Always Faithful

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Our motto in the United States Marine Corps is “Semper Fidelis”. It’s a Latin phrase meaning, “always faithful”. This means delivering on what is promised, being ready and available to serve selflessly, conducting ourselves with excellence and integrity to best accomplish the mission, and representing ourselves, family, country with pride. It’s a motto that has shaped me since I was a teenager, fresh out of Marine basic training, and it stands today with deeper and broader meaning.

On January 1st, Diana and I took a brief break from packing (we were in the middle of moving between apartments during the Christmas/New Year holidays), reflected on 2015, then set a theme for 2016.

The theme for 2016 we came upon is: faithfulness. Faithfulness today builds tomorrow. In other words, today matters – and we’re going to live like it. Not only are we striving to be faithful, but our faithfulness depends on God’s faithfulness.

Personally, God’s Word has been exposing more of WHY I’m unfaithful, more than just simply revealing that I need to be more faithful.

I’ve realized my own fault of over-committing and thinking I need to be everybody’s hero. Being a leader has been teaching me that while I must be fully responsible and the “buck stops with me”, I am not and cannot be responsible for literally everyone and everything. Additionally, if I just keep adding on to my plate without subtracting, I won’t be able to sustain much at all.

One step further, thinking that I need to be everybody’s hero revealed my deep-seated thinking and belief that my performance is pivotal to who I am and will deeply influence others. I’ve become so obsessed with performance, and worrying about how I would affect other people, that my every action and inaction was crippling me with guilt and disappointment. Instead of doing what I need to be responsible for and humbly learning lessons, I equated doing a “good job” with flawlessly executing “the perfect job”.

Jesus taught a story about two faithful servants and one unfaithful one. I relate to the unfaithful servant who was so worried about not being able to live up to his master’s high expectations that he didn’t bother doing anything at all. Fear of failure, being driven by people’s approval, comparing himself with others, and his arrogance in not trusting his master’s trust in him led to his downfall and revealed that he was unfaithful.

God has been teaching me that when my sins and character are exposed for what they are, that this exposure and me being convinced of my sins is actually His holy and good work. While heavy-hitting, I don’t need to avoid or hide from God!

Recently, I preached through what Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you…” (John 15:3). I’m thankful that I don’t have to be afraid and driven by guilt of not being “good enough” anymore. God knew I wasn’t good enough, so He did something about that and sent His Son, Jesus, to be good enough on my behalf.

I can strive to be faithful because Jesus is perfectly faithful – and as I identify with Jesus and have new life in Him, Jesus remains in me and empowers me to make today count.

That’s Good News.

 

 

Some updates:
1. “Less of Me” Retreat
We had our very first “in-house” congregational retreat mid-December. Meaning, in years past, we relied more on inviting guest speakers and outside help to lead and run our retreats. While partnering together with our sister churches has been awesome and helpful, this past retreat was a milestone for us because we’ve been steadily maturing as a local church and getting more used to functioning as our own community in a new season.

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2. One Desire Fast:
Our family of churches in HMCC fasted together for a couple of weeks to mark the beginning of the year. The fast introduced the important spiritual discipline to some newer church members and it also helped center our church back on our relationship with God.

3. Missions Week:
We held our annual “Missions Week” in January with messages focused more on evangelism and reaching the world with the Gospel.

Since then, we’ve seen our LIFE Groups take steps in reaching out to our local communities, inviting new people to experience God, and commit to our missions projects. This. Is. Awesome.

4. Moving:
Diana and I recently moved to a different apartment in a different part of town. Crazy story – more on it later!

For now, we’re thankful that we can make a new home together as a young family, and for the love and support of our community in Singapore.

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(Day 1 at our new apartment, right after moving everything in)

5. Etc.,
Diana and I will continue updating our prayer blog and give regular updates about our church in Singapore plus things we’re learning about Singapore and the people here.

You can be sure to check out and follow Diana’s thoughts on her calling and journey through her new personal blog (dianajyun.com). She’s great, she inspires me, and I love her. 🙂

Until then, here are two prayer requests:
1. Pray for faithfulness for me and Diana. It’s easy for us to think that we need to accomplish everything and anything new and exciting that comes our way on our own… RIGHT NOW. Instead, pray that we’d remain focused and faithful over the long haul, patiently.

2. Pray that our church would continue making bold (big or small) steps in investing in reaching out to our friends, family, and meeting new people to share the Good News of Christ!

