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Does my dad deserve a Father’s Day?

by Jenni Ho-Huan | 10 June 2018, 8:44 PM

When I was growing up, Father’s Day wasn’t even invented yet – not to me anyway. And I probably would have resisted the idea of it had I known about it then. Not much to celebrate, I would’ve said.

So dead wrong I was.

The mental picture I have of my dad is not a clear portrait, all gleaming and ready to be hung on a wall. In my mind, it’s more like bits of mosaic lining up unevenly and in unequal pieces.

He could do amazing things with his hands. I remember one time, he brought home timber wood, and after several hours of sawing and hammering, a double-decker bed emerged. 

Then there was the time he came home with an accordion. I had never seen such a thing before; I was fascinated by the way it folded and the sounds my father could make on it.

Quite a few times, Dad returned much later than expected because he had taken the wrong bus – getting lost seems to run in my blood!

I realised that God has chosen him and my mum to be the ones to birth and raise me.

I remember we watched three things repeatedly: Hindi movies, nature documentaries, and wrestling. Thanks to my dad, I am adept at eating with my hands, have never let skin colour bother me, and can recognise David Attenborough’s voice anywhere.

My father loved the thrill of a good gamble; but he made humble bets. Each time he won, the house would fill with something. He also enjoyed smoking. As a teen, I self-righteously berated and made him feel guilty for constantly inflicting us with second-hand smoke.

If I’d loved my dad as a child, I do not remember it. I wish I did. I would have made music with him, learnt to build a thing or two, maybe got lost together on those bus rides. 

Perhaps I did not love him because we were too busy getting by. Or because I saw my mother struggling with her deep disappointments in life: She’d vowed not to marry someone who gambled, but her mother set her up with my dad. And a mother’s shattered dreams are shards that are best avoided.

Perhaps I did not love him because there was a sorry need for love in my own little heart.

Thankfully, at the age of eight, God became a reality for me. Among the many things I would learn and discover about Him, I found the father I wanted and needed in my heavenly Father. 

When I was old enough, God turned my attention back to my earthly father. It began with the mission all followers of Jesus embark on: Saving souls. My dad needed saving, that wasn’t difficult to see.

But in time, God showed me that my father would once again be His instrument – I needed to be saved from my lovelessness, especially towards my dad. It is a great irony that Dad’s cold, indifferent, cavalier attitude about God called forth the love of Christ in me. 

Patiently, God waited for me to grow up. And when He finally said, “Be a friend to your dad”, I said yes through flowing tears; a whole new capacity opened up within me. I saw how he was a hurt, unloved person in so many ways, and appreciated how much it must have taken for him to even be who he was.

I realised that God has chosen him and my mum to be the ones to birth and raise me.

I cannot recall how many times I managed to wish him “Happy Father’s Day” in the end, but I’m glad I got to say it at least once. 

In Malachi 4:6, it talks about God turning the hearts of children to their fathers. And you know what? God is always doing that. He is love; it’s what he does. 

It took me a long time to say “Happy Father’s Day” because I could not see what a gift my dad was, stuck as I was in what the “model father” should be. I overlooked the fact that he didn’t have a father who showed him how to father, and without Father God in his life, how was he to ever know?

Yet, in my father, there was the valour of a good man.

When he saw my mother thumbed down and abused by his mum after they got married, he courageously took her, their two pots, one bag of clothes and left in the middle of the night. 

When the children started coming, he worked hard as a coolie with his changkol (shovel). It was backbreaking and tempted by faster gains, his gambling habit grew. But it was always to help us live a little better. Buy us a toy or two. Eventually, he became a clerk at the shipyard, until that job was unjustly lost.

Whenever he didn’t have proper work, he worked at home. He cleaned and cooked. I still miss his best dish – pig’s tongue stewed with soya beans and onions. Sometimes we came home to handwritten messages that the water had been boiled and was safe to drink. 

He didn’t have much going for him in life, really. But he had an optimistic, can-survive demeanour. We probably got that from him too. Not to mention his linguistic ability. He didn’t have many opportunities, but God did give him an amazing wife. Together, they had nine children, and I am glad to be one of them.

When a man has given life his best shot, it is worth celebrating. And for Mr Ho, he gave being a dad a real good shot. He wasn’t able to supply us with plenty, but he made sure that the rice urn, sugar and salt were always there.

He may not have known how to egg us on to success, but he never held us back from pursuing our dreams and we could see his quiet pride at every graduation.

