Pastoral Perspectives


How many of you still remember what you did on the night of 4th of November? I guess not many of you would. But for a group of 26 BB boys, it was a night that they will probably remember for a very long time. While all the rest of the boys were on their bikes to cover a 40km night cycling adventure, these 26 BB boys were stuck with me because they didn’t know how to cycle. And the plan was for them to hike around East Coast Park on bikes. So I took up the challenge to train all 26 of them to cycle, which might seem to be a daunting task. In my mind, I thought that if only a few of them managed to learn, it would still be a time well spent.

When I told the boys about the plan, many were excited but had doubt that they could learn to cycle in just a few hours.  Before we started our crazy cycling training with only two trainers, I gave a good ‘pat’ talk, hoping to talk some of them out of their disbelief. I told them that in order to learn how to cycle, they need two “things”.  I promised them that if they have these two things, they will learn how to cycle. Some of you might be thinking of two training wheels, one at each side. However these trainer wheels were not the “things” that I was thinking about. I told them that the first thing they needed was speed. I explained that in order for the bicycle to balance itself, it needs to move fast enough. After I had said that, many of them looked horrified, which was what I had expected. And I just loved the way that they looked at each other in disbelief. I went on to explain that the second thing that they needed was courage. For without courage, it would be hard to learn how to cycle. For the rest of the session, I kept telling them to believe in me and trust my word. After that we proceeded to an open space so that they might began learning how to cycle.

After half an hour of trying without much success, many were discouraged. I was not surprised because they were hesitant to pick up speed. So I lined them up one by one and standing in front of the first bicycle, I took hold of its handle bar and looked straight into the eyes of the cyclist. I asked him, “Do you believe in me?” and he hesitantly nodded his head. So I told him that the reason why he was not able to cycle was because he didn’t have the courage and sufficient speed. I told him that I could give him the speed needed to balance the bicycle but he would need to have the courage to take it from there and cycle. With the help of another boy, we pushed him hard from the back until he was moving swiftly across the field and suddenly he was paddling on his own and going further and further. It was a great joy for me but the joy was short lifted because he was heading towards a drain. He didn’t stop in time and I was expecting the worst. However he didn’t fall into the drain. Instead he went over the drain because it was very narrow and had cover on it. Oh, what a relief! After this stunning example, many of them beamed with high hope. After 3 long tiring hours and past midnight, only one boy didn’t mange to learn because he was sick and needed to return home. But for the rest of them, they were cycling with joy along East Coast Park.

What is my point in today’s perspective besides sharing this exciting moment? We may receive God’s promise but to have the promise come to fulfillment, we need courage. Do you still remember the example of Gideon in Judges Chapter 7? God told Gideon “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands.” However knowing Gideon’s hesitancy, he said “If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be courageous to attack the camp.” What did Gideon do? Yes, as we know, he went to the enemy’s camp even though it was very dangerous because the enemy was “thick as locusts” and “their camels as many as sea sand”, meaning the enemies and their camels were too many to be counted. If Gideon didn’t have the courage, he wouldn’t have gone down to the enemy camp and he wouldn’t have the opportunity to hear the conversation between the two soldiers. Without courage, Gideon would not have come up with a scare tactic which seemed ridiculous for most army commandant. Even though it might seem ridiculous in the first place, careful reading tells us that Gideon was very careful in his planning and execution of the scare tactic. In fact if you ponder long enough and try to think of a strategy to defeat the enemy with just 300 hundreds soldiers, you would know that it would be near impossible. This also shows us that the “scare tactic” was indeed a brilliant idea. It was not a hap-hazard planning but was carefully planned and executed with precision. Therefore I believe that even though courage is needed to see God’s fulfillment, careful planning, charting and executing is also very crucial to claim God’s promise.

Now back to the cycling training. It might look strange that I let the boys tried on their own and struggled for half an hour before I lined them up to give them the push. Why? It is because I wanted them to lose all their hope on trying the “safe” method of cycling slowly. Only then would they consider giving my advice a try. Even though the result was beyond my expectation, I was glad that all of them took the courage to pick up speed and learn a great lesson.

Pr Alvin

February 27, 2011