Ask a Missionary, part one
PK, missionary in Asia
We’re starting a new series on the CGO Blog – we call it, “Ask a Missionary.” We’ve polled our student body, asking what questions they’ve always wanted to ask a missionary. We then sent those questions on to some missionary friends of ours. Our first one comes from a missionary to Asia. Enjoy!
1. How many countries have you been in?
We have only LIVED and served in two. We started a house church training school in the mountains outside of Manilla, Philippines. We then moved to Beijing. I did some of my training there in the city and also traveled to others towns to teach.
2. How did God lead you to where you are now?
God promises that if you run hard after Him and submit to Him, then He “WILL direct your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6). It is really that simple. We have seen His hand directly every time in an unmistakable way. The “keeping us from going” was done through medical complications with our oldest that kept us in the states for 15 years. Our involvement in the house church training fell in our laps as I was asked to do one block class that showed me a ministry that fit me well and had great need. Our move from training Chinese pastors in the Philippines to going into China was a series of events and relationships that showed us we would be more help to the church IN country than out. But in every case, we were content in Christ and His will and He made it clear that we had a change. Each time that clarity was brought in a unique and unforeseen way. He is faithful to lead if you are faithful to chase after Him with all your heart.
3. What are the most common ways that you have met the people who have been saved and disciple through your ministry?
Dealing with the house church means that you meet and minister in a more unique way. God really opened doors for us through the training I did of house church pastors who were brought to our school in the Philippines. As we lived with those men for six months at a time, we developed very close friendships. God used these relationships to open far more doors than we could ever go through once we arrived in country. It was exciting to see the sovereign hand of God open doors that we had no idea we would need or in ways we would never think of.
4. What’s your advice for raising a family on the mission field?
A lot would probably depend on where you are. Ultimately the key to raising a family ANYWHERE is to genuinely be like Christ in the home. Love the kids. Love your spouse. Love the Lord. Love the church. Love the Word. LIVE IT. That is the key to any family. The practical issues will fall into place depending on where you are - wise friendships, good church, family outings, etc.
5. What was your biggest challenge on the mission field?
For us it was the isolation and the constant pressure to keep on guard with what we said. It was like leading a double life. You had to evaluate EVERY person you talked to and keep your two different stories straight. To the unbelievers, I was Dr. ______, the professor in the Ph.D. department of THE Communist party university of China (anyone who knows me rolls their eyes at that thought). To believers, I was “teacher Li” or “brother Li.” So from the time you wake up till the time you go to bed, you are in constant filter mode. Everything I say can be listened to. Everything I do can be watched. Every time I go to train we could be caught by the police. Every knock on the door could be a problem. It is a hard way to live, but you just have to keep mentally alert and spiritually resting in God’s sovereignty.
A Small Part of a Big Work
Karina Lehner, Junior Cross-Cultural Service major
Sometimes I wonder how God could possibly use me and why He would choose to.
I am so weak. I am not an eloquent speaker. I do not have a large ministry…
How could I be used by Him?
This summer I was reminded that God can use faithful followers who are willing to embrace the ministry He has given them, however big or small it is. He uses the words and actions of imperfect people who have the desire to share His Gospel.
I was reminded of these truths this summer as I stepped into another culture – a culture within the United States that I have never experienced before. The people in this culture live in a small community, dress alike, are often wary of outsiders, and are part of a cult.
It is a community of Mormons belonging to The Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the FLDS). These fundamental Mormons are both isolationists and polygamists. They are devoted to a man named Warren Jeffs, whom they believe to be their prophet and whom they unquestioningly obey.
Colorado City, Arizona is one of the places this group has chosen to settle and is where I had the opportunity to go to this summer with a number of teens and adults from my home church. This town of 4,800 people consists of FLDS Mormons, many people who have left the FLDS church or have been kicked out, and a handful of Christians who are living there to reach these two groups. The couple that our team went to help, Brody and Liz, are some of these people. They were the first Christian couple to move into this community in Colorado City.
During the ten days we were there, God provided so many ministry opportunities.
One was to help people practically. Our team did many manual labor projects for locals, especially people who are no longer in the FLDS. Our goal in this was to demonstrate Christ’s love and also to show that the believers in Colorado City truly care about the people in the community. Things like this help Brody and Liz build relationships with people and continue to break down walls for more effective ministry in the future.
On Sundays we were a part of the Bible study held in Brody and Liz’s home. This small gathering of brothers and sisters is the church in Colorado City. And it’s a beautiful thing. It was a good reminder that the body of Christ is so much bigger than the local church back home. You who are reading this right now – you have brothers and sisters in Colorado City. I’ve met them. And one day you will too.
