Campus Alive

December 4, 2011

A Love Story

Filed under: Please Note — campusalive @ 11:34 pm

Prologue: I was asked to do a write up on the last CA meeting of 2010 (yes, last year was also me! But it was somehow not posted, haha~), so basically I did one blog post the day I started as a CA leader. One year later, I was asked to do the same. And Beatrice suggested, “Why not do a reflection of the past 1.5 years? What had you learnt in both as CA leader and INTEC as a whole? What is God doing in your life?” So yeah, this came out. I try to merge all experiences of an ordinary INTEC student’s life and the extraordinary encounters of a CA leader into one song, and so maybe some scenes are fictional. But allow me to journey you through the ups and downs of this amazing phase of life. So here goes…

 

We were all young when I first saw them
I close my eyes
And the flashback starts
I walked in there
In an Atmosphere of smart alecks

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55: 8-9)

The flashback naturally started, and my very first CA meeting surfaced in my memories. Oh, I sure can recall that night very much! The people, the food, and the atmosphere in the Atmosphere. The seniors were performing a skit, and it’s about this guy who finds no friends in INTEC, yet in CA he has a family. Yes, a family is very much what we all need when we step foot in this foreign land, especially for those who came all the way from East Malaysia. I hope that you Juniors felt this way too when you first walked amongst us. And I hope the many generations of Juniors to come will always feel that warmth too. As for myself, I dreaded coming to INTEC. Those who knew me well these 1.5 years will know that I missed INTI so much! I had fun there, was just chosen to be part of the INTI Christian Fellowship (ICF) committee, and life was just about to get even more interesting when I received my JPA offer. I was like: “INTEC? Where on earth is that?” Friends were giving all kinds of rumours, wishing me luck coping with a completely Malay culture with very bad food. Really, at that moment, I would die to reject the very offer so many people would “die” for. I asked God, “Why!? Now what!?” That’s all I could ask. I’m not even sure what to ask for…

See the lights
See the party disco ball
The ushers make their way through the crowd
And say hello, oh I wished I knew

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29: 11-13)

We try to figure out God’s mind, cracking up our brains to guess what may be in store. But God made it crystal clear that He has plans, as what was stated in the Scriptures above. Too often we use this segment out of context, and we forgot that God also say that we will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart. In those relatively devastating moments of my life, I guess I just have to submit. Through ICF, I met Huey Huey, who over time I realized were good friends of Jan and Grace. So in 2 separate events organized by ICF, I met Jan, Jien Lee, Philip, and a few more INTEC seniors. This gave me something to look forward to, because though adventurous I may be, fear of the unknown still grips the curious heart. They were in a sense the very first ushers of both CA and INTEC. We become ushers of God’s Kingdom when we stretch out those hands of love! So when I walked into the Atmosphere filled with scholars of all kinds, I kind of asked God again, “Why? Now what?” But this time the tone and attitude was different. During my childhood, I was trained through a church program called Royal Rangers to be “Ready for Anything”, but who can be ready when our God is just not a tame and boring God? Oh I really wished I knew what was coming…


That this is CA, they were children of God
And my buddies said stay away idiots
And I was crying in my exams
Begging it “Let me go!”, and I prayed

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1: 7)

Very quickly we were entangled with assignments and examinations which basically took up all free time for entertainment and relaxation. And here comes the struggle once in a while we all face. “I want to go to CA, but I got a test coming up on Friday, and 3 more reports due this week! How? Haiz…” Well, my friends never objected me coming to CA, but we know all too often when Christian youths leave home, enter college, or started working, we backslide. I didn’t want to be like that. We all don’t want to be like that. Claim all we want, but how sure are we? It’s only when circumstances piles up against us that we are put to trial. Well, I learnt that when it comes to dilemmas like this, we should always remember what our main priority is. We were created for God’s glory (Isaiah 43: 6b-7), and as students, we give glory to God by excelling in our studies. Yes, keep the core, mainly going to church, daily quiet time, prayer, reading the Bible, and personal time of worship. Of course try to engage as much as possible in camps, seminars, activities, etc. to equip yourself for the work of the Kingdom. But do not equate any of these with God. He should be our one and only focus. So if going to CA is too taxing on your studies, no worries, take a break! Talk to your leaders to examine what went wrong (This once again points out the importance of having mature and godly people that more than eager surround you with wise counsel). Realign your self-management. But trust me, put God first, and He will put you first…


