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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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


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.


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.


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).





Spontaneous Hiking Trip (9/24/15)

Thursday, September 24, 2015 – Hiking at Point Mountain Reservation, Washington, NJ.

Last Thursday, I was able to go hiking at Point Mountain with my friends Jen and Dorothy. Jen and Dorothy were undergraduate seniors at Rutgers when I was a freshmen two years ago, and they’re both like older sisters to me. Jen would always invite people to go hiking, and she’s one of the reasons why hiking has become one of my favorite things to do on a nice day. I happen to have Thursday mornings and afternoons free every week this fall semester, while Jen and Dorothy both work jobs that have very sporadic schedules. Jen is a nurse at a hospital, while Dorothy tutors students in secondary education. Both happened to have Thursday off as well, and the weather was GREAT, so it all worked out perfectly!

QUICK HIKING SPOT REVIEW: It can be difficult to find nice overlooks when it comes to hiking in Central New Jersey. There are lots of nice forest areas to hike, but there just aren’t a lot of peaks to choose from. Only about a forty-five minute drive away from Rutgers New Brunswick, Point Mountain was a great surprise. This hiking spot is a part of the Musconetcong Reservation in Hunterdon County. The peak was beautiful and really high up, and the hiking trail involved lots of rock scrambling. Also, if you go on the right trail path(s), you’ll hike alongside the peaceful Musconetcong River (there’s just something peaceful about running water!). I would love to go back again soon. Jen and I both share a favorite hiking spot in NJ at Mount Tammany and Dunnfield Creek @ The Delaware Water Gap (, which is over an hour drive away from Rutgers. However, I think that Point Mountain, much closer to my Central NJ home, in comparison to Mt. Tammany was also really great location! Difficulty: 7/10 (lots of climbing and rocky paths), Overall Rating: 8/10.

Check out Point Mountain for yourself here!

(WARNING: Photography Jargon) I have gone hiking quite a lot the last two years, and most of the pictures I’ve taken have been focusing on the wide landscapes, such as a view on the top of a mountain, or a flowing river. However, early in the hike, I saw little stinkbugs crawling around. Most of the macro (close up) photography I take outside are usually pictures of flowers. I was able to find a couple insects and take macro shots of them during this hike!

Random fact about this hike: I had taken my Sony 50mm 1.8 prime lens out to take most of these macro pictures. It was my first time using it (I have used a 35mm or the past year). On the top of the mountain, I actually dropped my 50mm prime lens off the cliff (it went CLUNK CLUNK CLUNK as it bounced down each rock) at the end of the hike… so these pictures you see here are pretty much the ONLY pictures that were ever taken by that 50mm primes lens sitting and rotting somewhere in the forest at Washington NJ.

(WARNING: MORE Photography Jargon) Using my Sony A57 DSLR camera, I carried three lenses with me: my Sony 50mm f/1.8 prime lens (for portraits and macro shots), my Sony 75-300mm f/3.5-6.5 telephoto zoom lens (for far away shots), and my Samyang (Rokinon) 14mm f/2.8 ultra-wide angle lens (for landscapes).

FIrst, the macro shots:

The first two pictures are of a caterpillar species that I saw twice during the hike. These caterpillars look super white and fuzzy… searching it up, it’s called a Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae). According to the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, it has poison glands on the longer lashes that causes a burning and itchy rash. Glad I didn’t touch it, haha!

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50mm   f/2.8   1/80 sec   ISO 400

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50 mm   f/2.8   1/80 sec   ISO 200

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Stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys).  50mm   f/5.6   1/160 sec   ISO 800

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Here’s a picture of a daddy long leg (called the “Eastern Harvestman”Leiobunum vittatu). We saw a bunch of these on bench along the trail.

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Bees! Not sure what type this is. Some sunlight bokeh in the background. 50mm   f/4.5   1/1600 sec   ISO 400

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I believe this is a honeybee.  50mm   f/4.5   1/1600 sec   ISO 400

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I wasn’t able to find out what animal this is… please contact me or comment if you have any clue! This worm or caterpillar would burrow itself into the leaves/dirt to protect itself. When I removed the dirt to look at it longer, it would curl into a “fetal” defensive position.   50mm   f/4   1/100 sec   ISO 800

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50mm   f/4.5   1/125 sec   ISO 400

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50mm   f/3.5   1/200 sec   ISO 400

A couple of landscape/telephoto pictures:

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150mm   f/8   1/250 sec   ISO 200

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14mm   1/125 sec   ISO 100  (NOTE: the aperture is adjusted manually on the lens, so I don’t know what f-stop it ended up being!)

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Mini long exposure of running water.   50mm   f/13   0.4 sec  ISO 200

The 0.4 second exposure allowed the shot to have a silky water movement.

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14mm   1/80 sec   ISO 400

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Pre-sunset. 300mm   f/11   1/1000 sec   ISO 100

Lastly, a couple portrait/people shots:

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Direct sunlight allowed for some interesting bokeh here. Thanks to Jen for standing still for me, haha!   50mm   f/2.5   1/125 sec   ISO 800

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50mm   f/3.2   1/160 sec   ISO 800

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Dorothy overlooking the peak of Point Mountain.   50mm   f/11   1/250 sec  ISO 800

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Jen hopping on rocks in the middle of the river.   50mm   f/2.8   1/320 sec   ISO 800

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50mm   f/3.2   1/1000 sec   ISO 1600

LASTLY, a selfie with the three of us… (no selfie sticks were used here. Actually, no selfie sticks will EVER be used for this blog… unless it’s a blog post filled with pictures of tourists and people using selfie sticks!).

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14mm   1/125 sec   ISO 100

Thanks again for reading 🙂 If you like these pictures, please share this blog with your friends!

Follow me on instagram (@mattlau95)! Also, follow Jen (@jenwenlee) but I think she may have her account on private, haha!