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From the Editors Living on Humanity Level

Too often we live in our own little worlds of American wealth. Granted, it is difficult to follow a lifestyle that rejects this way of thinking and instead lives life with “world vision” and on “humanity level”—that is, living life with those in less fortunate situations constantly in mind. Who are they?— the little girls stricken with disease in North Africa, the starving in China, the 33.2% of the WORLD who live under $5.00 dollars a day…you could almost ask, “who are they not?”

A sheltered mindset fosters a stagnant, limited lifestyle that is self-serving. I can be the first to admit that this type of mindset is not easy to change, but with God, nothing is impossible! Our hope is to grow closer to living life on what I like to call humanity level. In our relative richness and luxury, how can this be applied?

It is a step-by-step process. Maybe your starting line would be to open up your Bible and read about the persecutions of our brothers and sisters, or to obtain a well of knowledge of the states of poverty in third world nations. Try keeping a journal to organize your thoughts, introspect, and see how your day lines up with your beliefs. Relate it as best as possible to lives in places less fortunate, because as much as it doesn’t seem relatable, it is still reality. Then do something about it. Maybe you feel called to start a sponsorship for a child through World Vision or Compassion International (like SHAR AND MEL! yayyyy).

In order to maximize the glorification of God through your lifestyle, the most essential change is to change the way you see his people; as desperate children craving both physical water and the living water of the Spirit!!

- Melody Zhang 2

From the Editors There will be days when you find yourself at a loss before Jesus. On those days my mind shouts “no” to the very One who gives me breath, and it is all I can do to offer my heart, empty, and at a loss even for words to cry out with. Those days I have so many questions I end up pushing them all away, leaving me as a mess of simple confusion, doubt, and fear. But these are also the days I begin to realize what it really means to be desperately dependent on God. Remember how Ben explained holy fear from the Wonder retreat? The fear of God leads to our worship and awe of Him, and it also reminds us of how desperately we need God. Logically then, holy fear is not knowing the answers to my questions. It’s coming into God’s presence stilled into reverent silence. So why am I so short of this holy fear? Because I keep trying to earn some piece of grace for myself. I’m reminded of this line from David Crowder’s song, “Wholly Yours”: But the harder I try the more clearly can I feel The depth of our fall and the weight of it all Likewise, David Platt said in his book, Radical (read it!), “even our attempts to obey God only further uncover our inability to do so.” I’ve tried so hard to pursue Jesus, to serve, that I’ve left no room for Him to reveal His filling grace in all the empty rush of my life. “For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith—and this is not by yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” —Ephesians 2:8-10 I can’t do this anymore. I can’t give out of myself; I can’t even stand in God’s presence without Jesus, without His grace. But the best, most astounding part about this gift? We were created not separate from Christ, but in Him, to do good works. So the next time I am at a loss before Jesus, be it out of shame or failure or whatever else it may be, I pray I will simply offer up my heart, because it’s not mine. And that’s what matters most to God.

- Sharon Shen

From the Editors

My experience as a Vine editor was in all pretty great. Even though there seemed to be a constant lack of articles (cough) we still had a blast having our mini parties of editing and cover creating and all. Sharon and Melody with their pro journalism experience would mostly do the editing and arranging of articles, whereas I would usually be the one dragging photos to the vine cover and making sure that looked alright. Vine has also been encouraging, more than perhaps many of you know. It’s always a comfort to know that many of us will write about our own struggles so that those who have shared similar experiences can know they’re not alone. The artwork that we have been featuring on the Vine is also pretty epic. There needs to be more—all of you, go awaken your inner artists soon. You’ll be surprised at what you can do.

I remember as a freshman getting my first copy of the Vine and holding it like a sacred treasure as it contained the thoughts of all the other people who were so much more mature and thoughtful than I was. I still have them in my room. I know the Vine is going green and we don’t have as many copies to hand out as before, but what’s stopping you from reading old Vines, remembering what your peers have written, remembering maybe that stage in your spiritual life? I pray that you guys will not care about the Vine, but instead care about how you can best use it to help your family in Oasis. The pen is mightier than the sword; perhaps written words can find some kind of immortality in our hearts as we speak them one to another. I understand if you feel that you cannot write, that you would rather speak rather than write, but we all know that writing down notes from lectures and speeches offer better retention. Imagine if it were completely written. And there whenever needed. But just like the written Word, the Vine is useless as a resource if we forget to read it, think about it, live it. The Bible is of course from God Himself, but the Vine—the Vine is from your friends and peers, maybe even your enemies/ those you don’t quite get along with, people you have seen and will see one day in Heaven, your brothers and sisters in Christ. I’d say that’s pretty important as well. I would be a hypocrite if I said I would write for the Vine willingly even as not being an editor. I probably wouldn’t. I’d have the regular writers write and then stand aside and convince myself that whatever I could have written wouldn’t have mattered because of my level of spiritual maturity or other incompetent natures. But in truth, it shouldn’t matter. I want you to know that it doesn’t matter. We don’t read Vines to judge, we read them to learn and to empathize and to be encouraged. I’m so excited for our new panel of Vine editors coming in soon. Best of luck! It will be a blast. For the last time as your editor, I guess—wow I’m starting to feel kinda sad—

- Kelly Yu


God’s Tears do you ever wonder if God weeps for humanity? his tears, droplets of silver diamonds, slipping down his beautiful face down to this broken, burned world (the pieces of us scattered in between) through a starlit sky making empty promises that “it will get better because look at me, I’m shining in the midst of it all”— through white clouds that seem to say “while they die down there we’re all calm up here” falling softly through the heavy air sparkling like electricity, round as pearls his love captured in each tiny orb? Rain down on us, we once pled is this his all-encompassing Love, held in these raindrops? do you ever wonder if God weeps for humanity? for our wars, crime, strife, our hurt and pain and everything in between, the shades of grey? does he weep for the shells we have Become the fact that not all of us are living, not really but just sort of… Surviving? I believe God weeps for humanity because surely all this rain are his teardrops; and are they not Falling into a vast, deep Sea? because if Grace was an Ocean, then we’d all be sinking as if Anchors (of Love) were tied to our feet.

