REFLECTIONS – 2015/2016 school year

Believe it or not, it is now June 2016. 

I have not written much in a while. It’s been seven months since my previous post about a new perspective in leading worship.

I cannot believe how fast time has flown, how far I have come in life, and how much Jesus has worked in my life in this past year.

Flashback…

I arrived at this new country. In a new school. Around new people. Around new minds. It was not as pleasant as I would have imagined my first several months here would be. And, I think I’ve written about that last year. All the hardships. All the trying-hard-to-adapt. All the confusion. All the doubts….

I can go on…

But, that is not what I have logged on to write about.

I came here to write about what happened after those first several months of affliction and homesickness.

As the new semester kicked in on the first day of February (Yes, most North American high schools start their new semester in February, it’s not just mine), it was….

Awful.

I got the worst report card I have ever gotten in my entire life, and the first week, I remembered, was already very hectic. Teachers were already giving us assignments and projects and what not. However, things started to take a turn.

Relationships and friendships started growing more. They began blooming until for the first time, I felt like I was not alone in a foreign country anymore. I felt like I was home. I finally felt like I have adapted (yes, after five months. It literally took me that long to adapt).

Activities started piling up. I joined two Model UN conferences that blew my mind away and inspired me that the youth of Canada has so much potential to change the world. I really underestimated the people here. I could not believe what I was seeing in front of me and what I was hearing. I began feeling a growing sense of social awareness that I had never had before. I started seeing the world in a completely different way.

My English class, for example. So much assignments sometimes. I hated (<- note past tense) reading. I hate writing essays, especially if I have to write two of them in 40 minutes and it would be graded. But, this class made me see the world in a whole different way. Odd, right? I mean, it’s only English? Actually, English Grade 12 is like English + Literature + Social Science + History + Media + Communications. But, this class made me question the underlying motives and views that were engrained in my mind. Back in my old school, we were always taught to think a certain way (Actually, I never really did much thinking because it was pretty easy back there). But, still. Everything was taught very mechanically; everything was dictated. And, I think its very normal for education and life in general in Asian countries to be that way. Our education systems are fairly rigid and do not promote much creativity. Whereas, in a Western country, it’s the opposite. English Grade 12 made me realize that. There were many ideas in this world and events that go on in this world, and I was always led to view them from a certain perspective. I have never considered alternate perspectives. But, English class has opened my mind and changed my perspective on a lot of social issues. English class has taught me how to question the norms and values of society and has made me actually think more critically on the many things that go on in this world. Plus, I started to fall in love with reading again (*Grade 5 and 6 flashback*)

(Okay, I don’t know why the topic has been reverted to sociology…)

Another thing. People. I do go to a school in Canada that is majority international students. I did not consider the effect of this when I was choosing schools (such as cultural and language barriers). But, being surrounded by a global community has pulled my narrow mind out of its cage and stretched it to the furthest extent. Hearing other people’s ideas about the world has not only changed my perspectives but has made me question many of the elements of the society that I live in today and has helped me learn to celebrate different backgrounds and views.

I hope you’re not thinking that I’ve become an apostate or something because I’m NOT. I love the God that I worship, and He has done great things in my life. But, I’ve just had so much moments this year where I went something like, “Oh wow. I’ve never thought or looked at this issue that way before.” or “Yea. You may be right. I’ve always been told to think this way, but now that you mention it…” (Sociology again..) Sometimes, just listening to a conversation between my teachers or a conversation between my peers about a certain issue or idea is inspiring to me. When you’re always being dictated by people, you just never get a chance to discover things for yourself.

Speaking about discovering things by yourself, I remembered during the beginning of this year the main reason that I knew I had to move was because I honestly felt that I was stagnant. The circumstances and people around me were not making me grow (at the most part) but were just limiting me. So I think this year really gave me a chance to discover things about myself and God’s calling for my life without being dictated and by defined by people and circumstances.

I’ve been discussing a lot about school, so maybe I should discuss about church now.

Worship leading has always been a passion of mine. I’ve never felt like I wanted to do full-time church ministry, but part-time church ministry is always something that I loved to do. When I came to Every Nation Church Mississauga, I was….

Shocked.

It was nothing like the massive MSI church in Jakarta with fancy equipment and pitch-perfect singers and musicians.

And, at first, I did not really like that.

But since I started to lead the worship services on January, I learned that worship is not about music. I used to be the kind of the person that said, “If the music is not played in a certain way, I cannot worship.” or “If the singers are off, I can’t focus on worship.” or “If these songs are being played/not being played, I do not feel like worshipping.”

And I learned that was WRONG WRONG WRONG.

There were many things in EN Mississauga that I could do that I could not do in Jakarta. Likewise, there were many things in EN Mississauga I could not do that I usually do in Jakarta. I really learned that worship leading is not about what I want and is really about other people and the church. Some things may not work musically or structurally in EN Mississauga but would in Jakarta, but that is okay. Worship is not about music or about myself.

I grew a lot from worship-leading in EN Mississauga mainly because I had to adjust to the differences in EN Mississauga from previously serving in MSI Jakarta. It was a humbling process that I’m really grateful to have gone through.

