The Quest

Note: Fungus is the name of the youth group I serve in. It’s Fun, Us with God in the middle hence funGus. No judgement please. It’s not funghi 

“Juanlin made me cry so so much oh my god”

I was in the toilet when I heard one of my youth homegroup members said that, there was a hint of gratefulness too. I don’t think she knew I was inside. We had just finished a night session on the second day of youth camp and I had prayed for her during ministry time and she bawled her eyes out halfway through. She thanked and hugged me after the prayer but I didn’t think she would be talking about it with her friends after it. It was a session where youth were being filled by the holy spirit and emotions were running on a high and we were running out of tissues from all those crying.

This was my first Fungus camp. First time as a leader and I have never even gone to Fungus in my life. Tell me about it, to say I was scared shitless during the lead up to this camp is an understatement. I had a respiratory attack in the morning of the first day of camp to add on to that anxiety.

10 years ago, I attended my first ever youth camp of my life and accepted Christ into my life. Shucks, 10 years… (writing this makes me feel old and it didn’t help when a youth told me I looked 27 during camp).

I knew the importance of youth camps and how life-changing and impactful it can be on a young person’s life due to my personal experience… however, my walk was never uphill ever since my own. I grew to despise youth groups due to my inability to feel belonged in one. Camp was amazing and God was amazing to me but the youth never seemed to love me the way Jesus did so weekly meetings seemed painful, especially when a bunch of people didn’t want to talk to you. The feeling never changed when I moved to Australia (hence I never went to Fungus). I loved Jesus, I hated youth groups. (I had actually hated church in general).

Ironically, 10 years later. I’m a youth leader and I went to a camp as a youth leader and doing the things I use to be skeptical of other youth leaders. 

My 15 year old self will laugh so hard if she hears where I am right now. 

I honestly didn’t know what to expect during the lead up to this camp. My well-hidden anxiety didn’t improve when I was told to lead deco for the camp and being part of the games group. 

I mean seriously, what is this angel & mortal things these fungus kids do. What are skits. Why do they do flags. What are round-robin games. Where is this place called Camp Howqua that everyone has been to and I haven’t and how am I suppose to know how big the place is to design the deco-layout… lol omg.

I had an assignment and test due during the week leading up to camp. I had a number of silent break-downs during shower time and despite the chaos… I heard this silent inaudible voice in the back of my head…

Do you trust Me

I knew Who it was and He was the only one carrying me to prevent me from cracking.

I trust you God. I do.

It was this trust that pulled me through. I knew that He could and He will. He had pulled me through Kids Ministry and Youth Ministry was no difference. 

He showed me this by placing people who were understanding to work with me and guide me. I was blessed enough to have a group of leaders who were supportive of each other as we worked through preparing for this camp. I didn’t even feel like I was leading deco, it felt like it was all done. It was only until the eve of the camp when one of my fellow leaders realized that it would be my first Fungus camp ever (like I didn’t even go to one as a youth, all these leaders have been in Fungus as youths themselves). Apparently, I was heading it up like I knew everything… well I didn’t know a lot of things but God did, true story

Back to where we were, it was ministry time on the second day of camp. Youth were stepping out during alter call to be prayed for, it suddenly dawned on me that I was a leader and I had to pray for these kids.. omgosh I was never the kid that stepped out during alter call, let alone as a young adult. What am I gonna say.. OH GOD PLEASE HELP ME OH MY GOD PLEASE.

Leaders were stepping out to their homegroup members and I saw my girls in front with their arms lifted high in surrender. They were hungry for God. They want more of Him. They want Him.

A mini time-travel began to occur in my head and suddenly I was that 15 year old again. The frustrated 15 year old who disliked youth group and never wanted to go. What did I do. What did I want.

I wanted to be prayed for…. but no one did.

Time for you to pray for these girls. Don’t make them feel like how you did. Make them feel Jesus’ love and your love for them. Let them know that they have a purpose and that they belong. Be the youth leader that you never had as a youth.

