Content type

  • 23 Aug
    Kelvin & Julienne in Manila

    Kelvin & Julienne in Manila

    Written  by Julienne for Go Asia (May-Aug 2019)

    Kelvin and Julienne are former educators, currently Serve Asia Workers with OMF Singapore and serving in the Philippines, using their skills in Arts and Sports as their ministry of outreach.

    “Can we use our youth for God?”

    This was the question that started it all. Back then Kelvin was a school counsellor, and I (Julienne) was a graphic designer and lecturer. We each had Christian influence over a few students in our fields, and sensed a growing restlessness for deeper ministry. We were energetic newlyweds impatient to use our weightless season to explore overseas missions. Serious seeking began through prayer retreats and talking to mentors. Having narrowed down our options to Southeast Asia and youth ministry, we hopped along without expectations on a friend’s mission trip to Pandacan, Manila, where an organization called Bukang Liwayway (BL, or Dawn for the Poor) served the slum communities.

    Every day we rode on man-pushed trolleys on train tracks into the village. Together with the local youth leaders of the slum, we went out in groups to interview the families who lived in cardboard shelters along the train tracks—people even poorer than those in the slums. They welcomed us to sit in their makeshift homes, and we heard their stories. Some were made homeless by natural disasters, others by the impossibility of finding regular jobs. That week I met a boy who was of a different choice of orientation. I played with children whose fathers were missing in their lives and abused alcohol. But what stood out the most for us was the joy and faith of the believers. BL was indeed awakening an eternal dawn in the lives of the most oppressed.

    We left understanding that our world back home was bubble-wrapped. There was much we could give to help our new friends in Manila. More than a humanitarian impulse, however, we felt drawn to this organization’s spiritual work among the poor. God’s Word jumped off the pages; we had never seen ministry so close to the man on the street.

     

    He is the One who does the work in all corners of the world. We are just privileged observers happy to be sent back to a place that we left our hearts in four years ago.

    Although we wanted to move there immediately, we felt the Spirit telling us to wait and equip ourselves. Kelvin started a MA in Christian Ministry in East Asia School of Theology. Meanwhile we made trips back to Manila over three years, on which I brought along Christian artists to run Art Camps and workshops. We raised money for a computer and software so that the Filipino artists could print t-shirts for their livelihood venture. Time passed, and we would occasionally hear of our friends’ homes being burnt down or destroyed by typhoons. We spent time with their Skate Ministry, doing kerb-side devotions at midnight while boys in tights practiced Zumba beside. Kelvin graduated, and I gave birth to our daughter Theo. Kelvin became the youth worker of our church while Theo completed her vaccinations. All this while, we never stopped desiring to return for a longer term.

    In June (2019), when Kelvin will have completed his promised term in church, we will finally begin one whole year in Manila. We are no longer newlyweds in a “weightless season,” but God has used these waiting years to make us more mature in ministry. We will be based at the BL headquarters in Marilao Bulacan to learn and observe the ministry before we are placed in an area that fits our family best. Kelvin will be involved in youth ministry and church-planting, while I will be helping with newsletters and Art workshops. We are apprehensive about what ministry will be like with Theo, but have been encouraged by fellow missionaries that a child can open new doors. Pray for us to be thankful in all situations and united as a couple. Above all, pray for us to always trust in God, who brought us on this fruitful waiting journey. He is the One who does the work in all corners of the world. We are just privileged observers happy to be sent back to a place that we left our hearts in four years ago.

    By sgadmin Story
  • 30 Jul
    Through the Lens of Opportunity

    Through the Lens of Opportunity

    Written by Samuel Xiao for Go Asia (May-Aug 2019)

    A quote that would describe my heart towards photography is one by an American photographer named Steve McCurry. He says, “Most of my photos are grounded in people, I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person’s face.” Photography to me has always been about people, the process of capturing raw emotions and moments. This translates into nostalgic recollections of the past, and often brings back the joy and emotions of that moment.

    My first interaction with photography started when I was young when my dad would give me a digital compact camera to bring on school excursions. Being exposed to photography at such a young age, as well as advice from my dad, trained me to develop an eye for framing a picture. Currently, I’ve been doing freelance wedding photography which has been a platform for me to use this gift and passion to be a blessing to others.

     

    Experience with OMF:

    It was a challenge at the start when I first received the opportunity to film for Don and Sandy due to the lack of experience with videography. However, I took on the assignment knowing that I could use what I’ve learnt through photography and incorporate them into filming.

