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Trust: How I Go, How I Come

March 26, 2015 Leave a comment

Without exception, every time I’ve spent extended time with a long-term missionary I’ve left saying, “I want to be like them.” I see their courage, their realness, their heart, their faith…and I want it for myself. The tough part of admitting that however, is that I don’t want their life. Their life is hard. They operate at an entirely different level of stress, they face so many losses and goodbyes, they suffer physically, their children face unique challenges – the list goes on and on. I’ve only had a taste of it from my time in Singapore. Yet, multiple times I’ve wondered how I’d be able to operate under even more traumatic conditions. I don’t have a comprehensive checklist. But, I have learned that there are two essential truths about God that must be held hand-in-hand if the going is to ever be worth it. God’s worthiness, which ensures my allegiance. And His love, which compels me to trust Him.

Both truths are so essential for this kind of life. When I left for Singapore, I was very one-sided with my way of thinking: “God is God, I am man – obviously God deserves my obedience. So go!”  I’m so glad that I revere Christ like this, but it can be problematic. Jesus isn’t only my King…He is also my Brother, Friend, & Savior. You see, viewing God in this one dimension put a lot of pressure on me. It made me think that I can’t fail or disappoint God. It made me question His goodness when life in Singapore was truly miserable. Yes, it made me serve, surrender, and go – but it also brought a lopsided approach to my Christian walk. I didn’t realize this issue until April 2014 (Yes, over a year into life in Singapore).

Retreat GroundsI was at my first Silent Retreat. The theme was Romans 12:1-2 which says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Immediately, I felt bothered by our theme. I wasn’t sure why, but at least I noticed how ugly of a reaction I had to the passage. That night, I discovered the reason for my angst. I didn’t like someone telling me to be a sacrifice again. I didn’t like the idea of doing God’s “perfect will”. I’ve obeyed this passage already – many times in fact – and I couldn’t see much good come from it. That night, I sorrowfully wrote in my journal, “I don’t trust God.

The next day I was reading Psalm 84. The final verse says…

O Lord of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you.

I was really confused as to why the Psalmist would conclude with that statement. It didn’t seem necessary. The whole Psalm is rather happily written. It about enjoying the presence of God; about loving the place that God is at. Nothing bad seems to be happening…so why is trust so important here? Wisdom came after some meditation. You see, my walk with God had changed a lot since college days. I went from having a daily time of studying God’s word to studying it once a month. I went from praying daily to crying because I simply had no words to say to God. I went from experiencing authentic, regular fellowship to being alone (even when I was around people). It didn’t happen over night, but it all snowballed after only a couple of months into life in Singapore. I had been telling myself that I just needed a routine – that I just needed discipline and then I’d be back to normal. But, what I really needed was to believe that God was good and that God loved me.

(v2) My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord

(v4) Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise

(v10) For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere

These are just a few of the verses in Psalm 84. What a contrast to my current life. If I trusted God, then I would come to Him. Nobody longs to take refuge in a place that isn’t safe. The same is true for us and God. For the first time I saw that trust is not only required for taking steps of faith. It’s required for the simple, daily, secret times too. 

God is worthy of my life, of my sacrifices. He is especially worthy, however, of those tender moments when there is nothing to offer except my trust. One thing I am sure of is that those vulnerable, at times awkward minutes and hours of just coming before God are a powerful statement of faith.

With trust I go out for Him; with trust I come before Him til’ the end of my days. 

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Singapore: The Place for Us

February 27, 2014 1 comment

As I mentioned, when leaving America many people were keen to let me know that needs existed at home, too. They were confused as to why I’d have to leave & go so far just to meet needs in the world. Oddly, when we arrived in Singapore people were (and are!) confused as to why would would come. “So, why are you here exactly?”; “But there are already many Christian ministries on the campuses…”; “But, we are a sending church…we are who is sending missionaries out…” At times these questions were asked out of curiosity & genuine interest. However, more than once I felt that we seemed unnecessary to them. In other words, people were saying, “The Christians here are doing just fine, shouldn’t you be doing what you do somewhere more needy than here?” (Again, people didn’t say this so directly, but the confusion does make you wonder “why here” again)

After plenty of reflection, I believe that Singapore is indeed the place for us to be because of theological, personal, national, and global reasons.

Marina Bay

The undergirding reasons are theological. Just as Abraham left in Genesis 12, Jesus coming as a servant, like Phillip in Acts 8, or Paul traveling place to place – when God sends it is for a purpose. The place is not insignificant, the people are not insignificant, the cause is not insignificant. After a series of events and steps of obedience we landed in Singapore. God is sovereign and God is in control of chance (Proverbs 16:33). I fully believe that if we shouldn’t be in Singapore, then we wouldn’t be.

Next, we should be here for the sake of our own personal development. Singapore is  an excellent launching country. People can easily learn many cultures & languages that could prepare them to go on to somewhere else. Plus, Christianity is already established in Singapore. In fact, there are at least 600 churches in this little country! I am so thankful for an opportunity that doesn’t just make me give, give, give. I also receive countless life lessons, focused training, and knowledge during our stay here.

Further, having many establishments doesn’t mean less needy…just different needs. This country is excellent at first impressions – upon arriving it’s hard to see any issues at all! But, reality is there are still poor, lonely, and misguided people even here. According to Joshua Project there is quite a lot of work to be done in here! Not only in terms of spiritual needs, but also emotional needs. I’ve had the privilege of befriending students that have shared with me societal pressures they face, sexual abuse, broken family history, and doubts in God. I may not be able to meet a TON of needs in Singapore, but I can love a few people and meet needs such as leadership development, life-coaching, friendship, Bible study training, and teaching english. Also, what could I possible offer a developing country??? I have zero skills in medicine, agriculture, or architecture. But..that’s another topic. Financial prosperity does not solve the hurts here – in fact, it may perpetuate them – but love and kindness goes a long way.

worldwide

And lastly, seeking the good of this country ultimately multiplies the redemption that can happen worldwide. Like I said earlier, this is an excellent country for sending people out. A huge reason for this is also because of the high number of foreigners that stay here. The nations are in Singapore! No need to look far! If the people who move here experience a wondrous change in their life, then they will one day return to their home country and promote Christ & love there too.

Although Danny and I don’t intend on spending our life in Singapore, it’s not because it wouldn’t be well worth it. Most foreigners only pass through SG, because like I said, it prepares you for the rest of Asia quite well. Plus, the locals are established in the faith and able to evangelize & love their neighbors. However, it isn’t likely that 600 churches could care for all 5 million people! God has redeemed so much in this nation, but there are many lives in need of something beyond a materialistic or moral aspiration -they’re in need of eternal security & joy in Christ.

I’m glad to be here while God has me here. (Btw, It took me MONTHS to be able to say that!) In future posts, I’ll share more about our adjustment & accalamation to this lovely little country.

 

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.