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26 July 2018

How Life’s Painful Experiences Prepare Us for God’s Work

I connected with Wendy in Sidney, Australia via Whatsapp video call and was immediately struck by the way she was absolutely brimming with energy and life. I knew the interview was going to be good. What I didn’t realize was how deeply her testimony would touch me, or that I’d finish the call teary eyed from God speaking directly to my heart. I hope you will be as blessed as I was by Wendy’s story. 

life's painful experiences

God always has a plan

Wendy was born in Taiwan, and later immigrated to Australia where she works as an accountant. She married and had 2 daughters, children that she is obviously proud of and who mean the world to her. But, Wendy has been widowed for 13 years. She didn’t realize it at the time, but the loss of her husband and the task of raising her children alone would be used by God in a very specific way. In fact, it prepared Wendy to not only identify with women in Taiwan who have faced similar struggles, but to be able to share their pain.

As I listened to Wendy share her story, she didn’t dwell on or dramatize what it must have been like to lose her husband. Instead, her words were laced with gratitude for a God who promises to never leave nor forsake us. She shared how Psalm 91 has been an encouragement to her over the years, and how God has continually reassured her He is with her and is watching over her.

Wendy advised me, “even when something is very hard, God always has a plan in sight”. MomentarilyI felt like she was my Mother telling me things were going to be ok. That mothering heart served her well on her 6-week placement in Taipei as she lived and worked with young mothers, who needed a mother to encourage and guide them.

God has a plan

Mission at any age

When asked what short-term mission was like for a woman considering retirement, she laughed a little. I expected to hear about the benefits of being a mature woman with many life experiences to support her. Instead, she talked about the difficulty of changing when we are older and how it is harder for us to be changed by God.

Wendy shared that, “for young kids, if they are willing to spend time on a mission trip, in their heart they can be touched by God. I really respect the young ones who are willing to give up their lives to go. If young people are going, they need to know it is really God leading them and not just what they want to do.”

Wendy also expressed her desire to go to her people and God’s ability to use her life. “For me, I really didn’t know what I had to give. Taiwan is my home country and I know many people worship idols. I thought if I could do something or even just talk to them… It is only in the everyday living that we are a testimony. To show who I am is what I had to give. If young people think in this way too, God will work. It’s not us. Just go! Just go! It’s not us. We just need to take Him with us and He does the work for us!”

Why did you return?

Wendy hadn’t expected to go back to Taipei, her birthplace, but she found that God had sent her specifically to Taipei to live with single Mom’s. “Even though I didn’t think I had very special experiences, God really used my experiences to share my story with others.”

As Wendy had left Taiwan in 1988 to live in Australia, the Taiwanese wanted to know why she would return to Taiwan and as a result were more open to listen and receive what she had to share.

baby boomers in missions

A word of wisdom

Wendy shared a truth that many Serve Asia Workers have experienced, when you come home from placement the spiritual warfare doesn’t end, yet the prayer support diminishes. Pray for them even after they come home!

Please remember to pray for Serve Asia Workers in the weeks and months after they return home and face the transition back into daily life.

What does the future hold?

As Wendy processes her time with Serve Asia, she is beginning to explore what mission means after retirement and if it’s for her. “Those stories (of the women she lived with) have made me think about going back to be with them. I know going back is different from going for only 6 weeks. But if possible, I really want to go back.”

Whatever age you might be, or whatever stage of life you find yourself at, what does mission mean for you? Think about it. Pray about it. And like Wendy, ask God to show you how your life has prepared you to be involved.

“If He allows it, He will open the door. If you can go, just go! If He closes the door, then we had better listen to Him, maybe He has something else planned.”

Learn

Information on Serve Asia, OMF’s short-term mission discipleship programme.

Pray

Resources and information to help you pray for the global missions movement.

Go

Search for mission trip opportunities in East Asia and apply online.

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