Tuesday, November 18, 2008

...Finally

I seem to be getting a lot of email and messages with that word recently. So much so that I am compelled to make a response here. My dad even made a great big announcement on his website about this. "Why?" you may ask, what's all the fuss about?...

It is because of Melanie!

I am (finally) graduating from BCM after spending a good 5 years there doing my training for ministry. Many of you thought the Key Magazine Photo Session post was in fact the graduation itself, don't just look at the photos, at least read the title! Anyway what normally takes 3 years to finish went on for an extra 2 years, almost double the allocated time. So I guess it's only warranted that we all feel relieved, especially the lecturers and staff in BCM. My wife, who was one of those who were, understandably, extra relieved, sent out emails to everyone inviting them to my graduation ceremony (on December 2nd). I was also on her mailling list. So some of our close friends, and not so close friends as well, started replying the email. There was some congratulatory emails, but many were "sigh-of-relieve" emails. Melanie is just proud of me. I believe her pride is justified.

Anyway I don't blame you all for being relieved. It really is my fault.

Most of you know what happened during the last 5 years. But for some of you who might be wondering here's a very quick look back on the last 5 years of my (academic) life:

Year One: The Gung-Ho Year
My parents has just resigned as the pastor of Canaan Church and was due to be sent to the Philippines as missionaries. A new pastor took over my church. Church was different, with all the transitions taking place I was kind of dazed at it all.

I did great for my first couple of terms in BCM. However, being me I lost my focus and attention halfway through the year.

Everyone knows my passion for ministry, when I (finally) got myself into BCM I was mighty relieved myself. I was so crazy about ministry (but mostly I'm just "UN-crazy" about my studies) that I spent too much time "doing ministry" and totally forgot about my studies. Guess what... I flunked a whole lot during my first year, trust me when I say "a whole lot". This was the year that I took over the youth ministry and also organized the RE:tuned concert, which was a huge project for someone like me to be handling. I also got involved in organizing the CDFM's (Christian Dance Fellowship of Malaysia) week-long seminar. I got involved in a lot of things, outside of my studies.

Year Two: The oh-crap-what-have-I-got-myself-into year
Halfway through this year I began to realize that in this American system I cannot just pass my tests, course papers carried a whole lot of weight. By the time I start to realize that I will need to sync or swim, damage has already been done. RE:tuned was deemed a success, other churches were telling me to go at it again next year, I declined. I put many things aside and began to set my sights on my studies. Then came along another butterfly...

In February I proposed to my girlfriend of 6 years. I was irresistable, and she said "yes".

Year Three: When I Got Married
We planned to get married sometime during Valentine's Day this year, however, due to my horrid results I was placed under "academic probation", which meant that I was to stay in my school almost all the time except for "weekend ministry", which is the practical side of my theological training. Another record I broke, apart from being the first Alumni's child to be back in BCM was that I was the first student in the 40-plus years history of the school to actually fail the same subject twice. That subject was "Religion and Cults". Because of that, I was issued an ultimatum by the school: no more failling or my credits will all be forfeited, and I will have to start my studies from scratch.

Marriage plans although postponed still went on. Melanie and I got hitched on June 11th this year. We decided that since we got married I should take some time off from BCM to honeymoon a little. Took one term off before I eased myself back into BCM by doing part-time studies. As they say "a wedding lasts only a day, but a marriage lasts a lifetime". I don't think that spending this time building my marriage was time lost or wasted. I now enjoy my marriage and family with Melanie and Mikayla, who are the gems in my life. I love you both very much.

This was also the year that I got suspended from school for failling to do my "Christian Duty". Part of the practical side of the training, Christian Duty was to help develop our character and all that jazz, you know what I'm talking about. I was in charge of cleaning this classroom, normally Christian Duty should be done on Monday, which is kind of like our off-day, minus the Christian Duty. However since I was no longer staying in the BCM dorm as there was no more room in the couple's dorm for my wife and me, travelling all the way to BCM from Selayang just to perform my "Christian Duty" was really out of the way. I had classes on Tuesday, which was when I cleaned my classroom. However there was a night class in my class on Monday, so after a few dirty nights the lecturer made a complaint. I was called in for questioning. Situation was explained as it was but the committee mentioned that my mistake was not informing them that my Christian Duty would be done on Tuesday instead of the regular Monday. So BCM suspended me for a term. Later on, my church suspended me for another term as they said that they did not have a chance to "work on me".

