness of the group and consistent in their commitments?

Dr Watson has this to say, “When you are meeting in a group, if it gets boring, it is because the group has not learned the skills to give an account in a way which is helpful to others.”

The sharing should help the members to grow. The sharing should be blessings to others. Dr Watson added.

Would you like to give example of how certain thing which you think is difficult to achieve without the help of others in the CD group?

Story No. 6 – Cooking Breakfast

When I was in a CD group, for 18 months, I reported that I have not done the Act of Compassion. The group asked whether they could help, or would I want them to call me during the week.

I said it is not because I have forgotten about it. It is just hat the opportunity has not come.

One day, I committed to cook breakfast for the poor. I have to wake up at 4 am to load food the truck, and drove to a poor neighbourhood. My job is to break 100 dozens eggs. I cooked for 600 poor people for months.

Dr Watson regretted that he had made this commitment. But, the CD group gave him this direction. If not for CD, he would not have done this act of compassion!

In 2000, CD celebrated 25 years of accountable discipleship, why is it that the CD is only introduced here recently?

Story No. 7 – Program

In North America, Churches produce program after program. In 1984, there were 15 small group programs. I told myself that I would not introduce program No. 16.

So, together with my other workers, we sat down and deliberately avoided to campaign CD in a big way. It is slowly and carefully used to make sure that people understand what we are doing.

Dr Watson said, “We are to serve people, not to confuse them.”

The other reason is the rejection, particularly from the clergy. They have been used to work on their own. On accountability, they are just not interested.

We have not tried to market CD, we wait until the Holy Spirit opens the door.

Do you choose members for the CD group?

Dr Watson said, “We have only one criterion – what day, what time are convenient – just that we form the group.”

There is one strict rule – Always finish within one hour.

The reason why the ideal number is 5-7 is because if the number is less than 5, it becomes a sharing group. If it exceeds 7, the group is not able to finish within one hour.

Closing – means of grace

At the close, Dr Watson talked about the means of grace and accountable discipleship. The means of grace offer us grace, power, and direction after we say yes. The means of grace, practiced in accountable discipleship community, keep us in touch with God, the love that leads to life; the One who transforms us and gifts us with the capacity for love of God and neighbor.

A native of England, Watson was educated at Oxford University, Eden Theological Seminary in St Louis, Mo., and Duke University, Durham, N.C. He is a clergy member of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference.

Before going to Wesley, one of the denomination’s 13 seminaries, Watson taught at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and was executive secretary for Covenant Discipleship and Christian Formation at the churchwide Board of Discipleship in Nashville.

He has written several books and was founding editor of the Journal of Academy for Evangelism and Covenant Discipleship Quarterly. He has served on the board of directors of the Bicentennial Edition of The Works of John Wesley.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The spider's web

The preacher for my Sunday Worship Service told this story in her sermon “Look Upon God” this morning –

The story is told of a King and his followers who when fleeing from their pursuers took refuge in a cave.

Just after they entered, a spider spun a web across the opening.

The pursuers coming along glanced toward the cave but, noticing the spider's web across the opening, decided no one had entered there, so marched on.

After they had passed out of sight the King and his men came out.

When he saw the spider's web the King said,

With God a spider's web is an army.
Without God an army is but a spider's web.

Yan’s thoughts:-

The hope of many people may be hinged upon that little spider’s web. Each one of us may be that little spider’s web upon which rests the destiny of someone’s hope.

Friday, May 13, 2005

"Whatever is the matter with you?"

A story is told of a speaker who started off his seminar by holding up a $20 note. In the room of 200, he asked: "Who would like this $20 note?"

Hands raised. 200 of them.

He said: "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this."

He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up.

He then asked: "Who still wants it?"

Still the 200 hands were up in the air.

"Well," he replied, "what if I do this?"

And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty.

"Now who still wants it?" Still the 200 hands went into the air.

"My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20."

Yan's thoughts - Many times we are hushed, stifled and suppressed and made to conform to the world around. We feel that we are worthless. We are dropped, grinded, crumpled and dirtied. We are lost, we ran around ...

I am in the mood of telling stories today. Here is another one -

Lewis Caroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland, has a little story about a padlock with long spiderly legs that ran around. The padlock ran around with a very upset and distracted look about itself.

Someone said to the padlock one day, "Whatever is the matter with you?"

And the little padlock said, "I am looking for someone to unlock me."

That's surely the cry of many.

But, the padlock is never unlocked. So, we run around nervous all the time...

Where is the key to the padlock? Or what is the combination number to the padlock?