As I look at myself and evaluate who I am and how I think now, it’s amazing how much I’ve changed. I don’t think I’ve ever changed so much over the course of a year. From the people I’ve met to the classes that I take to the activities that I participate in school and church, everything has changed me.

I had A LOT OF FUN this year. The fun that I had this year may not have been the same kind of “fun” that I would have had if I had stayed in Indonesia for another year. But, IT WAS FUN. LEGIT. NO REGRETS.

And, I just don’t know who else to be thankful for except the God that I worship. He really is a God who is in control over everything. He really knows what is best for His children. He really does take care. He really is a faithful God.

There were times this year where I just told myself, “I’m so tired of living this life. I want to go back home. I want the comfort of my parents again. Was it the right time and the right choice to move?” There were times where things just felt out-of-hand, and I was losing all control. There was especially so much pressure on me this year. My family spent a lot of money on me. If I was not fruitful, the guilt that I would have felt, as they have invested so much into me, would have been tremendous. However, GOD IS IN CONTROL.

“Your world’s not falling apart. It’s falling into place. I’m on the throne. Stop holding on, and just be held.”

I remembered reading this in the beginning of this year.

“12 The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13 And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them” – Deut. 28: 12-13

I finally understood now.

Living under an open heaven. That was what this year meant to me. It was a year full of “I don’t know what else to do God, so all I can do right now is just trust in You.” It was a year where God showed me his faithfulness by putting me into the most vulnerable position, exposing all the dirt and all the false idols that I have rested on for security in the previous years of my life. It was in this vulnerability that I learned more about who God is. It was in this different season of my life that I discovered more of what God has called me to do. It was in this different environment that I no longer felt stagnant and caged by the people around me. For the first time, I felt like I was not being limited, and that there is so much out there for me to discover and for God to reveal to me.

Lending to many nations. I never thought I would have met so many people from all across the globe in one school. Interacting with a lot of them and sharing our ideas and lives was just a blessing for me (and hopefully to them as well lol).

If I were to go back in time, would I have done anything differently?

Absolutely not.

This year was awesome. I am so grateful to God. I am so grateful to my parents for supporting my decision of wanting to finish off in Canada in order to get into university here. It was not an easy journey, but HEY, I’m here in Singapore after a full 10 months have passed.

As most people already know, I got into a university that I’ve always wanted to get into, which was blew my mind away. Well, technically, I had my eyes set on another university previously, but for some reason, God redirected me to this one. But anyways…

it was just crazy.

This year was insane.

So much of God’s grace, revelations, and favor.

Now that I look back at this whole year, I realized that there were so many times where I felt like I was losing control but God really was in control. There were times I felt like, “WHAT IS HAPPENING? WHAT IS GOING ON?” or “THIS JUST DOES NOT MAKE SENSE, GOD!” Well, now I just feel stupid for not trusting in Him. I could’ve saved all the anxiety.

In addition to that, I met so many great people this year that have left very large footprints in my life. I cannot even comprehend how fast time has gone by and now I’m leaving all of those people again. But as I mentioned in an Instagram post awhile ago, this does not feel like a good-bye. This feels more like the first several chapters of a book.

Going to school and living in general here is tough. But, I could not have pulled through without God’s strength. I just could not have done it without Him.

 

A New Perspective on Leading Worship

“I will sing, I will show I worship You

Even to a different audience.”

This is a song I wrote just recently here on one Sunday morning in Canada.

As of this moment, I am not a worship leader in my church in Canada, but I am a worship leader.

God spoke to me on this fine Sunday morning, “You have been leading worship. Just to a different audience.”

And I’m like, “What?”

Then, he started revealing things to me which I mashed into a song. No, I am not on the special platform here in my church in Canada (at least for now). For the very first time, I have stepped into the real world culture. Being in a school with few Indonesians and a lot of people from many different countries across the globe, Christianity is rare.

But, I realized that God has called me to live a life of worship and lead worship in front of the world I’m not leading worship in front of Indonesian Christians anymore now. And, this was a pretty big revelation.

Then, I started getting this idea of stepping out of the special platform that I’ve been in for the past several months in my Indonesian school and church. I’ve stepped into a community where majority of people do not believe in a God. I’ve met people who put their trust on other things or in nothing at all and have felt the momentous impact when our values ‘clashed.’ I’ve also seen a different type of ‘Christian’ people as well. A hungry, lost, moralistic kind of Christianity.

This time, I’m not singing or performing in front of Indonesian Christians from ENC Jakarta. I’m performing for the many nations of this world who are in need of the Cross. And, I believe and pray that even simple confessions of who I worship and how I live my life can change people’s views.

I think worship is so much more than just on that special platform in Church in front of fellow Christians. I think we can live a life of worship and still showcase Christlikeness to people who are not of the same country of origin, language, and religion than us.

“From Mexico to Africa, Malaysia to China, let worship resound.”

I hope you like the song! Share the message if you’d like 🙂

Treacherous

No regrets. I was reminded of this song that made a large impact on my life few years ago.

This slope is treacherous,

I, I, I like it.

