Why Do We Live in an Asian Slum?

After almost three years living in a slum, a couple reflects on why they came and why they’ve stayed.  

Jesus radically welcomed people; he blessed and honored the poorest people, shared his life, lived humbly, and told stories about God’s place for them in His Kingdom. Jesus welcomed Samaritans, Jews, Gentiles, and challenged them to love each other; he brought “sinners” into his inner circle, and challenged the “good religious people” to release their judgments of them. He welcomed women and children, lepers and the ill, the blind and the lame, strangers and foreigners, all to his inner circles, not as an audience but as a central part of his lived life. And he calls us, over and over, to do the same.

We’ve felt that like Jesus, we’ve grown up in a world of disconnect, a world of “others”. The rich and the poor don’t live in the same community. Many of our things were made by people in India or Bangladesh or China, but we have likely never seen those people or known what their lives were like. The Western world and the Muslim world are highly separated, with a great deal of demonization of the “other”. The people whose actions lead to destruction of the environment (over-consumption of fossil fuels, forests, minerals, factory farmed food, etc.) are disconnected from the environment and the people most affected by its destruction. We felt so separated; it was difficult for us to love people we didn’t know, and difficult to care about those whose lives we weren’t participating in.

To that end, we moved to Asia in 2010, to begin to build a tiny bridge between the global poor and the Western rich, to place ourselves in the shoes of those we did not know, and to give them access to the best things a Western education and upbringing have afforded us, all while letting the best of their culture and experience transform us. We’ve seen and understand the transformational power of relationships; we want to know and love people here, sharing our selves, culture, and faith, and we want to be known and loved and challenged in return.

We want to continue to build this bridge, to invite more of our wealthy friends into the lives of the poor and marginalized and help them to experience more of what it means to be human. As our own American society becomes increasingly dependent on money and technology, we want to place our family in a different world – moving away from overwhelming materialism, technology, individualism, achievement-orientation and getting back to relationships and community and people.

As we understand more of the hopes and dreams and resources of our community, we want to be a part of its transformation, working alongside through our relationships, bringing ourselves, everything we have to offer. The literacy and safe house projects are our first attempts at that. We don’t just want to be giving charity, but together growing true justice and inhabiting the Kingdom of God.

In the long term, ideally we want to create something that will grow beyond our direct influence and last far longer than we do. We hope that the people we impact will continue to influence others, that programs we start will be taken up and pressed forward by others, that our own meager contribution will grow into something much greater than ourselves and take on a life of its own. We may spend our lives in this ministry, but we hope this will last far beyond ourselves.

If you want to learn more and/or to support these friends, please email the editor at kimmiem(at)team.wcfellowship.org

Why do you follow Jesus?

How do you respond when things don’t happen the way you expect? What do you do when it seems like God is not the only giver of (incredibly) good gifts? This story comes with perspective that we don’t follow Jesus because He gives us stuff. We follow Him for a beautiful, redemptive, love relationship that cannot be matched by anyone else.

Some friends went on a pilgrimage, prostrating every couple of steps, covering a distance of about one thousand miles through difficult terrain and snow to reach a sacred city.  One pilgrim, a monk who had been battling various chronic illnesses, went in hopes of finding some relief from the physical ailments that have plagued him for so many years.

After completing this pilgrimage, the monk went back to the hospital where they ran several tests. He had suffered for decades, and his liver was severely damaged. The results came back, and the same doctor who had been treating him for many years, in amazement, told him that he is completely cleared! The tests showed absolutely no traces of the disease, and his liver was functioning perfectly.  Bewildered, this doctor said that it is not medically possible. However, that is what the test results show!

Eager to receive confirmation, the monk then went to the best hospital in the region. Again, the results showed him completely disease-free with a perfectly functioning  liver. In fact, the doctors stated that from looking at the results, they would never have known that this monk had been ill!

Upon hearing this story, there was really not much that I could say in response. What could I say? “Both hospitals somehow got it wrong? ” or “Maybe the monk was never sick to begin with?” or “It was a coincidence?” or “Praise be to Buddha?”  I found nothing suitable, so I just nodded in agreement that it was truly amazing.

