Tuesday, 9 August 2016

5 Lessons About Christ - Lesson Five: Divine Love

by Karen Chung

By the grace of God, Karen will be starting her first year at U of T for plastic and reconstructive surgery. She asks for your prayers, that she may abide in God daily



I had the privilege of watching the beautiful Janessa Se Lan marry Timothy Gee on June 11, 2016 at the Elk Ridge Resort in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. All names have been granted with permission.

God used this wedding to share five lessons about Christ, and I write them now. I write to remember, to understand, and to testify. I pray that this will also be a blessing for you.

I connected instantly with Sunny, a vivacious medical student with warm brown eyes who moved quickly to serve others.

"What was your favourite part of the wedding so far?" She smiled at me, "Those vows though..."

Tim's vows to Janessa started off beautifully:

"I love you not because of how you make me feel: although I am definitely my happiest when I'm with you. I love you not because of you look, although you are absolutely stunning today and every day.... "

He continues on, his words simultaneously searing and refreshing our hearts:

"While those things could be reasons to love you, the reason I love you is simply this: God has placed you in my life and I have been blessed with the incredible opportunity to love you.

I can only love you because God loved us enough to send His Son so that He could redeem us, cleanse us, adopt us and allow us to come together in love under Him

I love you because God first loved me and you."

Wow. Those are words created by His holy spirit.

And then, driving to the airport with Sunny, Preston, Carrie and Roshini, tears were in my eyes as I heard testimony after testimony about God's love and provision.

Preston's story particularly pierced my heart.

He was at a bible study and the leader had just asked each of them to write down all their sins. It stirs up a shameful, frantic fear, "He's going to make us read them out loud and confess them to each other!" Preston writes down a few select sins, dreading what the leader has to say next.

Time passes, dread builds. Finally, the leader speaks:

"Now, take that sheet and rip it up."

Preston laughed, "I wanted to write down everything at that point!"

What an example of Christ's love. His divine, perfect love that forgives all of our sins when we confess them. His blood that literally washes us clean, white as snow. His grace that recognizes the evil in our hearts, yet chooses to love us anyway.

It is rare indeed for anyone to die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him! (Romans 5:8)

I remember going home, writing down all the sins, all the sins I could think of on a piece of paper. Then, looking to Christ, I ripped that paper up. I tore that paper to shreds. I threw the shreds away.

It doesn't define me. Christ's love defines me. Instead of the shame we feel when we look at the ugliness within us, there is joy as we accept His divine, perfect love and forgiveness.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 

Whoever believes in him is not condemned. (John 3:15-21)

So to end this five-part testimony of God's divine love, it seems fitting to end with a few of Tim's final vows to Janessa:

"I will choose to love you because that is what God has called me to do. As God gives me the strength to do so, I will continually strive to love you with the same kind of love Christ has for the church, learning to lay myself down for your sake.

As Christ as my example, I will strive to love you as selflessly as He loves us"



Thursday, 28 July 2016

5 Lessons About Christ - Lesson Four: Rest

by Karen Chung

By the grace of God, Karen will be starting her first year at U of T for plastic and reconstructive surgery. She asks for your prayers, that she may abide in God daily




I had the privilege of watching the beautiful Janessa Se Lan marry Timothy Gee on June 11 2016 at the Elk Ridge Resort in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. All names have been granted with permission.

God used this wedding to share five lessons about Christ, and I write them now. I write to remember, to understand, and to testify. I pray that this will also be a blessing for you.

I step outside the terminal and see a beautiful woman with blond hair, dressed in black. Her name is Jennifer and although we did not know each other, she lovingly took the time to pay for parking, pick me up at the Saskatoon airport and drive to the resort for Janessa's wedding. We realize later that we've met each other at the CMDS leadership conference in 2013, and as we talk about our medical school experiences the topic of burnout comes up.

"What are your thoughts about the sabbath?" 

I share that I've done it a few times and it's peace-giving, but I have had mixed opinions about it.

She looks at me gently "It's one of the ten commandments."

And so it is:

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." (Exodus 20:8)

"Then he said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.'" (Mark 2:27)

I remember that still quiet voice,"What is preventing you from giving me time?"  I'm thinking, "my work, a desire for people's praise, a fear of failing in this world."