    Don giving a final touch of paint

    The entire filming experience was a meaningful and impactful one where the assignment was to capture a day in their lives. The opportunity to share and be present in the daily work and routines of Don & Sandy allowed me to witness what it means to obey the call of the Gospel. Being dislodged away from family and friends, I’ve come to hear of how they’ve settled into Singapore and the work that they are doing here at OMF as well as their local church. I’ve seen how the Gospel transcends all culture and environments and how their lives are poured out in sacrificial ways to build God’s Kingdom. It was an experience that gave me a greater understanding and appreciation of the work here at OMF Singapore. It has also given me a new perspective of the comprehensiveness and entirety of what missions is. I’ve also come to see how my gifts can be used for a greater purpose. This work that I’ve contributed would in turn be watched by many and by God’s grace, that they will be encouraged in giving their lives to missions.

     

    Desires and Hope for Missions-Related Work

    “ But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”   ~ 1 Peter 2:9.

    My desire and hope is to further steward and use this gift and passion for God’s purposes and Kingdom. This could play out in possible media-related mission work through OMF, as a means for mobilization and documentation of the work of missionaries. My hope is that these gifts that God has given me will serve as one of the many tools to build His Kingdom. I thank God that He has first called me into His Kingdom, and as what 1 Peter 2:9 describes, we are God’s chosen people so that we may proclaim the Gospel that has brought us from darkness into light. And my prayer request is that the work of my hands will be one that God will ultimately grow and multiply and contribute to the task that is still unfinished.

    By sgadmin Story
  • 15 Jul
    Meaning in the Waiting

    Meaning in the Waiting

    Written by Christel for Go Asia (May-Aug 2019)

    My name is Christel, 22 and I’m a student from Singapore!

    In 2016, I had just graduated from polytechnic with a Diploma in Media & Communications – and I was feeling ‘lost’. I didn’t know what direction to take in life, what I wanted to do, if I could get into a local university or even what to study.

    That became the start of a gap year for me, filled with months of uncertainty and aimlessness. But I thank God for providing because I was soon able to get video editing work in the media industry.

    It was also in late 2016 that God found me and brought me to faith in Him!

    I went to Vietnam as a short-term worker with OMF for the first time between April to May 2017.

    Hanoi, Vietnam is full of opportunities for young adults for work and university, and also for God to reach them with the Gospel that saves. I thank God for His timing, because my trip was in the summer when students were having their summer break, giving us more time to spend with them!

    Many young people in Vietnam are eager to learn and practice English, especially with native English speakers. So that became a bridge for friendships to form and an opportunity to serve. That was my main area of mission work there. Thank God for the many English club ministries in Vietnam, where young people are getting to hear the gospel and interact with both local and foreign believers. It was such a privilege seeing Christ’s work in the lives of the Vietnamese and being a part of that!

    Spending time with the locals also showed me more of their interesting character and way of life, which gave me opportunities to shoot footage of their daily life. With the footage I shot (over a few more short-term trips) and great help from the Vietnam team & the OMF Media Team, I was able to produce a video that introduces people to Vietnam, which you can see at: bit.ly/omfvietnam

    Meanwhile, one gap year slowly turned into two gap years – and people around me were starting to worry for me.

    But, some missionaries in Vietnam saw that video and said they intend to use it to mobilise people to pray for and serve in Vietnam. Seeing how God could use my interest in film for His Kingdom’s work encouraged me to decide to commit to continue studying media & communications in university – and by His grace I got in somehow, despite my far below-average grades! I hope that I can do more videos for Jesus soon! I didn’t see it then, but looking back, I can see God’s goodness more clearly – how God was guiding me to Him and growing me in a time where I saw my waiting as a delay and setback.

    I guess young people especially, may sometimes feel ‘lost’ – maybe you don’t know why you’re studying what you’re studying or just aren’t sure what direction to take in life. Our journeys will all look different, but we have one constant: God is good, and I hope my story encourages you to be patient – because the Lord is growing you in the waiting! Try to find joy and meaning in wherever He has placed you in, with whatever skills you have!

    By sgadmin Story
  • 15 May
    Singapore to Japan: Shao Xiong & Levene’s Mission Story

    Singapore to Japan: Shao Xiong & Levene’s Mission Story

    Shao Xiong & Levene are missionaries from Singapore to Japan for two years with OMF. We caught up with them to find out about their journey to this point.

    Where did your interest in missions begin?

    Levine: “All along, ever since I’ve been a Christian, I’ve seen missions is very important. but it was only more crystallized when I went to Australia to study. We were involved in OCF (Overseas Christian Fellowship) and from there, we met many people from different backgrounds, nationalities, languages, and we could see that many of them have never heard the gospel before in their lives in their home countries.
    So to meet these people (we come from Singapore where the gospel is freely preached and I grew up in a Christian family) who have never heard the gospel before and to actually share it with them, and see it how like a light bulb in their eyes, it was really an enlightenment, and it sparked an interest (in me) for further discovery and exploration in missions.”

    Why Japan?

