Many people who would have been going on short-term mission placements this year are facing the disappointment of having their plans disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked our Serve Asia intern, James, to share his experience of dealing with his own disappointment:
My name is James and I am the current UK Serve Asia Intern here at OMF. I started last September and my role usually involves helping the Serve Asia team with applications for short-term mission, often contacting the various teams in East Asia to arrange placements for Serve Asia workers to join them. It’s been so rewarding to journey with each applicant and see them grow in their love for Jesus and desire to serve the people of East Asia.
Unfortunately, most of the Serve Asia placements have been cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 situation. It has been difficult to break the news to the applicants, especially as so many of them were really looking forward to going.
I can sympathise with how they feel. My own placement to Japan has been cancelled this year due to the virus. As part of my internship, I would have had the chance to go to East Asia for a month to experience life there and serve with OMF workers in their local community.
Japan is a place that has been on my heart for many years. They have such a unique culture and way of life, but also having studied Geography at university, I was fascinated to learn more about how they deal with the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that are an ever-present risk to the country.
On hearing that my trip had been cancelled, I was of course disappointed. I would have loved to have gone and been a part of the community there, serving the people and sharing my love of Jesus with others. However, I completely understand the difficult and unprecedented situation that has arisen this year, which has had a huge impact on the Serve Asia programme, and agree with the decision to cancel placements. It is right to protect the health and safety of workers from the virus, as well as those who we come into contact with.
I think it’s normal and ok to feel disappointed, and even upset. We get ourselves all set up and ready to go, and feel like this is what God has called us into at this time, only for us to be left disappointed. There have been times when I’ve questioned why God allowed this to happen and wondered what he has in store for me next.
The big thing I come back to each day is trust. A passage I often think about in difficult times is Proverbs 3:5-6,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”.
We might not understand what’s going on, and why this is happening – we thought going to East Asia this year was part of God’s plan for us. But I think it is vitally important that we trust in God at this time. He is in control and has a bigger plan that we don’t know about yet. He loves us and wants the best for us – we just need to choose to believe it. It’s ok to be disappointed, but we need to stay focussed on God.
By trusting in him, we will begin to understand him better and the journey that he is leading us on. He has plans for all of us, and can use disappointments for his glory. I’m not sure why God decided I shouldn’t go to East Asia at this time, but I trust it is part of his will for my life. I don’t know what God has planned for me in the future, but I’m excited to find out!
Looking for more tips and resources to help you at this time? Follow Serve Asia on Facebook or Instagram for inspirational quotes, Q&A with a missionary, devotionals and more.
Look out for #WednesdayWord from 6th May for weekly encouragements from the Bible from our Serve Asia teams around the world.
OMF (UK) Serve Asia Intern
After studying Geography at uni, James joined the UK Serve Asia team as an intern. In normal times he helps process applications for short-term mission placements. When not working he enjoys reading, going on walks in the countryside or settling down to watch a good TV box-set or film.