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Asian Beacon October-November 2013 Vo l 4 5 N o . 5

Y o u r

C o n t e m p o r a r y

C h r i s t i a n

M a g a z i n e

Established 1969

Isaiah Kee Fitworx

Get y h t l hea

Huff and Puff and Staying Strong | Eat Right | Fit Body, Strong Soul | Sleep to Good Health Poems of the Sick | Finding Nipah | Where is My Home? | A Place of Ministry


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Asian Beacon

Editorial Editorial Board Ms Mok Shi-Lynn (Editor) Ms Jhong (Sub-editor) Dr Lim Poh Ann Ms Goldie Chong Advisors Pas Dr Chew Weng Chee Rev. Loh Soon Choy Mr Wong Young Soon Mr Eugene Yapp Pas Dr Daniel Ho Legal Advisor Mr Steven Fung Sales & Marketing Manager Mr Steven Teo Administrative Manager Ms Chanice Chong E x ecu t i v e Commi t t ee Chairman Mr Goh Khoon Seng Vice-Chairman Dr Wong Lock Jam Hon Secretary Mr Lee Poay Keong Hon Treasurer Ms Loke Che Ching Committee Member Mr William Tan Ms Charmain Sim Mr Robert Mah Publisher Persaudaraan Asian Beacon Malaysia P O Box 240, Jalan Kelang Lama, 58700 Kuala Lumpur An inter-denominational Christian magazine, Asian Beacon is published six times a year by Persaudaraan Asian Beacon, a non-profit Christian society. http://www.facebook.com/AsianBeacon S A L E S & M A RK E TING OF F ICE Persaudaraan Asian Beacon Malaysia 19-C, Jalan SS 22/19, Damansara Jaya, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia Tel: (603) 7725 4109 Fax: (603) 7726 1740 Hp: 012-3931 453 Email: aboffice@asianbeacon.org asianbeacon@yahoo.com Website: www.asianbeacon.org Sabah Representative Jessie Chong- Email: jessiecly08@gmail.com Singapore Representative Adrian Ngooi- Email: ankb74@gmail.com Perth Representative Tek and Goldie Chong - Email: tekchong@iinet.net.au Melbourne Representative Ms Lucy Yap, P.O. Box 3113, Wheelers Hill, Melbourne, Vic 31 50 Email: asianbeacon@optusnet.com.au

G

ood health is something most healthy

people take for granted. It’s like hair to men: teenage boys don’t appreciate their full head of hair until three decades later when it starts to disappear. Indeed, good health is a most precious gift. Just ask any cancer sufferer or person who has to undergo dialysis. So how should we care for the body that the Lord has blessed us with? I think we all know the answer: eat well, sleep well and exercise. That’s easier said than done. How many of us consistently do all three things? I’ll be the first to admit that I need to do more of the third. Hopefully, the articles in this issue will inspire you to take charge of your health. In Fit Body, Strong Soul, our cover model likens physical fitness to spiritual fitness: both confer benefits but require discipline to perform. We asked a dietician about common diet-related problems in Malaysia; read her answer in Eat Right. Our regular columnist, who won an award for active senior citizens, finds that age is no barrier to staying fit and healthy. Read his story in Huff and Puff and Staying Strong. Since we’re on the subject of awards, we were privileged to interview the award-winning neurologist whose team discovered the Nipah virus encephalitis. Read about it in Finding Nipah. Mental health is not a common topic of conversation, but we managed to get the inside story on what it’s like to have depression in A Christian’s Confession: I Suffer from Depression. How important is sleep? Read Sleep to Good Health and find out. What about faith or miraculous healing? Can it work alongside medical intervention? Find out in Faith and Medicine: Friends or Foes. In our feature stories, we have an inspiring testimony by a pastor who struggles with homosexuality in Loving Instead of Condemning. And in A Hard Nut to Crack, the writer tells the story of her husband who refused Jesus for 20 years before surrendering just days before his death. I hope you enjoy the issue. As for me, it’s time to get out and get healthy!

Shi-Lynn

Design & Layout Twentyfivecents Creative Solutions Email: twentyfivecents@gmail.com Facebook: Twentyfivecents Creative Solutions Printer Thumbprints UTD SDN BHD Lot 24 Jalan RP 3, Rawang Perdana, Industrial Estate, 48000 Rawang, Selangor Tel: (603) 6092 9809 www.thumbprints.com.my Contributions The opinions and views expressed by writers and advertisers are not necessarily those of the publisher. Contributors are welcomed to contact us for editorial guidelines. However, we assume no responsibility to return unsolicited materials. Kindly include your email, postal address and telephone number when you send articles, photographs or letters to us. Permission For Reprint Copyright Reserved © 2013. Please contact the editor for permission to reprint articles, photographs and illustrations.

http://www.facebook.com/AsianBeacon Cover Photo

MISSION zz zz zz zz

by

Twentyfivecents Creative Solutions

To help readers understand contemporary issues in the light of God’s word and to apply it to life’s challenges. To testify to God’s love and power in transforming lives, families and communities. To contextualise biblical principles within the Asian culture. To be an agent of change in making our world a better place.

VISION Your Beacon of Hope


contents

C OV E R S TO R I E S

F E A TU R E S

14 16 18 22 24 26 28 30

34 Loving Instead of Condemning By Mok Shi-Lynn, Caleb Masuda Koh

Faith and Medicine: Friends or Foes?

and Kevin Thomas

By Dr Lim Poh Ann

36 A Place of Ministry By Mok Shi-Lynn

Finding Nipah By Chew Sue Lee

Fit Body, Strong Soul

38 Teaching Villagers to ‘Fish’ By J.H. Ong 40 Thirty Thrilling Years From Methodist College Kuala Lumpur

By Wong King Wai

Huff and Puff and Staying Strong

42 A Hard Nut to Crack By Nancy Baccala

By Rev Dr William Wan

Eat Right By Charmain Sim

A Christian’s Confession: I Suffer from Depression (Part 1) By Mok Shi-Lynn

Sleep to Good Health By Dr Ng S wee Choon

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Poems of the Sick By Dr Teoh Soong Kee

REGULARS

32 6 42 46 49

News Money Matters Improving Our Financial Health By Rajen Devadason

Making Sense of Scriptures Questions About Esther From Project Barnabas

Dear Goldie

Where is My Home? By Veronica Wee

correction

In the article titled Angels on the Mountain on page 22 of the last issue, the photo of the peak of Mount Kinabalu should be credited to Anna Ong.

By Goldie Chong

We apologise for the omission.

October - November 2013

Youth

Vol 45 No. 5


News Asian Beacon Goes Digital

By Mok Shi - Lynn

Advisers of Asian Beacon hit a gong to symbolise the launch of the new e-magazine and revamped website.

On Sept. 8, Asian Beacon officially

launched two digital initiatives – an electronic version of the magazine and a freshly revamped website. Having been in publication for 45 years, Asian Beacon has moved to the next level by using electronic media to make the magazine more accessible via different platforms to reach a wider crowd. “We hope to reach a far broader audience without geographical limitations,” said Asian Beacon Chairman Goh Khoon Seng. “Also, more and more people are accessing information using gadgets such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. Going digital means that our readers can view our content any way they choose.” Goh stressed that the hard copy of the bi-monthly magazine would still be printed. However, along with the move to digital media, Asian Beacon will be changing its business model: it will be distributed free of charge in the near future. “We would like Asian Beacon to be a ‘full ministry’, meaning that everyone can have the magazine for free,” Goh said to the approving crowd. As Asian Beacon moves into the digital arena, its goals have also expanded – it seeks to be more than just a magazine. The revamped website aims to be a central hub for Christian information and events in Malaysia through its events section which will post Christian seminars, conferences, camps and concerts, while the classifieds section will have job listings for Christian organisations. In the future, more features will be added, such as discussion forums and a shopping portal for Christian literature and CDs.

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Being a non-profit organisation, Asian Beacon receives funding for its operating expenses through donations. Implementing this digital strategy will therefore involve a considerable amount of financial, human and other resources. It is hoped that as a full-fledged ministry which does not charge for content, there will be increased financial support for Asian Beacon from the Christian community. Asian Beacon had previously tested the digital waters by establishing a Facebook page more than a year ago. The page is still going strong and currently has more than 11,000 ‘likes’. Joyful Occasion Around 120 friends of Asian Beacon turned up for the launch event, including longtime supporters, advertisers, sponsors, pastors and businessmen. The atmosphere was upbeat as guests received their door gifts and mingled with one another. The event was made possible by contributions from generous sponsors,

such as Grand Saisaki which provided the use of its Shogun Mont Kiara outlet as the launch venue, along with a special price for its buffet dinner. Rev. Loh Soon Choy, advisor to Asian Beacon, started the event with an opening prayer. This was followed by the singing of praises led by former editor Ms Ong Juat Heng assisted by her sons James and Joshua. Chairman Goh Khoon Seng then provided a brief background of Asian Beacon and shared the vision of going digital. To officially launch Asian Beacon’s digital projects, Dato’ George Ting, a longstanding supporter, along with advisors to Asian Beacon Mr Eugene Yapp, Mr Wong Young Soon and Rev. Loh, were invited to the floor. Dato’ George then hit a gong to symbolise the kickoff of Asian Beacon’s new digital projects. Mr Steven Teo, IT and Marketing Manager of Asian Beacon, then presented the digital strategy in brief and gave a demonstration on the e-magazine and e-library that Asian Beacon is part of. This was followed by a presentation of the revamped website by Ms Mok ShiLynn, editor of Asian Beacon. To close the event, Eugene Yapp (Secretary-General of NECF Malaysia), led in a prayer of blessing for Asian Beacon’s ministry, after which Dr Lim Poh Ann (former editor) gave thanks for the meal. Please visit the new website at www. asianbeacon.org; e-magazine and e-library at www.asianbeacon.com; and Facebook at www.facebook.com/AsianBeacon.

Around 120 friends of Asian Beacon enjoyed fellowship and good food at the launch event.


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News Bonding Through Sports The 4th Inter-Church Sports

Carnival (ICSC) 2013 started on June 8 and culminated at the “Love PJ Run” event at Dataran Petaling Jaya on July 6. The prize giving ceremony took place at the same venue after the run. What started in 2010 with six churches in the Klang Valley competing in six sporting events has grown into 11 churches competing in eight events over one month. About 1,000 people – aged from 11 years to 78 years – competed in badminton, basketball, bowling, golf, netball, futsal, table tennis and volleyball. Meanwhile, 1,700 runners participated in Love PJ Run. The wide age gap, far from being a liability, is a strength as church members from different age groups supported and cheered one another in inter-generational teams. This was especially evident in table tennis, badminton and futsal. Some participating churches had state and national level players in their teams and this added to the high level of competition and excitement, particularly in table tennis, volleyball, basketball and bowling. Badminton and futsal saw fierce competition as well. To ensure fair play and to minimise potential disputes, professional referees and umpires were engaged, especially in those sports where the rules were technical and where there was greater physical contact among players.

This year, the participants had the added blessing of playing some of the games in the new multipurpose hall at Glad Tidings. As in previous years since the inception of ICSC, PJEFC opened its Heritage Sports Centre for some sports. Bowling, futsal and golf require specialised facilities and were therefore played in hired venues. More churches The organisers were pleased to welcome three new churches – Metro Tabernacle Assembly, Eagle Point Church and Church of St Thomas More – to ICSC 2013. It was heartening to see them perform well, with St Thomas taking gold in netball and volleyball, while Eagle Point was the champion in the Futsal Open Category. This year, the Overall Champion trophy went to Full Gospel Assembly, which also became the first team to claim the challenge trophy twice over

The youngest table tennis doubles team, both 13 years, from PJEFC.

All golf players from 11 participating churches.

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four years. The runner-up was DUMC. The other participating churches were New Life Restoration Church, Canaan Church, SIBKL, the combined Gospel Hall, Glad Tidings and PJEFC. Looking back, perhaps the most satisfying observation to the organisers was seeing players from participating churches show good sportsmanship and fellowship during the games. They quickly and amicably resolved disputes. This demonstrates the fulfillment of the ICSC’s objectives which are: 1. To promote Christian fellowship so as to strengthen Christian unity and testimony across denominational lines as a joint witness for Christ in our nation; and 2. To encourage inter-generational bonding and urge the younger generation to acquire leadership roles in sporting activities and lead healthy, holistic lives.

One of the youngest players, Nicholas Tong, 11, from Metro Tabernacle Assembly.