Thanks y’all!

God. Always faithful.

Semper fi.

 

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No Thanksgiving in Singapore

There is no official Thanksgiving holiday in Singapore.

Plus, the weather stays hot and humid all year-round and there was no hype for the holiday season other than some upcoming Christmas sales at stores.

Diana and I woke up last week on Thanksgiving morning without anything special planned. But something felt oddly out of place; it was the first time both Diana and I were away from our families during the holidays. So we took a a break from our regular responsibilities and decided to celebrate.

We went out to eat and tried to think of ways how we can start our own family tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving.

(Something new I’m learning about starting my own family is that our past family traditions from our upbringing don’t automatically transfer over – we have to create and keep our own traditions now!)

Diana and I decided that every year, we would find simple ways to serve and give back to others as we have been so blessed and encouraged by our church community’s warm reception, hospitality and generosity.

Later that day, after checking up on a friend in the hospital, a small group of friends from our church went out to an impromptu dinner in place of our scheduled planning meeting. Before diving into some Korean barbecue, we went around and shared one thing we were thankful for from this past year. It was a sweet moment for me as we were genuinely sharing how we were all thankful for our church community. Even though this past year has been a wild roller coaster ride, we were able to thank God for His faithfulness and gracious hand in our lives.

Korean BBQ for Thanksgiving with friends:

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Two weeks before Thanksgiving, our church celebrated a brother’s baptism. That same day, one of our students took the Holy Communion for the first time and when we followed up with him, it turned out that he had received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior during LIFE Group before! We had only just found out that day and it was a joyous occasion as we celebrated both a baptism and a new brother’s salvation!

From the Baptism service on November 15th:
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Our church members at the Baptism Service plus some of Dongzhou’s friends:

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 (Photo credits: HMCC Media Team)

We’ve been studying the book of Ruth as a church. The timing of Ruth’s story took place during “the barley harvest”. Being the history geek that I am, I studied up on the significance of the “barley harvest” and learned that barley was a hardy grain that was able to thrive under harsh conditions; it was the first grain to be harvested in the year. Since barley was a “first fruit”, it signaled that there were more “fruits” to come later in the harvest season.

It’s been quite some time since our church here has seen someone new come to know Christ. I’ve been praying that our new brother in Christ is a “first fruit” of this new season for our church and trust that God will “add more to our numbers”.

To be honest, it’s been a difficult and rocky transition this past year with a lot of change and new things all at once. But I’m grateful for our church community who’s been a supportive and generous family to us. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Pray for us:
Pray that there will be more “fruits” to come -that more people’s lives will be transformed by the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray for more people who will be saved by God’s power and grace as we faithfully preach and live out the Gospel!

The real life update of Joe and Diana

Hello everyone! Diana here to update you with some great praises/updates and much needed prayer requests.

We have a job!

  • thank you so much for all of the prayers! I got a job at International Community School as a part-time substitute teacher. It’s an international Christian school nearby. I’ve worked there for two weeks now and it’s been a great time of getting to know teachers, administrators, and students. (mini prayer request: please pray that God provides enough days for me to work each month.  I work as often as there is need, so…let there be need!)

We have friends!!

  • One thing I love about Singapore is how welcoming the people have been (at least everyone that I’ve met!) It’s been so great making friends –people to laugh, cry, and pray with. I remember praying one week for God to help me make some good friends here…and I feel like He’s been really answering that prayer. Sometimes it feels like the first day of school here: we’re often meeting all sorts of new people, sharing/hearing new stories, experiencing new types of humor, and establishing a new support system.

We have partners and mentors!!!

  • I might be gushing, but seriously, the churches here are AWESOME. We feel so fortunate to have been meeting really great men and women of faith here. The neighboring churches (because everywhere in Singapore is “neighboring”) are so welcoming and supportive of our church. Pastors and ministry leaders have been offering a lot of advice and encouragement. There’s this one couple that we’ve met who have been especially kind, helpful, inspiring, everything. The wife is actually the one who helped me get my job, and she’s full of so much love and advice. SHE’S EVEN TEACHING ME HOW TO COOK AND FIND GOOD FOOD SHOPPING DEALS. Sigh. Girl crush.

In the midst of all these exciting and undeserving praises, we have problems. Lots of problems! This is a season where we feel SO stretched, uncomfortable, confused, uncertain, and still excited, humbled, thankful.

