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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Seed and Water

by Judi Chow

I like to play games. I like to use games in training missionaries. Word association is a game I often use for experiential learning to bring about self-awareness. You start with a list of words and write out the first word that comes to mind associating it. The following is an example of what some missionaries came up with:

God – love, Jesus – cross, Missionary – obedience, Single – lonely,  Culture – language, Home – belong, Ministry – evangelism, Joy – baby, Peace – dove, Sin – murder, Rainbow – Noah, Peter – rock

From a list of associating words, you can find out something about a person’s thinking, past experiences, and value system. Association can be straightforward or creative; it reflects one’s worldview.

Recently, I associated “seed” with “water” from looking at the tiny seeds in a plastic container I got after a Sunday sermon. It was given to us as a reminder that if we have faith as a mustard seed, we could move mountains. Many months past by, all the seeds remain intact on the corner of my desk. As I was looking at it, this verse came to mind, “…unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24) Somehow in my mind’s eye, I see these tiny seeds as missionaries… willing to die, to give up ones’ lives in exchange for an opportunity to win the lost. To bear fruit for the Lord!

Well, a seed remains as a seed until it… no, not only dies, but it needs soil, sunshine, and water before it can sprout and bear fruit. When I see those tiny seeds as missionaries and associating it with water, you might be curious and ask: what or whom does water represent? Some said, water– definitely refers to the living water, God himself! That’s whom missionaries needed in order to bear fruit! Well, there is no right or wrong answer to association, but another verse came to mind, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42) What if I see water as people God has called to encourage and care for missionaries? Imagine it hasn’t rained for months, the soil is dry, even though the sun is still shining the plant will eventually wither due to lack of water.

“…unless a cup of water pours into the soil and empties, it remains in the cup; but if it empties, the seeds will sprout and bear much fruit.” Both water and seed require sacrificial giving up of self in order to fulfill one’s destiny. It is not possible to give without love from the Lord and for others. Water cannot be a seed, but seeds need water! God created both for a purpose, which one do you think you are?

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’s Lifelines

by Judi Chow

Have you seen the TV show called “Who wants to be a millionaire”? I enjoyed watching it if it happened to be on when I was flipping the channels. I found myself so involved in the game, I would compete with the person sitting in the hot-seat . I was right, he should have picked “B” instead of “D”! Everybody knows the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France and not Switzerland! If he had used his lifelines … A few years ago, this game show, airing every night in HK, catered to the Chinese population. I couldn’t compete with the contestants since I didn’t know most of the answers. One thing remained the same, the lifelines. When the contestants stumbled and needed help, they could call a friend, ask the audience, and/or choose the 50-50 which eliminated half of the possible answers. Using the lifelines appropriately could help the person advance into another level, one step closer to becoming a millionaire.

I like the idea of having lifelines, an opportunity to ask for help when in need. What about missionaries? Can missionaries have lifelines? When they are in the field and stumble onto a problem or situation beyond their knowledge or ability to handle, whom can they call? Whom can they ask? Where can they seek help? Some people might object to the term “lifelines.” Aren’t our lives in the hands of God? Isn’t God the only help and resource we ever need? Why depend on people’s help? Prayer is the only “lifeline” one ever needs! Yes, these are truths, like pieces to a jig-saw puzzle, but not representing the whole picture. God intended the missionary to work on a team and I am not referring only to other missionaries or local coworkers serving on the same field.

Paul didn’t go on the missionary journey by himself, he was sent along with Barnabas by the church of Antioch, and they took John-Mark with them. If you are part of the sending church or missions agency behind the missionary, consider yourselves part of the team. If you’ve promised to support the missionary financially and/or by prayers, you are also part of that same team. If you are the missionary’s pastor or mentor, yes, you are a very important member of this team. If you are the missionary’s disciples, you are most special because who is going to receive the baton from the missionary? Let me suggest three possible lifelines for missionaries:

1. Enlist yourself to be on the list of “friends” for the missionary to call upon when in need.

2. Plan a trip to visit your missionary, consider it a vacation with a special purpose.

3. Send an email, a note, or card to let the missionary know you’ve prayed for him/her.

As a missionary myself, I know we can go on much farther on this spiritual journey if we have some lifelines to use when in need. Yes, we need to keep a very close vertical connection with our Master, but that horizontal connection with team members is also important. Please remember there is a big difference between team players and the audiences in any sports. If God has called you to be a member of this missionary team, please don’t sit with the audience. Come down to the field and play your part!

The Fall of God’s Servant

by Judi Chow

Few years ago, a story of a pastor appeared in the front pages of several Hong Kong newspapers. The headline was so big it caught my attention across the restaurant. It was about a forty-one-year old married, ordained pastor who sexually and physically assaulted a twenty-three-year old girl who goes to his church. The victim has the mental ability of a seven-year-old child. The accused admitted this “affair” has been going on for more than a year! How could this be? Isn’t a pastor supposed to protect and feed his lambs? How can a man of integrity and honor sin in such disgrace and horror? It brought shame to the whole Christian community, particularly among the ministers.

I was alarmed by a comment that appeared in the newspaper: “Pastors are also human,” which means they are prone to sin just like anyone else. That is what I have been saying about missionaries, but it is not an excuse for anyone’s sinful acts. Is it possible for a servant of the Lord to willfully sin so outrageously? I remembered an old folk warning that if you throw a frog in boiling water he will quickly jump out. But if you put a frog in a pan of cold water and raise the temperature ever so slowly, the gradual warming will make the frog doze happily… in fact, the frog will eventually cook to death, without ever waking up! Satan can lure people in with cozy feelings or a sense of temporal security. Before you know it, you’re rationalizing: I am not really hurting anyone else; the Lord understands and will forgive; it’s OK as long as no one knows; I can’t help it, the devil made me do it. Can’t you feel the heat gradually rising?

The only deterrent to sin is clinging to the Lord, pursuing His Holiness, and living in the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s easier said than done and requires strict discipline. I see one of the dangerous pitfalls for Chinese Christian leaders is that they are only accountable to the Lord. I remember one fallen pastor who once said; I felt so close to the Lord that He will not let me sin! He trusted his feelings and forgot God gave us free will. He was caught with another woman in his congregation. How I wish all servants of the Lord would develop some sort of accountability group or partners with the permission to ask pointed and harsh questions to keep him/her faithful and holy.

I believe God can and does forgive all sinners including the sins of fallen pastors and missionaries. Any punishment should be for the purpose of restoration, but there is consequence to sin. Adam and Eve experienced immediate separation from the Lord after eating the forbidden fruit, yet the Lord made garments to clothe them. This act of love and care was bestowed upon them not because of what they did but because of who HE is! The consequence of that headline pastor’s crime was 21 months imprisonment. I do pray his remorse was genuine and when he has served his sentence, he can experience the true forgiveness of the Lord as well as of men.

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.