    Shao Xiong: “It was back in 2013 that we heard the sharing about short-term mission work in the Northern part of Japan with the tsunami victims. At that point I was very moved by the sharing. I procrastinated for a year, (but) Levene eventually pushed me to sign up for the short-term trip. When we went, we saw that there was a great spiritual need in Japan. And it was not just the emotional or physical needs of the tsunami victims, but we’ve come realize the Church in Japan needed a lot of support, encouragement and prayers. They need long-term workers as well. So that made us think more seriously about long-term missions, possibly in Japan.”

    Were there any barriers you encountered, had to work out and overcome before making decisions to missions?

    Levene: “Our journey thus far has been very smooth, and there were not much obvious barriers, but, for sure, there were barriers that we needed to overcome within our own hearts. In Singapore, it seems that it is expected of you to study hard, get good grades, get a good job, climb the career ladder, get married, buy a house, have kids- that’s the route that everyone is ‘supposed’ to take as a young person in your 30s. To actually resign from your job- we just got married two years back, just got our home flat with a mortgage and thinking about children, we had to overcome these expectations, not just in our minds but in our hearts as well, and to really know that we can trust God to provide for all our needs in Singapore when everyone else is telling us to buy insurance, have more savings, what is your plan for the future and just entrust our children into God’s hands.”

    Shao Xiong: “Because my parents aren’t Christians, we were afraid that they wouldn’t quite understand why we would be doing this. After all, they’ve raised us up for so long, sent us overseas for studies, and there were certain expectations of how we should take care of them in their old age. So this was something that weighed heavily on my heart. But I think that God must have guided this and when we spoke to them about it, my father was actually quite supportive of our decision, and we thank God that they have come to terms with us leaving and have given us their blessings as well.”

    What are some things that we can pray with for, your families, and the Japanese people?

    Shao Xiong: “I think we foresee that the Japanese language is a difficult language and we will need lots of prayer that we can master the language and learn it well. Pray that we will be able to adjust in the transitions, in terms of the culture and work well with the team in Japan. More importantly, it is to pray that even through our own limited effort that God can use what limited things that we’ve done or that we will be doing to further his kingdom.”

    Levene: “Pray for us that we will love the Lord Jesus one more, because we will not be able to love the Japanese people if we do not have love for the Father, if we do not keep walking in step with him if our walk with God is distant. Only when our hearts are knit with Christ, then we can truly show his love and truly love others, not by our own strengths but through his strength. So that’s our big prayer point.”

    To read more on their story and journey of missions, find their story in Go Asia, at omf.org/singapore/2019/01/31/go-asia-jan-apr-2019-new-beginnings/
    By sgadmin Story , ,
  • 30 Jan
    Caring for Missionaries and their Families at Lunar New Year

    Caring for Missionaries and their Families at Lunar New Year

    The Lunar New Year is a key time for Chinese families in Singapore when children are expected to show filial piety, appropriate honor and respect, to their parents. They can do this as they join in with the annual family reunion and hopefully can share about a career and lifestyle the parents can be proud of.

    But at this time of the year, it can be a challenge for Chinese Singaporean missionaries who are sent out who want to honor their parents, but may not be able to make it back for the family reunion. Or their parents may not approve of their choice to be a missionary. How can missionaries show filial piety to their parents and be a good witness of Christ’s love to their parents at this time of year?

    One way is that OMF Singapore, in partnership with their sending church, can represent them to their families. So every Lunar New Year, the OMF Singapore staff and volunteers fan out, armed with oranges, the traditional fruit of the festival, to visit the families. The visits, alongside special events around the year for parents, help show filial piety to missionaries’ parents.

    Former OMF Singapore National Director, Kenneth Tan, shared his diary from a day of Lunar New Year visits:

    This year (2008) I teamed up with OMF staff member Yong Hong and visited a number of parents over two days.

    The first were the parents of a new missionary to Thailand. It helped that their church had sent out one of OMF’s first Singaporean missionary nurses to Thailand many years ago. All the same it was a sacrifice to have their unmarried son away serving in Thailand, and away during this time of family reunions. So, his mother was pleased to welcome us. She was at her daughter’s home looking after three grandsons, and we played with them. At the end of our visit we prayed for the family, and our missionary’s nephew wanted to go visiting with us!

    The next visit was to the elderly widowed mother of one of our missionaries serving in Cambodia. This old auntie attends a Chinese-speaking church and was full of the joy of the Lord, and this was obvious to me even with my limited Cantonese. It was up to multi-dialect Yong Hong to engage old auntie in conversation and to pray for her at the end of our visit. We talked about her daughter in Cambodia, her siblings and the grandchildren who were studying in Singapore.

