An Unexpected Journey

Written by Kenneth Thio for Go Asia (Sep-Dec 2018)

In 2018, I signed up with OMF Singapore’s Serve Asia Programme, a short-term missions discipleship for a month. My destination? One of the least reached frontiers in OMF’s mission world, Vietnam.

As my field host put it: I was learning on the job; our primary focus was in student ministry, where we helped in sports, English classes and summer camps. While preparing my heart and goals for the trip, the Lord spoke to me of my need to adjust, given the short time I was there. While I wasn’t going to be able to bridge the gap or present the Gospel to them in a way they could understand, He showed me that I should take the time to be patient and learn.

During the trip, God showed me much more than I had anticipated. As I devoted time to language and culture learning, conversations with local students were easier and allowed me to befriend them. This opened new doors in my journey as I learned about their lives and heard their testimonies, such as how they made time for God and their community amid the bustle of their student lives. After facilitating language classes, we frequently went to đi chơi (hang out).


However, in the second week, I felt drained after running around and meeting different groups of people. I became disillusioned, and wondered why we were investing much time and effort yet doing very little in an effort to reach out. As we took a short prayer walk through a local university, I found great solace and comfort. Walking and praying subtly, I felt an indescribable sense of encouragement on seeing students milling about. I sensed the “why” of it all, a reminder of the potential of Vietnam and of the people of my generation who were curious about the world. Perhaps this small but persistent effort of ours would make all the difference in some of their lives.

Encouragement also came when many of the students whom I had the opportunity to meet asked to meet us. They made the time to hear us share and encourage one another. This small encounter taught me that it is alright to feel tired, but never lose sight of the purpose we are called to fulfil. We are to persevere in sharing the Gospel till the Lord’s Church is established among His people.

Through these short but meaningful sessions, we had the greatest moments, sharing about our God and our lives, teaching and encouraging one another despite our cultural differences. There it was — His marvelous plan unveiling itself!

There is a great need for the Church to mobilise, and an even greater need for people willing to bridge cultural gaps and work among unreached groups. Only then will the Gospel take root and His presence will be felt more than ever before among His people. Let us pray that more might be moved for God’s purpose, and that we will consider how we can be more mission-minded.