[Not Very] New Perspective: Prayer is Powerful. (+ Surgery Recovery Update)


A weak point of my relationship with God has always been prayer.

How am I supposed to talk to someone that I can’t hear…?

Dear God… thank you for the food… thank you for my friends and family….zzz

People in the Bible would pray and miracles would happen. I certainly haven’t seen that, nor can I “do” that.

What confuses me the most is prayer with other believers, or corporate prayer.

How is talking to God sincere if everyone in this circle just repeating the same prayer requests again and again? Isn’t once repeated good enough for a God that knows everything? – I still sort of think this way.

I’m so worried about what I’m going to pray about out loud that I’m not even paying attention.

God has certainly been teaching me about the power of prayer during winter break. In Urbana, I learned that “being a prayer warrior matters;” and that when missionaries hear that people are praying for them back home, “knowing they’re not forgotten changes everything.” (Christine Taylor). 


Ok. I don’t want to come close to comparing myself to a missionary. They have sacrificed and gone through so much more than I ever have. However, I was recently the beneficiary of prayer, and lots and lots of it. And I felt it.

Last Friday, on 1/8/16, I had “septoplasty” surgery to fix my deviated septum. You can click on the image below to read more details about the surgery.

1/8/16 – Blog Post Regarding my Septoplasty Surgery

This will be my update on my recovery, about 5 days later. I have had three oral surgeries before to remove extra teeth (gross, I know right?) and also my wisdom teeth. I would actually say that this septoplasty operation was easier to go through. Unlike wisdom teeth removal where I can’t eat, I could eat almost whatever I wanted after the operation, Friday afternoon. So that’s a bonus.

In short, the aftermath of the surgery felt like someone punched me in the nose real hard with a 3+ day long nosebleed, with sponges shoved deep up both my nostrils. But recovery was already said to take about 2 days, and the 2 days pretty much did it.

I also found out that I always freak out when I wake up from anesthesia. When I had oral dental surgery, I once whined like crazy screaming at my parents to get me a frappuccino or something. This time, I woke up in the recovery room that I stayed at for about an hour and a half. When I first woke up I was screaming and shaking like nuts and asking them to put me back to sleep… LOL. This was also a public recovery/preparation room, mind you. Don’t give me anesthesia, friends. I wonder how I would react to carbon-freezing (I’ve been on a Star Wars kick this last month).

On Monday, 1/11/16, I went back to the doctor’s office and my surgeon/ENT took a look at the result of his handiwork. He pretty much gave a thumbs up, removed the sponges in my nose, and sent me away. Most doctor’s don’t work that fast, but I admire his speed. He’s fast with his patients, but he’s also thorough. An unlikely combination for doctors these days.

Right now, Wednesday morning 1/13/16, there is barely any blood at all, and only minimal soreness in the upper-nose. I’m already working from home doing projects for my help-desk job, and spending time with my family. Since this is a photography blog, I thought I could squeeze in a random photo and connect it to this blog post by saying that I’ve healed enough to go outside and take pictures of birds…? I tried, haha!


I wanted to thank everyone who prayed for me or wished me a good recovery this last week. I was very encouraged to be reminded that my friends and family were praying for me. My mother put my surgery on the church prayer list, and the entire weekend my mom would tell me “hey! so-and-so is praying for you and asking you about your recovery” She was also forwarding e-mails that people were sending her asking about me. We even received a voice-mail at home from the head-pastor.

I received a batch of cookies from a family-friend- Lee-Ching Aiyi. Her homemade cookies are pretty darn amazing.


My Sunday School coordinator happened to be subbing for my class. Auntie Glenda got a card and had my class sign it. I couldn’t be more encouraged on Sunday after missing church.