The next morning, while doing devotions 1 John 5:21 pierces my heart:

"Dear children, keep yourselves from idols." (1 John 5:21)

I leave the breakfast table and meet Jessica, a fellow Mauritian Christian sister, who is also doing her devotions.

She reads her devotion out to me and then asks, "What are your thoughts about rest?". She goes on to share that her work sometimes requires her to work all 7 days. She shares how she has committed to spend 1 hour every day, resting in Him, giving Him that hour.

That idea resonated, and still resonates. God pursues and sanctifies. When I met with Dr. Kenneth Wyllie and his lovely wife Mary, missionaries who also founded the Plastic and Reconstructive Division at Queen's University, they handed me a book Waiting on God. Then, I was at C3 Church Toronto the past two weekends.

The first sermon "Freedom in listening" was about hearing God. The second sermon, was about choosing to believe in moments of crisis: 'What is your foundation? our pastor challenged us.

"It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)

For me, that one hour of rest in Him is an opportunity to hear God speak, a time to renew my mind, an opportunity to read His word and a time to lay down my idols.

It's an act of faith. Even now, I could use that hour to study, and I struggle with that temptation, but I choose to trust in God, not my own ability. It's a decision to give the time He has given me, back to Him, even if it costs me a question, even if it costs me looking foolish. He is so much bigger. He made my dream of being a plastic surgery resident possible, and He works in my heart to desire that this is used for His glory.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love." (John 15:5-9)

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

5 Lessons About Christ - Lesson Three: Wisdom

by Karen Chung

By the grace of God, Karen will be starting her first year at U of T for plastic and reconstructive surgery. She asks for your prayers, that she may abide in God daily.





I had the privilege of watching the beautiful Janessa Se Lan marry Timothy Gee on June 11, 2016 at the Elk Ridge Resort in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. All names have been granted with permission.

God used this wedding to share five lessons about Christ, and I write them now. I write to remember, to understand, and to testify. I pray that this will also be a blessing for you.

My first glimpse of Gloria was during the worship service of Janessa's wedding. There was this beautiful woman, standing along the outside aisle, hands put together in prayer, face turned upward, and a smile on her lips as she worshiped our Lord.

Sunday morning, I'm graced by her presence. "Can I join you?" 

Gloria and I quickly connected over our heart for missions. She recently felt God calling her to stay where she is in Calgary. What she shared next, challenged me. "I felt God ask me, "If you can't share the gospel here, what makes you think you'll share it overseas?"

She continues, "I feel like everyone I meet, is on a spectrum. On one end, there is no knowledge of God, of our Saviour, of Jesus Christ. On the other end, there is a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ.

What if I can bring each person that I talk to closer to knowing God?"

Such a powerful statement. We will come into contact with thousands, perhaps millions of patients in our lifetime. Then, if we add in all other the health professionals, and then, each person we talk to at the grocery store, at a restaurant, on a bus - that's a lot of people.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16)

Dear God, may our speech be full of Your grace, seasoned with Your salt. May we choose our words carefully, to take the attention off of ourselves and onto You, boasting only about the power of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

5 Lessons About Christ - Lesson Two: Faith

by Karen Chung

By the grace of God, Karen will be starting her first year at UofT for plastic and reconstructive surgery. She asks for your prayers, that she may abide in God daily





I had the privilege of watching the beautiful Janessa Se Lan marry Timothy Gee on June 11 2016 at the Elk Ridge Resort in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. All names have been granted with permission.

God used this wedding to share five lessons about Christ, and I write them now. I write to remember, to understand, and to testify. I pray that this will be a blessing for you.

"What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" (Mark 8: 36)

This verse was on Bible Gateway, and lead me to Mark 8, my new bread for my daily hour with God (last week He lead me to Ephesians). As the busyness of residency approached and the process of adjusting began, His Holy Spirit and His still, quiet voice continued to nudge me to write down Carrie's and Roshini's testimony of faith during Janessa's wedding on June 11/12.

Mark 8:17-21 convicted me. The disciples saw the miracle of the seven loaves of bread becoming seven basketfuls left, after feeding 4,000. Yet, one boat ride later, they were concerned when they only brought one loaf:

"Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: 'Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?' 'Twelve,' they replied. 'And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?' They answered, 'Seven.' He said to them, 'Do you still not understand?' (Mark 8:17-21)

This is written to remember, and to understand how much power our God has, and how He meets our needs faithfully, every time.

