Categories Archives

You are currently viewing all posts published under Articles.
If I were deciding on a career today and did any sort of vocational testing, I am sure I wouldn’t have done dentistry. I would probably have ended up in law, or management or mass communication, but no, not dentistry. Fine detailed handwork is just not me, though I forced myself to learn and became a competent dentist. But I had a very hard time in dental school.

So why dentistry? Because dad and mum went through World War 2 and suffered a level of deprivation I would never be able to understand. They wanted to make sure their children did not suffer as they did. Where jobs were concerned, they wanted their children to get a job that promised financial security. And by God’s grace (my ‘A’-level grades were mediocre) I managed to get into dental school in Singapore.

Many parents of my generation do not want to repeat the mistakes our parents made, even though we know they meant well. Bernice and I encouraged our children to discover who they were and to pursue their passions — not to choose jobs purely on the basis of financial security. Very early on, all four told us they were not pursuing science in pre-university and beyond. But they all ended up in jobs that are making a difference in the world. We are very proud of them.

Mark is editor at MoneySmart
John is organisational development consultant at the Civil Service College, Singapore
Andrew is partnerships lead at Bitmaker — General Assembly, Toronto
Stephen, a church planter, will be holding his first worship in the first church he is planting, Regeneration Church, this coming Sunday

Stephen has an honours degree in marketing and management from Monash University. He worked for a number of years in the marketplace before he decided that God wanted him to be a church-planting pastor.

I am not sure what I said to him when he broke the news to me but I am pretty sure I know what I thought. Are you crazy? In 1981 I left dentistry to begin my theological studies, my first steps in the direction of church-related work. I have been in some form of church-related work since, serving as a pastor, on the staff of a number of parachurch organisations, and now, with Bernice, working at a ministry that seeks to promote spiritual friendship through publishing and training. Thirty-six years in church-related work, and I have the wounds and scars to show for it. Wasn’t sure I wanted any of our children to go through that kind of pain. Besides, the pastor’s job is an impossible one.

To be a pastor today, one needs to have the following competencies and be:

* a top-notch theologian;
* a powerful communicator/preacher;
* prophetic and rebuke the congregation when needed;
* a compassionate carer;
* providing inspirational leadership;
* able to do long-term strategic planning;
* an effective equipper; and
* someone who can walk on water.

Oh yes, and able to use PowerPoint.

I’d like to think that churches are a bit more enlightened today. Nowhere does the Bible teach about pastors who are multi-gifted. The pastor is one role among many (Ephesians 4:11–12) and it is the congregation that has a variety of spiritual gifts.

Still, one of our sons becoming a pastor? I had to pray through that. Two thoughts helped me come to terms with the fact that Stephen wanted to be a pastor. One, that following Christ in a fallen world, we all suffer in one way or another whether one is a pastor or not. Avoiding a call to the pastorate is no guarantee of avoiding pain. Two, I had to allow him the freedom to pursue his adventure of faith as I had. Indeed, as I reflected on my years in church-related work, yes there were terrible wounds but there were also joys that no amount of money could have bought. As I look back over the years, I have no regrets in my choice to follow God’s call to a church-related vocation.

We have never believed in a sacred-secular divide when it comes to work. All our boys are making a difference in the jobs they are doing. This Sunday, Stephen will be having his first service in the church he is planting. Pray for him. And if you are in Melbourne, maybe go by and encourage him?

 

When we boarded the plane for Penang to visit mum, I recalled my first time on a plane. Mum took me on a trip to Hong Kong end of 1969, just the two of us. I was 14, waiting to start grade 10 (Form 4). It was a reward of sorts for my performance in my LCE (grade 9 government exams). Mum had a programme to enlarge my horizons; to push me to grow intellectually; heck, to make me excel, to be first boy in the class — something I achieved only once, in Form 3A1 (grade 9).

Mum was a tiger mum before the term was coined. Maybe it was because she was a teacher. I am sure it has to do with the fact that she was from Hong Kong. (I believe all Hong Kong mums are tigers.) She had come to Malaya after World War 2 as a teenager and had to fight hard to make a new life. Excelling was survival. Her only son had to excel/survive.