In effort to keep this blog genuine and your prayers accurate, here are two areas that you can pray for us:

  • Joe’s been doing a fantastic job transitioning to preaching every week. Seriously, sometimes he’ll say something and I’ll write it in my planner as the “quote of the week” to remember and meditate on. But it’s definitely hard to meet people, lead 2 life groups, plan ministry, be a husband, take care of a migraine-prone wife, and sermon prep all at once. So please pray for Joe that he can continue to thrive and grow as a pastor and husband and human. (on that note, please hug your pastor and wife this week. Or write them a short note of thanks. Or take them to dinner…or make them dinner and drop it off their house so that they don’t have to cook. ESPECIALLY IF THEY HAVE KIDS. I can’t even begin to comprehend how pastor’s families do what they do. #respect)
  • Being a female in Asia is rough. Maybe I’ll write more on this later, but it’s tough to be larger than an XS here. This week was especially hard. I found myself loathing the part of the morning where I pick something to wear cause I was so scared that it wouldn’t fit or I’d look huge and gross. My mind feels like a warzone of insecurities and it’s been really hard to focus at times. Joe has been the most wonderful and supportive husband, but physical insecurities go way beyond male approval. As I was praying this week, I came away with one conviction: I don’t want to stop struggling with this problem by merely losing weight (because I know how to lose weight, and the process can get ugly). I want to overcome this battle in my mind first. So please pray for personal transformation. I want to be strong in my mind, I want to have godly values, I want to genuinely have eyes that see God’s beauty and not the beauty of this world.

Thank you for the support and prayers everyone! At my lowest point this week, it was the prayer of believers that really got me through. Every prayer matters. And we’re so thankful for each one!

When to skimp and when to save

Hello everyone! Diana here.

I would say that one of the things I love to do most is find a fantastic deal.  Growing up, I never dreamed about what my wedding would be.  So when wedding planning came around, I dreaded it.  I didn’t care what colors I used, or what matched, or what was placed where.  BUT when it came to haggling down prices, finding good deals, etc, I was in heaven.  I would say one of my top 5 moments of the wedding season was finding my SUPER AFFORDABLE caterer.  He was literally a gift from God.  I was praying earlier for God to provide a caterer that was under a certain price (that was, honestly, pretty impossible) and then BOOM. A married couple suggested this random caterer and after some negotiating, THE PRICE WAS UNDER MY BUDGET.  Top 5 moment EASY.

Amidst all of the wins, there are still some bruises i’m tending from my financial fail moments.  I have a really bad astigmatism (450 for those of you who know eye numbers) and I’ve worn glasses since I was in kindergarten – yes, destined for coolness at a young age.  My glasses have always been incredibly expensive because of my eyesight, so whenever eyeglass dealers offer promotions for free lenses, my prescription is always disqualified.  One day, I found a place that would make my prescription as part of their promotion!  I was so excited because once again, my wallet won.  Unfortunately, what then ensued was a 2 month migraine, living in darkness, suffering under a plethora of drugs and side effects, and a delayed realization that my migraine culprit were my glasses.

After that, I stuck with an old pair of contacts until I could get better quality frames made.  Having come to Singapore, I went to my first Asian eye doctor and I was amazed!  He saw that while my prescription was correct, my lenses weren’t suitable for my eyes.  Long story short, my American eye doctors and frame makers didn’t understand the added complexities of the Asian face and its needs in frames and lenses.  They could diagnose only a fraction of what I needed.  Only an Asian, or someone with experience with Asian people, could understand that a prescription itself is not enough, the prescription also needs to be specifically framed to the wearer.

It was nothing short of revelatory.  I couldn’t help but think about its profound implications on church planting.  The Gospel is the prescription we all need, but in different cultures and countries, we need to frame it in a way that makes sense to the people.

We paid a good amount for the glasses, but it was so worth it.  Because we weren’t just paying for the product, but the expertise and promise of excellence behind it.

I can’t help but think about what I’m willing to “pay” as we build the church here in Singapore.  How much am I willing to sacrifice in order to excellently present the Gospel and God’s community to the people here?

There are definitely days where I’m tempted to skimp and focus more on me, my comfort, and taking shortcuts.  But as I look through these glasses that are suited perfectly for my eyes, my heritage, my life, I see that I want people to experience the kind of Gospel that brings clarity and life, not headache and strife.