It has been 2 months in Canada. It felt pretty long honestly. I felt much longer. Moving to Canada is quite an unusual decision especially since I’m taking Grade 12. Many people did not ‘approve’ of this move. (Not like any of them had any rightful say in it anyways.) Some people thought I was not ready, spiritually? Some people thought moving to Canada is pointless at 17 years of age. But, I knew that this was the right decision, and I thought of this for a long time.

I think in its season, differing with every individual, certain decisions may be right for some people. I have never regretted my 10 years in MSA. However, I knew that an eleventh year just would not seem wise. There was a long period in MSA when I felt that I’ve grown a lot and I was thriving. But, recently, I’ve just felt like paper falling down approaching terminal speed. It started to feel a bit stagnant in MSA. I’m forever grateful for the new things and experiences I got to try out in Grade 11. However, life still felt pretty stagnant, almost like I’m no longer thriving anymore. This feeling compounded with other limitations gradually brought me into realization that I needed change.

My present life is so different than my life several months ago. Here, I got to build everything from the ground up. However, I love this change. I love my different life now. I’ve started to look past the negatives and see how blessed I am to be here. It has only been two months, and I’m so thrilled at what God has in store for the next several months until I graduate.

I’m not going to lie that life is perfect here. Being surrounded by different people, different kinds of people, and being in a completely different country has opened my eyes to a variety of different things. I do not regret this decision to move to Canada even if I got to be patient and build everything from the ground up all over again.

This slope is treacherous. The drastic change. The new people. The world cultures. The school environment. The new study habits. The new home. The independence. But, I cannot imagine how much I might have missed out if I stayed. No regrets.

READ THE STORIES: Lyric Breakdown of ‘Picture Perfect’ (Original Song)

Above is the link to my new original song that I wrote last week.

This song is not Gospel. It’s a song about my class for the past 10 years. Now I’m gonna break down the lyrics.

Tonight I’ve been thinking
Everything that we’ve been
Through, from the start to the end

All the songs that remind me
Of how we used to be
And all the things we are

It was an ordinary night on June 2015. I was in my room, and I was thinking about everything that I have gone through in MSA for the past 10 years. I started remembering those highlight songs that remind me of good memories with my class. For example, the songs in the album Red by Taylor Swift reminded me a lot of my class and the memories that year.

Don’t you remember
Taking photos in the back of the room
In fine rows of two

This was a memory that came to me from the eighth grade. We had this spontaneous photoshoot. And I remembered it was in the back of our class and there were two rows.

Or the time that we danced
Singing loud as we can
So that they won’t shout again

This was a memory from Performing Arts 2013 Beauty and the Beast. It was during the General Rehearsals. Our Performing Arts director yelled at us during my scene (with a several other guys) because some guys weren’t singing during the dance (I was though). I felt like PA was one of the best and happiest memories I had in MSA, so I had to include a reference of it in this song.

It’s all in the past
But it’s all in my mind
Written like a chapter

It was all in the past. Although not every memory had a physical photo accompanied with it, but the memories are in my head like a photo album, almost like a chapter that is closing.

From buses to carpools
And the shames that we’ve gone through
Everything seems stellar
When you put them altogether now

A frenzy of laughter
And walking together
When everything felt right
I couldn’t see it then
Until it was picture perfect

Riding the bus on our field trips to riding cars to Kuningan City or Kota Kasablanka or anywhere else. All the embarrassing performances that we’ve been in. All the stomach-aching laughters. All the walks in the mall or anywhere else. During some moments, everything felt right. During some moments, it didn’t. But as all those moments come together like puzzle pieces uniting into one large image, I start to see now how stellar everything was, as it becomes picture perfect. (I know that’s not exactly what picture perfect means)

Sometimes I can’t even
Listen to the songs I used to love
Cause they remind me of us

Some songs hurt too much because of the memory that they carry. I still consider Red as Tay’s magnum opus not just because of the catchy melodies and intricate lyrics but also because of the memories that come along from the songs.

When I pass through the coffee shop

I see us back there again

Skipping out on practice

There were times when we were late for choir practices because I and some other choir kids went to Starbucks in Kuningan City when it was just first opened. I don’t remember if we’ve ever fully skipped out on practice. But I’ve skipped PA practices (during the earlier times) before and instead hanging out in Kuningan City to buy Starbucks.

Don’t you remember
School in the summer
Until we run out of cash

This was epic. I had the nerve to join summer school because I would be so bored at home during the summer even though, obviously, I don’t need summer school. And after every break time we would go to Pepper Lunch in Kuningan City or McDonalds in Plaza Festival, and we squandered a lot of our cash.