This monk has been healed!  The healing was confirmed by two separate hospitals!  It’s a genuine miracle! Miracles, healing…they can happen and they do happen!  But in this case, it was from another source.  It is from a source that is in opposition to the Kingdom of Light.  We are faced with the fact that the kingdom of darkness has real power.

“For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.” (Matt 24:24)

We also long to see the Kingdom of God come in all its fullness; with manifestations of signs and wonders, miracles and healing.  However, it is a sobering fact that those who belong to the kingdom of darkness can also perform great signs and miracles.  Think of Moses, who was given powers to perform miracles in order to attest to the fact that his leadership was God-appointed.  But then, the magicians of Egypt were actually able to replicate and repeat many of the exact same miracles that Moses performed!  (Gen 7:11, 7:22, 8:7)

There seems to be a trend happening: a searching, seeking, single-minded pursuit after miracles.  Miracles, it seems to many, is the answer. People are not responding to the Gospel because they have not seen real power.  So, the reasoning goes, if only they see signs and wonders, they will surely come to Jesus.

“Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thess 5:19)
“Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” (1 John 4:1)

Certainly, when the Kingdom of God truly comes in power, the gospel is declared with authority, people are set free, and the kingdom of darkness is pushed back, it is very likely that all this will be accompanied by signs and wonders. We do not want to quench the Spirit; but neither do we indiscriminately believe every spirit.

We have concluded that signs and wonders are not for us to seek after.  They are acts of God; and He alone determines where and when they will take place.  We can only position ourselves for the miraculous – by being alert, having clear minds, rooted in truth, and living in full agreement with our identities in Christ.

Photo credit: Nathan Chang

The UPG Revelation

“An unreached people group refers to an ethnic group without an indigenous, self-propagating Christian church movement. Any ethnic or ethnolinguistic nation without enough Christians to evangelize the rest of the nation is an “unreached people group”. – The Lausanne Global Conversation

My name is Jonathan and I’ve lived in the Bay Area for most of my life. I grew up going to church but it was the Bible teaching and sermons that I heard in college, particularly a series of biographical missionary sermons by John Piper, which were the most influential in shaping my theology of missions. These resources impressed upon me the importance of global missions. After my “formative college years” (cliché but true) which included a short term missions trip to Ukraine, God continued to present opportunities to learn and stay involved with missions. I signed up for a Perspectives class and got involved with an international students ministry. A friend also introduced me to WCF and told me about the World Christian Conference (WCC), so I thought I would check it out.

This reflection details where I am at in processing God’s direction for my life, and the slowly growing heart God is giving me for unreached people groups (ie. buying into the strategy of focusing in on these groups, and not in regions already saturated with Christian influence). Post-college life (I’m 25 now) has delivered all of that melodramatic soul-searching about what to do with myself in “the real world”, and I’m thankful for the chance to attend the WCC and listen for how God continues to lead me.

Attending WCC:

To be honest, I didn’t really think much about the fact that I didn’t know a single person who was going to the conference until the actual week of. Thankfully, there were a few familiar faces once I got there, and sitting down at random tables during meals and introducing myself was not too painful. Overall, I enjoyed the conference very much. The biggest highlights were interacting with individuals who are passionately involved with missions and taking their experiences to heart, trying out a ministry consultation to dialogue more about my life decisions, and also just worshiping through song with everyone else.

Conference Take Away Point

I had several points, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll develop the point I mentioned above. I think the conference helped to establish a greater desire to minister to unreached people groups. I’d heard sermons in the past which had left me feeling inspired, convicted, or whatever, to go and “save the world” by moving abroad and doing something radical. But these were momentary sensations and once the dust had settled, I usually felt like God had different things planned for me in the present to be concerned with. However, when Tim Svoboda recounted statistics like “90% of missions efforts go towards parts of the world that are considered reached, while only 10% go towards unreached areas”, this resurrected a burning sensation in my heart. In processing what these desires mean this time around, I feel like God is placing a deeper level of commitment on my heart than previously – specifically, a conviction (as opposed to a “notion”, or “vague interest”) to focus my time and resources on people groups that have little or no access to the Gospel.

