Syrian refugee crisis…Time for Canada to step up, once again.

Lately we have seen a lot of media coverage on the Syrian refugee situation with heart breaking images of family fleeing and children drowning. Although the Syrian situation has dominated the newsfeed recently, we know that it only represents a fraction of the global situation when it comes to refugees. Around the world, every single day, more than 42,000 people are forced to flee their homes due to conflicts, natural disasters, oppression and persecution. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), currently there are more than 16 million refugees globally.

Canada has always played a leading role in responding to this global need. This is one of the reasons I am proud to be Canadian. Do you know that Canada is the ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD with a system in place for private citizens to sponsor refugees into the country? And we have had a proud heritage for doing so. In the late 1970’s at the height of the Vietnam War, Canada had a goal to privately sponsor 5,000 refugees from that war torn nation. We ended up taking in 60,000.

Every crisis is a challenge and an opportunity at the same time. While the numbers coming out of Syria are staggering, this is also an opportunity for us to grow as a nation, to show our next generation that we have a moral responsibility on global issues. When it comes to refugee settlement, there is a lot of political rhetoric (BOTH in Canada and the US) that preaches protection of our economy. I work in the immigrant settlement sector, and I have heard countless times the well worn clichés of how immigrants (and refugees) are taking away jobs and hurting our economy. However, the fact is that despite all our wealth in North America, the vast majority of refugees globally are taken in by much poorer nations. Less than 5% of the global refugees are found in North America. Over 85% of then are taken in by nations in the Global South, in countries much, much poorer than us. For example, Pakistan hosts 10 times as many refugees as Canada.

It is time for us to step up. In the media there has been a lot of talk about how many Syrian refugees our government is committed to take in (10,000 is the latest number). However, at the same time we have a hard cap of how many refugees we will take in annually, which stands at 25,000. UNLESS that hard cap is ALSO raised, it makes no difference how many we say we will take in from Syria. We are simply only shifting one source country with another.

As part of my work I attended an open meeting at the City of Toronto yesterday on privately sponsoring Syrian Refugees. I was touched by the number of people who attended from the community. A quick glance around the room shows a high percentage of them are senior citizens. I assumed many of them were involved in the 1970’s in sponsoring refugees from Vietnam, and they are ready to step up again. Some of them said while they no longer have the energy they used to, they have some financial resources that they are ready to give to help. I was so proud of them. At the same time, I believe it is time for the next generation of Canadians to step up to our global moral responsibilities. For me, at least in part, this is why I am proud to be Canadian.

The Battle Continues…

The last couple of months at the Lam Household were marked by the usual summer busyness (craziness) that comes with having young children: Summer camps, day trips, figuring out activities that get the kids out of the house and enjoying the good weather, getting caught up in Blue Jays fever…frankly I have barely touched my laptop for a couple of months, let alone sitting down to do any writing.

But about two months ago, I began to notice some familiar, troubling emotions…the feeling of dark despair at nights, the inability to sleep, the anxiety that sometimes washes over me like a tidal wave out of nowhere, as the days wore on and those feelings began to intensify, I said to myself, “uh no….”

After visiting and discussing my situation with both my doctor and therapist, we all came to the same conclusion: I am facing a recurring episode of depression. My doctor immediately recommended me taking a week off, and prescribed me a new round of anti-depressants.

I am not surprised that the depression has returned. From what I have learned about the illness, I know that it is quite possibly something that I have to deal with for the rest of my life. What surprised me, however, was my reaction to the news. For those who have read “Among the Ashes”, how I described my feelings upon being diagnosed for the first time was EXACTLY how I feel this time around. Apparently, I have not learned anything:

The feeling of shame (I am weak, I have lost…AGAIN)

The feeling of embarrassment when I filled the prescription for the anti-depressant (Does the pharmacist have to speak SO LOUD??)

The fear (What if I don’t get better?)

In fact, NOTHING has changed compared to my first diagnosis 8 years ago…the sleepless nights returned. The drinking to numb myself returned. The inability to get through the day returned. The occasional dark suicidal thoughts returned. EXACTLY like how I wrote about it in the book. Word for word. Except this time, there is a new twist…

After writing the book, after receiving so many positive feedback from those who found the book encouraging in their walk with depression, I feel like…a “fraud” now that the depression has returned, and I am no “better” at dealing with it.

