“Mom, Dad, can we please go back home now?”
Don’t tell me you’ve never said that before. As a child we’ve all been there and done that. Dad’s workplace, shopping with mom, a dental clinic...you name it.
The only problem I had was that home was quite far away... or rather, whether I liked it or not, home wasn’t really “home” anymore.
When my family moved to Laos, I absolutely hated the place. Sure, you can’t ever make a seven-year-old happy, but I begged my parents every day, “Can we please go back home now?”
I missed home. I missed my friends. I missed food. What’s the point of living in Laos, where everything’s covered with dust and people don’t speak Korean at all?
But my perspective changed when I visited Korea after living in Laos for four years. When I heard from my parents that I get to go back to Korea during summer, I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep for a whole week.
The plane landed and I was back “home.” But… was I really home? Everything was so foreign. Same country, same people, same food – but just different. I spent 45 days in Korea and came back to Laos. I felt much more at home, but still different.
Have you ever heard of the Aesop’s fable called, The Birds, the Beasts, and the Bat? The story goes like this: there was a war between the birds and the beasts, but the bat didn’t know which side to join. When the birds were winning, he said, “I have wings, so I’m a bird like you!” When the beasts were winning, he said, “I have fur and teeth, so I’m a beast like you!” When the war was over, the bat was driven out of both groups because of his act.
Obviously what the bat did was wrong, but let’s try to look at it in a different angle. What if the bat honestly didn’t know what he was? Maybe he just wanted to find a group that he could relate to. Maybe he just wanted a place to call “home.”
People often ask me, “Where’s home for you?”
My answer is, “Uh...that’s a great question.” I don’t really have a place I could call “home” without a second thought.
I had days of identity crisis. I was swamped by the fact that I didn’t know where I belonged. Sometimes I blamed it on my parents.
I didn’t choose to be an MK. They chose to be missionaries. “Why, God? Why am I going through this? I just want to belong somewhere. I just want to live with people who are like me.” I was a hopeless “bat” which couldn’t be fully bird or fully beast.
I slowly got tired of asking the question as I got more used to my life in Laos, but it all came back when God brought me to the States.
Initially I tried to hang out with the Koreans, but it was pretty clear that I’m not one of them. Then I started hanging out with other international students – but still some barriers.
After them, I tried my beloved American friends. My freshman year, my roommates’ one and only goal (perhaps more than their GPA) was to “Americanize” me. Well, apparently they failed, since I don’t really feel at home in America yet.
When I began to seriously pray about it as I searched for an answer, God showed me some truths from His Word.
Because God made the word “home” a little bit vague for me in this world, I long for my heavenly home more. I have God, the Church, and Heaven. With those, I’m quite content. God taught me many valuable lessons (and He still is!) by making me a “bat.”
There are many different kinds of people in this world—different cultures and even some who are “third-culture-kids” like me.
But I don’t care what culture you are from. Are you my brother or sister in Christ? Let’s praise God together!
Ashlyn Hunt, Freshman Biblical Counseling Major
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Africa”? Let me take a guess: wild animals, jungle, heat? Poverty, malaria, death? The one word that comes to my mind is HOME. What is a foreign continent to so many is the place that holds my heart!
Twenty-six years ago, before I was even born, my parents felt God leading them to leave their home in America to be missionaries in Africa. God clearly called them to ministry, but my question was: did He call me? See, I wasn’t the one who chose to move across the ocean to serve God. From the moment I was born, Zambia was home—my normal. Yes, technically I was an MK (missionary kid), but that doesn’t make me a special, superhero Christian (simply ask my siblings J). I attended church every Sunday, did school during the week, and hung out with friends on the weekends. Life in Zambia was normal for me. So yes, clearly my parents were called; but was I, Ashlyn Hunt, called too?
From the time I can remember, my parents would purposely get us kids involved in ministry. After Sunday service, my Dad would say, "Okay, kids, time to do ministry. Go pick up all the song books.” Other times, we would help clean up after an event. This usually meant washing the never-ending piles of dishes. Many times we would have a grouchy attitude, but Dad would remind us that we were serving Jesus. Due to the nature of our ministry, Dad would often be away for several days or weeks. Upon arriving home, he would always remind us kids that by our allowing him to go away and preach, we too had had a part in the spreading of the Gospel. Whenever he would make this claim, I would sarcastically think, “Yeah, yeah.” I did not see how doing normal life was helping people get saved.
As I grew older, God began burdening me to get involved intentionally in our ministry. At that time, we were beginning a new church plant, and that provided the perfect platform for me to serve and grow in my faith. I had been teaching myself guitar for a while, and so I decided to help get a music team started. I was fourteen years old and knew nothing about music (I couldn’t even keep a tempo), but it was so much fun! A year later, my brother and I, who had only just learned the rudiments of sign language, were asked to help interpret a conference for the deaf. Then this past April, I had the amazing opportunity to help organize and run our church’s first youth camp, an experience that still stands out as the highlight of my year. But my involvement in ministry was not just limited to playing on a music team, interpreting conferences, or organizing our youth camp.
