When we began our missions blog last year, we wanted it to be much more than a weekly newsletter to our partners. Another goal was & still is to share what we experience & face as missionaries overseas honestly & candidly as possible. We desire to communicate what we experience to do missions work so that more believers can participate in missions with right expectations, prayerfulness & patience on God’s wisdom & power.
We can’t wait to be back in the U.S. 4 years later to demonstrate our language skills & share all the miraculous works that God has done in our lives & missions. We’re confident that we will have numerous stories to tell, and they will touch, inspire & move your hearts because that’s what God does. He humbles our spirit & at the same time, he empowers us to belief that all things are indeed possible in Christ. And we will together worship the Lord who is worthy of all that we could offer. We can’t wait for that day!
It’s only been 6 weeks since we made our home in Taichung. We can tell you that missions isn’t always full of excitement & adventure. In between gains & triumphs, we go through periods where all we’re doing is persevering in prayer, to learn the language & culture, to reach out to people around us. There are times when all we’re trying to do is simply to survive… not very heroic.
But one great reward of being on the mission field is that PRAYER becomes almost INSTINCTIVE because there are so many things that we don’t understand, that are beyond our control & threaten our sense of security. It seems like every week there’s something that requires our time, finance & mental energy. The past week, we had people come in to fix our bedroom wall that leaked when it rained. One of our fellow OMF missionaries arranged it for us. It’s something that we couldn’t have done on our own, so we were very grateful, but it did remind us of our helplessness at this early stage of our missions. And our helplessness often takes us to our dining table where we pour out our hearts to the One who is omnipotent.
As a former pastor who regularly preached, taught & counseled it’s difficult not being able to freely communicate with people here. It’s been exactly 4 weeks since we started our language school, and at this point, we are now able to say some essentials to people at stores, post office & market. Listening & understanding is somewhat getting better too as we could recognize words here & there. Our language coordinator, who reviewed our progress last week, assured us that after 6 months, we should be able to carry out a decent conversation in Mandarin. We can’t wait, but to get there, we must PERSEVERE in our language study every day. Being back in school in your upper 40’s isn’t exactly what I had in mind since I feel like I don’t have a lot of time, but that’s what is needed if we want to touch the heart of the people. So we find ourselves in a classroom half way around the world.
One area that continues to encourage us is INTERACTING with people, though at this point, our conversation does not go deep. Still many people in our building & nearby businesses know who we are. One person in particular is a fruit vendor in our neighborhood. Though we can find cheaper prices and more variety elsewhere, we go there hoping to build a relationship that will lead to something genuine, meaningful & life changing. It’s nice that we can now say more than just “ni hao (hello)” & “zai jian (goodbye).”
We believe that Christianity comes down to RELATIONSHIPS, and to that end, we often find ourselves in ordinary places… in small local eateries, afternoon markets & businesses. And it is being at these down to earth places that fuels our love for the people here.
We have a missionary friend in the Philippines who has a vibrant ministry in the slum area. He shared that when he started, he simply went to the same street corner every day for 6 months until he was able to earn the trust of people. It took William Carey, a pioneer missionary to India, 7 years of perseverance to have his 1st convert. We hope it doesn’t take that long, but we’re realizing more and more that what will define & bring success to our missions are unspoken periods in desperate prayers, persevering in faith & loving people away from the spotlights.
Doing what God is calling us to do away from the spotlight has a purifying effect on our hearts. I will talk about it in our next blog.
Missions is far from being glorious. In fact, it has a way of crumbling our pride, will & plans. But the amazing reward of being in missions is that we get to walk in the Spirit & truth because we have no choice.
We hope the thoughts we shared this week are helpful in better understanding missions.