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.

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.

GOD SAID, If…

If you never felt pain, Then how would you know that I’m a Healer?

If you never went through difficulties, How would you know that I’m a Deliverer?

If you never had a trial, How could you call yourself an overcomer?

If you never felt sadness, How would you know that I’m a Comforter?

If you never made a mistake, How would you know that I’m forgiving?

If you knew all, How would you know that I will answer your questions?

If you never were in trouble, How would you know that I will come to your rescue?

If you never were broken, Then how would know that I can make you whole?

If you never had a problem, How would you know that I can solve them?

If you never had any suffering, Then how would you know what Jesus went through?

If you never went through the fire, then how would you become pure?

If I gave you all things, How would you appreciate them?

If I never corrected you, How would you know that I love you?

If you had all power, Then how would you learn to depend on me?

If your life was perfect, Then what would you need Me for?

– Author Unknown

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.