Blessed are the Persecuted. (Urbana Through a Lens: Day 3)

Day 3 at Urbana was a quick, busy day. Simple as that. No more rain though!

Morning Session Part 1: Dr. Patrick Fung on the parable of the 10 virgins.
No one can rely on someone else’s spirituality… Spirituality CANNOT be borrowed.” (Acts 13:36)
Let us be a community of God’s people, not burnt out but burning bright far and wide for him. The time will come to divide the ready from the unready.”
“Jesus’ coming will be (1) Unexpected, (2) sudden, (3) definitive, and (4) decisive.”

Morning Session Part 2: Evelyne Reisacher
-I have to say, this lady had the cutest french accent ever!
-Acronym: WWW – Welcome, Wisdom, and Wonder.

  • WelcomeI am afraid of scary Muslims as well as scary Christians, but I won’t be afraid of Muslims as a whole.”
  • Wisdom – we need Christians who can resolve conflict as peacemakers, in education and social work… to care for Muslims  where they are mistreated. It takes time to grow. It combines learning with prayer, submission to God and passion for service.
  • Wonder “Christians must rediscover that wonder is part of our mission.” A wonder of discovering more about science and  discovering more about people through relationships.

“Our goal should be a lifetime of relationships and conversation with Muslims.”
Jeremiah: “I have cried until the tears no longer come.”
-“We are ‘hostages of hope.’ We remember that Jesus is the Joy of the World.”
“It is the joy that brings me back to weakness, because I want to see more joy!” 

Lunch: My good friend Jon and I decided to take our lunch break and go to Kiener Plaza to see the famous St. Louis  Arch with the Old Courtyard building.

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On the way back we ran into a food truck. I got a “Captain Obvious” sandwich, which is a BLT with avocado and an fried egg. I also got their self made chips.

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Afternoon: Hack4Missions – I’ll blog about the project on another post. But here are a couple pictures I managed to take during Tuesday’s Hack4Missions activities.

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Dinner with Grace and Will – One of my roommate’s friends mentioned that something to eat in St. Louis is toasted ravioli (essentially fried ravioli) at a restaurant named “Charlie Gitto’s.” I got to eat there with two friends in our church’s Young Adult Fellowship (YAF). Both are Rutgers graduates and former Intervarsity members. I talk to them all the time at church even though I’m not a part of YAF, and I love learning from them and spending time with them. I also teach a 4th grade Sunday School class with Grace! 🙂 Also, Will is volunteering this year for Intervarsity at Urbana. Food pictures coming up! The ravioli was pretty darn delicious. The ground-meat inside was on point, and it was fried so well. It’s like a different take on a chicken nugget… I love chicken nuggets.

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After dinner, we also visited Kiener plaza (the same place I went during lunch with Jon) to see the same view of the St. Louis Arch at night.

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Then we returned to the convention center for the night session. I stopped to take a long exposure shot.

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Night Session – Prayer Meeting for the Persecuted
I won’t be going in much detail because for safety purposes.
“Today’s persecuted Christians know that the best response to persecution is to pray for the persecutors.”
-“When we align ourselves with God’s kingdom there is always a resurrection. Always. Always. Always.” 
– MaryKate Morse
-We sang: Father, let this cup pass from us; yet not as I will, but as you will. We bless those who persecute us, we pray and choose to bless.
-“Our call is to press in. (1) To read. (2) To watch. (3) To pray.”

Approximately 16,000 people prayed for the persecuted during this night session. At one point it was almost completely quiet. A crowded football dome… quiet. At another point many broke out singing “How He Loves,” and many other songs to follow.

There were electronic candles passed around to create a candlelight/bonfire type of setting. I’ve been part of candlelight services and bonfire prayer meetings before, but in this stadium, it was like no other.

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Lastly, we were given different ways to pray for the persecuted. One way was to write down Bible verses and worship music lyrics on a card to send to others who may not have access to the Bible. This activity made me think: what would it be like if I didn’t have access to a Bible? I was given a renewed appreciation of the Bible verses I’ve memorized at church as a child. I was also encouraged to want to memorize more Scripture now in college.