News

News Christians and Chinese Culture By Mok Shi - Lynn Wesley Methodist Church Kuala

Lumpur organised a conference titled ‘Christians and Chinese Culture’ over three days in July. The speaker was Dr Thomas Leung, a lecturer and professor who studies Chinese history and philosophy. He has written more than 29 books and over 130 academic articles on the subject. Topics included how to share the Christian faith with a Confucianist, Taoist or Buddhist; can Christians get involved in feng shui, qi gong or tai chi; can Christians participate in Qing Ming or other festivals of the dead; how Christians should respond to ancestral worship or veneration; and how Christians should approach traditional

Chinese medicine or cures. Addressing a packed hall of avid listeners, Dr Leung shared his considerable knowledge from his research as well as his early years as a Buddhist. According to him, Christians don’t need fortune tellers or feng shui practitioners to reveal the future because only God knows the future. “If a person can really predict the future accurately,” said Dr Leung, “It’s probably due to a relationship with evil spirits. This makes it even more dangerous.” In addition, he said that astrology and divination are not

scientifically accurate and also unbiblical. As for qi gong and tai chi, Dr Leung said that the correct approach is more ambiguous. “It seems there are physical, mental and spiritual benefits from practicing these,” he said. “But practicing qi gong can awaken your spirit or inner energy, and your spirit seeks to communicate with a greater being. But because we are sinful, fallen beings, instead of meeting God, we may encounter evil spirits instead.” He shared that qi gong practitioners have claimed that they were Chinese deities or demons. Where ancestral worship is concerned, Dr Leung said that the original idea of respecting ancestors was begun by Confucius as a cultural practice, not a religious one. Ancestral respect was for a person’s moral cultivation and improvement, and not a case of offering food or praying to the ancestors’ spirits. a

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News

Officers and girls of the Malaysian and international Girls’ Brigade at the thanksgiving celebration.

Girls’ Brigade Malaysia is 75! The Girls’ Brigade (GB) Malaysia

is 75 years old this year. In conjunction with its 75th anniversary celebration, a series of programmes were held to acknowledge God’s goodness and faithfulness for the past 75 years. On July 27, a thanksgiving service was held in Legacy Centre Wesley Methodist Church KL, followed by a celebration dinner at a nearby restaurant. Officers and girls representing the following GB Companies attended the event: 2nd Penang, 1st and 2nd Ipoh, 1st Kampar, 1st to 7th Kuala Lumpur, 1st Petaling Jaya, 1st Klang, 1st Seremban, 1st Puchong, 1st Johor Bahru, 1st to 7th Kuching, 1st to 11th Sibu, 13th and 15th Sibu, 1st Limbang, 2nd Sarikei, 1st Sri Aman, 3rd and 4th Miri, 2nd , 4th and 5th Kota Kinabalu, 3rd Sandakan, 1st Labuan, 1st Kota Belud, 1st Keningau, 1st Sapulut, 1st Tuaran and 1st Telupid. At the thanksgiving service, GB Malaysia National Chaplain Bishop Ong Hwai Teik gave a challenging message from Ephesians 3:7-13. He said everyone was born for an eternal purpose. We should therefore not think that we are victims, but in Christ, we can impact the lives of others. GB Malaysia was honoured to have guests from the international GB

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family to grace the celebration. They were International President Mrs Ruth Chikasa; Fellowship Chairpersons representing Europe – Ms Viviene Aitchison, Pacific – Mrs Jennifer Box, Carribean/Americas – Mrs Hazelann Boreland, Africa – Mrs Priscilla Penny, Asia and National President of GB Malaysia – Ms Tnay Yong Hua; International Treasurer Ms Joyce Evans; GBI Executive Director Ms Ruth Gilson; Past International President Ms Hee Piang Chin; and Past Asia Fellowship Chairperson Mrs Sally Chew. Officers from GB Brunei, GB Hong Kong, BGB Philippines and GB Singapore were present as well. In addition,

representatives from The Boys’ Brigade (BB) National Exco and Officers and boys from BB companies from KL also joined the celebration. The GB Seniors and Pioneers participated in the thanksgiving service, led in praise and worship, read Scripture and led in the prayer for Malaysia. Officers and girls from Sarawak gave glory to God through their songs. Officers and girls from Sabah praised God with their Sumazau dance. It was indeed a service full of colour, joy and thanksgiving. Besides the thanksgiving service and celebration dinner, a whole week in July was filled with numerous events, such as International President’s Committee meeting, Girls’ Brigade Asia Fellowship meeting and GB Malaysia’s 56th Annual General Meeting. To further commemorate the event, GB Malaysia published a book that contains 75 testimonies from past and present officers and girls on how GB had impacted their lives. Please contact Mrs Boon at GBHQ (03-92832460) to purchase a copy at RM5.

Bishop Ong Hwai Teik spoke of eternal purpose.

For more information, go to www.gbmalaysia.org or Facebook: The Girls’ Brigade Malaysia-official page.


News

MCKL turns 30 On the evening of July 13, students and staff of Methodist College Kuala Lumpur (MCKL), along with friends, relatives and corporate associates, made their way to the Hilton Kuala Lumpur Hotel to celebrate MCKL’s 30th Anniversary. Over 580 guests attended this event of great significance: a milestone to mark the progress of the college through thick and thin in its efforts to prepare our youth for the future. The grand ballroom was filled with excitement as former students and staff were reunited, some after many years of divergent paths in life. There were performances by alumni and Juwita Suwito. All guests received a door gift which included a power bank, and some individuals won even more exciting prizes such as iPad Minis and Samsung S4, thanks to the generosity of sponsors. The event commenced with a speech from the CEO of the College, Ms Moey Yoke Lai, followed by speeches from the Chairman of the Board, Dato’ Dr Tan Kee Kwong, and guest of honour Bishop Dr Ong Hwai Teik. They thank God for His many blessings on the college and all who had given their time and resources to MCKL over the past 30 years.

MCKL alumni performing at the 30th anniversary celebration.

In relation to that, there were many staff members present who had been through thick and thin throughout the College’s history. These individuals were given the MCKL Long Service Award for their dedication and perseverance. The 30th anniversary celebration was made grander with the official launch of the MCKL Alumni Association, and MCKL’s founding Principal, Datuk F.R . Bhupalan

(From left) Founding Principal Datuk F. R. Bhupalan, CEO Ms Moey Yoke Lai, Bishop Rev. Dr Ong Hwai Teik, Chairman of the Board Dato’ Dr Tan Kee Kwong and Datin Tan, Chairman of the Board of WMS Ipoh Dato’ Chin Lean Keat and Datin Chin, and Principal of Wesley Methodist School Sentul Mdm Chia Loy Tian.

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was conferred the first Honorary Membership of the association. In his speech, founding President Nigel Ngiam expressed his hope that MCKL’s former students will join the association and take the opportunity to build stronger relationships between alumni, students and the College. MCKL has always fostered a strong relationship with its students as evidenced by the compilation of numerous videos that was made by former students, expressing their gratitude for what the College had done for them, and this contributed greatly to the atmosphere of the celebration. The celebration was also an opportunity for the College to officially announce its plans for further development within the next few years. Specifically, there are plans for the construction of a new 15-storey building to accommodate the growing roster of staff and students. MCKL would like to thank sponsors and participants for their tremendous support, and looks forward to another 30 years of being the ‘College of Excellence for Life’.


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cover story

faith

FRIENDS

&

or

foes?

Medicine:

Can we seek medical treatment if we believe in miraculous healing?

T

hree years ago, Jane*, a fervent Christian in her 50s, noticed a small breast lump. As she believed in miraculous healing, she adamantly refused medical treatment. That proved to be a costly decision. Recently, she succumbed to breast cancer, whereas she could have been cured if she had sought medical treatment early. However, her story does not discount the fact that God still performs miracles today. Even terminally ill patients have testified to miraculous healing. But, more often, healing takes place when God works together with doctors and medicine. Let’s explore some of the issues related to faith and medicine. Is God pro - health? God desires that man enjoy the blessings of good health. One of His many names is Jehovah-Rapha – ‘God our healer’. The Israelites were promised fertility and health if they obeyed God. They were also warned that they will be afflicted with diseases if they disobeyed Him (Deut. 28: 27-28). Healing was as much a part of Jesus’ ministry as preaching. Among those healed were lepers, paralytics and the blind. In the majority of cases, Jesus healed people without requiring faith on their part (Mark 6:56). Sometimes, He performed few

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B y D r L i m P o h A nn

God, being sovereign, does not always heal. miracles because of their lack of faith. But, nevertheless, He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them (Mark 6:5). God, being sovereign, does not always heal. And we cannot possibly fathom why some remain unhealed. Many disabled people gathered round the pool of Bethesda. But Jesus chose to demonstrate His healing virtue to one invalid ( John 5:2-9). Total wellness is an integral part of God’s will for His people: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2). Does God heal only through supernatural means? Having faith does not necessarily mean we have to shun medical treatment. Isaiah ordered a poultice to be applied to King

Hezekiah’s boil (Isaiah 38:21). The apostle Paul told Timothy to drink some wine for his stomach ailments (1 Timothy 5:23). If “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22), then the latter has a definite place in the life of believers. Certain plants (herbs) have healing properties (Ezekiel 47:12). A notable example is foxglove (digitalis) which has long been used to improve the pumping ability of a weak heart. Do doctors have any role to play in healing ? Jesus certainly does not discount the role of doctors in treating diseases. Otherwise He would not have said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician but those who are sick” (Luke 5:31). The apostle Luke was a doctor who followed Jesus in His healing ministry. Jesus seems to imply that doctors and practitioners of supernatural healing should happily coexist. Why can’t both camps work together and learn to respect each other? Does seeking medical treatment signif y a lack of faith? How can we be deemed as lacking in faith – or considered as “second-class” believers – when we seek medical treatment? Scripture


F A I TH A N D M E D I C I NE : FR I EN D S OR FOES ?

expressly says that medicine, herbs and physicians all have a role to play in healing. Does believing in miraculous healing mean that we cannot seek medical treatment? Believers who are sick should avail themselves of miraculous healing: • Affirm and declare by faith that “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). • Let the elders of the church pray for them ( James 5:14). • Seek to be ministered by those endowed with the gift of healing (1 Cor. 12:28, 30). However, the sick need not shun or stop medical treatment as a demonstration of faith. Doctors treat but God heals. ‘Faith healers’ who insist that patients stop medical treatment – as a precondition for supernatural healing – may face litigation if death occurs. For example, a diabetic may slip into coma and die if drugs (or insulin injections) are suddenly stopped. Shouldn’t medicine be rejected as it represents man’s ingenuit y ? The view that any product of man’s creativity is evil is indeed seriously flawed. Having created the world, God gave man the injunction to multiply, subdue and rule the earth (Gen. 1:28). This ‘cultural mandate’ drives all of man’s productive endeavours – from scientific to economic, from sustainable development to environmental conservation. Our creative potential bears the marks of our Creator, who created each

Having faith does not necessarily mean we have to shun medical treatment. snowflake distinct from the rest. Countless lives have been saved since the advent of antibiotics and vaccination. It’s baffling why some hyper-spiritual ‘faith healers’ wholeheartedly embrace the benefits of modern inventions but reject modern medicine. Logically, they should stop travelling in cars and airplanes, and stop enjoying the benefits of mobile technology. Some ‘faith healers’ view modern medicine as evil as the serpent, which incidentally has long been a symbol of the medical fraternity. Clearly they have forgotten the account when God told Moses to make a bronze serpent. Those bitten by snakes would not die if they looked at the serpent set on a pole (Numbers 21:8-9). Those with terminal cancer with bony metastasis have been told that if their faith in God was strong, they would be

AN APPROACH TO SICKNESS When we are sick or minister to those who are sick, what approach should we adopt? 1. Remove hindrances to healing – unconfessed sin, unbelief. 2. Seek miraculous healing and medical treatment. These options are not mutually exclusive. 3. Wait upon God. 4. Acknowledge His sovereignty. Commit the results to God. 5. When miraculous healing does not occur, do not put the blame on the sick. 6. Be open-minded about miraculous healing without medical intervention. 7. Don’t try to figure it out – God’s ways are beyond us. 8. His peace and presence will comfort us when all else fails.

able to endure the excruciating pain. Is there any merit in such a practice? If the pain persists despite prayer and healing ministry, the humane option is to give the patient a strong painkiller such as morphine. Why prolong their agony by withholding medicine? Let them spend their last days in comfort. No healer, no matter how impressive his or her list of success stories, should be found lacking in a most needful quality – compassion. Some patients have been told they are not healed because they lack faith. Is this the right thing to do? Whether their faith is great or feeble (Mark 9:24), patients who seek miraculous healing trust God. They also respect the healer for his or her successful track record. Why burden them with false guilt in their darkest moments? However, in cases where sin hinders healing, the foregoing does not apply. Is sincerit y enough? Jane sincerely believed she could experience miraculous healing. She thought that the kind of faith which pleased God was that which rejected medical intervention. But her sincerity wasn’t enough. The tragedy was that she had placed great faith in a particular ‘faith healer’ – instead of digging into Scripture to discover for herself the truth regarding faith and medicine. A proper understanding of the relationship between faith and medicine is essential. God’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). Tragedies similar to Jane’s case could have been prevented if people grasped this truth: Miraculous healing and medical treatment are not mutually exclusive. * Not her real name MEDICINE AND SUPERNATURAL HEALING: MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE? Please check out: goo.gl/HA3fPa Dr Lim Poh Ann was the ex-editor of Asian Beacon. He contributes regularly to the website, ChristianityMalaysia. He can be reached at his blog, Porridge for the Soul. In his 40 years as a believer and 30 years as a doctor, he has witnessed how God heals people in different ways – with and without medical intervention.