Dad was different, almost the opposite. The youngest son in a peranakan family, dad was Mr Chill whose motto in life was “I want you to be happy”. From dad I learnt unconditional love. He celebrated people for who they were not because of their performance or achievements. But mum pushed me to excel.

Hence it is very hard to see mum travelling down the road of dementia. Sometimes, she still remembers that she was a highly respected lecturer at a teachers college, that she played the piano, that she was an excellent Sunday School teacher, that she was chairman of her church council at a time when some felt very strongly that women shouldn’t be holding such positions. I always tell people that she was the best man for the job. She loved to travel and has been round the world twice.

But all that is behind her now. Soon, what little memory she has of those days will also go. And I have been prepared that a day will come when she won’t remember who I am. My psychiatrist friend reminds me that I am already grieving for the mum I am losing.

But for now, she remembers she has a son who is a pastor, who lives in Singapore, and who visits only once a month. “I have to wait 30 days in between visits, she complains.” But she can’t remember my visits because her short-term memory is virtually non-existent.

It is not easy to be with mum. Her list of irrational behaviours continues to grow. We live in the moment. To see her smile and happy in the moment is what we have now. And we take what we can. She expanded my horizons. And now we walk with her as her horizon shrinks.

We know where her road ends. And so does she. Once in a while, she will say that she is just waiting for her name to be called when that roll is called up yonder. She has no fear of death. She knows where she is going.

In the meantime, we walk with her as best we can. I am sorry ma, that we can’t do better. But we are doing the best we can. As is often the case, we trust that the Lord, in His time and in His way, will make up for our deficit.

Last August, I had the privilege to be part of the Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in Jakarta. One of my highlights was meeting up with a brother from Pakistan that I had met for the first time at the previous Younger Leaders Gathering 10 years earlier. Then, he was starting out in campus ministry. In the 10 years since, the Lord has used him to start a ministry that does holistic ministry in rural and urban slums in Pakistan. I believe he oversees a staff team of 70, with many more volunteers. I was very inspired by his report and told him so.

I then asked him about the security situation in Pakistan. He said that as a Christian in a somewhat high-profile ministry, he and his family were harassed regularly and that there was always the possibility that he would be killed. He said that many of his friends had encouraged him to move to the West. There were needs there too, they told him, and he and his family could live in safety. But, he said, “I have felt no calling to leave Pakistan”. I hugged him and thanked him for strengthening my own faith.

Living in a global world where travel is so easy, we can now live in any part of the world we want. But where should we live and work? My friend illustrated a principle that Bernice and I subscribe to. Or at least we try to. We should be where God wants us to be. This is not an ethic of heroism. We are not to prove our loyalty to God by always choosing the most difficult path. It is the principle of obedience. We try our best to discern God’s will and by His strength try to carry out that will whether it leads us to more difficult territory or not. Indeed, there are spiritual dangers in both comfort and struggle.

Then, there is the question of safety. I guess there are those of us who believe that the safest place is in the centre of God’s will. You could be killed in America or Pakistan. Where does God want you to be?

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. (Genesis 12:1 NIV)

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. (Genesis 12:4 NIV)

Evangel: “Good news, and in the context of the Bible, the good news of Jesus Christ.”

Evangelism: “Proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ with the hope that the listener will respond and embrace Jesus as Lord and Saviour.”

Evangelicalism: “A transdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity that among other things, sees the bible properly interpreted as the final authority for belief and practice, and is committed to evangelism.”

Hence, “evangel” is a message, “evangelism” is an activity, and “evangelicals” refers to a group of people. (Inn’s informal dictionary.)

I continue to be amazed at how often Christians confuse the above three terms. Often, someone will say that their church is organising an evangelical meeting when they mean an evangelistic meeting. It is more troublesome however when someone calls for evangelicalism to be banned.

Recently, a coalition of Islamic NGOs in Malaysia put forward a proposal to ban Christian evangelicalism in Malaysia.

“In Malaysia, the dangerous movement that is evangelicalism must be kept in check as it threatens religious harmony in Malaysia,” said Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Centhra) CEO Azril Mohd Amin said in an essay published on Utusan Online today. [The Malaysian Insight]

It is ironic that the statement comes from someone involved in an organisation that is into human rights research. The reason for this proposal? Muslims are choosing to leave their faith. And evangelicals are committed to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The man who sparked a controversy by calling for a ban on evangelicalism, said the proposal was prompted by the high number of Muslims leaving the faith for Christianity.