“Dear Father take me somewhere we can be alone
I am waiting for someone to let me breathe
You’ll be my Guide and I’ll gladly follow
It’s a love story Jesus please say ‘Yes!’ ”

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6: 6)

Growing up ain’t easy, increasing responsibility, rising expectations, unforgiving odds, and much more. Jesus grew up and went through all of that too. He may not have studied in college, but his life was not any easier. It must be a so agonizing to know that your mission is to die. It’s not like you go into a battle, and if you are lucky you come out alive, maybe a few scratches here and there; if not so fortunate a broken limb or two, and worst case scenario a paralyzed body. Hello, people! Jesus fought a huge part of the spiritual warfare here, and a major victory can be stamped in history IF AND ONLY IF He was pronounced dead (of course He needs to resurrect, and fortunate for all of us, He did). How did He manage to remain sane knowing what was to come? The Bible tells us that He was not alone, because He always find time to be alone with the Father (Google “and Jesus prayed”, read up on how, when, where, and why Jesus prayed). It was during those silent moments between all the hectic ministries when He gets to catch His breath. If Jesus needs that, what makes us different? Don’t get me wrong here, Jesus did pray aloud and in groups sometimes, but what I’m trying to say here is why not amidst our classes, go to a secluded corner in the library to pray? God made communicating with Him so much easier when He tore the temple veil, but yet we are hesitant to just basked ourselves in His light. So instead of rushing to write your name and ID on your next exam cover page, let me suggest shutting your eyes…


So I picked up the phone when Jien Lee called
We kept quiet ’cause we’re dead if we chose wrong
I close my eyes
Escape this truth for a little while

He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. (Daniel 2: 18)

Be careful what you ask God for, because you may never be able to turn back! Daniel’s request was simple, for God to reveal to him the dreams of King Nebuchadnezzar, so that he and his friends will not be literally “dead” like all the wise men who failed to interpret it. Another remarkable young man did not think much when he asked to be freed from jail as he was wrongly accused, a logical and fair request too. It was not recorded that he prayed, but in imprisonment I think that would most probably be his plea to God. (Genesis 40: 14-15, 23)  May it be few days or 2 years, what a great surprise it must have been for them when God finally played his next step of chess! 2 things to talk about over here. First, I believe most of us will at least “consult” God regarding major decisions of our lives, but what happens when someone comes to us for consultation? Do we jump into straight into bombarding our friends with load of advices? We may be a blind person leading another blind to their death, just because of an impulsive suggestion that led to a poorly-made decision. Secondly, I was in INTI for a short 6 months, and I always wonder why did God allowed me to go there. What was his idea of doing so? God put me in the ICF committee for 2 months, and then took me away, put me in INTEC. Did I learnt or achieved whatever lesson or purpose God intended for me? I thought maybe these 1.5 years will be a quieter one for me. So I prayed that I will be given chance to serve God anywhere He would put me, with no personal ambitions of high positions or dreams of exhilarating adrenaline rush. Hmn, what a prayer, and what a phone call from Jien Lee…


‘Cause he said “Lead CA”, I was a JPA scholar
And my parents said stay away from distractions
But this is everything to me
I was begging him “Give me time…”, and I prayed

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6: 6-9)