The key is the "sight of your eyes", the combination number is "the ways of your heart". (taken from the book of Ecclesiastes 11:9 - Walk in the ways of your heart and sight of your eyes..)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Knitting our hearts together

Yesterday evening as I drove back home from airport, I saw this beautiful scene –

A flock of birds flying in a V formation in the sky of Sibu

I did not have a camera with me. Back home, I searched on the net for a picture that shows such beautiful scene. To my disappointment, the google search on images did not give me the same beautiful picture.

When can I catch a glimpse of such beauty of bearing each other’s burden again? My children said – mummy, you can see that in your relationship, you do not need a picture to remind you of such beauty.

Yes, it’s in my own heart.

Have you every wondered why birds fly in a V formation? It’s their way of bearing one another’s burdens. Each bird faces less wind resistance. With less wind resistance, they will enjoy a smoother flight. Ever running against a strong wind? You will understand better if you do. This is bearing each other’s burden.

However, the lead bird out on the point of the V is doing a lot of work, isn’t it? How could it take the full brunt of the wind resistance while everybody else has it easy? What’s more amazing is, the lead bird will take a rest when it gets tired. It will get back to the formation, and another bird will take the shift as flock leader. That’s shared task.

The lead bird also leads the way for the bird that’s next in line. That’s keeping each other company also.

As we walk through the life’s journey, do we have friends who share our burden like the birds in the V formation? Do we have friends who let us take a rest when we are tired? Do we have friends who lead us when we are in doubt, yet providing warm company?

Well, that just doesn’t happen. My good friend, Sandra always says that we have to be intentional about it. Plan a time of fellowship together. Share a meal together. Share your concerns. Share your joys. Share your hopes. Share your dreams. Enjoy one another. As you do so, the deep meaning of V formation is formed in your heart – and God will knit your hearts together.

C. W. Lewis said this –

True friends don’t spend time gazing into each other’s eyes. They may show great tenderness towards each other, but they face in the same direction – towards common projects, goals – above all, towards a common Lord.

Today’s posting is specially for -

My best friend, Sandra for her inspirations in many things in my life over the past 20 years or so, who has always been intentional about our fellowship together. Thank you for the chatting till 3 am the other night! You really have to be intentional about it!

And also to my new friends, CK, PK and YL for their inspirations in my life in their special ways.

13/5/2005 - a dear friend sent me this picture. Not as beautiful as what I have seen in the sky of Sibu - first love is always the deepest?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Grandfather

I read bits and pieces of the late Mr Wee Kim Hui's funeral recently. I was especially touched by the words of his granddaughter, Hui Min. When my father-in-law went to the Lord in October last year, my 9-year old son missed him so much that he would cry to sleep every night. He would cry everytime when he do something that he used to do together with his grandfather.

When the Lord received my own mother back home in 2000, my daugther was also 9 years old. It took her a long, long time to get over it.

To my children, grandparents are their friends, companions, mentors and loving grandparents. And I know many grandparents are more than grandparents to the their grandchildren.

Here are bits and pieces that I pick up from the various news articles of what Mr Wee's granddaughters had to say about him -

He lived
He was a man who loved life and lived it to the fullest.
A man who put himself up as a shinning example - in life and in death.

The granddaugther's revelation : My grandpa wasn't fuddy-duddy. He was fun.

He collected snuff bottles and coins, travelled the world, played sports, planted fruit tress and especially 'loved the smell and taste' of hazelnut coffee, ice-cream and chocolates.
How much?

So much that whenever his grandchildren dropped by at his workplace, he would give them a cheeky wink, open his drawer and fish out 'a secret stash of Hawaiian macadamia nut chocolates'.

A secret he kept under lock and key, away from his disapproving but well-intentioned wife.
A sweet man with a sweet tooth.

His favourite ice-cream flavour? Rum and raisin.

The most vivid memory for Hui Min: Evening jaunts to the neighbourhood Baskin-Robbins ice-cream parlour in Japan when Mr Wee was Ambassador there.

She was just 10 and on holiday. But her grandpa indulged her (and himself) every day for a whole two weeks.

He learned
He is convinced that we go on learning till our last breath on this planet.
'Every day is a new day.'

He loved
His love for humanity dwarfed only by his immeasureable love for his wife of 69 years.
She was 'the rock of his wife's life'.

'His last thoughts were for her. They were holding hands when he finally went to sleep this Monday morning.'

He loved her so much he kept a special list of her favourite songs, lovingly typewritten and kept safely in a folder, 'ready to be whipped out at any time'.

I thank my grandfather from the bottom of my heart, for showing what it really means to love another person. The stories of his life are to me, all stories about love.

