Swahili is an African language spoken in Kenya. After I introduced myself to a new Kenyan friend during our recent trip to Kibera in Nairobi, he replied, “You have a beautiful name. Do you know what it means in Swahili?” I shook my head and said, “No, what does it mean?” He said, “Kezia (pronounced … Continue reading Kesha: How God Spoke to Me Through My Name in Africa
It was a balmy night in Krabi. The air was light, and it felt good against my skin. I was sitting alone in the comfort of my room completely immersed in the world of the book I was reading; I was savoring every minute of the moment. I had felt weightless in the confines of … Continue reading Try Jesus
Last year, I had the rare privilege of studying women of the Bible with Chinese women in Beijing. We were cramped in a one-bedroom apartment not too far from where my team’s hotel was. I estimate there were about 25 ladies in that apartment, hungry for God’s word and thirsty for the Holy Spirit’s presence. … Continue reading Sarah’s Mess
A fresh start. That’s what I need. Or the undo button, so I can modify last year.
This is not an uncommon mantra for many of us at the closing of a year and the opening of a new one. Sometimes, we had a great year. Sometimes, we had a not-so-bad year. Oftentimes, we had a hard year infested with hurts and pains, failures and problems; we were sure we would never get through any of them.
But we did, and here we are at the launching pad of a new year. It brings with it hope and endless possibilities.
I am a full-time missionary; but I wasn’t always one. To serve full-time in the mission field was possibly the hardest decision I have ever made in my life.
You must be wondering why I would be writing about reasons to not go on mission trips when I am in the field. I suppose you could say these were my reasons for not going on mission trips before I dove in audaciously.
So, here are five reasons why I think you shouldn’t go on mission trips.
If you are afraid to witness firsthand what God is doing in the world
I was afraid. I was afraid that God would show me what He was doing in the world; and worst, even use me and invite me to join in His work because I felt not qualified to be that person He could employ for His purposes. I was lugging with me a massive baggage of insecurity that paralyzed me from taking a step of faith in obedience to Him.
When God first called me to go to missions, I literally ignored the whole idea of it. For a couple of years, I was able to avoid acknowledging the burden I had felt and successfully managed to pay no attention to its existence. Until I could no longer pretend that it’s not there. It was becoming awfully heavy to carry. Continue reading “Five Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Go On Mission Trips”
September. The first -ber month of the year. It marks the beginning of the Christmas season in the Philippines — a tradition that I really enjoyed while growing up, and now, long for as an adult. It was the month I looked forward to enter each year even more so than December.
I used to anticipate the obvious and lighthearted shift in the atmosphere anywhere I went in my hometown when the first day of September arrives. Everyone appeared buoyant and optimistic about life. Radio stations would air Christmas songs that were loudly played in jeepneys (a public transportation in the Philippines). Homes and, yes, malls were lavishly decorated with Christmas ornaments and trimmings.
And Christmas lights! They were my favorite. Christmas lights in different shapes and form emitting a variety of hues were ubiquitous; the spectacle was a pointillism of colors. At night, I would be sticking my head out of the jeepney window staring at stunning displays of these dancing lights on the road mesmerized by it all. I remember feeling my heart bouncing up and down in bliss as I carefully watched them showing off. Continue reading “Christmas Lights”
I grew up neither in Sunday school singing about Jesus, reading and studying the Bible, nor hearing about Him other than being a God who walked on Earth performing miracles. I grew up not knowing that He loves me or that He wants a relationship with me.
Yes, as a kid, I have heard and read stories of godly men like Moses and Noah; but I viewed these stories from the eyes of someone whose perspective of God was slanted on the belief that if you are not good enough, He will not let you “in” His circle of exceptional people.
In my eyes, these godly men and women from these remarkable stories had nothing in common with me. They sounded, to me, like perfect people who could do no wrong. Thus, God favored them. It took me awhile to understand that was not true.
When I came to personally know Jesus Christ, it wasn’t a dramatic change. It happened slowly. He gradually abolished layers and layers of lies that I held on to for most of my life.
Today was one of those days were everything just seems off.
A few hours ago, I was upset. My anger was eating me up that I unintentionally directed my displeasure to my husband as we were preparing the slideshow for his sermon tomorrow. Poor Jason, he had to deal with my lousy attitude. My irritation consumed me; I did not realize I was being, well, rotten.
After working on the slides, we got ready to leave for the regular Saturday prayer meetings. We were not expecting a lot of people today knowing that some are gone for vacations or other reasons. I almost did not want to go, but I knew I had to. In the car, I was a bit more reflective. I started pondering about how I acted earlier. (Unfortunately, I have not quite mastered thinking first before acting. I frequently fail in this area. Sigh.) I apologized to Jason, and I started pouring out to him. Continue reading “Overtaken”
Learning a language is a very humbling enterprise. In taking on Thai, my greatest hindrance from truly grasping it is fear to commit mistakes, which to me translates to looking foolish.
Pride, essentially. It was the main culprit of my slow and painful progress, but I had read enough amount of literature and accumulated sufficient personal and vicarious experiences about learning a new language to realize that if I intend to communicate with the people I live in the midst of and share the love of Jesus to them, I had to let go of that crippling mindset.
No, it was not easy. I had to basically swallow my bitter-tasting ego. I had to learn to accept that this time I was not the teacher, but the student. I also had to take my own medicine. I used to tell my students that mistakes are not entirely bad because you learn some valuable lessons that you can’t learn otherwise.
We were in a city in China, window-shopping at a mall looking for souvenirs; we happened on his store. For numerous times, we kept coming back for more of his items. The team came and bought many of his products — me, buying most of his ceramic-made bracelets.
We seem to be drawn to his quirky store, an assortment of charming accessories and knick-knacks. There was a welcoming feeling in his tiny space in this interesting mall.
On the second night (and yes we went to his store again), one of us saw his bracelet with the cross dangling on it. She burst in excitement and asked, “Are you a Christian?” He had a ready and eager answer, “Yes!” With little English on his part and virtually no Chinese on our part that question and answer prompted a heart connection among strangers who have only one common ground — Jesus.
The next morning, after that joyful discovery about the storeowner, we went to the orphanage where we were spending time with kids who suffer from brittle bone disease. Brittle bone disease is a genetic disorder characterized by fragile bones that break easily; some of these kids can’t walk due to this condition. Continue reading “The Storeowner and Joseph’s Prayer”