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cover story

U

Finding NIPAH p on mee t ing Pr of e ssor

Dato’ Dr Tan Chong Tin, one would quickly note his calm and relaxed demeanour, akin to a contented retiree. He has no urgent calls to answer, shows no signs of restlessness, and his focus on you is undivided. But one would be surprised to learn that this man holds multiple leadership roles, and is in fact still very active at the marketplace and church. Tan is currently Head of University Malaya’s (UM) Medical Centre’s Division of Neurology where he started serving in 1977 as a lecturer. He has been the head of neurology for almost 20 years, and has spent more than

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B y Chew S u e L ee

half his career raising the next generation through teaching and on-the-job training for medical fellows from all over the world. While half of his time is spent treating patients and training, he also spends time supervising younger doctors’ research and editing a medical journal. Despite his hectic work schedule, he has found time to serve in Kingdom work and the society. He has been Chairman of Malaysian Bible Society since 1985, is an elder of the Chinese Brethren Church in Petaling Jaya, editor-in-chief of Neurology Asia journal, and has held various positions, including the Vice-President

post, in the International League Against Epilepsy. As a testament of his many achievements, Tan was featured as one of Asia’s most notable Chinese in a book titled Southeast Asian Personalities of Chinese Descent: A Biographical Dictionary (Vol.1), published in 2012 by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore. “I look at life as more than just what you earn, and work as more than just where you earn your money. We have to take it in a much wider context. We all have a responsibility to use what we know to help society,” says the renowned award-winning neurologist. Viewing his work as a calling from


FINDING NIPAH

One of Tan’s multiple positions of responsibility: Editor-in-chief of Neurology Asia.

God, he muses, “I treat work as leisure. My work and play has become quite fused – serious play is work.” However, he did not receive a special calling when he first decided to specialise in neurology; instead, it was ‘by default’. “Neurology is a complicated field, and when I completed my internal medicine training, I wanted to learn more about neurology, so I spent more time studying it, and could not get out of the field,” he recalls. As a logical person with strong thinking skills, neurology turned out to be a good fit for him. “I enjoy the variety of experiences my job presents to me. It is interesting as I have the opportunity to solve problems and help people. I have direct contact with patients, but I also get to teach, research and write,” he says.

The Merdeka Award that was given to Tan and his team for the discovery of the Nipah encephalitis viral infection.

Kingdom Mindse t As a Kingdom-minded believer, Tan is intentional and unselfish about sharing his knowledge and helping those in need, regardless of race, nationality or status. “We are all descendants of Adam and there are lots of things we share with and benefit from others, whether we belong to the same tribe or not. A lot of the international work I do is because of my Christian belief and values,” he says. His belief in the integration of faith with work, learning and society is the factor that led him to his involvement in a variety of organisations, whether medical or non-medical, local or international. He is heavily involved in “building institutions to help the needy in the long term”, he notes and adds, “Our work is always meant to serve others and done out of love and for the good of others.” Research on the Nipah Virus One of Tan’s most significant contributions to the international medical field is the research on and discovery of the Nipah virus encephalitis by his University Malaya team. The breakthrough find won his team the Mahathir Science Award in 2006, as well as the inaugural Merdeka Award in 2008, Malaysia’s most coveted science awards. “The outbreak of this virus started in Ipoh and spread south to Negri Sembilan. The mortality rate for those infected was 40%. We realised that this disease was something strange and totally new after treating a few patients who travelled to UM Medical Centre. As a hospital that is also an academic centre, our job was not only to treat, but also to find out why and how this disease spread and cause illness,” Tan recollects. In the early stages of the outbreak, doctors were puzzled by the symptoms of

the virus. Earlier thought to be Japanese Encephalitis ( JE), they soon realised that they were dealing with a new virus. After extensive research, it was soon discovered that the Pteropus bats were the main virus carriers, and when pig farm workers collected fruit half-eaten by the bats and fed it to the pigs, the virus was transferred to the pigs, and then to humans. It was later found that the virus was easily transmitted via human secretion such as saliva, thus also able to result in human to human spread of infection. When asked if he was worried about contracting the disease while working so closely with the infected patients, Tan replies, “Of course we were afraid, but it’s our job! We took precautions, but in the end, we still had to do our duties. It was a challenging time but when it was over, we felt relief and a sense of accomplishment.” Soon after the discovery, the outbreak was contained. During the year of the outbreak, more than 400 people were infected, and of that, 100 died. Since 2001, India and Bangladesh have experienced one Nipah encephalitis outbreak per year. When the first outbreak happened in Bangladesh in 2004, World Health Organisation (WHO) tasked Tan to help conduct research on the outbreak there. Though the virus manifests itself differently, the discoveries made by Tan and his team have helped both countries cope with the outbreaks. Lifelong Service Having already made such a worldwide impact with the Nipah virus research, does he look forward to an easy retirement playing with his grandchildren? “I will continue with my present work, whether paid or unpaid, if God gives me more years. I want to build the culture, values and the next generation,” says the father of two and grandfather of two. “God has blessed me and my journey so far as a neurologist has been fruitful to me and to others. It’s been enjoyable!” he enthuses. As a writer of more than 200 scientific articles, and numerous books in Chinese on topics as varied as epilepsy and the integration of faith and work, Tan is also looking forward to spending more time writing. As one who has thus far contributed much to society in his work and life, he ends with these words of encouragement, “Don’t just do a job to make money. Yes, we have to be financially secure, but we are called not to make money; we are called to be disciples. It is important that we translate our faith into our lives, our work included.” a

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cover story

, Y D O FIT B

L U O S g Stron B y W o ng K i ng W a i

As a fitness professional, Isaiah Kee sees a parallel between spiritual nourishment and physical exercise. One is necessary for spiritual health, the other for physical health, but both require discipline, consistency and diligence.

I

saiah Kee, 27, is a personal

fitness trainer and business partner of FitWorx fitness centre. After years in the fitness industry, he has developed a unique perspective on the similarities between growing in Christian faith and following an exercise regimen. Kee grew up in a Christian home but didn’t take his faith seriously till his late teens. During his growing years, he was more interested in sports. In his secondary school years, he used to cycle from his home in Subang Jaya all the way to Kuala Lumpur and even Putrajaya to take part in sports competitions, marathons and triathlons.

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F I T B O D Y , STRON G SOUL

It was during these journeys on his bicycle (and in cars when he was older) that he realised God’s hand on his life after several close shaves on the road. “It was 5am and I was cycling on the highway to a competition venue,” he recalls. “Suddenly, a large group of Mat Rempit (illegal motorcycle street racers) surrounded me. I wondered if my time was up and started confessing my sins to God. Amazingly, I cycled through the group without them even noticing me. It was like I became invisible.” On another occasion, Kee was driving a friend’s car when he fell asleep at the wheel. The car smashed into the road divider. It was wrecked, but he survived. “Through these experiences, I realised that God is very real. He has a purpose for keeping me alive when I should have died a long time ago,” Kee says. “Eventually, I felt as if the Holy Spirit was telling me that it’s time to go back to church and that God has let me ‘play enough’ already,” Kee shares. After his college years, Kee said to God, “I want to follow Your ways. Tell me what I need to do.” Faith and fitness go hand in hand Kee reveals how he came about his philosophy about the Christian walk and physical training. “When I did competitions, it was not just physical exertion, but more of a mental and spiritual battle. When I’m cycling, swimming or running in a triathlon, I’m talking to God in my head. I’ll wonder ‘Why am I doing this? What am I going through all this pain for?’ And that’s when I realised that our faith journey is the same.” He explains that living the Christian life can be an uphill battle, just like exercise. “We’ll go through a lot of temptations in life, and the devil will do whatever it takes to break us down, because the devil is out to kill. But just like exercising, you have to set your eyes on the goal. And our goal is God. “In the early stages of an exercise programme, a person will see results and be excited. But you will eventually hit a plateau. You stop seeing results like before. You’ll have to change your workout. But you cannot stop exercising, you have to keep going. “Same thing with the Christian faith: a new believer starts studying the Bible but loses focus or determination some time later. You have to break through that. You can’t just stop.”

Just some benefits of exercise…

1 burning calories. exercise helps you burn even 2 Regular more calories by increasing your Exercise helps you lose weight by

metabolism. “Exercise is one of the only things that can increase your metabolism. Strength training builds muscles and keeps your body burning calories for longer. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn. And after a good strength training workout, your body will continue to burn calories for around 24 to 72 hours, even when you’re asleep.”

is a good stress reliever. 3 Exercise Exercise helps prevent a wide range of 4 health problems and diseases. 5 Exercise helps you sleep better.

While the goal in exercise might be to build stamina or lose weight, for Kee, the goal of a Christian is “to be with God, to reach heaven”. “Consistency in prayer, devotion and studying God’s word is the same as exercising. You have to do both regularly,” Kee says. “But God’s word is more important. After all, the body will grow old and we will die. But our soul goes to either heaven or hell, and that is eternal.” A gym with a difference When Kee was 19, he decided to make a career from his love for exercise and fitness. His passion has always been to teach, so he taught classes at a popular fitness franchise for about five years. In 2011, Kee started his company, FitWorx, with his business partners after obtaining an internationally recognised certification for personal trainers from American Council on Exercise (ACE). Located at PJ Palms Sports Centre, the gym now has two other branches in Bukit Jelutong and at a private university.

“The difference between our gyms and others is that we focus on the community,” Kee explains. “We organise events for the community and because our gym is smaller, everyone knows one another.” Furthermore, FitWorx also has kids’ classes and members’ children aged 13 to 15 years are allowed to use the gym facilities free of charge. FitWorx also has physiotherapists in all their gyms to help members. With about 40 staff to look after, Kee expresses gratitude to God for sustaining him and the business through difficult times. “This business is a testimony of God’s faithfulness,” he says. “We went through such hard times that it should have gone bankrupt a long time ago. But every single time, God provided just enough to pay the bills. “We run this business differently from other fitness centres because we know God is there. We let God be the CEO of the company,” Kee shares, adding that he and his business partner, Louis, pray together regularly. (Only Louis is actively involved in the business; the others are sleeping partners.) Kee also reveals that his ultimate goal is to sell off the business so that he and Louis can go into full-time ministry. “Louis and

Myths debunked

Women who do strength training 1 will end up looking like a bulky

body builder. “Men’s and women’s bodies are different; men have testosterone. Without this hormone, it’s extremely difficult for a woman to build bulky muscles. Moreover, we Asians tend to have slim builds. A woman who trains consistently three times a week may just tone up her body, certainly not develop large muscles.”

Muscles can turn into fat if you 2 stop exercising. “Fat cells cannot

be turned into muscle and muscle cannot be turned into fat. However, the body can store unlimited amounts of fat, so watch out for those excess calories.”

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Are you exercising enough?

F I T B O D Y , STRON G SOUL

You may think that if you walk or jog regularly, you’re getting enough exercise. According to Kee, walking alone is not enough. “In fitness, we talk about cardio, strength and flexibility. Whatever you do, you must have these three. Walking is just cardio exercise, and even then, it may not be at the level you require. It has to be of a certain intensity: you need to be working out, not chilling out.” Kee advises calculating the intensity of your workout according to your heart rate. To know your maximum (100%) heart rate, take 220 and subtract your age. “For a person without any medical conditions, we normally advise them to train between 60% and 85% of his maximum heart rate.” Below this zone, you are not exercising vigorously enough to constitute a good workout. To be consistent, you need to exercise at least three times a week for about 30 to 45 minutes each time.

I made a pact at the beginning to go fulltime. Friends will occasionally remind me, ‘Remember what you’re doing this for’.” Mal aysians and e xercise Even though Kee admits that the younger generation of Malaysians is starting to realise the importance of exercise, he pulls no punches in describing how our society generally lacks a lifestyle of fitness. “For Malaysians, exercise is not like food which is absolutely necessary for survival. Exercise is low on our list of priorities. The Malaysian lifestyle is to eat and maybe go shopping,” he chuckles. From Kee’s experience, Malaysians seem to be more motivated by fear. “We only start doing something when the doctor warns us to. We’re not raised in a fitness-conscious environment like Australia, for example. From young, they’re into exercise. We, on the other hand, are taught to study, get good grades, get into a good university and get a good job.” He urges people to exercise now as an

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investment for the future. “From 30 years of age, you start to lose bone density and muscle mass faster because of the aging process,” Kee says. “This is when you must exercise and do strength training to reduce the effects of osteoporosis and strengthen bones and muscles. When you’re older, there’s less chance of breaking bones if you fall as your muscles will act as a shield to

Ready to start? with a doctor before beginning 1 Check an exercise regimen. Get a good personal trainer, especially you have never embarked on an 2 ifexercise programme before, to teach you the fundamentals and ensure you’re doing it safely.

with something you love, whether 3 Start it’s dancing, hiking or cycling. explore different exercises 4 regularly, or sports. Perhaps rock climbing, Once you’ve started something

strength training or hiking. This is known as cross-training and helps keep your exercise routine exciting.

month, there’s less chance of 5 first dropping off or stopping.

Be consistent! If you keep at it for the

protect your bones. “In addition, medical bills are extremely high. A brain surgeon in my gym once told me that your medical insurance will all be gone in just one brain surgery. Also, think about the stress on your loved ones who’ll have to care for you if you suffer poor health due to lack of exercise,” he says. It’s not easy to exercise alone, so Kee encourages people to find like-minded friends to motivate one another. “If you have a group of friends who consistently go to church, are devoted to attending Bible study and prayer meetings, you will eventually become like them. A wise leader once said if his best man joined a losing team, he would eventually become a loser. So you need the right environment and people who share the same passion. Something like a ‘fitness cell group’,” he laughs. Kee advises those who wish to start working out by trying something they already enjoy. “Exercise needs to be fun. Whether it’s futsal or basketball, just start doing something. Our bodies are designed to move,” he emphasises. It boils down to discipline and consistency. Again, Kee draws parallels between exercising and our faith. “If prayer and devotion is important to you, you will make the time to do it. Same goes for exercise. At the end of the day, there’s no shortcut to good health. You have to eat well and exercise. Just don’t wait till it’s too late. Exercise regularly, but remember that God always comes first.” Interview by Mok Shi-Lynn


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cover story

HUFF AND PUFF AND STAYING

STRONG

Photo source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reprinted with permission.

