Spring is coming


The song “Spring is Coming”, by Steven Curtis Chapman, has been reverberating in my head, and it so happens to be the first day of spring (in the Southern Hemisphere). In this song, Chapman, who lost his adopted 5-year-old daughter in a tragic accident, sings about hope for those who’ve put their faith in the Messiah, even while they continue to live in a fallen and broken world.

The lyrics of this song describe an intensely hopeful metaphor of “new life breaking through”, declaring that suffering in this life is momentary, and that Spring is coming soon. It’s the last song on the CD, “Beauty Will Rise“, which traces through Chapman’s grief, questions, answers, and his unwavering hope in the God who remains sovereign, and remains good.

Have a listen here:


We planted the seed while the tears of our grief soaked the ground
The sky lost its sun, and the world lost its green to lifeless brown
Now the chilling wind has turned the earth hard as stone
And silently seed rise beneath ice and snow

And my heart’s heavy now
But I’m not letting go of this hope I have that tells me

Spring is coming, Spring is coming
And all we’ve been hoping and longing for soon will appear
Spring is coming, Spring is coming
It won’t be long now, it’s just about here

Hear the birds start to sing
Feel the life in the breeze
Watch the ice melt away
The kids are coming out to play

Feel the sun on your skin
Growing strong and warm again
Watch the ground: there’s something moving
Something is breaking through
New life is breaking through

Spring is coming, Spring is coming
And all we’ve been hoping and longing for soon will appear
Spring is coming, Spring is coming
And it won’t be long now, it’s just about here

Spring is coming, Spring is coming
(Out of these ashes, beauty will rise)
And all we’ve been hoping and longing for soon will appear
(Sorrow will be turned to joy)
Spring is coming, Spring is coming
(All we hoped for soon will appear)
It won’t be long now, it’s just about here
(Out of the dark clouds, beauty will shine)
(All above in heaven, rejoice)
(Spring is coming soon)
(Spring is coming soon)

by Steven Curtis Chapman
© 2009 One Blue Petal Music


There’s still a lot to learn!

On Friday, we had an enchanting night out to celebrate six months of married life. Dinner at a fine Italian-style restaurant on Cockle Bay, a random interlude of Christ-centred rap music, then an evening of enjoying each other’s company, and reflecting on the amazing partnership, the astounding gift God has given us.

Even in just six months, God has already taught us heaps. There are some things about marriage (and about your partner for life) you can only learn by actually being in the thick of a confrontation, or in the aftermath of a disappointing exchange. Books on marriage can only trace outlines around the specific issues in our marriage… real-life issues such as living with your spouse’s habits, and how to show patience, forbearance and forgiveness towards their SSB’s (secret single behaviours). Over time, we’ve realised more and more how immensely dependent we are on the Lord to change us and help us to serve one another better.

What challenges and convicts us the most, however, comes from a passage in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church.

Eph 5:31-32: “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

Our marriage is a picture, however imperfect, of Christ’s covenantal love for His church. We earnestly want to improve our marriage, not because it makes us look good, not because we get fame and glory, but so that it would be a better picture of Christ’s marriage to the church. That’s something worth striving towards, we think.


– Cheryl and William

The ear, an engineering marvel

At work this week, I’ve been tasked with diagramming and labelling the anatomy of the ear for an educational project. Not only is it an important organ to have as a worship leader, it’s an amazingly crafted structure of our bodies, and fascinating to study as part of my work. The way each component works to turn air vibrations into nerve impulses that become recognised as sound is simply amazing (you can learn more about it here).

So it’s no surprise that Tortora and Grabowski’s “Principles of Anatomy and Physiology”, a standard textbook for health science and medical students, states this: “The ear is an engineering marvel because its sensory receptors can transduce sound vibrations with amplitudes as small as the diameter of an atom of gold (0.3 nm) into electrical signals 1000 times faster than photoreceptors can respond to light.” (p.546)

An engineering marvel – and Christians would recognise God as the Engineer, since the Bible plainly states in Proverbs 20:12: “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made them both.

Incidentally it’s also via our ears that we are able to hear the gospel call. Check out what the prophet Isaiah declares:

“Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
who are deaf, yet have ears!
All the nations gather together,
and the peoples assemble.
Who among them can declare this,
and show us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right,
and let them hear and say, It is true.
“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
I, I am the LORD,
and besides me there is no savior.
I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God.” (Isaiah 43:8-12)

Faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17), and what a broken world needs to hear, with our beautifully engineered ears,  is the gospel.


