Thursday, August 27, 2009

trouble is one year old

do any of you remember last year's subang rally? probably not (unless you're a subang secondary school student or recent ex-student). to refresh your memory, i'll copy and paste this from here (bolded emphasis added in this post):

1. subang rally - it was very 'charismatic'. for my thoughts concerning this, refer to my post on kepong baru scf camp. i believe that God was present and that people were ministered to, and i am thankful for that. however, i felt that i had to remind them of the inter-denominational nature of schools' work. so, when we had our slot to promote SPM Bible Knowledge and our Camps, i took the opportunity to say something about it. later, i managed to talk personally to some of the committee members. they understood where i was coming from and said that i wasn't too harsh, so i hope that they will take heed and be more sensitive to this aspect of running scf activities.

one girl did say that i should have spoken only to the leaders and not the whole congregation. to tell the truth this had never occurred to me. when i was talking with God and wrestling over the question of whether or not to say something about the 'charismatic-ness' of the rally, somehow i saw it as a dichotomy - speak or stay silent. my brain did not come up with alternatives like 'speak only to the leaders'. if i had done that, it would have had less potential to embarrass the leaders, and also have avoided confusing normal participants who didn't see anything wrong with the way the rally was run.

however, in talking it over with The Wife, she brought up another point: if there was anyone in the crowd at all who felt uncomfortable with the 'denominationally biased' situation, my words may have brought relief and comfort to them. it let them know that they were not alone in feeling that way, and that they were not wrong. even if there were only one or two such people in the crowd, i think that it was worth it to say what i said.

well, now, about a year later, this incident has come back to bite me.

an ex-student-leader of a CF wrote an email to my boss about this. here are some excerpts from his email:
  • ...siehjin... went on to "lecture" the organizers and participants (which included non-believers) publicly from the stage...
  • ...when i noticed something was very wrong, siehjin was already giving a piece of his mind to the floor...
  • my concern is that... no one goes in to just "bombard" one's opinion or conviction on a group of teens...
  • ...i felt that no respect was given to the organizers...
  • ...the CFs felt confused...
  • ...as such, the decision was to exclude SU from most CF activities in subang...
  • ...(SU's) manner of teaching is "boring" and somtimes, not as relevant...
  • ...the few times the SU staff get to speak in the CF is when they approach the CF if they can speak...which sometimes, they feel obliged to say yes...

whoa. can u imagine how i felt when my boss showed me the email? totally crap, man. i don't remember having been that evil! =(

you can click the link to my post on kepong baru scf camp (it's up there in the first red paragraph) to read a more-or-less complete write-up of my opinion and stand on the inter-denominational nature of SCF work. of course at the rally, i didn't have time to pontificate so comprehensively; as i remember, i did not lay down the law or anything like that. i just said a few sentences to ask the people to think about the inter-d aspect of SCF work and to consider that the SCF consists of many different churches with many different styles.

i don't think i even mentioned specific issues or specific denominations, merely stating that i noticed that the way the rally was run was similar to a certain denomination. i may have mentioned in passing that i am not against the move of the Spirit, and that i myself do speak in tongues - just so they'd know that this wasn't some misguided anti-charismatic fundamentalist speaking.

all i wanted to do was to be a voice of reason, calling for balance, speaking out for those who may have no voice (see the third red paragraph above). how did it turn out so horribly? =(

please pray for me, readers. i need discernment and guidance from the Holy Spirit to know:
  • was what i said wrong?
  • was the way i said it wrong?
  • how should i handle such situations in the future?
  • how should i/SU respond to this email?
  • how can i/SU redeem the lost relationships with CFs as described by this email?

positive and negative comments are welcome.

let's move on.

in terms of work updates, this is how my schedule looks for this month:
    • 5-7 Sept: ministry trip to ipoh.
      • 6 Sept - speaking at St. Peter's YF on "being a transforming agent in community" (!)
    • 11 Sept - speaking at Sri Garden's SCF
    • 12 Sept - Christina's "engagement party"! w00t! =)
    • 18 Sept - speaking at Rawang SCF on "science and the Bible"
    • 18-19 Sept: TUMC Leadership Retreat (they invited me 'cause i'll be working with the church next year)
    • 21 Sept - SUSOM 2009 Reunion!!! yay! =)
    • 25-27 Sept: ministry trip to Melaka/Batu Pahat/Kluang
      • 26 Sept - speaking at Agape Presbyterian YF, Kluang, on "7 reasons why the Bible is God's Word"
      • 27 Sept - speaking at FGA Batu Pahat YF on "BGR II" (continuation from last years' "BGR Talk")
    • undated - preparations are underway for NSCFL 2009, ZMax 2010, and SUSOM 2010 (this includes coordinating ministry trips to the East Coast and Seremban).

please pray for me as i prepare for these sessions and camps, and as i liase with churches to coordinate those ministry trips. thanks readers. 'till the next post, God bless! =)

10 comments:

ahong said...

