For those of you who didn’t already know, here is my cooking website: http://dishbydish.net
Go visit it, share it, spread the word about it!
The power of social media has stunned me into believing that technology can be put to very good (or very bad) use. The sheer velocity with which word (both good and bad again) spreads is astonishingly potent and its force has blown me into acknowledging that everyone, no matter how insignificant, has a voice. A voice, which can either be used to edify, praise, uplift, and encourage, or a voice which can be aimed like a weapon meant to destroy, destruct, tear down, and discourage.
Living in Argentina (South America), I am as far from South East Asia as anyone can be, but the moment news of City Harvest’s leaders being arrested this week hit the newsstands and online websites, I got wind of it almost immediately through Facebook of course. Where else does news spread like an epidemic to reach the ends of the earth?
My initial reaction was shock, surprise, and a clutching at my heart which at first I couldn’t understand. You’ll have to understand my background to realize why I reacted this way.
I first started attending CHC a long time ago when I was in secondary school (1999 – more than a decade ago). For me, it was a completely new experience to attend a church where the people actually seemed happy and cool. I was young and impressionable, but I realized quickly that many people who attended the church had a certain passion and a certain imprint in them, an imprint recognizable among many fervent CHC members who may be described by non-members as cult-like, overly zealous, blind faith, and the descriptions go on. At this point of time, CHC was based in a small building in Paya Lebar, among its first buildings and where CHC built its foundation. There were fewer attendees at this time, the church was smaller and more family-like, but there was a certain vibration of potential buzzing in the air, something that made you aware of a bigger, larger future to come.
I was a faithful attendee for the next 6-7 years, being part of a cell group, and taking part in the Usher ministry and serving twice a month. The first time I served in the ministry was the first time I wore a proper shirt, because the ministry and the church instilled a spirit of excellence and wanted its members to be sharp, neat and to be a reflection of an excellent and perfect God. I learnt how to carry myself with confidence, to address large crowds and not bow down to pressure, and I suppose, I served my duties well enough to ultimately be promoted to a “Team IC” and be in charge of a team. The Usher ministry was physically demanding, it wanted its ministry members to be strong and quick and sharp, and I learnt a lot from those few years. It shaped my attitude towards work and personal values. It taught me to do the best even if no one was watching. It taught me that small details count because the foundation is made up of thousands of small details without which the building would fall.
Sometime later, I attended another church for awhile, as I wanted to try out what a different type of congregation felt like. I shan’t elaborate on this now, because the main point was that, ultimately, CHC always felt like home to me. I returned to CHC after 1.5 years, but only attended the weekend services. I did not attend any cell groups nor take part in any ministry. But still, I felt the strong belonging to CHC and in some weird way, found that despite having been away from CHC for a while, there are certain impressions and values that I learnt from CHC which I will keep for life. Pastor Kong has always been a demanding person, in expecting excellence from his staff and members, always encouraging the church to move forward and go beyond previous boundaries, stretching our faith and pushing us to believe that with God anything is possible.
Pastor Kong is a very smart and intellectual man. I moved to Argentina two years ago and haven’t attend CHC since, but my memory of Pastor Kong is always that of someone who is in constant search of greater understanding, and someone how never fails to try to transmit his latest acquired knowledge to his members. His sermons were always backed with facts from reliable sources, and statistics are used to prove and support his teachings. It wasn´t brainwashing as many non-members believe. I remember vividly the many prayers we have prayed as a church for wisdom for the leaders of Singapore, and how our pastors always taught us to honor our leaders (whether they believe in God or not). I know he preaches the concept of prosperity and the cultural mandate – concepts which are neither traditional nor conventional. Yet the cultural mandate is one thing which made CHC so influential in the society, both within Asia and beyond.
I have personally seen how youths, troubled and bored with life, have turned from lifeless souls into people who suddenly have a purpose. I have seen how the yearly “Emerge” event has enabled so many to showcase their talent in an environment which is protected, where dysfunctional youths find love and welcome, and where disabled people are given a chance to be useful and find meaning in their lives. CHC has always been a frontrunner in breaking frontiers and crossing unknown boundaries, all in the ultimate purpose of spreading God’s love through charity, through music, arts, and creative talents. The church in its essence has influenced society beyond measure and beyond imagination, that for many it is hard to accept because its impact on believers (and non-believers) seems too large for the traditional concept of a “church”.
As I mentioned before, the media, and increasingly social media, has a tremendous power to do good or bad. It can defame and create inerasable, unjustified prejudice, resulting in broken reputations and tough accusations. But, I always believe in the fact that good will always triumph over evil, and that it is better to speak only when there is positive feedback.