    Our last visit of the day was to the mother of another new missionary to Thailand. The mother is not a Christian and we had the opportunity to talk to her about spiritual things. When we left she insisted we take some of her homemade festive goodies. Her son, his wife, and her grandchildren were away in Thailand this festive season to share the gospel with the Thais, but we prayed that she too would receive the good news that God gave his only Son and would surely with him prosper us with all things.

    These Lunar New Year visits have helped OMF Singapore build good relationships with the parents of their missionaries. They also visit parents in hospital when they are ill and pray for them. As OMF Singapore has got to know the parents they have seen several come to know Jesus. OMF Singapore is really thankful for all the opportunities to get to know the families of our missionaries.

    This article originally appeared in OMF Singapore’s magazine Go Asia May – August 2008. Images have been approved for public usage by featured individuals.

    Kenneth Tan was previously the National Director for OMF Singapore and also served as OMF Singapore’s Ministry Consultant and Home Council Member. He is now retired.

     

    Please pray:

    • Give thanks for the ways OMF Singapore and missionaries’ sending churches have been able to support missionaries’ parents.
    • For this year’s visits, pray for deepening of relationships, encouragement for the parents and, for those who do not know Jesus, opportunities to speak of him.
    • For those parents who do know Jesus to be encouraged by the work of their children for the gospel.
    • For parents who don’t know Jesus to be attracted to him through the witness of their children’s sending churches and OMF.

    For missionaries serving overseas at Lunar New Year away from their family, to know God’s presence and comfort.

  • 08 Jan
    An Unexpected Journey

    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.

  • 08 Jan
    A Reflective Tohoku Prayer Journey

    A Reflective Tohoku Prayer Journey

    Written by James Kwan for Go Asia (Sep-Dec 2018)

    Photography has always been a passion of mine, and I desire to glorify God by serving in the media and photography ministries in church and Christian organisations. Travelling and photography have also been something I’ve been doing during my school breaks, but coming to Tohoku in Japan as a photographer for short-term missions was something I felt challenged to do.

    I asked myself, why not explore missions in Japan and make use of my photography skills on the mission field instead of spending the entire month for travel and leisure? I guess I was drawn to Japan because I had studied Japanese for a year a couple of years back. Moreover, a group of us in my church had recently started coming together to pray and reach out to Japanese people in Singapore. As we prayed, I sensed the Lord calling me to go. This short-term mission trip was eye-opening and renewed my perspective of missions.

    In travelling with the prayer journey team through the Tohoku region, this was what I took away from the trip:

    Relationships

    Being able to serve alongside a diverse group of believers from different cultures and ethnicity impressed greatly on me how the Gospel transcends differences in cultures and unites us in Christ. In Him, we have a common salvation and hope. Observing and hearing about the relationships between the Japanese and missionaries and other believers also taught me how relationships with the Japanese people require time, even years of discipleship for them to come to faith. It reminded me to dismiss the tendency to expect big momentous conversions in a short span of time and of the great commission, in which Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples,”—not, Go therefore and make decisions.

    Prayer

    Being part of the prayer journey team and experiencing the culture of prayer during morning devotions at Nozomi Church taught me much about prayer. It revealed to me how little I know about prayer, and how lacking in faith I was. I was really challenged to engage in prayer and to expect God to work through the prayers of His people. Although God is sovereign, He has foreordained that His work would be accomplished through the work of our prayers to bring about change. I also learnt to pray specifically instead of giving general prayer requests. After all, how will we know God answered our prayers if we never pray specifically for things?

    The needs of churches in Japan

    Travelling with the prayer journey team gave me a greater understanding of missions and the needs of the Japanese churches in the Tohoku region, practical workings of their ministries, and demographics in the region. I have heard from friends or people involved in mission work in Tokyo that churches in the Japanese capital tend to be more international, or at least draw a more international crowd, and that most of them had services in English or in both English and Japanese. So I wondered, what about a local Japanese church?

    On hearing about the work in the local churches in Tohoku, I found that there is a great need for more pastors or younger people to shepherd their flocks. It really affected me when I heard from some missionaries and pastors that there was a serious shortage of pastors and leaders. This challenged me to seriously consider taking a step beyond merely being involved with missions as a photographer, and to be involved in church planting, revitalisation and leading. Before this, I had a general impression that there was a need to reach out to the Japanese community as there are so few Christians. But now, I have come to realise that churches there need much support, prayer, practical help, laborers and pastors.

    As the trip drew to an end, I had a good opportunity to photograph and document images that could be used for media or mobilisation-related purposes. More than that, I was able to observe and support in the daily rhythm of missions in Japan. I witnessed how God used the mundane and daily moments to bring about change. To discern if God is calling me back to Japan, I plan to take some practical steps such as praying for Japan. I pray that God will give me a greater burden for Japan, for more opportunities to be involved with Japan down the road, and to continue reaching out to the Japanese people with the group in my church.

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