Saturday, 12 January 2008

'We are in grief but not without hope'

here is another letter from the Kerks, parents of the late Zi On. pls read to be encouraged by their faith:

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Dear Friends and family members,

Re : We are in grief but not without hope

I ask myself, is God real in my own life?
To that God let me recall three critical situations in my life when God intervened to save me and family from serious harm. In all these three situations, I am very sure of the divine intervention. He knows before anything happens. If that is the case, when Zi On was in danger at Moreton Island off Brisbane, our God knew it and with his permission, He allowed it to happen! God is real and He is also sovereign.

Why God permitted it to happen?
Over the last two weeks, our grieving hearts were much comforted by the following scripture passages:

1. The stoning of Stephen
Acts 7:54-8:1

Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5)
and a man full of God’s grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous
signs among the people. (Acts 6:8)……Why would God allowed him to be
stoned by the unbelieving Jews when the number of the early believers was
so few and surely the expansion of the mission needed him?
When the stoning took place, Stephen looked up to heaven and saw the glory
of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

“look I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of
God.” Acts 7:55-57
God was present when Stephen was in danger and He allowed it to happen.

Steven’s godly nature which is love shines forth in this incident:
“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell
asleep. And Saul (Paul) was there, giving approval to his death.


2. The humility and the love of God
Philippians 2: 5-8

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God ...but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in the presence of man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death….even death on the cross!”

Surely the creator of heaven and earth (Isa 42:5) who can command the sun and the moon to stand still (Joshua 10:12-14) and who can part the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21) could have come into this world in a more commanding manner. But He chose to come in humility.

Matthew 26:38 records that as a human, Jesus was in great sorrow and anguish by the impending death.

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…. My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

God is love

“As the father has loved me, so have I love you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commandments….My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:9-14)

To live up to His aspiration for mankind, the Lord Jesus took the lead. He had chosen to come in a lowly manner, born in a manger and raised up in a carpenter’s home. He was such a gentle character “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Isa.42:3). He loved and showed that love is the way in God’s heart…. He humbled himself and became obedient to death….even death on the cross! He took the penalty for our sins so that we can return to our heavenly home without blemish.

God permits great suffering in order that He can demonstrate love and show men the heavenly way.

3. The end of Apostle Paul’s life.
When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was literally four years in jail. Two years in Caesarea, one year in the boat and ship wrecked at Malta Island and one year in Rome. He preached the message of Christ’s death and resurrection, and brought thousands to know God in Asia Minor and Macedonia. Why then would God allowed Paul to suffer such difficult ending in his earthly journey? From our earthly perspective, Paul would have asked:
why? Is this the blessing I get after all the devotion and mission work?

Instead, to our amazement we notice that Paul uses the word “Rejoice” 8 times in his 4-chapter letter to the Philippians. To him, life with God is any time better than life on earth. 1v21-23 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain……Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”

God permits great suffering for greater glory to come:
“ Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really
served to advance the Gospel….”

4. What is our life span?

A friend in Melbourne who himself had gone through great trails in life shared with us some very encouraging thoughts about the life of Enoch.

Heb. 11:5 “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”

Enoch was commended as one who pleased God.

Enoch lived up to 365 years (Gen. 5:22-24). In his time, man normally live up to 900years old. Enoch literally only lived up to one third of the normal life span of his time. In our time, 80 years is a normal life span. One third will be 26.5 years old. Zi On’s 25+ years earthly life span is almost similar to Enoch’s life span.

It is a short life span for our dear Zi On. On the first day we arrived at Brisbane, Cho Tan shared this thought with Zi Lu who was obviously chocked with grief and unbelief over the loss of his dear brother :
“It is not how long we live that matters, but how beautiful we live, whether we shine for God.”
What is important is that Zi On followed the foot step of his Saviour Jesus by laying down his life for his friend.

5. What is eternal?
Isaiah 51:6

“Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail”………….

This earthly life will end and all creation according to God’s plan will vanish
Rev(21:1-4). ……only God’s salvation is eternal and last forever.

Paul reminds the Philippians (3:20-21) :
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there,
the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring
everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they
will be like his glorious body.”

We take comfort in the fact that nothing has happened to Zi On without the
sovereign Lord permitting it for His glory. We are in grief but not without hope.
Our hope is in heaven. We know we will one day see Zi On again and be
reunited with him when we finally take up our citizenship there. Meanwhile,
we must go on and live bravely for Zi On in our remaining journey, and we
are not alone, Jesus, our divine friend walks with us.


