I was meant to go with Serve Asia to Taiwan for six weeks. I think it would have been a great time to grow in my understanding of the work God’s doing in another country, in people from backgrounds very different from mine. It would have stretched me and taught me a lot—about trusting in God, relating to others, serving with them, or simply in my language abilities! And it would have given me a chance to be a blessing to the people I met there.
If you had asked me earlier this year, I could have pointed to a few encounters as possible ‘confirmations’ that this was something God wanted me to do.
When I first began thinking about this trip, I was looking for something to do with a more community- or service-oriented aim. My parents knew a friend serving as a missionary in Taiwan and linked me up with her by email. From there I was directed to Serve Asia to apply for a short-term placement. I reached out to my church leader for my reference, and I was touched by her supportive response.
Studying in the UK, it’s relatively rare that I meet people who are very familiar with East Asia. But one evening I met a lady at my church in the UK who had not only visited Taiwan before but had served there with OMF for quite a while and had spent a few weeks with the exact same ministries that I was planning to join. Her enthusiasm about it made me all the more excited.
Later, at a missions event hosted by my university’s Christian Union, I met a British OMF representative who had both lived in Singapore for several years, and had visited those same ministries in Taiwan! He was also really encouraging, and gave me a book saying, ‘Promise me you’ll read this before you go to Taiwan.’
So it seemed strange when just a couple of weeks later my plans had to be cancelled, or at least postponed. Had God been ‘leading me on’? Or had I been wrong to make such plans in the first place?
I believe that even the process of preparing to serve, talking to my parents about it, and meeting the people that I mentioned, were valuable in themselves. I’m sure God used these experiences to teach me even if the final plans did not work out. For instance, I had to learn to explain the idea of a ‘mission trip’ to my non-Christian friends when they asked what I was planning to do over the summer. Maybe that was a chance to be a witness, to show that following Jesus changes my priorities with regard to internships and career.
Through my disrupted plans, I’m having to remember that God is sovereign – and even more, that He doesn’t need us to do particular things in order to achieve his will and his purposes. I’m also reminded that serving is a privilege!
So whether I end up going to Taiwan at another time or not at all, I know God will still be continuing his work there, and continuing his work in me personally.
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15
Carrie studies Economics at a UK university. She is currently back in Singapore due to COVID-19, finishing her second year online.