It’s been about 2 weeks now, where I’ve contemplated on what to write for my first WitnessSF blog, what overall thesis or main points I wanted to prove, and how I wanted to portray myself through my first piece of writing. I wrote not one, not two, but five different revisions of an article that I thought would be a crowd-pleaser, something that others living in the Bay area could totally relate to. But in the end, with honest feedback from my nearest and dearest, I was told that it just wasn’t “me.”
I have to admit, that knowing that I’m writing for something other than my own desire or purpose really changed the way that I tackled this new challenge. I’ve never had to write so transparently for complete strangers to read, and I guess you can say that I was confused about my end goal for this article to begin with. I started off thinking that I had to write something that everyone could relate to, but I realized as I was doing so, that it’s not about me “molding” and “shaping” my life story to become something meaningful to everyone else, but that my story in its simplicity and at face value, is much more significant than I could ever build it up to be, if that makes any sense. So, I scrapped the old versions, and I’m starting fresh with the mindset that I’m writing for myself – to write a personal memoir on how I got involved with WitnessSF, and explain what it really means to ME. Hopefully, you will be able to find that you can relate to my experience regardless of whether I write for that purpose or not. Here we go…
In the last few months, I’d really been feeling like I was lacking in community – not that I’m not surrounded with awesome friends and family already, but what I was really looking for was a group of people that shared the same passion I had within me, just for living a God-minded life, and doing whatever was necessary in order to further His kingdom. During this time, I’d been visiting different churches, volunteering where I could, joining small groups, and just trying to find a place where I felt comfortable and accepted, that could nurture and further encourage my desire to live passionately for God.
I was first introduced to the founder of the Witness blogs, Dan Mark, by a mutual friend. My friend Grace sent a 3-way message to the both of us through Facebook, thinking that as a bay area native, Dan could help me get in touch with some brothers and sisters in Christ living in and around the area. Well, Dan immediately turned around and got me connected with the WitnessSF crew, which then consisted of Jimmy, Jeannie, and Jason. I had no idea what I was in for at this point… I originally thought Dan was just going to point me in the direction of some new friends that I could meet and possibly hang out with here and there, but once I found out about their side project to launch a Witness blog for the city of SF, I was immediately captivated by the vision and purpose behind the blog.
One of the reasons why the blog sparked my interest and curiosity is because of some prophetic words that were spoken to me a little over a year ago, when I was visiting my big sister, Emily, in Taiwan. Whenever I visit her there, one of the things I look forward to the most, other than seeing her of course, is attending her church on Sundays (Oasis TienMu Bread of Life Church) because the people that make up the congregation there are just so real, loving, and on fire for God. It was when I first had the opportunity to experience and witness this type of community that I realized I wanted one of my own back home.
That afternoon after service, an amazing woman at the church, Dumile, had prayed for and left me with some thought provoking prophesies. God gave her a vision of what my life was like at the time – and what it would become. Of everything that was spoken over me that afternoon, every single word was completely true – what she said about my work (not knowing what my career was at all) and how I was struggling with the stress, and about the relationship I was in at the time, and certain things we were hiding together as a couple, which were unpleasing in God’s eyes (this was definitely not something that was known, even by my closest friends and family members). The last thing she prayed over me, was that God wanted me to get back in touch with my writing, and that He wanted to use my writing for His purpose, for His glory, and that this writing would not just be for me personally, but that it would one day be distributed publicly, in coffee shops, and would be used to touch and encourage people all over.
When I first heard this, I was extremely skeptical. I thought to myself, “…Are you sure you know who you’re talking to?” I’ve never considered myself a talented writer, and furthermore, I hadn’t written anything, or blogged much if at all, for a few years now. In the past, I had been a fan of writing poems, verses, and blogs detailing my every thought and emotion. I thought it was a “phase” that I grew out of, you know, the whole xanga craze and all…
After a long hiatus, flashing forward to real time January 2011, I had actually just started blogging and writing again just four months earlier. The purpose of my writing was for personal reflection on how I saw God moving in my life. The interesting thing is that within the writing of my past, you would find a lot of ME. What I felt. What I wanted. What I thought I deserved in life. But I noticed that in my new blog, I’ve shifted the focus from myself, to what God is doing in my life. My goal now isn’t the satisfaction of getting what I want anymore; rather it’s about fulfilling my purpose through Christ’s eyes. And that’s exactly what WitnessSF is all about. Less of me, more of God. One could say, that God prompted me to start writing again in this way, to prepare me for what was to come next.