- Michelle Shen

Irony I prepare for the future. I take out pen and paper. Look at my schedule. Think of things to do. Volunteer. Job. School. Play. Study. I see a plan forming, something that never happened in my life before. I see a boy slowly maturing to a... teen, not really a man yet. He's still in that transition state, that unstable, insecure, messed up area of life where things are thrown at him and he can neither dodge nor run. I see him with eyes wide open, eyes alive, eyes excited. This will be a new adventure, won't it? It will be something worth living for. Forget the past! Forget the fact that I completely wasted away my high school years. Forget the fact that I never tried. I never tried. Forget all of that and just plunge forward. You got this. The whole world is in your hands. The whole world is in your hands. I can still hear all of those voices in my head giving me feeling. My GOD feelings. But you want to know something. I completely, absolutely, positively, wholeheartedly HATE feelings. I ABHOR them. What have they done for me exactly? Besides turn my life upside-down while I scramble to right myself up but to no avail. Besides toying with this heart that can hardly stand any more of those spiritual highs or euphoric screams because they hold no substance. Besides finding myself slipping farther away because that peak of emotional ecstasy makes it all seem so temporary and ephemeral, so... amazing, but only for a short duration. Spiritual highs are drugs. Besides doing everything in their power to destroy me. But it's too ironic even to mention that I actually love feelings. Without them, I'm not myself. I can't be myself. I'm not a robot. But I'm not an extremist either. My pen falls onto the paper. I stop my world for a split second. God. God. God. Oh good, cool, nice to know that after spending hours planning for the future, GOD FINALLY shows up in my wandering mind. This mind that can't do anything right, or even stay in one place. This mind that seems to always question the purpose of life, but never takes a moment to actually SEARCH for a purpose. The most hypocritical mind ever. Ever. Then suddenly all of those plans feel worthless. It's supposed to be God, right? God is supposed to be the one that paves my road. Not me. Not me. But I'm supposed to do SOMETHING. I just don't know what. It's because I'm not asking Him. I'm not calming my heart and my mind and just sitting down speaking to Him. I'm not listening to Him. I never have. How do I... calm down? How do I reject the world's constant noise and hear God's quiet voice? How?


Please tell me how. It is probably of the greatest irony That we of humankind have to utterly OPEN our HEARTS wider until they bleed Before this web of complacency Is shattered for our stupid blind eyes to see A world not carved in shame, but created in beauty In glory In Majesty It is only in those moments, MOMENTS When we realize what it means to live in this life That every second is of the greatest importance Every breath is a miracle in itself Every time we close our eyes, move our hands, touch, smell, taste It is amazingly perfect, SO perfect That it becomes imperfect Because of us Thinking we are gods And breaking what God made whole Into an unbearable and infinite hole Oh how I wish I could stop moving Breathe in the cool, silky air And realize that there need be no milky moon Or fiery sun Or trickling streams Or greener blades of grass Or towering mountains Or vast plains Or dry deserts Or icy tundras To see God To taste God To feel God To hear God To love God It is more of the heart, less of our hands. But too easily, I know what I have just said, what I have JUST SAID, will pass away faster than the wisps of steam floating above freshly-made soup. My voice holds nothing but a sound. It is of mere sound. And this? This is of mere sight. Words. I am sorely afraid. I am too afraid. Of where I am going. Of where I have been. Last year and this year have been the most impactful years of my life, but right now I seem to have returned to my first stone. My first step. Once more. I have stared at the page too long. I hope, soon, to pray to God, pick up the pen, and write what God is speaking to my heart. He is speaking, even as I write. Even as I think that I'm so far away from Him, even as I sin. Even more so when I sin. God will never forsake me. Even if that's truer than truth, will I never forsake Him? “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” —John 16:33 Today, God, I don't cry out. I don't raise my hands, or even raise my voice. I can't lift my arms. I can't see you for who you are. I can't even see. I can't hear. I can't feel. I can't touch. I can't breathe. Just... let me pray. And know that you are God.

- Peter Sun

Leaders Spotlight Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly after: everyday?

T aiwanese E nergetic

What gets me super excited: Ohio State football and basketball

D edicated

Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: shooting the moon

D azzling

Mangoes or chocolate: chocolate cookies

Y oung

Name of your favorite stuffed animal: Tiffy How can I win your heart: carefully

Serving as: a Refresh small group leader My jam song: Ready or Not, One World, Made to Love

Cutest family memory: Everyday before Joanne was born. jk I love Joanne but yeah Favorite Bible verse: 2 Timothy 2:11-13

Would you rather have someone bring you break- First thing that comes to mind when you hear fast in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in “God”: God as late as you want: breakfast in bed This year, I want Oasis: to talk more about God If you were a Disney princess, who are you, and why: Rapunzel. Magical hair, and I can dance in the middle of town and people will join me!

e ncouraged S inger (not)

t all

Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly after: like every time I exercise pls What gets me super excited: eating after a run but apparently this is supposed to be hobbies so… singing, sometimes running, having free time, sleeping

h ahaha

Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: lol is this a joke

E asygoing

Mangoes or chocolate: mangoes fosho

r eally cool k Serving as: a worship leader My jam song: COTTON EYED JOE also the hokey pokey

Name of your favorite stuffed animal: I don’t name any of them but I have this super soft sheep someone name it for me How can I win your heart: buy me food & sing me a song I will love you foreverrrr (food as in like, lots of junk food and hot cheetos those are the best)

Would you rather have someone bring you breakfast in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in as late Cutest family memory: aka embarrassing Daniel stories jk but probably singing with Daniel in the car as you want: breakfast in bed because I don’t think I’ve ever gotten breakfast in bed and that sounds really nice

Favorite Bible verse: Ephesians 2:8-10

If you were a Disney princess, who are you, and why:

