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Why Did I Move to Singapore?

January 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Why did I move to Singapore? What a loaded question! “Why” questions usually are.

Opportunity. Commandment. Calling. Passion. World Needs. Adventure. Vision.

I suppose all of these words could be used to describe the reasons behind my leaving the USA…but all of these words are so vague or broad, that really anyone could say them about nearly any mission they go on. But, why did I move to Singapore? Why specifically did God want me there? I must say, I didn’t know that answer until December 2012 (I flew off January 2013!) and I’m still unpacking it more and more each day.

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Some Background:

When Danny and I got engaged and discussed this opportunity to minister to college students in Singapore (SG), I was on board. Why not, right? Single or married, I’d be on the mission field, somewhere, doing something…that’s about all I knew. Now, we had already gone on a short-term mission trip (STM) to SG a year earlier. And I didn’t leave ever expecting (or hoping) to return. I was glad to have the experience, but didn’t have any emotional high or burdened heart for the country after leaving. So, my willingness to return and live there wasn’t based on emotions so much as it was on purpose.

When you are planning to move overseas to do “good work” a common objection from family and even random strangers is “Don’t we need help here, too?!” Honestly, during our journey to leave we talked with people who were either excited or confused. I didn’t understand what was confusing until our wedding rehearsal dinner. During that dinner, many friends shared rather touching appreciations and thanksgivings about us and our life with them. That was the first time that I saw how much I had in America. I had multiple amazing friends, job opportunities, a supportive family, potential homes & land, education opportunities, & a loving husband to build a life with… honestly, my life couldn’t have gotten much better or more fulfilling. That was when I first realized that my commitment to leave all of that for a place that I knew very little about is kind of crazy.

Commitment & Surrender

So, I began to wonder…why shouldn’t we just do the same thing here…there are students who need Christ here, too…and then a deeper issue surfaced. I asked, “Is the Christian life meant to be more about our commitment to Jesus or our surrender to Him?” I really believe that our most genuine commitments to Christ are in context of our surrendering to Him. True, I can do very similar work in America, but what does it cost me to do that? There is little room to surrender anything if I had stayed.

“…count the cost…any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14)

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—” (Phil. 6)

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 16)

What is a common theme in the verses? The giving up of our life for Jesus! So, aside from having an opportunity, a biblical commandment, a calling, passion, etc… I was going to Singapore, because God was going to lay in me a foundation of surrender. My oh-so-mighty comfort idol was to be ripped up and thrown out! That’s a pretty intimidating thought to have as you board an airplane heading to Asia…“Me leaving, will be the start of releasing all that is too dear to me, in order that I may be a willing, surrendered, servant for my Lord Jesus.”

I hope to share more about this journey of becoming surrendered in future posts. All questions and comments are appreciated.

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Societal Structures V.S. God’s Call on Our Lives

November 8, 2012 2 comments

My Lord has been doing some amazing work in my life the past few weeks. He has been bringing my mind to “seeking the things that are above, where Christ is” (Col. 3:1) and He has been revealing idols in my life. More so, God has revealed these idols before I set myself up to live in daily temptation of them. He has shown me that Jesus is greater than my culture & that His Great Commission may require me to forsake dreams and hopes that I have. For, His Calling is greater than my Culture. Thus, I hope to expose societal structures that keep us from “giving it our all” for the Lord.

Common American Phases of Life

The American way of life is quite different than most other countries. But, still each country has a culture or multiple cultures that create a type of order to a person’s life.  In America, it goes something like this :

We are born and  begin learning everything we know from our family. Once kindergarten hits, we begin receiving all of our education from a school system (whether public, private, or through homeschooling). The goal of this stage is to prepare us to be self-sufficient individuals in the next stage. Once we graduate twelfth grade, we are encourage to either work a job and make money or go to college in order to make even more money and be even more successful someday. So, for the next few years we prepare ourselves for our future employment that we hope will provide financial stability. Then, once we graduate we seek to excel at our career and be promoted until we consider ourselves “successful”. Once we are satisfied with this we tend to “settle down” by getting married and starting a family. At this point, we struggle for the next 20 years to juggle this career, our children, our elderly parents, and our marriage. Erickson’s Psychosocial Stages explains that that as we move into our 40’s we are wanting “to create or nurture things that will outlast us.” Once we believe we have accomplished this, we begin to retire at about age 65 so that we can no longer be involved in the world – for that’s what we deserve. Right?

