I will never forget the summer I spent in Asia in 2016, as an OMF Serve Asia worker.
I first spent a month in Singapore working at KidZone, the children’s programme during Orientation Course, which new missionaries joining OMF attend. I spent my days looking after the cutest babies, the most wonderful group of young girls, dancing, eating new foods, making crafts and studying the book of Acts. It was a great privilege to be part of these girls’ journeys. We examined the origin of mission by studying Acts and the Great Commission, and discussing topical issues that new missionary kids face. It was amazing to see friendships form amongst all the kids.
In the evenings and weekends I had the opportunity to explore Singapore, visit man-made beaches (WHAT?!), shop along the famous Orchard Road, watch the SuperTree light show and of course find wonderfully hipster cafes. During the week, OMF missionaries living in Singapore opened their homes to us, and gave us all the chance to learn more about their work and the countries they serve.
The end of KidZone was bittersweet for me as I was leaving people who had become like family. But I was heading to Japan to visit the Ormes, an OMF family sent from my home church. It had been almost 6 months since I had last seen the Ormes – and so, hearing the little footsteps of Anna and Noah coming toward me was just brilliant! The Ormes live in Aomori, in North Japan, and serve in Tsugaru Church. During the week they run English classes in Kanagi, which finish with a short Bible study. This was a great way to bring locals into the church. It was evident that everyone who came to the classes was very interested to learn more about the Bible.
5 Lessons I Learned
1. God is good
Nehemiah 9:20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, and you gave them water for their thirst.
Before setting off for Singapore I had never travelled alone, never mind on a 16 hour trip to the other side of the world, evidently I was TERRIFIED. I was scared I would get lost in the airport, miss my connecting flight, lose my bags and most of all flying is one of my biggest fears (irrational fears). God is good, nothing went wrong, actually my journey couldn’t have gone smoother.
When I was travelling to Japan after my time in Singapore I was amazed by God. I was on my final train of the journey and was unsure where I should be getting off as the announcements were in Japanese. Anyone I asked for help could not speak English. Just as I was in a slight panic a young girl sat down beside me who spoke English AND was getting off at the same stop as me – AMAZING.
I learnt about God’s goodness through many other ways during my time in Asia, hearing stories from missionary families of how God has endlessly provided for them and the many people God has transformed through the work of these missionaries.
2. Praying aloud is not as scary as I thought
Before this experience, I had prayed aloud in a group five times at most in my life. It was something I had never liked doing, probably because I was scared of saying something silly or not knowing what to say. As we had a prayer and worship time every morning before KidZone, praying aloud became more familiar to me. I realised there was no need to worry about saying something stupid; I was talking to my God who knows the desires of my heart and what I am going to say even before I do.
3. Chicken with bones tastes AMAZING and raw fish is DELICIOUS
As a big foodie, I was very excited about trying real Asian food. I tried many delicious and new things while in Singapore and Japan – fresh sushi, (mega) spicy Indian dishes, fruit I had never seen back home, and of course, chicken rice’.
Now chicken rice was something I was told I had to try when I was in Singapore. I had thought, ‘How good can a plate of chicken and rice really be?’. Well – it is great! You can get chicken rice at any food court, and once you order you get to watch the whole cooked chicken being chopped and not a single bone is removed – even better!
I don’t know how they do it, but the flavour of this chicken is just something I will never forget. Tip: do not be afraid to try any food (the worst that can happen is that you throw up).
4. God’s mission is for all who believe in him.
The missionaries I met had previously held regular, ‘ordinary’ jobs such as teachers, policemen and doctors. However, what distinguished them was their deep conviction of the Gospel.
Many of these missionaries had not initially set out to be missionaries, but were compelled to leave their homes to tell the wonderful story of our God. I was struck by hearing these missionaries’ life stories, and finding out how God had been present in every single part of their lives.
5. You do not have to go to another country to testify to the Gospel.
We can be faithful to the Great Commission in our own countries – on our doorstep, at our jobs, in our schools and with our friends. We have the privilege of evangelism with our family and friends.
Our mission in life should be that of Paul’s mission – however I consider my life work nothing to me: my only aim is to finish to race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace (Acts 20:24).