Friday, October 25, 2013

Fight On Forever, Jennie

"O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" 
                                                               ~ 1 Corinthians 15:55 

It is with tears still in my eyes and a heavy heart that I write this. Yesterday morning, my dear friend and AΔΧ sister Jennie 'excalibur' Yang went to be with our Father. She passed away in her sleep, which is what she wanted. 

As another sorority sister wrote, "Jennie did not lose this battle with cancer. She fought until King Jesus swept her up into His arms, and there, she is made new." While my heart aches, at the same time, I cannot help but also but be reminded in joy that Jennie is dancing up a storm in Heaven right now, with her new, pure and cancer-free body, unhindered by the pain and cares of this world (and her cool sword-cane). 

She was the epitome of what it means to "Fight On." She had Li Fraumeni syndrome, a genetic disease that made her susceptible to getting multiple types of cancer throughout her life. Jennie's first cancer, malignant fibrous histeocytoma, was diagnosed in June of 1989. Her second cancer, osteosarcoma, was diagnosed in November of 2004. Jennie had tumors in both her left and right hips, and her resulting surgeries caused her to walk with a cane. Her third cancer, glioblastoma, her sophomore year of college at USC, Halloween night. I still remember we were going to be Mulan and Mushu for Halloween until she was admitted into the hospital. About a month later, her osteosarcoma returned. About two years later, her osteosarcoma spread to her lungs. At the end of 2012, her glioblastoma also relapsed in the right frontal lobe. She was later also diagnosed with breast cancer. This past year she was on chemo and radiation, and also endured and overcame a severe bout of meningitis. About a month ago her brain cancer was found to have spread to most of the top part of her brain, and was pronounced untreatable. Even while her body began to lose its functions, her mom still wrote that Jennie would be smiling even as she slept. She endured more than anyone should ever have to endure, but in it and through it all, she never lost her joy, her faith, and her fighting spirit. 

I was extremely blessed to have the opportunity to visit her in Colorado in July, when she was still able to walk and hang out. We enjoyed my mother's homemade cookies and Mauna Loa chocolate macadamia nuts from Hawaii, reminisced on good times from SC, and laughed at our inability to take good "selfie" pics together. At SC, I was blessed with the opportunity to be in her accountability group in AΔΧ (where we mostly spent our time watching "Kittens Inspired by Kittens" and other silly Youtube videos with Theresa Lee) and to live with her in the AΔΧ house. She loved hugs, laughter, dancing and being ridiculous. She loved life, her friends, and most of all her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

She will forever live on as an inspiration to every person she ever met. More than anyone I've ever known, she "fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith." The Lord blessed this world with her presence many more years than any of us expected. She is a reminder to all of us to make the most of every day and every moment, to fill our lives with laughter and whimsy and love, and to take every opportunity to tell those we care about how much we love them. 

So I want to tell each of you how much you and your prayers have meant to me, Jennie and her family. Thank you so much for all your love, prayers and support. There are no words to describe how blessed I am to have you in my life. 

“In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien 

Warm up the dance floor for me in Heaven, my dear sister. I cannot wait to party with you again someday. 

 AΔΧ Invite 2008

 AΔΧ Halloween Party 2008, after winning the pie-eating contest 

 Hanging out at the AΔΧ house

 AΔΧ Beach Day 

 AΔΧ Spring Invite 

 My last time with Jennie, July 2013

Fight On Forever, Jennie. A hui hou. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Reaping the Harvest

God is moving in these islands, stirring up the hearts of students and revealing to them their need and desire for Him!

Just in this past week, 3 students- THREE- have accepted Christ into their hearts.
While maybe this number does not seem significant compared to countries like China where thousands of people are actually becoming Christians daily, in a place like Hawaii, 3 students in one week is unheard of.

Tuesday morning we began the day with a time of prayer on campus at the UH Ampitheatre. We felt the conviction that “we do not have because we do not ask,” so we asked God for the faith to pray big prayers. We dreamed of the day when the entire ampitheatre would be filled to capacity with students desiring to pray and worship God. We prayed for God's Spirit to overwhelm the campus like lava overflowing from a volcano. We prayed for miracles.

That evening at our Cru weekly meeting, CRUcial, we got one.
Julian, one of our freshman guys made a decision to follow Christ.

