Today was the opening ceremony of Project Barnabas 2013. Rev. Daniel Cheah began his message with the above quotation this morning. These were the words he received from God many years ago which has now become reality. It spurred him and Rev. Deborah to embark and persist on a global mission of spiritual restoration and economic empowerment. This year is Project Barnabas’ eighteenth year anniversary. This year, we have 114 international delegates from 12 nations attending PB.
Rev. Daniel Cheah spoke passionately about the vision he and Rev. Deborah started with, and how God has been equipping them with the means to pursue this vision. I won’t try to recap what Reverend said here, as it might not do him justice. But I can tell you how it has inspired me.
I knew since one year ago, on my first day at HSG, that God led me here for a purpose – it is for me to learn through observation. I was reminded of this purpose today and more.
As you know by now, I am working on establishing a charitable foundation that will be named “A Celebration of Life“. I have this dream since the very beginning of my journey as an NF patient, right after my first surgery in 2002. A few of my friends would remember how I gathered them in my house to discuss. But I later had to set this dream aside for ten years as I took care of my own medical needs, by running a personal fundraising and awareness campaign named Heart4Hope. It has paid for 11 out of 14 lifesaving surgeries of mine in the U.S. and made me who I am today.
In 2011, my original dream came back to me at a time when I have finally attained considerable maturity and stability in my own life. My heart’s vision for the foundation, like Heart4Hope, is global. I never once limited my vision to Malaysia or any other country. It is more so now than before, since I have travelled so much and known people from diverse backgrounds across the world.
But as we age, we would become acquainted with a certain line of thought. That is the realist’s line of thought. I shared my vision and sought advice from numerous people between 2011 and 2012, people with business, accounting and law backgrounds. I was advised to begin by providing assistance to Malaysians first AND help them pay for treatments locally unless the procedure absolutely cannot be done in Malaysia. This was suggested to avoid becoming controversial.
Deep down, I knew that didn’t go well with what I stand for. I have, and always been, championing for medical care excellence, even if it meant travelling half way across the world and doing something that no other Malaysian has done before. No one will question me now when I say that I would not have survived past my third surgery without going to America. This determination and conviction of mine has won me much public support.
Support for my fundraising campaign comes from all over the world too.
Hence, it didn’t feel right to have a different plan for the foundation, even if I start small only at the beginning. How am I to answer people when they point out the above contradiction?
Yet, I kept that early advice I received thus far because I wanted the Foundation to become reality very much and didn’t dare to divert from common practices. After all, I have never done something so big as setting up a foundation – or in other words – a company limited by guarantee. The people I asked for advice have years of experience in the working adult world.
This morning, I was reminded of my peronal relationship with God, my partnership with Him. I may not have as much working experience as most people, but I certainly have more experience working with Him in pursuing a vision and mission than most. I can relate with Rev. Daniel’s story and sentiment, and I know that he spoke from his real life experience, because I have experienced it myself. I know Reverend wasn’t simply repeating common Christian dogmas – no, those sound different.
The quotation above tugs at my heart strings because it resounds with my conviction to proceed with my Foundation dream. To be frank, setting up and running a charity as big as the one I envision requires extraordinary courage. But God has trained and prepared my faith for this day through my Heart4Hope campaign, through the numerous fundraising projects – some with deadlines as close as RM100,000 in a month – so early in life. Through these experiences, I learned how God works and what having faith in God means.
Rev. Daniel Cheah’s message reminded me that what I have is my faith in God and my calling. Therefore, have courage to profess and pursue my heart’s true vision, unlimited by fear or other people’s expectations.
I need only to look at my own life history for encouragement. Remember how God has helped me raise enough funds for surgery at the 11th hour time and time again. Remember how Heart4Hope has touched more lives and that its impact on society sustained way longer than I dared to hope initially.
My heart wants A Celebration of Life foundation to be a global humanitarian mission that provides NF patients with financial assistance for acquiring proper medical care. As for how that will come true or how exactly will the foundation be, I shall free my mind of expectations and pre-conceptions so that the Foundation can take shape naturally by God’s will, with unlimited potential.
P/S: I went to Lee Hom’s FB page this evening to see how he’s doing. He posted a note earlier in the day. “These days I’ve been spending four days a week in the US, one in China, and two up in the air. My aim tonight is clearly to bring Chinked-Out to the whole world! Everyone in Nanjing has been fantastic! Love you guys!”
That made me smile. Looks like we similarly had new inspirations for our individual callings today.