Reflections on Ministerial Call
I became a Christian 21 years ago through a campus ministry at the university. There was a hunger in my spirit to read the Word of God and came to an understanding at that time that our calling as a Christian is to share the Gospel. So I contemplated, “if the highest job we could have is in sharing the Gospel why still study technology and pursue secular job?” But I continued studying because that was expected of me by the society and my family. I was given an opportunity to serve in the student ministry for 2 years as the coordinator of evangelism ministry and I enjoyed what I was doing. But I wanted more training so I attended the month long Christian leadership camp of the campus ministry organization and heard about missionary calling. After that camp I was certain that I was called to be a missionary. So when the opportunity opened for me to work in Baguio, I considered that as my first missionary journey.
In Baguio I came to know about a mission organization that sends missionaries to different nations. I went there and told them that I would like to be a missionary. They asked me, “What is the name of your church?” I answered, “I don’t have church in Baguio”. I did’t know yet the importance of church and community in mission. So they instructed me to find a church first. The Lord led me to attend a small church in the city which has become my home church until now. I served in the church during my early years as a youth leader, worship leader and sometimes Sunday school teacher. I so love the ministry and the idea of being a minister but I lost sight of the Master. I was burned out and felt that I was trapped in the ministry. So as with the story of the prodigal son I set out to the secular world and experienced the life it could offer for 7 long years. However, entering into a relationship with the Lord is a covenant, “us” and the “Lord”. I was not faithful to that covenant but God is faithful. Six years ago, the Lord brought me back to a loving relationship with Him- my second born again experience. This time I believed in my heart not just in my mouth that Jesus is Lord of my life. He is enthroned not me. The moment I understood that, the Lord showed me revelation after revelation on the fulfilment of His calling for me as a missionary.
Reflection#1: The ministerial call is to experience and know Christ.
God brought back in me the burden for the lost. I shared Christ to people I met locally. He opened doors for me to get involved in church ministry again. While at work, I was promoted to a global position which allowed me to travel to different places in Asia and as the Spirit led me I made myself available to share Christ to people of different nations I met along the way. The desire for cross cultural mission grew in my heart. This time I sought counsel from the leaders in the church and to the people that He impressed in me. I found my way back to my home church and had my theological and ministerial training at APTS. The path to the missionary calling has become more clear each step of the way.
Three years ago, the Lord impressed me about going to an unreached area (restricted area). Again in another spirit field prayer occasion I asked the Lord for the mission field and He pointed me to a triangle field on my map covering various nations in East Asia. I was very confused so I sought the counsel of my spiritual mentors and they explained to me that the calling may be geographical but it could also be a people group. So I asked my mentors, friends, brethren to pray with me for the specifics of God’s call for me.
Reflection#2: The ministerial call is personal but in a community setting.
Through the prayers of the faithful, the Lord opened doors for me to (Restricted Area) the mission which started during the Missionary Training Institute of APTS. I met missionaries to the people group, met the people group and went to the area of ministry (Restricted Area). The Lord increased the burden in me to pray for the people group and I have dedicated most of my academic papers at APTS to know more about the place, the people group, their religious affiliation and culture. The Lord brought (Restricted Area) world closer to mine. The calling for mission amongst the people group became clearer and certain as He connected me to a mission organization and like-minded people. But am I really ready for the field? Last November I set out to (Restricted Area) bordering the area of ministry for a month long mission exposure. The Lord brought me to village where I was shown the need for Christian presence and influence. The place can be categorized as unreached geographically and with an unreached people group. They are predominantly Buddhist. All the more I am convinced that the path of a full time missionary is the right path for me because I was shown how few are the workers on that place and how vast the mission field. But can I live longer in that cold and dry place? During my 3rd week of Mission trip I became sick for 4 days. It was hard to get sick in a foreign country alone. I suddenly missed my loved ones back home. I missed speaking my own language, eating Filipino foods and being Filipino. Then I heard the Lord asking me how far shall I go in the mission field? I responded with a question, is it really worth it? When I said that, I was thinking about leaving my comfort life as a manager of an aerospace company, living at the coolest place in the Philippines, and partying with long-time friends in exchange for the life of uncertainty and suffering. Is it really worth it? While contemplating on that, I spent time listening to the testimonies of the local believers, I asked them what attracted them to Jesus? Most of the believers I met are ex- Buddhist monks, Believer#1 said, “I found peace in Christ”, Beliver#2, the sister of an ex-Buddhist monk said, “I saw changes in my brother, there must be something special about Jesus so I seek Him” and Believer#3 said, “ever since I was a kid I don’t feel I am loved, but when I was introduced to Jesus I felt love.” Reflecting on their responses, I came to the conclusion that the missionary calling is not all bed of roses, I will not experience all the time the emotional joy and excitement; and I will miss home, my comfort zone and my own culture. There will be sacrifices to make… but it is all worth it! Because there are those unreached people out there who are in need of peace, change and love. I can tell them about Jesus.
Reflection#3: The ministerial call is a commitment in sickness or in health, for good or for bad.
Last January 15, 2016 was my last day at work. I don’t feel any negative emotions like sadness or regrets in finally taking the step out of my comfort zone. It is like my whole being was commissioned to follow the missionary call. My status at social media goes like this, “first day to forever of surrender”, indeed I am ready. The plans were in place, I was accepted at the language school in the area of ministry for 2 years, connected to a missionary agency, free lodging and accommodation were ready and scheduled to leave the Philippines on February 26, 2016. I processed my student visa expecting good result. After 4 days I went back to the embassy to find out that my visa application got denied without giving any reasons. They told me that I can only reapply after 6 months. I was shocked. Instead of thinking about it, I immediately bought a ticket back to home town and slept on the bus. When I woke up I was tempted to question God, but I was reminded that I am on the path to surrender. That if things are not in my control then it is under God’s. And if it is under God’s then it is for His glory, for my good and for the saving of many. I told God, “I resigned from work, You are now my employer, can you please sort it out.”
Refelection#4: The ministerial call is a life surrendered to Christ and His plans.
Just recently I was told by the leader of the mission organization that they were looking for me to apply for a business visa and go direct to the area where the Lord called me to minister. I have inquired with the travel agency if I can apply for visa entry without waiting for 6 months and they confirmed that it is allowable. I was overjoyed with that news. As part of the preparation and to meet the business team leader, I was invited to attend the Business as Mission Conference in Thailand for 3 weeks. Reflecting on this new missionary path, all I can say was, “the Lords ways are better than my ways.” Pray with me that I may be used effectively to further the Kingdom of God in the area where God called me to minister. Intercede with me for favour and success over the business visa application. May I be found consistently committed to the call for His glory and for the salvation of many.