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Stop Dreaming July 31, 2006

Posted by peterong in Personal Ministry Thoughts, Uncategorized.
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“Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream….But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and if we are fortunate, with ourselves….Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it….He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“God the Creator arranged things so that we need each other” Basil of Caesarea

I am happy to be back on this blistering hot Monday afternoon to invite you to another edition of my web prayer update. Community arrives and I am seeking to find that elusive community that I am seeking in the midst of this pilgrimage. There has been its good and the bad and even the bad has moved me to a deeper sense of moving beyond the surface of community…it begins with the simple exchange and similar passion for God and people. In this season of life, I realize more that the grace of community comes in our sharing and in unity.

“one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.”

Acts 4:32-33.

I think I have experienced some good and bad here in Syracuse. The good are the encounters with people who love God in their broken ways…often imperfect…a bit messy but nevertheless with great hope for the continuing work that God is doing…at the worst, I have seen isolation where people are hurting and are seen through the lens of their shortcomings rather than the hope in Christ.

I am learning more that the key cornerstone of the gospel is the way we live out the gospel to each other first and to the outside world. We often don’t live up the promise of grace…or even worse the judgement or condemnation from the community of Christ…this hurts our witness and most of all it hurts our vision of what Christ wants to do in our midst. To be healers and pointers to God and also a defiant and prophetic voice to the culture that we are radically different in our measure of mercy and justice. But our appetites are petty…we want our churches to flourish, not the kingdom…and our love is limited, if you are a saint, you belong…our love is quite anemic, to be honest, I found more hope in community people who are secular than those who are faithful… That is why, people don’t flock to churches…because it is a place of judgement and it builds up another layer of the career game…climb the ladder and if you do well, you will be allowed in the club…That is why we have so many people who serve in church because they want another credential to be honored in…Yet, Bonhoeffer’s words remind me that it is not the ideal we seek but rather the pursuit of Christ through our family…We establish each other as an ambassador…each latent with a purpose…and even and boldy acknowledge our weakness to the weakest, then maybe, perhaps we can truly experience the wonder of the gospel. ..the the first missionary of the gospel in the New Testament was a woman who was married to five men…go figure…I wonder if she would have survived church in the year 2006.

Sabbath!

This past weekend was our first full weekend in Syracuse in over a month and it was nice to slow down and spend some time together. Jamie and I were able to attend Jazz in the Square to see Chuck Mangione with our friends Ming, Amy, Jeff and Pam. It was a beautiful evening as we sat on top of a pillar in the middle of Clinton Square.

It was a nice time of fellowship and music as we shared about our lives and as newly married people, our hopes for the future. Jamie and I spent Saturday at this wonderful bookstore called Books and Memories that had such gems as floors of old board games, magazines dating back to the 30’s, and a great basement of LP’s (vinyl records for all you “old folk”) and a scary section of sheet music. We spent a few hours there and as the thunder hit across the region we browsed. Jamie and I had a chance to visit Eastern Hills Bible Church on Sunday to hear a staff worker from Campus Crusades for Christ share a message on the truth of the gospel. We capped it off with a visit to Syracuse Alliance Church for a barbecue where I helped grill some meat (including my arm) and then some basketball with some young guys that almost broke my ankle (literally). Overall, it was a nice break from a hectic summer and it was nice not to have to drive 4+ hours again…

In the Presence of Courage
In the midst of looking for part-time work in Syracuse, I have been volunteering at the Center for New Americans in Syracuse. I am assisting with the vocational placement program that helps new refugees find work in the Syracuse area. I had the chance to meet with a Liberian woman who is recovering from her bout with cancer and looking for work. As she recalled her story she revealed her years of fleeing from the civil war in Liberia. I met two young Sudanese men (one of which is named Peter) who are now rebuilding their lives here. As I sat across the table from them I looked at their smiles as they shared their stories. It brought me back…

I remember when I attended Urbana 2003 and how I made a commitment there to be part of what God is doing in Sudan…and in the midst of being here, I took a pause in the midst of my anxiousness of finding a job, I realize the severity of their struggles in this new place. They each have a story of their escape from conflict, behind each of these lives tell a story of their encounters with some of the worst horros imaginable…and yet, I sat a few feet away from them…and that although they come here for assistance, I am in the presence of heroes. Pray for these neighbors who have arrived to this country. Pray for a unveiling of their story of coming to America as a story of salvation and deliverance into the hands of a merciful God.

Asian American Emergent Skypecast
I participated in the Asian American Emergent Skypecast with David Park (Atlanta), Ben Pun (Houston), DJ Chuang (DC) and myself (Syracuse) chatted for an hour. It was a great time discussin intergenerational immigrant Asian church’s perspective on authenticity, engagement and culture. We will have another one on August 27th, we hope that next time we will talk more about the emergent church and how it impact the issues of the Asian American Church.

OneHouse
The OneHouse event is postponed at the writing of this entry. This was due to the venue space. The organizers are meeting to see if we should postpone till October or push it to 2007. I am open to be the speaker but I want to honor their process and perhaps things will change in a few weeks. Pray for wisdom and seeking after God’s heart and will in this important movement towards unity and justice.

Asian American Laity Project
I am in the midst of preparing the calendar for the upcoming Fall 2006 for our meetings with leaders from the New York Asian American church. It will primarily focus on strategy and vision casting. I am sending a preliminary proposal for the pastors to look over and also to organize a special meeting with some national leaders of this development of Asian American ministry.

I am doing some research on denominational approaches to ethnic specific ministries and to see what is out there that deals with Asian Americans. As I am speaking with people more and more, I am realizing the need for this ministry in the East Coast. I am hoping to find some time to speak with the national leaders on this topic.

Pray for wisdom and also diligence in getting some of this groundwork done. I am in the process of learning and also being challenged to gain more knowledge in this arena.

The website is up and in one week, it has received almost 1000 hits already! It was featured in Technorati‘s top movers on its launch date! Thank you for visiting it and also spread the word around about this site. Thanks for your support.

Things that dropped and now added…
Due to circumstances, I will not be able to assist with New York Chinese Baptist Church’s Mentorship program or OCM’s Zion’s college ministries. These were quite a disappointment with me since I was planning and looking forward to serving with them. I am in the midst of discussion of serving at Intervarsity at Cornell. I am suppose to have a meeting with the area Coordinator and the president of the fellowship sometime in August. I have two requests to speak at a church regularly. I am not sure what is the best way of addressing this since I am in the midst of a financial crunch and balancing fundraising, looking for a part-time job and planning for the ministry. Pray for definitive opportunities for me to best serve.

In the same vein, Jamie and I praying for a new church community to best serve together and also pursue our future in ministry. We are exploring a few options and we are excited for this new season of our lives. Pray for a smooth transition for us and for our friendships that God started continue to build. I am committed to servung the youth ministry leaders at Syracuse Alliance Church and hoping help in supporting a vision and direction of God is doing at the church.

Misc Prayers
Please pray for Jamie and I as we approach our first year anniversary of our marriage (how time flies!!!) We are going to celebrate it by attending a wedding in Boston. But we are hoping to spend some time there visiting Gordon Conwell Seminary where our beloved Kenny and Cindy Chau are there. Jamie and I spent some time this weekend reflecting and praying for our shared future together.

Thank you again for reading an praying for us. We love and miss you much!

To Financially Support the ministry please send checks (make payable to PaLM) to:
PaLM
48-19 196th Street
Fresh Meadows, New York
11365-1316
please mark memo: Asian American Laity Ministries or Peter Ong
All donations are tax-deductible

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