Azril Mohd Amin, the CEO of the Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Centhra), said there were some 400 conversion cases before the shariah courts and if the trend continued, it could have an impact on the country’s security. [The Malaysian Insight].

There are a number of things wrong with this call. First is Azril’s rationale. As has been pointed out by Dr Ng Kam Weng in his column, Azril has nowhere provided any evidence that those who wanted to convert out of Islam did so as a result of the activities of evangelicals. It was very mischievous in a multi-racial and multi-religious country like Malaysia, to assert things that may cause friction and suspicion between various communities, without any proof.

Next, the proposal directly contradicts the constitution.

Freedom of religion is enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution. First, Article 11 provides that every person has the right to profess and to practice his or her religion and (subject to applicable laws restricting the propagation of other religions to Muslims) to propagate it. Second, the Constitution also provides that Islam is the religion of the country but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony (Article 3). [Wikipedia].

There is also an article that provides for individual states to penalise those found to be guilty of causing Muslims to leave their faith. However, it seems redundant to pass laws preventing the propagation of any belief in a day when anyone can be exposed to anything on the Internet.

We are glad therefore that Azril has stopped pushing for the ban in response to criticisms from many quarters, including the Deputy Home Minister.

Besides, Christians know that they are not able to convert anyone. The Scriptures teach clearly that conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit, i.e. God’s own Spirit (John 16:4b–11). Christians may share the truths of the gospel, we may appeal to people to embrace the truth of the gospel, but we cannot convert anyone. We are called to be faithful witnesses, but only God can change the heart. I guess if they want to they could slap a fine and/or jail time on the Holy Spirit.

But followers of Jesus must also be clear that we are called to share the good news of Christ to all who will listen. God has empowered us with His Spirit to do just that.

He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:46–49 NIV).

In fact, if the government of the day forbids us to preach the gospel, we must choose to obey God rather than man, even if that leads to persecution (Acts 5: 27–32). But we must share the gospel in humility and love; sensitive to the contexts we are in.

I am a bit suspicious though. This call to ban evangelicalism comes at a time when the U.S. Department of Justice is continuing her investigations into wrongdoing in the management of the state investment fund, 1MDB.

The US Department of Justice on Thursday moved to seize an additional $540m in assets purchased with funds stolen from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, including a luxury yacht, a Picasso painting, jewellery and rights to the movie Dumb and Dumber. [The Financial Times]

Issues of race and religion are guaranteed to arouse strong emotions in Malaysia, useful for distracting from other issues. Forgive me. My years watching the X-Files have made me susceptible to conspiracy theories.

At a recent church camp I showed a clip of one of my favourite scenes from one of my favourite movies, Matrix (1999). It’s the scene where Neo, the hero, has knowledge of kung fu downloaded into his brain. When the download was completed, he declares that he knows kung fu and, in a sense, he does. He has head knowledge of the various fighting arts. Then Neo’s mentor, Morpheus, tells him to show him that he really knows kung fu.

They then spar in a dojo but what Neo and, often, we the viewers forget is that this duel happens in the mind. It is not a physical fight. Neo, cocky and confident in his knowledge of kung fu, starts the fight. But he loses again and again. After another of his losses, when he is flat on the floor, Morpheus asks him a question: “How did I beat you?” Humbled now, Neo ponders the answer to Morpheus’ question and begins to understand how he is to fight in the digital plane. He eventually beats Morpheus. They then have this exchange:

NEO:
I know what you’re trying to do —

MORPHEUS:
I’m trying to free your mind, Neo,
but all I can do is show you the door.
You’re the one that has to step through.

Morpheus cannot live Neo’s life for him. But he can show him the way. This episode illustrates some key truths of in-depth learning.

1. It begins with head knowledge, but head knowledge is insufficient.
2. You have to actually try to put your knowledge into practice to discover what works and what doesn’t, and that sometimes entails painful failure.
3.  Then you reflect on your experience and have greater clarity of your knowledge and better integration of that knowledge into your life.
4. Having a mentor to guide you in your reflection is a major plus in the process of reflection.

