For young people contemplating short-term missions, lack of parental support can be a deterrent, if not a deal breaker. But it failed to divert Jennifer, a Hong Kong native with a bold heart for ministry.
Jennifer’s parents, like 87.5% of Hong Kong, do not identify with Christianity. Though Jennifer professed a faith in Jesus at age twelve, she did not attend church at that time due to her family’s disapproval.
It wasn’t until age sixteen that she found her way into a congregation. But as her spiritual life escalated, so did familial conflict. Her father used to wait outside of her church in protest, asking the pastor to send her out. Yet in the midst of this tension, Jennifer’s faith continued to blossom.
She dreamt of embarking on a mission trip after graduation, but her parents expected her to devote her post-grad years to securing a stable career and husband. Instead of backing down and disregarding her parents’ feelings in such a way that would further provoke them, Jennifer resorted to a two-fold strategy:
● Prayer: She prayed that God would work on her parents’ hearts, allowing them to support her and eventually to encounter Jesus themselves.
● Communication: She calmly communicated her passion for missions to her parents. Even if they didn’t support the cause itself, she helped them realize that they could still support her.
With gentle persistence, Jennifer eventually gained her parents’ support so that by the time she was preparing for her 10 month Serve Asia placement in Hirosaki, Japan, her parents went so far as to help her pack. Although they still don’t share Jennifer’s beliefs, they are now more open than they were before.
But Jennifer recalls that her parents weren’t the only ones who found her decisions strange: “In Hong Kong, most people focus on working and making money. So going on a mission trip after graduation is not normal.” Yet in spite of social resistance, Jennifer completed her 10 months in Hirosaki, where she befriended Japanese students, cooked and cleaned for a church, and worked at the only Christian bookstore in her prefecture. Now back in Hong Kong, she works for the Hong Kong Association of Christian Missions full-time and plans to return to Japan for further mission work, this time with more biblical knowledge and cross-cultural training.
“I still believe that people should go on short term missions,” she explains. “International mission is God’s will. As young adults, we might want to find an internship or go travel. But if we can, we should offer our best years, or even a few months, to God. If we do, it will change our lives.”