My Journey Within A Journey: From Fear and Doubt to Faith and
Loke—Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I have often heard of the church’s
missionary trips to India. While I admired the courage and zeal of those who
served in the ministry, I never expected to step foot on this sub-continent of
One day, when I received an
invitation out of the blue to assist in the religious education work in India,
I was overjoyed. As I listened to the coordinator of this ministry describing
how I could help, my heart raced with excitement. But I could not shake off a nagging
sense of inadequacy when I thought of my limitations and lack of knowledge and
experience. I was worried that I could not adapt to the living conditions
there. Moreover, memories of lurid reports of serious crimes in India during
that period crowded my mind, dampening my initial enthusiasm. Indeed, beyond
this missionary journey, I would have to undertake my own personal journey of
MILESTONE 1. ENTRUSTING TO GOD
The first and most immediate
bridge that I had to cross was parental consent. Not surprisingly, my parents
were very anxious when they learned of my intention to go on this trip. My
father mentioned the recent spate of crimes in India reported in the
newspapers, hoping that these would deter me. As the days passed, the
continuing accounts of the crimes on India were steadily eroding my resolve to
join the missionary work. On top of this, I began to worry about my assigned
tasks, as I did not know where to start with my preparation work. It was
getting all so stressful that I harbored a secret hope that the trip would be
canceled. Thus did I struggle for a few weeks, worrying and yet not willing to
let go of this wonderful opportunity. Finally, a few brethren and I decided to
pray about this matter.
One evening after service, I shared
my foremost worry—my safety—with a preacher. Immediately, he assured me: “Just
go. Jesus will take care of you. He will take care of all His servants. Just
go. And go with faith.” Suddenly, I felt as if God Himself had said these words
to me, with His full authority and reassurance. Joy and faith in God filled me
I’ll go where You want me to go!”
The next morning, I told my
parents about my decision and asked them not to worry, assuring them that my
God would definitely take care of His workers.
REFLECTION 1: TAKE THAT STEP!
At the Red Sea, Moses only had to
stretch out his hand and the LORD parted the waters so that the children of
Israel could cross the sea on dry ground (Ex 14:21, 22). But at the River
Jordan, when the Israelites were about to enter the promised land, God wanted
them to cross the river when it was overflowing and when the current was
strongest. God commanded the priests bearing the ark of the LORD to step into
the water and promised that the waters flowing downstream would be cut off and
would stand up as a heap (Jos 3:13–16). Had we been
among the priests, would we have taken that step?
It is easy to pray to God for more
faith in Him. But the true test comes when we have to leave our comfort zone
and translate knowledge and belief into action. It is difficult for us to take
the first step because we tend to walk by sight and not by faith. When we no
longer see the familiar and comforting, when we stare nervously at the strong
current and the overflowing waters in front of us and remember only our
limitations, we forget that our God is almighty. We must remind ourselves that
God is in control and that He will help us to accomplish His will. But we must
have the courage to take the first step. Belief and action—that is true
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
(Prov 3:5, 6)
The Bible provides us with
countless reminders of how God makes possible the impossible —He parted the Red
Sea (Ex 14:21); Jesus gave the blind sight (Mk 10:46–52), walked on water (Mt
14:25), calmed the wind and the waves (Lk 8:22–25);
He even raised the dead to life (Jn 11:38–44). What else is there that our Lord
cannot do for us?
For me personally, what I needed to do was to take my eyes off the overflowing
waters of my worries, and take that first step of entrusting the whole trip and
divine work into His mighty hands.
MILESTONE 2. DOING MY PART
I received another call from the
Education Affairs unit of the Indian Mission Committee confirming the trip. My
co-workers would be two sisters, one of whom had been actively participating
in missionary trips to India and Africa for more than a decade and is
still passionately involved in this area of divine work. She and another sister
source of help in my preparation for both my trip and my assignment.
In addition, I did some research
about the subjects I was to teach during the trip. I also read up about the
climate and the different cultures in India, prepared medication, and sought
advice from various ministers and brethren who had been to India before.
After preparing all that I could
and needed to, a new worry struck me: I would have to explain and elaborate on
these topics with nothing more than just occasional glances at my
lecture notes! I was not sure I had sufficient wisdom and eloquence. In fact, I
felt woefully inadequate. Then I remembered what God had said to His servant
Who has made man’s mouth? (Ex 4:11a)
Once again, I consciously turned
my eyes upon Jesus. I resolved to pray and ask for God’s full guidance to
enable me to speak fluently and to serve according to His will.