Early during the year when I just started being a youth leader, I was enjoying it. I told my friends I liked it, I was there because I think God wants me there. I wanted to work with youth in the future and get into the Youthlaw department for my legal clerkship. Being a youth leader will help my CV and my youth pastor really wanted me to join the ministry anyway. I took those as signs that God wants me there but never knowing the true meaning/calling behind it. I mean remember that time I was torn between leaving kids and joining youth…

That night I knew. Hearing Amanda’s words in the toilet and receiving the little notes of appreciation from my homegroup throughout camp made me truly realize God’s plan for me in this ministry. It made me understand the power of trusting without always knowing what is next and the faith involved with all that. The theme of our youth camp was The Quest and I was on a quest without knowing I was on one and that night ended that subconscious quest of mine as a youth leader.

This is the story of the girl who hated Youth Group. You truly will never know where God brings you next.

I love youth group and I love Fungus.

p/s: I’m in the State Library La Trobe reading room while writing this. Teared a tad bit during my writing and I think the girl next to me thinks I’m a loony LOL.

 

 

 

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Tunes 2.0 + some future posts ideas + church

I’m currently in the middle of exam preparations right now and I am practicing extremely strong self-control right now to do long-winded deep though posts… which I’m very prone to.

My cousins are currently downstairs banging the keys in a very unmelodic tune right now, it’s setting a very good revision study atmosphere… hence why I am here. I’ll make it as short as possible though, I haven’t been the most productive I’m suppose to be, so yea.. it’s going to be short.

Tunes

This song. Discovered it during procrastination this week. I really need to have some new breathe of tunes in my Gospel playlist, so I went to Billboard.com, the most uncommon place to go because I know everyone goes to like Spotify I still do.

As I play this song, all I can picture in my head as I listen to it is a dance. Yes, a dance. It’s a kind of a strong, passionate, contemporary kind of dance. It involves some ropes and strings, the dancer will eventually break free. It is powerful. I don’t know who the dancer will be. But I can imagine, it’s so strong I feel like executing it myself but I don’t know if my knees can take the jumps and leaps. I really wish I can. But one thing for certain, I want to get this dance done. I don’t know who will be getting it done, me or someone else, I’ll make it happen.

Future Posts

I’ve went through some tough bits the last couple of weeks. It was pretty hard for my family. I’ve given some thought about it, I don’t believe my family and I are the only ones suffering this. It’s require a full-blown post which I’ll do after my exams.. I can’t wait. This issue that I’ve been going through has definitely sparked a certain discontentment within myself and a passion to do something about it. I really do wanna do something about it but I don’t know how or what yet,

Hint: It’s to do with ADHD. Yes, the condition… ADHD.

Church

This has nothing to do with a full blown post. It’s Sunday tomorrow and my exams are on Tuesday. I have heaps more of catch up to do for exams and I’ve been given an off-duty day from Sunday School tomorrow, it’s the perfect day to skip church for some productive revision. As I said, my cousin’s are over at my house right now. We had dinner together just now for some catch up at Pancake Parlour and I was bringing up about skipping church to study as I was out for the night.

“You can’t skip church! Prayer is so important, especially at this current period. You have no idea how much it will help. Don’t underestimate the importance and power of prayer and church at this moment of time. Go to church Juanlin.”

This advice was given by my Muslim aunt and uncle. It hit me hard in the heart, this wasn’t the first time I was given advice to go to church by a non-Christian. As much as I have been one of the most religious ones among some of my friends, many of them atheists and agnostic and half my family are non-christians, I’ve been getting encouragement from people who are the least familiar with my faith than I am and yet I get the most heart-hitting advices from them.

I believe God often tries to communicate with us through the weirdest and unlikeliness of people, this includes non-believers. If we are strong in the word and faith, we can hear Him anywhere.

“Don’t ever forget to seek advice from the Big Boss up there” – my Muslim uncle

I couldn’t agree more.

God is good and I am going to church tomorrow.

Epiphanies on a bus ride

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It takes me at least 45 minutes to commute to uni, or more than an hour depending on the traffic. I bought a new book on Amazon a couple of weeks ago The Best Yes by Lisa TerKeurst, but I have yet to give it a start since I haven’t finished my existing book Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick yet. So this morning, since I only had my kindle with me (which is where I bought my new book) on the bus, I decided to give it a start.

As I read, Lisa wrote about confusing  love and pleasing people  to doing what actually God told you to do, I don’t know why, but my brain started swelling with memories of the prayer I made at the start of this year, in my room, on my knees, my eyes filled with tears, my heart filled with fear, in the same time holding that faith and trust in the God I was riding a roller coaster with just the previous year.

