Thursday, October 20, 2011

Worship - More than just a moment but a life time.

With our Worship Album Recording* coming up in less than two weeks, there are so many opportunities** for me to consider and realise what 'wroship' really boils down to as I learn to articulate and explain to others what will be represented at the recording next Sunday.

Some people find it hard to understand the idea of worship beyond music or religious rituals. Whatever assumptions there are about worship, the story of King David in 1 Chronicles 29 tells us that the overflow of a man's heart marks the beginning of his worship.

Above and beyond all the gold, silver, bronze and the precious stones that were gathered to build a house of worship where people can meet with God, King David offered without reservation his personal treasure of 113 tons of gold and 214 tons of silver - because his heart was in God's plan to create a holy place.

King David did not give up his treasure because God demanded. Instead, he had an understanding that everything he has belongs to God. "Everything comes from you; all we're doing is giving back what we have been given from your generous hand. As far as you are concerned, we're homeless, shiftless wanderers like our ancestors, our lives mere shadow, hardly anything to us..." 1 Chronicles 29v14-15

While King David's act of worship involved offering much valuable possessions, he was never confused about what God really desires from us..."I know that you care nothing for the surface - you want us, our true selves - and so I have given from the heart, honestly and happily".

Our outward expression of worship and our giving towards God/His plans are merely an overflow of our gratitude for who He is and what He has established for humanity at the cross. When we gain an understanding of the greatness, sovereignty and splendor of God, giving ourselves and our possessions back to God can not be a more natural response.

Jesus came and marked the end of religious bondage, hence we now no longer live under the laws of having to do or not to do certain things for our worship be acceptable. Instead our new approach to God is to take our everyday, ordinary life - our sleeping, eating, going to work and walking around life - and place it before God as an offering (Romans 12). This is our spiritual acts of worship, because we are after all spiritual beings with human experiences.

Having understood that everything comes from Him, I hope that our hearts of worship will always be anchored in King David's prayer "...Keep this generous spirit alive forever in us always, keep our hearts set firmly in you and give us an uncluttered and focused heart so that we can obey what you command, live by your directions and counsel..."

Album recording next Sunday is going to be awesome, even if it's only a snapshot of what a life time looks like for a small part of the entire church body!

*Hillsong Album recording 2011 CNN interview -

**Stuff The Bus Project - which invites the local community to contribute christmas gifts towards families and children in need this christmas.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Here I am wide awake thinking what I would be doing if I was still in Sierra Leone. 

My mind has been working overtime since we farewelled Africa last Friday, trying to digest the beyond-words-African-experience I've had over the past two weeks. Somehow, the video that was played during Africa Mercy's community meeting last week is now on repeat in my mind.
I can hear the words from the video echoing and moments we had in Freetown flashing in my mind, like a heartfelt reminder of the precious things I have gained from this trip.

"...Often there is a level of suffering here that is unimaginable.
But it's hard to reconcile the challenges many Africans face, with the joy I see in the people.
The images spilling out of my television showed only misery, and I was fooled.
I bought into the the lie that circumstances defines happiness.
In places where despair should thrive, I find adults dancing and sing.
Children playing soccer with a ball tied of trash.

Relationship and faith provide joy.
My new reality...My joy should have no regard for my circumstances.

I want what I have learned to trick down from my head into my heart.
I no longer want to need the "next thing" to have joy.
Africa does need our efforts and partnership.

But for me, I need Africa more than Africa needs me.
Because it is Africa that has taught me that possessions in my hand will never be as valuable as peace in my heart"

While the world may never understand the logic behind the sacrifices many volunteers make, giving up their time, finance and comfort to serve the forgotten poor in Africa, the timeless truth continues to stir the hearts of more than 1200 volunteers over 40 nations to serve on Africa Mercy each year. The truth is - we need fulfillment more than comfort. .
The delight of being part of His miracles to the desperate and the sense of deep satisfaction when hope is made tangible to the despair will always make serving a rewarding experience and encourage the human soul to seek serving others over personal comfort. 