B y R e v . D r W i ll i am W an

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O

n a bus one day, I asked a young

man sitting on a priority seat reser ved for seniors if he would be kind enough to offer his seat to me. He quickly stood up and did so with a smile, at the same time remarking, “You don’t look like a senior citizen”. Thanking him, I asked him for his age and found out he was 19. I told him my grandson is only two years younger than him. That seemed to have convinced him that I am a genuine senior citizen. Contrary to some interpretations, the Bible does not say that physical exercises are entirely unprofitable. That it brings limited benefits is only in contrast to spiritual exercises, which are not only good for this life but also for the next. There is no doubt that keeping fit is good for this life. For starters, it makes me look younger

“The training of the body does bring limited benefits…” 1 Tim 4:7 (NEB) a

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HUFF A N D P UFF A N D ST A Y I N G STRON G

than I am. I have always been an active person, having played soccer and rugby in my school days. I played tennis and squash in my midlife and picked up golf when I was 50. At 61, I started a “bucket list” and have since completed sky-diving, scuba-diving, snipe-raising and sport-climbing. I’m now 66 and still alternate between strength training with weights, including 100 pushups and aerobics on my stationary bike. In 2011, I won the Singapore Council for Third Age’s Active Agers Award for inspiring Singaporeans over 60 years old who lead an exemplary active lifestyle. It recognises seniors who do not let age stop them from passionately engaging the community and pursuing their interests. Clearly my physical fitness contributed to my winning the award among 500 nominees nationwide. While visiting my daughter in Philadelphia, we went through some of the stuff I left with her nearly 20 years ago. I found some suits and tried them on. To my amazement, they fit perfectly and I’m still wearing them today. Keeping fit does control weight gain and maintain weight loss because regular intense activities of both strength training and aerobic exercises help burn calories.

Physical fitness enhances your work, recreation, and sport performance. Six years ago, I had a bad fall in Lincoln, Nebraska. I tore my rotator cuff on my right shoulder. I was already scheduled for surgery for my other rotator cuff which was torn by sports injury. That meant that I have to undergo surgeries on both the rotator cuffs. And so I did, within nine months of each other. They healed quickly with postsurgery physical therapy and I regained the use of my shoulders and arms. I’m told that my physical fitness and positive spirit were huge contributing factors to my rapid healing. Building and maintaining strong muscles, bones and joints accelerated my post-surgery recovery. Exercise spin - offs When I was 65, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes which is manageable with diet control and without medication. My late mother had diabetes in her early 50s. My doctors said that I was able to avoid it until 65 because of my regular physical exercises

What is the use of having great spiritual passion, tremendous intellectual curiosity, emotional stability and social connectivity but no physical health to fulfil a ministry? which improved glucose tolerance and reduced insulin resistance. Regular exercises do not prevent the “wear and tear” of aging and some diseases are also genetically influenced. Nonetheless, keeping fit and strong can delay the onset of diseases associated with aging. On Aug. 9, Straits Times featured my life and work in “Kindness with Muscle”. A friend’s husband read it and commented to her that I am blessed with incredible energy. That is true. I’m usually up at 5am and do not retire till about midnight. My friends do consider me an extremely energetic person. This is not surprising because regular exercise boosts energy. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. The increase in blood supply to muscles enhances its ability to use oxygen. It conditions your heart and lungs to work more efficiently. The result is the building of strength and endurance, resulting in having more energy to spare. Though I do not need a great deal of sleep, I sleep soundly most of the time. I fall asleep easily after a long day. I like to watch a movie just before I sleep and within minutes, I would doze off into deep sleep. During the day, I find myself falling asleep only when I’m in a situation of motion, like riding a cab or when I’m being driven. Usually I’m able to take this “power nap” of not more than 20 minutes. And the strange thing is, I’m able to wake up and feel extremely refreshed just before my destination. Studies have also shown that exercise stimulates various brain chemicals or neurotransmitters that make you feel relaxed, calmer and refreshed. Somehow when you feel fit and strong – with your chest and shoulders in good shape, your tummy tugged in and tight – there is a deep sense of wellbeing. It increases your selfesteem and self-confidence. Whatever you

wear, they fit better too. And this is exactly how I feel about myself. There is no doubt that regular workout reduces depression and anxiety and significantly improves our psychological wellbeing. A few months ago, we had a staff retreat and the team decided to play captain ball. Ninety per cent of my team members are more than half my age. I was able to run with them and catch the ball better than most of them. I enjoyed myself and had a great deal of fun. This is possible because I was fit enough to keep up with the younger people. Physical fitness enhances your work, recreation, and sport performance. Fit to serve I have always believed in and practised a holistic approach to health – spiritual, intellectual, emotional, social and physical. What is the use of having great spiritual passion, tremendous intellectual curiosity, emotional stability and social connectivity but no physical health to fulfil a ministry? Exercise and physical activity are great ways to feel better, gain health benefits, have fun and fulfil whatever ministry God has given to us. To make physical exercise bear the fruits it is intended to, you have to be disciplined enough to be regular and consistent. A rule of thumb is to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical exercise every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. If you’ve never had an exercise regimen, you need to check with your doctor before starting an exercise programme, especially if you have any health concerns. I exercise not only because of its benefits but also because my “body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” and I need “to honour God with my body” (1 Cor. 6:1920). It makes good sense to me that a strong and healthy body honours God because it can achieve more for God in this life.

Dr. William Wan, a retired lawyer and pastor, is a pioneer member of the Asian Beacon Editorial Board in the late 1960s. He is the General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement and Chairman of Prison Fellowship Singapore. A grand-dad of three teenagers, he is an ambassador for active aging and is on the board of several nonprofit organisations. He is a published author and speaks and preaches regularly.

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cover story

EAT RIGHT B y Charma i n S i m

F

ood

unites

people,

especially Malaysians. The mesh of cultures in this land has brewed a buffet of cuisine that caters to almost everyone. Unfortunately, this also means weight management and good health are in danger, worsened by the flood of eating fads and conflicting information on eating right. Fong Su Sian, a dietician at a hospital in Petaling Jaya, gives us a better understanding about diet and health. Fong has been interested in nutrition since her teen years. “I read an article about a nutritionist in a student magazine and that sparked a desire to study this field further, not just to gather information from the Internet or books,” she says. About the same time, Fong saw an interview with a Taiwanese nutritionist on television. Inspired, she completed school and went on to pursue dietetics at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. “I chose to be a dietician instead of a nutritionist because I saw more job opportunities for dieticians,” she says. While nutritionists address topics that are for the general public, dieticians focus more on clinical problems. Fong adds that dieticians can work in many settings, including hospitals, universities, research institutes, food companies and slimming centres. However, Fong is content working at a hospital, as she enjoys helping people.

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“I believe it’s God’s will that I am in this field. In spite of the occasional stress, I find joy and satisfaction when my patients benefit from the diet-related knowledge I share with them,” she enthuses.

The most effective way for weight and health management is discipline. Big trouble Fong confirms that obesity is one of the top health concerns in Malaysia. According to the 2011 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) conducted by the Ministry of Health, the rate of obesity is rising. The 50-69 age group has the highest number of cases compared with other age groups. A surprising find is that more women are overweight compared with men. Fong believes it’s because women usually make the purchasing decisions for the household. Fong relates obesity with factors such as sedentary lifestyles, lack of knowledge, unhealthy snacking habits and unhealthy choices when eating out.

Child obesity is another concern, especially in the urban areas. One major factor is the sedentary lifestyle. “Children now only do finger exercises,” Fong jokes, referring to computer and handheld games. Another major factor is fast food. “We recommend a normal meal to be no more than 500 calories for adults. But one meal from a fast food joint – perhaps four items from the menu – may go up to about 1,400 calories,” Fong exclaims. “That’s more than half the required daily portion already.” Generally, a woman needs about 2,000 calories a day, while a man – an active one at that – needs about 2,500 calories. However, energy requirements can be individualised according to a person’s age, physical activity, occupation and body size. Weight y mat ters How does a dietician help an overweight patient? Fong says the first thing to do is a basic screening. “The Body Mass Index (BMI) is still the best and easiest measurement. It’s actually a very good gauge, except for athletes – because their body weight consists of more muscle than fat – pregnant women, and the elderly,” she explains. A fat analyser is then used for a more accurate reading. Another method is to measure waist circumference. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), waist circumference for men should not be


e a t r ig h t

Health is so important. If you’re not healthy, you have so many limitations.

higher than 94cm, while a woman should not exceed 80cm. There are three basic ways to achieve weight loss, Fong points out. “The first is obviously diet and exercise. This is still the cheapest and most effective method, but one that requires much discipline.” The second method is to consume weight loss medication in addition to lifestyle changes. The last method is to undergo bariatric procedures such as gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass. “We usually recommend the last option for those who are morbidly obese. But this is not a one-time cure. Even after the operation, it is important to maintain a healthy diet. Otherwise there will be complications,” Fong warns. Al as, no short cut Having worked at a slimming centre for three months, Fong adds that diet and exercise are also necessary to accompany the slimming centres’ programmes. “Slimming centres help increase the metabolic rate, so yes, you do see some weight loss. But if you want better results, lifestyle changes are still necessary.” Even diet fads are neither effective nor safe in the long run, such as the Atkins diet where carbohydrates are cut out and more protein is consumed. “The body’s main source of energy is still carbohydrates. You may enjoy short

term weight loss with the Atkins diet. But in the long run, the body will burn the protein. You risk muscle waste and protein depreciation, which makes you weaker. Then you’ll have a higher risk of infection and your body metabolism might be imbalanced,” she says. Fong adds that the traditional food pyramid is still a good guideline, contrary to the growing belief that it’s inaccurate. “However, the the food pyramid is based on the assumption that you are living an active and healthy lifestyle,” she clarifies. On meal replacements products, Fong says, “They’re actually safe to take and very useful. We have guidelines on what makes a healthy meal replacement. But you have to be careful. Some low-calorie products are not nutritionally balanced.” She points out that the meal replacement strategy is not for everyone. “I only recommend it to those who have difficulty in choosing healthy food or have no time. With diet, it really comes down to the individual. It’s tricky to assume the same plan for everyone.” Control your cravings Ultimately, Fong believes that the most effective way for weight and health management is discipline. She recognises the importance of practising the final aspect of the fruit of the Spirit – selfcontrol. “Health is so important. If you’re

not healthy, you have so many limitations. You can only enjoy freedom with selfcontrol,” she advises and reminds Christians that their body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. As a dietician, Fong not only works with inpatients and outpatients, she also helps manage the kitchen in setting a therapeutic menu. She also gives talks on nutrition and is on the committee that promotes a healthy lifestyle among the hospital staff. As such, it can be stressful but for Fong, who grew up going to Sunday School, became a Christian at 15, and now worships at DUMC, her source of strength is God. “Philippians 4:13 says ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’. This is a verse that my Mum uses to encourage me. As she always says, the strength from God is unlimited,  while man’s is limited. God is the One I can rely on,” she concludes.

Fong’s

steps

to healthy eating

1 2 3 4 5 a

Commitment If you’re not committed right from the start, how are you going to carry the plan through? Motivation and Support Find your inner motivation. Also, do you have anyone to support you? There are some who prefer to go solo but I find it’s more effective if someone does it together with you or supports you. Goals Set targets for weight loss. If you say “let’s just see how it goes”, this means that you don’t know what you want. Then you won’t know what to work towards. I’ve found that patients who set goals do better. Diet Now you’re ready to start your diet! See a dietician for advice. Exercise Finally, get off the couch.

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cover story

A CHRISTIAN’S CONFESSION: I SUFFER FROM DEPRESSION Part 1

J

aney (not her real name), in her early 30s, is kind, earnest and friendly. She holds a regular job, attends church and even volunteers her time to teach children with special needs. Looking at her, one would never guess that she is a long-time sufferer of depression, anxiety and panic attacks. “It started when I was 11 years old and in Standard Five at the time,” Janey reveals. “I remember the incident vividly: I was doing homework when a sudden fear came over me. I felt extremely fearful, but couldn’t pin down a reason. I told my mother, but she thought I was just jittery because of exams.” For the next decade, Janey experienced feelings of fear, insecurity and unhappiness. “Kids are really excited about vacations. But even when my family went on vacation, I wasn’t happy. It’s not that I was moody or crying all the time; I laughed and smiled with other people, but it was all fake. I always felt that I wasn’t good enough, or that something bad was going to happen.”