Our time in Malaysia

We’ve arrived back from two weeks away in William’s birth town of Kuching, Malaysia. It was an excellent time to really take a breath, get to know the extended family on the Chong side of the tree, and have our spiritual batteries recharged, so to speak.

Several observations about Kuching, and Malaysia:

  • It’s hot! Temperatures ranged from 25 to 35 degrees, but humidity typically hovers between 80 and 100%. Cheryl in particular found it difficult to withstand much of the humid weather, which made her start sweating within a minute of standing in the sun (or even just walking outside). But God was graceful and we both survived the searing, sticky heat – and it made us appreciate the cool weather in Auckland even more!
  • Kuching keeps on surprising with its pace of change. The old places in Kuching (e.g. Chinatown, Carpenter Street, Tabuan Jaya) have remained pretty much the same, but there are modern and impressive buildings and developments arising across the city.  Such developments include The Spring (a shopping complex larger than Sylvia Park), new hotels such as the Pullman and the Sheraton, franchised hawker food stores, Western-style coffee and cafe outlets such as Starbucks and Coffee Bean.
  • We took the opportunity to enjoy the expertise of Malaysian optometry and dentistry – that is, Cheryl got a new prescription and contacts/glasses, and both of us got our wisdom teeth extracted.
  • We enjoyed a huge variety of delicious foods over the two weeks. As an historically important trade location, the country of Malaysia typically offers a wide range of cuisines influenced by the immigration trends over the past 500-plus years. So we enjoyed an assortment of food types including: Hokkien (Kuching kolo mee, fried kway teow, tomato mee, cha kueh, kueh chap, Bak kut teh), Hakka (Lui cha), Malay (beef rendang, kek lapis [layer cake]), Indian (roti canai/telur/tisu/bom/pisang/milo, thosai, dhal, briyani rice), and too many others to list here. We tried most of these and really enjoyed it.
  • We tried to inject a bit of who we were into the wedding banquet William’s dad hosted (which was all in Mandarin, with half the guests strangers to us) by playing Dennis’s superbly-crafted wedding video. It was awesome that they could hear our vows and the promises we made to the Lord and to each other regarding our marriage – that meant a lot to us, and helped make the trip worthwhile!


Thoughts about the state of the Body of Christ in Kuching:

  • Just like any other city in the Asian region, there’s a real need for Gospel ministry, biblical teaching and preaching, and a real concern for salvation and sanctification of souls in Kuching. Even though Christian ministry is essentially closed towards the ethnic Malay population (who are Muslim by law), much of the Chinese minority (of which I’m a part) practise either ancestor worship/Taoism or Buddhism, and need instead the exclusive, saving work of Christ.
  • Of the churches that do exist in Kuching, there’s a strong Pentecostal/charismatic influence on some of them (overt speaking in tongues, flag and tambourine-waving, emotionalism-based worship music). Ministry challenges include a proclivity for people to “add-on” Christianity to their existing beliefs, religions and traditions, the need to translate between multiple languages and Chinese dialects, and the shortage of bible-based Christian resources.
  • That being said, we enjoyed fellowshipping with fellow believers in Christ, particularly during the second Sunday we were there when we visited Agape Baptist Church, where the worship was truth-filled, passionate and sincere.

With all this behind us, we’re looking forward to being back in New Zealand, as both of us are starting new roles in the near future. On Monday Cheryl begins a one-year web development course at Natcoll. In about two weeks, William will be (Lord willing) at a new role, still within the medical writing field. The LORD has been immensely gracious towards us!


-William and Cheryl

Off to meet the Chongs

When you read this, Cheryl and I, along with our sisters and another friend, will be in the air and en-route to my birthplace of Kuching, Malaysia, where we’ll be for the next two weeks.

It’ll be a great opportunity for Cheryl especially, to meet the folks that populate my dad’s side of the family tree (and there’s a quite a few of them). And there’s always the great hawker foods, cheap shopping, and exciting colour of a tropical city to explore. I went briefly last year for a family emergency, so this time around it should be just as precious a time. I know my dad is  making preparations for a banquet to celebrate our marriage.

We’ll try and post updates on things we’re getting up to, and we’re hopeful that there’ll be a church or two that we can visit during our time there. Please pray for safe travels and for opportunities to present the reason for the hope that’s in us!

-William   (p.s. Go the All Whites!!)