May peace be upon you,

Dear brother,

I have always check the content of http://answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra
and I find that the way it explains about Islam is quite funny. Its because there are so many claims that are obviously from the wrong or bad translation of the Quran to English. Anyway all the answers for all the contradictions on the site have been refuted, rebuttal, and refuted again and again at
http://www.answering-christianity.com/ac.htm

I think we can dialogue. Lets just post one question each. I post on Christianity and you can post on Islam. We can benefit by understanding a lot about both religion. Anyway I hope that is logical religion question and not blunt accusation on both sides.

Tq for visiting my blog.

Cxtreme said...

hmm siehjin..this is a bit of a tough issue..

even last time when i was in secondary school, there were thoughts in my head of 'evangelising'even the catholics...

it's difficult for people from different background to come together and mix, that different backgrounds will also teach u different things i.e. u must speak in tongues, or speaking in tongues is wrong... or catholics aren't christians..etc etc...how do u rationalise all of this together.

siehjin said...

@kelvin: on the issue of catholicism, i think that one has to go on a case-by-case basis... speak to individuals to find out their personal understanding of the Bible, the atoning death of Christ, etc. just like second-generation christians in many of our mainline churches, some may be in the church merely because they follow their parents, but some may have a vibrant, living faith. you can't tell simply by whether they're catholic or protestant.

re: different teachings, there are 2 possible approaches (i think).

the first is, avoid teaching on controversial subjects. there is plenty of good stuff in the Bible that is not controversial at all, that we need to learn and understand and apply. so why dwell on the things that divide us, when there is so much that we hold in common?

the second is, if there must be teaching on controversial subjects, find a speaker or a panel of speakers who can give a balanced view of the subject. for example, if teaching on tongues, explain why some denominations believe that tongues is demonic, what are the arguments for and against that position, also why some denominations believe that ALL christians must speak in tongues. what are the arguments for and against that position, and etc.

the speaker may conclude by giving his or her personal view, but they should impress upon the hearers that his/her view is not the only view, encourage them to find out what their own church's stand is, and inspire them to find out what the bible really says about the subject and come to a solid biblical conclusion of their own.

=)

siehjin said...

@ahong: welcome to my blog! yeah i'll be glad to dialogue with you =)

akmj said...

hmmm...

- weixun said...

Pardon me if I show, to a certain extent, how much of an ignoramus I am through this comment.

I think that many students nowadays (and you can see this to huge degree in Singapore) are a lot more influenced by the charismatic movement than by other denominations.

I'm not saying being charismatic is right or wrong. All I'm saying is that the charismatic movement appeals to youth more, rather than the more conservative styles.

And I think that as fiercely as the more mainstream denominations would defend their stance on just how charismatic you can be, so too do the charismatics defend their own stance.

But I think the problem with youth nowadays is that they don't question which is right and which is wrong. They just hold on to their side blindly, refusing to believe or even open up to consider the possibility that there's some truth on the other side.

This is pretty dangerous because those who are closed-minded generally become defensive; much like how a Christian who's not much of a thinker wouldn't be able to participate in a calm, logical dialogue with a Muslim without taking his counterpart's comments as personal insults.

Again, I have to add in another disclaimer. I don't believe that Christians who aren't thinkers are in the wrong.

I just think that there are some situations they won't be able to survive in; likewise thinkers would also simply die in other certain situations too.

Anyway. I believe that when you cross a polarized Christian who isn't open-minded, even the most diplomatic, politically correct voice of balance could be interpreted as making personal attacks.

In that sense, I don't think it's really a fault of yours. Perhaps this person, and like-minded young Christians couldn't grasp your beliefs and chose to take it as an offense.

There's a possibility that the guy/girl just didn't know how to react and chose to take offense.

But back to my first point. If my opinion that most young Christians are charismatic is right, then it's true that SU would suddenly seem irrelevent, even if it's being balanced. I think it's kind of like a "if you're not with me, you're against me" thing.

But in that case, again, I think it's no one's fault.

Perhaps then the question, really, should be: What can SU do to stay relevent, without compromising its stance?

With regards to replying the e-mail, I think SU should reply. Unless of course, what you were saying isn't what SU's general stance is.