There are two Bible verses that I had considered putting here, the other one being John 21: 17 which will appear down there later. I finally settled for this over here, let me explain why. Jesus told Peter to “Feed my lambs”, Take care of my sheep”, and “Feed my sheep”. Peter was a seasoned fisherman, but “fishers of men” may sound like E=mc2 to him. That pretty much sounded like “Lead CA”, and although being involve with so many leadership roles previously, leading a Christian group was completely uncharted waters for me. Stakes were high, as some will worry. Shouldering this responsibility means stepping out of comfort zones and putting myself under unnecessary spotlight or more pressure. But the most “intimidating” task was to do what the Scriptures above say, which is to help the “sheep” in CA grow spiritually (not to mention that the committee will have to grow even faster, haha~). No, my parents were not against it, but nevertheless I have no idea if I was ready. Junior committee, did you felt the same? But there is one very comforting and reassuring truth, God don’t always call the qualified, He qualifies the called! Just look at Abraham, the father of faith. There were times he had to lie to Pharaoh to keep his head, but God didn’t want him to use his own secular shrewdness to go about life. To be the father of many nations, Abraham needed to set an example for generations to come. And so through many hardships, God slowly moulded Abram to live up to his new name, Abraham. Think of life as a role-playing video game. Every new obstacle you overcome, a new skill is unlocked, preparing you for the next mission…


“Dear Father is this somewhere You want me to be
I’ll be willing all there’s left to do is go
You’ll be my King and I’ll gladly obey
It’s a love story Jesus please say ‘Yes!’ ”

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. (1 Samuel 16: 13)


In the course of time, David inquired of the Lord. “Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?” he asked. The Lord said, “Go up.” David asked, “Where shall I go?” “To Hebron,” the Lord answered. (2 Samuel 2: 1)

It took approximately 15 chapters from his anointing until his coronation, all the while knowing that he is king sooner or later but constantly living under the pursuit of King Saul. Yet, when finally King Saul was killed in action, David did not immediately summon up his loyal followers and crown himself king. He knows that no king on earth stands tall without the supreme authority given from the King above. He is also not sure whether the Israelites were ready to welcome him. His was a well-known warrior, but there was not yet any heartfelt connection between the people. Thus he begins his leadership by example, by asking God where He wants him to be. I have to admit, I can’t remember what happened during my entire Sem 1 CA gatherings! When the senior committee introduced each of us junior committee during our first meeting, that was the first time I saw most of them, and definitely the first time I saw Shu Yoong (speaking of David meeting Jonathan only after he killed Goliath). We were super blur on what to do, we had no sense of directions, and we our hometowns are way apart for any possible face-to-face discussions with either Beatrice or Joash (our first few meetings were redundant Skype calls during the holidays). Seriously, the only thing we can do is ask God whether this or that is the course He wants us to go, and pray that the committee will be one in spirit. In Sem 1, CA and I was obviously a Me & Them relationship…


“Dear Father save me, they try to tell me what to do
This love is difficult, but it’s REAL”
“Don’t be afraid, I’ll lift you out of this mess”
It’s a love story Jesus did say “Yes!”
Oh oh

The third time He said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21: 17)

I initially wanted to put this Bible verse at the “Lead CA” paragraph, but after some thought it fits this context more. I had also thought of putting Deuteronomy 6: 6-9 here too, because just right before that, in verse 5, God said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Ah, a real love, a REAL-ly DIFFICULT love, isn’t it? But let’s focus with Jesus and Peter over here. Peter really loved Jesus. And you know why it’s a difficult love? Because you love an “internationally-wanted, high-profile terrorist cum criminal”! Jesus warned that the world will hate you because of Him, and note that all 4 Gospels have this reminder (Matthew 10: 21-22, Mark 13: 12-13, Luke 21: 16-19, John 15: 18-25). In Sem 2, Shu Yoong will always say, “Gosh! I don’t know what to do!” And it’s true. We just came back from the R.I.U.T. National Conference, ideas were flooding our minds, everybody from inside and outside was giving suggestions on what we can do. But friends (especially our junior committee), there are many things to be done for the expansion of the Kingdom, but not everything should be done by us! We have to focus on what God wants us to do! (1 Kings 8: 17-19, Acts 6: 1-7, and I strongly recommend studying the entire book of Nehemiah to see how he served in his assigned ministry) Yes, be concerned of what others are doing, so that you can catch a glimpse of the big picture of God’s hands at work, but don’t get carried away. So as the committee quieted down in the chaos to listen to God’s orders for us, we got closer to each other, we trusted each other, we reaffirmed each other. God ministered to us, and we to our “sheep”. It’s now Me & You…