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Roommate Huddles: our room shared about our days. We also prayed for each other. We mainly discussed the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (from morning Bible study), trying to figure out how it applies to our lives. I think that the workers who complain represent many of us who struggle to commit our complete lives to God. If we only need salvation to go to heaven, why do I need to try hard to be a Jesus-follower now? If someone who accepts Jesus on his deathbed gets to go to heaven, why can’t I pursue a comfortable life?

I’m finishing this at midnight after Day 4 (Wednesday) and I can say that Urbana is continuing to be ridiculously tiring, but such a blessing. Keep a look out for a Day 4 post- thanks for reading 🙂

Please pray for a more energy and good rest at night, and also the Hack4Missions presentations tomorrow (Thursday).

 

 

 

 

If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord AT all. (Urbana Through a Lens: Day 2)

My day 2 update is coming at the end of day 3. That goes to show how busy days 2 and 3 have been.

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An evangelist standing in the rain.

It was another rainy day. Packing Timberland waterproof boots and umbrella really helped.

There is so much going on at Urbana right now. So much worship, learning, and fellowship. It’s almost overwhelming. One of the things that I’ve always had trouble in life is prioritizing. I want to do everything, and make the most of every hour that I have. Urbana is no different. There are people to meet up and catch up with, seminars, tracks, and people to fellowship… prioritizing time is so important. It’s peculiar that I’m struggling with something at this conference that I struggle with in routine life.

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Morning session praise.

The morning session started with another message by Dr. Patrick Fung.
“Jesus led his disciples into the storm, and jesus saved his disciples from the storm, but Jesus never let his disciples avoid the storm.”
Following Jesus is: (1) Radical. (2) Risky. (3) Costly.
“If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.” -Hudson Taylor
“Are you willing to follow Jesus into the storm?”

The morning session continued with a message from Christena Cleveland. She talked about unity and division from a Social Psychology view. She mentioned “The Power of US“: When we are together and connected, we share each other’s resources, but we also share each other’s pain.
“Unity is powerful, but division is just as powerful.”
-“We create ‘us/them distinctions.’ Once we decide who our ‘us’ is, we perceive everyone else as ‘them.’ When we create ‘us/them distinctions,’ we have an inaccurate meta-perception.”
Christena defined meta-perception as: What we thing that they thing about us.
-We should step into others’ shoes.
“Who is part of your family? How will the world know?”

In the afternoon we had seminars go to, exhibits from different organizations to visit, and a bookstore to browse. There are also differnet tracks that students were able to sign up for. I signed up for the “Hack4Missions” track.

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My Hack4Missions setup.

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What is “Hack4Missions”? It’s essentially a hackathon here at Urbana.However, instead of a continuous all-nighter, it’s a designated time in the afternoon (1:30 PM – 5:30 PM) for three days (and one day for presentations). We were given 12 projects to join and help with. There are different things that we can contribute- from coding to web-development to project management to graphic design, and many other tasks. Read more about Hack4Missions here: http://hack4missions.org/

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I’ll talk about the project I got to take part in later.

During our night session, we first had the privilege of hearing Francis Chan speak. He talked about “Living Under the Authority of Jesus.”
-He mentioned that there is such a pull to live a comfortable life, and a pull to make a name for one’s self.
A comfortable lifestyle “pales in comparison to following Jesus.”
Sometimes w
e just “discuss the Bible to death.” What does following really mean? “We make so many excuses to not do anything and not make an effort to tell others about Christ.”
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Paul: Anyone who desires to live a life worthy of Jesus Christ will be persecuted.”
Chan asked: Do you want to know the will of God?” If God were to reveal his plan for me RIGHT now, would I even want to hear it??