That brings me back to WitnessSF. Who is WitnessSF anyway, and what do they stand for? I spent last Sunday hanging out with the group in San Francisco, and figuring this out for myself. What I experienced with Jimmy, Jason, and Jeannie that day has become a major defining moment of this whole experience for me so far. We spent the day visiting Jimmy and Jason’s church, grabbing some delicious dimsum, and just getting to know each other. We lounged around in Jimmy’s living room, shared a few jokes, talked about our hopes and directions for the blog, and last but not least, we all had a chance to share a bit about our backgrounds through our personal testimonies… and I was just blown away by each and every one of them. I could completely relate to some of the things that the others had been through, but on the other hand there were struggles and difficult situations that some had experienced which I had never dealt with myself.
While the details of each of our testimonies were all somewhat different, there was common ground found in each of our stories: God. It’s simply astounding how God works in our lives. Whether it takes a harsh break up, the unfortunate loss of a close friend or family member, or some other unexpected bump in the road, we all come to the same realization that God is always there, waiting with open arms – to comfort, to love, to heal, and to forgive… all unconditionally. And with every trial and tribulation that we go through, we’re more and more aware of how He wants to move in our lives, and more importantly, THROUGH our lives.
During my hangout with the three J’s, I was really able to experience firsthand what I believe our ultimate goal is for the WitnessSF blog. All four of us come from different backgrounds, hometowns, and lifestyles, but what we do have in common is our current physical location in the Bay, as well as our desire to connect and relate to each other on a deeper more meaningful level. We’re all normal every-day average Christian men and women, trying to find our place in this world, trying to decipher God’s purpose and plan for us. And I believe that as brothers and sisters in Christ, we were meant to fellowship, share, and strengthen each other throughout this journey, and through life’s daily struggles.
1 John 1:7: “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
WitnessSF is simply a means to share about what God is doing in our lives, on a city-wide basis. Wouldn’t it be great if we knew we weren’t alone in our struggles, in our failures, in our accomplishments, and our walks of faith, whatever season we may find ourselves in today? Plato once said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” The truth is that you AREN’T alone. We’re all fighting, and we’re all in this together. And I believe that we can gain much comfort and inspiration from getting a glimpse at what a fellow brother or sister is going through – or a certain chapter of life that they have already walked, and have gained insight and understanding in.
So, was it a coincidence that I had just started privately blogging again recently after years and years of neglect, and was connected with WitnessSF just as they were preparing to launch? Was it a coincidence that Grace connected me with her friend, Dan, of all thousands of her friends within the Bay Area? Was it a coincidence that I found exactly what I was looking for – a community of passionate believers, willing to spend the time and energy out of their own busy schedules, to bring glory to God in any way they were called to? Was it a coincidence that through the Holy Spirit, God sent me a specific calling through Dumile over a year ago, that He wanted to use my writing in order to impact the lives of others in some way or form? I think we all know the answer already. It’s no coincidence – it’s all in His perfect plan and timing. I believe God allowed for WitnessSF to be brought together for a purpose greater than we can even imagine at this point, and I can’t wait to see how His plan unravels.
I walked away from our WitnessSF Sunday hangout with a smile on my face, and a heart full of appreciation for such incredible, transparent, open and honest brothers and sisters in Christ, and for a wonderful time of sharing. My hope is that you, too, can walk away from WitnessSF every day, with that same feeling. That you would be encouraged, filled, and uplifted, spiritually and emotionally, through the stories of how God is moving in the lives of those around you.
I can be found at South Bay Church, located at 4176 Lick Mill Boulevard, Santa Clara, CA 95054. We offer 3 services @ 9AM, 10:15AM, and 11:30AM, every Sunday. I’d love to see you there!