Life and Ministry with Richard Chin

A wide-ranging interview with Richard Chin, National Director of AFES, about life and ministry – including why he’s on a crusade to promote extended Bible memorisation, why he refuses to give up his role in local campus ministry, the challenges and opportunities of ministry to Millennials, coping with the death of his first wife, and what it’s been like to remarry and become a ‘twicer’.

Richard Chin

GR: Richard, you were born in Malaysia and you moved to Australia when you were eight 8 years old. What are your earliest memories of Australia?

RC: Meat pies, hearing people say ‘G’day mate’ but not realising what they were saying, and going to a primary school which was co-ed. The only schools I had attended were not co-ed, so it was strange seeing girls next to me in Year 3.

Did you grow up in a Christian family?

No, I grew up in a non-Christian family, although my mother had a belief in God and she was from a Roman-Catholic background – she went to a Roman-Catholic convent school in Malaysia. My father came from a synchretistic Buddhist family, but he would describe his own life or pilgrimage as an agnostic of sorts, or a free thinker. Continue reading

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Squaring off against Jed Bartlet: An alternate ending to The West Wing and homosexuality

In Season 2 of The West Wing, President Josiah Bartlet (one of my heroes) met a radio talk show host named Jenna Jacobs (a stand in for US talk show host Dr Laura Schlessinger). Inspired by point 9 in this hilarious and extremely well reasoned think piece, I started thinking about how an alternate ending might go…

The televised version (because even great ones like Aaron Sorkin and Josiah Bartlet find it easy to win one-sided debates against ignorant tight-a**es…)

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‘Hate speech’ or ‘free speech’? A plea for open, respectful debate on campus

we-condem-free-speech
Photo credit: Sam Graham/Flickr (www.thecollegefix.com/post/25086/)

Having lived my whole life in safe, open, democratic societies, I’m profoundly grateful for democracy. I find myself in thorough agreement with the comment attributed to Winston Churchill: “Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.” But democracy doesn’t always get it right, nor is it guaranteed to produce the best and fairest outcome. After all, two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner is democracy. Sometimes ‘the wisdom of the people’ proves to be anything but wise.

That mini-rant about democracy was inspired by a referendum that’s just been conducted by the Auckland University Students’ Association. Very sadly, students have voted in favour of demanding that the AUSA disaffiliate ProLife Auckland.[1] Continue reading

Stop following your heart, start leading your heart

 

Red-Broken-Heart-IllustrationAs the parents of young children, my wife and I are always on the lookout for ‘safe’ entertainment options: movies, books or music that the kids can enjoy without being hit by F-bombs, explosions or sexual innuendo. With a little research, and a little faith in the Netflix ‘Kids’ option, we can keep them fairly well protected. But we’ve come to realise that parental supervision needs to go deeper than online filters and G-ratings. In fact, the real danger might not be the stuff that hits you over the head. It might be the subtle messages that are embedded in our ‘safe’ entertainment options, the worldview that lies underneath everything and shapes how we think. And there’s one phrase that sums up the gospel according to Hollywood and captures our culture’s prevailing worldview: Follow Your Heart.

It seems like everywhere you look, someone is urging you to “follow your heart”. Film, TV, music, literature—you name it. “Go with your gut.” “Trust your intuition.” “Do what’s right for you.” “Pursue your dreams.” “Believe in yourself.” It all amounts to pretty much the same thing: “Follow your heart.” Anyone who faces an important decision can’t possibly go wrong, it seems, if only they’d just follow their heart. Continue reading

Why I (almost completely) quit Facebook, and why you probably should too

FacebookTrashHaving recently hit the big 4-0, I’m starting to have more and more days where I embrace my inner grouchy old curmudgeon. Picture me with arms flailing wildly as I yell at pesky kids to get offa my lawn. Moaning about the noisy students next door, wondering whether 9.30 is too early to call the Council to complain about the music, and wishing at least they’d play some Springsteen or U2 instead of the endless doof-doof. But every now and then I catch myself thinking that way and wonder, ‘When did this happen? How did this happen?’ I’d rather hoped to stave off being a cantankerous middle-aged git for a few more years yet. And I’d rather hoped to avoid slightly stuffy old man expressions like ‘I’d rather hoped’.