One thing that really opened my eyes was Francis Chan’s description of the disciple Matthew’s calling to follow Jesus. He asked us: “What do you think Matthew thought when Jesus told him to follow Him?” From Matthew’s standpoint, Jesus just raised a paralyzed man, calmed the storm, drove out a demon. Chan said that Matthew must have been thinking: if every force of evil is under this guy’s power, what is there to fear? Matthew rose and followed him. Chan stated that the book of Matthew is obscure. Matthew knew he had to get up and start moving. It got me thinking- how am I responding to God’s call in my life?

Next came Michelle Higgins. She is an activist for #BlackLivesMatter.
♪ hold on just a little longer. everything will be alright ♫
“I love you. Thus, you have dignity” – Deuteronomy
If you don’t know your history, you will repeat it.” (Japanese internment. Now refugee crisis).
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We must tear down our idols. God wants to release you of the burden of being in control!”
We should say: I don’t want to bear this burden of being in control of defining justice, but I know the one who does.”
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We hope for thing that are unseen. This hope becomes part of the unseen. A community of people committed to abiding love is evidence to things unseen.”
“We must commit ourselves to give control of our stories to the God who wrote them.”

I’m really grateful that Urbana is making an effort to address the current events happening around the world, and doing their best to provide us with a godly and mission-minded perspective in response to these events.

Finally, we had roommate huddles. My roommates George and Jeff are in the business track, and it’s nice to hear about what they’ve learned in their track. George echoed Francis Chan, describing how we know that life is not meant to be easy, but our college education is all about attaining a life of wealth, success, and comfort. Jeff mentioned that an important thing about being a Christian is to simply be the best we can be for God.

Urbana is getting more intense, and the days are getting longer. There is so much more to learn and experience.

Please pray for energy, passion, and a Christ-centered mindset.

Welcome to Urbana! (Urbana through a Lens 2015: Day 1)

Urbana Missions Conference is here. This year’s theme is “What STORY will you tell?”

I’ve been given a great privilege to be part of a Student Social Squad here at Urbana 15 to put out content into social media  describing the Urbana experience 🙂

However, this is still my photography blog, so I’m calling my posts this week “Urbana Through A Lens.”

EWR->STL: Departure 12:10 PM EST, Arrival: approx. 1:30 PM CT.

In both New Jersey and St. Louis, the weather was terrible- foggy, rainy, soaking wet. However, my flight had no delays or difficulties. That’s something to be thankful for. My prayers go out to those who are still waiting to get here. Stay Strong!

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This chalkboard world map Urbana set up in the convention center gives an idea of the amount of diversity there is here at this conference.

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Large Group: approximately 16,000 people filed into Edward Jones Dome (the St. Louis Rams play football here!!). Everyone gathered for one purpose: to learn more about God and our mission to tell His story.

Session 1 (speaker – Patrick Fung, M.D.):

  • The book of Matthew “starts with worship and ends with worship.”
  • Matthew chapter 2 – there are three stories: the story of the Magi, the story of Herod, and the story of Joseph. However, these three stories all point to Jesus’ story.
  • The story of the Magi: “Jesus’ coming is of cosmic significance.”
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    “Jesus’ coming is of cosmic significance.” – Patrick Fung, M.D.

  • The story of Herod: “God’s story is always bigger than others. Man’s ambition can never circumvent God’s plan.”
  • The story of Joseph: “Jesus was born into a refugee family” as Joseph immediately obeyed God’s command to flee to Egypt. “The faith journey requires obedience… it is NOT a risk-free journey.”
  • “Our best gift to Jesus is to tell the world Immanuel – God is with us.”

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A quick meet-up with members of our home church, Rutgers Community Christian Church in central Jersey.

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Prayer with the church members.

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Roommate huddle – time to bond and talk with our roommates about our first day at Urbana so far.

We are challenged this week to:

  1. Be a learner.
  2. Be a team player.
  3. Be a story teller.

I already get a chance to do all these things by sharing what I’m learning here as well as pictures that describe my first Urbana experience on this blog!

