Sunday, December 26, 2010

Looking Back on 2010

As a tradition of sorts, I would recount with thanksgiving some of the events/projects the Agora has been privileged to be a part of for the year 2010.

January started with disturbing news of arson attacks on churches and surau around the country. It was a teaching moment to the Sermon on the Mount message on Loving The Enemy (delivered earlier in CDPC Subang) and translating some official statements and this article by Farish Noor "Kepala Khinzir, Kepala Lembu Dan Kepala Raksasa Di Kalangan Kita" to call for calm and not to give in to these irresponsible provocations.
This is the way of the cross. This is how we setup signposts of the Kingdom that points to a different way of being human. Not through hatred but through love for our enemies. It was also an opportunity to assist Kairos in disseminating information regarding the usage of the word "Allah" amongst Bahasa-speaking Christians.

2010 is a milestone of sorts because I am now part of the church planting team in Puchong. I had the honor of drafting out a summary of the gospel for the CDPC Puchong website.

In February, from the initiatives of Kar Yong and Chai Hock, I learnt the joys of writing short Lent devotionals based on a few Romans passages on faith, mortification, perseverance in grace and the Resurrection (Easter Sunday).

In March, I took leave to address the student fellowship at University Malaya on the topic of apologetics. Managed to make some connections from 1 Peter 3:15 injunction to sanctify Christ as Lord to the climate of concern and uncertainty during that time. PKV has a special place in the history of Agora.

One of the highlights of 2010 was participation at an Interfaith Forum at International Medical University (IMU) on the topic "Purpose of Life". It was like a privilege to share the panel with distinguished speakers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism and of course, Bro Shah Kirit representing Islam. The questions and answers session was stimulating and cordial, I was relieved the atmosphere was not as tensed as the previous ones I've witnessed.

After flying back from a business trip in Vietnam, I drove up Cameron Highlands for the CPDC youth retreat to address the topic - "Be Yourself". Learnt a couple of new things there... I have become used to speaking with full written texts for some time now, as opposed to the more free, impromptu style adopted in earlier forays into public speaking. It worked in CDPC sermon contexts, but in an more informal youth camp setting, it needs some major adjustments. Need to learn to be more flexible and give myself more time to be familiar with the mood/environment. Also, I have become more and more indebted to Tim Keller's approach to apologetics, gospel-centeredness and cultural analysis as evidenced in the message content.

Delivering an Easter message at an Orang Asli village was the second time in my life to give a mini-sermon in Bahasa Malaysia. But the first one was an impromptu, 2-minute attempt during college days before a group of East Malaysian soldiers (who providentially walked into the campsite) so that hardly counts. If I had more time, I wish to do more translation work in Bahasa.

While continuing my studies at Malaysia Bible Seminary, I managed to get Rev Loh Soon Choy to teach me on Modern Theology even though he retired. In April, I handed in my assignments on Karl Barth, Liberation Theology, Pannenberg and early liberal theology.

Agora partnership with Kairos continues with article contributions to the bimonthly magazine - on the topic of Creation Care and Recovering the Biblical Text. The latter was pretty tough as it touches on two weighty issues of textual criticism and translation philosophies. I was about to throw in the towel as the deadline looms. Somehow I was sent on an assignment in Kuching which required me to be on standby until 4 am! (That was the blessing in disguise that allowed me to complete it in time)

In August, Elder Chew contacted me to speak on apologetics and cultural engagement (salt and light) at Klang Presbyterian Church. It was to be a partnership that continues on into 2011.

In CDPC Puchong (home base), I am grateful that lay preachers like myself get the opportunity to address self-chosen topics like Rojak Spirituality (pluralism-September), Hungering God and Discover Your Life Calling (November). Especially meaningful was the small group discussions facilitated by Alvin Ung that followed the sermon on vocation discernment. We learn how to listen to each other and share what gives us joy/pain so as to help each other to discern our calling.

In October I was happy to promote the MICAS Christian art exhibition in Cheras but only able to view this year's offering on the last day. Wished I could have attended the launch but family commitments are different now that little Zhen is 1.5 years old.

It was also a great privilege to discuss Reformed theology for four sessions at Meng's cell group gathering and doing bible study on Romans with the youth group in CDPC Puchong. It was no small feat to complete reading the epistle in about 7 months or so. Made a trip back to CDPC Subang youth group on Common Misconceptions people have about the Christian faith.

That brings us to December - returning to d'Nous Academy after 3-year cycle to do four-session introduction to Worldview is another highlight for the year 2010. Especially loved the interactions and questions between breaks and over meals. I feel most alive doing this kind of thing.

Most encouraging is their Thank you card which had these comments that made all the time and effort worthwhile:

- "Thank you for answering my questions. I really enjoyed your lessons"
- "...the study group was very interactive and exciting" (assigned them to talk abt a movie's worldview)
- "you make my doubts clear and I'll treasure it"...
Thank you, Lord, for the opportunities and strength You gave that made all these possible. Help me grow in wisdom, diligence and skill.
And... Thank You - all readers, forum participants, blog contributors, ministry partners, prayer supporters, downloaders, forwarders, lurkers etc. You have been a great encouragement to me as well.

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