Guilt pangs At 21, Janey became a Christian through the prompting and prayer of her sister. “I accepted Christ during a bad time in my life,” Janey says. “I was in my second year of college and staying away from home for the first time. I felt a lot of pressure to perform, get assignments done, and do well in exams. I ended up quitting my studies because I couldn’t stand the pressure.” Janey’s early days in Christianity were not of much help to her. “Things didn’t really cheer up for me. I didn’t have that pure joy that Christians were supposed to have. Of course, I didn’t really know God at that time.” It didn’t help that people around

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B y M o k S h i - L ynn

her didn’t understand her condition. “In church, people are all so happy. They say ‘hallelujah’ all the time. They tell you that you’re a new creation and that the past is gone. That really upset me a lot because I was not what they had described. I felt I wasn’t good enough to be a Christian. Then they told me to ‘just go to God’. So I went and prayed and pleaded with Him, but nothing changed. If you say God is so great, then the problem must be with me. I must be a bad Christian, because God is not helping me. There was a lot of conflict in me.” Janey finally saw a psychiatrist – a

Christian – and was told she was suffering from depression. “I refused to accept it. I told him, ‘No, I’m a Christian. I shouldn’t get depression.’ I didn’t want medication and suffered for months until I couldn’t take it anymore. I went back to the doctor and started on my medication when I was 25. “I didn’t want to admit I had depression because there’s stigma attached to it. When I was diagnosed, I was upset but strangely happy at the same time, because finally, I have a name to what I had been suffering. All this while, I thought it was just a phase of life.” Janey’s doctor told her that she was born with a chemical imbalance in her brain – she lacked what was known as the


Difference be t ween panic at tacks and depression D epressi o n “Most of us have experienced the feeling of waking up on the wrong side of the bed and feeling dreadful. You don’t want to go to work, meet people or do anything. Imagine this feeling dragging on for weeks and getting progressively worse. You feel uneasy, uncomfortable and sad for no apparent reason. You lose interest in things and have no energy. It can be triggered by stress, overwork, not getting enough sleep or being very tired. Unlike panic attacks, an episode of depression stays with you for weeks or even months.”

‘happy hormone’, which explained her inability to feel happiness when she was a young girl. The psychiatrist also said that Janey’s condition leaned more toward panic and anxiety rather than depression. God with her Janey also had to deal with being in a stressful work environment at the time. “I was in customer service and it drove me crazy because I was scolded by customers almost every day,” she says. It was her first job and she moved on after a few years. Her second job was also in customer service. “I felt that God was saying no to this job offer, but I was stubborn,” Janey admits ruefully. “So I started this new job

Panic Attac k s “When you have butterflies in your stomach before an important event, like an exam, only it’s 10 times worse. There may or may not be a cause. It can strike at any time. I’ve woken up in the middle of the night with a panic attack before. I’ll just pace around the room feeling very scared and not know why. It usually disappears by the next day.”

and sure enough, it was very stressful. My depression had really kicked in at the time and the medication did not help much. I couldn’t function at all. I cried a lot during that time – when I woke up in the morning, when driving home from work. I lasted eight months there before I quit with a 24hour resignation notice.” For the next six months, Janey took time to rest, reflect, pray and grow closer to God. Then God led her to the Christian organisation where she currently works and has been attached to for the past six years. “This job is truly a Godsend. I asked for a sign if I should accept this job, and He gave it. God also gave me smooth sailing during this time. For three years, I was ok

– no stress, no panic attacks, no depression. For the first time in my life, I started to be happy, joyful and appreciate life.” Then, interestingly, Janey’s psychiatrist told her that she needed to start adding stress to her life. “For three years, I just went to work, then went home. No extra activities or work so that I didn’t have to deal with extra stress. Then my doctor told me I was recovering well and it was time to take on more. After all, life is full of stress and I cannot remain shielded all the time. God had already shielded me for three years. I felt stronger and less fearful. I was ready to do more.” Editor’s note: Janey’s story continues in the next issue.

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27


cover story

Sleep to W

Good Health

e spend seven hours

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REM

REM

REM

REM

REM

Stages

irregular, our heart rate more rapid and B y D r N g S wee Ch o o n a day sleeping, which our blood pressure rises. This is when works out to about one we have dreams and in many ways, we are third of our life. Yet, for many years, we did not temporarily paralysed and arousal is difficult. The EEG will show know much about sleep and its importance. rapid slow waves. In the young when the brain is still maturing, However, since the new millennium, much research has been done REM sleep allows the brain to mature. Physiologically speaking, and we now understand sleep much better and its importance to this is also when we consolidate all the happenings in the day and the body for rest, healing and restoration. store them in the different compartments of our brain. Many of us go to bed at about 11pm to midnight and wake up During sleep, we progress cyclically from Stages 1, 2, 3 (nonat about 7am. Do you know what happens when you’re sleeping? REM) to Stage 4 (REM) almost at 60 to 90 minute cycles. As Using the EEG (electro-encephalogram), researchers have the night progresses, the REM portion gets longer while the nondiscovered that our brain undergoes four stages of differing brain REM portion gets shorter. By early morning when we wake, it is activities during sleep. The stages are called Stage 1, 2, 3 sleep usually from the REM portion of sleep. Basically, the non-REM (non-rapid eye movement or REM) and Stage 4 REM sleep. Stage 3 phase allows for rest and repair of bodily functions stressed Stage 1: Light sleep or getting into sleep. The subject (of the during the day and the REM portion restores and consolidates the research) is easily aroused and returns to his preceding activity activities of the previous day. In the young and immature, REM quickly. There may be slight eye movements and muscle twitches. sleep also allows for maturation of the central nervous system. All This stage may last a few minutes. these activities involve hormones and immune system responses. Stage 2: Deeper sleep. EEG shows brain activity slowing down Every night, there are about five cycles of non-REM and REM with only occasional bursts of activity. Eye movements stop. The sleep over seven to eight hours of sleep. subject lapses into deeper sleep and begins to relax. Stage 2 can last half of the night’s sleep. Stage 3: The subject by now is Awake fully relaxed and difficult to arouse. Brain activity is very slow now, as if the brain and body are hibernating. 1 This stage is absolutely essential as the body (especially the heart) 2 and brain are repairing themselves through the secretion of hormones 3 and immunological proteins. This is also when bedwetting in children and 4 sleep walking occur. Stage 4: We enter REM sleep about 60 to 90 minutes after falling asleep. During this stage, brain 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 activity increases and there is REM. Hours of Sleep Our respiration becomes rapid and


SLEE P TO G OO D HE A LTH

Effects of a sleep- deprived body The heart is a vital active organ of the body and is continually working, pumping life-giving blood to the whole body. It never rests. When we are stressed, it is also stressed. So whenever the body rests, the heart has a chance to take things easy and “rest”, reverting to basal functions – just enough to sustain life. Of course, it never stops pumping. This “rest” period happens when we are in our non-REM Stage 3 sleep. When we are deprived of sleep (insomnia), the heart has to keep pumping like normal. This gives rise to cardiac stress, as evidenced by elevated levels of all the cardiac stress hormones and inflammatory markers. We now know that people who sleep less than six hours a day have increased incidences of heart diseases, hypertension and diabetes mellitus. Some clinical studies have also shown that those who sleep too long have an increased incidence of heart problems. It looks like seven to eight hours of sleep daily is ideal. The 2011 European Heart Journal review of 15 medical studies If it all sounds a bit confusing or farfetched, just remember involving almost 475,000 people found that short sleepers had a 48% increased risk of developing or dying from coronary heart that a good night’s sleep is the foundation to a strong heart and disease (CHD) in a seven to 25-year follow-up period (depending good health. on the study) and a 15% greater risk of developing or dying from Dr Ng Swee Choon is a consultant cardiologist at a hospital in stroke during this same time. Interestingly, long sleepers – those Petaling Jaya, and assistant clinical professor at UTAR. who averaged nine or more hours a night – also showed a 38% increased risk of developing or dying from CHD and a 65% increased risk of stroke. The association of hypertension and sleep deprivation is also rather strong. The August 30, 2011, issue of Time magazine and New York Times highlighted the fact that sleep deprivation was associated with a higher incidence of hypertension. The Sleep Heart Study (Arch Int. Med 2005) was a large, cross-sectional, community-based study of the Cambridge English for Life - Kelana Jaya commenced operations in 2011 and cardiovascular consequences of sleep disorder. The authors recently won the Most Promising Centre 2012 Award. In the ESOL 2012 assessed the relationship between reported sleep duration Exams, it achieved a 100% pass rate taking the Outstanding Achievement and impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes in more Award won by its KET student, Sanjeeva Ganesan from Bukit Bintang Boys than 1,400 men and women who had no history of insomnia. Secondary School, PJ. We provide quality English language education focusing After adjusting the age, sex, race, body habitus, and on the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing for all levels i.e. pre-school (4-6), primary (7-12), secondary (13-17), pre-U/college (18-21) and apnea-hypopnea index, the prevalence of impaired glucose adults alike, using imported British texts. In line with expansion plans, the tolerance and type 2 diabetes was higher in those who following positions are opening up in January 2014: reported sleeping six hours and less per night or nine hours and more per night. This was reported in the medical J O B V A C A N C I E S journal. I believe that these effects on hypertension and diabetes are due to the excessive release of stress hormones 1. English Language Teachers – Minimum TESL, TESOL or CELTAqualified, with at least a year’s experience of teaching English either and inflammatory markers in people who are sleep deprived. locally or overseas. Apnea is a sleep disorder characterised by cyclical noisy breathing followed by cessation of respiration. This cyclical 2. Centre Manager – Minimum SPM/STPM/Diploma/Graduates from breathing/apnea cycle may occur 10 to 30 times an hour any discipline. Good administrative skills with an eye for detail, and hence, these patients have almost no non-REM Stage self-motivated and proficient in Microsoft office. Candidates with 3 sleep. As a result, they wake up the following day feeling initiative and a command of Mandarin and local dialects would be exhausted, and falling asleep at meetings or while waiting an added advantage. at traffic lights. These patients have associated increased risk of Interested applicants can e-mail their resume and latest photo directly to the Centre Director, Ms Cheryl Lim at abundanz7@gmail.com hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and strokes. The condition can be remedied if the patient consults a Cambridge Kelana Jaya is professionally managed by: neurologist. English Edge Sdn Bhd [915671-A] Conclusion I have tried in this short article to give an overview of the importance of good sleep as well as the effect of poor sleep on the body, especially on the cardiovascular system.

Unit 17-2 (2nd Flr), Blk B, Zenith Corp Park, No.1 Jln SS 7/26 Kelana Jaya, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. 012-236 8172 (Principal)

www.cambridgeforlife.org

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29


cover story

PoemsOf The Sick

A

B y D r Te o h S o o ng K ee few months ago, I had

gastric pain which lasted for about two weeks. Gastroscopy showed I had a tumour in my stomach. The biopsy report showed a lymphoma ulcer. This is a rare condition which, while malignant, is less serious than the more common cancer of the stomach. All the results indicated that the tumour was small and in its early stage. I was to undergo chemotherapy over the next four months. Thanks to God, I have been healthy for the past 67 years of my life. The condition arose just before I celebrated my 68th birthday (and Fathers’ Day) with my family. My 68th year began with sad news, but in Cantonese, 68 sounds better than 67! I have taken time off work while I’m on chemotherapy to draw near to God by reading and meditating on His Word. These poems were written to express my feelings and faith which has been challenged. I hope they will also encourage others in similar situations. May God, in His grace and mercy, grant me healing and health for many more years to come. Prayerfully, I hope to be healed, both by divine providence and medical therapy.

IN PAIN In pain I call on the Lord For comfort and rest For quiet and slumber Safe in His warm caress In faith I believe in the Lord That my agony and fears The Lord will hear and remove The troubled doubts He clears In hope I pray to the Lord From suffering and disease He gives healing and relief Makes me whole again, at peace GOD’S TOUCH How good to be led by God’s hands When we are lost in wandering lands Or sinking in shifting sands How sweet to be the apple of His eye When we are left with no goodbye

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Teoh (seated, centre) with his family.

Forgotten without a sigh How soft to be in God’s arms When we are left without human charms Tossed about like swaying palms How great to be at God’s feet When we taste life’s bitter-sweet Of suffering we may meet How clear to hear God’s Word To drown out many voices heard And give us hope for things feared

If not for faith In the Christ who calms the waves And sinners like me He saves. What is life If not for hope When we face life’s obstacles We can expect God’s miracles What is life If not for love From the good Lord we receive And to others we freely give.

WHAT IS LIFE? What is life If not for friends Who even through the spans of years Are ready to smoothen your fears. What is life If not for family Who does not fail to be there To shower their love and care. What is life If not for health In the whole body, mind and soul To keep us going towards our goal What is life If not to serve The needy, poor and the weak With what we have, not what we seek. What is life If not for God To pray, worship and obey For His blessings each passing day. What is life

MORE TIME LORD I need more time Lord, There is so much to see The wonders of your creation On sky and land and sea. I need more time Lord There is so much to say To loved ones and friends Whom we may meet each day I need more time Lord There is so much to know The wisdom of the heavens To lead me where to go I need more time Lord There is so much more to do To make this world a better place And our lives be so true. Teoh is a practising gynaecologist in a specialist hospital in Ipoh. An Anglican Lay Canon and a Lay Pastor of St Peter’s Church, Ipoh, he is married to Nancy, and have three children and a granddaughter. He can be reached at teohskee@hotmail.com.