Our church is heading into its 5th year of existence, and we’re praying for more stories of transformation, and servants who are willing to sacrifice everything to see that vision come to reality (starting from me and Joe).

Sowing and Striving

Jesus told his disciples:

“For here the saying holds true. ‘One sows and another reaps.’
I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.’” (John 4:37-38)

“You’re not the first Christians I met. I’ve met some recently and they told me their story too!”

 “I’ve never met a Christian before”

“No, thank you. I’m not very religious and I’m not interested”

“This Jesus… he’s not too bad!”

“Hey, folks from the church! Can you pray for me and my friends?”

“I want to believe… maybe someday I will become Christian too!”

(real quotes from people we’ve met in person over the past couple of months)

Since our last update, we have been “sowing” our prayers and striving to love people we’ve met. We’ve been able to connect with people, who are more open to knowing Jesus mainly through the work of Christians they had previously met, as well as meeting people who’ve never really heard about God or met a Christian before.

Our church has been engaged in making disciples of Jesus by putting in the behind-the-scenes work of prayer as we have connected with people “on the ground”.

A snapshot of how I’ve seen that “striving” and “sowing”:

!gnite Conference (27-28 June)
At our annual missions conference, we went outside of our “typical” church conference schedule and literally went outside of the conference building. With our church’s size of less than 30 people, we can be really mobile and nimble. So all of us drove over to Geylang, a neighborhood containing the country’s red light district, and visited Tamar Village. Tamar Village is the ministry we’ve been partnering with to reach more people in the red light district, starting with the local Singaporean street ladies.

We watched a documentary describing the need for the Gospel in Geylang, learned from the staff who have been working to serve the Geylang community for 5+ years, and sowed in a lot of prayers.

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(Our church and missions team praying with Tamar Village in Geylang)

It was a powerful time of praying because our whole church was gathered in Geylang, able to actually see where and to who we would send out our missions team the next day.

Local Missions Trip (28 June – 4 July)
The missions team’s week spent at Tamar Village was marked by prayer. Something our team noticed right away and consistently is how the staff and volunteers have a huge heart for the people in Geylang – and their work in serving the people is driven by prayer. What did we do during our time as a team? Literally, and almost exclusively – we prayed. No joke and no exaggeration.

We prayed continually – sometimes just praying indoors and other times praying while walking the streets and meeting with the men and women of the red light district.

One remarkable moment was when our team met some other Christians at a prayer gathering – pretty average folk – who have also been praying to see the Gospel transform lives in Geylang. The remarkable part? These folks have been praying for DECADES. We realized that the kind and depth of connection we made as a team in just a few days with some of the brothel owners and sex workers had never been done before! And this was really due to the decades of prayer invested by these faithful men and women. This is where we continue the work of sowing as we reap where we did not sow ourselves.

OCR (early August)
Learning from these lessons from our missions project, our church rekindled our prayers. We were about to welcome in new University students as classes started up and with over 300,000 college students in Singapore, of which nearly 20% are international, we had the urgency to pray that this next generation of students’ lives would be transformed by the Gospel.

So, what did we do during our annual week of welcoming in new students (our church calls this “Operation Campus Reach” or “OCR” for short)? Our small OCR team prayed as we shared the Gospel and met people. Praying for these relationships to continue – but more importantly, that the students would grow into a relationship with Jesus.

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(some church members with new students, seeing some of the sights in downtown Singapore)

LIFE Group:
Tomorrow, we kick off new LIFE Groups. LIFE Groups are smaller biblical communities committed to living out the Gospel by understanding the Word of God, obeying God, and making more disciples.

This is unique for us because previously, our church has been in a pattern of meeting only on Sundays for times of Bible study, discussion, fellowship, worship, and hearing Bible teachings. Since May, we’ve steadily transitioned into meeting mid-week for our LIFE Groups so that we can meet right near our workplaces, encourage one another in the midst of a workweek and invite our classmates and coworkers too!

What to do now?
Jesus told his disciples:
These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. Now go…” (Luke 10:2-3, NLT)

Jesus had his disciples pray that God would send more disciples to reach out to more people, then Jesus sent those very same praying disciples.

Pray as we continue making disciples!

!gnited for the red light district

Diana here again!

It’s been four weeks in Singapore and every day has been its own adventure.

  • In 7 hours, HMCC of Singapore will be starting its annual !gnite missions conference from Saturday to Sunday.
  • In 2 days, we will be sending a missions team for a week of ministry in Singapore’s red light district.

