I always find correspondence with older wiser people who care for me very helpful – much more worth reading than my silly ranting introspection, so here you go. Enjoy, from my champion uncle Timothy Loh Kah Hoong. I told him I was bummed he didn’t reply to my email last year, but turns out I got the wrong address and today I finally have an answer…on Facebook chat!

(The questions no longer gnaw at me as urgently, but they did, at that time. They really did. I was so uncertain. I was ready to pack my bags grab my journalism cert and fly home. I really wanted to go home. To be asked to stay in Australia felt all sorts of wrong to me. No vision, no comrades, no…nothing. And for a foreign journo grad who speaks half-good English to get an employer-sponsored PR in an over-saturated market? Please.

But I was depressed and impaired in my ability to assess the situation, and I wasn’t sure at all I could make the decision to go home when the authorities placed over me told me otherwise. It was a depression that took way my confidence and certainty – I barely made it to my first day of work – my friend had to help me get there. So the questions asked below were from an acute “between a rock and a hard place” situation in my life, but thankfully, I listened and obeyed to the authorities placed over me, and I am glad.

I thought my uncle was too busy to reply to my email at that time. But he said to me today, I will wake up all night to answer your questions, and do my utmost best to serve you……..(I don’t know how to respond to that).

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Dear Jiu Jiu,

I know you are a very busy man but I thought you might be able to give me some insight and direction at this stage of my life. These issues have cropped up for a few months now.

I have completed my degree, and have recently started a job as Communications Officer at a Christian organization that seeks to make an influence in the civic arena (submitting policy suggestions to the government, engaging with politicians, and creating awareness through their print publications).

There are many problems with the organisation, I find it difficult to understand and connect with what they do, the founder is 70 years old with no successor on the horizon yet, and direction is unclear.

I suppose my urgent question to you is, the more I learn and experience in this world – meeting diverse people with very postmodern viewpoints where religion has no place, serving in a somewhat authoritarian, under-resourced church, the more ill-equipped I find myself to handle all that. I almost find God has no relevance in the operation of society here. How do I develop a relevance of God in my work/life? How did you?

Is it premature to consider & make decisions about what I’d like to devote my life to?

Ee Ee said if my heart is clear I can trust God and follow my heart – which pulls me to come home to Malaysia and Eaglepoint – but I don’t know if it’s because I love the environment, the support I have etc; or what. My leaders here challenge me to stay and grow in Australia – they think overcoming the cultural barrier among other things will make me a stronger person and grow in God.

I’ve also seen people who “follow their heart” and get it wrong (or they are told they are wrong anyway, not sure). This year, I’ve had a bunch of friends who’ve left the church, maybe confused and hurt. I suspect a lot of it has to do with the huge requirements of serving God here (the church does not have a building or staff), and they do not have the capacity to take it. Many burnout and few thrive. I struggle.

I suppose the standard answer to prevent burnout is to build a strong walk with God – but how do you do that? I am finding it a challenge. It was easy in Eaglepoint when the environment was loving, I was almost always with people of one-mind, and I had few questions about serving God – it always appeared to me as an inspiring, fun thing to do. Even challenges were presented as inspiring – all of you are inspiring!

But serving God here is not inspiring because of many factors – cultural barrier, increased load as I take on more in church..and in a leadership role, I find myself questioning some of the activities we do.

How did you develop a clear direction for your life and for the church you lead? Many different churches have different focuses. I suppose there isn’t such a thing as “the best”?

How did you develop & maintain strong convictions about the Bible – learning and defending the truth of the Bible?

There is a lot of uncertainty that I am feeling – the Christian faith takes on so many different expressions – which one is the best? How am I going to live that out in my life? How much of my life am I going to devote to extending God’s kingdom? Christianity sometimes causes so much dissent and argument in modern societies such as Australia – almost losing it’s relevance. I don’t know if you can see that all these questions I have almost lead me to wrestle with my faith sometimes.

I know I want to invest my life in something that counts – but I’m not sure what really counts.

When I take into account that my thoughts are affected by my bipolar mood swings, it makes developing direction and making decisions based on clear thought all the more harder.

Am I making sense? Is this normal?


6 August 2011

jiu jiu