My co-workers and I met at Kuala
Lumpur International Airport on May 15, 2013 to embark on our journey to
India. I usually dread flying but somehow this flight was different. As
our plane shot up into the light blue sky, I thought about the greatness and
of God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth and everything in it. My usual
fear was replaced by a sense of serenity, an absolute conviction that
everything would be well in His mighty hands. Before long, we were at Chennai,
India, walking out to the welcoming smiles of the local deacon and
MILESTONE 3. SEEING AND EXPERIENCING THE WONDERFUL
WORK OF GOD
During my two-week stay in India, I
truly experienced God’s working; with God, nothing is impossible (Lk 1:37).
It was summer and very hot. In the sweltering heat of the day, I was often
bathed in perspiration. Even
when I was comfortably lying in bed at night with the ceiling fan
at full blast, my clothes would be soaked. But the heat did not hinder my work at
all. And amazingly, none of us suffered from heat stroke, serious dehydration, or diarrhea, not even
after accidentally having a cold drink sold by a roadside vendor!
Then on another day, a preacher informed us
that a week before, a major
typhoon was heading towards the area we were in. Surprisingly, the wind had
suddenly changed course and headed towards the opposite direction instead. Had
it not been for the grace and protection of our merciful God, our church and
training center in Ambattur, Chennai would have been affected by the typhoon and the rest
of our trip might then have had to be canceled.
God’s abidance when we commenced
our work was also manifested. When I began my classes, I discovered that my
earlier fears were completely unfounded. Words flowed spontaneously, and I was
able to lecture smoothly. I was once worried I would not have enough examples
to share. The reality was I ran out of time! Thank God for His guidance.
REFLECTION 2: TAKE THAT STEP!
Deep down inside most of us,
there have been times when we wanted to do something for the Lord. However,
before we even begin, we are bogged down with a long list of negative thoughts.
These often so overwhelm us that we surrender to our pessimism, and we give up
without even trying. Yet, have we considered that God’s work is accomplished
through His power and not our own limited wisdom or strength?
So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? … Have not I, the
LORD?“ “Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you
what you shall say.” (Ex 4:11a, 12)
Once again, we need to return to
the exhortations of the apostles. Even the great apostle Paul was troubled by
his weakness. But he shared what the Lord had said to reassure him, “My grace
is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor
And Elder James tells us how to
overcome our anxieties: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who
gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But
let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the
sea driven and tossed by the wind” (Jas 1:5, 6).
MILESTONE 4. ENJOYING THE UNITY IN CHRIST
One in Ministry
As we served together, my
co-workers and I saw that God indeed had His own good will in all that He had arranged
for us. We could see that He had put us together as co-workers because we
complemented each other in terms of knowledge, skills, and even in our way of
thinking and physical strength! Praise the Lord!
For … we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have
the same function. (Rom 12:4)
Not only did I enjoy the blessing
of serving together with my brethren, I was truly touched by their
warmth—people whom I had never met before, but whose love transcended race,
culture, and geographical boundaries because God first loved us.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 Jn
One day, a brother drove us to a church in
Chengalput, around 1.5 hours’ drive from our training
center at Ambattur. As I am prone to motion sickness,
the journey was a great torture for me. We had to make a stop by the roadside
so that I could recover from my terrible nausea and dizziness. I felt very bad to have caused everyone so much
inconvenience, but the brethren were very kind and understanding, going to
great lengths to look for remedies for my condition.
Moreover, throughout our trip, our
Indian sisters put in a lot of effort to prepare traditional Indian dishes,
snacks, and drinks for our meals. There was never a time that we went hungry!
The two weeks whizzed by because these brethren had truly provided us with a
home away from home.
I truly thank God for His love
that was manifested through His servants. Besides the local members, our
brethren back home had been incessantly interceding for us, and my co-workers
provided loving support in both word and deed (1 Jn 3:18). Their examples have
taught me to also show sincere care and concern towards others.
The whole course ran smoothly.
Thank God for His great love, grace, and protection throughout our two-week
stay in India. Words will not suffice to describe my gratitude for the
wonderful opportunity to work together with good co-workers, to be able to
serve our brethren in India, and to witness for myself the wonderful works of
I was asked to teach but by God’s
wonderful mercy, this missionary trip taught me many precious lessons.
Not only did I learn to acknowledge my own weaknesses and shortcomings, “for
when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10), but I also realized that even
in my weakness, I can still do more for God through Christ who strengthens
me—both physically and spiritually (Phil 4:13).
I learned to cast all my cares upon
our heavenly Father through constant prayers (1 Pet 5:7), to put my fears
behind, and to trust in God. I also learned to trust in His arrangement and providence,
for He sees all our needs and He works in ways we cannot see. If I had set my
eyes only on the strong currents and had not taken the first step to accept
God’s calling, I would not have witnessed how God works through His servants.
He strengthened my faith in Him and cleared my doubts. I am now eagerly looking
forward to my next calling.
All praise and glory be to our Lord Jesus. Amen.