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31


speak

Special Pages to Exercise Adolescent Kung-fu

Where is my h me? Can my heart – and identity – really depend on something that is constantly changing? B y V e r o n i c a W e e “Home is where the heart is.” I’ve heard this saying countless times. It seems simple enough: Wherever you feel like you belong, where your heart feels at peace, that would be home. For the first 14 years of my life, my heart was clearly in Singapore. I was born there and grew up there with all my loved ones. Singapore represented everything familiar and comfortable. Singapore was

my home. It was home even after we moved to Japan. Compared to the foreign way of life that we had to adapt to, Singapore was ingrained even more strongly as my beloved home. After all, “distance makes the heart grow fonder”, right? However, as when moving to any new place, you must adapt. And in adapting, you cannot help changing as well. It turned

Sakura trees: the Wee boys posing under the Sakura in Japan.

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out that, not only had some of my habits changed, but my sense of belonging changed too. Now, I feel a sense of belonging to Kyoto in Japan, and my new school. In my early days in Japan, I would miss Singapore and eagerly count down the days till I could go back for a visit. But when I got to Singapore, I soon found myself counting down the days till I could return to Japan. The more

time I spent back “home”, the more I felt out of place. Singapore was still familiar and comfortable, but I also missed Japan. Explaining this feeling to my Singapore friends was hard. How could they understand my dilemma? Where does my sense of belonging lie: my place of birth or this strange land where I’ve only lived two years? I felt even more out of place and longed to be with my friends in Japan who understood how I felt. If my home was linked to my identity – who I am, where I belonged – then I was seriously confused. I did not know where my heart was; it seemed to be

Banana trees: At home in the Singapore greenery.


My passport may mark me as a citizen of Singapore for now, but my “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). For that is where my heart is. torn between two places, sometimes longing for one and at other times, the other. One of the reasons why I felt so out of place in Singapore was that so much had changed in the short two years I had been away. It felt like the world had moved on without me. Can my heart – and identity – really depend on something that is constantly changing? Identifying my identity The problem with building your identity on something like a sense of belonging, your friends, or even familiarity, is that these things change. As the foundation of your identity changes, you will be forced to change as well. By rooting yourself in a part of our ever-changing world, you’ll become ever-changing as well, tossed about like the proverbial boat in a storm, always having to re-discover your identity. I made the mistake of making my “home” a part of my identity. Living in Singapore, or Japan, became part of my identity. I should have rooted my identity in something much more stable, something that never changes. And, as far as I know, the only eternally unchanging aspect of our world is God. Many years ago, my dad

asked me, “Who are you?” I thought it was a pretty silly question. “I am Veronica,” I answered. “Yes, but who is Veronica? Describe Veronica.” Leaving me at a loss for words, he went on to teach me about the importance of my identity as a child of God, because God never changes. It made sense back then, but it seems like I’m having to learn that lesson again. If my identity, and heart, is in God, then my home would be with Him. That means that my true home is in Heaven. Every other earthly “home” would be simply temporary! That way, it is okay to not feel like I belong in either of my possible “homes” – because I wasn’t supposed to! It doesn’t matter where I find myself. Whether I feel I belong here or there doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. I still want to fit in and make friends, of course, but now I know these places are just stops along my journey back home. My passport may mark me as a citizen of Singapore for now, but my “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). For that is where my heart is.

Veronica Wee is a 15-year-old missionary kid (MK) serving with her family in Kyoto prefecture, Japan.

Veronica Wee is a 15-year-old missionary kid (MK) serving with her family in Kyoto prefecture, Japan.

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33


Loving Instead of Condemning By Mok Shi-Lynn, Caleb Masuda Koh & Kevin Thomas

Sam Alberry grew up in a town west

of London. He wasn’t a Christian and had no particular interest in God. After finishing high school, he worked in a coffee shop that was run by a Christian family. At the shop were several Christian workers whom he became good friends with. They soon invited him to church but he would frequently decline, claiming that his studies weren’t going too well. “The truth was, my parents allowed me to go out only once a week, and I didn’t want to waste it by going to church,” Allberry laughs. One day, however, he accepted the invitation. “I went to the church’s youth gathering and there was a very old man giving a talk. It should not have been something an 18-year old boy would find interesting, but it was utterly compelling.” Allberry recounts how the old man explained that Christianity was not about people trying to become good but about

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Sam Allberry, a 37-year old ordained minister in the Church of England, experiences same-sex attraction. He made a commitment to remain celibate. He shares his thoughts on homosexuality and how the Church should respond. bad people finding forgiveness in God. “That was so different to anything I’d ever heard. I’d never come across the concept of grace. It rang true and I wanted to find out more.” He started attending the youth group regularly and studying the Bible with them. Shortly after turning 18, Allberry made the decision to follow Jesus. Looking back, he muses about those early days as a new and enthusiastic Christian teenager. “We were a bunch of rebellious 18 or 19 year olds, yet when we hung out together, what we most wanted to

do was study the Bible. It was a great time,” he smiles in recollection. At university, Allberry joined the Christian Fellowship and even came to lead it eventually, despite having been a Christian for only a few months. Through this experience and also helping out at his church’s youth group, Allberry discovered that he had a deep desire to help Christians grow in their faith. “I had a burden and passion to help Christians see how exciting God is and how wonderful the Bible is. I wanted to feed the sheep, as it were, and serve and encourage them in their faith.”


“ C h u r c h e s s h o u l d m o d e l G o d ’ s l o v e t o n o n - C h r i s t ia n s i n t h e ga y c o mm u n i t y . ”

A troubling discovery went to a theological college for formal But while he was gaining clarity in his ministry training. calling, a disquieting aspect of his being was starting to emerge. “As a teenager, I had Coming out close friendships with other guys. At some In his early 20s, Allberry realised that those point, I began to realise that something feelings were not going away. And because more than friendship was going on. The he felt that it was “such an awful, shameful feelings I had weren’t overtly sexual but thing, a horrible dark secret”, he didn’t were feelings of deep friendship, a sense of speak of it to anyone for years. Then he emotional attachment.” heard a sermon where the pastor said that Allberry would feel a crushing jealousy it was all right for Christians to admit to when his friends went out with girls. This same-sex attraction. “He said that there are strange friendship with his male friends many Christians who struggle with this, started to disturb him. However, the it was ok to talk about it and the church thought of being gay or having homosexual would love to help,” he recalls. feelings were inconceivable. “I just wanted Thanks to the compassion to fit in and be like the other demonstrated by that guys who were into girls. I pastor, Allberry finally How A kept thinking at the time that told a good friend, and Church Can if I met a girl and settled into shortly after, his pastor. Help a long-term relationship, “When you have an issue everything would sort itself that you struggle with but church needs out,” Allberry says. don’t share, it feels the to be able Because he discovered worse for it. When you to help and Christ and his same-sex talk about it, it helps to guide in this issue, attraction at around the put it in perspective and especially where youth same time, Allberry did not you’re able to look at it are concerned. If the act on those feelings – a objectively. After talking church is not giving fact he is grateful for. “I was to others, I realised that it guidance and help to working out who I was while isn’t the end of the world,” the Christian teenager working out who Jesus was. he shares. who is struggling with I’m very thankful to the Lord Interestingly, he found his sexuality, then the that I became a Christian only love and support only advice he will get when I did and never had the from his friends, family will be from the world, chance to explore or express and church members and that will be ‘this is those sexual feelings. I don’t after he told them of his who you are, embrace know how I would’ve ended ‘predicament’. “I keep your identity.’ Teenagers up otherwise. Thankfully, I hearing that the church particularly just need to don’t have a legacy of regrets is very anti-gay, but I’ve be taught how to think that I have to live with.” found nothing but love and about these issues From his experience support,” he reveals. “As in a healthy way. working through his issues, I shared my experiences “It’s ok to say Allberry discovered that more widely over the that you’re a Christian God’s Word was essential in past two years, we’ve seen who struggles with defining self-identity. “One more non-Christian gay same-sex attraction of the things I realised very people start coming to our because all you’re early on is that it makes far church wanting to find out really saying is that you more sense to find yourself about Christianity and struggle with sexual when you have understood what the Church thinks of temptation. And that Jesus. Christianity sheds homosexuality.” is something everyone so much light on human struggles with. We need nature and what it means Counter culture to encourage them by to be human, and that really Allberry does not hesitate letting them know that it helped me figure out who I when asked about his doesn’t obliterate their was.” stand on gay marriage. relationship with God. He eventually spent a “I’m opposed to it. As a We shouldn’t just whack year doing a Bible training Christian, I can’t support people over the head course and worked in the it because biblically, gay with a Bible and say that Overseas Mission Fellowship marriage is an oxymoron. homosexuality is a sin.” for two years, after which he In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul

“A

says that those who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God. Therefore, to promote homosexuality is to send people to destruction.” Although his stand on samesex relationships or practices is nonnegotiable, Allberry says that the way forward is to reach out in love. “At the moment, homosexuality is a huge issue in the UK. I don’t think that getting into debates with the gay rights campaigners will further our cause; we’ll just end up reinforcing our differences. “Instead, churches should model God’s love to non-Christians in the gay community. In a very pro-gay culture, Christian marriages and Christian families have more opportunities to show something different to the world. We can show a more compelling alternative view of family life. I think that is the apologetic that will work. “When I visit a church and teach on this issue, my goal is for the church to have both clarity and compassion. The trouble is when you have one without the other. I’ve seen Christians who are crystal clear about what the Bible says, but they are massively insensitive to people in their own church or non-Christian gay friends. Then there are churches with natural compassion but no theological clarity, and they only want to hug, affirm and endorse. People need the truth and compassion, and in the Bible, those two things go together,” he says. As someone who experiences feelings of same-sex attraction yet steadfastly refuses a gay lifestyle, Allberry is keen on sharing the Good News with others. “As someone who experiences these feelings, the gospel is still really good. We’re not giving people a bad deal here. My hope for the world is the church. I think what will help win the gay community to Christ is the Church being God’s people and doing it well,” he concludes.

To obtain Sam Allberry’s book, Is God Anti-Gay?, or watch video interviews of him, go to www.thegoodbook. co.uk/christianliving/lifestyle/ questions-christiansask/is-god-anti-gay.

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A Place

of Ministry

By Mok Shi-Lynn

The Council of Churches of Malaysia took advantage of its strategic location by creating premises to serve as a place of ministry and outreach to the surrounding community. The office of the Council of

Churches of Malaysia (CCM) has been located at Jalan Universiti for as long as most can remember. According to the General Secretary of CCM, Rev Dr Hermen Shastri, CCM decided on the location due to its proximity to University Malaya (UM), which provided opportunity for student ministry. At that time, the premises consisted of two bungalows. As the decades went by, the two buildings became run down. “We considered a number of ideas, such as selling the bungalows and renting a shoplot elsewhere,” Shastri shares. “In the end, we decided that we may as well stay put. After all, this property belongs to us. God must have put us here for a reason. There’s a hospital and university just next door. We should respond to ministry challenges here in this location.” Once it was decided that a purposebuilt building would be erected on the

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property, it took years of planning, negotiation and fund-raising before construction could begin. CCM had to get approval from the local town council, appease concerned neighbours, alter their building plans and approach member churches and philanthropists for funds. Finally, after two years of construction, the new building was officially open on April 23 this year. Well- designed facilities On the ground floor, directly ahead of the main entrance, is the chapel. As you enter, the eye is drawn to the stained glass windows of modern design, which was imported from Germany. In the centre is the communion table-cum-baptistery in the shape of a boat, made out of stone from Iran. A side door of the chapel opens to a small, walled garden with benches. A meditative, ecumenical worship is held at the chapel every Sunday at 5pm.

Rev Dr Hermen Shastri, General Secretary of CCM.

An exhibition hall lies to the left of the chapel. At the other end is a café and bakery called ‘Bread of Life’, which is open to members of the public, who may wish to park in the underground car park with 50 parking bays. On the first floor are located CCM’s offices. A plush and fully-equipped boardroom that seats 30 is located within the office area. Meeting rooms and a library sit side by side. One more floor up is the multi-purpose hall, which seats 350 in theatre style or 220 with round dinner tables. With its high ceiling and raised stage, the multi-purpose hall is suitable for


“ W e s h o u l d r e s p o n d t o mi n i s t r y c h a l l e n g e s h e r e i n t h i s l o c a t i o n . ”

concerts, conferences and even weddings. A large portion of the building is dedicated to lodging facilities. There are 22 rooms, consisting of single, twin and suite, all with attached bathrooms and wireless access. Rooms share common pantry facilities along the corridor. Even the roof has been made use of: the roof terrace is designed for casual gatherings such as barbeques or parties. It can even be the location for tea breaks in between conferences and meetings. The three-storey building is not just functional, but beautifully designed. Art depicting ecumenism grace the walls throughout the building; some of these were gifts by churches overseas. The building is also wheelchair-friendly. A building with a purpose All the rooms are available for rent at a reasonable cost, as CCM is a non-profit organisation. As part of CCM’s ministry to the community, the accommodation rooms in particular were designed to serve the families of patients at UM hospital. “Some of the family members of patients come from outstation to visit or care for their loved ones,” Shastri says. “These people have nowhere to stay or cannot afford a hotel. Now they can stay here, which is just directly opposite of the hospital.” Since the building opened, Shastri says that there has been interest from the surrounding community. “Some hospital

interns working the night shift have stayed with us. Some nurses who just started work and needed a temporary place to stay have also put up here. One church group used our premises for a spiritual retreat. Another group of nurses have a regular prayer gathering here. I think the faith seed is beginning to grow new shoots,” he shares. According to Shastri, congregations rallied to raise funds for building the new premises and because of that, there is a collective sense of achievement. “The churches came forth to give, offer loans and make pledges. For example, the Methodists

T

gave the boardroom, the multipurpose hall is from the Anglicans, and so on. As such, I think there’s a sense of shared achievement from our member churches that we have this place of fellowship and ministry.” Shastri invites churches and Christians to visit the new building, hold events there or join the worship service on Sunday evenings. “This place is something we’re leaving for the next generation. We didn’t build this place to show off our new office,” he laughs. “So come and get involved here. This building is for all of you.” For more information or to enquire about rates, call CCM at +603-7956 7092.

he café and bakery on the ground floor of the CCM building

boasts healthy, tasty breads and pastries. The owners – two Christians based in Penang who have 12 years of experience in the bakery business – say that they use mostly natural ingredients. “We use better quality flour, avoid margarine and use butter as much as we can,” says Mr Teoh Seng Lee, one of the owners. Set lunches are priced at RM7.50, while breakfast sets cost RM4.50. Current opening hours are 7.30am – 6.00pm, Mondays to Fridays; 7.30am – 1.00pm on Saturdays. The café is closed on Sundays.

