Do You Want to Get Well?

by Judi Chow

I have never had the opportunity to step into the cancer ward of a hospital, but I know the ordeals of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Many missionaries have gone through these kinds of treatment, some recovered and some went “home” to be with the Lord. After several rounds of treatments, a friend decided enough is enough since all the treatments she went through didn’t work, hair lost is minor compared to the puffy-yellowish face with weakening strength and will each day. I don’t have to ask if she wants to get well; of course she does – leaving her husband and two teenagers behind is unbearable! I did ask if she will try other treatments; she told me it won’t make any difference since it is just a waste of time and money resulting in more torture and disappointment. My friend has lost faith in medical treatments; she wants to get well but she has no hope of getting well!

About two thousand years ago by the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, Jesus asked a man the same question: Do you want to get well? (John 5:1-9) Of course he did, day after day, year after year, lying there waiting – listening to the pain, smelling the sick, and watching people rushing into the pool – to get well. That’s why he replied to Jesus – how can I? No one helped me and I can’t help myself. (My interpretation) Maybe you don’t know what is it like to be a helpless invalid for 38 years, but you can imagine or even have experienced hopelessness. I assume this man wanted to get well but he had no hope of getting well!

A pastor who had three major brain surgeries has proclaimed health is not the most important thing in life. Maybe the surgeries affected the brain’s normal function? Don’t we all pray for health and wish for wealth? This pastor lives with a time-bomb in the brain and decreasing sensations in all four limbs and has proclaimed the most important thing in life is: HOPE! I didn’t ask if this pastor wants to get well, but by the continuing treatments, therapy, and exercise the answer is evidently yes. In this case, getting well is not as important as having hope. How true, as a counselor and missionary, I don’t have all the answers or solutions to people’s problems but I am there to instill hope.- hope not necessarily in the things we wanted or the health we seek but in a way out through Christ!

Jesus took away the question, the blame, and the doubt by commanding that man by the pool to get up, pick up his mat, and walk! Instant healing took place, restoration of strength on all four limbs happened before this man knew who did what. Out of so many people who wanted to get well, Jesus chose to heal that man and welcomed my friend “home” to be with Him. Why? Maybe He loves her more; maybe she has fulfilled her destiny. I can rationalize and justifiy but I am not in the position to question God’s decision. It’s a life-long learning of trusting and accepting His will is better than my will and His ways are higher than my ways.

When you feel stuck, no one seems to understand, no one is reachable to help, and no hope of getting well (physically or emotionally), please remember Jesus is only a prayer away. He can pull you out of that state of hopelessness!

Change and Exchange

by Judi Chow

Every few years or so missionaries go on furlough. May I remind you it means home assignment not vacation. On my furlough this time I heard some kind comments from old friends like “You look the same all these years, no change!” After observing my peers and talking with my sister about changes, we came to this conclusion- those who were smashingly handsome or stunningly beautiful in their prime seem to have changed the most in their appearance. Those of us who are average or not so good-looking seem to have kept a recognizable look after all the years- “no change.” Yes, our Creator is fair in this regard.

On a more serious note, I do believe to every change, there is an exchange no matter whether the change is external or internal, physical or emotional, intellectual or spiritual, plan or unplanned, welcomed or unwanted. No one can escape life changes, yet missionaries seem to endure more changes due to the nature of our life commitment. Usually people resist changes, yet missionaries have to embrace them. Beginning with a change of heart to our life’s direction, choosing the narrow path rather than the broad, to exchanging a sense of security for living by faith. Also, it’s pursuing holiness rather than worldliness, to leaving aging parents and soul-mates for strangers and lost souls, and exchanging praises from men for a “good and faithful servant” from the Lord.

The decision to make the change is only but a moment, yet the exchanges need to be made moment-by-moment. When the alien feeling finally subsides and ministry has taken root, it then seems to be time for another change. The cycle starts again, missionaries move on exchanging the familiar for yet another uncharted territory ahead. For some it could be stressful and overwhelming, yet for the servant of the Lord who heeds His call to walk this special path, it is full of adventures and blessings for He has promised to be with us until the end of the earth!

Some changes are inevitable and at times beyond our control, like the sudden news from the doctor’s office pronouncing there is cancer growing in your liver or a long distance phone call telling you your son was in a car accident… News like these can turn our world upside down. Yet especially in difficult times of unwanted changes, we must focus on the constancy of His unfailing love. As we live in this world of transience, can we choose to exchange the temporal for the eternal?

What changes are you facing and what are you exchanging at this point in life, my friend? As for me, in view of the consistency of change, I gladly exchange whatever for constantly holding onto His hand!