 I got tired of struggling
Wondering if He was ever hearing me out
My faith in Him was fading
When I met Him at the foot of His cross, and I prayed

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me, Your rod and staff, they comfort me. (Psalms 23: 4)

Psalms 23, a beautiful passage, reminding us that our concerns and well-being are in the Shepherd’s hand, and there is no cause for alarm. Christ the Good Shepherd was always there for us. He prepares a feast for us in the presence of our enemies, and goodness will follow us forever, as long as we are willing to dwell in His house. But you see, as Beatrice once told me, sometimes we have all these knowledge about God, but it stays in the brain. And when problems arise, when tremendous waves came crashing down, we get anxious and struggle because we think that our prayers go unheard, and slowly the faith that once held on so strongly started to fade away. No, dear brothers and sisters, merely knowing God is not enough. We need to meet Him, taste Him (Psalms 34: 8), experience Him, encounter Him. Allow Him to take us deeper in love with Him, deeper to the depths of our hearts. God isn’t looking for scholars to debate on tough theological issues to prove that they walk with God (the Pharisees and Sadducees were experts in this arena), but He is looking for people who will humbly and simply surrender to Him (Mark 10: 14-15). Those who went for the tour on Logos Hope, you remember that the captain never steer the helm? Someone else does it, but the captain gives instructions on where to go. God trusted us with our lives, He trusted the committee with the CA ship and all the crew onboard, but it’s not our CA, it’s His! He never expected us to scramble around looking for directions; all He asked for is to obediently wait upon Him, and be at peace. Let Him show us wonders, let Him take us on His magical carpet ride (imagine God as Aladdin singing “A Whole New World” and we as Jasmine, LOL~). Be filled with awe no matter at His cross, His throne, His house, or His battlefield…


“Dear Father save me I’ve been feeling so alone
I keep waiting for You but You never come
Is this in my head? I don’t know what to think”
He knelt to the ground and stretched out His arms

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1: 9)

Finally it was Sem 3. AUSMATians were buzzing around with their trials and finals, ALMers start to feel the heat of pounding stress, ADFPians are full fledge ACTP freshman year degree students, seniors had all left us, Beatrice was busy and she couldn’t make it to our 2nd committee retreat. We were alone! But we were one. Oh yeah, I can say that again. We were one! It’s no longer  Me & Them, it’s no longer Me & You, it was Us. One for all, all for one. You saw it in the video I made, “A Tribute to The CA 2011 Committee~”. I thank God for the wonderful bonds of friendship that He had blessed us with. And it is also such communion we should long to have with our Best Friend. The toughest time I can remember the committee endured together in Sem 3 was that 5 mind-boggling hours of meeting to decide who shall be our “successors”, plus all the intentional hanging out for meals to dig into the juniors darkest secrets. We cracked our heads to analyze each character; we were shifting people here and there to ensure that the dynamics of the committee will be functional. It really seemed like we kept waiting but God “never came”. Who said so? If we were like King Saul who went ahead to offer the sacrifice, God will definitely be unpleased. Maybe He just wanted to wait until we are in the midst of despair and frustration, when all earthly means have been dealt out, only then He comes over, kneel down, stretch His arms, and say, “Come!” Imagine that joy when our eyes lit up upon hearing His call. I guess we all had that experience before. After school or tuition, we chatted and laughed with friends, and one by one their parents came to pick them up. The numbers dwindled, 100, 50, 25, 10, 5, 3, 2… Then you were alone. You sat at the stairway throwing pebbles (like Romeo, LOL~), chased the cat or dog that occasionally came by, smiled at the passing cleaner or stranger, finally began mumbling to yourself. The sky was growing dark, and a flock of birds flew you over your head to their nests. Then just as you dropped your head in boredom and sighed, a familiar engine sound, and your dad or mum pulls up…


And said, “Rest in me Zhong Xiang
You never was or be alone
I love you and that’s all you need to know
I talked to My Dad, go pick out a Uni”
It’s a love story Jesus just said “Yes!”