What I have seen over the past few days (the comments and posts on Facebook, as well as blog entries all over the Internet) is evidence of the huge impact that CHC has on society. The fact that members (and even non-attendees like myself who live overseas) are so united in standing up for CHC’s leaders is because we have seen the outcome and fruit of their vision to be a light in the city, to be an influence for the better, to be the foundation of love and hope in a world where distrust increasingly thrives.
Unlike many members’ testimonies, I did not come from a broken or poor family, but my years of attending CHC has benefited me in many ways. It has made me aware that God’s love is endless, that he is the God of creativity and works without boundaries. And that no matter your religion, or Christian denomination, we are all humans and have the ability to err. I hope that we as a society can learn to forgive without judging, to see the good and positive impact CHC has made, which cannot be denied, diminished, nor destroyed.
That’s about all I wanted to say, a small voice in the ocean of many, but I hope it has shed some light.
“For out of You will shine rivers of living water, like a light that shines ever brighter into the darkness.”
Val is! Together with Jasmine!
Planning an entire list of places to take them to on their 3-week escapade to the Paris of South America…is about the best distraction from work and other things clogging my mind.
On another note, watched La Bomba del Tiempo (literally: the timebomb) perform for the first time. a group of 30+ performers-musicians taht play to improvised rhythms directed by invited guests. Really awesome – best thing to do on a Monday night after a long day of working on an Argentine public holiday – can’t think of anything that could have beaten three hours of standing watching this amazing group perform. I felt so energized, so inspired to watch them grooving in their element, in a job they love and that brings so much joy to those watching. Totally made my Monday.
Today we celebrate Abuela’s birthday (after being born 82 years ago on May 26, 1929).
It’s really quite amazing to be able to share the company of someone who has reached that milestone in life and can say she’s been through the Great Depression, World War Two, the birth of the Internet, the widespread epidemic of addiction to computers, as well as the rise and fall or Argentina’s economy. For someone who has lived substantially in two different centuries (almost the majority on one and at least a decade in another), she must have to right to speak about the flaws and benefits of the many generations she has been a part of and contributed to. I think her mind must be like a mega hard disk drive with coves of knowledge, secrets, observations, experiences that a person of my age and generation will not be able to comprehend.
It’s a great honour to have her tell me stories about the past, about the way people lived, her advice, her little quotes of wisdom, her funnily honest comments, and to eat her love-cooked food. She’s one of the people I love the most in Argentina, (among many others that make me realize this place is also home, despite all the complaints I have, and despite the fact that I see my real family once in an entire year). She reminds me of my grandmother, who feeds me with an abundant amount of food each time I visit her because that’s their way of showing love, in the little things, despite being able to understand the world of technology and fast-paced lifestyle my generation thrives on.
One of the first phrases Abuela quoted me in my visit to Buenos Aires in 2008 was –
“La medida del amor, es amar sin medida”.
This translates into – The measure of love, is to love without measure..
I suppose if after an entire life of seeing war, depression, transitions and death, if someone like Abuela tells you to keep on loving the world, it is worth doing so. I hope she has many many more years on earth, to keep enlightening people and brightening their days everytime she sees them.
Feliz Cumple Abuela, te quiero muchisimo.
i miss having a home thats really mine.
miss that circle of friends you can call anytime and know they’re yours
miss being in a country that I love more than complain about
miss my family, because no matter what, no other family can replace yours
kinda homesick, that’s about it
To direct: to point direction
Direction: position or manner to follow to reach destination
Destination: goal, aim, final place of intention
Co-director: Someone who directs a project together with another
Project: piece of work, art, fruit of a labour
Another: A person other than the original person, proof that human beings are sociable, not meant to live in isolation
Co-direct my life with me. May every frame have both our signatures imbedded, that every viewer sees the fruit of the labour that is my life.
Rhema: For out of you will flow rivers of living waters, that shine ever brighter into the darkness.
Yes, definitely, maybe, my sister Val will make her grad trip down South to Buenos Aires and spend some weeks or even a month here! The thought just thrills me, not just because I get some Singaporean company, but also cos it’s been a REALLY LONG WHILE since we spend celebrated our ya-ya sisterhood!
WOOHOO!! Definitely. Maybe. Definitely!
Look at Val and I supporting Ron in our Lim Family cheerleading squad!!
Isn’t the combination of black, white and an astonishing burst of colours so damn beautiful?
I love how words paint the pictures in our minds, and then when you think you can’t imagine anymore, there you have it, the picture, all perfect.