Yes. Singapore has a red light district.

Since my first week in Singapore, I’ve been training with our missions team to learn more about what sex slavery looks like in Singapore, what the government is doing about, and soon we will find out what God is doing about it here.  I’m SO excited to partner with a ministry called Tamar Village.  They are committed to reaching, rescuing, and rehabilitating people who are caught in prostitution (on either side of the enslavement).  This missions project will be a lot of learning, training, praying, and evangelizing to anyone God leads us to.

SO PLEASE PRAY FOR US. I’m keeping this entry short so that in the five extra minutes you would have spent reading this, you could spend it praying for us instead.

Here are 3 things we’d love prayer for!

  1. For our church in Singapore to be !gnited with a passion for the mission God has given us to reach the lost
  2. For a heart of readiness for our missions team. We haven’t had a lot of time to prepare and the nature of our mission requires us to be ready for anything at anytime.  We want to be willing and available to do whatever God asks us to do – no matter how uncomfortable/scared/unqualified we may feel.
  3. For God to open doors and hearts in Geylang (the red light district we will be going to)

Here’s a picture of our team! The team was joking that this is truly the most authentic “I need prayer” prayer card picture ever because two of us were super sick with a cold and a migraine when we took the picture.

While nothing can hold us back, only God can get us there.

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How I broke down at the supermarket

It has been exactly one week since I (Diana) have arrived in Singapore.  After countless goodbyes in the US, a beautiful wedding, and an unforgettable sendoff (with an epic video embedded below), I finally came to my new home in Singapore.  Stepping into Singapore weather was like receiving a big hug from your oversized family member: sweaty and overwhelming

Acclimating to a new place inevitably has its ups and downs. Here’s a list of fail moments that PJoe and I are already laughing about.  It would have been easy to clamor on and on about the amazingness of God’s splendor in the “little red dot”, but since the idea of this blog is to journey with us, I want God’s glory to shine through the reality of our everyday. And if this list causes any of you to worry more about us, good – pray harder for us then 😉

  1. I broke the law.
    • You’re not allowed to eat/drink on the MRT.  I completely forgot and started drinking out of my water bottle…directly in the face of an MRT supervisor.  She was flabbergasted at my gall to so blatantly break the law in the face of law enforcement. All she could do was muster up a quick yell as I scurried away with water bottle in tow
  2. I got heat stroke.
    • PJoe said he was going out for an easy jog. I thought it sounded like a good idea because he said it’d be, “AN EASY JOG”. Turns out it was the toughest workout ever and I almost vomited from the physical and heat exhaustion.  To add to the excitement, all of this happened at 9am when our leaders’ training was scheduled to meet at our place at 10am.  Praise God, I recovered in time. Any past missions team member that had to physically train under my husband, I am sorry.
  3. I broke down at the supermarket
    • PJoe took me to our local supermarket to pick up some food.  As I was walking down the aisle, I couldn’t recognize ANY of the vegetables.  They were all long, green, with mysterious names. HOW MANY LONG GREEN VEGETABLES ARE THERE?  I began to panic, wondering how in the world will I ever learn how to cook any of these vegetables.  Will we starve? Will we have to eat out all the time? Will we die of high cholesterol because of all the eating out?  Will we starve first because we went broke from the eating out first? Will we be dead, broke, and hungry? *insert panic here*

The list goes on of ridiculous moments in Singapore, and it’s only been 7 days.  

All these ridiculous moments in a weird way have been a very humbling reminder that God can use absolutely anybody to do what He wants.  Even a migraine prone, water guzzling, out of shape, culinary disaster like me.  

In the midst of my mishaps, the best part of Singapore so far has been my church.  It’s crazy how quickly I see the people I meet as MY church, MY family.  Everyone has been so kind, welcoming, and humoring of my foreignness. I already told some of my church members about my breakdown at Sheng Shiong (the supermarket) to which they kindly offered to go with my next time since, as it turns out, PJoe also had no idea what any of those vegetables were. Please continue to pray for us and our church as we continue to plant our roots here in Singapore!

And for your media-viewing pleasure:

My first time with our church! One of our food-scientist (literally) members made us a wedding cake!

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With our missional group, BTW (Beyond The Walls)

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and behold, the most ridiculous tear/laugh inducing video that blessed me to the core:

Why I’m not dieting for my wedding

I’m not dieting for my wedding.