I’ll be honest.. I can’t really claim to know exactly what this means going forward. I’m not saying you will definitely see me in some remote country 10 years from now, but I’m also proclaiming boldly that I have no guarantees I will still be in America 10 years from now. I think the important thing is to be faithful with the ministries I have in front of me, and the conference takeaway is to pursue ministry opportunities in a more directed way. There are many causes which are noble and worthwhile – inner-city ministry, fighting trafficking, protecting the unborn, etc. I suppose what I’m saying is that the cause that I want to turn my attention towards (my thoughts, my time, my resources) is reaching these unreached groups however possible. Given our limited time on this earth, it just seems to make the most sense! (And just as a matter of conviction, this will all develop within the context of fellowship and service in the local church – I would like very much for these two to integrate seamlessly, but I suppose that is material for a different blog post).

To sum things up, I don’t think I can put it any better than Paul in Romans 15:20-21:
“and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”

Jonathan

Photo by Megan Mark

Engineers need Jesus, too!

Downtown LA

Cindy is reaching the unreached. She’s not overseas teaching English, translating the Bible, or feeding the poor and homeless. She is here, being a light in the darkness for the people in her workplace who might not otherwise experience the good news of the Gospel.

Studying to become a Chemical Engineer in college was dreadful. After graduation, I blindly applied to every single open position.  As God provided a job for me, I immediately prayed that He would grow my ministry at work and that people at work would come to know Him through me.  However, I quickly forgot about my desires for ministry at work after I began the job. I got caught up in my workload, politics and “office space” frustrations. I struggled with thinking that I need to move out of engineering and seek a different career path.

During my second year of work, I started to work in a supporting role for operations. Since my coworkers and I spent days and nights together, in danger and in boredom, in laughter and in anger, we truly felt like a family. God blessed me tremendously with great relationships, and my heart started to grow for the people around me.  God convicted me to begin to pray and care for them.  I started to share intentionally about my struggles in life and my belief in God. As I prayed more fervently, deeper conversations about life, attitudes and beliefs occurred more frequently.

I used to complain about the lack of Christians at work because I felt that no one at work could relate or share my burdens. But I realized that God intentionally placed me there for that very reason. I then started sharing with my Christian community about my coworkers so that they could together pray and share my burden for them.

With various job positions over the last nine years, I encountered many who don’t know Him. I built relationships with people of different cultures and backgrounds, people who are incredibly intelligent, and people who I never would have talked to if I saw them on the street. Although none of my coworkers have come to faith (yet), I feel privileged to be part of their journey, and I celebrate the steps that they have taken in being more open to God and Christianity (see Engel Scale developed by James F. Engel).

As I think about going to the inner cities to love the poor, going overseas on missions, or volunteering at hospice to help the hopeless, I see that God has prepared me and placed me in a mission field all along.  I am in the lives of those who are poor in spirit; I am in the lives of those who are broken hearted; I am in a harvest. I love my workplace because God’s heart is there, too.

Cindy

Photo by Nathan Chang

 

Working with God

Some of the Knysna and Cape Town teams went to pray at parliament.

Just over six years ago, Milton left campus ministry for the marketplace. Even though he knew theologically that every Christian is called to work and business, God still had a lot to teach him.

This past November I had the privilege of traveling to South Africa to serve as a Kingdom business consultant with Rep. Rep (short for Repurposing Business) trains and consults business leaders and entrepreneurs in aligning their businesses with biblical principles so that societies are transformed and impacted for the Kingdom. I had just finished Rep training earlier that year, and I wanted an opportunity to put my training into practice. I spent two weeks consulting local businesses: facilitating discussions on core business practices, identifying areas where Kingdom impact could be increased and laying out actionable strategies to turn those opportunities into reality.