The inspiring conversations and stories I have heard of individuals faithfully serving with Mercy Ships has only made me realize how much I had underestimated the magnitude of the reward that comes with following the 2000-year-old model of Jesus. The fulfillment from serving is well described in Isaiah 58:9-11 "If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails."

The good news is, we don't have to travel half a world to Africa to serve others or to live out the example of Jesus. If we can just pause and look around our immediate community, we will find more than enough reasons to be a beacon of hope and love to others. It sure is easier to see physical poverty like what we were confronted with in SIerra Leone, however, many in our world today are actually suffering from emotional, mental and spiritual poverty which are easier to hide but equally damaging as physical poverty. The needs in this world can seem so overwhelming at times and it's tempting to throw ourselves into everything and everyone in need of our skills, love and time but I have come to learn that lives are best changed, one at a time.

Afterall we are all equally imperfect and equally in need of His grace to live out the life He has purposed. God is faithful and our relationship with each other makes all the difference. Simply instilling hope in another human being when hope is most needed may just change someone's world forever.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

African adventure

The first week on Mercy Ships in Sierra Leone has been exciting, fulfilling and somewhat overwhelming!

We happened to arrive during the week when the founders of Mercy Ships (Don & Deyon Stephens) and the international board were also on the ship for a board meeting, hence lots of inspiring presentations and exciting updates straight from the executives - which have left the volunteers deeply encouraged and honored to be part of God's loving intervention in Africa through Mercy Ships.

Coming back to Mercy Ships for the second time, it took little effort to integrate into the ship's culture on our arrival last Sunday after nearly 40 hours of travelling - long but definitely worth going the distance!
I did not realise how much I had missed this culture until I walked through the familiar gangway of the 7 decked 'floating hospital' and instantly felt connected to the unique community of Mercy Ships where you know most people didn't end up on the ship by mere accident but because God at some point stretched their faith and called them to this part of the world so deprived of hope and resources.

Travelling through the streets of Freetown (Capital of Sierra Leone), we were confronted by the lingering aftermath of civil wars and many years of government corruption which have left the citizens crippled in every way. I saw ditches and sewage drains filled with rubbish, children sleeping amongst the rubble, mothers with babies on their backs and bags of material on the tops of their heads that I can barely carry with both hands, mad drivers cutting through traffic and men with animals trying to navigate through everything and everyone on the road, all going in dfferent directions.

Amongst the crowd I saw many indifferent faces, but occassionally I see eyes pleading for compassion which remind me of the reality for many here - poverty that I can leave behind in a flight upon completing 2 weeks of service. Unfortunately this IS life for many here in Sierra Leone. While I thought I was doing a noble thing flying half a world to serve the poor, when I begin treating the Africans it became clear to me that I was the recipient of something precious that I could never give myself - fulfilment and purpose. Afterall, I am the one who is being fueled and renewed on the inside through serving in Sierra Leone. It feels like a compass finally finding it's North.

We began treating patients the day after we arrived and performed over 1000 extractions between the 4 dentists in only 5 days! The reality of having only 7 local dentists for the entire 6.4 million Sierra Leonians almost seems a little unbelievable, but the dental condition of most patients we saw proved the fact.
Though many times I found myself completely overwhelmed by the significant amount of treatment required for each patient we saw and am often exhausted physically from the continuous, non-stop, serial extractions, something in the eyes of the Sierra Leonians spoke to my heart and motivated me to keep going everytime I appracoh them with a prayer or smile. It's like a spark of hope that they have been longing for, and once again I count myself SO privileged being used by God as an instrument to inject hope and love to those in desperate situations.

To live and serve in Africa requires a lot of faith. Every morning I wake up to a very real world filled with intense suffering, hopelessness and injustice. If not for the grace of God sustaining all the work that goes on at Mercy Ships, many could've been defeated by the challenging conditions here.

His grace is sufficient.  The fact that we struggle and fall short actually qualifies us for it, because we were created to operate out of His grace in all that we do.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The weekend away with hubby at Turon Gates over Easter has slowed me down to a pace where my mind can breath and my eyes are able to capture the beautiful things in life that would otherwise escape my sight as life is subject to the demands and pressure of city life.

