Friday, November 28, 2008

When the Answer was No

When I was approached to write a testimony, I just went ‘Eh?’ Now don’t get me wrong, I have lots of stories to tell (more often I have TOO many of them). But then again, to pick just one story to put on print out of the millions…. Let’s just say it’s not easy.

Because my WHOLE LIFE is a testimony.

So let me just clarify that what I am about to share was chosen on the sole basis that it was one of the most recent. It is currently 28th of November 2008, 11.40 a.m. Who knows? Something big may happen tomorrow morning (my neighbour’s chickens took sleeping pills!!!) but for now, this is a little snippet of God’s grace and mercy in my life.

In the month of June, my school’s prefect board announced that it was campaign season! Now, what is that? Well, to be the Head Prefect in my school, you have to first be nominated by the prefects to stand for election in front of the whole school. After that, you have 2 weeks of campaigning to do, speeches to be made to the entire student body and faculty, Q&A sessions etc. all leading to the VOTING DAY. In a nut shell, that was what I went through. Stress on ‘in a nut shell’. Because honestly, nothing I had experienced can ever be described in a mere 5 sentences.

The journey was very much like a roller coaster – the ones with sudden dips and twists which leave you feeling exhilarated with adrenaline pumping through your veins. It’s the type of roller coaster where you turn around and yell, “Whoa! That’s a great one! You’ve GOT to try it out!” But silently in your heart, you doubt that you would ever dare to sit on it again now that you know all that lies ahead.

After a long campaigning season spanning about 2 months, it was time for the entire school to cast their votes. Because I am posting this up publicly, I am refraining from writing more details. But if you ask me, I’ll definitely share it with you personally. Well then, what was the outcome?

I did not become the Head Prefect of my school.

Was I disappointed? Yes, in fact, I never felt so let down in my life. All through my campaign, I had regularly questioned myself, ‘Why am I doing what I am doing?’ And through my quiet times with God, I knew that all I wanted to be was His light in my school. And yes, I broke down when I was told the news. Fortunately, they did not publicly announce the results. I had one of the headmistress’ assistant tell me the news. Nevertheless, the pain I felt was raw enough for my defences to crack. So, why cry? It wasn’t because I was power crazy and aiming for the Headship only, I was appalled by the fact that they ALL thought I would rather quit than be the assistant head prefect.

There is no hurt greater than being misjudged, misunderstood and misrepresented.

But after all my anger (yes, I was angry and if I said I wasn’t, I’d be bluffing) and frustration abated, I had come to realise that the sooner I get over it, the easier it would be for me to move on. Yes, I felt wronged against but am I going to be bitter and hold it against my school? No. It wasn’t easy because God knows that I didn’t feel like it, but I choose to. And the very next day (yes, my parents can testify to this), I smiled and thanked God and told Him that I’ll trust Him that He knows exactly what’s He’s doing. It was fortunate that the battle had been fought and won early. If not, I would give it a 99.99999999999999% chance I would not be able to be as calm as I was when everyone clamoured around me after the results were publicly announced. And the day they announced it, my team and I proceeded to the finals of the Taylor’s Annual Inter-School Debate 2008. See, God does have a sense of humour!

So now, I am serving God as the Assistant Head Prefect from my school. And tough though it was to be where I am, I would not change a single thing. Why?

Because everyone thinks that a testimony is about the good stuff. I could have easily chosen to share my testimony of how my team and I won the finals of the Taylor’s Debate. But I decided not to because I wanted others to know too that a testimony can also be about the bad stuff. And about how that it’s through our weaknesses that God is the strongest.

After all, an answered prayer doesn’t necessarily have to be a yes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

WP = War Prolonged / World Peace

World peace.

Since 9/11, talks on world peace have skyrocketed on a massive scale. Everyone seems to want a piece of this utopia, to see the world unite under one banner. Many are tired with the wars going on around, the latest one in Georgia. As the Black Eyed Peas would croon, “Where is the love, the love, the love”? Frankly speaking, I have no idea. But I believe much can be boiled down to our chase for materialism and for the tangible. So now presented with a topic like this, I’m trying to picture how as a leader of a country will I be able to promote world peace.

From the eyes of a very shallow sixteen year old, of course.

World peace is the utopian ideal of planetary non-violence by which nations willingly cooperate, either voluntarily or by virtue of a system of governance which prevents warfare. In English, it means freedom from wars. Many of us (and by us I mean secondary school going students) would just write this essay out mindlessly with suggestions so ‘impersonal’ that any leader can do it. But the question here isn’t what a leader of a country can do, but what YOU as a leader can do. Naturally, I’m expecting some ‘snore-worthy’ suggestions such as hosting talks between warring countries so that peace can be restored, putting up banners and running campaigns to make the people more aware and so on. While I am all out for world peace, to obtain it, you need three things first. They’re like the foundation. Just like if a house is built on a foundation of sand, it’ll crash easily when waves hit it. But if it’s built on solid rock, then it’ll remain unshaken.