In His Love,

Kerk Choon Keng, Cho Tan and Zi Lu.

11-1-2008

Monday, 7 January 2008

Movie 'Rendition'


Subject: Amnesty International and the movie RENDITION

The long awaited movie "Rendition" came out last
weekend. The movie touches on one of Amnesty
International's core campaign subject of Human Rights
and the War on Terror. i.e. The kidnapping of people
suspected of terrorism, their detention without trial
and their torture in secret overseas prisons.

The film Rendition, which has opened at cinemas
throughout Malaysia, is a thriller about an innocent Egyptian-American
family who fall victim to the US government's criminal policy of
"extraordinary rendition". Rendition is a fictional drama, not a documentary.
But it reflects known facts about rendition. In the context of the
war on terror, governments have forcibly transferred people, in most
without any recourse to a court, to other countries. States including
China, Egypt, Gambia, Jordan, Kazakstan, Krygyzstan, Morocco, Pakistan,
Sweden and Syria have been implicated in renditions around the globe.

Watch this film. It brings home the lawlessness and
inhumanity of the so-called war on terror. Kindly visit
http://www.renditionmovie.com/for info

For more info on Amnesty Int and its Human Rights and
the War Against Terror initiative. Kindly visit the
link provided below.

http://www.amnesty.org/en/report/info/POL30/003/2006

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for a movie critic's review, see http://www.criticsrant.com/archive/2007/10/21/RENDITION-A-Wild-Ride-With-A-Bumpy-Ending.aspx

RENDITION: A Wild Ride With A Bumpy Ending
Posted on Sunday, October 21, 2007 6:38 PM in Movie Rants

By Curt Schleier

RENDITION is an exciting suspenseful thriller, a morality play on a roller coaster that sadly leaves the tracks just before the ride is over.

It centers on what is known as “extraordinary rendition,” a policy that began during the Clinton administration – that is, Bill Clinton – but stepped up after 9/11. It allows American authorities to kidnap foreign nationals suspected of terrorist activities, move them overseas to a place where it’s torture that means never having to say you’re sorry.

The chances are you’ve read about this in the newspaper or watched a story about it on TV; but actually witnessing it happen -- even in a movie -- is so claustrophobic, so frightening, you’ll elbow the people in the seats next to you searching for more room to breathe.

Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally) is a highly-regarded, Egyptian-born, American-educated biochemist. He is married to the all-American girl, his college sweetheart, Isabella. They have a young boy and she is nine-months pregnant with their second. Returning from a conference in South Africa where he was a featured speaker, Anwar changes planes in, ironically, the nation’s capital. Suddenly, he’s whisked off to the side, a sack is placed over his head and he’s taken to a CIA location. His bags are removed from the luggage and his name from the computer; he has in effect disappeared.

Ultimately, on the authority of the head of the CIA’s counter-terrorism unit, Corrinne Whitman (Meryl Streep), he’s sent to a country in North Africa, where he is brutally interrogated by Abasi Fawal (Igal Naor). There had just been a suicide bomb plot there. Fawal was the target. And the CIA traced a call from the cell of the terrorist who claimed credit for the bomb to Anwar’s phone. Fawal wants answers.

Isabella and their son await him in Chicago; when he doesn’t arrive they check with the airlines and with the police. He apparently got on the place in South Africa but never made it to the States. She doesn’t know what to believe until she checks his credit card statement and discovers he made a duty free purchase on the plane to Washington; he definitely was on the plane to Washington when it took off.

She takes her case to a college chum, Alan Smith (Peter Sarsgaard), now a top assistant to Sen. Hawkins (Alan Arkin). Smith investigates and discovers that Anwar has been kidnapped. He confronts Whitman, to no avail. He tries to get the Senator to intercede, but Hawkins, refuses. Worried about his political future, he screams at him and orders him to stop pushing on this. He does.

The real hero, the only one who puts anything on the line, is Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal), a CIA analyst in this mythical North African country. Freeman and a colleague – a black ops kind of guy – were on their way to meet Fawal when the explosion occurs. His associate is killed. So Freeman, a desk jockey, is assigned the task of observing the interrogation. Over time he comes to believe Anwar and risks his career to free him.

There is so much that is good about this film. It’s not some polemic screed; it explores those gray areas so often overlooked. Yes, Whitman is something of a bitch, but she claims information obtained through extraordinary rendition questioning prevented a bombing in London.

