A Joyful Heart: Reflections on the African Voluntary
Missionary Workers Training Course 2006
When leaders lead in Israel,
When the people willingly offer themselves,
Bless the LORD! (Judg 5:2)
The opening lines of Deborah’s
song celebrate the heart of the volunteer and the delight and blessing in being
a willing instrument of God. They highlight the genuine need for frontline
workers of God to lead His people in battle. These are the people who gladly
offer themselves in service.
Deborah’s victory song expresses
my sentiments as I recall the zeal and fervency of the participants during the
Africa Voluntary Missionary Workers Training Course (AVMWTC) last year. The
profound love and affection of these full-time workers for the church in Africa were unforgettable, as was the fervor of the
volunteering trainees. Their gifts of love will surely be acknowledged by our
From January 8-13, 2006, 30
volunteers from the UK, US, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Europe, and five full-time
pastors long experienced in the African ministry assembled together for an intensive
The glimpses of the African
ministry led me to understand better the needs and the challenges faced by the
Africa Ministry Committee (AMC). Most importantly, I felt the desire to
cultivate myself so that, in some way, I could play a part for His glory.
Immersed in His Grace and Edification
The 7 a.m. prayer sessions and 9
p.m. lectures might have been somewhat of a challenge, but admittedly, we were
afforded the luxury of hearty meals and relative comfort at the LondonChurch.
Although the mental and physical hardships of African life were not quite
simulated, ninety hours of lectures, prayer, assignments, and fellowship over
those six days certainly helped sharpen our spiritual swords and cultivated our
hearts for future service.
The syllabus included 1
Corinthians, 2 Timothy, Homiletics, Revelations, and Basic Doctrines. The words
of wisdom from the pastors were deeply inspiring and applicable for many areas of
our spiritual lives other than the African ministry.
Amongst many precious teachings,
we learned that the value of our service is measured by how much love we show
in our service. Love is what makes our offering pleasing and beautiful in God’s
sight. It is important to love our sheep as our own children—not only as
teachers and leaders but also as fathers.
We learned about methods of sermon
preparation and delivery, with ample time provided for practical sessions and
personal feedback. There were also lessons on doctrines and their spiritual significance
to salvation. It felt like we were priests who had the privilege to enjoy a
direct and intimate relationship with God. Oh, what a blessing!
Through the testimonies of our
preachers and volunteer workers, we received insight into the lives of our
brethren in Africa. There is so much we can
learn from them—their dedication and eagerness to receive the true gospel, the
magnanimity of preachers who work without salary, and their simplicity of
heart. We marvelled when we heard about the impulsively joyful outpouring of
songs of praise they sing to Jesus.
The passion and joy exuded by the
pastors and African brethren reminded me that, unlike secular occupations, the
work of God is far more precious and worthwhile. Although Jesus promised
challenges and struggles when serving Him, we will certainly reap the delights
and blessings when we serve voluntarily.
It was not only the formal lessons
that edified me; the fellowship and examples set by the participants and workers
taught me a lot, too. During breaks, I would see participants quietly studying
the word of God, eagerly tapping into the pastors’ experiences and sharing with
one another their hopes and aspirations for God.
Such zeal and diligence touched me
deeply. The unity among the brothers and sisters was evident, and I was
invigorated through the sweet fellowship and laughter we shared.
The Fire within My Heart
Although at times I felt unworthy
and inadequate to carry out His work, I was repeatedly comforted by the
enthusiasm of these brethren and the zeal of the pastors. The prayer sessions
always brought me strength. A constant humbling reminder was that I am in fact
nothing and that only by the power of Christ in me did I have the hope of being
a vessel ready for His use. It was indeed a refreshing thought to know that God
does not actually need me, but, by His grace, He allows me to have a part in
His work and will on earth.
Some of us took time off from work
and school to attend this seminar. I believe that neither the time nor effort
we invested was in vain. God gladly made His presence known, and we found
ourselves experiencing the sentiments of the psalmist in the phrase: “[A] day
in your courts is better than a thousand” (Ps 84:10).
From a very young age, my father
has told me countless anecdotes and testimonies of God’s grace in Africa, and, though in some strange way I feel I already
know them, I have always longed to meet the brothers and sisters I see in the
photographs. The enlightenment and joy I felt at the AVMWTC have deepened this
longing to personally experience the hand of God in the African mission.
In 2005, seven volunteers, three
being first time visitors, were given this chance to experience God’s hand in
assisting the preachers on missionary trips. Brother Tony Kwok Wing Ho and
Brother Johnny Liu accompanied Pastor TK Chin to the pioneering areas of Dar es
Praise God, many truth seekers received the Holy Spirit where they travelled.
Pastor YM Yang was accompanied by
Brother Amos Jao and Deacon Lee on trips to Congo, where they truly felt the
presence and grace of God. In Kenya,
Sister Elaine Shek, Sister Lok Sze Chan, Brother Patrick Wong, and Pastor
Timothy Yeung led the first AMC-directed student spiritual convocations in Africa.
Praise the Lord, ninety-nine of
one hundred four students received the Holy Spirit at the convocation for
twelve to sixteen year olds. In the convocation for those aged sixteen and
above, forty-two of sixty-four students received the Holy Spirit.
My heart is with the rulers of Israel
Who offered themselves willingly with
Bless the LORD ! (Judg 5:9)
What does it mean for one’s heart
to be with the rulers of Israel
who willingly offered themselves with the people? To me, this entails loving
the workers of God and the cause for which they fight on the frontline. We know
well that love is true only when it manifests itself in action. Action is
exhibited through training ourselves for service, supporting our workers in
prayer, and sacrificing our time and effort for God’s kingdom.
Do we have the longing and hope in
our hearts to see the kingdom of God advance in Africa?
By God’s power, we can turn this hope into action. And willing action—no matter
how small—is never wasted. Let us stand on God’s truth and fight with His
strength until He brings the victory.
And when we have volunteered to go
wherever God sends us, we too, like Deborah and Barak, can shout with a joyful
heart, “Bless the LORD!”
Currently there are three work
groups under the AMC: the missionary group, the RE textbook preparation group,
and the prayer group. In the future, we sincerely hope that more brethren will
volunteer to join the first two groups.
It goes without saying that the
prayer group is an essential part of the ministry. In our prayers, may we
always remember all our missionary workers, brethren, and those awaiting
salvation in Africa.
May our LORD direct and guard all
His workers and His church to victory—that He may have ever-increasing glory in