In the fight to stay young, one effective strategy to assure yourself that you’re still hip, still with it (whatever the heck ‘it’ is these days), is to embrace the newest technology. Today, that obviously means embracing social media. Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, the Twitter, Snapcrap – being relevant seems to require being plugged into it all. Shouldn’t a Christian be leveraging these technologies to spread the gospel just a little bit further? Shouldn’t a normal, caring citizen of the world in 2017 be keeping up with people via his ‘socials’ in as many ways as possible? At the very least, don’t go posting something on your blog where you rail about the evils of technology. That’s the surest way to cement your reputation as an out-of-touch killjoy. Continue reading

The pain and glory of unanswered prayer

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me…”

alluaudia-procera-spice-plant-branch-38282Few things can be more confusing or frustrating for Christians than unanswered prayer, especially when we’re sure there are good, obvious reasons for God to grant our requests.

Recently I spoke to a good friend, a young man in (what should be) the prime of his life. Sadly, he’s afflicted with mysterious and chronic back pain. He’s tried every kind of medical treatment under the sun, and has persistently and faithfully prayed for relief. Yet his debilitating pain persists—unseen by most people, yet severe enough to prevent any real exercise and make everything in life difficult and uncomfortable.

My friend told me that he recently accepted an invitation to attend a large healing service. As the meeting went on and as many people appeared to be miraculously healed right before his eyes, my friend started to hope for a miracle of his own. “Maybe tonight’s the night,” he thought. “Maybe my suffering comes to an end—right here, right now.” Continue reading

Coming home: A letter to my adoptive daughter

 

I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. (1 Samuel 1:27)

Mother Holding Child's HandDearest Zoë,

You are my beautiful girl, my daughter, the apple of my eye. I’m your daddy. Everything I have is yours, and I will always be there for you.

We just haven’t met yet.

I guess that’s part of life as an adoptive family.

I’m writing this during our family’s ‘living in limbo’ phase. We’ve been matched together as adoptive family, and we’re desperate to meet in person and be together as soon as possible. It’s a strange, unsatisfying time – a little like the ‘now-but-not-yet’ of the Christian life (don’t worry, I’ll explain that to you one day). But I guess this in-between period gives us time for some reflection. What might our life together look like? What blessings and challenges will our new-look family bring? And why are we doing this? Continue reading

Reaping the whirlwind: my two cents’ worth on the US election

gettyimages-621864782My two cents’ worth on the US Presidential election:
1. If you’re looking for reason for optimism today, look at the post-election speeches delivered by President-elect Trump (that was my first go at typing that), Secretary Clinton, and President Obama. All three speeches were gracious and positive, all looked to a peaceful transfer of power, and all give reason for (a limited amount of) hope. If you believe that the right words spoken at the right time can make a real difference, then be thankful for these words. Sure, they’re ‘just words’, but it’s a very positive start. Thank God for America’s Founding Fathers, whose theology led them to reject tyranny and establish a system that would allow for a peaceful transition between leaders, even leaders who oppose and dislike each other. What’s more, thank God for the Founding Fathers who were so opposed to tyranny that they carefully installed checks and balances, and the separation of powers, which we now hope can control (or at least mitigate) Trump during his presidency.

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A short manifesto on arguing well

I hate arguing.

I really don’t enjoy confrontation (it gives me this weird sinking feeling in my stomach). I don’t like being wrong, and sometimes I take too much delight in being right. I care too much what other people think of me, and the idea that I may have offended someone makes me squirm. I think I’m a wimp at heart.

But the reality is that being a Bible teacher (or any Christian who cares about the truth of God’s word) sometimes requires you to argue. A certain amount of conflict just goes with the territory. Of course we should be known primarily for what we’re for, not what we’re against, but sometimes saying yes to one thing means saying no to others. And the Bible is explicit that there is a time and a place for refuting error (eg: Titus 1:9).  Continue reading

As convention season ends, God announces his nominee for highest office in the land

One Vote MattersIn a low-key announcement intended to reassure nervous voters, God has announced that his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, will once again be his 2016 nominee for Messiah, Saviour of the world, and Ruler and Judge of the universe.

Sources have confirmed that Jesus will once again be the only nominee for the position.

As the only eligible Voter, God announced that he intends to cast his vote early on the morning of November 8th, meaning that Jesus will once again be elected unopposed after receiving 100% of all votes cast.

He is currently serving his 496th consecutive term, and has maintained a 100% approval rating from the Voter during his time in office.

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