Tuesday, December 15, 2009

OCF 50th Anniversary Thanksgiving Dinner


On 12 December 2009, I had the rare privilege to join an Overseas Christian Fellowship (OCF) 50th Convention being held at Hotel Equatorial, Malacca. I only managed to attend one particular event out of a span of five full days of activities: the OCF 50th Anniversary Thanksgiving Dinner. It was a wondrous joy to be able to witness a group of people coming from many far corners of the world together in this auspicious occasion, to celebrate our faith and give thanksgiving to Him who never failed us. To be a part of this grand occasion, even just for one night, I felt truly blessed.

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My History and Involvement in OCF

I believe it is only fitting to the entire story-telling process if I first express how significant OCF was to me during my times in Perth. OCF is a non-denominational fellowship that welcomes Overseas Christian students from any churches, to come together for fellowship and bible study. OCf has a branch in almost all universities across Australia. To be honest I have not known of OCF or heard anything about it during my first year in University. I came from a Christian family, and have always been surrounded with Christian friends since young. When I moved to Perth to further my studies I found myself being thrown into a crowd of non-Christians, and as much faith and will-power I tried to stand on my own, I too frankly have to admit that there is a need to depend on others to nurture us and encourage our growth spiritually. Not having any close Christian friends to talk to and share my thoughts and feelings somehow resulted in me drifting away in faith. Then one night I chatted with a friend, Jason and he pointed me to OCF, which he was participating in Melbourne too.

Pre-Dinner Sessions

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Photo Note: OCF-ers from all ages, generations, nationalities and from all across Universities in Australia, gathered at Malacca for the 50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner.

It was at a point of extreme slump in life that I decided I needed to do something about my dying faith. Hence answering to Jason’s advice, I found OCF, and I think I must have been one of the rare people to join the fellowship entirely on my own without local member introduction. Through OCF, I started to go to church regularly again, I joined weekly meetings and I was encouraged to pick up the Bible and study it. I would not go as far as saying that being there in OCF changed my life, and make me a better person, but I have to admit one thing, it was a huge turning point for me to run back to Christ. I was immersed with so many fellow friends who walk the same faith, and having a place to pour my pain and cries out seem to be the next best comfort I could find in a land far away from home. Indeed, I found a place where I feel belong to. The fact that struck me most about OCF is that it welcomes anyone from any churches, and this strongly indicates how much OCF emphasizes on family and togetherness, and stripping away the differences that divides us.

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Photo Notes: Speeches and testimonies of real life encounters during OCF, and post-OCf times from current and ex-OCF members, all the way from the very first OCF generation 50 years ago !!


Obviously. In OCF I have met so many friends. The original intention of me starting my Facebook account was only for ONE sole purpose, to keep in touch with the fellow Perth OCF-ers. In the very beginning, I did not even add anyone else other than my Perth friends in Facebook. I have my reasons for doing so, but let’s just not go there and save my explanations for another entry. Many people I have made friends in OCF have become really close friends. My active period in OCF was from 2006 to early 2008, and I had to leave Perth in 2008 due to Visa restrictions, and I have been working in KL ever since. It is yet another difficult landmark in my life, since I have to leave so many things behind, so many treasured friends, and so many wonderful times that I knew I won’t be having anymore. Sometimes, being too attached to something may end up in greater pain when the time comes for separation.

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Photo Note: Birthday Cake cutting ceremony. 50 years is a long way to go !! Congratulations OCF, and praise the Lord !!

The OCF Convention

Life went on in KL, as much as I miss Perth and OCF, I still find strength to move on in this giant city. Then I found out that there would be the 50th OCF Convention, which was being held in Malacca. I originally intended to join in full time, from 9th to 13th December 2009, which means I would have to take three working days leave to make it there. I would not mind initially but considering the fact that I have ran out of annual leave and my current workload was not very forgiving, I decided not to participate. Nevertheless, I promised myself to try to go down to Malacca on the weekends just to catch up with some old friends.

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My table, OCF Perth !!!

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Will, one of the very first few people I have met when I just joined the first OCF Freshie's BBQ Gathering at Matilda Bay, near UWA in the year 2006. It was sure a long time ago, and glad to find Will being still actively involved in OCF these days.