Our main outreach was through events for kids that we held at a local park. The evening consisted of free corndogs, water games, and a Bible lesson. The pastor on our team challenged us to have the goal of constantly looking for ways to start conversations with people and lead the conversation towards spiritual things. This is something I want to do all the time, not just on a mission trip. I need to be actively pursuing people with the desire to share truth with them. These few hours in the park provided some of the best times on the trip to share the Gospel with people.
One of these conversations was one of the heaviest I’ve ever had. The girl was 16 years old, her family left the FLDS a number of years ago, and because she has been lied to by the FLDS church her whole life she doesn’t know what to believe. In our conversation I could see that she has been searching for answers and trying to find meaning in things that don’t satisfy. She admitted to me that there was an emptiness inside of her that wasn’t being filled by anything she was desperately trying to shove there.
And she knows. She knows it can only be filled by God but she is running from one more thing that she believes will let her down. My heart ached so much after that conversation.
Amazingly, I was also able to have a brief interaction with a girl about my age in the FLDS. A few years ago, she never would have talked to me, someone not in the FLDS.
This girl who has grown up in a cult is a real person. She is someone with a name, and a sense of humor, and a soul. She is someone who, at this moment, is in her polygamist home with her 30 siblings waiting for the day when she can get married and bear children. Then the life she feels is empty can finally have purpose. This is what she has been taught.
Another conversation…and once again my heart ached.
When we talk about a people group or a country or a cult, we need to remember that they are individuals – real people who desperately need Christ. I think when we talk about reaching people with the Gospel we can, without realizing it, picture a number and not lives. Like talking about the FLDS and not thinking about their stories.
Though there were many times of heaviness, throughout the whole trip my heart was also filled with so much joy.
God is working. He is working in Colorado City, and He is working through the humble ministries of people like Brody and Liz who are simply living passionately for God and for the advance of the Gospel in the location God has led them to.
Real life, everyday ministry is not supposed to be glamorous, and it doesn’t always have the results we hope for. But God calls us to be faithful – embracing where He has placed us and actively pursuing the people He has placed around us.
Reach Every Street
Robert Horn, senior history major
My name is Robert Horn. I am a senior History major. God gave me the opportunity to serve as an intern at a church-plant named Bay Cities Fellowship in Oldsmar, Florida.
My internship was unique because it was with a church-plant, and the church had only met five times before I came. I did everything from printing the bulletins to developing their web/social media presence to leading their worship. Although the church is new, God has really blessed Bay Cities in multiple ways. He provided an incredible space for meeting, financial support from several churches, and an awesome group of believers to be the core body for this new church.
First, I want to share with you some of the cool experiences I got to be a part of this summer.
As I mentioned earlier, I got to be a part of the worship team and even lead worship for a few Sundays. I am not musically gifted, but this was so good for me because it forced me out of my comfort zone. I also had the opportunity to develop Bay Cities’ brand throughout the community. This included developing their website, their social media, contracting with a bill-board company, etc.
While these experiences were great for their practicality in my future ministry, my favorite experiences were with the people. I met so many people in Florida, both from the church and in the community. I want to share two stories of people I got to meet during my time in Florida.
The first story I want to share is when I met Jeff. I met Jeff at the driving range. We connected over the game of golf and were able to talk for about 30 minutes. Jeff shared with me that he was new to Florida and that he was looking for a friend to play golf with. Jeff and I stayed in contact. I was able to set up a time to play golf with Jeff and two guys from Bay Cities, so that Jeff could make some permanent connections with the church. I didn’t get the opportunity to share the Gospel with Jeff, but I did invite him to church and connect him with people at Bay Cities. I am still in contact with Jeff and am praying that he would attend Bay Cities and eventually get saved!
The second story I want to share is about a guy named Ben. Ben is my age, and is in school year-round for radiography at the local community college. I got to meet Ben through my roommate. We immediately connected with similar personalities. Ben and I started meeting together every Thursday during his lunch break at the hospital. What stood out to me about Ben was his love for people and for the Gospel. He is passionate about studying God’s Word, and his desire to share the Gospel where he is at is incredible. Ben is planning to start a Bible study in his radiography program at school this school year. My prayer is that Ben would have the opportunity to see the Gospel’s power at his community college.
I learned so much from my internship this summer and was able to see God use me and work in me in so many ways. Here are my 3 biggest takeaways:
God is doing some incredible things all around world through His church.
For those of you who are on the fence about giving a summer up to do ministry, let me plead with you that it is worth it. It will be hard, it will stretch you, it will cost you (whether monetarily or relationally or in some other way), but spending your life to serve Jesus is worth it. You may not see the results and rewards of serving Jesus immediately or materially, but it will count for eternity, and that’s what will truly last!
Serving Jesus is worth it!
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.