While being surrounded by a calming stream in a thriving forest and being comforted by the rhythm of crackling firewood on a cold still night, every single star of the millions we sat under impressed my heart and stole my awe for my very own Creator, who in every single way reflects magnificence and extravagance.

The beauty and peace which nature promises refueled us from the inside out and proved once again the comfort we can always find in what's unchanging and constant - something that seems so hard to find in a post-modern world where everything is relative, fleeting and very temporal.

So much is promised and so many different options are given to humanity today, but unless we go through our own search for what is true - eternally true - and what will be the anchor of our soul,  we will only continue to coast and drift through life waiting for the next new option, new life style, new promise, new church to make us 'feel happier'and to help us escape the haunting emptiness on the inside.

Sitting under an impressive sight of the milky way on an autumn night, I'm reminded of God's Word and His wisdom which although ancient, has withstood the test of time and human knowledge. Like the Message Bible describes it - God's wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of His purpose. You don't find it lying around on the surface. It is not the the latest message but more likely the oldest - what God determined as the way to bring out  His best in us...1 Cor 2v6-10.

The Word of God anchors us in what's eternally true and unchanging despite the opinions and options of this world. It sets our hearts at rest when the world around pressures us in every way to speed through life and to conform to the latest, newest, and most popular - it promises so much yet does not satisfy the desire/thirst found deep within us. 

Ecc 3v11 "He has set eternity in the hearts of men..."

Until we awake to the reality of our desire for eternity and not just happy feelings, we will keep finding ourselves falling through the gaps of instant gratification, being disappointed and unfulfilled.

This is what I'm confident of - Everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to and nothing taken from His truth. God does it so that men will revere Him...Ecc 3v14.

ps. Thanks to my amazing hub who makes the best campfires so I can be nicely toasted as I ponder on God's greatness and wonders under the stars...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


During our honeymoon to the Philippines early 2011, Vince and I had the privilege of spending few days with the founder of HOP-E ( Ps JayJay and Ps RJay visiting the indigenous villages remote to Manila. 

The first hand experience of life for families trapped in poverty was heartbreaking. Kids eating only one meal a day, travelling to most places by foot and only ever get to wear donated clothes. Oral hygiene is a foreign concept to many and if unfortunately one falls sick, the family can only hope for the best. All of this make up the hard facts & statistics we read every day about third world countries (

We were overwhelmed to see the stark contrast between the rich/glamorous part of Manila and the poorly resourced villages where families are only surviving on minimal. My mind had a hard time accepting the sad reality of inequality and the challenging living condition many young kids are confronted with. 

Fortunately, Jayjay and RJay saw the critical needs amongst the impoverished communities through a scavenging experience in 2007 which then led them to the God-inspired vision of bridging the gap between poverty and opportunity. HOP-E foundation (Helping Overcome Poverty through Education) was then officially established in 2008 with the goal of empowering the disadvantaged individuals through the four E's - Education, Employment, Empowerment and Events (for full mission statement of HOP-E please visit

One of HOP-E's current projects involves establishing learning centers throughout the indigenous villages in Pintong Bukawe. These centers cater mainly for kids who live too far from government funded schools and offer the opportunity to be educated and equipped with self-sustaining skills (eg. farming and domestic skills) hence allowing the kids to escape the viscous cycle of poverty.

Our personal visit to the learning centers and the prospective organic plantation site has helped us to realize the enormous potential that exists within the helpless and needly when given only a little bit of resource and the equal opportunity to be educated.

Vince and I are deeply inspired by the impact HOP-E has already made in Pintong Bukawe simply because two very courageous men put their hands up to a God-size dream. We know that the work of HOP-E has merely begun and if anything the projects are everything BUT done. HOP-E will require the help and sweat of every willing and faithful individual to see the big picture unfold and visions actualized at God's timing. 

It is very exciting to be part of something worthwhile and life-changing. We don't know where will the stirring in our hearts eventually lead us, but upon finding out that what we raised with our families and friends at our wedding allowed HOP-E to secure the church building "A Place Of Hope" in Pintong Bukawe which is now a home and shelter to many in the villages, we are reminded again of the greatness of our God who is behind every miracle and great commission. 