And I can’t thank my mom and dad enough. They paid for this surgery with their money and insurance. My father stayed next to me in the recovery room when I was going crazy, recovering from the anesthesia and suffering from somewhat of a shock. They fed me all weekend. My mom wouldn’t go to sleep at night until I ate my anti-biotics, and had trouble sleeping because she was so worried about me all weekend. I’m a typical prideful dude and in the moment I am usually very reluctant to accept their help, giving them an “I KNOW” response when they remind me to drink water or eat my medicine. That’s why I’m hoping they can read this and know that I am so thankful for every second and every ounce of care they’ve given me throughout the weekend. Mom and Dad, I know I get annoyed when you care for me and overprotect me, but I am so privileged to have you as parents and I am so grateful for your love this weekend as well as your godly parenting the last 20+ years.

And that is the power of prayer that I have been enlightened with. I had been searching for results of prayer as the one praying, not the one being prayed for. The encouragement of knowing all these people were wishing me well and hoping for a smooth surgery and recovery in Christ. Yes, the prayer was for a result that did end up happening, but the most powerful part for me was knowing that all these friends and family were thinking of me… “hoping” in Christ… for me

blog-2Again, thank you so much for reading my story, and also thank you for praying for me and wishing me a successful surgery and well recovery.

I am still learning and will always have more to learn about prayer, but I know one thing now: don’t underestimate the power of prayer and the different ways prayer can work in our lives. The God we pray to is real, so our prayer should be just as real.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on prayer for all the Lord’s people.” – Ephesians 6:18




The Blessing of Technology (Urbana Through a Lens: Day 5 Part I)

(I’m pulling a Harry Potter Deathly Hallows and Mockingjay here. Part I and Part II for the last day, haha. I’ve been working on this post for like two days and there’s just so much.)

Technology can be such a hindrance in our lives, socially, physically, mentally, spiritually. While I certainly don’t believe social media, Netflix, video games, and the like are bad things- in fact, I love them. However, I can say for sure that I have personally failed many times when it comes to using them in moderation. I have used entertainment and social media as a way to escape reality, and squandered away time I could have used for anything else.

However, on Thursday, I was reminded through the failure of my physical body that technology is a wonderful gift from God, and that as a follower of Jesus, I should do all that I can to use it for Him.

I woke up on Thursday feeling terrible. I had been getting congested more and more every day since before Urbana, and the lack of quality rest must have made it worse. I missed breakfast for the first time during the trip, and slept all the way till about half an hour before the the main morning session at 11 PM.

I was in NO condition to go anywhere. I was tired, sick, and completely congested. I think the word “congested” is as detailed as I’ll go. However, instead of sneezing my way into the stadium, I was able to watch from my hotel room on my laptop, thanks to the online stream Urbana was providing.


Morning Session Part 1: Christine Taylor (from London)
-“Joseph of Arimathea used what influence he had to honor Christ’s body.”
-Advocacy includes speaking out to influence others, but it also incudes showing care to the hurt parts of the body… to pray.
-“Look to what you can do to help the hurting suffering body of Christ.”
-Bring a prayer warrior matters. Sometimes for missionaries, knowing they’re not forgotten changes everything.”
Morning Session Part 2: Allan Matamoros (from Costa Rica)- “The harvest in plentiful, but the workers are few.”
-Allan shared his experience in cross-cultural missions. His native tongue is Spanish, but he has learned English, and now also Arabic.
-He said that there are more Muslims that have come to Christ in the last couple decades than there have been in the 1000 years before. The mission has come to us.
Our purpose is to attract others to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”
-“The harvest in plentiful, but the workers are few.”
Morning Session Part 3:  Urbana director Tom Lin led us in a call to commitment. Here’s an numbers graphic from Urbana’s social squad regarding the responses to this call to commitment.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 6.34.24 PM
taken from the Instagram page of @UrbanaMissions

Hack4Missions Presentations:

Getting a real quick lunch at the restaurant downstairs, I quickly passed out again. However, I mustered enough enough energy to get up around 3 P.M. for my team’s Hack4Missions presentation. There were three awards: Best Technology, Most Impactful, and Crowd Favorite. Our team actually ended up winning Most Impactful! Our team was called #UrbanaRouterHack. There’s a brief summary about the project here:  http://hack4missions.org/routerhack.html. I’ll be posting about it later in a post dedicated to this my time in this track.


#UrbanaRouterHack team. Thanks to my friend George for taking the photo!
#UrbanaRouterHack prototype.