He never verbally told us he loved us, but neither did he ever demand love from us in return. He accepted gifts reluctantly and I’ll always remember how his sanguine self would go very quiet when attention was turned to him.

But God knows, he tried being the best father he could. And I thank God for opening my eyes to see it before it was all too late.

Now, Dad’s having a well-deserved rest (and probably a really good time) in heaven, exactly how he would have liked it. He is home, safe and free at last.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.


This was first seen on Jenni’s blog and has been republished with permission.

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When I traded God for my boyfriend

by Wendy Wong | 13 August 2018, 2:50 PM

It didn’t happen immediately. It was so gradual and subtle that we were completely oblivious to it – blinded in our love for each other.

It didn’t start out this way, of course. Even before we started dating, we intentionally sought the Lord’s will on whether we were right for each other. We prayed earnestly as we grew closer, as friends first and then later, tentatively, as partners. We encouraged one another with God’s Word, and prayed together regularly.

But over time, things changed. We became more emotionally intimate as we shared our innermost thoughts and secrets, our hopes and dreams, our fears and memories. We began meeting more often, and for longer stretches – from a weekly Sunday afternoon to the entire Sunday. The importance of the day slowly shifted away from Sabbath rest in our Saviour, to outings and meals with our significant other.

We were doing all the “right” things

And we started trying to find every possible opportunity to spend more time together, like staying out later and later on Sundays – the only time we could meet for a full day due to my irregular work hours. We couldn’t bear to be apart from each other, and when we were apart, we would long for when we could next see each other.

This led us to spend more time with each other, and less time with the Lord and other loved ones. Our once-quiet evenings spent in prayer, worship and reading God’s Word were replaced by nights talking, texting and video calling each other. Dates together even began to take precedence over meet-ups with friends and meals with family.

Slowly and almost imperceptibly, our love for each other had started to eclipse that for the Lord and those around us.

The most frightening part of it all was that we weren’t even aware of it happening.

We were doing all the “right” things: We prayed together, sent each other Bible verses and prayer requests, attended church service together, and even had an older accountability couple to mentor us. Yet our hearts were not right with the Lord.

We really didn’t think we were spending all that much time together. After all, there were couples who met each other daily. Yet it wasn’t so much the amount of time we spent with each other, but the level of priority we had begun placing on each other.

While we often spoke of putting God first, our actions showed otherwise. We no longer loved the Lord with all our heart and all our soul and all our might (Deuteronomy 6:4-15). We started to stray away from Him, instead choosing to turn to one another for love, joy and comfort.

We began placing ourselves in precarious situations that presented overwhelming temptations to sin.

… it wasn’t so much the amount of time we spent with each other, but the level of priority we had begun placing on each other.

Though we had intended for God to be the centrepiece and cornerstone of our relationship, our actions pushed Him to the very corner of the picture, as we fell deeper in love with each other. 

Our hearts were so deceitful: We were barely aware of how we slowly but surely drifted away from the Lord and towards idolatry, innocently clothed in relational love.

Yet God can’t be a footnote in our love story – He must be Lord over all.

Through a series of incidents, God revealed how we had strayed away from Him.

This included one particularly painful episode, after which my boyfriend and I spent a month apart to repent and reflect before God, under the guidance and counsel of our accountability couple.

Even though it was painful to be separated, our time apart forced us to remember who we were before there was a “we”. It gave us breathing space to hear God’s voice again, and remember that our identity was not merely a girlfriend or boyfriend – but a redeemed child of our Heavenly Father, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

As I sought the Lord, I realised I had come to love God’s gift more than the Giver Himself. I learned to ask myself:

  • Who do I yearn to spend time with?
  • Where do my thoughts wander to when I have nothing to do?
  • To whom do I turn to for love, satisfaction and pleasure?
  • If the Lord were to take my boyfriend away one day, how would I respond to Him?

In short, I was confronted with the question: If all of life is meant to worship God, who was I worshipping in my relationship: God or my partner?

Even though it was painful to be separated, our time apart forced us to remember who we were before there was a ‘we’.

God showed me that I had traded Him for him, and that I was seeking and deriving love, joy and fulfilment from my boyfriend. I quickly learned that these are gifts only our Maker can give in all His fullness – something no mortal man can give.