Somewhere in my mid-teen years, it clicked. What my parents had been engraving in us since we were little finally made sense: that ministry isn’t just doing “big” stuff for God. Rather, ministry is selflessly serving every day. It is seeing a need and serving to meet that need for the sake of the Gospel. That’s why picking up song books, washing dishes, and allowing Dad to travel was indeed a ministry. Sure, we weren’t preaching, but we were serving Jesus by serving others.
This concept radically changed my world! I began to see everything as an opportunity for ministry, even down to the very friends I made! I began purposely making friendships with girls in my youth group, not just to have friends myself, but rather to have the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with them. About two years ago, I began developing a friendship with this one girl and even got a chance to share the Gospel with her. Then, my family visited the United States last year for five months, and every day I prayed that she would believe in the Gospel and turn to Christ. Upon arriving home, I found out that she had indeed gotten saved while we were away. And a few weeks later, I had the privilege of watching her be baptized. We then began meeting every week for Bible study, and it has been amazing to see the power of God’s Word transform her life.
I want to boil everything that’s just been said down to two important points – something that I have come to learn and full-heartedly believe…
Life is for ministry, and ministry is life. You see, life and ministry are really one. So often we separate them, forming an inaccurate view of ministry. Usually, our mindset is life – Monday through Saturday – and ministry – Sunday morning singing in choir. Ministry is so much more than just serving at church (although that is extremely important).
Life, every-day life, is our call to ministry! And people, every-day people, are our mission field! God hasn’t called us all to minister overseas, but He has called us all serve right where we are.
So to answer my question, “Am I, an MK from Kitwe, Zambia, called to ministry too?” my answer would be YES! Just like every other Christian is called to minister right where they are. You do not have to have the skill, experience, and degrees in order to serve. God is looking at the heart, and He will use those who have a humble, selfless spirit. And believe me, serving Jesus by ministering to others is one of the most rewarding experiences in the world! Be great and serve. Because life is for ministry!
Tim Betancourt, Senior Bible Major
“I can’t wait for my ministry this summer! I am working at a camp, and I am incredibly excited!”
“I can’t wait for this summer, dude! I’m going on a summer mission team!”
“This summer I’m doing an internship at my church, and I’m going to be really involved in ministry there.”
You should definitely spend your summers working at a camp, going on a ministry team, or being involved in a church. As college students, we get so incredibly focused on our summers, and I completely understand why. Last summer I did a church internship, and the two summers before last summer I worked at a camp. I absolutely loved ministering at camp and in a local church. They were the absolute best ways that I could have spent my summers. I grew so much spiritually and developed very practical ministry skills.
Here at BJU, we are pushed to use our summers for ministry, and rightly so. We have a Global Opportunities week, and a week where we have camps from all over the United States come in and recruit from our student body. That is awesome. I love that we have a college where ministering during the summers is promoted. You should use your summers for ministry.
I think that this can create a problem in our minds as college students though.
“I can’t wait for the chance to minister this summer.” “Dude, it was so cool to see God use me this summer.”
I think if we’re not careful, we begin to see summer as the only time that we can be involved in ministry. We focus so much on what we’re doing this summer and how we’re going to minister then. We don’t stop to focus on how we are ministering right now.
Summer isn’t the only time that you can be involved in ministry. There are tons of opportunities for you to minister, and a place that you can minister at right now.
It’s called your local church.
You can be involved in ministry through your local church right now, and you should be.
“But I am a college student who’s taking 18 credits, working two jobs, and a society officer. You don’t know how busy I am.” You’re right, I don’t. I do know one thing though. Your life is not going to be easier once you graduate. You’re going to get a full-time job. You’re going to be married. You’re going to have kids to take care of, a house to maintain, and the list goes on.
If you can’t prioritize ministry right now in the midst of a busy semester, when will you? What you prioritize now, you’re going to prioritize later. If you make ministry a priority now, it will remain a priority in your life.
Going on a mission team and working at a camp are fantastic ministry opportunities. Some of you are going to be involved in missions for the rest of your life. Some of you are going to be working at camps for the rest of your life, and that is absolutely fantastic. Praise the Lord.
However, the majority of us won’t be. We will be church members though. Churches are full of ministry opportunities, whether those are official roles or unofficial roles. I truly hope that when we graduate, we all desire to join a local church and get involved in the ministry of the church. That would be awesome.
Do you know what’s cooler? You don’t have to wait till you graduate. Ministry is now. We all have the blessing of going to a local church on Sunday. Why aren’t you ministering in it and through it now? What are you waiting for?
Ministry is not just for the summer. My freshman year I found a church that I later joined as an associate member. I still attend that church now as a senior. Joining and getting involved in the ministry of that local church is one of the best things I have done in my college career. The lessons I have learned and ways I have seen God use that church in my life outweigh many of the lessons I have learned in the classroom.
Get involved now. Stop hopping around different churches. Find a church. Join the church if you can. Find a way to minister in that church – even the biggest of churches are in need of ministry help. Prioritize church ministry now.
Ministry isn’t something for you to look forward to this summer, it’s something that you should be doing right now.
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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.