Very often, when we think of missions, we would think that we are doing something for God; and that is to miss the mark. In actual fact, it is God who is doing great things for us. Indeed, when God chooses someone to do a certain task, he always ensures that that person will be equipped with some basic skills or talents for it. And through the years and decades of being on the field, the person will grow and have more added to him. The transformation done by God on that person is beyond what the person himself can achieve. However, in the midst of that, God will unfold his plans step by step, and it is important that the person must believe that God will be carry out his plans in his life, and to patiently trust in him in all ways. So this verse should be a constant reminder: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Prov. 3:5,6
Going cross-culturally is always a great challenge to a missionary. Through such challenges, God allows us to learn much about ourselves, our shortcomings, even as we struggle with adaptation to the local community and customs. Again this is part of the “good works” that He is working in us, to remove the sharp edges, and that we will transform and be conformed increasingly to His likeness. Cultural interactions and adaptations also provide learning opportunities. There are beautiful things in each culture, besides the negative things that we need to avoid. We also learn their cultural norms and patterns, and use those elements familiar to them, to teach them and further the Kingdom of God in the community.
In the midst of our working for the Lord’s business, God will also ensure that he will take care of our needs. Even some of our secret dreams he will take into account. We were at our organization’s centre in the highlands for some workshops, and were staying at a house at the side of a hill. One morning, at breakfast I suddenly burst into tears, tears of gratitude and happiness, as I surveyed the meadow with cattle and horses before my eyes, and I recalled that in my teenage years, looking at a calendar of an Australian meadow, I longed to go to a wide, open space, see horses and cattle, as in that picture. And that morning, I was reminded of that teenage dream, in tears I thanked the Lord for his wonderful provision. In the midst of work, I could live in such an environment, and could enjoy such lovely scenery for weeks at a time. I said to him, “I don’t have to be rich to go to such places as a tourist, but I need to be obedient to you, and get to see such a place.”
Serving God comes with some giving up, for example, our comfort zone, but always compensated by all the riches in life that the Lord would provide in the process. We serve a loving Heavenly Father.