Thursday, January 30, 2014

Always Enough by Rolland & Heidi Baker

It's not often that a book captures your imagination. So it was with great delight that this book did exactly that. More than just a recount of their missionary exploits, Rolland and Heidi Baker made me realise how great God is and inspired me to rest in the love of God like never before.

I picked up this book at The Ink Room, my church's bookstore after receiving my January pay cheque. This book lover, yours truly, had her eye on this book a week before when she saw the new titles they stocked. 

After service and lunch with my cell group, I settled at a dirty coffeeshop in Bugis and started on the book as I waited (for my guitar class to begin). It was so good that I finished 3 whole chapters in one sitting.

Within a week, I'd completed the book of 10 chapters. This book reminds me of Reinhard Bonnke's autobiography, "A Life of Fire" except that the page count is only a fraction of that tomb. The authors brings us along their initial missionary journeys in Hong Kong and England and related how they cared for the poorest in those cities. Salvation of these people seemed to be a natural progression after the neglected and abandoned finally found love and food in these Christians. 

They then moved on to Mozambique and what a trip it was! They set up an orphanage that grew rapidly in the poorest and most devastated country in the world. Mozambique has the highest numbers of people with limbs missing due to the millions of landmines in the country left behind after years of war. And the Bakers cared for them all. 

They showed me how God always provides. Once, when they were evicted by the authorities and ran out of food, a meal for four supplied by a woman multiplied to feed the dozens of mouths they had after a simple prayer. Sounds familiar?

The pastors they trained up in Bible School performed miracles like the raising of the dead and in their crusades, many blind and deaf were healed. This is so encouraging! God still works today. 

In the midst of the revival, disaster struck. Floods destroyed all the work they'd done and caused an already poor nation to feel even more hopeless. They worked tirelessly and even in this disaster, churches multiplied when the people realised their need for God.

But more than these stories, I felt what really impacted me was in Chapter 9, titled, 'All Fruitfulness Flows from Intimacy'. How true that is. So many want power and anointing and work so hard for God when all they have to do is to rest in the love of God. There must be a balance of some sort. This is also a reminder and a confirmation to me after a friend wrote to me that I needed to rest in God. To rest in what He has already done for me.

Overall, this is a brilliant book that I'd encourage all Christians to read, especially aspiring missionaries. I do also feel after reading this book that we all need to fulfill our calling. Rolland and Heidi Baker were called to be missionaries and they've done it really well. For those of us in the marketplace, let us be sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and be fruitful in this ministry we are placed in, reflecting God's glory wherever we go.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Last Lesson of Mrs De Souza's by Cyril Wong

What a haunting novel this is. I'm still thinking about it as I'm on board this train to Somerset, long after I've left Queenstown Library. 

What meant to be a session where I'd resolved to analyse the contents of Melanie Chew's "Leaders of Singapore" turned out to be a miserable failure when I realized that the National Library Board had removed the book and put it in the Used Book Repository and the only way I'd have access to it was to head to Bras Basah to Lee Kong Chian's Reference Library. 

So I picked up this novel, disappointed that the library didn't stock Cyril Wong's poetry and merely intended to flip through it cursorily to find out what his writing style was. I ended up turning the pages compulsively, finishing it promptly within an hour and a half. 

I've read nothing quite like it honestly. Set in Singapore in 1999, it's a tale narrated by Mrs De Souza on her last day of teaching. Instead of conducting her usual English lesson, she instead rambles on about life, occasionally answering her students' questions. Now that caught my attention, being one who teaches English to dyslexic students and one who encourages them to think critically about life. 

But more than that, it is a story where she reflects on a student from many years past, a boy called Amir, who decided to come out to Mrs De Souza one day. He tragically ends up committing suicide and she wonders if she had played a part in his death. If you want to know, right at the very end of the book, the reader finds out in a suicide letter that she certainly did because in a bout of good intent, she outed him to his father. 

So many thoughts were going through my mind as I read this novel. Was this the author's experience in coming out? Being outed by others? Did the author also have a mom that hated life after getting married and resenting the fact that her opportunities were sacrificed for her children? Is this how it feels like to lose a spouse, to think about him/her all the time?

I think what's most haunting about it was the fact that one's actions might have such irreversible effects. And of course the moral of the tale could probably be surmised into this: "Don't out another person." Though to do so is probably a simplistic summary of a book filled with layers of thought and emotion. 

Every Singaporean should read this. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton

I was at Tiong Bahru Plaza's Popular Bookstore just last Thursday to get some stationery for school when I chanced upon this book. If it were sentient, from the moment I held it, it would have probably felt that it had found a home. 

The twitter addict that I am coupled with the dormant entrepreneur within simply yearned to know the story of how this billion dollar company came to be. That, and the fact that I'd just finished 'The Accidental Billionaire' not too long ago made me curious to find out how the competitor of Facebook became such a force to be reckoned with.  

It's a fantastic read! The author's done interviews with all four co-founders of the company, the board members and many others to come up with this book. As a result, there was a short introduction of the various protagonists in the beginning followed by the chapters grouped by the various critical character as each point of the story unfolded. And so the Twitter story first introduces us to @Ev, @Noah, @Jack and @Biz and continued with the story with chapters titled #Noah followed by #Jack, #Ev and concluded with #Dick. I absolutely loved this layout!

This is a tale of how friendships are forged and destroyed in the cruel world of business. It is sobering to see how the person with the largest percentage in company stocks is able to oust others out of the company he has built. But what I also learnt was that as important as cultivating relationships are, leading a company well is also crucial to not getting booted out by the board. 

This is a pretty well written book, with the story moving along at a crisp pace and the setting laid out clearly. If the events happened the way they were narrated in the story, I suppose the author wouldn't have had to dramatize too much. 

I love how the book incorporated the icons tweeters are familiar with, @ and #, into the chapter titles. It adds to the overall experience. 

Well, I'd recommend this book to any twitter user who's interested in how the company came to be. Also, this is a good book for anyone interested in tech startups or in setting up one.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I got this book at the tail end of last year after my friend Theresa recommended me to read it after a disastrous first attempt at a draft chapter for a book project I'm working on. So I promptly headed to Kinokuniya and purchased it. 

And I must say, The Book Thief is a great book! Death is the narrator and he is a pretty compelling one at that. I never read a book quite like that before. 

The story is about the experiences of a girl named Liesel who is placed in a foster home just before World War 2 erupted in Germany. Liesel is the protagonist and she is the book thief the book is named after. She begins by picking up a book at her little brother's burial (rather innocently) and develops a strong love for reading even though her foster father struggled to teach her to do so. I could identify with the character as I love books too!

It's a rather long but easy read, and the 550 pages passed by rather quickly in three days. Also, I understand that the book's been made into a movie and I can't wait to see it!

I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves a good novel. I'm assuming that's almost everyone.