-

Leaving the Elk Ridge resort, I open the back car door and see two new, beautiful and friendly faces smiling back at me. Carrie and Roshini were two of Janessa's American friends who had met Janessa during a summer Christian medical elective in California. These two beautiful women shared life stories of faith, faith that moved mountains. Most importantly, their words encouraged and inspired me to look towards God, our father.

When I remember Roshini, I remember how she looked at me. She had these beautiful, warm, brown eyes which made me feel as though she truly cared about everything I had to say. When I looked at Roshini, I felt His love.

Roshini's Testimony:

Her parents were both born in India. At many levels, their marriage was taboo. Her mother was Hindu and her father was Christian. Then, her mother became a Christian. Still, they were both from different castes, where her father was quite wealthy.  By the grace of God, they were married. For eight years, they tried to have a baby.

At this point, Roshini smiles, "My parents had a lot of faith." One day, they're going for a drive. Her mom says to her dad, "I'm dizzy." Her dad says to her mom, "You're pregnant."

"No, I'm not, I'm just dizzy."

They take a pregnancy test and it's positive. They take a pregnancy test every week thereafter for a month and it's positive. It's confirmed by ultrasound by her family doctor in October. Roshini is born full term in February, and her mother experienced no pain during labour! When she is just two and half years old, she asks her mother for a baby brother. She's told to ask Jesus. Her brother is born.

Roshini laughs, "I let my brother know, it's because I prayed for you, you were born!"

Carrie begins to share. She has this beautiful voice, smooth and soft. When she speaks, words come together harmoniously, sharpening my heart and nourishing my soul. A few of the quotes she shared still resonate in my mind.

"To all those who compare themselves, why do you compare? You think you're the standard? Who made you the standard? Jesus Christ is the standard. He's the only one worth comparing to"

"His ears are this close. He is so ready to hear and listen and answer our prayers."

Carrie's Testimony:

Carrie felt unprepared to write an important end-of-year exam. What struck me is what she said next: "So I began praying and fasting for my exam."

One night, as she was praying and fasting, she saw a bunch of numbers swirl around her head. These numbers became a ratio. She said "Oh Lord, if these numbers are my test result, what a testimony that will be!" This was Monday night. She had to write her exam on Wednesday. She wrote her exam, and committed it to God.

Her test result? The ratio God had given her before her exam.

Our God is so good.

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come." (Ephesians 1: 18-20)

5 Lessons About Christ - Lesson One: Community

by Karen Chung

By the grace of God, Karen will be starting her first year at UofT for plastic and reconstructive surgery. She asks for your prayers, that she may abide in God daily


 

I had the privilege of watching the beautiful Janessa Se Lan marry Timothy Gee on June 11, 2016 at the Elk Ridge Resort in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. All names have been granted with permission.

God used this wedding to share five lessons about Christ, and I write them now. I write to remember, to understand, and to testify. I pray that this will be a blessing for you.

"How do you know Janessa?"

"Well, we met in our first year at the CMDS leadership conference, and we clicked. We shared personal stories, we laughed together and we stayed in touch through Facebook. I happened to meet her again on elective in Ottawa and spent time with her and her friends from Saskatchewan,  It was so refreshing to see her Christ-like perspective and I'm thankful to have gotten to see her again... "

... You see why I went to her wedding, I was not quite sure. I supported her wedding entirely, knew the important parts of her story with Tim, was very impressed and appreciative of her great love for others, her beautiful compassion and her quickness to empathy.

However, to fly from Ontario to Saskatoon was not inexpensive (check out that double negative). Yet, I felt compelled to go. It sounded foolish to my parents and surprising to my friends. So, when I couldn't truly reconcile it in my mind, I committed to praying for her wedding, that it would be glorifying to Him.

God gave me so much more. It was the best weekend of my entire summer. This was the summer after my fourth year, when I had travelled to Hawaii, Iceland and France with the best company I could have asked for, eaten the best desserts, and seen awesome sights. Yet, what I gained during this wedding weekend was worth so much more.