When my boyfriend failed to live up to my expectations, I saw how I had placed him on a pedestal above the King of kings. When he inadvertently hurt me, I realised how much hope I had placed in him, rather than in the Shepherd of my soul. And when we were apart – physically, emotionally and spiritually – I realised how much I had come to adore and even worship him instead of God.

After the month was up, my boyfriend and I came together to reconcile and pray with one another. Since then, God has been teaching us, through every victory and struggle, to turn our gaze on Him. We’re still learning how to love God first before each other, and to gently point one another back to the Lord when tempted to idolatry.

Although our story is far from over, I know that our God is with us and in control. And this gives me a peace and assurance that He is ever-present even – and especially – in the midst of our struggles and sinfulness. More importantly, God has promised us that just as He has saved us, He too will sanctify us completely in His faithfulness (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).


This article was first published on YMI.today, and is republished with permission.

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I broke all the rules I said I never would

by Amedee Goh | 7 August 2018, 4:58 PM

I was always a daredevil.

I loved to bend the rules to see how much I could get away with, so I often landed in trouble. I just loved trying and experiencing new things. It started with stealing when I was young, then rebelling against my teachers. And as I grew older, I tried clubbing. I tried getting drunk. I tried smoking. I also tried getting into an unequally yoked relationship.

In my rulebook, I would set lines I wouldn’t cross. When guys touched me in clubs, I was fine. What was not fine was when their hands reached beyond my back, or them kissing me on the lips. I counted myself liberal, but with boundaries drawn.

I always thought I could get myself out of anything. Until smoking … until my first relationship.

I got involved in both at the same time because my ex was a smoker.

As I desired to get to know more of his “world”, and due to my own love of ‘fun’, I experimented trying cigarettes with a friend. My ex was also a Christian. He had backslid, but when we got together, he assured me he was going to make things right. I should have known better, but I refused to.

Soon enough, I was sucked into the whirlwind of fulfilling my physical desires. As our relationship progressed, we kept crossing boundaries previously drawn by me. I didn’t let him know my boundaries, I only told him I would never give my virginity away until marriage. But I kept adjusting the rules in my rulebook until I just wasn’t sure anymore.

The more I toyed with the idea of sex, the more I began to think it was okay.

They didn’t know much about my life then, yet they respected and loved me unconditionally.

As all this was happening, I felt torn between God and my boyfriend.

I knew the latter could only satisfy my fleshly desires, but I couldn’t let go. I was also very worried about my future as a young working adult. My thoughts were everywhere. In worship services, I would feel nothing but go through the motions. My heart was growing cold. I felt really alone.

Through it all, the sole silver lining was my friends in and outside of church. I maintained close contact with my cell group. In some small ways, I was anchored. They could tell I was not telling them things, but they didn’t pry. That was something I appreciated greatly.

As the relationship fell apart, so did I.

I didn’t think it would hurt that much. But now that I’ve experienced it, heartbreak sucks. Of course it does. Again my friends embraced me. My cell group became my biggest pillar of support. They didn’t know much about my life then, yet they respected and loved me unconditionally.

I committed myself more regularly to services and cell groups. I met my mentor more regularly for advice. I knew I had to get things right, starting with my heart.

So I finally wept. I cried into my sister’s arms (she was also a Christian and in my cell group), cried after work ended when everyone else had left – cried myself to sleep. Finally the many months of numbness unleashed a torrent of tears that stemmed from the emotions I buried.

The guilt I tripped myself with over and over for getting myself into this mess – I gave to Jesus. The hurt I felt from the relationship, I placed in His hands. The anger from the words that pricked my heart, I laid them all at His feet.

Even as I cried, I wasn’t sure if Jesus would someday really me of the agony within. There were just so many things inside of me that I couldn’t deal with anymore. In desperation I believed only Jesus could help me.

So that first time I cried to Him, I felt this strange assurance that I wasn’t alone. He heard me.

With time, my heart didn’t hurt as much anymore.

All I can say is that He healed me when I dared to ask – but I was still struggling with smoking. I eventually plucked up the courage to talk about it with my mentor. I felt really embarrassed, but she embraced me and helped me along my journey to quit.

Sometime later, I decided to let my cell group know about my failed relationship and my urge to light up as well. I was really afraid of stumbling fellow believers and that they would see me differently from now on. But they didn’t. They listened, they prayed, they continued asking after me and following up on what I told them. My heart opened up all the more.

So that first time I cried to Him, I felt this strange assurance that I wasn’t alone. He heard me.