Practically all of these stages are setting us up to live a more comfortable  & accomplished lifestyle than the one before it.

Interesting, huh? We all seem to fit this mold no matter how “radical” or “unique” we hope we are. This is because, from birth we are taught what the appropriate timeline is for our life. Sure, we all have different stories. Not everyone will get married & have children at the same age. And there are definitely gender roles, values, and economical challenges that have and will continue to cause this timeline to change. But, overwhelmingly we all divide our lives into these categories or phases.

How God Changed my Thinking

This recently began to frighten me a lot. Why? Because, I really don’t see God’s calling on my life fitting into this cultural structure that we have deemed “right”. In two months Danny and I will be in Southeast Asia. As we get closer and closer I’ve seen God expose lies that I’ve been believing and truth that I must cling to. I have been debating for a while as to whether or not I should write this blog, simply because I figured most people would deem me unqualified to speak on this topic. And, to an extent I am. But, God has been pounding me over and over and it would be wrong to keep it to myself. Through Kathleen Neilson’s Colossian’s Study, conversations with Danny and other people, podcast sermons such as the Biography of Bill Piper, current life examples such as The Flora’s Family, and personal reflection I have found that having children, a nice home, & retirement are not excuses to cease living sacrificially as a missionary. And if you don’t want to listen to me, maybe you will listen to their stories.

Having Children & Living Against the Current

Since time ticks closer to our departure I have heard more and more, “It’s so good that you’re doing this while your still young & without children.” Or I’ve heard, “How great that you are serving like this while you still can, before you have children.” (This is the part that made me hesitant to write this, because I don’t have children & can’t speak from that standpoint.) After long contemplation though, I have discerned that children definitely change your schedule, priorities, energy & thoughts, but they do not necessarily change your calling. Why do we think that children keep us from serving as a missionary? Are we so bold as to think that God’s calling must fit into our American methods of raising children? There are so many factors that I have wrestled with. I hate the thought of my children not having regular visits with their grandparents or not being raised in their native land (America). And I understand the value and beauty in faithfully discipling our children.  But, all of those good things don’t negate that God has called each and every believer (with children or not) to participate in the Great Commission. Having children is just one of many stages of life that I’m realizing I must surrender to my Lord to, rather than to pleasing people or even myself.

Building Up Comforts VS Living Sacrificially

But the more and more I say the phrase, “Well, Danny, when we settle down I’d like to live in X city, with Y type of house..” I realize that as of now, God has not called me to “settle down”. And even if He does, who says that I am called to settle down in Georgia, or even in America? Why are you living where you’re living? Why are you working where you work? It’s tough. In a land of opportunities, I’ve found that just because we can move somewhere, doesn’t mean we should.

It’s tough, because this is not our home. And the Lord brought me to tears at this thought. I like comfort – it is a major idol for me. I realized that I kind of want this to be my home & that often times I believe it is. I hardly ever remind myself of my true citizenship that is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). So, recently the Lord broke me. And He was so sweet to show me that if I feed into to having a nice home, and everything else that comes along with the American dream – I will forget, again. I’ll build up comfort after comfort -no matter how subtle or obvious they may be- and before long I will have put my energy, money, & thoughts towards maintaining a lifestyle that God never called me to in the first place.

My New Great Aim

But whatever gain I had, I count as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. – Philippians 3:7-8

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – (Jesus) Matthew 6:19-21

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it – (Jesus) Matthew 10:37-39

These are just three of hundreds of verses that speak about the Lordship of Jesus in our lives. We are to live for Jesus only. And thank God, that he exposed an idol of comfort and misconceptions of relative societal methods that will seek to lure me from “giving it my all”. My new aim: To assume that God’s will would have me make costly sacrifices instead of being comfortable in this life. And therefore, repent of compartmentalizing my surrender to the Lord Jesus. 

Please comment with wisdom and lessons learned from your experience in parenting, living as a missionary, and fighting the cultural structures that pull you from Jesus rather than to Him. How can we remain faithful to the spreading of the gospel and faithful to our families if we are not called to local missions?