Peter Hong, a fellow CMDS 2016 graduate whom I met at the wedding shared this piece by CS Lewis. It perfectly sets the tone for this lesson.

“But in Friendship, being free of all that, we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting—any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends "You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others. They are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them. They are, like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship, increased by Him through the Friendship itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as for revealing.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Janessa (may God bless her and keep her), went out of her way and coordinated my ride from Saskatoon to Elk Ridge Resort, the room that I would be staying in, my table, and my ride back to the Saskatoon airport.

God used each person that I met, to teach me something, and the lessons He wants me to share are from: Jennifer, Jessica, Gloria, Roshini, Carrie, Preston and Sunny.

Janessa placed me in a room with Peter, John (another fellow CMDS 2016 grad), and his fiancee Jessica. Jessica and I clicked almost instantly, our friendship secured when we discovered:

1. Our parents were both from Mauritius (a beautiful island off the coast of Madagascar). She was born in Mauritius and had moved to Canada when she was 16.
2. We were the same age.
3. Her mother went to the same school as my mother and they were in the same class!

So to summarize, God placed me in a room with another Mauritian Chinese Canadian Christian sister, whose mother knows my mother.

Oh, His love.

The next friendships were formed quickly as well. When Christians come together, it is remarkable how quickly we connect, having barely known each other. Ephesians 2:14-22 summarizes it quite nicely:

"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord."

In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Friday, 31 July 2015

The Value of Fellowship

- Stephanie Potter

Across the country CMDS members have been coming together to discuss how the current changes to  federal law and college policy affects their practice and their ability to act according to their conscience. While these are difficult circumstances, it is hard to ignore the many positives these meetings are bringing to our members. It is easy to get lost in the worries and cares of our day to day lives. It is easy to become isolated in our concerns and forget to reach out and find a community of like-minded individuals with whom we can find fellowship and support.

At one of the local CMDS meetings this week, we had the privilege of having Doctors and allies come in person to share a meal. Each of us shared a short witness of our life and faith journey over a delicious meal lovingly prepared by our hostess. We were encouraged to share about the moment of our conversion, jokingly nicknamed our "TSN Turning Point", when we fully gave our hearts to God. Each story was similar and yet unique. For one married couple and their son, the stories intertwined in a beautiful tapestry, showing clearly the glory of God's plans. It was an evening of powerful re-affirmation of our faith and our mission to be Christ to one another and the world.

After our meal we had a lively and insightful discussion about current events and had the pleasure of being joined via FaceTime and telephone by two Doctors who couldn't join us in person from our Province. It was wonderful how technology had increased our little community so that we could share in fellowship and discussion with them. At the end of our chat, one of the Doctors remarked that she had missed the community she had felt in her med school days through her CMDS chapter. Our meeting had given us a chance to make an important contact with her and plans were made for visits, meals shared, and continued contact. 

If we accomplish nothing else in these days, there is no doubt that the Holy Spirit has been with us in our communities across Canada. We are reminded again the value of fellowship. The early Church was built up of small communities dedicated to encouraging one another, sharing a meal, and praising all that God had done for them. Let us remember to reach out to our brothers and sisters to draw them into our company to reflect on Christ's promise: "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." (Matt 18:20)

Monday, 20 July 2015

Love Selflessly

- Karen Chung
Karen is a fourth year medical student from Queen’s Medical School, prior co-chair of CMDS. She has been involved for all four years. God has given her a heart for Africa, miraculous experiences in Ghana and Ethiopia and leadership opportunities to serve the poor in Hamilton and Kingston. He has given her a passion for plastic surgery and global health.


I have started my final year of medical school at Queen's University and would like to share the lessons I have learned. The intended audience of this piece is for my brothers and sisters starting medical school. It is my whole-hearted prayer that God will use these three (or four) years to bring Him as much glory as He created you for. There is no other wish.

Pray

Dear God, I commit this piece to you. I pray that I will write the words that You want me to share and I pray that you open hearts to receive the words You would like shared.

Prayer is powerful.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

We are righteous because of Jesus Christ.