This way of knowing is key in things like dentistry. (I was a dentist in a previous life.) You may have all the head knowledge on how to conduct a dental procedure but it is in actually carrying out that procedure a number of times that you actually get to “know” how to do it. Each time you do it, you reflect on what happened and how you can do it better. The process is even more effective with the help of a lecturer or senior dentist guiding the reflection.

This is the basic thesis of Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap in their book Deep Smarts (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2005).

The single most important theme of this book is that people learn — create and recreate knowledge — through experience. (19)

They go on to explain that we need to reflect on our experience and that this reflection is best done with the help of a coach.

. . . learning, particularly learning by doing, can be much more effective and efficient if an expert knowledge coach is guiding the process . . . (233)

Leonard and Swap write from the context of business but I think their insights are applicable to all sorts of human learning.

Jesus seems to teach in this way too. In Luke 10:1–20, Jesus sends 72 disciples out on a mission trip. He doesn’t go with them. When they return, Jesus helps them process what happened and what are the real lessons of their mission experience (Luke 10:17–20); learning through reflected experience with the help of a coach.

So much of the teaching that goes on in our churches and our schools is lecture based. Leonard and Swap do not knock lectures. They understand that lectures help to provide knowledge frameworks. But for in-depth learning to take place it has to be reflected experience with the help of a coach.

I enjoy preaching and teaching. I think it is one of my strengths and I do a lot of it. But Bernice and I are also committed to mentoring because we believe that this is critical if we are aiming at transformation and not just information.

Leonard and Swap confirm this but I have long known this to be true. As I reflect on my ministry experience I realise that the most significant impact I have made in people’s lives is when I have walked with key individuals over a period of time, helping them reflect on their lives from the context of Scripture.

This way of teaching cannot be rushed and it is not mass production. I think that is why it doesn’t happen more often. We live in an age where we are obsessed with reaching as many people as soon as possible. But I don’t think we can do better than Jesus. He focused on a few over three years, but the disciples He produced changed the world.

Last week (June 1st) was the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ album, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I was in Form 1 (Grade 7) when it was released. Didn’t really notice it or appreciate it till a few years later. Looking back after five decades, I realise the songs in the album ask the key questions of life.

One of the most beautiful songs in the album is “She’s Leaving Home” portraying the pain of a dad and mum when their daughter leaves home. It’s a reminder that the soundtrack of life is in a minor key and that to live is to suffer loss; that life is a series of saying goodbyes to people and places. Indeed, the one constant of life is death and even if you live to 64 (“When I’m Sixty-four”) you won’t live forever. The constant of life is death that takes away the ones we love and, finally, takes our lives. What then are we to do?

Well, if death makes life meaningless in the end, then nihilism of some form should be the order of the day, and one logical conclusion of nihilism is suicide.

He blew his mind out in a car
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed
(“Day In The Life”)

But most of us are cowards, or perhaps we still harbour a hope that life has meaning, so we find help to go on living in various ways:

Drugs and other addictions that make us forget. (I know that “With a Little Help from my Friends” and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” are ambiguous in their reference to drugs, but when I get “high with a little help from my friends” I may see the fantasy images in “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds?”)
Romance (“Lovely Rita”)
Romantic Optimism (“It’s Getting Better”)
Music and the Arts (The music of the album sung by a group of lonely hearts for lonely hearts.)

Having said all that, the Beatles do try to wake us up from our stupor (“Good Morning, Good Morning”). They challenge us from escaping in denial:

I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in
And stops my mind from wandering
Where it will go
(“Fixing A Hole”)

And they still ask the question:

We were talking
About the love that’s gone so cold
And the people
Who gain the world and lose their soul
They don’t know, they can’t see
Are you one of them?
(“Within You Without You”)

One response:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
(Text: Joseph M. Scriven, 1820–1886
Music: Charles C. Converse, 1832–1918
)

More wishful thinking? The Bible asks the same question, and answers that it is not, because Jesus died and rose again (1 Corinthians 15). And if someone really conquered death, then of course it shifts things into a major key and gives us other songs to sing.