He revered and respected life, even the life of an animal.

If you wish to honour his memory in your life - then live your life to the full, stand by your friends, cherish your family, listen to everyone with an open mind and welcome those who cross your path with an open heart.

What life. What love. What a great grandfather.

An Excuse for Everything

For a stretch of two days, I read about Britain’s “excuse system” (Oop, it's educational system) in The Borneo Post’s World Update.

Yesterday, it reported with the headline, “Dead pets, kin mean higher grades for UK students”. Students can get extra points on their final exams if their close relatives or pets die. The official guidelines came to light yesterday.

This is applicable to A-level exam (equivalent to our STPM). A maximum of extra five percent for the recent death of a parent or close family member will be given. Four percent for a more distant family member and two percent for pets dies on exam day.

Sound like there is an excuse for everything.

Why not? The teacher finds excuses. Today’s report is about Prince Harry’s teacher, Sarah Forsyth. Sarah was dismissed by Eton College, a prestigious private school where the prince went to. Sarah is claiming unfair dismissal. In her statement, she said she had been ordered by a school administrator to help the young prince pass his art exam. She wrote virtually all the accompanying text for an art project submitted to external examiners by the prince.

While Sarah claimed that this is unethical and probably constituted to cheating, she had find an excuse that she had been forced to help the prince.

Huh? An excuse too?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Remembering My Mother

While my cake is in the oven, I am writing this. I have half an hour to 35 minutes for the cake to be ready. I wait in anticipation the fresh aroma of the banana cake as I open the oven ...

On Mothers' Day, I remember my own mother. My mother had never baked a cake before, but she was a great cook. I want to remember my mother in a special way today. In my last post, I wrote of leaving a little margin in life. It was my mother who taught me to always leave a little margin emotionally, physically and spiritually, so that I could have space to stretch.

A Christian psychologist was asked to explain which aspects of the nature of God are imprinted on the soul of a child by each of his parents. The psychologist explained that a father embeds into the heart of a child of God's trustworthiness. Catch this scene -

"Daddy, catch me!" a little child jumps from the table to his father. His father catches him.

Yes, it is the father who throws the child into the air and catches him again. Trust is built. Daddy is strong and safe.

The psychologist said mothers are the warm centre, the safe place. They are "home". Mothers are model for a child that God is "there", that he exists and is ever present. It is a mother, after all, that a child runs to when feelings are hurt or the knee is skinned. It is the mother whose presence makes the house a home and makes the home a safe base to launch into life from.

Yes, home, the warm place. The place where it is always safe, where it is always filled with the good smell of food during dinner time, lunch time and even early morning the aroma of coffee and toast.

My mother was a great cook. Her small refrigerator was always not even half-filled. But, we had never gone hungry with her around. She could always produce some home-cook food in a most economical way for her nine children. Anytime, we visited her, she would be able to have something for us.

I frequent Ting’s Noodles House in Kuching. First for the reason that it always reminds me of my mother. - Anytime - there is food.

Ting Noodles is still open in the late afternoon. Sometimes, when I am caught in office works way over the lunch hour, I know I still have hot steaming food at Ting’s Noodles.

It's just like my mother's home. Anytime, I felt down emotionally, anytime, I felt hungry physically, I know in my mother's home, there was food, there was comfort.

Second, it’s for the good food Ting's Noodles serves. Anytime - the standard never drops.

It's just like my mother's food. Anytime, she cooked them with love. And the standard was always maintained.

This is one of the dishes that I would never miss while at Ting's Noodles -

It reminds me so much of my mother's love. The owner of Tings' Noodles told me this -

A dish of food must have the following six features –

The colour
The aroma
The taste
The presentation
The quality
The nutritional value

Does this dish have all the six features?

In my mother's house, beside the six features, food was decorated and filled with her love.

I love going to Ting's Noodles with good friends. It was my best friend, Sandra who brought me there the first time. Next to God and own family, we are indebted to God for provisions of good friends. We thank God for the provision, and then for making them worth having. Look at this dish that the owner specially prepared for us as an extra when I brought two good friends there two nights ago -

My mother was also a friend to me. She brought by virtue of her gifts a sense of place, focus, devotion, and emotional energy that enriches and decorated my life.

My mother always brought me some surprises. She was a glorious creature, a representation of part of God's nature. She was the woman who kept the flame of faith burning. She checked on the aggressive nature of me. This surprised menu at Ting's Noodles, always reminds me how my mother would surpirse time and again ...

My mother protects, encourages, blesses and celebrates the good and she believes in the good of all her children, nine of us.

She is now in a better place. Still, often I wonder whether she still cooks..

