8:35 AM

No Coincidence

I believe this is no coincidence - on the day that I wanted to write about homecoming, I read Deuteronomy 15:7-11.

Deuteronomy 15:7-11 (New International Version)
7 If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. 8 Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. 9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: "The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near," so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Was I really all about that? Coming home to serve the poor and needy? Nope, I came back because it was just the most natural thing to do - to return home. Yet today as I write this, I realise that God has been teaching me to slowly take ownership of my identity as a Malaysian. God has been teaching me that there is a reason I was born a Malaysian.

I remember very clearly on the day I took off for Melbourne. I remember saying my goodbyes calmly and even happily to my family. But in the plane, when the reality of leaving home hit me, I started to cry like a baby, yes, I was literally sobbing on my journey to Australia.

I think it took me a few months to settle in and enjoy the great things Melbourne and university life had to offer. There were many things I missed about home. I missed my comfy room, the conversations with my family, and the company of my best friends. I missed the familiarity of my surroundings. I missed the good food. I missed the environment that I grew up in. I missed the predictable, humid weather. I missed knowing where to go for things. I missed home.

Don’t get me wrong, after that few months, I settled in great. I enjoyed my university life thoroughly. I enjoyed the freedom and the ‘human value proposition’ that Australia offered. The public transport was terrific! What’s not to love about Melbourne? Having said that, in all honesty, I always knew that being in Melbourne was just to further my studies. I always had a return ticket home.

Being back home is not without its challenges. Work is demanding. Traffic is demanding. Everything from cars to your roti canai seems to be financially demanding. But we overcome. We remember that we are stewards of God who live purposeful lives. And our purpose is more than living comfortably. Heck, there is no purpose in living comfortably here on earth. We are called to store up treasures in heaven, right? Also, as Deuteronomy 15:7-11 rightly says, we need to be openhanded/generous to the poor and needy in our land. Where is this land that God has given to me? MALAYSIA. My land and my plight are here. And if you search and see beyond the greener pastures, it may be yours too.

It has been a good 6 years since I returned home. I still suffer from the ‘I-wish-I-was-back-in-Melbourne’ syndrome. But it’s that carefree and phase of life that I really miss rather than the country itself. Although I could not pin point a particular reason for coming home then, I am learning to see how God is using the simple fact that I am back for His purposes.

In these past six years, I have been given the chance and opportunity to do more things than I could have done had I remained in Melbourne. I was given the chance to reach out and help tutor poor and underprivileged children, I played a part in the March 2008 elections by organizing a group of polling and counting agents for the Subang Jaya constituency, I help out in doing the accounts for a state assemblyman’s office, I got hitched to one of the most inspiring and passionate man in the country (couldn’t have found him in Australia), I work in a large MNC and was able to openly share Christ with my colleagues (one of them even told me that she and her family has accepted Christ lately!), and the opportunities are still coming in!

I say these in all sincerity with no desire whatsoever to boast. I just want to affirm you that even in a country where hope seems lost, God has greater plans and can use you to make that difference. Question is, are you willing to come home?

Sandra Chan
Carlton OCF (Melbourne) Alumni 2002-2004