That point of my life, I was so sick of church hopping. Almost half my life I attended churches but I never belonged to any. I had added facebook friends from each church I attended but none of them developed into the friendships I hoped for, mainly because of the fact I kept leaving them too. I’ve seen friends who grew up in churches and having a bond with their church friends, growing in Christ together, things I never had.

I was so frustrated. I was starting to begin to hate the idea of the church itself. At that time, my mum started attending another new church. I was so mad, she understood my frustration and she attended it by herself while I remained at home with my bible. She grew to love the church, more than I actually thought. However I remained reserve and distant with the church she attended with the fear we may desert it again. I didn’t want to experience the hurt of leaving friends at the start of a friendship, which was always common when I attended a new church and leave a few months after. I distanced myself from the youth, I tried my best not to add them on facebook because I didn’t want to have another list of “church friends I made but never talk to again because I left”.

Then the new year came. I looked at my bible and said

“It’s You and Me Lord, it always has been you and me. You brought me to the ditches with my injury and I still came back to You. But something is missing.”

I felt God was with me, I knew He was. But there was a gap and I didn’t know what it was between us. I wanted to grow with Him more but I couldn’t. I was still on the stubborn idea and I refused to believe it was the church. IT IS NOT THE CHURCH. IT NEVER HELPED.

I was so stubborn.

My brother was blending in well with the guys in church through weekly Sunday futsal games, my mom was attending weekly Ladies Meetings in the church. I continued my stubborn ways. My mum felt like it was time I should start making an effort. She knew my love and experience for kids so she persuaded me to volunteer in the church’s kids ministry because I still wasn’t keen on joining youth group.

I honestly don’t know what went through my mind but I said OKAY.

I didn’t realized how big the decision I made was until the day before I had to attend my first session with the kids. That night, in my room, filled with fear, confusion and immense hate in myself for this impulsive decision, I did what any Christian would do with at their complete lowest of lows. I dropped to my knees, burried my face in my pillow and bawled out a prayer.

God!
I don’t know what I’m doing?! What on earth am I doing? Joining kid’s ministry when I don’t even know anyone is this church? The other leaders are going to wonder where I popped out from, I am not from their clique, I am not in ANY clique.
Lord I know there’s something missing, we know there is something missing.

Maybe You know deep down in my heart that I want to belong, is this it?
Lord, I pray that this, even though scary, will be the start of something new. I hope it will be good. I hope it will be good.

Let me finally make friends Lord,  friends who will bring me closer to You and understand my relationship with You. I love the friends You blessed me in highschool but you know deep down in my heart I want friends who believe the same things I do, share the same love as I do.

Lord, this is such a crazy journey. I don’t know where I’m going to go. I don’t know what I am doing.

I am scared Lord, I am so so scared. 

Lord you will be with me right? You will give me friends. I know You are out there! We’ve always been a team, the 2 of us. You will be with me. I trust You Lord I trust You.

I hope what I’m doing is right Lord. I am so confused but I know deep down this is Your plan. Give me strength Lord, give me strength.

Lord this is so crazy, we had such a crazy journey the past couple of years. But we’ll be alright, You know we will. 

Will I do okay? Will I make friends in this church? Is this the church You want me to be in? Lord I trust You. You know my faith. We’ll pull this through together. Together.

Amen

It’s been a year since my mum found this church. 7 months of myself in kid’s ministry.

You know what. God answered my prayer. I was looking back to where I was and where I am. God answered my desperate cry. He responded to my fear.

7 months on, God gave me a group of girls to be friends with, bond with people of the exact same interests and going through the same struggled I did. Made friends in church like I never did. Invited to dinners with church people like I never would go or never did.

Even though I wouldn’t say I am 100% assimilated into the church, every church is cliquy. He has already gave me more than I asked, simple bonds and stepping stones to help me in faith. Where I am right now was not something I visualized myself doing exactly a year ago. My year younger self would have laughed her lungs out.

I do still have fears on things, I haven’t completely overcomed all my struggles. But his simple answer to a simple cry gave me a sense of peace, knowing and love.

He has my back. He still has my back. We are still a team. A team so strong it can’t be broken. I can do all things with Christ in me.

I was trying my best to contain my tears as I walked from my bus ride to the tram stop where I take my final leg to my incredibly far journey to university. The immense joy in knowing He answered my cry and I have such a faithful partner in life. It was an odd place and time to have those feelings but it just happened.

God is so good.