And She Will Be Loved
Singing in black and white
But every moment in time

She Will Be Loved. One of the most significant memories I have with my class. It was during MSA Got Talent 2013. One of my friends got this bizarre idea to form a band! We performed She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5, and it was a horrid failure. But we already knew that when we were skype-ing in preparation for our performance. When I think about that performance, I think of how much better we could’ve been if I had understood about three-part harmonies. But at the time, I didn’t. Well, every moment in time, right? (as the lyric says)

Much were the scars
But I’d rather remember
All the laughter

Let’s move on to the not-so-good parts. Much were the scars that I had in MSA. I guess everywhere that you go there will always be hurts and pain. Or not, that wouldn’t be life. Although scars were made along the way, I believe they were meant for my better. (in relation to the next chorus…)

From group after groups
And words after words
Everything seemed stellar
When you put them altogether now

Silence to violence
And going through the trials
When nothing felt right
I couldn’t see it then
Until it was picture perfect

This second chorus carries a bit of a negative toll. Group after groups. Clique after cliques. Some were fun, and some were just irritating. Word after words. Some were good. Some were just plain mean. Everything seemed stellar as I put the pieces together? Yes. Everything, bad or good, made me the person that I am today. I cannot deny that.

Silence to violence. I used to be very quiet and shy with certain people. But then as I get to know them more and they got to know me more, we became comfortable and happy with each other. However, at the end, those relationships heated up and burst into violent flames. It was a huge letdown for me. Those were trials in my life. There were also relationships that experienced some turbulence along the way but we reconciled in the end. Either way, there were trials in my relationship with my classmates. At a certain point, nothing felt right. But, now I see that fire tests gold. Until it was picture perfect and I could see the bigger picture, I realized that everything bad that happened made me the person I am today.

And that’s the end of the song.

IGNITE

This week, I had the most amazing opportunity to join the IGNITE Conference for youth in Manila, Philippines. This conference is held biannually in Manila by Every Nation Campus Church and its affiliates. Nearly 15,000 people from 35 nations attended this conference this year, with 600 delegates outside of the Philippines. Let me just say first and foremost I was previously uninterested to join this conference. I was very skeptical about it. Then when I had joined the MSI Conference in Jogjakarta, I took a step of faith and decided to join the IGNITE Conference.

I arrived at Manila, Philippines on June 1 2015 in the morning with the one of the oddest airlines. I along with 30 other people from Indonesia (Jakarta, Jogjakarta, Manado)  attended the pre-conference for international delegates and youth leaders in Christ Commission Fellowship. Ps. Wayne Alcorn spoke in the Pre-Conf. and this was just merely the beginning of everything.

The next day was the first day of the IGNITE conference starting on the afternoon. As soon as we got into the arena, we had to do one thing: meet people and introduce yourself then write their names on the list and which campus they are from. Any person who knows me would assume that I would be reluctant to do this. But on the contrary, I actually started going around by myself from the back row to the front row, from the right wing to the left wing, meeting so many people from Philippines (mostly), China, Cambodia, Japan, Pakistan, and South Africa jotting down their names and campuses. I filled 4 pages at the end.

Moving on the sessions, this whole conference had one theme: change. Changing the campuses and the world starts not from a change of ourselves, but a change initiated by the Father’s heart. Change starts from His own heart. God initiates change, and that was the topic of the first session led by Ps. Wayne. He talked about the parable of the Prodigal Son. God the Father knows we are lost and has already prepared for and planned our return that when we return we may be welcomed with open arms. Throughout the sermon, he mentioned a lot about a father’s love towards his children. And, that kind of caused me a bit of discomfort and insecurity. But, nevertheless, I decided to ignore it because I was very well acquainted with that feeling already. During ministry and prayer time, I was very touched by God’s love. A lot of the pastors who ministered during prayer time mentioned a lot about the absence of a biological father (through death, divorce, or mere absences), and how the presence and love of God the Father and His adoption of us as sons and daughters changes that and gives us the acceptance that all sons and daughters need. And, just realizing it now, I rarely hear that. The love of God fulfills the affection we as sons and daughters crave for from a father. And as a response of that love, we forgive our biological fathers and pray for a miracle in them, if they are still alive. I thought I’ve already dealt with these father issues for years now and have sealed the door with forgiveness. But I realized that I was still bonded by chunks of insecurity. It was after this session that I realized that I can now rest in the Father’s love PERIOD. And I’m no longer ashamed to write about this in public because just as Ps. Joseph Bonifacio said on the second day (which will be continued later on), could it be that we are broken so that God may heal us and may use our testimonies to bless other people facing the same things?

Moving onto the second day of IGNITE, all the sessions today was centered on 2 Tim 1:7.

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (NKJV)

I’ve always loved this verse, but after the sessions, I discovered a deeper meaning of this verse. All three sessions today was split every one of the them: power, love, sound mind. Ps. Jackie Su from China spoke about power. Acts 1:8 says that we will receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses and His ambassadors to the world. The second session was about a spirit of love led by Ps. Faythe Santiago. Let me just say first and foremost, Ps. Faythe Santiago is one of the best female speakers I have ever heard from in my life. Wow. When she speaks, I’m just… blown away. Ps. Faythe talks about how the increase of God’s love in our lives = the increase of our love and compassion towards the unsaved. If we think that the love of God in our lives are increasing but our love for lost people is decreasing or not even there, we of all people are deceived. That’s very true for me. Just several months ago, I wrote my first song about a prayer for a lost person that I know. I started having these odd feelings of compassion over this person which I never had before. Usually, I’m the kind of person who’s like, “You don’t follow God and still profess you’re a Christian? That’s not my problem.” But, recently, I had these strange feelings of empathy towards people like that. I wish I could reach out to their empty lives. During ministry time, we prayed for a fire from the Holy Spirit to come down from the heavens that we may have compassion and love for the lost people, and continue never giving up on them. I felt the heat of the Holy Spirit in that room right there.