God is good

Rapunzel! because the rest of them are too perfect and she isn’t, which is so much more relatable, but at the same time she’s super cool and can take people out with frying pans

First thing that comes to mind when you hear “God”: This year, I want Oasis: to make worship exciting! kick people out of their comfort zones a little because glorifying God is awesome and there is never anything to be ashamed of


Leaders Spotlight e nchanting (or encouraging)

l have all of youuuuuu~

ers, writing lyrics, listening to K-pop/music in general (lol Shanon too), worship Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: I have no adventurous spirit what are you talking about. Just kidding, but I don’t remember owo


Mangoes or chocolate: Can I choose both ; v ;

S assy

Name of your favorite stuffed animal: Wait… I never named it.

e mpathetic Serving as: a worship leader ~ ^-^ My jam song: I don’t know… sorry xD

How can I win your heart: Give me yummy bubble teaaaa And lots of food And be nice~ Cutest family memory: Whenever we’re able to be together as a whole family (my siblings are old so I don’t get to see them often anymore T___T)

Would you rather have someone bring you breakfast in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in Favorite Bible verse: Deuteronomy 31:6 as late as you want: Breakfast in bed! :DD If you were a Disney princess, who are you, and why: MULAN. ‘Cause she’s cool. She has a cricket.

First thing that comes to mind when you hear “God”: Holy

Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly after: This morning… haha

This year, I want Oasis: to grow closer and be able to be open to each other

What gets me super excited: Singing, making cov-

d ashing a sian n ew i nteresting E astern

Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly after: Err...never? What gets me super excited: Food Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: Staying up for 36 hours Mangoes or chocolate: chocolate Name of your favorite stuffed animal: Shamu

l oving

How can I win your heart: no idea

Serving as: a Refresh small group leader

Cutest family memory: Me and Esther licking a chopstick for me? or her? to get healthy (sometime before we moved to MI)

My jam song: None?

Would you rather have someone bring you breakFavorite Bible verse: Psalms 111:10 fast in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in First thing that comes to mind when you hear as late as you want: breakfast in bed “God”: God If you were a Disney princess, who are you, and This year, I want Oasis: to be more diverse why: Jasmine. First one I could think of.

Leaders Spotlight a micable

What gets me super excited: Many, many things

m erry

Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: Living life

Y outhful

Serving as: an Oasis small group leader! My jam song: Sorry to disappoint, but nonee

Mangoes or chocolate: Dark chocolate Name of your favorite stuffed animal: I don’t have one How can I win your heart: Lots and lots of Ferrero Rocher chocolates…a dog would be nice too Cutest family memory: Any time we’re all together

Favorite Bible verse: Romans 5:3-5 Would you rather have someone bring you breakfast in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in First thing that comes to mind when you hear “God”: Unconditional love as late as you want: Sleeeep! If you were a Disney princess, who are you, and why: Rapunzel because of her hair – it’s actually useful Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly after: Haha, like every time. I consider it a reward

This year, I want Oasis: to continue to become a family that truly cares for each other and newcomers because we are here to represent God so that others can see God through us. I also want it to be a place in which God is always the foundation and focus.

K ool (as in lame)

was biking with Felix, but that was a long time ago

E mpathetic

What gets me super excited: TENNISSSS AND GUITARRRR, passionate worship

n onchalant

Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: white water rafting? Not so risky or run in the dead of night in Shanghai

n ot cool E xpecting

Mangoes or chocolate: Thai mangos, if not chocolate

t hankful

Name of your favorite stuffed animal: Kissy and Mr. Cow

h erp derp Serving as: a worship leader...maybe small group?

How can I win your heart: be nice (:

Cutest family memory: ask Lily my memory is My jam song: Too many, but lots of David Crowder bad...OHOHOHOH I REMEMBER when I was young, I Band: Foreverandever Etc, Like a Lion, I Am a Seed would always announce when I was using the bathroom to the whole house. After like a year my Would you rather have someone bring you breakfamily told me to stop, but I still did anyway (ask lily fast in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in for anything better) as late as you want: definitely sleep Favorite Bible verse: haha I should have one, but If you were a Disney princess, who are you, and it’s all too good why: Mulan because I'm Asian, but I’m not that First thing that comes to mind when you hear op… “God”: love Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly 10 after: gosh I don’t remember, last time I remember This year, I want Oasis: to have a disciple

Leaders Spotlight h armonious

What gets me super excited: A lot of things. I get excited easily (:

a bnormal

Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: Still looking for the answer to this question....

n eutral

Mangoes or chocolate: Mangoes!

n ondiscriminatory Aggressive

Name of your favorite stuffed animal: Gub (my pillowpet)

h eadstrong

How can I win your heart: Give me money (; kidding... Kinda (:

Serving as: an Oasis small group leader My jam song: Anything and everything (except country.. And heavy metal)

Cutest family memory: Mm... When my brother was born? Idk.. There's too many... (:

Favorite Bible verse: Deuteronomy 31:6 Would you rather have someone bring you breakFirst thing that comes to mind when you hear fast in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in “God”: of wonders as late as you want: bring me breakfast in bed (: This year, I want Oasis: to grow upward and beIf you were a Disney princess, who are you, and come closer with God as well as outward with one why: Mulan, cause she's boss. another Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly after: .....skipping this question

j ovial a wesome c hildlike k ooky

Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly after: yesterday What gets me super excited: Really loud music and Pokemon Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: moving to Taiwan Mangoes or chocolate: mangoes Name of your favorite stuffed animal: Fluffy

Serving as: a Refresh small group leader My jam song: I don’t dance

How can I win your heart: You have to win it Cutest family memory: Watching Jessy turn from a cute baby into an annoying little monster

Would you rather have someone bring you break- Favorite Bible verse: John 3:16 fast in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in First thing that comes to mind when you hear as late as you want: sleep “God”: Holy If you were a Disney princess, who are you, and This year, I want Oasis: to have closer relationships why: Cinderella. ‘Cause in the end you get to see with God your two mean stepsisters cry

Leaders Spotlight n ewtonian E ccentric w aterproof

Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly after: Yesterday What gets me super excited: Getting a new violin piece!

t houghtful

Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: Going for a stroll around the neighborhood at 3AM

O blivious

Mangoes or chocolate: chocolate

n onchalant

Name of your favorite stuffed animal: Sparks

Serving as: an Oasis small group leader/ A/V team My jam song: I sing along to concertos LOL does that count?