Charles Xavier: “This is what life looks like, people who love each other, a home. You should take a moment, feel it. You still have time.” (Logan, 2017)

Yesterday I had lunch with friends from a very special period of my life, many of whom I have not met for 40 years. I studied dentistry in the University of Singapore from 1974 till 1978. I remember two things about those years, my struggle with dental studies, and the joy I experienced living at the King Edward VII Hall (KE Hall) — a residential college for medical and dental students, that also housed pharmacy and engineering undergrads.

Life in KE Hall was special to me for many reasons. I sang in the band (The Keviians), took part in a play (The Importance of Being Earnest), and was a member of the Junior Common Room Committee. I was part of the team that won the Inter-hostel Debates. (The others in that wining team were the Wong brothers, Mark and John, and Subramaniam, now the Malaysian health minister.)

Above all, it was the people. Undergraduate life was probably the last time in our lives we had more time to build friendships. I will never forget the many good people I was privileged to connect with as we journeyed through university life. It was a life that began with some harmless hazing during orientation. I recall that I was ‘baptised’ (by immersion) in a bathtub filled with water, soap suds, beer, and, I suspect, various bodily fluids, to be born again as a Keviian.

I am sure we all grieved a little when we graduated and had to leave KE Hall. We all went our separate ways. I kept in touch with a few but lost touch with many. Forty years have passed; but thanks to Facebook and Whatsapp, we began to reconnect with friends of long ago. Yesterday’s lunch was the fruit of one such reconnection.

There was much joy at the table. Of course we reminded ourselves of the special times we shared when we were in KE. Feelings of friendship and camaraderie, long dormant, flowered with a vengeance. There were also some sad moments when we mentioned friends who had passed away and would not join us at the table again.

The dim sum was great, but we feasted on friendship and memories. In our 60s now, we are no longer consumed with career and raising young children, and our hearts can once again attend to our need to connect with friends. I was deeply moved by the time together at lunch, and I suspect so were many of the others around the table. We plan to do this once a month.

Perhaps we can now understand why a common metaphor of our life-after-this-life, is a meal. Jesus said:

“And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22: 29–30 NIV)

Heaven will be this super reunion feast with Jesus as host. All happy reunion dinners this side of heaven are reminders of that final reunion that awaits those who are friends of Christ. And death will no longer be the spoilsport that prevents people from coming to the meal, because by then death will be dead (Revelation 20:14).

I look forward to my next meal with this group of friends. Perhaps I can convince some of them to join me at Jesus’ reunion dinner.

During the past six weeks, I have spoken on the following:

  • “Dealing with pain & suffering – understanding the theology of suffering” (A men’s group)
  • “The Wounded Man” (Another men’s group)
  • “More than conquerors over your past” (Sermon)

I didn’t volunteer to speak on these topics; I was invited to do so. It just so happened that the talks were so close to each other. A friend remarked that this was my focus for this season.

In these talks, I revisited my past, especially a period I call my ten black years. I talked about my failures as a husband and a father. I talked about my experience of widowhood, divorce, loss of ministry and reputation, and my sojourn through clinical depression.

I don’t find it easy to revisit these parts of my life. After every talk I am wiped out emotionally and physically. But if asked, if I think it will do some good, I will make these parts of my life available to others. For the longest time, I wished I could go back in time and do things better, make better choices, be a better man. But I can’t go back in time. Now, I seek to redeem my past by sharing whatever lessons I learnt from those dark times, with others. The most important lesson is this — God is bigger than our failures.

How I wish I had made better choices in my life, but I didn’t, perhaps I couldn’t. I came to terms with the fact that life is not predicated on me making perfect life choices, but on the fact that our God is a God of grace and He is able to work all things for good, for His people (Romans 8:28). This is divine alchemy that only God can do. He brings good out of bad. Of course it helps if we cooperate with His work, to be like Peter and return to God, with confession and repentance if need be, and not be like Judas who turns away from God in his failure.

I need to be reminded that our God is able to bring good out of bad. I need to hang on to this aspect of His nature and power, even as the echoes of the explosions in Manchester and Jakarta ring in my ear.