I fasted. I prayed. I forgave.

He had healed me of my hurts before, so I ventured to ask God if He would remove my urge to smoke once and for all. But it didn’t happen. There were times I relapsed and lit up. It seemed inescapable. Yet I persisted. I continued to pray and still did my best to resist temptation.

When my colleague went for smoke breaks, I chose to remain in the office. My former smoke break buddy eventually stopped offering me his sticks. Though I heaved a sigh of relief, deep down, the desire for “just one more stick” hadn’t been quenched yet.

Today it’s something like a dormant volcano. As I carefully continue to walk into freedom, I praise Him for all that He has done. Because of Jesus, I am more confident about my future – I am more than the mistakes I’ve made. I am a child of God, whose mind is on the things on Christ, with Him as my life’s pursuit (Colossians 3:1-4).

When we desire to serve Him, and act on it like Abraham moving to sacrifice Isaac on the altar, the Lord our God is pleased. He gives us the grace, new oil and anointing that keep our lamps of light aglow.

I’m waiting for full healing, and as I do so, I know that each day of victory brings me a day closer to my Jesus.

I’m more of an adventurer than a troublemaker now. But for now, let me adjust the rules in my rulebook to take me closer to Christ.


The author’s name has been changed for confidentiality. 

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How to love without burning out

by Mark Lee | 1 August 2018, 3:12 PM

Recently I had a conversation with a cell member about what the limits to love are.

We hear and learn time and time again, that God’s love is unconditional, sacrificial, intentional and many other wonderful attributes. His love has no limits. In contrast, we humans struggle to love others the same way. We struggle to do it for even one person — let alone a whole group.

Loving others can truly be an exercise in tenacity and dying to the self. It often feels exhausting.

Yet Jesus somehow managed to do it.

Not for just one person, or a single group. But many, many, many … for God so loved the world.

Without limits or any expectations, with none left behind or forgotten, God loved and loves everyone like that. Could we truly love everyone? The way God did? Could we love like Jesus even if it’s loving a person you’ve only just met and will never meet again? Even if the person hates you or makes your life a living hell?

The human soul is designed for eternity, and the eternal is never fed by the limited.

In my conversation with that cell member, I said that we can love everyone. But upon deeper reflection, I actually think the answer is no.

I can’t love like that. Not everyone. And sometimes not even just one person. I have a great hope that God working in me and through me will expand my capacity to love more. Not just in terms of numbers, but to make my love look more like His love.

I believe God can grow me to love more, but I do not think I will reach that point where I’m able to say that I love as God loves. To do so would be hubris, and invite nothing but complacency or pride upon my life. But neither should that mean that we resign ourselves to cynicism and apathy, because after all, the Bible clearly says we should love one another.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

So, at best, we can grow to love like God. When we receive and give love, it must be with that understanding. Otherwise we place the heaviest expectations on others and ourselves to fill the hole in our hearts, forgetting that the only solution to the void can be found in what God’s own son did on the cross more than 2000 years ago.

So indeed, only in spending time with God and knowing Him can true love be received and then reflected and refracted in our lives.

If you’re feeling burnt out, tired, exhausted, striving, unanchored, always chasing after this that … I’d take a confident guess that it’s because like me, you’ve realised that are limits to love and it’s leaving you unsatisfied.

At least there are limits to the love that you and I have known, received and given. Any time there are limits to love, it’s not enough. The human soul is designed for eternity, and the eternal is never fed by the limited.

But we’ve got to be okay with other people and ourselves giving us that kind of limited love, scary as that might be. Just say it out: “The love I’ve known, both in receiving and giving, is simply not enough.” But don’t stop there. Accept the reality but pursue the ideal: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16)

What will you do now? Will you continue just getting through life, drifting about, waiting for that spark of “love” to come along — knowing all too well that this one too will burn out before your soul is satiated? Or will you go to the source, be fed, satiated beyond belief?

Make a choice about that, and then bring a little bit of eternity to the starved hearts around you.


This article was first published on Mark’s blog, and is republished with permission.

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by Thir.st | 1 August 2018, 1:44 PM

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I never thought I’d be a victim of sexual assault

by Jane Tan | 31 July 2018, 5:17 PM

TRIGGER WARNING 
This article contains information about sexual assault, which may be triggering to survivors.


I woke up in an unfamiliar place. My shirt was on, but … Where were my pants? There was a man’s arm draped across my torso, and although I had barely come to consciousness I recognised who it was – an acquaintance I’d made at a cafe, and bumped into at a party the night before.

