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Spectator Faith June 19, 2006

Posted by peterong in Uncategorized.

“Those who say that they believe in God and yet neither love nor fear him, do not in fact believe in him but in those who have taught them that God exists. Those who believe that they believe in God, but without passion in their heart, any naquish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, without an element of despair even in their consolation, believe only in God-idea, not in God.” Miguel De Unamuno

Dear Friends and Family,

Sorry for the one week hiatus from my prayer update, I was in the midst of a busy week back in New York City for several exciting ministry opportunities, fellowship, time with family and most importantly moments reflecting on God. The above quote struck me as a bit of a paradox for me since I have found that I often do wrestle with this in my heart. I often listen to people as they mention their faith…and it seems so “academic” or “clear-cut” without much ambiguity…I feel like a stranger in that narrative. I don’t know if it is that kind of faith or a focused religion that seems to rob the wonder and mystery of who God is. Or just the “natural” progression…but my experiences and the scriptures presents a Super-natural God who is more like Aslan who is “not safe” but “good.” But I often find our rhetoric describes a God who is a divine accountant who is more interested in our compilation of achievements versus our commitment to love Him and being obedient. My relationship with God has always been ambivalent but filled with a great deal of variety of encounters…many moments of brokenness but also of extraordinary faith. I am learning and celebrating these varieties of encounters that the family of God has…and remembering the portion that God gives to those in the Kingdom is to be celebrated as wonderful mosaic.

I love picture above that I found on Flickr that seem to capture a lot of what I have been dealing with in my heart. I realized that Jamie and I have been living in Syracuse for almost 10 months now and it really made me examine myself in what I considered as my “spectator faith” experience…but as I made steps to connect with people and with community, it has been a mixed bag. There are people who I have met who are on such a wonderful journey of discovering God in all facets of their lives…great older men and women who have journeyed along this path and given me a great deal of insight and support…younger couples who continue to inspire me with their authenticity…yet, I am bound by my torn allegiances to ministry in New York City…and I often find myself realizing more and more that I need God’s visiong and urging for this community to overcome some of the obstacles I face in engaging. But in the end, I am learning to move ahead (thank you PJ for reminding me) that this is a time of preparation….a season for Jamie to get the training for us to be instrument of justice and peace…for me, a time to discover beyond what I have been walking…that I need a lapse to move to another direction…Pray for my momentary lapse…and beginning to feel the sense of wanting something new…somewhere, in Syracuse…

I attended a monthly meeting two weeks ago with the Syracuse Area Youth Workers where several youth pastors and pastors get together to share their hearts and a meal. It was a refreshing time of meeting very dynamic and energetic people who love God and youth. I hope to get to know them better and also to just be reminded of all that God is doing here. I will be presenting a talk about Prayer Walking this Wednesday for the Syracuse Alliance Church youth group and also leading a Prayer Walk on Saturday with several of the youth leaders at the church for the outlining community. The congregation is predominately upper to middle class but is located in a depressed area of Syracuse. I am hoping that this prayer walk will serve as a time of asking God to examine how to minister here… Pray for the youth leaders (I am amazed by the heart of the adults who serve in this ministry) and the team as I am assisting this summer I am hoping that this will continue to build on the work that God has started here.

The Refl3ctions Event at OCM was a huge success with about 400 youth coming out to this event to reflect on the theme of social justice. Jinny Kim and Neah Lee were awesome and one of the highlights of the evening was their rendition of Everything by Lifehouse…Praise God for providing us a speaker, Lawrence Tom gave a challenge for the youth to spend time “reflecting” on their faith and also for them to engage with their communities. Yi Ping ended the evening with a powerful presentation about Social Justice and Mercy…the evening ended with the TECBC Praise Band! As I look back on this event, it combined the principles that I love in ministry…Focus on the lost…the depth of relationships the coordintaors, the artists and the speaker have…a joy filled moment where we express our faith through the love we have for God and each other. As the evening ended and we had dinner, I sat around a table of people (LT, jinny, neah, joo, jo jo, norms, stephs, alex, and sung) whom I love and I know love God and love me…and there is healing in that…and a circle that the enemy cannot penetrate…hallelujah…This event in so many ways healed me from some of the recent discouragement I had with serving.

I have some good news, I was able to raise an additional 10% for the support of the Asian American Laity project which means I am about 40% there. This came at a time when I was laid off from my part-time job in Syracuse. I am currently looking for another position in Syracuse. I am looking to have a part-time position here while I am still fund-raising. Pray for a venue that will be best for opportunities to express my passions and also for me to meet people in this community. My friend Kati recommended that I get involved with several Syracuse non-profits that minister to the immigrant community here, and that sounds like a great opportunity.

I went to the PaLM Monthly Pastoral Fellowship meetings and enjoyed my time with the Asian American pastors in the community. I enjoyed the issues posed by the study regarding sending our congregations to their mission field. A challenging and sobering commission…I was able to meet with some pastors to discuss more about the Asian American Laity Project and it is good to hear of their support.

I am finalizing the Asian American Leadership Roundtable on Labor Day for the College and Career Eastern Chinese Bible Conference. We have some key participants from Intervarsity, Campus Crusades and local and national Asian American leadership. I will be doing a workshop there on evangelism and missional engagement.

I will be speaking at New Joy Fellowship on a sermon titled “Discoveries Along a Path of a Reluctant Faith.” Pray for a clear and engaging teaching from God’s word that speaks to a young professional Asian American congregations. I am prepping for my sermons for New York Summer Conference and feeling more and more excited about this privilege to speak to the youth. I had a chance to meet with the Variety Night Team while I was in New York and happy to serve with them and break bread.

I have been asked to coordinate a mentorship program for the English speaking Congregation for New York Chinese Baptist Church and also serving with OCM for their Zion (College) fellowship. Pray for the funding for these projects and that there will be adequate budget for these projects to succeed. I will be organize several trips into the city for the Fall and hope to have more opportunities to share at the Mid-Hudson Chinese Christian Church as a regular speaker.

I had a meeting with Upstate New York Area Coordinator for Intervarsity and we are working on the possibility of me serving with them on a campus as volunteer staff. Pray for discernment and also for my passion be sobered with the limits of time and resources…

Jamie and I were apart for almost a week and it has been a time for me to reflect on our marriage…and how much I delight in her support for me in this time. I am making no income right now…and she is in school…and yet, she works and continues to offer me such an adoring support…pray for us and for the provision of God to continue to encourage us.

I had some time with my sister as she visited with her kids…despite an ugly divorce she seems to be growing in her homecoming…we had a good heart to heart on the ride to the airport and I know that there is more to this story.

Last week, Jamie and I attended the wedding of Duncan and Jennifer and it was a great time of fellowship with our old friend Renie and her husband Nick…we had a chance to share our stories of marriage and our mutual passions for the poor and the needy. It was great to see Jamie’s friends and also to be reminded of the wonder and beauty of marriage.

Pray for Jamie and I as we are still in the midst of some shifting of gears in terms of our ministry and our pursuit of finding opportunities to serve together in a community of people who are close to our hearts. We are also beginning to talk and pray more about our future and the start of a family. So pray that we are humbled and trusting to what God wants in this new chapter in our life.

Jamie’s parents are coming into New York from Hong Kong at the end of this month and we are planning to spend some time with them…pray for a time of catching up and re-establishing our relationship with them.

To Financially Support the ministry please send checks to:
48-19 196th Street
Fresh Meadows, New York
please mark memo: Asian American Laity Ministries or Peter Ong



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