How can I win your heart: Earn respect? Cutest family memory: Attempting to teach family Contact during a roadtrip... didn't work very well

Favorite Bible verse: Romans 3:23-24 Would you rather have someone bring you breakfast in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in First thing that comes to mind when you hear “God”: God as late as you want: Sleep in If you were a Disney princess, who are you, and why: Snow White; dwarves are cool

This year, I want Oasis: to have more communication with other churches, perhaps

s arcastic

after: Every time I do exercise...

h elpful

What gets me super excited: music, thunderstorms, and perhaps Candy Crush

a wkwardly amazing

Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: running at 12 AM around the neighborhood... I live in the middle of nowhere guys, and half of the lots in my neighborhood hasn't been sold and developed yet so yeh...

n ice O verly loud n on-observant (because I can't find the yogurt according to bro) Serving as: a Refresh small group/worship leader My jam song: Every song is my jam (:

Mangoes or chocolate: Dried mangoes Name of your favorite stuffed animal: It—creds Jerry Xu How can I win your heart: Don't really know... have a nice personality... oh and maybe write me a song too.

Would you rather have someone bring you breakfast in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in Cutest family memory: When my bro and I were little, every day when my dad came home for as late as you want: Breakfast in bed work, we'd be like, "DADDY'S HOME!" and rush to If you were a Disney princess, who are you, and the garage door and give him big hugs why: Ariel—so I can have a singing lobster and singing fishies as friends. oh and an amazing voice and Favorite Bible verse: Psalms 37:23-24 my father would be the god of the sea so that First thing that comes to mind when you hear would be pretty cool. “God”: Love Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly

This year, I want Oasis: to get to know everyone


Leaders Spotlight k it’s awk describing myself

bows and arrows and swords to shoot/cut things.


Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly after: today LOL


What gets me super excited: Cute things!


Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: jaywalking

t A in’t nobody got time for dat! l Serving as: Refresh small group/worship Leader My jam song: One Direction songs. Of course. JK.

Mangoes or chocolate: Mangoes! Name of your favorite stuffed animal: Uhh, I don't really name my stuffed animals. How can I win your heart: Sing me a song and I'll love you forever. Cutest family memory:

Favorite Bible verse: Romans 5:3-5 Would you rather have someone bring you breakFirst thing that comes to mind when you hear fast in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in “God”: Holy Father/Savior as late as you want: Get up and make my own food! This year, I want Oasis: to step out of our comfort zone regardless of the challenges. If you were a Disney princess, who are you, and why: Mulan. I'm Asian. Duh. Plus, I would like to use

f rail

after: Yesterday?

E xempt

What gets me super excited: Not quite sure...

l oved i dealistic x ... Serving as: an Oasis small group leader/worship team My jam song: don’t really dance :’(

Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: moving forward Mangoes or chocolate: mangoes Name of your favorite stuffed animal: It doesn't have a name >__> How can I win your heart: Lose your heart. Cutest family memory: Favorite Bible verse: Ecclesiastes 1:18

Would you rather have someone bring you break- First thing that comes to mind when you hear fast in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in “God”: Fear His wonderful Love as late as you want: Breakfast in bed please This year, I want Oasis: to see people be understanding If you were a Disney princess, who are you, and why: Mulan, because I pretend to be a man? Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly

Leaders Spotlight a rtistic

lots of paparazzi.

n ice

—autobiography courtesy of the editors

n ippy Serving as: a worship team leader! The fantabulous one who plays keys(: Hi my name is Ann and I am so cool that I left for China and won’t be back until September and I have no internet access so I can’t answer any of these questions:’( Look for me when I get back because I’m super awesome to talk to k. I also have

b earable r espectable i ndescribable A cceptable n oticeable

Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: My biggest risk is probably throwing away everything from MSU and then taking a step towards Hillsong college. That was scary... Mangoes or chocolate: mangoes Name of your favorite stuffed animal: Freddie the Bear How can I win your heart: Follow God, vulnerable, easy to share with, encouraging, and 1 Corinthians 13:4

Serving as: the next intern after Alec Sickel for the rest Cutest family memory: When my family went to watch of the year until I leave for Hillsong International Lead- my brother get baptized (: ership College to Study Worship Arts & Leadership MinFavorite Bible verse: Romans 12:1-2 istry First thing that comes to mind when you hear “God”: My jam song: Relentless (Zion Album) by Hillsong Jesus loves United This year, I want Oasis: to reach out to more and more Would you rather have someone bring you breakfast people as a church together. More efforts be made in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in as late to make our church a more comfortable place, to as you want: sleep in as late as I want bring a sense of unity as a family, to bring the If you were a Disney princess, who are you, and why: I churches around Oasis together so that pride won't would be Jasmine, because then I can fly on the overtake us as a whole thinking that our church is betmagic carpet ter, because all the churches are the same, we are all God's bride. I have high hopes for next year! Many Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly things are changing and God is moving so quickly in after: 6 months ago? this youth ministry. He will continue to be moving and What gets me super excited: When I see young men many more are going to be touched this year by the and women crying out to God to seek His face to Holy Spirit. All this with the strength of God of course, seek his presence! When I hear others singing and and let the will of God be done on this holy place. shouting their heart out when we are singing and worP.S. Remember, Worship is not necessarily what you shiping. It's always amazing to see my close brothers do, but always what you are. (: remember that! and sisters seeking after God!