I’m walking down the aisle as myself: NOT my “best” self – just MY self.

As I’ve been thinking about how I wanted to close out my time in the States in preparation for Singapore, I realized that my wedding preparation is included in my Singapore preparation. And as I was praying, I felt like God was challenging me to walk down the aisle the way I want to “walk” into Singapore.  I don’t want to enter Singapore as my “best” and “fakest” self.  Let’s be real, if I drop 5 lb/2.5 kg right before the wedding, I KNOW i’m just going to gain 10 lb/4.5 kg quickly after that in hamburgers and chili crab.  So I’m going to walk as my TRUE self.

If I crash diet to lose weight, will I convince myself that me minus a few pounds is my most beautiful self? And that when I gain extra weight that I’m less beautiful? When I get to Singapore and a shop owner rebuffs me from purchasing clothes because they don’t have clothes in my size, will I be able to still look in the mirror and know that I am beautiful? Or will it only add on to the instability of my confidence that I had already been shaking months before the wedding?

And how do I want myself captured in pictures on my wedding day?  As an unnatural weight that I haven’t been maintaining this entire year?  Or as the person that PJoe got to know and proposed to in the first place?

Similarly, if I binge-memorize 5 verses from the Bible for missions training, what does it do for my spiritual health?  Does it momentarily make me look good at missions training because I did my homework?  How does it help me for the rest of my life if I forget those verses an hour after the meeting ends? When I get to Singapore, do I want to present myself as holier and more knowledgable than I really am?

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to look like a model at my wedding (and I mean, for the rest of my life). I’d also love to have the entire Bible memorized, be super humble and holy, and be basically…perfect.  But I’m not. And I’m still beautiful and I’m still a child of God – and no one and nothing can change that.

Our “best” self is a truly transformed and consistent self.  I’m a big supporter of improving our lifestyle for something healthier.  Working out regularly? Reading the Bible and praying regularly? Yes please! Crash diets and binge-Bible memory? Not for me. I don’t want to conform to the world’s standards of beauty, success, or wedding preparation.  Instead I want to be transformed by the renewing of my mind and values (Ro 12:2). I think THIS is the best preparation for marriage and Singapore preparation…or any big life-stage preparation for that matter.

The real question is what are we preparing for?  For one day/moment, or for our eternity?

I want to walk down the aisle the way I want to walk into Heaven: as myself.

The Vision. The Vision. The Vision.

We find direction and focus in our vision.

What are we doing as a church? How do we make decisions? How do we know if we’re on track? How do we know we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing?

It didn’t take much time before I came a point where I was swept up in trying to “do it all” as a pastor and lost focus. I was meeting with lots of people, networking with ministry leaders in Singapore, and got excited albeit overwhelmed by so many new opportunities. The possibilities – as “they say” – were endless.

Several weeks ago, I was stuck when trying to decide where and how we can meet together as a church. I had multiple options that were “good”, but I was flipping back and forth, unsure of which direction to go. Finally, I was offered some wise counsel from other pastors who I count as key mentors: Remember the vision and mission.

I had also forgotten hard-earned lessons, like:
Opportunities are not obligations.
Leaders are decision-makers.
Church is not a location, building, or an event. Church is the people of God.

When it came to deciding on a meeting location, I realized that we really needed to intentionally pray for a location that was in line with our vision, and not just out of practical convenience. I’ve been part of and seen churches firsthand that meet in buildings and locations out of convenience, but have little intention or impact in reaching the surrounding community. I’ve learned from those experiences that our end goal of a church is not have our own building – but wherever we are, to be intentional and faithful in reaching the lost so that more people will hear and know about Jesus Christ. For HMCC, we want to always focus on making disciples of the next generation – no matter what stage of life we are in.

Ever since 1996 when the first HMCC church was planted in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we’ve been focused on transforming lost people into Christ’s disciples who will then transform the world. And we start on the University campus.

Our vision is to multiply churches on campuses and cities to transform the next generation among the nations.

So why do we want a consistent meeting location as a church? We want to provide a good space for people to gather and worship God corporately. We want a consistent space so that our church members know where to invite a friend into our community. We want a meeting location that is accessible to the people group we are trying to reach.

While a working professional is used to commuting, especially in a global city like Singapore, we found that most students so strongly prefer to stay near campus that whenever we met farther away, our students and their friends would be reluctant to participate. So, when there were plenty of other meeting locations available, I knew that it’d be better to hold off, pray for, and work towards finding a location that is more accessible to the college students.