To Yoke or Not to Yoke – The Partnership Dilemma

by Judi Chow

In my more than 30 years of vocational service to the Lord, I have seen a lot of splits – in churches, in organizations, in teams on the mission field, and in Christian marriages. With each split, come the unavoidable pain and, at times, bitterness. Friends and colleagues suddenly became enemies and adversaries. I have yet to see a split that is done in a Godly manner. Some people even cite the Biblical example of Barnabas and Paul’s split in Acts 15, not necessary as a model to follow but as a permission to do so.

I am committed in team building as a preventive measure to do conflict resolution. I love to see people work together; therefore I have always been an advocate of partnership. In my thinking, two is always better than one! A few years back, the news from an email shocked me in disbelief, and then an overwhelming sadness hung over me. Two organizations I grew up with, ACMC [Advancing Churches in Missions Commitment] and Caleb Project joined partnership to form Initiative360 in July 1, 2006 then closed its doors on Feb 15, 2007. ACMC and Caleb Project which have thirty years of successful ministry separately serving churches and individuals in missions outreach did not survive more than seven months after the two became one!

A lot of people including David Mays, an ACMC associate, asked what went wrong? As a missionary facilitator, trainer, and counselor with such a passion for partnership, I ask what is God trying to teach me through this sad news? Two is not necessarily better than one? Good intentions and common goals are not enough to make the partnership successful? How much of it is human error and how much of it is satanic attack? I wonder… What if… I have many questions but few answers. I’ve also experienced a minor unsuccessful partnership endeavor awhile back and am still dealing with its ripple effect.

No, the seemingly unsuccessful partnership instances do not deter me from future attempts of forming new partnerships, but I will do so carefully, prayerfully, and slowly. Do not take anything for granted, both to men and to God communicate, communicate, and keep on communicating throughout the forming and establishing stages of the partnership process. To split is painful, to yoke is not necessary gain?!

Lord, hear my prayer!

by Judi Chow

Dear Lord,

Thank you for calling me to labor no matter on the field across the globe or at the office.
Thank you for Your promise to be with me always to the ends of the world.

Thank you for helping me to give up the familiar comfort and security in exchange for an opportunity to share and show Your love.
Thank you for giving me zealousness in proclaiming the Gospel.
Thank you also…  when I seem to be burning out and waiting for Your healing hand’s touch.

Lord, touch me, heal me, embrace me now.
Lord, please show Your mercy when I am suffering from discouragement and misunderstanding.

Enable me to experience Your love so I can love my “enemy” once again.
Empower me to forgive as You have forgiven me.
Enlighten me to see the situation from both sides.
Nourish me with Your Word and Work.
Remind me it is You Who is in control and not me.

Lord, speak to me; surround me with Your presence.
Lord, help me to use all my senses to communicate to the unreached the same way as with my family members and coworkers, so I may……
……listen patiently with my heart as well as my head,
……verbalize my expectations clearly and lovingly,
……express my respect and acceptance toward the other person,
……speak the truth in love and humility but with boldness,
……not compromise the message, but be flexible on the method of deliverance.

Lord, break me, mold me, refine me now.
Lord, help me to put You in the Center of my focus instead of the problem.

Elevate me to meditate on Your Word rather than men’s words.
Let me be satisfied by Your presence more than the work well done.
Allow me to die to self as I carry my cross to follow You each day.
Protect me from the evil one’s temptation.
Cleanse me from sinful and revengeful desires so I can continue to be Your servant.

Holy Lord, show me how to love myself so I can love others as I love You!

In Christ’s Name I pray,

Amen

A Prayer for Missionaries

by Judi Chow

Dear Lord,

Thank you for calling so many unknown missionaries laboring in remote villages as well as urban cities across the globe.
Thank you for Your promise to be always with them to the ends of the world.
Thank you for their willingness to give up the familiar comfort and security in exchange for an opportunity to share and show Your love to the lost.
Thank you for their zealousness in the proclamation of the Gospel.
Thank you also… for wounded soldiers awaiting Your healing hand’s touch.

Lord, touch them, heal them, embrace them now.
Lord, please show Your mercy to those who are suffering from discouragement and misunderstanding.

Enable them to experience Your love so they can love their “enemy” once again.
Empower them to forgive as You have forgiven them.
Enlighten them to see the situation from both sides.
Nourish them with Your Word and Work.
Remind them it is You Who is in control and not them.

