All I can think about is the ever-present faithfulness and goodness of God.
As a two-year associate, the first six months were spent studying Mandarin and trying to befriend locals (I now only have six months left in Taiwan!). I am naturally a shy person, and so putting myself out there by going to language exchanges and signing up for hiking events was a scary thing, especially with no Chinese! I remember putting my hand over my heart, feeling the intensity of each pump as I contemplated going home. Yet, God gave me the courage and determination to follow through.
As I made friends and interacted with more locals, I was reminded of the importance of letting the local people into my life and letting them help me. An article on “Desiring God” that I read four years ago about missionaries needing to need the people that they serve has kept coming back to me. I don’t think I truly grasped the significance of it until I became a missionary.
As a relatively young, single man with no language skills, once people learned that I was a foreigner, I was immediately offered help. It ranged from simple things, like helping with menus and giving me rides, to complicated situations.
I will never forget being called to the police station in Guguan, receiving a court order by the prosecutor’s office, and making my way to Taichung court for accidentally doing wrong while trying to be nice. Was I trying too hard to serve? Maybe. Two locals (and OMF Missionary Lucy Eastwood) helped me through this; they told me they would support me through the end. One of them fought hard for me; even lowering himself for me, pleading to the other party amidst his anger. [Editors note: In case you were wondering Kyong loaded a friend’s suitcase into a car – only to find when they got home that it wasn’t his friends suitcase and he had “stolen” a strangers luggage instead. The angry stranger had reported the stolen suitcase to the police!]
It felt weird. I felt like a failure as questions bombarded me about my role as a missionary, as a servant that was supposed to be the one serving. I came to serve and to spread the gospel, yet here I was with the opposite happening. How am I spreading the gospel, the love of God like this?
But through this, my relationship with them flourished. We started language exchanges throughout my last month in Taichung. I was invited more to certain hikes and trips. They listened and asked questions more to what I had to say in terms of my faith. I became more than just a “converter” from America. As I needed them, I became loved.
Coming from a western missionary culture, the mentality was being sent out to help the people, and in that mindset, the idea of being served by the local people was lost. It was all about the missionary being the one to give, serve, lead, love, and sacrifice. It’s prideful. The people you serve have to become an integral part of your own life; they cannot just be your target group.
To love your neighbor as yourself means to let them invade your life, to make room for them to serve you. To be a part of the community, to be incarnational, for love to flourish, I need to need the people I serve. A loving relationship goes both ways, giving rise to a genuine, intimate relationship, and through it, the ability to invite them into a Godly community increases. This gave me an unparalleled access into sharing more about Jesus Christ. As a shy (and somewhat emotionally closed-off) person, it is not easy letting people into my life, but in my weakness, the love of the Lord shines. In my state of helplessness, God is ultimately glorified.
– Kyong Yu, Ministry Associate
(Chiayi University Ministry, Central Taiwan)