Now go check your e-mail please, Sieh Jin. I sent you something. :)

Eunice said...

i suppose there will always be ppl who disagree with us,no matter how hard we try.no matter how convicted we felt at that time to voice our thoughts..

to me the impt thing is..where do i stand before God? is He pleased with me? what does He think? was/is my heart right before Him?

God can use our mistakes n turn them into lessons.u know what Romans 8:28 says; do u know what Romans 8:29 says? that God's ultimate purpose is to conform us to the likeness of His Son, Jesus.

so don't worry.i don't really like the part in your post where the person said 'SU is 'boring' etc'.i think that's the wrong attitude (not that i have the RIGHT attitude, but u get my point la)..it's the same way how ppl always say 'bible study the conventional way is boring..' hullo?? BORING?? it's not a prob with the Bible-it's the ATTITUDE of our MINDS that need to be changed.drastically. before CF activities n such begin to aim solely on 'ways-to-make-non-christians-LIKE-us'.having said that,it's a challenge for me as well.sometimes i get too worried- isn't bible study too 'boring' n 'dry'?? 'what would others think??'

but God said,'why do you,My slave, worry about what other ppl think? shouldn't your main concern be what I think??'

we're all learning, aren't we? =) n in the process, we mess up 99% of the time.but God is the architect of all our circumstances.

Hannah said...

hmmmmm.........yes things like these do tend to end up with a lot of stepped-on toes....
i'm not very experienced in this area.....but i think if i was there during that rally and u said that, I'd be doing some soul-searching on whether i came to ride on the charismatic wave and not having a true purpose....
Charismatic preaching and all is very appealing to youth especially, and there's nothing wrong in that.....but sometimes it might just end up with the christian event that was meant to glorify God turning into a regular concert or stg. I speak from experience-I have gone to camps that seems like it's just about getting all spirit filled and forgetting who we're really worshiping.....so there should be some balance.We need to worship in spirit and in TRUTH. And for the sake of our brethren from other denominations, it would be better too if we had that balance..to avoid confusion.
There's nothing wrong with being filled with the Holy Spirit (i believe the Bible says we should), but if we forget the purpose of being Spirit-filled, isn't that like...worthless?
having said that, perhaps it would have been better if you spoke to the committee first, then with their approval address the audience.....but i don't think that by not doing so it should result in such a catastrophe....unless you were super severe about it, which i highly doubt..
how to respond? haha.....i guess you would have to say sorry....
*but isn't it like last year? why bring it up NOW?? so weird....
ah well, I'm not entirely sure, but that's wat i think la..u can correct me if i'm wrong ;)
I think SU is doing a great job for SCFs, especially mine -Bukit mewah! We owe a lot to you guys so don't despair! I'll pray for you...

Arnan Koh said...

okay. i think that you are not wrong. And i don't think that reminding the CFs to be inter-denomiational is a wrong thing to do.

I have faced this issue before but only in TAR College. there were no such things in BMCF...

My stand on speaking in tongues in SCF is this:
"Speaking in tongues in not wrong. And when in a inter-denomination group, i believe that it is okay to speak in tongues, when you are leading or whether you are in the congregation. However, we who speak in tongues will not force those who do not speak in tongues to worship in tongues. And in the same way, those who don't speak in tongues will not stop those from worshiping in tongues. This is respect each others method of worship."

i think the guy who emailed your boss is was not very correct if he had an issue with you.

I know SU and FES stand on refraining from speaking in tongues. I also know SU and FES have a very deep brethren background. But your manner of teaching is not irrelevant nor was it boring...

I don't think you were completely right about speaking to the congregation just like that... maybe you should have asked the committee first. But what you reminded them was not wrong.

I think SU have done a great job in school Cfs. But it is not wrong if SCFs do not want to invite you to come to take over some of the sessions. I know that some CFs in Subang are quite large and very student based. Most programs are run by the students. But it is not right that they choose to exclude SU from them completely.

You know what...
i think i will commit the rest i want to say via email... it is more private that way...

But for the record:
1. SU has done nothing wrong in reminding the CF about inter-denominations
2. Speaking in tongues is a highly sensitive issue - as both sides would use different parts of the bible to explain their points.
3. We should consider what other before ourselves.
4. Time will heal the relationships between SU and Subang CFs and the other Cfs...

Friedbeef said...

Sieh Jin, you were 100% right about the message, but wrong about the delivery.

Praise in public, coach in private. A rule that cannot go wrong in most cases except the extreme where you need to step in on the spot and put an end to it.

If done correctly, the committee may correct itself, and even if they didn't you did your part. Either way they do no get painted into a corner.

Use this rule for everything you do, and it would be fine.