Lord, speak to them, surround them with Your presence.
Lord, help them to use all their senses to communicate to the unreached the same way as with their family members and coworkers, so they may……
……Listen patiently with their heart as well as their head,
……Verbalize their expectations clearly and lovingly,
……Express their respect and acceptance of the other person,
……Speak the truth in love and humility but with boldness,
……Not to compromise the message, but be flexible on the method of deliverance.

Lord, break them, mold them, refine them now.
Lord, help them to put You in the Center of their focus instead of the problem.

Elevate them to meditate on Your Word rather than men’s words.
Let them be satisfied by Your presence more than the work well done.
Allow them to die to self as they carry their crosses to follow You each day.
Protect them from the evil one’s temptation.
Cleanse them from sinful and revengeful desires so they can continue to be Your servants.

Holy Lord, show them how to love themselves so they can love others as they love You!

In Christ’s Name,

Amen

Missionary, Moving, and Ministry

by Judi Chow

As a missionary, I often move from place to place which means I have to look for a “home” church no matter where and how long I settle in one place. It is one of those things most Christians might take for granted, especially those who grow up in church and find no reason to move. Moving a household can be stressful, but moving a spiritual home is devastating. Actually you are not moving anything except yourself, your emotional tie, and your spiritual support. Moving the unseen is much more difficult than moving the seen. 

We are born into a family, a home chosen for us by God. What about a spiritual home? Do we get to choose the church we call “home”? Most people I know choose a church based on certain criteria such as its location, size, denomination, or types of ministries that church offers. I know a guy who moved to another church because he couldn’t find any peers there. Most people seem to have a choice except maybe pastors and missionaries. Pastors and missionaries are called to a church to serve and those pioneers have to plant their own church with their hands, their feet, and their lives. We call this ministry.

Recently a friend asked me whether or not I am serving at my newly-adopted spiritual home. My immediate response was “No, since I am not ‘doing’ anything there except attending worship services.” My most “doing” for the last couple of months has been trying to get to know a few people among hundreds. That question got me thinking hard on the meaning of ministry. I browse church websites to see what type of ministries they have. One particular church has ministries galore, from children to campuses to careers to couples, from singles to single parents to seniors to the sexually abused, to name just a few. I can imagine the many different activities and programs cater around different target groups depending on the felt needs. I get tired just thinking about it, but I can also sense the energy and excitement of the people who find their sense of belonging in those ministry groups.

Ministry means, “to attend upon someone” in Greek; it is an act of service to the body of Christ for the glory of God. Someone said ministry is the outpouring of one’s life. Ministry should not be something you just do, but you do it with your heart because of who you are. It is more important how you do ministry than where or what you do in ministry. After a second thought, I answered my friend with a “yes” to ministering at my new “home” church. Doing what? I’ll tell you in person!

What Do You Want in a Missionary?

by Judi Chow 

I was greatly impacted by an article in EMQ (Evangelical Missions Quarterly) Vol. 40, No.3 titled “What I Want in a Missionary.” It was written by a pastor of a church in the States who supports missionaries and promotes missions. He described the result of their recent missions-emphasis week as follows, “When he [the missionary] was done, people were impressed—but not moved.” He then continued to give some very thoughtful ideas how to build disciples with a global vision. I am thankful for the honesty of this pastor’s sharing and his desire in wanting to partner with the missionaries so more God-fearing missionaries can grow from his church.

What this pastor said about the result of that missionary’s sharing touched a tender nerve in me, since I am a missionary and have to share during missions conferences in different churches also. I cannot help but ask myself- have I inadvertently tried to impress people with the results or events on the mission fields instead of allowing the Spirit to move in their hearts? I have heard of missionaries (long and short termers) who told of miraculous wonders in winning numerous people to Christ in an unbelievably short period of time. I have seen missionaries boast about the ministries they’ve built and how many orphans they’ve helped, and they are thankful to the Lord to make it happen, of course. Yes, very impressive indeed!

What moves people? It is not the numbers, not the budgets, not the buildings, not even how smart, how hardworking, or how poor the missionary is. But what does it have to do with me, the average, everyday Christian sitting in the pew listening? Do I want to be like that missionary? Can I be? Where is God in the whole picture? Is He the center of focus or on the sideline? If I ask you, what do you want in a missionary? Do you know what it would be? Some of the suggestions that pastor suggested are: hearts that break for the lost, devoted to serving others, and committed to the power of prayer. May the Lord help all of us missionaries, pastors, and everyday Christians, in reminding us who the One is sustaining our lives, who is in charge in every aspect of our being, and ultimately who is the only one who can make everlasting changes in people’s lives.