Author Archives: William and Cheryl Chong

Wake up you sleeper!

Credit: Arizona Oddities – Tumbleweed

I must apologise to all three(!) readers of this website – I had a look and realise I only wrote 6 posts on this site over the last year…

Surely there is more going on in our marriage, parenting and ministry than that!

Anyways – I’ll look for more opportunities to share more about what’s going on in our lives.

What would you like to hear from us though?

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y’Ear in Review 2010 and 2011

Summing up 2 years of life on one page isn’t an easy task. But a rain-swept, humid summer’s day in Auckland offers us the chance to share what the last two years of life have been like for us.

Much has happened since the last time William wrote to you. And much more since the earlier years, both painful and precious to reflect on.

In 2010 and 2011, one particular narrative from the Bible has been a remarkably apt allegory for our personal lives.

Through Moses, God spoke to the fledgling band of Israelites who’d just left for a far country:

“…when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.” (Deut 6:10-13)

 

Our connection to this story is that as Christians, a little like the Israelites, over the past two years we’ve personally been gifted many things we don’t deserve.

The gift of marriage (6 Feb 2010, best day ever), and the chance for us to dance in minefields together

 

The gift of a home (crosslease, 2 bedrooms) full of all good things we didn’t fill, fruit-bearing vines we didn’t plant, and opportunities to practise and grow in hospitality (lit. “love for strangers”).

 

The gift of family – unconditionally loving brothers, sisters, parents, partners, future brothers, and an adorable nephew!

 

The gift of a church family who encourage us and spur us to love and serve our head shepherd, Jesus Christ.

 

The gift of ministry (Cheryl in sound/singing/wherever needed, William in leading gathered worship) – where there’s much joy, growth and refinement in the crucible of service to the Lord and His people.

 

The gift of friends from near and far: Gaithersburg, Howick, Brisbane, Christchurch, Kuching, Alabama and even our neighbours down the road

 

 

The gift of work (Cheryl as a web developer/soon-to-be-household manager, William as a medical writer) – which we get to gladly do as unto the Lord.

 

… and the gift of our own child – being fearfully and wonderfully woven together in Cheryl’s womb as we write this.

 

Even amidst the sadness, corruption and pain that sin and death brought to the world this year (e.g. Japan, Christchurch), for reasons yet to be explained to us, God’s chosen to pour out much grace in our lives. And yet we’ve also met and befriended folks – people who you think surely have little to be thankful for this past year, but yet continue to see new mercies each day.

 

So back to the story.

Just like God’s people in the time of Moses,

we also should take care

lest we forget the Lord

who brings people out of slavery

into great things that we didn’t build, fill, dig, plant, or deserve

who gives to us much to eat and be filled with

and who did not spare even His own Son as the ultimate gift

so that we might be reconciled to God Himself.

 

It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.

And so in response, this coming year may it be the LORD we revere, serve, swear by, and live by.

 

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

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– Cheryl and William

Going to YLC 2011 (Youth Leadership Conference) in Christchurch

This time tomorrow we’ll be in Kaiapoi, just north of Christchurch for YLC 2011. For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s a weeklong conference where the majority of the time is spent learning how to study and teach the Bible. Basic concept, but very unique. Both of us will be going, and we plan to take some time away after that.

For updates from the conference, you’re welcome to follow William or Cheryl‘s twitter accounts (using the references #ylc2011 and @YLCNZ). And if time permits we’ll share something on this blog as well.

Enjoy the summer in Auckland, we’ll see you all in a week!

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– Cheryl and William

A weekend in Wanganui

We’ve just come back from an enjoyable weekend away in the beautiful river town of Wanganui. The drive down from Auckland took 5 1/2 hours, and we thoroughly enjoyed the rolling hills and lush landscapes (though the North Island still have nothing on the vistas of the South!)

We were fortunate to be able to stay with Jonker family. Calvyn was formerly a pastor at HBC, one of our close friends, and officiated our wedding in February. We stayed at their beautiful farm house (complete with veggie garden, chickens and two cheerful farm dogs).

Admittedly it’s true that many of us at HBC still miss the Jonker family terribly. In just 18 months, they made such a huge impact on the lives of many people. Yet one thing we picked up from being their guests this weekend is that for them, Wanganui is home. As Calvyn took us for a quick tour around the town, folks were constantly stopping to say hello to him. He talked of people he’s known since they were schoolchildren, and pointed out the various ways in which the town had changed and developed over 12 years. It almost felt like he was the mayor of the town!

It was also good to see Alice, Clare, Jenny and her Wellington-beau Dave. These two ex-students are now jobhunting, nervous yet eagerly anticipating the next phase in life. Clare is standing very straight after her recent surgery, and loves to sing to us her favourite Andre Rieu songs. She picks up the various classical melodies with ease on the piano.

Alice looks the part as the quintessential country gal, feeding the chooks and clambering up and down the grassy banks of their lifestyle block. On a clear day from their deck, you can see Mt Ruapehu one side, and Mt Taranaki in the opposite direction. A sliver of water on the horizon has Alice excitedly thinking of ways to build a homestay cottage and trumpet it as accommodation with “sea views”.

We also visited Wanganui East Baptist Church on the Sunday morning. The people are friendly, and they sing God’s praises with a gusto that fills the room. Calvyn’s currently preaching from the book of 1st Peter, and they’re already up to chapter 3. His preaching style has changed since we last heard him; it’s less lecture-like and more pastoral. It’s preaching that’s down-to-earth and thoroughly biblical – and we appreciated the thought and care he evidently put into making the verse-by-verse approach as practical as possible for the congregation.

Most of all, CJ and Alice don’t just preach the gospel – they live it out. Here’s a couple that seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33), and continually encourage us to trust in God’s transforming power to mould us to love each other better. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, they’re another picture of Christ and the church (Eph 5:25) that we can, and do, look up to.

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Cheryl and William Chong

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.

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– Cheryl and William