Year Four: The Reluctant Part-Timer
The suspension killed any chance of me graduating this year. But by this time I had done most of my subjects. My studies were approximately 80% done. I am close to fulfilling all my credit hours, however I could not graduate this year because there were some compulsory subjects that I need to pass before I can graduate. I wanted to try to graduate this year, but sadly I was informed that some of my required subjects were not being offered this year. Since these were compulsory subjects, they were subjects that were important to the school, so they did not allow me to do these courses via correspondence. So I was "forced" to take my studies part-time as there were no other courses to take, can you believe that?

In a way I was also glad that I was "forced" to be a part-timer, since I cannot afford to fail ANY of my subjects or face a total meltdown in my life and studies.

Around the month of May I decided to opt for an internship with Faith Charismatic Center. I found that I have been in this church for too long, not only have I become complacent, but so also have the people around me. It was time for something new, something to jolt all of us (me and my church) out of our slumber. So I took up the offer from FCC for an internship. I committed the rest of the year to them. I really enjoyed my time in FCC. I was told to take charge of the worship ministry in that church and also had the very nice opportunity to partner with Joash in the youth ministry. I also had my first taste of preaching on a Sunday service. FCC offered to take me up on a more premanent basis. I brought the offer back to Canaan where they asked me not to take up the offer but return to Canaan where there will be "more opportunities" for me. Since my commitment was first to Canaan and being a man of my word, I rejected the very delicious offer and returned as instructed.

Year Five:
This would bring us to the current year and the reason for this post. This year, after completing my final 2 compulsory subjects in BCM. I will only graduate in December, but unofficially, my studies is done and dusted as of August this year. I was looking forward to getting a taste of full-time ministry. I was hoping that I would be given more to do as previously promised, however I am left feeling that I could do more, both as part of my training process as well as to fill up the time I have on my hands.
Now I am less than 1 month away from the day that I have been working towards for 5 years. It has not been a waste of time. My training had to be complete and thourough. Some of you would have personally heard from me of my struggles (in school, in ministry, and just basically in life as a whole), you would know that I have not taken the easy way out even though there were many chances to do so, and no one would have blamed me for it. But I stuck with it in the hope that it would make me a better minister, a better person. My family and close friends who have been rooting for me have got themselves way more than what they bargained for, standing by me for 5 years instead of the intended 3 years. I understand why you are all (finally) relieved. Here I want to take the opportunity to thank some of you who have stood by me through thick and thin.

Thank you... REALLY!
Words don't really do justice here, but from the bottom of my heart... Thank you!

Melanie and my parents are the ones who really felt the burden and carried it with me. Melanie worked while I studied, and they are just worried for me fulfilling my call. It's not a money thing, but it's a destiny thing.

My closest friends, namely, Ke Xin, Angela, Susie, and Joash (and few more I'm sure I missed). Who have lent me their strength in times when I was weakest. How they did it was merely by being there and being who they are.

Some of my Christian relatives that acknowledged God's call in my life and helped me to prove it to those who did not see it.

Even some of my non-Christian relatives like my in-laws who were so gracious and patient with me, I pray that one day you will come to know the amazing love and grace that we can all experience.

Some of you Canaan Church members and Christian friends who really did more than offer me moral support.

Of course not forgetting the lecturers and pastors who have shared their insights with me. And also my classmates who made it that much more interesting. As we step out in ministry, I know you are my network, you are my support, I pray that I can be the same for you. Big dreams, let them be God's dreams and let him bring them to fulfilment.

It is an understatement and cliche, but I really would not have made it. It's been a tough long journey and I am FINALLY done with it. Now I look forward to the ministry opportunities. I pray God will reignite that gung-ho spirit that I had when I first went to BCM, that I will leave BCM not just with a head full of knowledge but a heart full of FIRE!

5 comments:

DaSinner said...

Congrats mate you got there in the end =)
I'm looking forward to hearing you preach one day!

Stephen said...

At last the first to be last and last now first again!

Organize a bbq then. My bbq stove still working lah.....

Cassandra said...

Ya.. Finally... i'm trying to think of doing something to give u a unforgettable graduation.. hahaha.. Hope it works. :)
Hopefully, you can get your ministries started asap...

Melanie said...

Isaiah 60:22
A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation, I, the Lord, will hasten it in its time.

Congrats!!
love you.

Lemuel Yee Ngan Foong said...

Thank you all very much...

Thank you Melanie, I love you 2!

Watch out for the pix that will be coming in soon. Will definitely be posted here.