He has attended our Monday freshman small group every week, but we were never really sure why. He had no interest in Christianity, would come late, text on his phone throughout the study, eat some snacks, then leave. But he kept coming back. And we took that as a sign of something good, though we couldn't tell what. Tuesday night at CRUcial, during the time of worship, I noticed Julian standing up and singing. The Lord squeezed my heart and I felt that we needed to be praying for him, so I asked a couple of our freshmen small group student leaders to pray for him with me. Later during worship, one of our student leaders went over to Julian and began talking with him. I found out later that he, noticing that Julian seemed very moved by the worship, had basically asked what he was feeling and what he believed. A couple minutes later I hear my name called and see the student beckoning me over.

“Julian would like to receive Christ into his heart,” he said.
“Excuse me WHAT?” I said.
“Julian would like to accept Christ into his heart,” he repeated.
“Are you sure?” I asked Julian. This was the kid whom, after I'd gone through the Gospel with him, had told me straight up “Yeah I understand but it doesn't apply to my life,” so I admit that I was a bit incredulous.
But Julian looked me straight in the eyes and said “Yes!”
“Oh! Um...ok then!” I exclaimed.

After explaining to him what exactly it meant and that all he had to do was pray with us, we prayed and Julian accepted Christ. Afterward we asked him how he felt.

“I feel all tingly,” he said. “I feel like I'm about to cry- it's like there's this huge weight that got taken off me.”

Two days later, a Japanese student, Yuki, also decided to accept Christ's love and freedom.
A day later, one of our interns and another student had the opportunity to lead another guy to the Lord.

After Julian accepted Christ, I was thinking how amazing it was when God spoke to me and said, “Kimi, why are you so surprised? Why are you so surprised when I answer your prayers?”

Valid question. If I believe what the Bible says, that if we ask, we shall receive, that we may ask anything in Jesus' name and it will be granted to us, that we are promised to do even greater things than Jesus himself in the power of the Holy Spirit...why am I surprised when a student decides to accept Christ? Why am I surprised at stories of redemption when I know that our God is the Redeemer? 

May we have the faith to pray big prayers every day!  

Over 100 students attended our weekly meeting last Tuesday

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"Accidental" Providence

The second day of school, Charleen and her friend were wandering around campus when they stumbled upon a gathering of a big group of people. They were welcomed in by a friendly, energetic guy and so they decided to see what the gathering was all about. When Charleen realized it was a Christian group, she wasn't sure if she was allowed to stay because she did not have any religion, but she found it interesting and enjoyed herself, so she continued to come back every week. She also joined in the first week activities, including the UH vs. USC football game and an all-day beach BBQ, where she made friends and began to develop community. But midterms got in the way and no one heard from her for a couple weeks.

Flash forward to Friday evening, when Ashley, one of the girls I'm discipling, and I, were hanging out at Starbucks. Ashley and I had just finished a conversation about how she wanted to get more experience sharing her faith with others, when I received a text from Charleen asking if she could come to church with me sometime.

"But is it ok if I don't really have a religion? Am I still allowed to go?"
"Of course!" I replied
"Ok! By the way, you're a Christian right? How do I declare a religion?"

"Ashley," I said. "You're about to get your chance to get more experience sharing your faith."

We picked up Charleen and took her to dinner, where we had the opportunity to walk her through the Gospel and what it means to be a Christian. At the end, we asked her if it was something that she wanted for her life and she adamantly exclaimed, "Yes!"

We could hardly believe how easy and natural it was for her to want to believe. Obviously God's been working on her heart for awhile, we just happened to be available for that last step of showing her how.  I explained to her that all she had to do was pray to God and acknowledge that she was a sinner, that God exists, that she believed Jesus is the Son of God, died on a cross and took away all her sins, and that she wanted to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior and make Him the center of her life. She prayed and afterward when we asked her she felt, she said "I'm so excited! I feel wonderful!"

The next day I took her to Logos to buy her a Bible, and she got herself a journal for quiet times. We then went to lunch and a coffee shop where I walked her through the Bible and explained some ways to read the Bible. "I am so excited to have a Bible!" she exclaimed. "I cannot wait to get home and start reading it!"

Her enthusiasm, along with Lini's, is such a breath of fresh air, and also a conviction for my own heart- how many times do I think to myself, "I cannot wait to get home and read the Bible!"?

Lord, make us hungry and thirsty for your Word just like Charleen and Lini!

Ashley (left) and Charlene (right) after Charleen prayed to receive Christ
(Something about me wearing my hat...the past two times I've worn it, girls have decided to accept Christ into their hearts...coincidence?) 

Charlene and her new Bible!