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11: 28)

I have to admit, this was the hardest stanza to edit, especially the second-last sentence. So I think I will share tiny little bit on my *er hem* study life here. I did 2 sems of ACTP in INTI, and so coming to INTEC means going back to Pre-U, which is of course intellectually less demanding but much more physically and emotionally draining. I had passion in pursuing my dreams, but drawing energy by believing in that dream is another story altogether. To be honest, I doubt that I ever picked up momentum; and being someone who enjoys reading and learning (as far as my memory dates back), this was the only period which I will describe as “endured the gruelling torment of academic suffering.” But God was gracious, and through many faces and colours He added into these 1.5 years of INTEC life, He had sustained me thus far. Assignments, lab experiment and reports, issue investigations, group projects, research papers, presentations, interviews, quizzes, tests, end of sem exams, trials, SACE finals, they all came and went, but Hallelujah, for Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Rapha, Jehovah Nissi, Jehovah Shalom, Jehovah Rohi, Jehovah Mekoddishkem, Jehovah Tsidkenu, Jehovah Shammah, Jehovah Sabaoth, He never budged a single inch (Matthew 24: 35, Luke 21: 33). At this point of writing this post, I am still awaiting my conditional offer from my first choice, University of Queensland. But once again, whichever paths He sets me on, I will surely embark….

Yup, coming to the end, it’s time for the long list of THANK YOUs again. A heartfelt gratitude to supportive Pastor David & kind Aunty Phebe, humourous Pastor Joshua, helpful Pastor Liew, trusty Uncle Yong, generous Pastor Ryan, talented Joash & shy May, wonderful Beatrice, cute Melvin, wise Xiu Ying, efficient Huey Fern, random Shin, caring Yoke Ping, charismatic John, cool Suyen, goody-goody Luke, cheeky Shiau Xian, charming Sing Kiet, loving Tricia, sexy Matthew, blur Jayn, artsy Bell, lady-like Caryn, angelic Jane, nerdy Alan, amazing Simren, awesome Kenneth, CA’s very own ecstatic Shu Yoong, all the speakers invited to share in CA, every “sheep” else who made this a dream come true, and especially our Daddy in Heaven! The committee wouldn’t have done it if not for you guys, and in fact I even have thought of doing it if not for you guys~ It was a roller coaster year full of thrill, and we indeed have all grown… Do I still miss INTI? Yes I do, very much. Do I miss INTEC? Be rest assured that I do too, very much more. This is one place I will never regret coming to, and if given a chance to live life once more, I definitely want to replay this scene. So yeah, may all of you grow from strength to strength (Psalams 84: 7) to soar on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40: 31), be hinds’ feet on high places (Habakkuk 3 :19), and let CAMPUS ALIVE continue to shine for Jesus! Don’t stop sharing the Faith, Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace, for His is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever, AMEN~

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen. (Revelation 22: 20-21)

Oh, oh, oh, oh
‘Cause we have all grown when I wrote this blog

 Epilogue: Finally, it’s all over! And by this I mean both INTEC days and this long post. What has God done to me through INTEC and Campus Alive? A Love Story, that’s what. I don’t write much, my language is so-so, my grammar was kept in history books, and I believe both Medic students or not can diagnose that I suffer from severe “Vocabularia Deficiency” (thanks for your unending patience to swallow and digest this blog). It was tough trying to be serious meanwhile retaining my signature lameness. I dug out my previous post on last year’s last CA, I’m not sure if the junior committee will upload it, but if they do, checkout another fun-packed day of CA gathering at our blog post titled “The Junior Committee First Self-run CA (14 Oct 2010)”. And to myself, go in peace, and come back in one piece~ See you when I see you …

Zhong Xiang

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1 Comment »

  1. Hi Zhong Xiang,

    I’m Doreen, your super senior from Ausmat 17. It’s great to see all of you still continuing CA’s legacy, and staying strong in Christ. I really do miss those days a lot. I would love to visit CA again if i have the chance. All the best in your future studies in uni! God bless! =)

    Comment by Doreen — January 14, 2012 @ 5:12 pm


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