What Did I See and Learn

Business is Spiritual – While I’ve known this to be cognitively true for a long time, I experienced this truth while in Knysna. Consider the context: Knysna is a struggling resort town, beautiful but lacking any real industry (outside of tourism), losing a business a week, and 90% of the people live at or below the poverty line. The potential of small and mid-sized businesses to bring “good news to the poor” – to have a job to live out your God-given calling – is huge! The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy, and Satan attacked in the midst of this strategic development opportunity. Four days into the venture, our hosts’ parents were brutally murdered. We could have cancelled the rest of the venture, but we chose to press forward instead. Interpret the events how you will, but I saw that this venture was essential to furthering God’s Kingdom and Satan was threatened by that. What I knew in my head became much more real — business is spiritual [warfare] and one of the primary ways God redeems and restores His creation.

Note: One of my teammates wrote a more in-depth account of what happened. Also feel free to browse our team’s blog of the trip.

Business is a platform – One of the greatest deceptions Satan has ever pulled over the church is that work is only a platform – it is only a context to share the gospel and fund true “ministry.” On the contrary, I saw how valuable business is as a setting for Christians to be formed more deeply and completely into the image of Christ. It amazed me to see nominal Christians and even people who were angry with God become transformed and excited about God AND business once they understood:

  • Work is a calling to serve God.
  • There is an abundance of Scripture on work, its relevance, theological significance and practical wisdom for business.
  • Business is a key vehicle God uses to “fill and subdue the earth” and to “seek and save the lost.”

Rep comes into a community seeking to repurpose businesses, but the dirty secret of Rep is that you can’t really repurpose a business without repurposing the leader. In the end, Rep is a discipleship catalyst, helping business leaders see where their work fits into God’s Kingdom and giving them practical action steps to live out their priestly calling. I saw how work and business is often the optimal context for discipleship since it usually does a better job of holistically aligning gifts, calling and experience, instead of trying to pigeonhole individuals into limited service roles inside the traditional church.

One example of this was a real estate couple from Sotheby’s Knysna. Prior to the venture, they were getting ready to leave the business to work on a farm where operations were much more predictable. They couldn’t see the value of their work in God’s Kingdom. But after going through the program, they saw their work as ministry. Specifically, they were excited to learn that theirs is a ministry of hospitality and connection. Providing much more than transactional house-buying services, they can actually care for people by facilitating the community and network development crucial to making a house into a home.

What Next?

The Rep training and subsequent trip to South Africa have been valuable experiences in living out the integrated spiritual life. One of my biggest takeaways is to pray regularly and consistently for daily breakthroughs and miracles in the workplace. In the day-to-day, it’s easy to forget the spiritual nature of work and our dependence on God for favor, success, and transformation. More than the training content, I was blessed and challenged by the culture of dependent and expectant prayer on the trip. I was surrounded by fellow brothers and sisters who modeled and encouraged me in that dependence; they not only understand that work is spiritual, but they also endeavor to prayerfully live out their callings.

Work matters to God. He started it all in Genesis 1 before the Fall, and He grants us the privilege of partnering with Him in His work. Work does not exist just to evangelize to coworkers or to make money so we can support those who do the real ministry. Work is ministry (the Hebrew word for work and worship are actually the same). May we remember our God as we participate in His work to serve our neighbors and create beauty in the world around us.

For more on this topic, I recommend the Rep training and Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor.

Milton

Photo by Lyn Johnson

A House for the Kingdom

Tommy wanted to GO, but God has him living in Southern California, practicing hospitality. What does missions involvement look like for him now? And what does hospitality have to do with anything?

I’ve been interested in missions ever since I was in high school and have gone on various short-term trips to Mexico, the Middle East, East Asia, and most recently to Japan with my church. I see myself as a mobilizer and currently serve as a coordinator for a Perspectives class, volunteer with OMF International, host prayer meetings for the WCF Torrance group, and most recently have come on to serve on the Board for World Christian Fellowship.

