When Did I Become the Older Woman?

by Judi Chow

My sister told me her pastor asked her to consider mentoring some of the younger women at church since the Bible (Titus 2:4) teaches that older women should train up younger women. My sister’s immediate response was, “When did I become the older woman?” A few strands of gray hair might be her qualification! After the pastor’s somewhat comical and embarrassed laughter, my sister gave it serious thought. She decided to clean up the junk that is overflowing in her house. What’s that got to do with mentoring? Being a practical person, my sister felt a fairly tidy house is essential if she were to invite those younger women to her home for any kind of interaction. How true it is, if we are to be good models, the outside as well as the inside of our live has to be put in order.

Come to think of it, I have been looking without success for a mentor for myself as well as for other missionaries. Could it be that no one wants to admit being the older woman? Maybe the thought of being a mentor requires the level of dedication to which people are not ready to commit. The fact is, a lot of us talk about mentoring, but only a few are doing it. Maybe we are not sure how to go about doing it. The uncertainty usually scares people, because we are afraid of what we might get into.

Mentors actually can be friends, relatives, coworkers, or teachers. A mentor usually is a more mature person who acts as a role model, challenger, counselor, or guide. The mentor offers the younger person an opportunity to share his/her dreams, spiritual journey, and life situations including school, work, ministry, or interpersonal relationships. It can be a predetermined time frame, say a year, or as flexible as both parties feel comfortable and agreed upon. An older person with valuable life experience, wisdom, and insight is in a unique position to give the younger person advice, access, and advocacy. Mentoring can also be called life coaching.

If every missionary or minister has a mentor to seek counsel, to be accountable to, to share his/her joy as well as struggles with, I am sure we shall have a greater number of mighty servants of the Lord witnessing victoriously in every corner of the earth. The question is, am I willing to take the time, to get involved, to share my life experience, to be a role model for a younger person to follow? It is a tall order, but who said I have to do it alone, and who said an older woman is an old woman?

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.