The third session on the second day of IGNITE was about a sound mind led by Ps. Joseph Bonifacio. Other translations would translate ‘self-control.’ And I’ve always known this verse with self-control. But a sound mind includes self-control. A sound mind is a healed mind. A sound mind is self-control. And, a sound mind is divine wisdom. During ministry time, I allowed God to heal my mind. I realized there were so many things about my insecure mind that needed healing. God spoke through Ps. Joseph and revealed all those things to me, everything from not-good-enough to i-cant-do-it and i-am-not-that-kinda-guy false ideologies from the Devil that has hindered me in many areas. During the ministry time, I also decided to surrender to Jesus all the addictions and sin-strongholds that I have harbored for a long time. Then, we sang Grace Changes Everything. I nearly cried during this time.

There’s no sin too great, there’s no pain too deep. The cross declares it is done. There’s no shame to real that His love won’t heal. Forever the victory is won. It is finished, the victory is won.

Afterwards, we had dinner near the hotel. I was still thinking a lot about my limitations and all the not-good-enough(s) and i-am-not-that-kinda-guy(s) thinking. Then one of the campus ministers who was in charge of our delegation told me. When it comes to discipleship and reaching out, it all starts from your relationship with God. Then I realized that nothing that has gotten me this far was of my own strength and ability. It was all God. And it will always be from now until when I’m in Canada God’s work in my life that will get me further. All of this ministry and discipleship and conferences are nothing without a relationship with the Most High. Nothing.

On the third and last day of IGNITE, I got really ill. But, thankfully, He helped me make it through the day. The first speaker today was not a pastor. She was a working professional in the business field, Rachel Ong. Ms. Ong told us about her background as a Christian. She has always been the girl who loved Jesus and depended on His sufficient grace. She talked about how she managed to abstain from all immoralities in Harvard University. I loved that she mentioned it was only through grace. The company that she works in now in Singapore has a Victory life-group inside it already. Her point was that living a life of moral excellence through God’s grace is more than vital in reaching out to people. Sometimes, it’s not about what you do or say, but what you don’t do or don’t say. Her message was really inspiring and very true. Hypocrisy in Christianity is what turns off many unbelievers. It’s what even turns me off. Living by example is crucial. Ms. Ong also spoke about the marketplace and the church, that need to work together to advance His kingdom. During ministry time, six other people joined her. They were going to pray each and individually for all the sectors in the marketplace and everyone who planned on taking careers in Science, Media, Education, Business, Government, Arts, and Full-Time Church Ministry. We all had to stand for at least one of the seven sectors and and be prayed for from a person in that respective field. I could feel the presence of God just shaking that room in that moment. Of course, I stood up for Science. And, I realized that in whatever field that God calls us to, He commissions us to spread the Good News. Being in full-time church ministry is not more spiritual or superior than being in the marketplace. And, Ms. Ong is one of that example.

The next two sessions were a Q&A and a closing. We prayed for a nation outside of our own specifically that we have in mind to go to. Of course, I prayed for Canada because that’s where I’d be in a few more months.

I experienced so much in a course of five days in Philippines. I can’t possibly list down in detail everything that has happened. But these are the most important ones. More than the IGNITE experience, I also had a chance to get to know people in my youth service that I have never talked to before even though it might have been awkward for me on the first day. Special thanks to the IGNITE volunteers who have attended to my spilling drinks every single day during IGNITE, and also to the IGNITE Worship Team. YOU WERE AWESOME!

Freewriting: Performing Arts in Morning Star Academy

Morning Star Academy (MSA) in Jakarta, Indonesia is the school I go to and have gone to for the past 10 years. This school year as a junior is my last year and unfortunately, i won’t be graduating from MSA. As the end approaches, i began reminiscing and looking back of all my years in MSA. I’ve concluded that most everlasting and good memory in my years in MSA would have to be joining Performing Arts two years ago (2013).

Most schools in Jakarta do not hold as big of a drama/musical production as MSA, or they might not even have drama at all. However, MSA has always been an advocate of musical theater. An amateur production of various musicals are held once annually. Being in Performing Arts for two years is compulsory for all students attending MSA. Students can opt to join the cast or the crew.

Flashback to 2013.

I was halfheartedly (more like no-heartedly) auditioning for Performing Arts as a dancer because I had no idea what else to audition for. During the dance audition, I could not follow the steps and so I just decided to storm out of the audition room after one minute (remembering that was embarrassing). After that I got a small role as the one who just walks around, sings with the ensemble, and dance too. That time, we were playing Beauty and the Beast, one of the top 10 longest-running musicals on Broadway, and it was also my first time joining a play. I didn’t know what to expect.