Leaders Spotlight j abbered

What gets me super excited: big plays

o bjective

Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: relationship with Kelly

e gomaniac

Mangoes or chocolate: mangoes Name of your favorite stuffed animal: stuffed squirrel that sits in the corner

Serving as: A/V

How can I win your heart: you don’t

Cutest family memory: when I "accidently" tried to My jam song: Everyone is a little bit racist (yes that is drown my sister when she was teaching me how to an actual song) swim Would you rather have someone bring you breakFavorite Bible verse: Romans 9:16 fast in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in First thing that comes to mind when you hear as late as you want: bring me breakfast “God”: rest If you were a Disney princess, who are you, and This year, I want Oasis: to be more excited and why: Esmeralda, because I like the book version's passionate ending much better Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly after: I don’t exercise so this question is moot

j ovial E asy-going r elaxed E lectric repairman (courtesy of editors)

m otivated

Last time you exercised and ate junk food directly after: like last week What gets me super excited: video games with friends Biggest risk you’ve ever taken: I don’t know Mangoes or chocolate: mangoes Name of your favorite stuffed animal: Yurtle How can I win your heart: be yourself

Y ellow

Cutest family memory: messing with my brother =P

Serving as: a Refresh small group leader

Favorite Bible verse: Romans 8:8-39

My jam song: hm... don’t have one?

First thing that comes to mind when you hear “God”: God

Would you rather have someone bring you breakfast in bed tomorrow morning or be able to sleep in This year, I want Oasis: to talk more about God and personally get to know the underclass men better as late as you want: sleeeeeep If you were a Disney princess, who are you, and why: Mulan; I want to have a dragon too

Here’s My Heart

[a reflection after Lighthouse worship]

Sometimes when I worship, when I sing these super passionate songs and jump around and raise my hands, I think, do I actually mean this? And sometimes, at that moment, the answer is no. This sounds pretty bad. What?! Worship leader doesn’t mean what she sings?! Blasphemy!! Okay, but hear me out. I believe it is very difficult to decide that every week at a certain allotted time we can force ourselves to worship the Most High God. It’s silly to think that worship is confined to 40 minutes of our week and expect that in those 40 minutes, we will be happy and joyful. We will want to sing songs that make us raise our hands or songs that make us want to dance or songs that make us cry passionately because, honestly, worship can’t be contained in 40 minutes. Worship can’t even be contained in the three hours that we’re at church. Worship is, essentially, a lifestyle. So, saying that every single Saturday that I’ve been on stage was the greatest worship experience of my life and I have never felt closer to God in that time would be a lie. There have been times where I have felt the Holy Spirit working during worship and those times are great, but there are many more times in my daily life where I feel the Spirit working—because church is great, but church is only three hours every week. And there are 168 hours in a week, so in the grand scheme of things, three isn’t actually that much (even though we sometimes think it is, but that’s another story). We often expect worship to bring us passion. We have these expectations because we hear about all these revivals from conferences—and we experience some of these for ourselves—so naturally, we think that worship is what brings us closer to God and sets that fire in our souls that we can’t contain and can’t control. And sometimes it does. Sometimes we need that revival in our hearts— but in general, worship is not about revival. We worship because we have the privilege of being in the presence of this awesome, holy, amazing God, and there is nothing we would rather do in his presence than praise His holy name. But if we want to actually feel something, we can’t expect it from worship alone. The Holy Spirit empowers us when we actually go out and become disciples of Jesus. He is always present while we worship, but we don’t feel the extent of the Spirit until we begin to carry out what He has called us to do, to go into the world and make disciples.


I’m not condemning worship at church, because God still calls us to worship. Worship is good. We do it as a body of believers to encourage each other and lift up God’s name in praise. But it is not everything, so when I have doubts during worship, it’s okay. We’re a skeptical people (some of us more than others). But it can’t—and won’t—stop me from going all out during worship, because in the presence of God, I don’t need to be ashamed. And I know that this worship is what helps me get to the next step: going out and proclaiming the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Living my life in a way that worships Him, not just worshiping for 40 minutes every week and believing that it’s enough. Our act of worship is to do what God commands. And what is his command? To share our food with the hungry, and provide the poor wanderer with shelter, and not turn away from our own flesh and blood (Isaiah 58: 7). And when I say that I don’t always mean what I sing, that’s not exactly true. It’s easy to confuse a lack of passion for lack of desire; that we don’t mean what we sing because we don’t feel super passionate. Worship can just as easily be sitting in a corner in silence, as long as we are lifting up the name of Jesus Christ. -P.S. For those of you who have ever felt awkward during worship...I’ve been in your shoes. I think we’ve all felt weird during worship at one point or another. And I know it’s one thing to say it and another to do it, but worship is honestly just between you and God. There’s no “right” way of doing worship. If you want to dance or jump or clap or raise your hands or sing loudly or not sing at all, that’s up to you. Whatever glorifies God. Soli deo Gloria.

