From the day I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour in 1980, I was very fervent in the things of God and was very involved in church ministry. BUT, the promptings of God, to surrender my life to full time ministry did not go down well with me. I did not want to go down this type of road. For years, I would negotiate with God and justify with good ‘reasons’ how not to serve as a missionary, or full time.
RELUCTANCE TO GIVE UP, NOT EVEN FOR GOD! – too much at stake! Too many things to let go and leave behind. For years, I would tell God, “Please don’t let me serve you as a missionary!” “I am already serving you, Lord.” “Almost everyone in church knows me.” “There is no need to serve you in another country!” “Lord, I will settle for second best. In fact, my second best is already very good. I am very happy and contented with what I have – a well-paid job, financially stable, surrounded by loving family and lots of good friends.” “I don’t want to be separated from my family.” “God, you knock on the wrong door! Get someone else who is of better fit. I don’t have the ‘missionary type’ and I am not cut out to be a missionary!” “I don’t see myself rolling up my pants and sleeves and slog in the field! Or have to pray so fervently for my daily provision… and then hear a knocking on my door, “Sister, the Lord impressed me to bless you with a bowl of noodles.” “No way, Lord!” “I have carved out a pretty good life for myself.” “I can still serve you full time in the mission field after I retire.” “Wait another few more years.”
RELUCTANCE TO STEP OUT! – I would lose more, everything. The lost years, the absent years of and not able to journey with my parents, siblings and friends, not to mention the financial ‘loses’ is too heavy a cost. I counted the cost of following Jesus to the mission field. I would lose everything. A church member once told me, “It’s ok, Thian. When you return from the mission field one day, I am sure your parents and siblings will take care of you!!” I was shocked by her remark. Interestingly, I used this as my reason, “See, God, now you know why I can’t go out, I will lose everything. I need to be financially independent. It’s a mockery against you, that my God would not be able to take care of me and I had to depend on others to see me through my post mission years.” Too much sacrifices and I was unwilling to follow Jesus on this.
CONVICTION – OBEDIENCE AND TRUST!
I knew I had trust and obedience issues with God. Who do I trust with my life? Is Jesus my Lord and Saviour, and can He not direct my life as he wishes. Would He mock my life? I realised I had to deal with his issue: Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Give to God what belongs to God. And, I belong to God, nothing that I have and own belongs to me. Even the breath of life that I have comes from Him. I knew God had protected and saved me from a number of accidents, and fire. I knew He rescued me and preserved my life. I knew I had to stop running and giving Him excuses. I decided to yield to God and gave my life back to Him. I was also reminded by the many prophetic releases and confirmations over the years pointing to mission field, and serving God full time; and the Word released that God will provide all my needs abundantly (You see, God knows my fear and unwillingness to part way with my financial independence. I even once told God, “You can’t pay me the way I am being paid. In fact, I trust the ATM machine more than you, God.” The prophetic release of the Word, “God has been preparing my heart, to thrust me out into the field and the time is now” put me into gear. That was the turning point! At 38 years old, I finally said, “Yes, Lord I will go.” I rented a house from my church pastor for six months which became my hiding place to seek God and prepare myself for transition. I resigned from my teaching job. (My school principal was shocked when I told her that I was going to do my Heavenly Father’s work. She said “Wow, and we were preparing you for your promotion! I told her, “Wow” serving my Abba Father is the best.”).
OUT OF MY “SELF” INTO CHRIST!
I served in a church in Hatyai, Thailand for one and a half years. I was living in the red-light districts. I was doing pastoral care work – preaching, teaching English (community outreach), and street witnessing amongst others.
I remembered the night when I arrived at the church, the reality of being in a foreign land, hit me! “Oh, no! What am I doing here!” I wanted to pack up and leave (Mind you, I just arrived to start my mission work). I immediately went into prayer and the Lord gave me these scriptures which set me on track with God, and led me throughout my years in the field.
Matthew 10:37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
Habakkuk 3:17-19 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights.
So, I burnt the bridge and moved forward. Thanking God for His Presence in my life.
I was still serving in Hatyai, when one day in prayer I asked the Lord, “What do you want me to learn in Hatyai?” “God told me that He was taking me out of my SELF!” How true. I couldn’t agree more. He is my Abba Father and He knows me through and through. In His love, He prepared me. In His love, He led me. He loves me too much to let me be where I am. His plans and His ways are higher than mine. I began to see and understand my relationship with God in the mission field. The mission field has allowed me to walk by faith and not by sight and to treasure my intimate relationship with my Abba Father.
CONFESSION – In Him, I have more than enough. The Lord has made me so rich; with His abiding Presence, His Living Word, His promises, His grace and His goodness.
Upon my return, I served in my home church (Malaysia) and led short term mission trips (prior to my days in Hatyai, I was also very active in the Missions Dept and was leading mission trips).
TILL TODAY, not one day have I seen the Lord forsaken me. I thank God for wooing me with His love and His patience towards me. My Abba Father knows me, and I am His.
May we all be blessed in knowing who we are in Christ Jesus; and how so blessed and privileged we are in God’s Almighty hands to do His will for His honour and glory! Amen.