Wishful thinking? I remember Good Friday, when God used the greatest evil to accomplish the greatest good. I remember Easter, when life defeated death. So I continue to live. I continue to serve. And I continue to share.

I have come to see that my life is a story, and that God is the author. He is able to weave together all the strands of my life, both the good and the bad, into a coherent redemptive narrative. My story will end well as I continue to trust in Him. And if telling my story helps others, I will continue to do so.

Graceworks organized its first Young Adult Ministry forum in November, 2014. Since then the Lord has confirmed our calling to minister to this age group. This article was published in February 2015. Two years on, it is a good reminder of our call to empower and equip these emerging adults.

_________________

Graceworks primary call remains the same: “Promoting spiritual friendship as part of God’s agenda of making disciples for the Kingdom.” We will seek to do this for all age groups but will give special attention to young adults. But who are the young adults? We can give some numbers. Graceworks defines young adults as those between 18 to 31. But young adults are more a chapter in life than a chronological age range.

In their book, Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults, Richard R. Dunn and Jana L. Sundene join Jeffrey Jensen Arnett and others in preferring the term “emerging adults”. They write:

We agree with Arnett that the term “emerging adult” seems appropriate to describe the challenge for this generation in becoming fully functional adults. In his recent book Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood, Christian Smith also embraces this term because ‘rather than viewing these years as simply the last hurrah of adolescence or an early stage of real adulthood, it recognizes the very unique characteristics of this new and peculiar phase of life.’ . . . For our purposes, however, we will use the terms “young adult” and “emerging adult” interchangeably to refer to adults ranging from ages nineteen to thirty five. (Richard R. Dunn and Jana L. Sundene, Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012], 17)

We must give people in this life stage the attention they need. It is a key transition stage in life. I see this life stage as a gestation period that gives birth to the adult. We need to do what we can to ensure that the adult that emerges from this period will be one that is healthy. Gordon T. Smith puts it this way:

The first transition, and probably the most critical, is the move into adulthood from adolescence. This transition occurs at or around age twenty. For some it happens in their late teens. For others it does not come until they are well into their twenties. Regardless of when it happens, the critical issue is this: it must happen. Personal congruence and vocational integrity require that we take adult responsibility for ourselves, and as adults, we must ask and then courageously answer the question “What is God calling me to be and to do?” (Gordon T. Smith, Courage & Calling, 2nd edition [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011], 79.)

Graceworks commits itself to a mission of helping our young adult friends answer this question and helping them live out the answers. We want to be their servants in this birth process.

What are some issues that emerging adults live with? They include:

  1. Identity— Who am I as defined by God and not just as defined by my parents/society/government/institutional church, etc.
  2. Vocation— What am I called to do? This is a critical question as I begin my work life.
  3. Community— How do I relate to my family of origin and my church at this stage of life? Who will I walk through life with? Who are my friends now?
  4. Sexuality— What does it mean to be a sexual being?
  5. Stewardship— As an adult I now have much more say in how I use my time and money but I am overwhelmed by the many demands on my resources.
  6. Why should I be a Christian?— Am I a believer just because I happened to be born into a Christian family? Isn’t it arrogant to claim that only Christianity is true when there are so many faith systems out there? And can Christianity stand the hard scrutiny of science?

The above list of issues is by no means exhaustive. Indeed, the first step in young adults ministry is to listen. We insult our young adults when we give them pre-packaged answers and pre-packaged programmes without first listening to them. It is fair to say though that whatever the issues they struggle with, young adults need what disciples of every age group need — truth and love.

We are confident that the Scriptures have answers to the most fundamental issues of life and we need to help young adults build bridges between the story of the Bible and their stories. But above all, young adults need true older friends, mentors, disciplers, older brothers and sisters in the faith who will walk with them as they journey from adolescence to adulthood. Which is why it makes a lot of sense that a ministry committed to spiritual friendship, Graceworks, should also be a ministry that focuses on young adults.

I like the guiding question that Dunn and Sundene have crafted for their ministry with emerging adults:

What can we do in this generation to empower and equip emerging young adults to reach their God-designed potential for spiritual transformation? (Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults, 17.)

It will also be a question that we will be trying to answer.

Download slides: Resilience in Life and Ministry