Panic started rising because it was obvious the unthinkable had happened, and I found myself screaming: What did you do last night?

His nonchalant reply: “We had sex, baby.”

I thought it would never happen to me. I was studying overseas at a liberal arts college, and although I partied on most weekends, I took pride in still being a GCG (good Christian girl). I could never identify with the rampant social activism on feminism and sexual assault that took place on campus because I thought people were to blame for their own trouble.

Sexual assault wasn’t supposed to happen to good girls like me.

At 21 years of age, I was a virgin and very proud of it. I prided myself on being able to withstand sexual temptation, even in a serious relationship that ultimately ended because of distance. I had not gone anywhere close to sex. Yes, there was plenty of partying, dancing, drinking – but sex? Not on my GCG watch.

I knew my drink had been spiked, because I’d only had the usual three drinks before I blacked out. I’d also never puked before, not even when I binged, but I did this time. And this man, as good as a stranger, had taken my virginity in my drunkenness.

You might be wondering why I didn’t go to the authorities, but here’s the honest truth: I was too in shock to even think. And in assuming sexual assault would never be my problem, I hadn’t paid attention to the discourse going on around me in university, which included protocol on filing a report in the event of such an occurrence.

When it happened to me, I didn’t know I needed to collect hair and urine samples within 24 hours of the assault. All I wanted to do was hide in a safe place and protect myself from further harm. Seeking legal help was a more disconcerting and scary thing to consider then.

For a long while after, only my parents knew about the rape, and out of their fear of social stigma, they told me not to tell anyone. In walking this out alone, I’ve had many moments of overwhelming anxiety and fear. For a long time, I couldn’t look at men who resembled my rapist without having my heart race in panic.

I was also wracked with guilt, because I’d been raised in church and taught (correctly!) to treasure purity and virginity. But not knowing how to deal with sexual violation left me feeling “tainted”, like life as a young Christian woman was no longer worth living. 

However, my ordeal has led me to consider the systemic injustices that stem from being “the other”. I believe that my new desire to work in the non-profit social justice sector is a direct result of my own experience, which has led to an increased awareness and empathy for marginalised people.

The thoughts I would like to share below are distilled from a long journey of healing. I believe God was there with me that fateful night, because a visit to the gynaecologist showed that my virginity, at least the physical aspect of it, was still somehow intact.

As Christians, there can be much guilt and shame in crossing the boundaries of sexual purity, but our God is not one who condemns, but who accepts, forgives, heals and restores. In going back to Him during this difficult season, He has been my justice, my peace and my worth.

5 THOUGHTS FOR VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT

1. You are not damaged goods

I know you feel that you might feel unlovable and damaged right now, like the last toy left on the shelf that no one could ever want, but you have to trust that Jesus loves you in all your brokenness and mistakes. My boyfriend also knows what happened in the past, and he still loves me.

2. Let God in

After the incident, I prayed on my knees for the first time, forehead to the ground, screaming in tears. No one was at home, and the grief was more than words could convey. But that was also when I felt God’s love just wrapping around me; I knew He’d heard my cries and was going to walk me through this tough time.

3. Find your family

More than ever, you need to be in a safe, loving environment with people whom you trust. If you’re away from home, find your church family. They are the ones who will support you and nurse you back to health – physically, mentally and spiritually – before the damage can deepen its hold on your inner person.

4. It’s okay to take a break

There is no shame in telling people you need time off from work or from school. If you got mugged and beaten up one random night, would anyone question your decision to take time off? Psychological trauma is serious.

If actual leave is not possible, still try to carve out some time to pray and talk to God. It’s also helpful to do things you enjoy. I took a month off university to focus on resting and rebuilding my life.

5. Your rape doesn’t define you

Take heart that God can and will redeem the devastation you have gone through. He can work it out for your good, and if you allow the Holy Spirit to restore what has been broken, miracles will happen. You will heal, and the One who designed you will always define you.


The author’s name has been changed for confidentiality.

If you’ve ever been sexually abused, assaulted or harassed, seek help – be it reporting your case to the authorities or speaking to a trusted loved one. Your well-being is top priority.

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Article list

Does my dad deserve a Father’s Day?

When I traded God for my boyfriend

I broke all the rules I said I never would

How to love without burning out

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I never thought I’d be a victim of sexual assault