We are just so encouraged in our hearts to continue to invest our prayers, time and finance into such vision that is literally changing the lives of many children everyday.

If you are stirred in your hearts in any way after reading this blog, consider the possibility that you can also make a difference too! Please contact us at to find out more about how you can play a part in supporting the HOP-E initiatives. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Introducing FREEDOM!

Last weekend away with family at Auckland was well spent. I've been so enriched in every way after hanging out with the most amazing human being on earth! Yeh, my family is awesome and always will be a source of inspiration to me. I love how mum & dad never stop being an example of wise, selfless parents/parents-in-law to us also how Mich steps into this new season of being a mum with such a champion spirit. The moments I got to witness how my family live out their convictions are truely priceless.

After 2 weeks of waiting, I got to meet the little munchkin Freedom for the first time who is absolutely sensational! When I looked at his little face of 2 weeks old I can't help but think of the Psalmist's beautiful description of God's masterpiece - humanity - as "fearfully and wonderfully made", in His own image.
Indeed every detail I observed on the delicate face and body of my little nephew reflects the absolute precision and perfection of God.

We spent the weekend celebrating yet another CNY together as a family also the "wonders and miracles" within our family, including the new addition to the Tongas, the Hookers' first pregnancy also Aaron & Tracy's wedding which is only few weeks away.

It was in the midst of our celebration God reminded me that He is no less powerful, good & faithful in this season of joy as He is in the midst of our struggles. He IS afterall the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

We all know it is easiler to see the greatness and beauty of God when our circumstances encourage the feeling of happiness and gratitude. However, I have not forgotten that He who came and walked amongst us dressed in human flesh also gave His precious Spirit to us to empower us to maintain a posture of gratefulness and praise in every seasons of life - even when our external world does not change for the better.

Most importantly, He who is constant in His characters and eternal in His nature is also - LOVE.
God is love. Love never fails.

I can't finish this blog without showing off this handsome boy, so here you go!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The best is yet to come!

One week after the most inredible day of my life I now find myself a happliy married woman spoilt with love :) Im reminded every morning when I wake up how good God has been to V&I giving us each other.

V is already demonstrating lots of good husband qualities and though marriage does present it's own challenges & more opportunities to iron out our differences we do make sure that we have lots of fun along the way and laugh often in between hard conversations which Im sure every newly wed couples will have to learn to navigate through. God's been so gracious towards us in so many ways helping us to stretch constructively in this new phase of life & bringing the right couples to support us as well as share their wisdom with us. Im now so much more in love with Vince than ever before, it's so great to have a husband around the house and even better I no longer have to catch MASSIVE spiders & kill mossies at night coz V does it all!

We had Vince's family with us in our little crib in Rosebery for the first few days after the wedding, it turned out to be an enjoyable time for all of us so guess I didn't need to stress afterall since his family was of much fun to be with especially his 1yr old nephew Nathan who is just so adorable!

We are looking forward to our honeymoon in Jan and can't wait to meet the kids in the Phillipines who will get to goto school coz of the generous giving from our guests at the wedding. We raised nearly $3000 for the Hop-e project, V&I felt so privileged to be entrusted with much and are prompted to top it up to whatever amount for 50 kids to be put through the learning program next year. We are definitely feeling the stretch financially especially after we sat down with the ANZ financial planner last week to talk about our long term financial plans but God has been nothing but faithful in His provision for us as a young couple and it seems the more we give out of a place of gratitude the more He meets our needs in the most unexpected ways.
We are so overwhelmed by the very nature of God and the evidence of His faithfulness that He does not withhold good from those who love Him.

It was so good to be back to church again this morning after being away for a week. Im excited about getting His house ready for the christmas production coming up next weekend which is going be WICKED! Lots of exiting things happening @ Hillsong throughout next weekend including Christmas Spectacular (St&Sun) and Christmas Festival on Dank St (Sun)! Anyone who is around Sydney next weekend don't forget to come along and be part of the celebration! For more info please visit!