One of my biggest “ministries” revolves around the house the Lord blessed me with. I am the steward of the house… His house. My name may be on the title, but it rightfully belongs to Him. This shift in ownership has shaped my perspective of the house and its purpose. I’ve hosted dinner parties, movie nights, poker games, sharing times, prayer meetings, etc. I love bringing people together, and I hope I’ve blessed others as much as I’ve been blessed by them.

Blessed to be a blessing

In Genesis 12:1-3, God tells Abram that he will be blessed in order to be a blessing to the nations, not for comfort or personal gain, but for His kingdom. I purchased the house with that in mind – to be a better blessing. God has not only used this space to host meetings, but to house missionaries, family, and friends and to provide a place of rest and refreshing. And I get to enjoy fellowship with others and hear what God is doing in the lives of people here at home and all over the world. I get to participate in what He is doing to call His Church to His purposes. It’s a real blessing for me to use the house this way, and I thank God for the opportunities He’s given me.

“Where I have sent you”

The funny thing is that I never set out to be a homeowner. When I graduated in 2004 with a master’s degree, I fully expected to be on the field in four years and never gave homeownership a second thought. After  passing my “four year goal” and no closer to going overseas, I began to wonder what He had planned for me.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.’”
– Jeremiah 29:4-7 (ESV)

The Lord spoke to me: stop looking so far ahead that I ignore the ministry around me. I began to understand that ministry happens in the present through the relationships around me. Should I really desire to go overseas, it would serve me well to learn to minister here where I know the language and the culture.

For me, the next step is to be intentional with my neighbors. Maybe I’ll host a dinner once a month to get to know them. After all, most people won’t pass on free dinner. I’ve already had some neighbors over for poker, and I hope to continue strengthening those relationships.

I thank God for the opportunities He’s given me, and I encourage everyone to ask God how you can be a blessing where you’re at, whether you see yourself going overseas in the future or not. May we be His hands and feet to the ends of the earth… AND here at home!

Tommy

What Do You Want?

Suphanburi Thailand Night Market

Brian grew up in the church and could tell you all the right answers. But when confronted with another’s faith that was bigger than his own, he was challenged to walk his talk. 

In summer of 2009 our OMF International Serve Asia team was prayer walking downtown Suphanburi, Thailand with a young guy named Mean.  As prayers and conversation began to die down I asked Mean, “How can I pray for you?”  Mean paused for a couple moments and then said, “Yes, brotha… Pray that God would use me to help make Suphanburi the first Christian city in Thailand.”  I nearly stopped cold in my tracks.  Having grown up in the church, I had heard many stories of amazing men and women being used by God, but for whatever reason this particular moment was different. Mean’s faith. Mean’s vision. Mean’s conviction and zeal hit me like a ton a bricks.

I honestly did not know exactly how to pray for that.  I’d heard dozens of people pray for big things in my life, but their prayers seemed kind of distant and nice-to-have… someday.  Not Mean.  The moment he began to speak I knew exactly what he wanted.

Later that evening, I came across a piece of scripture that hit me in a fresh new way.

“The next day John was there again with two of his disciples.  When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”  When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.  Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”  John 1:35-38

I felt the Lord asking, Brian, what do you want?  What is it that you want most in life?  Because before you can follow me, I need you to not just think but articulate in words what it is that you want. And then how did the disciples respond? “Rabbi, where are you staying?”  We want to be with you.  What we want most is to be in your presence.  We want you.  That’s what we want.

The disciples wanted Jesus. Mean wanted his entire city to know Jesus. But in that moment, I could list a multitude of things I wanted other than Jesus. I began to ask myself, in my heart of hearts, if Jesus is what I truly want most, what does that mean?  What decisions do I need to make?  What changes need to happen?  What do I need to let go?  What do I need to pursue?

A few years later, God led me to serve as a youth pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church where I got to take the lessons I learned from Mean and so many other faithful brothers and sisters and impart them to kids and families. God gave me the space and opportunity to challenge our youth and ask, “What do you really want?”.

I have just moved to CO to serve as OMF International’s Follow-Up Coordinator where I will get to walk with people who have had incredible experiences on the field – meeting, interacting, and serving alongside of folks just like Mean.