Flashforward to post-production

I was lying down on my bed almost ready to sleep. But, I could not sleep. The euphoria was taking over me. I was so happy and proud of the production that I was involved in. People were saying that Beauty and the Beast was one of the best musicals in MSA history. It was terrible fun.

Why was it fun? I thought. It was so fun to work together with many people of different ages. We danced together, we laughed together, we were scolded by our directors together, and we stayed up until 9pm for the general rehearsals together. Thankfully, the songs in that musical were so good and catchy and beautiful (after all it is Disney). Up until now, I still remember the times when we would practice all day, run through and repeat several times. It was so fun because Performing Arts really brought all of us together. That truly is a memory I would hold onto even when I’m not in MSA anymore.

Last night, I finally got the opportunity to watch Performing Arts as the audience after two years. it was beautiful to see the newbies of PA having the experience that I had two years ago. I hope they feel the same way about PA as I do.

ComMISSION

This week, I had the opportunity to meet a multitude of missionaries from the School of World Mission in Manila, Philippines. These missionaries come from various parts of the world including Europe, Asia, North America, and Oceania. They had the chance to visit our church and our school.

Learning from these people was very inspiring. It was amazing to see how these people live humbly with minimal wages to serve Jesus and preach the Good News to various parts of the world. They are so passionate of their work and very friendly. This brings into reminder of a very renowned verse in the Bible from Matthew 28 which were Jesus’s last words.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. – Matt 28:19-20

This is also known as the Great Commission. It is God’s commission to all the believers to spread the news about Jesus to all people, all tribes, all races, and all nations. I love that these missionaries dedicate their lives for full-time ministry work to spread the Gospel. But, what I’ve learned is that not everyone is called to be a full-time missionary. We are called to spread the Gospel, but we are not all called to be full-time missionaries or pastors or campus ministers. Some of us are called to be professionals and entrepreneurs, and those who are called to be those things are still called to spread the Gospel through their respective divisions and areas. Every calling is holy and special.

Why is it important that we spread this news about Jesus? This is because it’s the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. – Romans 1:16

The Gospel is not something light. It’s not like the kind of controversial news concerning a popular celebrity that you immediately tell your friends after you read about it. It’s big. It’s a matter of eternal life. It’s the news about the swallowing of death. That’s big. The Gospel changes a person’s life and future, and Jesus calls us to be part of His plan to save the world. The Bible says that Jesus would come again for the second time after every tribe has heard of the Gospel.

I think that these missionaries came to Jakarta at the right time in my life. In three months, I’ll be leaving Indonesia, and for these past few months, I’ve started to develop a very odd compassion over un-saved (or quote-unquote “saved”) lives. I don’t usually have these kinds of feelings. Before, I would just look at a person living in perversion with that kind of attitude of “Yea. It’s your life. If you go to hell, that’s really not my problem.” But, these recent months, I’ve gained a feeling of sympathy over people who still live thriving in sin and perversion, which includes some “Christians.” And, God really spoke to me as the missionaries from SWM came on the second day to my school.

I’ve tried a lot to guard what I tell people about my life. That’s because I don’t want non-believers or quote-unquote “believers” to deem me as a hypocrite and be turned off by Jesus. For some reason, these past recent months I took this Great Commission really seriously. And I’ve prayed for people who are ‘saved’ but still unsaved (Trust me, this is not something I would do before). And, it really kills me inside to see the emptiness of people living and rejoicing in sin because I myself have felt that way before. It kills me even more that I seem to be failing to draw people to love God more and repent. And God spoke to me through these missionaries. He said that He is proud of me and that His Spirit is with me and His Spirit is my Helper. From that moment on, I was just refraining myself from letting anyone see that I was crying lol.

“I didn’t think I’d feel responsible

To see you falling

Losing your grip on the things that matter most

Oh it must’ve been blinding 

Go to church

Wishing that it’d be over

But you know deep inside

You’re living in black and white”

– Black and White (a song I wrote few months ago)

This was a song I wrote as I started to feel a very strange empathy over saved-but-unsaved people. And I think it’s important to have compassion over non-believers because we are called to love them and care for them, but not be them. I don’t know where you stand. I don’t know whether you’re one of those people who has tried hard to reach out but seem to fail or you’re one of those people who are not into this kind of preaching business. But either way, always know that His Spirit will always help you and intervene whenever your faith is being questioned by non-believers. Know that this is your calling. Own it. And, ask Him everyday to keep giving you the heart for reaching out to non-believers.

Battling Sins: Persecution for Righteousness Sake

This marks the third post of my Battling Sins series.

I, being surrounded by Christians every single day, don’t experience this sort of thing that much. Being persecuted for being a Christian? Not so much. Persecuted for righteousness? A little. And, God just spoke to me recently to write about this.

Lately I’ve been dealing with people who have pushed me to do the things that I know goes against my faith. They may not think is wrong. But as a Christian, I know and I believe it in my heart that when the Spirit lives in you, He will speak to you clearly the things that you should or shouldn’t do. This whole month God has been talking to me really loudly. And, I’ve really learnt to be able to keep guard around impure environments as much as I can. I learnt to keep quiet. I learnt to leave the room. And, at one point, I was caught up in a circumstance where I was urged to do something (not exactly an act-out sin but..) which implicitly takes pride in sin . But, God just spoke to me. Is death something you should be proud of? And by His grace I just decided to not do it at all regardless of what anyone says. I believe God is preparing me for greater persecutions ahead considering I’m moving soon. And, I believe this year God is crushing my approval idols gradually.