- Esther Yan

Looking to Jesus Stop feeling for others Amy. I think I have a problem with that. Always have been, still do. The thing is, I like seeing people happy, I like making people happy, and I like having the power to be able to get a reaction out of… people. Naturally, assuming that I know how others feel comes with the territory, and it hasn’t been to my advantage. Worship is a good example, or a bad one. I am on the worship team, so I do watch people during it from my perspective on the stage. Oops, sorry if I just made you uncomfortable, sometimes a girl is curious. I kind of know the perspective from both sides I guess, the ‘worshipper’ and the ‘worship-leader,’ and so I make a lot of my suggestions on what we — the worship team— should do to make you—the worshipper —comfortable. Now hold it right there. That is where I am wrong. Not the comfortable part, the “what we should do” part. I have made so many arguments on what the lighting should be (dark, no one wants to see each other sing), how loud it should be (loud, no one wants to hear each other sing), how loud the backup strings should be (loud, no one wants an empty sounding surround sound), how loud the backup singers are (soft, really soft, the tone-deaf do not need the extra confusion on what the melody of the song should be), all for the sake of the audience. I feel as if I am responsible in some way for there being a good worship — and needless to say, that is not my job. My job is to do my uttermost best in playing the right notes, the right chords, and following the directions of my pastor. My job is to worship and praise him with all my heart, for me, because that is why I’m on the worship team. My job is not to worry about what the audience is supposedly ‘feeling’ while I’m trying to concentrate on hitting the right notes for “I Surrender” — because let’s be honest, I only play it right 48% of the time, I have no wiggle room to suck even more. My job is very simple; to worship alongside the worshippers. And finally, my worry in making it my responsibility to give others the best possible situation for them to feel God speaks a flaw about me loud and clear: I lack faith in the power of the Holy Spirit. I am giving myself a job that God doesn’t want me to worry about, and I am not paying attention in giving my love to Him – which by the way is the only thing He wants from me. Why am I making my job to meet Him so much more difficult?? There is no good answer; I’m just too involved with assuming that I know what everybody else needs/feels. So, if any of you out there are, in any way, the same position as I am, and find yourself thinking way too much about others and not enough about yourself (ha, that’s actually a problem!), take a step back, breathe, and close your eyes. So from now on, I’m closing my eyes. For you out there, stop worrying if I’m looking at you when you worship (I agree, I’m weird), because most likely, I’ll be too busy looking at Him.

- Amy Lin


Christians without Christian Parents Sometimes I wish I had a Christian family, and how blessed are those whose parents are Christian. It makes me jealous, because to me it seems so much easier on them. Obviously, I don't understand them at all, because I'm sure there are Christian parents out there who don't exactly follow parenting guidelines that are in Scripture. One of the most important parenting guidelines is in Ephesians, but I’m not going to go into depth in that. I know there are many others out there just like me who don't have the luxury of having Christian parents who understand God and what He does, so I am here to bring about an understanding. If your parents aren't Christian, don't worry! There are many others just like you. I used to think that because my parents aren't Christian they don't understand anything about life, but it turns out that I am wrong. They know much more than we know, because Scripture is built into everyday life for people who aren't Christian either. The so called good morals in life ARE indeed in Scripture and was built into our minds from the very beginning of Creation when God created Man. Your parents know a lot so try to talk to them more! Just because they aren't Christian doesn't mean that you disobey them. Scripture shows us that when we are obedient to our parents it pleases the Lord (Colossians 3:20, Ephesians 6:1). You are a Christian in the family! Actually start living like one. Yes, of course it is very hard but this is God's blessing for you, so that you might go through hardships that Christians who have Christian parents can't enjoy. On the positive side you'll learn more about obeying your parents, and have more conflicts with them, which will push you to grow more independently. As you grow more independently and start living more of a Christian life, it will show through the actions that you take at home. You can be a witness of God to your parents. When you live out Biblical principles, and obey God's words your parents will start seeing something different in you, and you know...maybe one day they'll decide that they want to go to church too! That will be the day when you will really praise the Lord for a miracle in your life that you will again be able to see them in heaven with you worshiping our Lord and Savior.

- Brian Wu

Serendipity “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” —Jeremiah 29:11 Call it what you will—a lucky coincidence, confirmation bias, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anything seemingly supernatural is always subject to the scrutiny of skepticism. A personal encounter with God’s work is hard to justify rationally, and holes of doubt can be poked. We can only turn to the faith that adults around us have heralded and hammered, an echo from an eon ago and ahead. Have faith that God is not the deist god, a being who created the world with its natural laws and walked away. His hand will always be holding yours, his feet ten-thousand steps ahead. As for my deus ex machina, I really do think it was God’s providence, and knowing that for myself is enough. +



Ms. Casey was the craziest hippie teacher I had ever met. Her deadlines were always “sometime” or “I dunno, what do you think?” She may have seemed the laidback type, but she was hard on us, berating me once for writing a formulaic paper that other teachers would have accepted easily. Her two-period 7th grade Reading and Writing class was free for discussion, expression, and tree hugging. One day, during a lull in class activity that had lasted about a week (I sometimes questioned whether we actually had a curriculum.), my friend Meg and I decided to take one of our childhood hobbies and foist it upon our unsuspecting classmates. We approached Ms. Casey, and she, of course, said yes. After all, it wasn’t as crazy as the Hamlet puppet show my friends and I had once staged for the class, where the Ken doll playing Laertes was suddenly and inexplicably pantsed by the air. “ALRIGHT GUYS. WE HAVE A SURPRISE,” I remember shouting to the class giddily. Meg began writing on the whiteboard: Creative Writing Project. Write your own fictional story. It can be about anything, and does not have to be completed. A wave of groans rippled across the brown-schemed room, but we ignored them, gleeful that our workload had suddenly turned into play. With eager hearts, we set to work. Lately, I had really been into the semiautobiographical bildungsroman thingy, and all my stories had incarnations of me and my friends as the main characters and probably contained my veiled wishes. Perhaps, I had thought, they would come true in another life, at another time. I remember that my first attempt for the assignment was a sordid tale of one of our closest friends, Alice, being kidnapped and our adventures in rescuing her. In reality, she had gone to a separate junior high from us, and the story was my half-conscious plea to have her back among us. I don’t recall exactly why I decided to write a new story to submit instead of that one. Maybe something just clicked—a flash of inspiration, popping up from a sleepy daydream while looking out the window at the school track or staring at the angel wallpaper in my saccharinely decorated bedroom. It glistened to me like a precious stone and excited me with its radiant sparkle. My friends questioned why I would scrap

the thirty page head start I had a la the kidnapping genre, but my fingers had itched for long enough and I lacked the self control not to begin writing.