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Rows of organic vegetables planted by the farmers.

’ N G I V H I C L H L A A S E GERS T O ‘FI T teams u O G N An

p with a petroleum company to

start an

n S ab organic farming project in a village i

ah.

By JH Ong

More and more farms are adopting

organic farming practices, which not only produce food that is healthier and tastier, but is also kinder to the environment. An organic farm is typically one that practises sustainable agriculture methods. This means the farm grows crops that do not use chemical fertilisers or deplete the environment’s resources. Realising the benefits of organic farming, Borneo Ecotourism Solutions and Technology (BEST) Society, a nongovernmental organisation, recently started an organic farming project among the Rungus community in Kg Rampai Besar, Sikuati, Kudat, Sabah. BEST was formed in 1995 when Borneo Eco Tours (BET) together with Sukau Rainforest Lodge organised the first environmental project to remove Salvinia molesta weeds from the Kelenanap oxbow lake which flows into the Kinabatangan River at Sukau. Since then, BEST has carried out numerous community projects in partnership with corporate companies, including installing water tanks and sending out medical teams to the villages. This time around, BEST received RM30,000 from Shell for the organic farming project. (BEST was among the 13 award recipients chosen from 63 applicants throughout Malaysia in this year‘s Shell Sustainable Development Grants programme.) BEST Chairman Albert Teo believes community transformation through community development provides a better and more sustainable solution to uplift the local communities as it strengthens capacity and builds people. “It’s the same as teaching them to fish rather than giving them fish,” he explains and adds, “Giving will only promote the dependency

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Start to a new life… participants of the organic farming project pose for a photo after receiving their seed fund.

Community transformation through community development provides a better and more sustainable solution to uplift the local communities. syndrome and erode human dignity over time as there is no exchange of value. Giving in some cases can therefore hurt more than help. Charity can turn toxic in the long run.” This project therefore aims to empower the Rungus community through capacity building training. Their involvement and participation in the development of sustainable organic farming will help promote healthy eating and explore alternative livelihoods. Additionally, the farmers will learn to become successful entrepreneurs while fuelling the green economy. The project is expected to become

a model for other local communities, especially in the Kudat region, to emulate. Altogether, 10 families have been selected to participate in the project. A total of RM6,000 worth of seeds was distributed among them in the first phase. The balance of the RM30,000 grant will be distributed to them in later phases and also be utilised for study field trips to other organic farms and to organise seminars, such as motivational and making enzyme seminars. The Ketua Kampung (Village Head) of Kg Rampai Besar and its team leader expressed their appreciation to Shell for funding such a significant project and BEST for giving them an opportunity to learn about organic farming. Teo, a committed Christian, strongly believes that Christians, as the salt of the earth and light of the world, should always look out for opportunities to improve people’s lives, especially the poor and needy. To know more about BEST, go to www. bestsociety.org.


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THIRTY

THRILLING YEARS

Methodist College Kuala Lumpur

(MCKL) has humble origins as a school that was intended to serve as an institution of second chances for students who did not pass their public school examinations. When they would have faced a bleak future, the then Methodist High School enabled them to complete their secondary education. Throughout the years, various Methodist patrons have played a pivotal role in ensuring the College’s survival and growth in an ever-changing education landscape. In 1983, Methodist High School changed its name to MCKL with Datuk F.R. Bhupalan as its founding principal. She undertook the task of securing approval for the GCE A Level certificate to go alongside the Malaysian STPM. Under her leadership, the student population grew tremendously for the next 10 years, to the point where the Form 1 classes had to be shifted to the new branch campus in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur. In 1994, after having firmly established MCKL and its Sentul campus, Bhupalan retired and handed the reins over to Mr A. R. Peter, who led the College through a new phase as an institution for postsecondary education. He continued the migration of secondary school students to the Sentul campus and by 1999, only pre-university students remained in the Brickfields campus. In 2003, Peter passed the torch to Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng, who began

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developing the ethos of MCKL into one of a tertiary institution. Staff and students were introduced to practices that were typical of colleges, such as removing the need for uniforms and introducing flexible timetables for students. At the same time, she ensured that ethics, integrity and discipline were not compromised in the effort to give MCKL a more college-like atmosphere, and continued to keep it well grounded in Christian values. She also introduced the Certificate in English programme and the Diploma in Early Childhood Education. However, these changes did little to reverse the decline of student numbers in the College. MCKL persevered regardless, and in March 2006, Ms Moey Yoke Lai, former principal of Methodist Boys’ School, took over as the chief executive officer. She worked tirelessly to increase the student intake and expand the College, which included an auditorium, many new classrooms and several new facilities in order to attract more students.

Although the project seemed beyond the means of MCKL at the time, Moey and the Methodist Council of Education soldiered on, trusting in the Lord to provide the resources necessary to see the project through. Construction began at the end of 2008, and by the time it was completed, more than half of the required funds had been successfully raised. Student numbers began to climb, and by 2012, there were over 1,000 students. This is a testament to God’s providence for those who trust in Him. (Isaiah 54:2: “Enlarge the place of your tent, spread your curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.”)

Passionate educators Moey continues to serve faithfully to this day, and many are following her example. Among them is Ms Khor Kheng Leik, the Deputy Director of Academic Studies and Head of the Diploma in Early Childhood Education programme, who is a Harvard graduate with a Master’s in Education. Alongside her are academicians such as Mr Tee Shern Ren, Ms Grace Lim and Dr Lee Chong Yew, who are graduates from Australian National University, University of Cambridge and University of Southampton respectively. Some go the extra mile by serving as mentors or advisors for individual students as well as the various clubs and societies, including the Christian Fellowship. It is because of the continuous efforts and


TH I RTY THR I LL I N G YE A RS

The ‘school of second chances’ has grown into a ‘college of excellence for life’ where thousands of students have been touched and changed for the better.

vigilance of such staff members that MCKL is able to focus on holistic education, ensuring that its students’ academic excellence is complemented by empathy, moral integrity and a strong passion for making a significant difference to their families, society and nation. As Moey puts it, “Let us all work together to make MCKL a College of distinction, producing welleducated citizens who will make us proud of their achievements in nation building.” To further facilitate their efforts, the College encourages students to participate in a wide range of co-curricular and sports activities. There are over 40 clubs and societies that students can choose from, such as the Model United Nations Club, Economics Club, Leo Club or the Music Club. Community service is also an integral part of a student’s experience in MCKL. Participation in the various activities will help develop interests in different cultures, build confidence, time management, leadership and interpersonal skills and maturity in self-control and discipline. MCKL’s Christian Fellowship is one of the most comprehensive in these aspects as it also allows students to grow in their faith and relationship with God in addition to having fellowship with others from all walks of life, regardless of race or creed. For example, the Interfaith Dialogue – organised annually by the Christian Fellowship – is an excellent platform for students to grow in mutual understanding and interracial harmony. As a result of the collective effort of the committed staff, MCKL has been able to assist students in achieving their full potential, graduating with excellent grades and gaining entry into prestigious universities around the world.

Outstanding students In 2011, Chew Kwang Liang was the only Malaysian student accepted into Yale University. Last year, Tong Kin Seng was the only Malaysian student who gained entry to read Medicine at the University of Oxford. And this year has a line-up of students with impressive admissions and scholarships: Chan Yen Ping will enter Cambridge University on the MCKL Teaching Scholarship; Janice Koh Kar Oon will enter the University of Tokyo on the JAGAM & Japanese Government Scholarships; Joshua Wong gained entry into Nanyang Technological University on the ASEAN Scholarship; Ng Wai Lam and Lok Chen-Yue have both received the Khazanah Scholarship to study Biochemistry in the University of Oxford and Economics in University College London respectively; and How Han Ming is the only Malaysian to receive the prestigious Wesleyan Freeman Scholarship. On July 13, MCKL celebrated its

30th anniversary, marking a significant milestone in its progress since its inception. Over that period, the ‘school of second chances’ has grown into a ‘college of excellence for life’ where thousands of students have been touched and changed for the better. The 30-year journey has not always been rosy, as there were many challenges along the way. However, by God’s grace, MCKL has weathered and overcome all of these challenges, thus maintaining its academic integrity while holding true to its Methodist roots. Bishop Rev. Dr Ong Hwai Teik comments, “The Lord has been our good Shepherd in taking the College through the desert and into the pastures of today.” And nothing speaks of that more than the success of MCKL alumni and its growing student enrolment. There are even plans to expand the college to accommodate further growth in the near future. The College has come a long way from its humble beginnings and looks forward to nurturing a community where excellence in all forms is celebrated, and where individuals come alive to their Godgiven ability to make a unique difference in the world.

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D R A AH o t t nu k c a cr

B y Na n c y B a c c a

I married Michael when I was 18 years old. Michael was a good husband. I remember the day he wanted to start his own business as a real estate agent. I was apprehensive as he had no experience in that area. It would be taking a great risk. We had a debt on our modest home and we would need to change our car if we were to drive people around to see properties. That night I prayed the best way I could, “God, I never wanted to be rich. All I want is to not lose our little home and be able to always pay our bills.” Although I was not a committed believer when I prayed that prayer, God blessed our business so much that within a period of three to four years, we not only paid all our debts, we were able to build a brand new house and go to Europe with the whole family for a holiday.

la

Nancy and her husband, Michael.

Then my father was diagnosed with cerebral vascular disease. He became very ill and was unable to walk and communicate. The doctors said he would not live much longer than three months. My mother struggled to care for him, so he was put into a nursing home. One day, a nurse (called June) saw my mother and told her that she knew someone who could help my father. He was Jesus. Mum, like many people, believed that the time of miracles was past. June asked if we would like her pastor to come and pray for Dad. We invited him over for coffee. He asked if we would like to pray with him and we did. I didn’t realise it at the time but it was the Sinner’s Prayer to accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord. June invited us to visit her church the following Sunday and we took my father there in his wheelchair. That night in 1974, my father, mother, brothers and I made a public declaration of faith in the Lord Jesus

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“ T h e e n c o u n t e r wi t h J e s u s c h a n g e d M i c h a e l ’ s w h o l e p e r s o n a l i t y . ”

Nancy (left) with June, the nurse who invited her and her family to church.

Christ. Father did not die in three months but lived another seven years. He was able to feed himself, talk and read his Bible, things he couldn’t do before the prayer for healing. However, Michael couldn’t understand the change in my life and my desire to attend the church where I became a Christian. He became very angry and bitter and made life difficult for me. I know of couples who gave up on their marriage when their spouses refused to become Christians. But I believed marriage was till death parts us and I had faith that things would change.

“… even though we love one another, we must love God and honour Him above everyone else.” One day, at a church service, the speaker came up to me and prophesied, “God is going to permit you to go through a very dark time in your life. It will be difficult but don’t fear. Trust Him and He will bring you out of it.” This prepared me for what was to come. Stubborn spouse Michael was diagnosed with bowel and spleen cancer. It had already spread and it was expected his life would end in about 12 months. I was devastated – a widow at 31 years old and my children losing their father! Then I remembered the prophecy so I told the doctor, “My husband will not die.” Sympathetic, she advised me, “You

have to face the facts. Make the most of the next year and maybe go for a holiday together.” I managed to get Michael to church for prayer. But even then, he refused to continue attending. Michael went through chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Amazingly, he never lost his hair and never took one day off work. Many years later, I met the doctor in a shopping centre and she confessed that it was a miracle that he lived so long. In the following 20 years, Michael went through several other operations for his cancer. He had an ileostomy to remove his whole bowel because the cancer had spread. Ten years later, he had kidney cancer. He went through another round of medical treatment. Throughout the years, Michael stubbornly refused to go to church with us and never allowed my pastors to come and pray with him. He continued to oppose me for attending even the one weekly service. In March 1994, cancer struck again and this time his pancreas was affected. After overcoming so many health crises and seeing with his own eyes my father’s recovery, I still could not convince him to receive prayer. In fact, when he heard the pastor was visiting, he left the house for several hours to avoid him. But I continued to pray desperately for his salvation because I knew how serious his condition was. Several months later, he had pains in his shoulders with pneumonia and was to be admitted to hospital the next day. That evening I prayed in the Spirit with a great burden for him. After a while, I felt the burden lift, so I went to sleep peacefully.