This past Easter Sunday, we got a glimpse of that vision becoming reality. We were able to secure a meeting room right on the local University campus we’ve been reaching out to! This was very unusual because the school is not known to open their facilities to churches for worship. But there was a unique one-time opportunity and we were able to reserve a room right in the heart of campus. As a result, some of our students were able to invite and host their classmates for our Easter Celebration!

IMG_0399Easter Celebration – 5 April 2015

We are unable to officially worship oncampus as a church regularly. But we are praying in faith that God will provide a meeting location that would enable us to continue to make disciples of the next generation. Currently, there is a location we are going to try out that may work for the rest of the year – that is, until we outgrow the room!

An important lesson our senior pastor, Pastor Seth Kim, always teaches:
“Whenever God calls us to do something, He will always provide everything we need to fulfill our calling. A God-sized vision will require a God-sized provision because God is always for (pro-) His vision.”

HMCC of Singapore started with a vision, a few dedicated people, and prayer. Four and a half years later, we have the same vision, some more people, and we are growing in prayer. Please pray for God’s provision and our church’s faithfulness to this vision!

Fighting “it”

Hello everyone!

Diana here. First, I wanted to thank you all for your prayers during my “migraine season”. It was a bit crazy to have a migraine for so long (3.5 weeks!) but it ended up being a really great time to spend alone with God. For the first 2 weeks, I was trying to soldier on and keep a bold face and not get discouraged. The migraine led me to the doctor where I was able to find out important information regarding my health that would be REALLY helpful to know before getting married and leaving for Singapore. I was relieved and thankful for my migraine at that point and I ended up emailing some people for prayer and praising God about it.

In that email I wrote, “On the upside, I haven’t been depressed/discouraged by the past two weeks the way I normally would be.  I’ve been able to pray through my migraines and not wallow in the pain.”

Then the next day, I wallowed. As my head continued to hurt, I broke down in tears. WHY WAS MY HEAD STILL HURTING? I had thought I finally understood the reason for my migraine…so shouldn’t the pain be gone??

I was so upset, so confused, so scared. Hours earlier I was saying that God was good and sovereign…but could I still believe it?

That next week ended up being some of the most intimate times I spent with God. No longer trying to make sense of everything or promote my “get rid of my migraine” campaign, I just tried to be with God. Once I gave Him my full attention, God had me revisit old wounds and lies from my past.

I’ve never shared this so publicly before, but growing up, I was called “it”. I was given that “name” because I was told I was nothing, not worthy of a name or an identity. It haunted me to the core and I swore I would never tell anyone that shame and embarrassment.  The first time I ever confessed this to anyone was to my missions team in 2011 (5 years after graduating college) and the following years have been times of healing from that identity (or lack thereof). I thought I had made significant strides from those younger days, but God was showing me how much more “it” was still deeply rooted in me.

Then one night in the third migraine week, I felt like God made me confront and fight “it”. I had to fight against this lie. I didn’t, however, fight “it” with the truth that my name was Diana. Instead, I fought with the truth that my identity was as a daughter of God – my identity that is rooted in royalty because of the blood poured on me by Christ – my savior, my co heir, my God.

It was funny, all this time I’ve been trying to fight this “it” identity with being the best “Diana” I could be. But God showed me how much I’ve been trying to overcompensate with lots of “Diana”. In efforts to deny “it”, it was as though I confirmed “it” even more by building this “Diana” kingdom to prove “it” wrong.

 Matthew 16:25 says, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

 How ironic that the best way to know my REAL name, my REAL worth, my REAL identity was to find it in God and NOT myself.

I’ve never written this out before, but I wanted to share it. My migraine left soon after and I was thankful for my time with God. I had a good solid week of no migraine, but Saturday my migraine returned.

I have no idea how long this migraine will be with me, but what I do know is that God doesn’t let anything, not even a migraine, thwart His plan. If there’s a way that even this can bring Him glory, I’m really hoping I can learn to live in a way where that can happen. I’m not the most graceful at struggling through it, but please pray that I can keep learning and pointing everything back to God.

I’m thankful for our community of friends/family/church who are supporting us in this journey to Singapore. And as you pray for us and our tangible needs, please pray for our deeper needs of continual freedom and healing from our past too.

I’m really hoping/praying to see this kind of freedom in our churches in the States and in Asia too.