Here’s a video I made for our team’s presentation. I was given 45 seconds out of our 3 minute presentation and demonstration, so I tried my best to do what I could with that time!

Even though all these teams were in some sense competing against each other, there was a sense of unity among all of us participating in Hack4Missions. We were all putting our time, effort, and tech-experience together to further God’s kingdom. It’s technology that was bringing us together.

Technology is such a wonderful gift from God. But because of sin, humans take God’s gifts and use it for their own gain. Thursday afternoon I was thinking: How can I use technology for Christ? 


Don’t Miss A Heart for Christ. (Urbana Through a Lens: Day 4)

God has been touching lives all week, but on Wednesday morning, lives were changed right in front of my eyes. Day 4 was centered around Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation.

Morning Session: David Platt, author of Radical (on Matthew 26):
“Does your heart belong to Jesus?”
-“Selfless love for others spring from supreme selfless love for God.”

“We have the sinful propensity to advocate for justice while ignoring Jesus.”

-The woman with the alabaster jar realized two things:

  1. She realized the significance of Jesus’ death… eternal heaven and eternal hell are real.”
  2. She realized that the purpose of her life is to pour out her heart in sacrificial, selfless love for Christ. “She hears that Jesus is her reward… Jesus is worth giving everything for… Jesus alone is worthy of all your life.”

“Don’t manufacture a heart for missions and miss the heart for Christ.”

David called out something most people wouldn’t be comfortable talking about. He said that YES, it’s right to work to stop sex trafficking, but we are still watching pornography, which creates a demand for more prostitutes, which increases the amount of sex trafficking. He said “There is a clear link between pornography and sex trafficking. We’re not fighting injustice. We’re fueling it.” I think it’s easy to think: “pornography doesn’t hurt anyone else, so what’s so wrong about it?” But it’s the exact opposite. Watching pornography fuels sex trafficking.

When David Platt asked “Does your heart belong to Jesus,” he asked those who wanted to accept Christ into their hearts for the first time to stand up. And people stood up all around the arena. They were given glow sticks. and one by one glow sticks were broken and shone around the arena. I couldn’t help but smile. There was a sense of joy seeing members added to my spiritual family right in front of me. And I think that this joy is what should drive me and all of us to continue and spread the gospel even in my hometown.

People all around the stadium came to Christ Wednesday morning.

I recall hearing a story this week about someone who came to Urbana for the “Hack4Missions” hackathon, and because of the conference, he gave his life for Christ. Praise the Lord.

618 people came to Christ during the entire conference.


Lunchtime: The Bookstore. 

David Platt stopped by for a book signing.


I decided to line up to have my book signed by David Platt… and I got to say hi to him! 🙂


Story: While I was standing in line, I asked the person behind to take a picture with my Sony digital camera. His name is Josh. He then asked me if I could take a picture for him on my camera and send it to him via e-mail (instead of using a phone). Of course, I said yes! In a quick conversation afterwards, I learned that he was part of the Marine Corps, almost done with his service. This is where it gets exciting. Continuing our conversation, a girl walked up to us and interrupted us and said something in the lines of: “I’m so sorry to interrupt, but did I hear that you’re part of the military? Because I joined and I’m freaking out. I’m freaking out.” At that point I was happy to leave them to talk. I was witnessing a brother helping a sister he didn’t know out with her worries about the future. Wow.

A new friend Josh (right) sharing his military experience.

The bookstore had so many books. And most of them were significantly discounted.

Afternoon: Hack4Missions (blog post about Hack4Missions will come later)


Night Session: Testimony and Communion
-we heard a testimony that I can’t go into detail about. However, the anonymous speaker encouraged us the reach out the international students, because they might be the ones who will bring the gospel back to their homes!
we also had a communion at Urbana Wednesday night

Communion at Urbana 2015

Keep in an eye out for Day 5. Thanks so much for reading! 🙂 Happy New Year!

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).





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.

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.

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.

My Hack4Missions setup.


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/





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.”
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).
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.”
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!


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.


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.”
  • blogmetero-10
    “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.”


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


Prayer with the church members.


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!