Last month I received a Wechat message from a former classmate who is organising a high school reunion party. He knows that I am in Australia, so he was asking me if I would come back to China this Chinese New Year to join the reunion party.
How I wish I could go back home and be part of this wonderful reunion. Since I graduated from high school back in 2005, I haven't spent the Chinese New Year home in China for 10 years. I went to Malaysia at the end of year 2005, since then, I initiated my new life overseas â study and then work. I have returned to China a couple of times during these past 10 years, and I did get a chance to catch up with some of old classmates and friends. But the time was too short to see them all, as some of them were unavailable or had other commitments and my time ran out.
Since I came to Australia and settled in Sydney, I have moved home twice. Each time, as I was packing, I saw the old photos from my high school days. Holding the photos and going through them one by one, stimulated my heart as they reminded me of those past experiences. Each photo had a story attached to it. Like an old movie, the pictures are not black and mute, but colourful with sound. Like an old friend whispering near my ear, telling the stories of a past era.
Although I am not in China physically, with the advanced IT technology, the world is getting smaller. In the past, people chose writing letters, sending telegrams or making phone calls to their friends or family in another place. However, in this modern society, with help of the smart phone, we have new ways to communicate with friends on the other side of the world, even though we have to suffer time differences.
Nowadays, I often use Face Time to chat with friends with iPhones. I can chat while seeing their face and sharing their happiness and sorrow. I also can use Wechat to talk with them, and send photos as well. As Facebook and Twitter are not available in China, Wechat can help me with its Moments function. I can share the interesting thing I am doing by uploading photos, it brings my friends and I closer.
I was glad when I received the invitation to the reunion party. It shows my classmates and friends are still care about me even though I have been overseas about 10 years. It is a shame that I can't make it this time, but I have made a short video with my phone, sending my best wishes for the success of the reunion.
I heard a saying that strong friendships are built in high school. During that stage of our lives, we are transformed from boys or girls to young adults. It is the time we start to build our view of life and the world.
At this level, one or two lifelong friends are enough, people who can understand your every move without saying anything, who care as we each share our lives.
Should someone say they do not have such a friend â loneliness is an issue for many people â as a Christian I am able to report confidently that Jesus is always with us. Jesus is with us for life and this friendship never ends. I am sure this is why many people find solace in their local churches as they feel a special friendship with others in the congregation and with the Lord.
Likewise, as another practical example, the pastoral care programme in Christian retirement care facilities can help stem loneliness. Many of our older generation live in these homes and are widows or widowers with their family members living many hours away. It is very special when Christian pastoral carers make planned weekly visits. Having someone as a friend is very significant.
Value your friends. Jesus placed a huge emphasis on friendship, he said: You are my friends. This is a great encouragement for Christians to remember what a friend we have in Jesus.
Oscar Duan is from China; he has an accountancy degree from University of Hertfordshire (UH) International campus in Malaysia, and has undertaken further accountancy studies in Australia for accreditation here. He is married to Heyley.
Oscar Duan's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/oscar-duan.html