God has had a calling for Andy since before she knew Him. She’s seen glimpses of it throughout her life, but couldn’t see how it could all work together until now.
A simple invitation to church from a friend has made all the difference in my life. At the age of 6 I began attending church with my family, and at 8 I gave my life to the Lord. You never know what might come from one small invitation.
Once a month at church, missionaries shared their stories with the congregation, and I always looked forward to these “missions moments.” I heard inspiring testimonies, heart-breaking ones, and other stories that helped me understand that missionaries are real people with real human trials. Occasionally my mom would ask how I felt after the sharing. I’d respond, “it’s sad; it makes me want to do something.” How could so few people in Japan know about Jesus?! Less than 0.2%! What about China? What about the orphans in the home we support in Thailand? I wondered how we could better support them and be part of their ministry. I even bought one of those children’s daily prayer books where you pray for one people group a day. It was a BIG book.
Like any typical middle school pre-teen , I was wrapped up with my own life. When my youth pastor, Scott, asked me to join the Mexico short-term team that year, I said “No way! I don’t know anything about the bible and I don’t want to do church for a whole week!” Because the team’s ministry was focused on medical care, and because my dad is a medical professional, they really wanted me to go so that my father might go, too. After much convincing (and irritation), I eventually gave in. Since then, I have participated with this ministry at least five times, and both my parents have become leaders in this ministry.
Each summer in high school I joined the Mexico ministry team, but when I graduated, I envisioned a summer with larger prospects and went to Thailand. After I came back that summer, I told my parents I really wanted to go back as a missionary, working in radio ministry and studying language for two years. As Asian Americans, we have certain life expectations, e.g., going to college, getting a well-paying career/job, marrying and having a family. I call this the “Asian-American dream,” and clearly, I was not on that path. My parents, as well as many “uncles” and “aunties” from my church family took a lot of time explaining how a college degree could and would greatly benefit my life and ministry (for this I am very thankful). Little did I know how crucial this would be.
After community college, I transferred to BIOLA University in southern California. My time at BIOLA was one of the largest blessings of my life. Not only was I able to grow through the challenges of studying psychology and living away from home, but I grew ten times in my knowledge of the Word of God. In my final semester, a friend brought the up the opportunity to co-lead a team of BIOLA students to Japan. Joy and excitement filled my heart. Japan had been on my heart since first hearing the stories from our missionaries as a child, so I did not need much convincing. Leading this team was a challenge and a blessing at the same time. Working to fulfill the requirements and guidelines of both BIOLA University and our partner mission organizations (we chose OMF International) was very difficult and yet tremendously rewarding.
I prayed long and hard that God would use this mission trip to reveal to me his calling to serve the Japanese as a long-term worker. I came back from this 7-week trip inspired but confused; it just didn’t seem like God was calling me at that time to be a missionary in Japan. I spent the next six months working in an optometry office as an administrator, pondering where God might be taking me.
I sought opportunities to serve. I considered Vietnam, anti-human trafficking movements, and even English teaching abroad. I struggled to see where God could match my heart for East Asia’s people, my experiences at BIOLA, and my skills in administration and organization. I was still being mentored by OMF International’s follow-up coordinator (a regular part of their short term mission program), and as I spoke with her about potential job opportunities, but they did not match my desire to serve East Asia’s peoples nor my focus on evangelism. She told me, “those are some big ‘buts’ Andy.” She then went on to challenge me to consider a position with OMF International. This new position is only now being created, and it would require me to raise support (I’ll be fully relying on partners for financial provision) and to relocate to Colorado. But I’ve never lived outside of California, and I’ve grown up around or within the Asian-American sub-culture, and I’ve been taught to be independent. So coming to terms with those two facts has been a huge challenge.
I am so glad to say that I am at 70% support and will be moving, hopefully, in September to be OMF International’s School Partnerships Coordinator. I will be working with private Christian universities (like BIOLA!), seminaries, and campus fellowships, etc. to create partnerships that help get students involved in missions. If I can mobilize just two people to East Asia as long-term workers, I’ll have increased my impact by 100%. If I can help get students involved in supporting, sending, praying, learning, and going on short-term mission trips, I’ll have multiplied my impact even further. It is these hopeful prospects that inspire and encourage me.
I was told during my application process, “we wouldn’t be creating this position if we were not serious about reaching East Asia’s people for Christ.” OMF International is serious about reaching East Asia’s people for the glory of our God. And so am I.
Photo by Nathan Chang