Archive for March, 2010

Easter hope

The following article commissioned by Asian Beacon magazine. Should be out around now at all fine bookstands nationwide.

~

Hope for a better day

What did Peter see when he looked into the empty tomb that day? According to John 20, he saw strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head.
 
The linen lying there implied that Jesus’ body had been lifted through the covering or dematerialized and re-materialized in another place. Doesn’t matter. The important thing is: there was no corpse in the tomb that day. The women who came to anoint Jesus’ body was instead greeted by an angel who told them that, “He is not here; He is risen.” Peter looked and confirmed the news. And in that vacant space rested the hope of all mankind.
 
Hope for the criminal on death row, convicted of a dozen heinous crimes. His family does not want him and even if he receives a pardon, it’s unlikely anybody will offer him a job, or a place to sleep. He has no idea how believing in Jesus will help his present situation but there’s still hope, if not in this life then in the next.
 
Hope for the rich businessman, who has everything he’s ever wanted and more. Not that being rich is evil but this particular person has money that he cannot – and will not – account for. Like us at some point in time, he has threatened, lied, cheated, framed, backstabbed, and even consulted spirits to further his selfish ambitions. Unlike most of us, all these have made him very wealthy and unfortunately, unable to trust anybody.
 
Hope for the Haitian quake victim, trapped in darkness under several feet of rubble. Hope for the young girl who was forcibly ‘cut’ – without anesthetic and using filthy, blunt razors – because her elders believed it was an essential step towards womanhood. Hope for the young woman who wants to be a surgeon but is constantly told by her family that a woman’s place is either at home or in the grave.
 
Hope for the prostitute, gangster, gambler, suicide-bomber, drunk driver, depressed housewife, and priest with a penchant for young boys. Hope for everyone who believes that Jesus overcame death and was resurrected on the third day.
 
When I look into the empty tomb, I see Jesus tapping death on the shoulder and saying “Move over, I’m in charge now.” His resurrection tells us that all people everywhere are precious to Him. No matter what they’ve done, what they are or how much they hate Him, He will do anything to give them a hope and a future.
 
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” – John 3:16. The world out there is waiting to hear this. The empty grave gives us hope to continue the good work.

Advertisements

Sunday Morning in Kota Kinabalu

Seaside getaways. Nothing quite beats the gentle sea breeze in your hair, the sand between your toes and damp patch on the seat you’re sitting on. We should do this more often. Model: Suzanne.

Sunday Morning in Jesselton

It’s actually Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. Jesselton is what they used to call the place. Not coincidentally, I heard some interesting news about Sabah over the weekend and thought it’d be worthwhile to share the stories.

In 1970, the state was one of the richest in the federation, with a per capita GDP second only to Selangor (which at that time included KL). However, despite its abundant natural resources, Sabah is currently the poorest Malaysian state. According to a recent article, the overall poverty rate fell to 16 per cent in 2007, compared to 23 per cent in 2004. This is still three times more than the national average.

Also read somewhere that the pregnant women in Pitas (the poorest county in Sabah) had the highest mortality rate in Malaysia. There are many tribes that live off the beaten track so the aboriginal women, with their enlarged bellies, have to take boats, cross bridges, and walk for hours or even days to reach a clinic. Some women choose to deliver their babies at home because they have no money for transportation down the mountains. A crude, sharpened piece of bamboo is used to cut off the umbilical cord. As you can guess, the mortality rate for childbirth is also very high.

But enough with the depressing news. If we have the capacity and capability, we need to ask the Lord to use us to help lift our brethren out of poverty. While we take many things for granted, like being able to have clean water simply by turning on the tap, these people have to walk for miles just to obtain that life-giving resource. How is daily life like – I have no idea. Don’t think I can imagine the crushing poverty over there. What is clear to me is that this is happening not in Burundi or Ethiopia but right in our own backyard.

May we find in our hearts the desire, humility and generousity to reach out to those less fortunate. May the Lord use us mightily to affect the fate of nations. Ooops, I was supposed to upload some Sunday Morning pictures here but think I’ll put it in the next post. Sorry about that.

Sunday Morning in Luxor

So our humble t-shirts have been making the rounds in the Middle East. Here we see a regular desert goer on her preferred mode of transport. The same animal that has been carrying the Egyptians around for over 5,000 years now. At least their taste in t-shirts have improved.

Sunday Morning in Hong Kong

Since we started this gig, we haven’t had a buyer in Hong Kong. Which meant I couldn’t ask anybody to take a picture there. Additionally, efforts to contact Jackie Chan to pose for Sunday Morning have been unsuccessful thus far but don’t worry – we’re doing our best.

Last week, however, I found myself in HK for a business meeting. Suppose it went pretty well as evidenced by the fact that I still have a job. Anyway, the few people I approached to pose with our t-shirt thought I was trying to sell them something. One guy with a huge tattoo on his back and a missing finger wanted the t-shirt and everything else I had on me. An old lady who thought I needed money gave me $2. With nobody else to turn to, I did the next best thing …  

Pathfinders on the go

So the Pathfinders decided to make some tees for themselves. But they didn’t want any of those round neck-tees with dreadful designs (like Sunday Morning for example). Instead, they asked for nice, sensible, collar-ed tees that would look good on an outdoorsy camping trip.

Not a problem. Except that it was just before CNY and almost all the suppliers were closed. The remaining few that weren’t were based in Kazakhstan or Poland I think and nobody wanted to go all the way there. So after a couple of frantic calls, finger-pointing and massive blame-shifting, we somehow managed to track the one supplier who didn’t know it was CNY and get the tees out. Just in time for the Pathfinders’s pre-Chap Goh Mei hike to Broga Hill. 

Thanks to Lai Choo for all her hard work and to Daniel Tan who took this picture. Christine and Lisha, you guys look fab!

Miracle on the MRT

I was taking the MRT the other day when this poster caught my eye. It’s an ad for Combi prams, promoting their MiracleTurn range of strollers. Basically, it allows you to turn the handle so you can face your baby or let the little fella face the big bad world. Not a bad idea I suppose. Never know when that kid might do an impersonation of Chucky or something.

Anyway, what I found really interesting is the use of the word ‘Miracle’. Probably ever since the beginning of the industrial revolution, advertising has taken powerful words and distorted/ devalued its meaning. Think words like ‘revolution’, ‘amazing’, ‘glorious’ – actually, if you don’t know the true weight of these words, you’ve been reading too many ads lately!

Then there’s this MiracleTurn – which takes the whole thing to statospheric levels. I mean, c’mon guys, all it does is turn the handle from front to back. Doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out how to do it. Miracle = walking on water, turning water to wine, bringing sight to blind or feeding the hungry masses with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. Miracle does not equal being able to push a pram handle from front to back. Even if your competitors hadn’t thought about it before.

Sometimes this naming business really gets to me. Not that Combi will do anything about it but I feel much better now. Alright, time for a sandwich. Where’s that miracle whip …