I spoke with a friend who also has a life long experience with depression, and he reminded me of something that I once knew in my head, but now know to be true: When it comes to depression, no one gets “better” in dealing with it. It never gets “easier”. He reminded me THAT is precisely the message of “Among the Ashes”: It is not a “how to” book. It is a “let us” book….Let us learn to walk through this together, one day at a time, one step at a time…

So the story continues. The battle resumes. Rather than “discrediting” what I wrote, I hope to share my continuing journey here over the next little while as a “validation” of the book. I will be making some difficult and significant life choices over the next weeks and months, so I would appreciate any good thoughts and prayers you can throw my way. For now, especially for my friends who live with depression as a daily reality, I hope you can be encouraged by the fact that I walk with you together. May our journey forward be our way of “rising from the ashes”, together, one day at a time.

Keep journeying, friends.

Among the Ashes SPECIAL PROMOTION!!!

Since Among the Ashes was released last November, the response has been very encouraging. In order to make it available to even more readers, Among the Ashes is now available, for the first time as an ebook! This past weekend we ran a special promotion where we offered the ebook FOR FREE, and the downloads went off the charts!! Due to the tremendous response, we are extending this free book offer for TWO MORE DAYS! THIS IS IT! After the next two days we will have to end the promotion. So please hurry up and share the news with your friends, especially those whom you feel the book will help. Can I also ask for a favor? After you have read the book, when you have a minute can I ask that you leave a review on Amazon, to encourage future readers? Thank you for your ongoing support! Please click HERE for the Amazon page to download the book for free.

Among the Ashes…what’s next?


Now that Among the Ashes the concert is done, a few people have asked me what is the next step on the journey. Before thinking about what is next, I want to savor the wonderful evening that we spent together. THANK YOU SO MUCH for being there and for making the evening so special and meaningful for all of us! Some of you were surprised (pleasantly, I hope) that the concert didn’t just talk about depression and mental health, but was built from positive life lessons that we have learned and wanted to share. That is in part by design. We never want to limit our concerts to “target” only mental health issues. Instead, what we want to do is to create a safe, uplifting and positive space where people can listen, reflect, laugh, sing, clap, cry…whatever to enjoy themselves, while having their hearts cared for by God.

In terms of what is next, my passion and desire still is to use my life experience to have conversations and raise awareness about depression and mental health, perhaps especially among communities of faith such as churches. I will be exploring possibilities to partner with other mental health professionals and see how we can use Among the Ashes to help more people. We’ll see what comes around the next corner. If there are ways you can think of that we can partner with your churches, I’d love to hear your ideas!

At the end of the day, I believe the stories of our lives are written by God, one page at a time so that our stories become part of the great big story that He is writing to bless the world. To that end, I look forward to turning the page, and seeing what surprises The Author has in store for us!

Something to chew on…a little food for thought

Today, as I continue to read different reactions and response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriages last Friday, I noticed one of the common themes mentioned is that gay marriage represents a “re-defining” of the institution of marriage, which God has ordained from the days of creation. For many Christians, that is an absolute non-negotiable. As one prominent Christian leader proclaimed, “God does not change His mind.”

Now, being the “poo-disturber” that I am :-), a question came up for me: Didn’t Jesus Himself “redefined” another institution that God had also ordained right from creation, AND one that was repeated as one of the 10 commandments: The Sabbath?

When people questioned Jesus disciples for breaking the holy Sabbath by picking grains to eat, Jesus gave an Old Testament story where King David also “broke” the Sabbath and ate the consecrated bread because he and his companion were “hungry and in need”. Then He spoke these famous words: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Reference: Mark chapter 2)

Food for thought 1: When a religious “institution”, even one that was ordained by God from the days of creation comes into conflict with human need and becomes oppressive, God seem to be willing to “change his mind” and “redefine” it.

Food for thought 2: May be there are things that we THINK are non-negotiable, but God has something else in mind.

Interestingly, that passage in Mark chapter 2 about the Sabbath came right after Jesus’ illustration of pouring new wine into old wine skin. The point? God is doing a new thing, which is too new, too lively, too dynamic to be held and defined by “old institutions”.

Just a little something to chew on :-)

I am an ordained minister. I believe in the Bible. I follow Jesus. And I rejoice in yesterday’s US Supreme Court decision.