In my second year, I had a dream. I had just finished reading Heidi Baker and had the repeated, recurrent dream of seeing the Acts 4 church come true. I longed to see medical students, professionals, undergraduate students, homeless people and drug abusers eat together, giving and sharing as there was need. I told this dream to as many people as I could from multiple groups: Geneva House, Morning Prayer Group, Joel’s Bible Study, Bethel Church and prayed. God gave me a heart to listen and to obey Him. On my birthday, God did a miracle. He made this dream come true. See the article of the actual event and here for the Facebook page as God answered prayer. 

Location: Martha’s Table, a local soup kitchen happily agreed to host the event.

Food: Metro, No Frills donated funds for food.

Doctors (in and out of CMDS) donated funds for food. Betty’s Byre and her sister a local Kingston Farmers Market donated fresh veggies and apples, lots of beautiful apples. 

Service: A Christian brother from Queen’s Acapella group, heard about it and volunteered this group to perform there. My Queen’s Medicine classmates and my brothers and sisters from CMDS, Geneva House, Morning Prayer Group, Joel’s Bible Study, Bethel Church came to volunteer: clean dishes, cook food and serve the homeless.

Chefs: Chef Luke Hayes-Alexander, one of the youngest and most innovative chefs in Kingston designed and volunteered his time to make the appetizer. Chef Clark Day, the head chef of Aquaterra, one of the finest restaurants in Kingston donated food and designed and volunteered his time to make the main course and dessert

My God worked in the details. Here’s a quick snap shot:

I woke up on a Saturday feeling so sick and incredibly nauseous. I felt God pushing me to go to the Kingston market place and ask for a donation. On my walk there, I was relying completely on His strength and I made a plan: “Okay God, I’m walking. I’m going to ask for a donation. If they say no, I’ll ask for a discount. If they say no, I’ll just buy it all and worry about the money later. I give it all to you.” I walked up to Betty’s Byer and I told her about this dream.

“How much do you want?”

I was blown away. We needed apples for dessert and Chef Clark Day was thinking of doing an apple crumble because it’s very easy (core the apple, put in oatmeal, sugar, bake and serve with vanilla ice-cream). I went to pick up the apples from Betty:

“Karen, I picked out the most beautiful apples for you. These are the best of the best, with no bruises or blemishes.”

Over 140 apples were donated. These apples were free.

Get involved

Make friends outside of CMDS, get involved in Christian communities outside of medicine. Get involved in the community. Live as though each day is your last.

My Christian family nourished me so I could serve my classmates and patients. They prayed for my friends, for my patients. They prayed for me when I was sick. They brought me coffee, snacks, and love when I was studying. They wrote me cards of encouragement. They were the family I could call at four in the morning.

We worked together to serve our Kingston community. We visited strip clubs with food. We had bi-weekly cooking sessions for the HIV/AIDS regional service just before our prayer meetings. We are in the middle of raising $15,000 to build a kitchen for the HIV/AIDS nutrition program in Kingston. We walked around the community offering prayer and food to the homeless. We held surprise birthday parties for each other.

God gave me friends in my medical class who were so beautiful, inside and out. I love them and He loves them more. I continue to commit these friends to God and pray that I exemplify who He wants me to be. These friends see my actions and words, and they know I am a human who has been given a heart for Jesus. It is my hope and prayer that one day they will come to Christ. I pray in Jesus’ name, that my speech will be full of grace and seasoned with salt.

Deny yourself

You and God know the sins that are holding you back from truly denying yourself to live as Christ did. Reflect on them. Then, share these sins with those close to you and to confess and repent from them in prayer. Please ask God to banish all the spiritual demons and thoughts that are not from Him.  Ask your brothers and sisters to hold you accountable.

There is absolutely NOTHING that is more worthwhile than living for God. When you are tired and serving patients and no one wants to take call on the long weekend, it is my prayer that you would take the spot. When you are tired and you’ve been asked to see one more patient, it is my prayer that you will cry out to God, beg Him for strength and thank Him for the opportunity to keep serving. Then document this story and share it on this blog.

You will be tempted. Know that God has given you victory to overcome it. Make a list of acts of service you can do when you’re tempted. Pray for others, document your testimonies, study for what you’re passionate about, go outside and be a Christ-centered example to your friends, worship God, cook for others – the list is endless.


Connect with me on twitter @loveselflessly