Don’t talk about world peace if peace in my own country is unattainable. As I would put it (very eloquently), – ‘belum tahu jalan sudah nak lari’. How can we begin to focus on WORLD peace when our own internal state of affairs is in disarray? It’s a paradox. We have to settle our own nation’s politics before we get involved in others. We have to ensure that corruption is at its minimum, the people’s rights are kept and that the welfare of everyone is taken care of. That the politicians stop the mud-slinging game and carry out what they were elected to do. That there will be no discrimination and everyone will see each other as equals just as they are before God. If we can’t achieve that even in our own country, I will give it a 99.99999% chance with only a 0.000000000001% percentage error that world peace will remain elusive and out of our grasp.

World peace begins in our country.

But when we divide our country into smaller divisions, what do you get?


What hope is there for world peace if within the confines of the home, World War III and IV are waged (with V, VI and VII well on its way)? When the home becomes a bigger war zone than the one in Iraq, how can we dream that we will achieve worldwide freedom from wars? If I were to divide the world into 2, there would be the history teachers and there would be the science teachers. History teachers are those who look at things as a whole – the ‘big’ picture. That’s what many of the world leaders are doing. Which is commendable and excellent but I believe that to obtain world peace, world leaders need to be science teachers as well – the ones who focus on details, even the ones that seem too insignificant. They understand that to tackle a difficult problem, you need to go back to the grassroots. And the families need to be at peace first. When we see broken families restored, once bitter husbands and wives turn to each other with a renewed covenant, children coming home again after being on the run… then yes, world peace can finally become a reality.

World peace begins in our families.

But when you put world peace under a microscope and zoom in at the highest magnification, you’ll see individual dots. Little specks that look like dust but yet they make up ‘world peace’. What are they?

They are the individuals. Meaning you and me.

If I can’t believe in my heart and be convicted to love my neighbour as myself, I’d be a hypocrite. I can go around the streets saying how much I love the world but haven’t said anything to my next door neighbour after she accidentally killed my prized bougainvillea with weed killer, I’m bluffing. World peace CANNOT be preached, it has to be ACTED on. I have to make a conscious effort to love those who seem unlovable, to have a heart of compassion for those in need and to reach out to those who are lost. I may be one but I am still ONE. And because I am one, I will not refuse to do the one thing I can do.

World peace begins with me.

To end, let me just tell you a story.

Once there was a little boy who was so passionate about his role in life that he declared, “I will change the world!” But as he grew older, life’s worries started to come in and at 26, he realised that it is unachievable and so he said, “I will change my country!” However, life had other plans for him and as he settled down with his new household, he at 46 stated, “I will change my family!” Now, as an old man in a rocking chair at 66, he now whispers under his breath, “I will change myself….”

The world may seem too big to impact. I hope we learn our lesson a lot faster than that boy who by the time realised the truth, was too late to act upon it. Because I as ONE may not be able to change the world, but I’ll be able to change the world of ONE.

And that’s how world peace will be obtained – ONE by ONE.

It begins in our country.

It begins in our family.

It begins with me.

Kidzone Boot Camp - The Cross

I'm sure we all take back something special whenever we return from camps. If not, it'll be just a waste of time (as well as a precious waste of funds). Put all the campers in one room and we'll all give different answers as to what we learnt. And of course, I have mine.

Besides learning I can knock nails using both hands (I'm ambidextrous!) and how to look like a little brown nut (just run around the beach chasing kids), this camp served one significant purpose - it was a Reminder.

A reminder of what?

Basically, the whole camp was a replicate of NSt's youth camp last year. In a way, I was reminded of what I've learnt last year and whatever promise I made to God. It has almost been a year since then and many events have happened. For good or for bad, for better or for worse.

We all need little reminders in life. Why, that's probably the reason why we get so annoyed when our organisers are deleted. When storms in our life tends to overwhelm us, we may forget whatever we've learnt and the time we've spent with God. And I admit, that was so with me. So the camp was timely and I know it's a way for God to remind me to take up my cross and follow Him daily. Many events have gone by this past year and some have almost made me give up carrying it. Yet seeing the campers carrying those wooden crosses around just reminds me that I made a promise to God that I'll carry it, heavy it may be. It's the invisible cross that count.

I thank God for Him being with me thus far and though at times I feel like giving up, He never gave up on me. And time and time again I'm reminded of His love for me and His plan in my life. And this camp is certainly a confirmation from God that He'll see me through the journey.

To sum it up neatly, it's all about the people, not the programme and ultimately only about one Person.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Square One

We all have our reasons for doing what we do. Regardless whether our motives were pure, distorted or laughably dumb, we have them.

That includes me.

But then again, my reason for creating a blog is too simple that even I'm wondering whether I dreamt it.

I just want to write. Well, not only to write but to write MEANINGFULLY. I realise the power of words and how they have the ability to make things last, to influence, to complicate, to change. For better or for worse, in whatever way we want to use them.

And in some small way, I pray that I'll use them the way God wants me to. After all, everything I write about, whatever I've gone through was because of Him. My history is His story.

So here's to this blog and let's see how long it lasts.