Sapphire Academy, the tale of two Chinese-American students from Chicago who got scholarships to a boarding school. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote, fascinated by my fantasies of finally joining the ranks of Harry Potter and Sara Crewe, the Little Princess. There was something so hypnotic and enigmatic about leaving home for a great adventure, alone to harbor the pain and the joy, to grow up suddenly and become independent. “Dear Miss Li, It is our pleasure to inform you have been chosen as the first female scholarship recipient for the Sapphire scholarship program….” My plans were to have the school try to murder the two main characters, but, luckily, the assignment was due before I could type out that part. I turned in what I had, and left the copies in my white drawer of writing memories with its heart-shaped knob. I think I meant to keep writing; I really did, but its pages gathered dust as the months grew warmer and warmer. It’s true that it’s still an unfinished story. +



The summer of 2009 passed like a haze. I vaguely recall going back to China and being lightly miserable, attending some sort of camp (was it at the Y?), and lounging around the house watching dramas. In August, I reluctantly agreed to a road trip to Detroit with an unknown girl and a local pastor, to attend a prayer meeting for the city. The drive was long, but I looked eagerly around Detroit as we arrived, feasting my eyes in detachedness upon this foreign place that people in Illinois said was falling apart. All I remember from the breakfast was sitting next to the aunt of Snoop Dogg, pardon me, now Snoop Lion. Did you guys know that she’s a gospel singer? Afterward, the pastor asked me if I would like to go with him to visit a local church. I was rather shy with strangers—I still am—but I agreed to go. The teenagers were all so friendly and outgoing, and talked about their experiences at a conference and the family bond they had afterward. I remember embarrassing myself during the circle discussion. Meg, my partner-in-crime for that writing assignment, had deviously changed my ringtone right before I left, and I had totally forgotten that it was still intact. “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die,” crooned my phone. The crowd of youths burst into laughter and I smiled awkwardly, cursing Meg’s The Princess Bride infatuation and thinking that I would probably never see these people again. As we left, I had a warm feeling inside, storing into my memories its closeness, its after-church snacks, and its name. It was a small family church in this suburb called Troy, named Livingstones. +



Was it October? I think it was October. Eighth grade had been for a month, and I was treasuring the last year I had before entering the gigantic Fremd High, where everything would start mattering. Something didn’t feel right. Ms. Casey was no longer our teacher, and our friend group had been split into two teacher tracks. The luckier side got Mr. and Mrs. Britten for Reading/Writing, the happy couple that made meatloaf on their anniversary and had rooms facing each other on the second floor at Plum Grove Jr. High. Marlisa and I, on the otherhand, were stuck with teachers that were either OCD or dazedly meandering through the day.

No, it did not feel right at all. This uneasiness was from restlessness, yet I didn’t know what I was searching for. It was a school night. My mother called me for dinner and I scurried down the carpeted stairs to meet her in the kitchen. “There’s something for you on the coffee table,” she told me absentmindedly while carrying a dish. “I almost threw it away because I thought it was about cranberries. But, since it’s addressed to you, I thought you might as well take a look at it.” I nonchalantly grabbed the envelope and tore it open. I didn’t expect much; kids who had attended summer camp at Northwestern were on a mailing list, and received random things all the time. It was from a school named Cranbrook, and it was offering scholarships that covered a majority of tuition for two kids from Chicago. After snorting about the cranberries confusion, I blinked, slightly dazed. Why did the words seem so familiar, like something I had been waiting for? I was already past age eleven, and had long given up hope for my letter from Hogwarts. I sprinted back upstairs to my room and flung open the white drawer, papers floating onto the floor. I dug through folders and drawings and journals, and finally found the inconsequential school assignment devised by me and Meg on a whim. Two kids. Scholarships. Chicago. Boarding school. At that moment, I felt, in my childish excitement, so touched by God. I thought it was a sign for me to apply for the scholarship. However, slowly, people began to deflate my ambitions. I called my friend’s older sister to ask about it, and was told that it was probably a scam. I asked my pastor, who had gone to a magnet boarding school called IMSA, for advice after fretting about the difficulty of the competition, and he dashed my hopes, telling me not to try. Even my youth group leader didn’t think it was a good idea, saying it wasn’t what God wanted. Yet, I clung onto that old copy of Sapphire Academy, desperately not wanting to give this last hope up before high school. I was now too embarrassed to show my story to anyone, wishing not to seem presumptuous. However, God seemed to be sending signs to keep me from sinking. I went for a meeting with the school, and found out that another scholarship winner was a Chinese-American male, just like in my story. I believe, now, that God was telling me to know that this promise was between me and him, and for no one else to judge. +



It was a day in mid-February that they had scheduled to announce the scholarship recipients. I remember waking up and attending school in surreal suspense, clutching my pencil every time I thought of the news I would get the moment I ran home from the bus stop. As the groaning bus braked at Topaz Dr., I ran, with my backpack repeatedly bouncing against my legs, to my house, fumbled with the keys, and ran up the stairs in steps of two. I clutched the corded white phone and dialed my mother’s number without looking at the keypad, my heart on the verge of collapse. I didn’t want the adventure to be over. I didn’t want to know that it had all been a lie, that the story was not real. I didn’t want Sapphire Academy to vanish from my dreams. It was the sweetest yes I had ever heard. +


+ 22

After a few weeks in Kingswood Dorm, the female side of Cranbrook, I had come to realize how sheltered I had been. I felt so confused by the worldliness of high school, and had not gone to church since freshman year began. I felt distant from God, and I tried to convince myself that everything was okay. One day, I was wandering around the first floor, when a kindly junior named Joy sauntered over with a bright smile, “Hey Sophia! How are you doing? How is everything?” “It’s good!” I replied uncertainly. “Good, good.” As she turned to leave, I suddenly worked up the courage to continue the conversation, “I was wondering, why are you Facebook friends with Vivian Wu? She’s my youth group leader in Chicago!” “Oh! I know her from this conference called Grace! Have you ever gone?” “Yeah I have!” I chirped, in astonishment and relief. “Do you go to church in the area?” “Actually, my dad’s a pastor, but I don’t go to the same church as him.” “Have you ever heard of a church named Livingstones? I think it’s in the area..” “That’s actually my church.” “No way.” “It’s only about 15 minutes from here. I’ll take you there!” +



