What is Your Greatest Joy
“Samantha, you have a busy full-time job, and you still spend a considerable amount of time journeying beside people and serving in various ministries. What is your greatest joy in it?”
When I was asked this question, I realized the greatest joy for me is to see people commit their lives to God and to witness the transformation of their lives. This joyous feeling is beyond my ability to describe. When I witness this kind of transformation, I sometimes find my vision become slightly blurry with tears running down faster than my heartbeat.
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When I was still single, I responded to God and committed myself to serving Him full-time one day.
Later, I told God I would be willing to serve him with my spouse–to whatever ministry and wherever He would lead us.
When I said “whatever,” I never thought of becoming a cross-cultural worker; when I said “wherever,” I was willing to relocate to another part of the country or a particular neighboring country, but I did not expect to go overseas. I was just thinking about being a minister or serving in parachurch ministry, or perhaps even being a pastor’s wife. That would be a great blessing in itself. Little did I know, God had another plan for me.
I Thought God Brought Me a Partner
Years after I prayed these things, God brought my husband and me together. Chad had been preparing himself as a cross-cultural worker to a specific area and minority group before we started dating. So, I kind of knew what I was getting myself into. Kind of.
Around the time we started premarital counseling and wedding plans, God challenged us both individually to hold off the wedding. We had a period of soul-searching over various aspects of our lives. I reflected on my calling and direction repeatedly. God, You know I love You. I remember my two special prayers. You know I am willing. You know I love this man and look forward to spending the rest of my life with him. I have gained more understanding about serving cross-culturally–even before I met him. I have also learned about the people group to which God had led Chad. I know they need you and they need someone to tell them about You. But God, is it where you are calling me (us) to serve? I don’t want to just tag along.
Chad and I decided to go with a group to discern whether God really had called both of us to serve that people group, or just my husband. There are many things one can pray for before embarking on a trip like this. I kept adding items on my prayer list, but somehow, I felt I had not found the focal point of what to pray for myself. So, I asked God to show me what I really should pray for.
The Lord Told Me to Pray for Compassion
One day, I was preparing to lead a Bible study on Matthew 9:35-38.
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
As I was contemplating the passage again, one word stood out. “When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them.” It was the word compassion. The original Greek word describes the compassion that moves a person to the deepest depths of one’s being, one’s core, when perceiving suffering.
I know this feeling. I have had this feeling before. This is not something one can generate by herself or kindle solely by reasoning, by belief, or by moral standard. It comes from Jesus who has seen us suffer and who suffered for us.
I realized I did not yet have this type of compassion towards this people group and realized the Lord was showing me how to pray for myself when preparing for the trip.
We Knew God Might Direct Us to Separate Paths
Deep in our hearts, both Chad and I were aware that if we were not called to do this together, there was a possibility we would break off our engagement and eventually go our separate ways.
During the trip to East Asia, one day changed everything. We were visiting a place of worship where a young intern shared his faith with us. He was young and friendly, serious about his religion.
As he was chatting with the men in our group, he reminded me of some good friends who are seminary students and pastors, committing themselves to serving Jesus faithfully. How I wished this young man would know and faithfully serve the One True God one day!
Suddenly my heart was pounding, and I heard God say, “Are you willing to share My Good News with these people for Me?”
“God, did You really just ask me…….?” I was fairly sure He had just asked me. Quite directly.
I Longed to Discern God’s Will
I needed to be certain because this decision would not only impact my relationship with Chad, but could also uproot my life moving me to places where I had never imagined myself living. God is so patient and kind to me.
Like Gideon, I asked for different things almost every day; He answered my prayers and gave me further discernment. It came in different shapes and forms. Sometimes it was a conversation with a local. Sometimes it was an event. I began to experience things I had silently hoped to see from the trip but had never mentioned to anyone before. I sensed the Lord moving in my heart as I saw the struggles shared by other workers and in the honest examination of my thoughts and feelings at night. I spent time with a group of local students and was moved when looking at their faces, realizing all of them were so precious in God’s eyes. The Lord answered my prayers as I was moved to compassion listening to heartbreaking stories of local families. And at the end of the trip, the Lord provided discernment and confirmation from a couple who patiently listened to all my thoughts.
God Has Blessed Us
Now, here I am, serving God full-time with my husband Chad as a cross-cultural worker in a place far from our families. Life is truly full of blessings and surprises!
God is always faithful. The discernment process itself was a blessing to me, as once again I witnessed God’s hand directing my path and transforming me. I would have missed a lot had I turned a blind eye to His calling. When we say that we participate in God’s work, let us be reminded that we are and we do the very precious work of God to reveal His glory.
If you’re seeking to discern whether God is calling you to missions and you’re in a relationship, trust the Lord. If you fix your eyes on him, he is faithful and will lead you in the path you should go.
If you’d like to read about my husband’s journey to missions, click here.
Samantha was born and raised in Asia, and moved to the US with her family. She met her husband in the US and got married there. They moved to East Asia in 2018. Since then, they have enjoyed learning and overcoming cultural and linguistic barriers, developing relationships, and leaning on God every step of the way.