To partner with Brian prayerfully or financially, please visit www.omf.org/us/partner.

Brian

Photo by Brian Lee

That’s not for me

Matthew grew up thinking missions is “for other people, but not for me.” But God had a different idea.

I grew up in a Christian home, and I became a Christian in sixth grade. At our house, it was important to “be” a Christian, but going to church was not a priority. Thanks to a few classmates who reached out to me, I started to attend a youth group where I was captivated by my Savior, who He is, how I fall short, and how He saved me.

At Resolved Conference 2006, I heard John Piper mention that all Christians should have a heart for the lost, including those overseas. Up until then, I thought missions was for other people, but because I live in the US and am not gifted with people skills, I certainly would not be the right person. I can love the lost from afar, right?

Several years later, shortly after returning to the Bay Area post college, I started attending Maranatha Bible Church. For multiple years in a row, Vince invited me to WCC, but each year, I let the invitation pass. Missions is going overseas somewhere unfamiliar and uncomfortable. That’s not for me. But I can support others; I can give money.

Summer 2011, Joyce shared with me her passion for missions, and a few months later, Vince emailed asking for help with the children’s program at OMF’s Heart for Asia Conference. Why me? I work with youth, not kids. I teach math, or Sunday School, but I don’t know much about missions. How could I be useful? Vince insisted, so I decided to let God be my guide and show me how He wanted me to use my gifts, even if I couldn’t see it. I learned many things at the conference, and for some reason, the kids seemed to like me.

Once again, Vince and Bonnie urged me to attend WCC, but this time, I decided to let God show me His heart. It was so powerful and amazing to be surrounded by so many believers with the same goal: to glorify Him and bring the nations to Christ. Many wanted to go and serve, giving up years of their lives. I’m like a fish out of water. I don’t belong. I don’t feel called to go. My vision is to be a “missionary” here, serving my students. Thankfully, Vince corrected me. Being called to go is not the goal, but rather, to see your place in God’s global plan. Whether to be sent or to send, He has a place for each of us, and all are important; you don’t have to be the “sent” to have the heart of a missionary. Still, after being around so many missions minded people, I determined that if God wanted me to go just to see His heart for the lost, I would go. If I’ve never been on a missions trip, can I really say it’s not for me?

Everything fell into place. Maranatha had plans to go to Ensenada, Mexico with Francisco and Elva to work with young kids and several churches there. The plan was to fly into San Diego on July 21, and well, my annual trip to San Diego ended on July 21… I felt like God was telling me, “No more excuses. You have heard from friends. You have the heart. Your youth need someone to watch over them. Now go.”

Fourteen teammates came to pick me up, and from there we made the trek down to Ensenada. We went not knowing exactly what we would be doing, but as Pastor Jerry said, “Be flexible. Do whatever Francisco needs. And prepare your testimony.”

Each morning, we woke up early to buy pan, jamón, y queso (bread, ham, and cheese) to build 80 sandwiches to serve the kids in the poor part of Ensenada. We helped out with a five-part VBS: hang out and prep lunch, praise/worship, skit Bible story, a craft activity, and then lunch with the kids and moms. With no predetermined roles, we dove in.

Tuesday, we went to another church and showed the movie “Courageous” in Spanish. Many men were inspired by the movie and came to the front of the church to to receive prayer. There we met a pastor with an amazing story: he was saved while in jail for murder in the US, and after acting as chaplain, was released many years later. Now, he is a pastor in Mexico.

Wednesday we took the kids to a park and played with them all day. It was awesome to see that, despite the language barrier, we could communicate through fútbol (soccer) and seesaws. When we learned that one young girl’s mother had passed away the previous night from a drug overdose, we were acutely reminded of the fragility of life and deeply saddened by what these kids struggle through every day.

Thursday morning Pastor Jerry challenged us to each pick one child or group of children and, in pairs, walk them home. No matter how far, no matter what kind of house, go with them. If you get invited in, go in; if not, say bye and go back. I went with one of my youth, Sarah, walking three kids back home who lived on a giant hill. When we got there, the parents were so kind to welcome us in and they even wanted a picture of us.

