If You are a Missionary…

by Judi Chow

A few years ago, we tried to launch a program called IOU40@wecare. It was an attempt for missionary candidates to spend 40 hours of intensive preparation as to follow Jesus’ example of 40 days of fasting and prayer before His public ministry. Satan came at the end of that 40 days when Jesus was hungry, tired, and vulnerable; the temptation posted as a challenge- “If you are the Son of God,” prove it by turning these stones into bread and by throwing yourself down from the temple top. In the midst of His physical weaknesses, Jesus answered with spiritual strength- “It is written” everytime. (Matthew 4:1-11)

I don’t remember ever hearing a voice challenging me- if you are a missionary, you should devote yourself totally in caring for the poor, praying for the sick, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, preaching the Gospel, planting the church, counseling the downcast, casting out demons, making disciples, training leaders, etc., etc. These are real needs which can be very demanding for any missionary, but when does being responsible became a dangerous temptation? When we forgot it is written, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

Missionaries usually don’t have to prove ourselves, right? We are sent to do these things. We are expected to be faithful and fruitful. We are to be servants and leaders. We do all these because we love the Lord, the lost, and… well maybe not ourselves! We get on that treadmill call ministry, start running and running until we are exhausted but not able to get off. I have known missionaries who worked so hard on the field, they had to be carried home on a stretcher. When did we forget it is written, “Be still and know that I am God?” (Psalm 46:10) The second half to this verse is, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Maybe one of the best kept secrets buried deep in a missionary’s heart is the fear of not being use by the Lord. Satan knows our weakest link and that’s where he will lure us with his temptation. Someone said money, sex, and power are the greatest temptations. As we read from the news, many of God’s servants have fallen prey in the midst of their seemingly successful ministries. Not sure when their focus had shifted, rationalization began and the end justified the means. It is okay, it is for the sake of the Gospel! Somewhere along the way, it is forgotten, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

Jesus overcame Satan’s temptation by reciting God’s words from His heart. These words are not factual knowledge only, Jesus knew pleasing and honoring the Father is more important than working and reaping for the Father. Next time when you hear, If you are a missionary, don’t justify, just follow Jesus in His steps.

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Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

by Judi Chow

When my mom failed to reach my brother at his home or cell phone, she would call and ask me where my brother was. I usually would tell her he was probably out of town but inside I would say, how should I know… am I my brother’s keeper? Without realizing it, I quoted Cain’s answer when the Lord asked, “Where is your brother?” from Genesis 4:9. I might not be as evil as Cain trying to shed his responsibility after killing Abel, but that carelessness mentality is the same. It is not that I don’t care for my brother’s well being; it is just that we live thousands of miles apart, he is a grown man, and I have my own life, ministry, and other responsibilities. This might sound like excuses, but they are genuine reasons for me not knowing my brother’s whereabouts.

Let’s change the scene – suppose a missions director came to the village where a team of missionaries has been working together for three years. Attending their weekly prayer meeting and enjoying the fellowship meal afterwards, the director suddenly realized Missionary A (the only single missionary among the team) wasn’t there and asked, “Where is Miss. A?” “Oh yes, she hasn’t joined us for a few weeks now, must be busy.” Actually Miss. A had an emotional outburst during the last prayer meeting she did attend complaining the missionary couple and family didn’t understand her. The team members didn’t know how to respond and assumed she wanted more privacy, so they left her alone. It is not that they don’t care; it is just that they felt they are called to share the Gospel among the local people there. The family has young kids to home-school and the couple is busy discipling new believers. Excuses? No, these are genuine situations.

I don’t believe any missionary would answer, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” when being asked what happened that caused their fellow missionary to be so distant or depressed. It is just that most missionaries are very focused on their calling to obey the Great Commission to share the Gospel that they might fail to see the Great Commandment to love one another, which includes their fellow missionary. When God asked Cain, “Where is your brother?” He was giving Cain another chance to repent and respond with his conscience. God wanted Cain to search deep in his heart and soul to find a love for his brother instead of the needless jealousy he felt. God probably doesn’t ask us to keep our eyes on our brothers every single minute of the day, but He does want us to love one another. That love can be seen in our daily interaction with our brothers or coworkers.

God is still asking questions today, I am just wondering what kind of questions will He ask me at the end of the day. What about you, what is He asking you? Can you discern His voice?

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

Mobility and Missions

by Judi Chow

While I was flipping the four available channels on my television set in Hong Kong for relaxation, a documentary on a mobile court in China caught my attention. I saw a team of three or four men carrying a wooden national emblem of China weighting 30-40 kg on their backs walking to a remote village to serve as judges among one of the minority groups in China. Upon arrival, they asked the villagers to bring three wooden tables and chairs and set them up in the open courtyard. They hung up a plastic banner with “The People’s Republic of China’s Official Court” written on it; the three men’s names were written on separate papers placed properly in front of them on the tables. Thus this mobile court began its session. They were there to settle a divorce case and invited the whole village to witness this open court as a means to increase their understanding of China’s legal system.

I have seen mobile libraries, mobile medical clinics, and a missionary had a mobile theater running evangelical films. I know there are mobile training centers in China. What about mobile churches? I’ve known itinerary / mobile missionaries who travel from village to village, town to town, and country to country. Many years ago, CCM had a service team traveling to different cities in the States. In Africa, there is the Mobile Member Care Team serving missionaries facing crisis. Mobility and missions indeed are meeting different needs around the globe.

There is nothing new under the sun. The fact of the matter about mobility is … it takes energy (physical, spiritual, and emotional) to run around. Those of us who are in missions and mobile are getting up in age. As we are facing the missional needs of this twenty-first century, I ask- where have all the young missionaries gone? Long time passing… Where have all the young missionaries gone? Long time ago… gone to market places everyone… when will they ever learn? When will they ever learn… that youthfulness will not last forever? When will they ever learn… that missions opportunities will not wait?

Recently, I ran into a mobile missionary/ pastor in his eighties traveling with two younger partners as a team. What a beautiful picture! If you are an older, more-experienced missionary- won’t you invite a younger person or two to accompany you? If you are a young person who is looking to see if missions is for you- ask to see if you can go to assist and learn alongside a seasoned servant of the Lord. I know, I know, you can think of hundreds of excuses banning this idea- too costly, too unpractical, too unconventional, and too inconvenient. Well, let’s ask our Lord, shall we?