Day 2 has already begun as I post this, so I ask you to keep on praying for all of us here at Urbana, that God will continue to reach out to us! Also, I believe the main sessions are being streamed for free on Urbana’s website: https://urbana.org/, and follow Urbana on twitter and instagram @UrbanaMissions. Also, follow me on instagram for photos 🙂 @mattlau95.

I’ll be posting updates around noon during lunch break hopefully every day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another New Home (+ Jr. Video BTS)

This is my first year attending Chinese Christian Fellowship (CCF) at Rutgers University, even though it’s already my third year here.

It’s not just my first time attending CCF, but also my first time attending a large-group fellowship at Rutgers. I had only gone to my church small group (shoutout to R8) my first two years. I had been stubborn or scared of mingling with and opening myself up to a larger group of people I didn’t know.

This year, R8 moved their meeting time from Tuesday to Friday night. However, I spend time on Fridays with our church middle schoolers at youth group, so I couldn’t go to R8 anymore. Even though I miss the fellowship with R8, it pushed me to go to another fellowship. That fellowship was CCF (Also, I still see my R8 friends at church every week!).

To be honest, it was the large group that fit my schedule (and ethnicity) best. Also, I had a couple of old friends from church who not only regularly attended but were serving. I had even become friends with the president that summer at a youth retreat. At first I said I would visit and stay for the semester… that I was probably only going to stay due to “schedule conflicts” and that things may change next semester. I was clouded with doubts and filled with with fear of commitment.

Then I realized something. I’ve always stood very strong in my opinion on church commitment. I think church is all about committing to fellowship, relationships, and serving, not necessarily just the music, the messages, and the programs. And there I was, scared to commit to a fellowship because I was scared of opening up to a new group of people. I was acting against my own opinion.

All Christians struggle with the same things. We struggle with sin: pride, lust, hatred, addiction… I can stand there judging others of these things while I’m guilty of the exact same sin (Matthew 7:3-5).

And as soon as I committed to regular attendance and also to making an effort to open up to others and start new relationships did I get to experience a whole new blessing of a new Christ-centered community at college.

Now I am definitely not saying that CCF is “the fellowship to be at.” All fellowships have their outward pros and cons. However, what makes fellowship so great is Christ and the love He has shown us to show each other. Prepared for ups as well as downs, I’ve found a new community- another home for my last year and a half at Rutgers University.

I’m not staying because of the wonderful speakers that we get to hear or the plethora of musical talent the praise team has during large group. I’m not staying because of the events where we get to hang out.

I’m staying because of the people I have started relationships with.

One of the most recent examples of opening up to others was filming a video with our junior class for an annual CCF Christmas Dinner. I got to share a very small snippet of this story at the end 🙂

This is the video we made. Inspired by Dude Perfect’s pick up basketball stereotypes video on youtube, we decided to make a video of a couple of college stereotypes to show how our joy in Christ is through the good, the bad, and the routine things in life.

During the summer, I was able to befriend a kid named Joey as part of a media ministry team at Rutgers. He is a praise leader and coordinator at CCF. He had also filmed and edited a very large majority of our graduating class’ videos the last two years. Joey was super cool and let me take a large part in this year’s video.

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Joey and I at the CCF dinner.

Joey was super cool and let me take a large part in this year’s video with him. Helping with this year’s video not only gave me an opportunity film other CCF students in my grade, but get to know them more. Not just their name and their major, but also their personalities because of the extended interaction we got to have.

The following are pictures that I got to take during filming. A small behind-the-scenes of sort.

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Justin and protein.

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Joey filming a scene for our Christmas Video with our friends Alex and Ethan.

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Making a video together gives us an opportunity to work together on a project and laugh together. For a newcomer, a project like this helps a lot when making new friends.

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A makeshift four-legged tripod when we didn’t have a real tripod on us.

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Joey setting up the camera on a trash-can pretending to be a tripod.

 

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Calvin studying and playing his role for the movie at the same time.

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I’m pretty sure Jihoon wasn’t actually reading all these books.

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Joey filming (third floor of the Library of Science & Medicine).

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Alex as the Steve Irwin inspired “Alex the Aussie”