A Father in Missions

Very seldom, fathers in missions don’t write often enough about their deeper, personal journey. Rather, the letter written is usually focused on ministry, and the family later included in prayer requests. When I first joined OMF Singapore in 2018 as staff, I was a single on the way towards marriage. Currently, I’m a joyful father of a 1 ½ year-old daughter who makes her acquaintances with her smiles quicker than my wife and I.

Image: Paul & his daughter at his brother’s wedding.

What Fatherhood has taught me about Missions

About six months back, we got our daughter to crawl to a set of objects in front of her to pick something- a Korean tradition for the fun of it. Out of three times, she first picked the ukelele, her picture story Bible next, and a toy plane. Would it be too soon to predict that she would become a missional musician? Perhaps. But when I think how do these experiences relate to missions, it is really taking a deeper look at God’s heart for the world. I’ll summarise it in three points:

1. The Mandate precedes the Mission: The Walk Precedes the Work.

At one Intentional Disciple-Making Conference (IDMC) that Rev. Edmund Chan spoke at, he preached on Judges 13: at the fulfillment of Samson’s birth, his father, Manoah, asks God, “Now when your words come true, what is to be the child’s manner of life, and what is his mission?” (v.12) Manoah desired to first please God, to glorify Him as he dedicated his son unto the Lord, and thereafter to train him up in the way of the Lord. Pleasing God began with Manoah, not Samson. Pleasing God begins with me, not my kids.

So it is for us as well. At OMF, it is our Mandate to glorify God: for the glory of God– our spiritual walk must hold true and consistent, our sole focus, Jesus, and it is only then that we are able to fulfil the Mission, to share the good news of Jesus Christ in all its fullness with East Asia’s peoples”.

 

2. Missions Begins in the Family.

Ministry for me began with the Boys’ Brigade, and later, having been so deeply impacted by the discipleship ministry of the Navigators and various missions’ exposure trips in different parts of East Asia, I desire the same for my family- that one day, as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15b). It begins with the family- it is our first and foremost missions ground: to our children, and our pre-believing family members. Ultimately, whether they believe, we must still share Christ with them, pray for them, and demonstrate our faith to them.

It was this same verse that appealed to my parents, my dad in particular. Because of the prayers he prayed for us, each of us are today serving the Lord in different aspects- my parents in Vietnam missions work & Men’s Ministry, two of us in Christian organisations serving churches and missions, two as early childhood educators in church-based schools, and there’s my wife, impacting lives through social work. I pray my children will also follow in my footsteps and serve Him, wherever He calls them to.

3. Ultimately, Love is the Mission.

I recalled that Daniel Lau, our Singaporean missionary shared that People don’t care what you think, unless they think that you care.” The Gospel is most appealing when it is lived out in our lives. John 3:16 won’t make any sense until people are truly able to see that Love through you. As a husband and father, saying “I love you”, does not hold much weight until my wife and daughter realise that I love them and what I do, is for them.

Make it a habit to greet your neighbours whenever you see them. Invite a new co-worker to a meal. Journey with that foreign exchange student in your university. Remember a new friend’s birthday and buy him or her a gift, or cake. Be a good Samaritan to that person who busted his ankle. It starts with the simple act of love to a leap of faith.

In closing, as fathers, as men in missions, we have a very important job to do- our mandate is to first glorify the Lord, the mission first unto our family, and then the communities and ministries we are involved in. When these East Asian communities see how we love the Father and one another (the family, the mission team members, and others in the field), they will start to look heavenward and they too, will give God the glory. That is the Fruit of the Great Commission.

 

Author picture

Paul is a designer by profession, serving full-time in Communications with OMF Singapore. For him, images and films make beautiful stories come to life. When he is not at work, you would probably find him running after his toddling daughter, or his Batcave fixing up model planes or doing food experiments.

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