(FYI, that wasn’t the only thing that had happened.)

What does the Bible say about persecution for righteousness sake?

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled (1 Peter 3:13-4)

I read in another Bible verse that it’s a gracious thing for one to suffer for Christ. That’s because Christ Himself also suffered on the cross to redeem us. He suffered the worst rejection, the worst humiliation, the worst embarrassment, the worst of all. And, I believe as we look to the cross, we can find comfort in our suffering, most especially if it’s for righteousness sake. Blessed are the persecuted for righteousness sake for they will inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:10). Trust me, there is nothing to be proud of for sinning. It’s only going to end in death. There is nothing you can get from sinning except temporary approval of people who might not even be with you in eternal life. People’s approval itself is only temporary. God tells us to store our treasures not on earth but in heaven. Sin only leads to death. Have you ever witnessed a sane person rejoicing or taking pride in a funeral? Surely not. There is nothing to take pride in when it comes to death.

If you are or have suffered for righteousness sake, just remember Calvary, where Jesus suffered the worst suffering of all, cosmic rejection and physical torture. I pray you’d never falter in your faith and doing honorable deeds (according to the Bible). I hope you’d never trade temporary approval for eternal life. Remember there is nothing to take pride in when it comes to death.  Nothing.

Battling Sins: Let Your WIll Be Done

This post will center on Romans 1. The title to the fourth part of this chapter in the ESV Bible is God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness. This chapter actually talks about people who know God but refuse righteousness. The thing is that God’s righteousness and unrighteousness cannot live together. The flesh is always at war with the Spirit. This chapter of Romans covers those who know God but reject godly living. I think this can relate to a lot of so-called ‘Christians’ today, including myself.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived,… (v. 19-20)

God has made Himself known to these people. He has shown them His power. There’s no doubt that these people know that God exists. I think that could relate to a lot of us. We know God exists. We’ve seen and heard spiritual happenings especially for Asians. We’ve seen/heard the power of God on demonic possessions, on sicknesses being miraculously healed, and the power of demons as well. We have no doubt that He is real. But………………..

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (v. 21)

Stupid and foolish as I am. I did not honor Him. Instead, I became futile in my thinking and my heart was darkened. Futile meaning pointless or not producing results. My works before clearly did not produce any good fruits.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (v. 24-5)

God gave them up to their lusts because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie. This hits me hard. I realize that it was not that God did not pursue me and instead allowed me to fall into sins. But, I resisted Him. I didn’t want Him or want to honor Him even though I knew that God exists and He is omnipresent. And worst of all, I exchanged the truth for a lie. I believed in the lies of Satan, and I trusted that more than God. So, instead of me saying to God “Let Your will be done,” He says to me, “Let your will be done.” In a previous blog, I wrote about Insecurity, which is the lies of the Devil.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (v. 28) 

I love the Greek word for “acknowledge,” which is echo ἔχω (Greek word, not English). This word means to hold. In other parts of the bible, it means to seize/to possess. It’s funny that God spoke to me the word hold in a way I’ve never heard of before. This happened around three weeks ago. I was reading my Bible after I asked for His forgiveness. And He said, Hold onto me. What God meant was that He keeps pursuing but we have to keep holding onto Him. We have to take up our cross everyday, just as Jesus did. The reason why I failed a lot of times in being holy is because I didn’t want to hold onto Him. So instead of I saying to God, “Let your will be done,” He said to me “Let your will be done.” I’m not suggesting that we live pure by our own will. It’s not in us. But, we have to keep having faith that God already gave us the ability to live godly lives through grace because of Jesus’s work. If we don’t hold onto that faith, we would just slip back to the person we used to be. Holding on to that faith is difficult but Jesus never said it would be easy following Him. But, just as Isaiah 53 says He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, we know that Jesus’s suffering was the worst. And we can always look to His suffering in battling any temptations.

Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (v.32) 

Though I knew before of God’s righteous decree that those who practice those sins deserve to die, I did not only do them but I gave approval to those who practice them. Just being brutally honest, that’s me.

But, thanks be to Jesus! If we accept it, He has completely forgiven us all our transgressions. All those sins are forgiven. And He has made us able to live godly lives.

The point I wanted to convey through this blog post is that God always keeps pursuing us. But, it’s us and our flesh that doesn’t want Him and that doesn’t honor Him, even though we know He spiritually exists and has a righteous decree. Its either we say to God “Let Your will be done,” or God says to us “Let your will be done.” it’s very hard to keep having faith and holding on to Him. But I believe by His strength we can.

2014-2015 School Year

Things change so much in my life.

I am one of those people who has that kind of analytical over-thinking intelligence. So, after every school year, I would sum up a theme for that school year based on my experiences that year and what I learned from them. I do it ever since I entered high school.

