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Missions are a two-way street

We are called to share the Gospel and as we do so, we might discover that the Gospel makes a difference in our hearts, too. The one thing I often hear after every missions trip is some variation of the expression, “I expected to help the people but was blessed instead”. By accepting the call to serve, you are leaving a familiar culture for a different one, following the example of Jesus, who left heaven for the dark world of sinners.

Anyone who has served as a missionary – either inside or outside their home country – will tell you that missions are a two-way street. You give to others but you also receive. Missionaries go to share the gospel and discover they are learning more of it themselves.

Whether we are missionaries or mission trippers, we want to do what Jesus did when people came to Him. He met their soul needs. Even though He didn’t always give them what they thought they needed, He gave them what they truly needed. He showed them that He was there for them, that He really cared, and then He gave them more than they understood at the time: salvation, the blessed hope of eternal life. He genuinely loved them, and that should be our mission too. To model ourselves after Jesus, the Giver – someone who really cares and loves.

One of our missions partners, Preacher Somsart, serves the Hmong people in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar. God gave Somsart the heart to serve them with wisdom and love, even though he didn’t have financial support. He testified that he was blessed with love, grace and mercy, which is sufficient for him and his family. God always took care of them and blessed him with faith to continue in the ministry.

Another of our missions partners, Pastor Samson, serves in Faith Evangelical Church, Myanmar. What makes Pastor Samson travel for seven days just to minister? Faced with persecution and difficulties, God granted him faith and strength to overcome challenges. Together with the church, he was blessed with an increase in church membership, shelter for the orphans and widows, and the birth of a kindergarten ministry within the church grounds.

Rebecca Li, a veteran missions tripper among us, shares:

“It sometimes feels as though we attend mission trips with the mindset that we need to be ‘the most’: the most knowledgeable, the most experienced, the most prepared. In other words, we feel we need to be the most we can be before going out to the world. But I realised that missions is also God’s way of training us to ‘be more’ — more like Christ. It’s hard under stressful or tiring situations to remain cheerful and patient, or gentle with our words and our actions. It’s hard to give when we don’t seem to have much or react to opposition with forgiveness and love. Through missions, God works in His people to make them more like Christ. At the same time, missions give us the opportunity to show God as ‘the most’ — the most loving, the most holy being who is worthy of worship, of praise and to receive our entire lives. Only and if we manage to do both — to be more like Christ and to show and present God as the greatest, will our testimony be believable.”

Lilian Tan, an ex-missionary, shares:

“I went to one of our ASEAN countries as a tent maker. The local population did not look much different from me. And I discovered that they were a very cohesive, close-knit society. Everyone was a brother, sister, uncle, or aunty. And that is the way they would address you. One of the things that I appreciated very much was their helpfulness. I was learning their language and I tried always to communicate in it, but often my pronunciation was wrong. They would indirectly help and correct me by repeating what I said. I caught on that they were teaching me to pronounce words correctly. Another time, I was taking the local transport, a pick-up truck with benches on both sides. When the driver stopped for me to board, I saw that the seats were all occupied. So, I did not board. But a kind old lady indicated that I could sit on her lap. I shook my head as she looked so frail. Then, everyone on that bench moved closer to one another to give me a space to sit. The street where I lived was like a kampung. People would sit at their front doors talking to one another. Everyone helped to keep their street clean by sweeping the area in front of their home. Road sweepers are rare; they are found only on main roads and at city centres. I liked living there as I was like one of the family. They taught me how to live as a member of the community.”

Missions opportunities for all?

Whether you are called into the mission field or an ad-hoc missions tripper just being with people each day, I am sure there are many opportunities. Jesus set the example in His own ministry – it may be meeting spiritual or physical needs. Caring, service and healing were modelled in Jesus’ day-to-day ministry. He addressed the problem of guilt and shame. He touched the untouchables, fed the hungry and met people just where they were, telling them the love of the Father, the blessed hope, and to repent and sin no more.

The harvest is plentiful, the workers few. You can be the difference serving just where you are, in Singapore. There are many foreigners among us — the domestic helpers, the cleaners, the security guards, the hawkers, the mothers who accompany their children while they study, the office workers, the transport workers, the construction workers, the shopkeepers, the nurses, the doctors, your colleagues, even your boss.

Ask God daily for at least one opportunity to be His heart and hands. He never disappoints us! Let’s glorify Him through the proclamation of his Son in the power of the Spirit, and be blessed in return.

- Deaconess Tang Lai Kin

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