When most people hear the word “missions” or “missionary” they immediately think “that’s not me”
Hi! My name is Shumin. I’m from the Pine Grove Discipleship Group (DG) and I went for a short term mission trip we took to the Philippines during Easter last year. I have been asked to share with you today about what God has taught and shown me through the trip and how he has changed me.
I know when most people hear the word “missions” or “missionary” they immediately think “that’s not me” or they imagine some super holy, sacrificial person; or when you see someone on stage on Sunday sharing about missions, you must be thinking “Wah, very ‘onz’ (serious) Christian.” I know, because I sometimes still think this way. And to tell the truth, I like to think that I’m an “onz” Christian but when I look back at the last few years of my life, God has shown me that is not the case and whenever people ask me why did I choose to go on the mission trip, the honest response that God forces me to reveal shows that is very much not the case.
So why did I first choose to go on a mission trip in Easter?
So, why did I first choose to go in Easter in 2014? The honest answer is because I was new to the DG and had no friends and I thought it would be a good way to make friends.
Then the second time I went was because my DG leader said “Shumin, go to the Philippines.” And I realized I had no good reason to say no. So I said yes, with a lot of apprehension. I was apprehensive because I remembered the preparations to be very time-consuming and as I was constantly feeling out of my comfort zone during the trip, I didn’t feel like I was a very good short term “missionary”.
The second trip felt different to the first. Not only was there A LOT more preparation to be done and A LOT more meetings, there was also a feeling of familiarity which was truthfully, nice. But with more familiarity also comes a better understanding of the ministry, the problems the youths face and the harsh reality of what it would mean if any of them were to accept Christ. One thing that struck me and weighed very heavily on me during the trip was that for many people, accepting and choosing to follow Jesus, means an earthly life far worse than if they had not accepted Jesus – for many, it means persecution, family rejection, being ousted by the community.
How much do I treasure Jesus, how much does following Jesus mean to me?
I remember the following Sunday when we came back to Singapore, Pastor Edmund was preaching and he said something along the lines of how his fear for Singapore is that things are so good for Christians here and that we somehow think this is what Christianity is like, when it’s not. And that when trials come, we will be shaken. This was an echo of what had struck me in the Philippines and it made me question myself – how much do I treasure Jesus, how much does following Jesus mean to me? Am I going to let small discomforts like tiring schedules and being out of my comfort zone prevent me from serving God? I remember praying to God to help me see more clearly what following Him means, for more faith and that when suffering comes, however He chooses, help me not to be shaken.
The second thing that God has really been showing me through the last two trips is serving the community. So remember how I said earlier, I like to think I’m an “onz” Christian but when I look back at my life I’m actually not? To give you some background, I’ve been at ARPC since 2011 when I came back from my overseas studies. And ever since starting work as a lawyer, I found attending DG and Sunday services every week, on top of working late almost every day, enough, and often used it as an excuse not to serve.
And God really rebuked me on that excuse! On my first trip, 3 out of 6 team members were lawyers. On the second trip, 4 out of 10 team members were lawyers. And on top of that, they also served as DG leaders, BASIC (youth) leaders and BSF leaders amongst other things. I was very humbled. Furthermore, so many of our DG members, without having even gone to the trip or met the missionaries, attended our meetings regularly to help plan the activities and pray. To be honest, the team was very busy leading up to the trip and without the love and help of our DG members, I do not think the Easter retreat would have been possible.
If I say that I am a follower of Jesus, do I not have to follow His commands, do I not have to love and serve his people?
Again, all this really pushed me to question myself – if I say that I am a follower of Jesus, do I not have to follow His commands, do I not have to love and serve his people? So why haven’t I done something as simple as serving the church?
So three months ago, I saw in the bulletin that ARPC Tuition Ministry was asking for Maths and English tuition teachers. And I told myself, “Ok no more excuses! This is something you can do. Just sign up and serve!” I promised myself that I would sign up the next day. And on Monday (the day that I was supposed to sign up), I remember I was standing at the traffic light waiting to cross the road to my office building to go to work. I was feeling very tired from having worked that weekend and I remember praying, “God, I’m so tired. Should I really sign up for Tuition Ministry? How do I do this job and serve you? HOW?.” And I was reminded of the exhortation in Hebrews 13:21 where it says “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will…” And I remember praying to God saying “Okay, I TRUST YOU. I trust that you will help me no matter what.”
And that very day, God had given me an interview for a job with better working hours that I had been praying many months for. And that very month, God had also very graciously given me that job. I was so touched and thankful. And I know that even if God had not opened this door for me and kept me in my current job, He would have still enabled me to serve Him.
You don’t even need to have a willing heart – God will change that.
What God has shown me in the last two trips and in the months after, is that you don’t have to wait until you’re ready, or until you enjoy something or are passionate about something, or feel like you have attained a certain status before you serve Him. You don’t even need to have a willing heart – God will change that. You just need to listen, trust and obey. I know I am still very flawed and very weak and I am still a work in progress, but I know that the story does not end here.