Divine Encounter That night, God gave Michael a visitation – a revelation that I had prayed for for 20 years – that like Saul of Tarsus, he would encounter Jesus Christ. Michael exclaimed that he was awake all the while when “a man appeared dressed in white with a gold sash around his waist. He was tall, strong, with beautiful eyes and brown hair.” I asked, “Who do you think he was?” He replied, “He was Jesus. He came over to my bed and touched my arm and said, ‘Don’t be afraid. I know all the things you have suffered and everything is going to be all right’. Then Jesus asked, ‘Where is your wife?’ ‘Lord, can’t you hear her praying in the other room?’ ” Jesus then turned and walked through

“God mercifully gave Michael 20 extra years to get cracking.” the bedroom door towards the room where I was praying. Michael said he could hear Jesus and me talking. The encounter that night changed Michael’s whole personality – he was like a different person. He opened up and started to share how he felt, something he never did before. He became the person I prayed he would be. Jesus never said Michael was going to be healed but told him not to be afraid, that everything would be all right. Next morning, my mother came to see Michael and led him in the prayer of salvation. Before going to the hospital, Michael asked me to forgive him. “I didn’t understand why you love God so much. I felt you loved God more than me. Please forgive me for all the years I rejected you because of your faith.” He finally understood when I explained that even though we love one another, we must love God and honour Him above everyone else. The hard nut was finally cracked. God mercifully gave Michael 20 extra years to get cracking. Several days after his encounter with Jesus, he went to heaven with his newfound Saviour and Lord. In 1995, God called Nancy to ministry. After finishing Bible college, which she had longed to do since she was saved, she became an elder in the church. She was ordained as a pastor in Christian Church in Australia and continues to serve in Liberty Christian Centre in Perth.

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MONEY MATTERS

IMPROVING OUR

FINANCIAL HEALTH Most of us should aim to grow physically thinner, while all of us should endeavour to grow financially fatter.

A

r e you he a lth y ? A r e

you really healthy? Those are questions we all crave to answer with a resounding ‘yes’. When we think of the spiritual health of a Christian, we find that focusing on the basics of reading our Bible, praying every day and telling others about our amazing Saviour Jesus Christ are more than mere platitudinous pieces of advice. Those fundamentals of Christian life are a requirement of long-term spiritual health.

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Then for continued physical health, each person needs to take care of different fundamentals such as drinking lots of clean water, eating intelligently and exercising to fulfil our bodies’ conditioning needs for ongoing strength, flexibility, endurance and balance. Heeding those basics does not guarantee longevity but does increase our likelihood of attaining long-term physical health. In a moment we’ll explore the essentials of financial health, but we’ll better appreciate those basics if we first

B y R a j en D e v adas o n

focus on physical weight. In an environment where many of us live sedentary lives, perhaps the most important part of improving our physical health is controlling our weight by ensuring we burn calories through vigorous exercise. For those of us who are overweight – I include myself in this large group – the wisest way to boost health and energy levels is to be mindful of what we eat and how much we exercise. If our energy output (through exercise and an active lifestyle) is consistently greater than


our energy intake (in the form of breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner and supper), we will lose weight and feel better. Conversely if we take in more than we expend, we will expand… and feel lousier as we age! The key metric here is the caloric imbalance in our bodies. Ironically, when it comes to maintaining financial health, there is an opposite flow equation we should pursue. If we are physically overweight we want to burn up more calories than we take in. That leads to better physical health. In personal finance we need to bring in more cash than we burn up. If we succeed, our financial health improves. Bottomline: Most of us should aim to grow physically thinner, while all of us should endeavour to grow financially fatter. Tracking your finances This aspect of financial health is best monitored using a cash flow statement that you construct with a pen and a clean piece of paper or on an Excel-installed computer. List all your cash inflow sources such as salary, business income, interest earned from bank deposits, distributions gained from unit trust investments, dividends from stocks and rental received from investment property. That takes care of the top half of your personal cash flow statement. The bottom half comprises all your expenses. These include but are not limited to taxes, rent, mortgage, utilities, groceries, petrol, toll, other transportation expenses like bus, train and air fares, gifts, charitable giving and entertainment. Also, in my opinion the first outflow item for Christians should be our tithe. (Note: The only time in the Bible God tells us to test Him is Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” It would be crass of us to assume the only blessing God pours out is monetary! I believe this verse promises access to the full bounty of God, which is revealed and released through His Son Jesus Christ. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have

Properly managing our money is aligned to sound biblical teaching. come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That’s the way the NIV translates the original Greek text. The KJV puts it more potently when it states: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Each of us desires an abundant life marked by a wide spectrum of health: Spiritual health, physical health and financial health! I don’t subscribe to the extreme teachings of the lopsided prosperity gospel because Jesus’ unconditional love is manifest to all, especially those who are sick and poor and needy. But I believe that God’s Word, the Holy Bible, contains truths we are encouraged to discover for ourselves and to appropriate for our own lives. Good management Properly managing our money is aligned to sound biblical teaching. In Luke 16:11-12, Jesus intimated as much when he declared, “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” It would, therefore, be wise for each of us to construct our own cash flow statement. If you would like to learn more, read my online article What is a Cash Flow Statement? at www.freecoolarticles. com/FP14.htm, then think about ways you might construct a personal cash flow statement listing all the specific cash inflow and outflow items of your life. It is a truism of management that we manage best what we measure closest. Creating a personal cash flow statement is a great step toward enhancing your personal financial management. As

you improve your skills, you will find your financial health improving, at first in small steps and then – as compound interest is harnessed to work for you and not against you – in leaps and bounds! So a key step in your personal financial health improvement programme is contemplating emotionlessly the way compound interest affects both halves of your cash flow statement, inflow and outflow. Most people who carry out this exercise for the first time are shocked to discover their interest costs on liabilities are at least 10 times larger than their interest earnings from assets. That startling realisation can be a wakeup call. Say you carry out this exercise and discover your interest costs per month amount to RM2,200 from a slew of loans ranging from your mortgage to your car loan to your unpaid credit card balances. Let us also assume your monthly yield inflow from interest earnings from your bank savings, fixed deposits, money market and bond unit trust funds, and dividend payments from your stocks and distributions from your equity trust funds average RM200 a month. That gives you an ‘interest’ outflow to inflow ratio of RM2,200 divided by RM200 = 11 times. Make it your goal to raise your active income by working harder and smarter, and to lower your borrowings so as to reduce that ratio over the next year from our hypothetical 11 times to, say, 10.5 and then 10 times over the next year. Once you get into the groove of doing so, another decade or two of focused effort should see you migrating to an outflow/inflow ratio of less than 1.0. Once you get there, you will – financially speaking – have grown very, very healthy!

© 2013 Rajen Devadason Rajen Devadason, CFP, is a Securities Commissionlicensed financial planner, professional speaker and author. Read his free articles at www.FreeCoolArticles. com; he may be contacted at rajen@RajenDevadason.com.

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MAKING SENSE OF SCRIPTURES

QUESTIONS ABOUT ESTHER

T

B y P r o j e c t B arnabas

he book of Esther

whether God delivered the Jewish people who were His beleaguered covenant people, based on Esther’s obedience and faithfulness. Scrutinising the Jewish celebration of the Feast of Purim that commemorates the delivery of the Jewish people through Queen Esther, we observe that Purim comes from the word Pur, which meant the lot9. This indicates the understanding that God’s deliverance of the Jewish people was not one based on their faithfulness or Esther’s obedience, but one that is dependent on God’s judgment and sovereignty, as every decision is from the Lord10. Our conclusion is that the book of Esther does not promise God will always rescue the faithful in times of trouble, and that being faithful is not a prerequisite for God’s deliverance.

chronicles events of the Jewish people during the occupancy of the Persians and revolves around the characters of King Xerxes, Mordecai (Esther’s relative and guardian), Esther (who rose to be the Persian queen) and Haman (the enemy of the Jews). The book raises controversial ethical issues of whether Queen Esther, heralded as a heroine, had brought deliverance to the Jews through deceit, power mongering and vengeance.

Is it all right to lie and join a sexual harem to gain power as Esther did?

At first glance, it is easy to condemn Esther for deceiving the king to gain power. However, a closer observation reveals that Esther had hidden her nationality and family background because of Mordecai’s instruction1, and her response was one of obedience to Mordecai, her guardian. Also, she had not plotted to join the sexual harem, but was taken to the king’s palace by the king’s order and edict2. Even when she had won the favour of everyone who saw her, Esther did not take the opportunity to garner power, but instead asked for nothing other than what Hegai (the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the women) suggested3.

Should Esther’s act of vengeance and racial cleansing be emulated?

Continuing with the same line of thought, we conclude that Haman’s death was not an act of vengeance by Esther. In fact, it was Haman himself who had built the gallows4, and his death on the gallows was ordered by King Xerxes himself 5 due to the turn of events.

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Although Esther’s act of authorising the killing of 75,300 of her enemies6 would be viewed in today’s context as unethical racial cleansing (and should not be emulated today), it was viewed as a norm in the context represented in the book of Esther, when “concerns with human rights have yet to evolve in our collective consciousness 7”. Even God himself had instigated this8.

Does this book promise that God will always rescue the faithful in times of trouble?

The book of Esther does not contain an explicit reference to God, worship, prayer or sacrifice, making it difficult to ascertain whether God will always rescue the faithful in times of trouble, and more specifically,

Esther 2:10 Esther 2:8 3 Esther 2:15 4 Esther 5:14 5 Esther 7:9 6 Esther 9:5-17 7 So You Think You Know The Bible, Ron Choong. Pg 144 8 Eg. Numbers 31:1-18 9 Esther 9:24 10 Proverbs 16:33 1 2

Project Barnabas is a global online programme to study every book of the Bible in the context of its genres, intended messages and applications for our lives today. It is divided into two 20-week semesters a year and is suitable for individual quiet time or cell group studies. For more information, go to http:// www.actministry.org/project-barnabas/


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Further information: www.mbs.org.my or contact the Registrar Anne 03-60371727

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Dear Goldie Dear Goldie, We’ve just moved into a new neighbourhood and met a few new neighbours. Some of them seem quite friendly and welcoming; others we find a bit inscrutable. How can we build good relationships with them, seeing we are going to live together for some time to come? Neighbourly

Befriending Your Neighbours Dear Neighbourly, You are wise to start on a good footing. I remember when we first migrated to Perth, I tried to visit most of the neighbours on our street. My mother, who was from Beijing, was good at making dumplings, so a good introductory gift was a bag of dumplings with printed instructions on how to cook them crisply without oil – a unique method using water to boil, steam and fry on a non-stick flat pan. After 10 years of our moving away, we still meet some of them who remember the dumplings. Once, my mother got talking to a Chinese neighbour at the bus stop and found out she and her family had come from Hong Kong without knowing a single person in Perth. Mom introduced her to us and we invited the family to church – providing them an instant caring community. Eventually they became Christians. Near our home is a small shopping complex where our church is also located. When we first moved in, we agreed we should pastor our fellow tenants, so we prayer-walked the venue regularly and sprinkled salt as a prophetic act according to what Elisha did to make the bitter water in that area wholesome (2 Kings 2:19-22). Our member G has a Malaysian food stall in the complex. Every week, Tek (my

husband) would study the Bible with him in his restaurant when there is a lull. The other shopkeepers noticed their weekly gathering. One day, M, a boutique owner, remarked, “How come you didn’t come last week? When you don’t have your Bible study here my business goes down!” She was then told how she can have God’s help by asking for it herself. She gladly received Jesus as her God. Till today, we still pray together regularly for the other shopkeepers. One day, a lady walked into her shop with a newspaper under her arm. M remarked, “You don’t look very happy.” She replied, “My husband just died. I was checking the obituaries in the newspaper.” M immediately said, “Goldie can pray for you.” From there, I invited her to join our line dancing class. She did and also came to our cell meetings. My prayer for M is to be discerning to see who she should not only sell clothes to but connect to her Helper. Last week after praying together, she told me, “The coffee shop boss P needs prayer.” She introduced me to him and I ordered a waffle with cream. Tek and I then prayed for his request. Several times I went to eat a waffle and pray with him. He told me he used to go to church but now he doesn’t read the

Bible. I gave him a copy of 1John, a daily reading with notes which Tek had written. I also invited him to visit our cell group which met in a chicken rice cafe in the neighbourhood. A week later my cell group member K, the chicken rice cafe owner, recounted to me, “I was early for my morning prayer with you so I dropped into the only coffee shop that was opened. Over a cup of coffee, I told the owner our cell group was meeting at my chicken rice cafe.” So P the coffee shop owner realised that this was the cafe I was talking about where we had our cell meetings. I pray that he will realise that God is doing something to draw him back to Himself. So pray that God will lead you to those He has prepared.

Goldie Do you have an issue you need advice on? Write to Asian Beacon’s Goldie Chong at aboffice@asianbeacon.org for her godly counsel. Selected questions may be featured in this column. If you leave an email address, you will have your question answered, whether it’s published or not.

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Asian Beacon Volume 45 Issue 5 (Oct&Nov 2013)