I believe the best people are also the most humble. This is definitely true of my friend Kok Hiang (KH). Two nights ago, Bernice and I had the privilege of attending his 60th birthday dinner. It was a joyful celebration with friends and family.

I first met Kok Hiang when a common friend, Daniel Soh, arranged a meet up. Daniel believed there might be synergy in our ministries. So, Bernice and I met KH in his office. He had been appointed National Director of Cru a few years before. As always, I grappled with insecurity as to how I would be received because of my past. And, as always, I confessed the big mistakes I had made. He didn’t seem to be flustered when he heard my story. This is one of KH’s strengths. He keeps his cool in the face of things he encounters. This first meeting led to a ministry relationship where Graceworks was allowed to do stuff with Cru.

God raised KH for Cru for such a time as this. With his cool, clear leadership he led the movement through critical transitions such as the name change from Campus Crusade to Cru, the purchase of a building that now houses the organization, and a crisis when the movement had to be inactive in a university campus for a time because of a complaint. He led the movement in a time of rapid change, having to deal with more mundane but equally important things like raising funding and managing staff changes. He was a key leader of a key organisation but he always received visitors with warmth and kindness.

In the end, we became good friends because we walked together in a 3-2-1 group for many years with Doug, then country leader of the Singapore Navigators. A 3-2-1 group is a group of three people who commit to meet for at least two hours once a month over a meal in order to help each other follow Christ. In such groups Jesus is the fourth friend in our midst. In our 3-2-1 meetings we helped each other process what it meant to follow Christ in our families, in our ministries, and in the decisions we had to make. We didn’t always agree. Close friendships mean we see each other at our best and at our worst. But we were always committed to one another in our love in Christ. There is no way we can have deep friendships with many people, but we can develop deep friendships in 3-2-1 groups. Doug has had to return to the US because of a new ministry commitment, but those years of meeting up have bound our hearts together.

There is a mystery in friendship. I believe we can make friends. But there are certain friendships that can only be understood as gifts from God, undeserved. Such friends accept us for who we are but also help us be our best selves. KH is such a divine gift in my life. So thank you, KH, for being my friend. I look forward to walking together and having more adventures in the years ahead. Blessed birthday.