Flashback..

Let’s start with grade 7. Grade 7 was a year when I dealt with a lot of people who didn’t like who I shone on their faces (haters basically). It was a year where I also got myself into insane obsessions and idols that really drained the life out of me.

Grade 8 was a year where I had to move on from the things that hurt me the year before. But, after I started healing, some other people turned into disappointments again.

Grade 9 was a year that I really was searching for my identity, and I questioned everything that I am and how I am. Grade 9 was also a year where I struggled with my own mind battles and insecurities, all in my head. It was a year where I felt intense emotions of both happiness and sadness. There were extremely happy moments, and extremely depressing moments, both at their very ends of the spectrum, like the color red. 

Grade 10 was a year where I struggled at almost every area in my life, with people, and personally as well. I felt a lot of disappointments with people. I felt a lot of rejection and self-hate and bitterness. It was horrible and traumatic. But, it was the year where I got interested in Gospel music.

Before I move on to Grade 11, which I am now, I’d like to add that at the start of each year, around August-September, I would make guesses about what the theme of this year would be. But, I would only know it by the end of the year on April-June. I remembered at the start of Grade 9 during my high school orientation camp, I was very skeptical about that year. And true, there were moments where I thought of suicide. But all the greatest and best memories happened during that year. I remember at the start of Grade 10, I had high hopes after summer class. It turned out being the worst year ever.

Grade 11 started almost 9 months ago. I really didn’t know what to expect after the horrifying school year before. But, I knew I wanted one thing, that was to have a constant, personal relationship with God. I wanted to know Him personally, like I’ve never known Him before. So, I thought the theme this year would be to get to know Him because that was my resolution. Another theme resolution I made was to take risks and do things that I’ve never done or would’ve thought of doing before and being all that I’ve always wanted to be. So, I thought that this year that may be the theme of this year: trying new things. And, it’s true those two things are some themes of this year.

Almost a year has passed, and it’s time to sum up the main theme of the year. Of course, having a constant and personal relationship with God was one thing I successfully achieved this year (by His strength), and I hope to continue that for the rest of my life. Trying new things was one of the small sub themes this year as well. But, one theme that played a gargantuan role this year was something else. I NEVER would’ve thought that by the end of this 2014-2015 school year, this would be one of the major themes of this year. It was completely unexpected. I never made this a resolution in the beginning of this year. If you told me that this would be the theme of this coming year during August 2014, I never would have believed you at all. I love that every year God always makes it spontaneous, and my life changes very fast and is always full of surprises.

Do you want to know what it is?

It’s the Church.

I just got this revelation several minutes ago, and that’s why I’m writing about it now. My church (Morning Star Indonesia aka Every Nation Campus Jakarta) was a big theme this year. I NEVER would’ve guessed this on August. Morning Star Indonesia (MSI) has always been my church ever since I was born. But, MSI has always been just a go-to place every sunday. I don’t learn much, and I don’t know many people in MSI. I was not involved in any ministries in the church.

This year, it was different, and it came to me completely off-guard. It started on August 2014 with a few of my friends from school who attend MSI. These were my classmates. They were talking about how the Youth Service will be performing in the Adult service as a guest performance. And, they lacked singers. Out of the blue, someone blurts out, “Maybe Steven should sing with us!” I don’t even remember whose idea was it, but whoever that was, I’d probably have to thank that person because he or she completely changed my life. We all sang “Glorious” by BJ Putnam on Sunday as a guest performance in the adult service. Just a reminder, I was never a part of the Youth Service. I was always so reluctant to join the Youth Service because I didn’t know much people there. I was never interested either on joining the YS. But, since they let me sing that Sunday, I guess I’m already in the YS Worship Team now. No turning back. For a few months, I really wasn’t that comfortable with the YS people yet.

It was not until around the beginning of 2015 when I actually became comfortable with the YS people. I started worship leading, which was a completely new and unexpected experience for me. I learned so much being a WL this year. I also learned a lot about my voice as well this year. And weirdly, ever since I recorded songs to fill in the ensemble voices for a musical, I could belt two/three notes higher and more comfortably than my usual range. And I started improving in my singing range-wise and volume-wise as well. I think that shows in my worship as well.

I was so glad to have the opportunity to join the MSI Conference because I learned so much about spiritual family and the church. Not only did I learn about it, but I actually felt it. For 3 days in Jogjakarta, I was surrounded by church friends as opposed to school friends. And, the atmosphere was definitely different, and I could feel it, even though all my church friends go to my school (but don’t meet in school). Just a week after that was my birthday, and I realized I got twice/thrice as much more greetings this year than previous years. I realized that now, I don’t just have my classmates, but I also got my church friends. I started seeing how different this year was, and how my life is so different now than before.

And just half an hour ago, i summed up one of this year’s themes, church (including worship ministry). If you were to tell me last year that this year I would be involved in church, and be close with the youth service people, and be a worship leader in church. I would never have expected that. My life is no longer just limited to my classmates. I got my church friends now. Looking back, I’ve gotten so far from where I was before. That could only be by the grace of God.