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Joshua Sim, one of the newer generations of OCF-ers who joined and I got to know him during my last year in Perth. Owh owh and we share the same birthday too !!! How awesome is that?

It was not until a few weeks before the convention that I found out I could actually just join the 50th Anniversary Thanksgiving Dinner and I registered via email immediately. It was a Godsend opportunity I must say, to be given a chance to have a glimpse of the OCF convention, to be able to meet and catch up with my old OCF Perth friends and yeah, just to be an OCF-er again for one night!! You have no idea how much this means to me. I cannot afford a trip to Perth, and I have been missing my mates from Perth so much, somehow not having to go to Australia, but Australia was actually being brought to Malaysia instead!! I cannot ask more for a better Christmas gift than this. Some of you who do not see what I see here may think I am a total lunatic, but let me just tell you something: The gift of friends, is the rarest and most precious gift that one could ever find.

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Middle: David Liaw, who was also from Kuching originally, now residing and working as a Doctor in Perth. One of my seniors in OCF, and have been giving me really good advise from time to time regarding my walk with Christ and life. Right: Andrew Chin, the last time I met him he was still using a Canon S3 (or was it S5?) and look at what he is holding now !! What a huge gun. He was shocked to see my Olympus too in a way.

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The Three Joshuas !!!

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Kristy, one of the newer generations of OCF-er I get to know just before I left Perth. I remember her as the active, cheerful and very hardworking worker at a local student cafe in Nedlands, where I used to frequent for dinners whenever I was lazy to cook.

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Sumihiro Tanaka, a Japanese student from OCF Flinders, who was also the Treasurer in the outgoing Exco (2008-2009). He gave his testimony and stage, and his speech was one of the most heartwarming and charming of the night.

The 50th Anniversary Thanksgiving Dinner

So I went to Malacca on Friday night, had a street shooting session on Saturday morning, had lunch, rested myself in the afternoon before joining the dinner on Saturday evening. I arrived early at 5pm (registration was 5.30pm) and I was already greeted by familiar faces: Andrew and David. The arrangements of the ballroom were free-seating, so I conveniently chose to sit with familiar old friends.

The entire night was all about celebrating the 50 years of OCF since 1959, remembering and giving thanks to the Lord for His gracious blessings throughout the years. As a non-profit organization it was never easy to organize and run, but OCF has seen many wonders and miracles over the years. There was even a group of old uncles and aunties who were there for the first OCF Convention 50 years ago!!!! They must have been in their late 60s, or 70++ in age at least!! The range of age groups being present for the celebration was overwhelming; we practically have people from all sorts of generations. Hearing testimonies after testimonies from the previous generations was quite an eye-opener. God has been faithful to His servants as always, and in Him alone, we have sufficiency in all that we do. I guess one of the things I must always remind myself as I have been reminded again on the Thanksgiving night, is to learn to fully surrender to God and trust Him, and rely on Him.

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Photo Note: OCF Western Australia !! Quite a good turnout, considering the convention being held out of Australia.



At the end of the night, a friend asked me a question that shook me to my bones, and I can still feel the rattle even now.
The question was:
“Robin, when are you coming back to Perth?”
At that moment, I was taken aback because I was suddenly reminded again that I am no longer in Perth. My heart wanted to say “as soon as possible” but we all know that is not going to happen.

I believe, whatever the future holds, I shall fully trust it in His hands. I believe there is a reason why I am being placed here, and I shall walk this path if He truly intended me to do so.

Perhaps, after a few more decades, I will have my own mountain moving stories to share with the next generation of OCF-ers.

7 comments:

  1. omg my com died! so i'm now reading thru all your entries i missed!

    -Marcus

    ReplyDelete
  2. hey marcus,
    OMGGG how did your com die???

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post Robin. Makes me feel all fuzzy inside to see some mutual WA friends that I know too ;)

    ReplyDelete
  4. hey brandon,
    thanks !! Who who who??

    ReplyDelete
  5. blue screen of death! vista sucks!

    -Marcus

    ReplyDelete
  6. hey marcus,
    OMGGG !! LOL....
    Im using vista ahahahah

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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