Friday, June 5, 2009

Let's get out of here! (...not!)

hullo readers! =) i just got back from bukit bintang boys' school, where i did a session on Programme-Planning for the SCF with their SCF Committee members. the session went well, i think... thank God. seriously, every time i do a session or preach or etc, i am amazed by His grace that sees me through. =)

now, in reference to the title, i came across a facebook status update by a friend of mine that said [paraphrased and name changed], "Mr. X is not happy with malaysia.... and demands a move out." in the comments following this status update, Mr. X clarified his stand with these words: "I just need to move out as soon as my education finishes. Meaning degree overseas and never return."

the high frequency of Christians emigrating has long been a sore point for me. i responded with the following comments:

comment #1 (upon first reading Mr. X's status update):
what makes u so sure u'll be happier elsewhere?

Apostle Paul learnt to be content in all circumstances... i think that happiness ultimately comes from knowing God, regardless of outside circumstances. if you can't find it here, i doubt that moving out will help much.

comment #2 (after his clarifying comment):
i would then ask, is it right for a christian to move out of his/her own country simply because he/she thinks he/she'll be happier elsewhere? are we called to be comfortable and to seek our own pleasure? is this following one's own selfish desires, or following the calling of the Lord?

"statistics show that in 2001, at least 35 percent of Malaysian immigrants to Australia were Christians. This is a highly disproportionate figure in view of the fact that Christians form only 9 percent of the Malaysian population." i'm not saying that it is always wrong to emigrate - but looking at these figures, something is certainly wrong somewhere.

did God place us in Malaysia simply so that we can run away at the first opportunity?

Comment #3:
p.s. the figures quoted in my comment above are taken from bishop hwa yung's article, which can be found here:

i think the article is a must-read for any christian who is contemplating emigration.

I welcome comments. hope i did not offend anyone too badly.=P

Other news in bullet points:

- i came back from DMSJ [the combined church camp i mentioned a couple of blog posts ago] 3 days ago. it was awesome! the weather was so hot that i ate an icecream everyday. a cold icecream on a super-hot day is a foretaste of Heaven. and 4 churches [not 3, sorry, got it wrong in the previous blog post] being able to worship, have fun, and learn and grow in God's Word together is, i think, an even greater foretaste of Heaven. plus, all my teaching and games sessions went well. thank you for supporting me in prayer! =)

- i'll be in singapore from tomorrow to tuesday, helping The Wife's bro move house. he's graduated and ready to enter the busy world of work! anyone in singapore wanna meet up? i may sms some of you after i post this. =)

- TUMC [that's my church la, Taman Ujong Methodist Church]'s church camp is on 11-14 June. original plan is for The Wife and i to go together on Friday evening, missing the first half of camp, but she suddenly has a conference to attend so looks like i'll be going alone. pray for a good time of bonding with my fellow church members. work takes me away from church so often, i don't really have time to get to know people properly.

ok, i think that's enough news for now. 'till the next blog post, God bless! =)


Charis said...

Jin, I have been looking for resources on this topic as well and besides the Bishop's article, the only other relevant thing I have found is the following by the last Pope. (See especially paragraph 7.) I'd be interested to know if others have other ideas. A few more thoughts a little later. Cheers, Charis.

siehjin said...

thanks for the link! look forward to continued discussion on this. =)

btw, how's the youth ministry going over there in france? =)

Charis said...


i've been thinking about this issue for a long time, as you know. here are some not-necessarily-connected thoughts about (e)migration.

1. there is not much theological reflection on the issue because most serious theology is done in 'receiving' countries. there is a lot that has been said about the 'right' to migrate, but not much about the rights and wrongs of it, about what god might calling those from 'sending' countries to do. there is a real need to fill this gap with sound teaching. the bishop has made a first step; more solid thinking is needed on this issue. it is good that you started this discussion. i hope others will pick up on it.

2. generally, just because a need exists and we are able to meet it does not necessarily mean we are called to do so. one has to listen to god about what one should do, otherwise there wouldn't be enough hours in the day.

3. what disturbs me about a lot of people who leave is the intense bitterness, sometimes even hatred and desire for revenge...if that is what motivates one to leave, i feel it can't be from god, is definitely not christian.

4. that said, when speaking about emigration, we mustn't ignore the deep woundedness of many people who decide to leave and to remember to speak to/pray for that, i.e. not everything is going on on an 'intellectual' level. it also takes a lot of courage to go against the tide.

5. i remember talking to our late and much-loved friend yi jien about this, some years ago now. he said 'i'm going home unless god makes it very clear that he's calling me elsewhere.' i think that makes a lot of sense.

6. one of the reasons i feel drawn to contribute in some way is because i have been very fortunate in many ways. when one grows up in ayer tawar one simply doesn't imagine that one could be where i am today. i can't forget where i came from, i can't 'abandon' those have not had the almost-miraculous breaks i've had...those of us who have the choice to emigrate are those who have had opportunities, who have a certain position in the larger global community. we have known what it is like to be 'less than nothing'...should we not now rather be voices for the voiceless than to take advantage of our position?

7. however, for those of use who tend to go against the tide, here's a quote from my dad: 'before you volunteer to be a martyr, make sure you've been called.' :-)

8. it is also good to avoid projecting too much into the future and ask instead how god wants to use us where we are, today.

i'm curious to hear your response these rather random thoughts. as you know, personally, 'i'm going home unless god makes it very clear that he's calling me elsewhere.' that is one of the reasons i am here have some space and time to listen to god. it would have been too easy to stay in the states. 'unfortunately' and totally unexpectedly it has become easy to stay here too...but i don't think god is calling me to do that.

youth is going ok. i'd like to chat about that actually (we can learn a lot from su) but i'll send you an e-mail instead in the coming weeks. we have one last meeting soon and then it's the summer...a good time to stop and think about what we can do next year.


siehjin said...

i wish i had some deep, profound insights to offer you... but all i can say is, i am in agreement with all the points you made! lol =P

i'm glad that after all the globe-trotting, you still intend to come back. i do know that it will be tough though. so much so that in your case, if you decided to settle down overseas, i wouldn't make nearly as much noise as i did with this post-form-5 boy (Mr. X is doing A-Levels, if i remember correctly).

i mean, for a kid like that, his options are open - he hasn't gone anywhere yet. whereas for you, with your brilliance and your experience, coming back home will be in many ways be a step "downward". yet if you are willing to do so, in some ways it reminds me of Christ - He took the most extreme "downward" step of all time.

The Bro-In-Law also will probably settle down in singapore... from his point of view, he's put down roots here and has begun his career, it doesn't make sense to go home and start all over again unless God makes it clear to him that he ought to do so. at least, i'm guessing that's his POV... haven't really talked much with him about this, afraid of offending him. but he doesn't have the bitterness and anger problem you mentioned, as far as i know.

look forward to your email... =)