1st Nov 2012. By Natasha Kim. CM –
Crystal Cha, 22 years old, is currently working as the Media and Communications Manager at FrogAsia, a company that is part of the diverse multinational conglomerate, YTL. As her story goes, this was far from what she dreamed of doing. Always having seen herself as a free spirit, and as an arts major, she never saw herself being tied down to a corporate job or coming back to her home country if the opportunity ever came to study abroad. Now she gains her fulfillment from it all because she knows that where she is where God intended her to be.
Crystal’s parents are pastors, and she grew up with the Church being “a second home” since a very young age. She had the “typical” church kid upbringing, but at the same time, had an unconventional education as a homeschooler. She says that growing up, “I always knew that God was real, but as I went through college and university, I faced the same challenges and peer pressure that all young people face. I knew that God was real, but He was never the 100% priority in my life.” Her journey of discovering God in a whole new way began when she returned from United Kingdom after finishing a Degree in Multimedia Journalism. She says, “I didn’t want to come back. It seemed that the people around me were just lamenting the state of the country, the education system, and the government all the time. Looking around, I did not feel I could thrive in Malaysia as a creative person and with the degree I held. I had this close-minded perspective that coming back to Malaysia would stifle my growth.”
However, because of a three year bond due to a scholarship she received from her employers at YTL, Crystal returned to Malaysia. She spent her first 6 months in a position that “to be honest, did not challenge or excite me.” However, she recognized that while leaving her position was not an option, making the most of it was. “I made a conscious decision – much of the free time I had waiting for work to come in was spent reading blogs, books, and verses from the Bible that challenged and inspired me. During this time, I filled up a notebook with quotes that I still draw strength and reassurance from even today.”
She describes this period as a time where she struggled between two opposites. “Being stuck in a job where I did not feel I was putting my unique gifts and experience to use, I questioned my identity. I was hungry to know what my purpose was and I think that led to a hunger to discover what His purpose was for me, and why He had brought me here. At the same time, I felt like I was drifting away from church. I was tired of the secondhand faith and routine Christianity I had grown up with. I wanted to know a God that was real to me, not just the God I was told about in Sunday School or the God of my parents. There were a few months I just stopped going to church because it was so meaningless to me! I think I needed to completely let go of the ‘identity’ I held in church – serving in many different ministries, Pastor’s Kid, and all that – so that He could show me that church was not about that.”
God began to slowly work in her life, pulling her back to Him
But God, in His timing, brought her back to serving. She was asked to facilitate a discussion group for The Alpha Course, and with much reluctance, she got involved. “Here I was, thinking that just because I’d grown up in church, I knew all about God. But over the course of the seven weeks we ran the course, I realised that I needed that reminder of what life was all about as much as everyone else on the course. It reignited my desire to reconnect with God,” she says.
Towards the end of 2011, YTL embarked on an education project in partnership with the Malaysian Ministry of Education, which involves high-speed internet and a virtual learning solution being provided to over 10,000 schools across the country. This project aims to provide teachers and students with access to online global learning resources that other leading countries have access to so that Malaysia will finally be able to receive first-world education and be on par with the rest of the world, while being able to collaborate and share resources, ideas, and best practices all on a single platform that will link schools across the country together.
Crystal was transferred to a new company, FrogAsia, which was founded for the purpose of delivering the virtual learning platform to schools. There, she found her niche working on communications, design, and branding strategies for the new start-up. Through working closely with her boss, Lou Yeoh, the Executive Director of FrogAsia, she began to catch glimpses of a bigger vision. “I’ve learned so much by working with Lou,” she says, “Just observing how she treats the people around her, the way she lives her life, and how she pours her energy into her work challenged me and taught me so much about what it means to live an intentional life.”
“At FrogAsia, we live out 1 Timothy 4:12! We believe in young people. We hire many fresh graduates and a good portion of the management team is below 30 years old. We have a young and vibrant team that goes to schools to mentor students and show them it’s about more than learning to use technology, but it’s also about cultivating a curiosity to learn more. I’ve learnt that it’s really important to have that hunger for discovery. Whether it’s in our education or even our walk with God, without that hunger, we become stagnant.”
“After time, I realized that I have an opportunity to be a part of a project that is going bring change to a lot of people,” Crystal stated. “I started understanding that this was why God had brought me back to Malaysia – to discover new things about him – and to be a part of an amazing opportunity to bring positive change to my country.”
“One of the new things I’ve discovered is that I love running!” Crystal adds. She began running last year and has since taken part in several half marathons, participated in Run for the Nation, and just completed her first 30km run recently. “Last year, I could not even run to save my life. I got into running quite by accident when I volunteered to replace a friend who had to pull out of the Standard Chartered 10km. Slowly, I realised that I was learning so many spiritual principles through the physical discipline of running. It’s incredibly humbling for someone as driven as me to learn to accept my limitations and not to push too hard at the start of a run in order to finish strong at the end.”
She testifies that the principles she learned from running were principles she was able to apply at work as well. “I think one of the reasons I needed to come back to Malaysia was to learn that life is not about what I do, or where I am. It’s about who I am. I can be working at any position, in any country – but all of that doesn’t matter when I know who I am in Christ and I am being all He has called me to be, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. With this perspective, everything I do – running, designing, writing, or even mundane admin work – is worship to God.”
Looking back, she believes that the half a year she spent in her previous position when she first returned to the country actually prepared her for where she is today. “I felt like my life was being wasted during that season, but now I see that I needed that time to get rooted, to ask myself the hard questions and be sure of the answers, to store away ideas and inspiration that I am drawing from today. I believe that God does not waste a single moment in your life.”
If there was one thing she could tell everyone, it would be: “Don’t put limitations on yourself, because God does not have limitations for you.”
She says, “I never saw myself as a strong person. Where I am today, leading a team of people that are older than me and doing long-distance runs, is only by His grace. I never saw myself doing these things, because I was always so fearful and so intimidated. But God has His funny ways of reminding us that it’s not about us, it’s about Him. With all honesty I can say now that I am glad to be back in Malaysia and this is exactly where I want to be.”
“Faith in God includes faith in His timing.” -Neil A. Maxwell