God had let me meet my church family a year earlier during a spontaneous road trip before I found them once again. Livingstones has become one of the rocks I depend on, its teachings and members one of the greatest blessings I could receive. Not only has it helped my own spiritual journey, but a number of kids at Cranbrook have been given the opportunity to go to church. Boarding school wasn’t the fun and games I had expected. Perhaps I should have reread Sapphire Academy to learn more about the trials I would face there. A few days ago, I did so, and the amount of parallels surprised me and reminded me of God’s grace in my life. He never let me go, even as I struggled. I know leaving home was the right decision, as I learned to find my own relationship with God without a parent to keep me accountable, and, through God’s guidance, grew more than I ever would have, had I not sought independence. It was such a whim decision, and it was so easily swayed by the words of others. When Abraham was commanded to sacrifice Isaac, he must have wondered what had happened to God’s promise of descendants as numerous as the sand and stars. I know that, unlike him, a few more doubting voices might have convinced me not to try, but I’m glad God didn’t let it happen. I will never throw away that 7th grade writing assignment. The Lord took what I loved doing and used it to change my life.

- Sophia Chen

Count Your Blessings I really want to appreciate my life. Truly I do. God gave me this life and I should be grateful for everything He has given me. But, a lot of the time, I am not. I complain and whine. And I suffer the consequences of my ungratefulness. I could’ve made a lot more friends this year at school or gotten to spend more time and get closer with Oasis people. But because of my whining and complaining, I didn’t. I can’t change the past, though, and this will always be something I regret.

it, my mom told me I was moving back to Houston. It’s amazing how God’s timing works. Of course, staying in Troy would’ve been the easiest path for me. To be honest, I don’t know God’s intention for me moving back to Houston. What is His plan for me here now that I am back? This will be another journey I have to go on. I don’t know if it will be easy, most likely it will be challenging, but I have to trust that this is all part of God’s plan. And I have to trust that He will make it worth it in the end.

However, despite all my mistakes and awkwardness in making friends, I am truly grateful for the ones I have made. I got to meet a lot of amazing people this year, a lot of whom are very different from the friends I had back in Houston. I got to see snow that actually stayed on the ground for the first time in my life. And the most profound thing I did, and I

I want to do nothing but praise God for this life. I AM honestly very thankful that I got to meet all of you in Troy though. I am thankful for everyone I’ve met in my life, for you guys have all taught me something and made a difference in my life, I will never forget you guys! But there are a lot of times I wonder why God made my life this way. I know my life isn’t that horrible but sometimes I feel like it’s more than I can handle. I just hope when those feelings come again, I can remember that God has a greater plan for me. A plan that is more than just friends at school, or good grades, or a social life, but a plan to serve Him and make the world better. I hope that I will one day be able to look at all my troubles and thank God, not question Him, for giving me them. And I hope you guys can too.

came to this epiphany at Wonder actually, was that I discovered myself. It sounds like such a weird thing

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of

to say, but this year, I learned who I am outside my

my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock

friends. When you have had the same friends for nearly all your life, it’s easy to just blend into them and lose your own identity in a way. So, moving here was an eye opener for me. And now, I am grateful for this experience. At Wonder, I finally figured out the reason for my move to Troy. The day I got back from

and my Redeemer." —Psalm 19:14

-Danni Yang 24

Love and Stuff We all love something, whether it be hot dogs, jewelry, or even girls! We prove our love in many different ways. Sometimes, if we love hot dogs, we would eat a ton of hot dogs to prove that we love hot dogs. If we love jewelry, we'll go to the mall and buy tons of jewelry! And, to prove that we love a girl, we ask them out and buy them lots of chocolate and flowers....I think. Anyway, I have a question: Do you love Jesus? Ask yourself, do you actually LOVE Jesus? Prove it. My challenge for all of you guys TODAY is to prove that you have the right to bear the name of Christ. Bring a friend to church, physically go up to a friend or someone and pray for them, read the Bible as a small group outside of Oasis! idk! there are so many ways to prove that you are a believer. Of course, you don't exactly have to "prove your worth" to be a Christian. That is between you are whomever you call God. But your life speaks as a testimony for God. This is one thing that you cannot and must not procrastinate on. James 4 talks about Boasting about tomorrow; it says we are like mist that appears for a while and then vanishes. You don't know what is going to happen tomorrow, so make today worth it. Also, you are royalty! Now, this doesn't make you any more elite than your friends here. But, keep it in the back of your mind that you are a prince or a princess of the King that rules on streets of gold and gates of pearl! How cool is that?!? Okok irrelevant tangent, but really, know where you stand with God. Love Him with ALL of your heart. soul, mind, strength. Show His love to others and let your life be a testimony for His Kingdom! Amen?

- Jason Qin

8 Lines for Jesus We have 86,400 seconds daily to live. How many moments to God will you give? Do not live a life of shame and regret— His call to action, do not forget. Matthew 28: 16-20: we are surely called to do plenty. The Great Commission is our goal— until we meet with Him, complete and whole. "Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV) —Matthew 28: 16-20

- Sarah Tsung

What does it mean to "know" God? I'm really not quite sure. My relationship with Him is flawed, It is weak and insecure. I read everyday to learn about Him, The things He has done for us, The likelihood of me understanding is slim, But I know He exists— so in Him I will trust.

- Frank Wang



HOW TO ENHANCE YOUR DEVO EXPERIENCE IN 3 STEPS 1. Eat food so you won’t be hungry while you do the thing 2. Designate a special spot to do your daily devos, and you cannot do anything else there so that it is solely for spending time with Jesus. 3. On each Sabbath, make sure you explore your hometown and discover new environments to deepen your existing relationship with Christ in all sorts of new exciting vibes. No but seriously. The Bible emphasizes that we should make every effort to enter this rest, or Sabbath, with God. Check it out in Hebrews 4!

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July 2013