Thursday evening we joined the worship service at Francisco’s home church. I recognized two of the songs, and sang them in English while everyone else sang in Spanish. We can sing in English. They can sing in Spanish. Together, we are worshiping a holy and good God. At that moment, I caught a glimpse of His global Church. There are believers all around the world, and it does not matter what language we speak. Then a US missionary to Congo spoke, urging the people to stand and minister to the kids that are poor and do not have much, as she did in Congo to many leaders there. I was reminded of my calling as a teacher, to minister to my students and help them grow closer to Christ.

Francisco asked for volunteers to share how prayer has impacted your life. Dead silence from the older people… but one youth volunteers, then another, and another, and finally the last youth. I was so proud of them! I was chosen as the last to share. Not knowing exactly what to say, I prayed that God would speak through me. I started in Spanish, but stopped after two sentences, and continued in English about praying and trusting God in my career as a teacher, losing job after job, but continually seeing God’s providence at each school, knowing He will place me where He wants me to serve.

Coming back from Mexico, I am very glad that I went and got to see the world outside. God took what small skills I had and used them in amazing ways. Hanging out with the kids, worshiping with them, walking them home, talking with them, it was great to see His love for these people, and how His kingdom stretches to places that we don’t see. I will not forget this trip; it gave me a glimpse of His global kingdom.

I am not sure what God has in store for me, but I know that God sent me to show me His heart. It is so great, I will never fully understand it. I don’t know whether I will go back, but I will let God lead. Either way, I know my calling as a teacher is to mentor and inspire youth. Whatever I have, here I am Lord. Use me.

Matthew

Photo by Megan Mark

Sometimes it’s not all peachy

This Is Not The You I Know

Tiff went to change the world.. But everything seemed to fall apart, and she came back jaded and bitter. Thankfully, our good and gracious God is not content to leave her that way. 

When I think about obedience to His calling, I think about my parents. I was born in the U.S., but my family moved to Asia when I was 8 yrs old to follow His calling. Maybe it’s genetic, or maybe the seeds were planted deep in my heart since before I can remember because I feel a similar tug in my heart for Asia. In college, I seriously began considering missions.

With a healthy dose of bravado and naivete, I decided to just GO after graduating college. I didn’t have a plan, but this felt like something God put on my heart… and I thought if I didn’t move forward, I would regret it forever. So I went.

That year in Asia was the hardest year of my life. I felt I had nothing to offer, and I was acutely lonely. I questioned my calling. I became resentful. Daily, I cried, “God, if this is what you wanted me to do, then where are you? Why do I feel abandoned?”

In the 3 years since returning, I’ve been to grad school and begun working as a social worker. It’s been a time of questioning, humbling, healing, and redemption. I needed God to redeem my experience in Asia, and He has been so faithful—revealing His truths and shattering the lies I believed. Following my spontaneous journey to Asia, this current chapter has been filled with learning endurance, faith, and how to wait for His timing. He’s teaching me how to live my life with Him and for Him in the day to day. What sustains me? at home? at work? How do I bring Him into my relationships? my time? I want it to be His Spirit that guides and gives me life.

My heart for Asia hasn’t changed, but when I am honest with myself, the thought of going back to Asia really scares me. In some ways, that’s how I know that this is His calling; God-given dreams can only be accomplished by His power, not mine. I can’t but love His people, and despite my fear, my heart is still drawn to His work in Asia. This must be God, because if it were up to me, this journey would have ended 3 years ago. So now I’m in a season of waiting… and during this time, I really hope that I live with a missional perspective, that I form life-giving relationships, and most importantly, that He would be glorified.

Tiffany

Photo by Nathan Chang

A Calling in the works

I Keep Moving On

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.

To continue journeying with Andy, follow her blog whatsupandymo.com
If you’d like to support Andy’s ministry through prayer or finances, please visit omf.org/us/partner

Andy Morimoto

Photo by Nathan Chang