Yesterday the US Supreme court handed down a historic, landmark decision, legalizing homosexual marriages across the entire nation. The polarizing effect of the ruling was seen almost immediately with strong voices from both “sides” responding. As a Christian, I believe there is a way we can approach the decision without it becoming divisive among the Christian community and beyond.

Yes, there are some (not all) Christians who believe passionately that they cannot support homosexuality and homosexual marriages and they do so with well thought out and theologically sound reasons.

At the same time, there are Christians who support homosexuality as an equal and alternative lifestyle and support homosexual marriage just as passionately, with reasons that are equally well thought out, and theological rationale that is equally sound.

I have friends in both “camps”. Some say the “Truth” is somewhere in “between”. Personally, I believe that truth ultimately lies “beyond” the two views that our narrow minds have bound ourselves to.

However, regardless of which “side” you may be on, I believe there is a way that we can rejoice in yesterday’s ruling and celebrate with our LGBT brothers and sisters. Because for me yesterday’s ruling has to do with something much more important than the “moral legitimacy” of homosexuality. For me, yesterday’s ruling is a recognition of two biblical principles that are more fundamental, more important, and shared by every single person. They are:

(1) Everyone is created to be equal in the image of God, and thus deserve equal respect and dignity.
(2) We have a God given, biblically mandated responsibility to protect those who are being oppressed.

As a Christian, I celebrate and rejoice in yesterday’s ruling because I am thankful that I live in a society where those two fundamental biblical values are upheld and respected, regardless of one’s religious affiliation, racial background or sexual orientation.

As a father, I rejoice because should one of my children grow up to be gay, I want them to live in a society where their rights will be protected by law, where being gay is no more a point of discrimination than the fact that they are female or Chinese.

In the mean time, there is SO MUCH work that we need to do as a church: Caring for the sick, building healthy communities, looking after the poor, speaking out against injustice, both locally and around the world just to name a few. Why do we insist on arguing and fighting and dwelling on this one issue, when there is so much more good waiting for us to do, together?

Let’s get on with it, shall we?





準備一個音樂會, 無論大細,基本工作都是少不了:揀歌, 練歌, 打點一切,這些都已習以為常。疲倦,壓力,都慣了。








“我餓了、你們給我喫 .渴了、你們給我喝.我作客旅、你們留 我住.我赤身露體、你們給我穿.我病了、你們看顧我.我在監裡、你們來看我。義人就回答說、主阿、我們甚麼時候見你餓了給你喫、渴了給你喝…又甚麼時候 見你病了或是在監裡、來看你呢。 王要回答說、我實在告訴你們、這些事你們既作在我這弟兄中一個最小的身上、就是作在我身上了。” (馬太福音 25:35-40)



Today in the news i heard the story of Dr. Matthew Morton. Dr. Morton was a young doctor living the perfect life: Great career, beautiful family, bright future when he was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. That was in 2008 and he was just 32 years old.

However, rather than focusing on dying, he put his energies towards living every day he has left to build a legacy for his family and for his students at U of T medical school. During this time he and his wife had 2 more children, and he invests his time to teach his students about lessons he has learned about medical care and compassion as a dying man. He has recently moved into palliative care, and the University presented him with an award for excellence in teaching. His students brought the award to present to him at his home. Dr. Morton talked about how his experience with terminal cancer has made him a better teacher:

“Sometimes the most effective teaching moments are those when someone will just sit down and share with you a rare piece of knowledge that you would not have acquire elsewhere.”

Your stories, my story are given to us for a reason: that we may sit down and share them with someone to inspire, to encourage, to bless others. That’s what we hope June 20 will be about. Unlike our previous shows in the bright lights and big sound in theatres, June 20 will feel more like sitting down with good friends in a living room, sharing some laughs, listening to some good music, and swapping favorite stories.

Hope to see you there!! Let us know if you are coming. We’ll keep the door open and the porch light on for you :-)

Here is Dr. Morton’s story.


六月二日。距離演唱會十八日。 正式進入倒數。

正如以往每次開 concert 一樣,所有熟識的感覺。如好友一般回來探望我:期待, 興奮, 緊張, 感恩, 開心。但今次,有一位新朋友也來了:懼怕.

上年鼓起勇氣, 把自己過去十年和憂鬱症掙扎的經歷寫成書。今次演唱會希望把書背後的故事和感受坦白的和大家分享。

坦白和誠實, 是有risk的.