July 04, 2008

thru new lenses

...or should I say, through a different set of eyes?

SOYMILK has begun the discipleship study of Mark's gospel. Saturday was our first time to split into our groups and share what we learned from chapter one. Some, of course, did not complete the task but growing being refined is generally a process rather than an overnight transformation.

Our group chose the question "What did Jesus see?" and the statement "As Jesus' disciple, I will see what He saw" for our DC (discipleship challenge). This time we'll do it as a group. We plan to go to the airport next Sunday at 5 PM and watch people for a couple of hours then we'll discuss it later. (Thanks Mike Rush, for the idea of airport rap...)

I don't find it coincidental that this question hit me hardest and that recently I feel like I'm seeing things differently. Perhaps it's because I've ended another plateau of adjustment in Singapore and I've learned we continue to go through waves of adjustment. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I'm consciously aware of trying to see as Jesus saw.

In any case, it started off with Pak Fook inviting me to go to Little India two weeks ago after worship and lunch. I've been to Little India before, but it's a whole different experience on Sundays when everyone has the day off. Going to that place and seeing the masses of people, seeing women (and men dressed as women) waiting for "gentlement visitors" and witnessing worship in the Tamil language (at Methodist and Catholic churches)...I felt like I was seeing a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT Singapore than I've ever experienced before. It made me think about bringing some of the youth, who are all a different cultural subgroup than this, and expose them to a different part of their own nation than what they experience day-to-day and just listen to their observations and reactions.

This morning, we met Kong Jo at the airport. He begins a new chapter in his life of university in Perth, Australia. I watched him. I watched his parents. I watched his girlfriend, and the youth. By asking God to help me to see with Jesus' eyes, I felt like I could see differently.

This afternoon, I went to McDonald's for lunch because it was hot and I wanted to be in a place with a/c. There was a Malay man sleeping at a table. I noticed him right away because I sat in the empty section at the back. I've not seen him before (hey, I'm starting to recognize the people in this neighbourhood...). School children were also there. One very round Indian boy noticed the man, and called his friends' (of varied ethnicity) attention to it. I watched them - some alone, some in small groups - each take turns taking a peek. Some were surprised, others laughed or cringed because they felt nervous, disgusted or thought it was funny/wierd. Some went for a second or third peek. Their reactions caught the attention of the cleaning auntie. She stood there for awhile, and her presence was enough to divert the children away. She disappeared, and a while later the manager appeared. The manager woke him up and kindly but firmly told him that he cannot sleep in the restaurant...but I noticed she didn't tell him to leave. He sat up and drifted in and out of consciousness. He looked at me more than a few times, and I tried to look into his eyes out of care for him. When cacophony arrived with a group of seven older Chinese people, he quietly slipped away. In fact, I had looked elsewhere and when I turned back, he was gone.

Tons of questions filled my mind. Who is this man? What would Jesus have REALLY seen in this situation? What did the man see when he looked at me, or looked at others? For how long would the children talk about it and would they tell their parents? How would their parents react (with fear, with disgust, with compassion, with a racial joke or slur) and how would that reaction shape what the kids would see in the future?

I'm looking forward to our group challenge next Sunday. Andris will be away in Austria, but she will try to do it on her own. I hope everyone else in my group (Kevin, Jeremy C, Daniel, Keith, Nicholas) can be there for the challenge.

There is a lot that has happened since my last post, and I know I fell off the wagon. But I'm back on again, and will try to "fill in the blanks" when I return from Penang and elsewhere.

God, give us eyes to see as Jesus sees the world around us and the people in it.

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