On the other hand, Freeman asks Fawal how many of his interrogations have resulted in useful information. Fawal looks down and doesn’t answer.

The acting overall is fine but Omar Metwally as Anwar El-Ibrahimi steals the film. Every gesture, every word reveals his confusion. This is America; how could this be happening? Even as the first blows are struck, it just doesn’t compute. There should be awards in this for him.

With all this going for it, what could be wrong? Semi-spoiler alert: Do no read on as you will get a clue about the film’s denouement. In addition to the storylines about Isabella’s efforts to secure the release of her husband and the interrogation itself, there is a third about Fawal’s daughter, from whom he is estranged, and her boyfriend.

Director Gavin Hood makes it appear that all three stories take pace concurrently; they do not. When you discover the discrepancy, you will feel manipulated, confused and disappointed. That also opens the way for you to think of plot holes you might have missed.

Consider this: at the start of the film, as he is leaving the conference, Anwar gets a call. He’s too late to answer it. So he calls his wife back in the States and asks if she called him. He could have checked his cell phone to see who the call was from. That’s presumably how the CIA fingered Anwar. But the technology also is in place to indicate that the phone was never answered!

Despite these flaws, RENDITION is a rare film that inspires thought and discussion long after the theater lights come up.

Will Durst, the comedian/political commentator said recently (and I paraphrase) to make frog soup, you don’t throw a frog in boiling water. It will only jump out. You put the frog in cold water and then start to heat it up. The frog won’t notice until it’s to late.

I don’t know about the rest of you frogs, but with rendition and eaves dropping and all, it’s starting to get a little warm in here. Am I the only who notices?

Sunday, 6 January 2008

5th January 2008 - One Month Anniversary of Zi On's Disappearance

Mrs. Kerk Cho Tan has penned this letter to her dear late son, Zi On, on the one month anniversary of his disappearance.

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Our dearest Son, Zi On – Tribute from Mama
5-1-2008

Today is 5 January 2008. Yes it has been a month already. Zi On has left us a month ago on this day. Yet as it is still morning about 8a.m now, he must have just locked his apartment, took his bag and started the journey to Moreton Island. His heart must be happy as he was going to see this beautiful island with some of his good friends. It was a happy day for him. His best friend Remesh recalled “it was a happy day for him”, for all of them too.

This happy day was also the day he made a brave decision, by instinct, to truly follow the example of Jesus, to lay down his life for others.

Son, my dear son, you did not even say good-bye to us. You did not say good-bye to your friends. You gave yourself and surrendered to Jesus your life, your body and everything. And the Lord was there to receive you and happily you put your hands in His hands and said, “Here I come, Lord Jesus, I am not fearful,” and just as you wrote in your diary on 14-8-2007 “Jesus as I am with you, be with me now.” We know, the Lord was there to lovingly receive you and said to you, “My dear child, I love you, welcome to your new home. You and I are going to take a new journey where there are no more tears, no more pain, no more struggles, no more poverty, no more loneliness, no more rejection, no more sorrows, no more fears. From this moment, yes now, I am with you always. You will only find true happiness, real joy, lasting peace and the everlasting presence of God.” You always love angels, now you will see the beautiful angels singing and welcoming you to your heavenly Father’s home. And the Lord said to you, “My child you will be glorified with me as I promised to all my children who believe in Me.”

Your dear papa said, “you ended your early life with a high note”. Yes, son, you did a gallant act, yes, a noble one, you are so brave! So brave, son, and papa, mama and Zi Lu, your little brother, are so proud of you.

You said “I believe I am born for greater things than this.”
Yes, you left us with a triumphant act and fulfilled God’s purpose for your life. Son, we are so proud of you! We also know, the Lord Jesus said to you as He received you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”

You said and recorded in your journal, you asked God when you were learning about Fasting and Powers to Claim:
“Make me a man of substance,
Make me a man of courage,
Make me a man of dependability,
Make me a man of persistence,
Make me a man of drive,
Make me a man of compassion and empathy,
Make me a man of true friendship.”

Yes son, you have fulfilled all these aspirations, such high and noble aspirations, and we are so very proud of you.

We humbly surrendered you and returned this special gift, our loving son and brother, to Jesus our Lord. We give all praises to God and all glory to Him, our Heavenly Father. Praise the Lord!

I love you, son, I love you my dearest Zi On.

From
Your mom, love you forever,
Mama