My mother went to the Lord in 2000. I have written the second last sentence in the present tense because she still lives in us, each one of her children, and nine of us altogether...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Margin

When I fetched my son from school yesterday, he could not wait to tell me that “one of his girl classmate is stressed out”.

Stressed-out? A stressed-out 9-year-old? I confess I was more curious than being concerned. My son then related to me what happened during the Life-Skills class. From the school to my house is about 10-minutes drive. So, it took him 10 minutes to tell me what a stressed-out 9-year-old is like. According to the detailed reporting of events, this 9-year old girl was throwing out her anger to her classmates. And the teacher allowed her to release her temper and tension in a very diplomatic way. And the little girl finally broke down and cried, my little reporter reported. He was happy that it was over though he was one of the "victims" being thrown with mud.

I baked a chicken pie last night. What has baking a chicken pie to do with a stressed-out little girl. Baking is one of my ways to allow myself to enjoy some unhurried time and space. In particular, making the pie crust is especially a perfect conclusion to my hurried day. Here is the pie -

The margin - Yan's Chicken Pie Posted by Hello

The space and unhurried time is the margin in our life. The stressed-out little girl has no more margin left emotionally. Therefore, a little irritation results in such great burst of temper. I heard this little illustration of the importance of margin sometime ago. The speaker illustrated that when you are given a blank piece of paper to take notes, you normally fill up the whole page. When you are given a blank piece of paper with margin on the left, you will start writing notes and leave the margin blank.

This little margin can play magic in your life. It allows you space and unhurried time. If you do not have this little margin, when your children drop something, you burst into temper. When someone step on your toes, you shout at him.

We need this little margin in all aspects of our life – physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually.

We all need unhurried and space. How about baking a pie for the perfect conclusion of a hurried day?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

No joy, no fun

The cold splashes, but ouch...it's muddy and it is a ditch.
(Photo credit: The Borneo Post)

The Borneo Post reports today that the students in Long Asap, Belaga have been without clean water for one week. The students are forced to bath in ditch. The above picture shows the children taking their bath with the supervision of the teachers.

The picture reminds me of my good old days in a little village down the river. Most of the time we bath in the little streams where the water run very clear. While our mother was washing the clothes, me and my brothers and sisters would enjoy very cold dips in the stream.

I also remember when the stream dried up due to a long period of dry spells, we would be bathing in the river. We enjoyed even more at the river when the motor boats passed by with waves rushing towards us.

We bathed, we washed clothes, and the river water was even safe for drinking.

We have joy. We have fun. We have season in the sun...

I was trying to take a very close look a the children in the picture above, however, I did not see any signs of joy and fun. They are in a predicament, as reported in the newspaper.

It's only a ditch or a drain? It's not the peaceful streams of my good old days. The children are there to clean to meet their bare necessities of getting themselves clean.

We lead life differently...

Swimming in the swimming pool is a comfort of life. Owning a swimming pool within their house compound is a luxury of life.

We do not have any more clear streams where the water runs deep, and yet we can see to the botton of it. We do not have river where we can see fish swimming...

If we have the clear streams, a splash in the cold water under the supervision of the teachers in a warm day would be very delightful.

I dream on ..... seeing my little boy forgetting his 10-kg schoolbag and enjoy the clear cold water ....

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Look at these women - Women of Great Faith

Look at these women - Sally, Yong Hua, Huong Yung & Kiat Tsin

Look at these women - Ms Hee, International President and Choy Ying

The Chairperson of Girls' Brigade, Asia Fellowship, Mrs Sally Chew shared with the women the encouraging statement of Jesus in Matthew 15:21-28:

"Woman, you have great faith."

The Story

A Cannanite woman came to Jesus and cried out to Him to deliver her daughter who was demon-possessed. Jesus did not anwer a word. The disciples wanted to send her away.

But the woman persisted and asked again, "Lord, help me!".

Jesus said, "Woman, you have great faith"

Her daughter was delivered.

There are many women with great faith in the Bible. Mary had faith. When the angel reported the astounding news that she, a virgin, would bear a son, she said:

"Let it be to me according to your word."

Mary believed God knew what was best even when it did not make sense to her.

The women in the Girls' Brigade Asia Fellowship each has a story to tell. But there is one common thing in their service in the Girls' Brigade Ministry - they have a trusting relationship with an invisible God. God had been with them in all the perplexities of life no matter how devasting or depressing they had been. And they believe God will be with them even human eyes are telling them they are facing an impossible situation.

Till we meet again in Hong Kong in November, women of great faith, may your faith expands when you pray and keep a record of his answers...