Yesterday I was talking with one of my co-workers as we were walking during our 3PM break. This week is her 5th week since she started working at Menlo and also her last week — she’ll be moving on to another more permanent job.
As we were walking, she suddenly started asking me how long I’ve been working at Menlo and how I feel like it’s been going. I responded saying that it’s been challenging, but an awesome learning and growing experience. She responded:
“I have 6 weeks and I’ve been asking God how He wants to use me”
She only had 6 weeks here and could have seen it as a temporary job, just an interruption in her life, another thing she just had to get through, but she chose to see these 6 weeks as God-given opportunity to be used for His purposes and to share good news with those she sees as needing meaning and purpose in life.
I’ve been here 6 months and have been making it mostly about “what can I get out of it”, but I now want to see everyday as an opportunity for God to use me, no matter how long or how short of a time I have.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Just wanted to thank all of you for sharing your love for me this past week for my birthday, my family, LIFE Group, friends, roommates. I realize how fortunate I am to have you guys in my life and all the awesome relationships God has given me over the past couple years. I’m so thankful for you guys! God bless!
I returned to the US a few days ago and am adjusting back to Ann Arbor, so I wanted to update you guys on how the trip was before I forget everything! Again, thanks for supporting and praying for me, it really made a huge difference. Unlike some other team members, I didn’t get diarrhea the first week
Overall the trip was both a big personal learning experience as well as a privilege to see how God is moving in Indonesia and Singapore. We first gathered in Jakarta to meet up with the other teams joining us and got to experience Indonesian food and culture for the first time. Food is really good and really spicy, and training with the other teams was an awesome experience to see partnership among various churches. Then flying over to Biak, we worked with a church denomination called GKI and hosted a couple revival meetings and youth seminars. It was really awesome to be able to connect with the youth and see some of them respond to the messages, it felt like the work there is just beginning and that we were just planting seeds in people’s hearts to experience more of a personal relationship with God because of years of tradition and culture. In Jayapura, we helped out with a youth soccer camp and built relationships with some really amazing soccer players. It was encouraging to see many of them open up their lives to us and sharing about their past and convicted us of the need for more people to continue to invest in the next generation of leaders. Sorong was also eye-opening as we visited various villages, orphanages, churches, and people, but what stuck out were the couple of believers who faithfulness and patiently ministered onto the people, a woman who started her own orphanage, a missionary couple that is building a k-12 school, among others. Even as we went to Singapore, despite how modern and advanced the country is, we still saw so much need for community and the church when we talked with students and had a game night at National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University. It was so interested that externally, Singapore and Papua were so different, but the needs of people were so similar.
Personally, the biggest thing I learned was that I still place my worth in the things that I do, instead of Christ. Through the various skits, dances, playing guitar for worship, and other small things I did, I realized that this is in part a big reason why I care so much about my reputation and what people think of me. It was pretty noticeable that when I made a mistake, it would impact my demeanor and attitude because I cared so much about what others thought of me. But on the trip, God reminded me to please Him only, which gives me freedom from the burden of trying to appease so many other people’s opinions or thoughts of me. It’s definitely a work in progress, but it’s been incredible experience to go through. Additionally, God really showed how much he loves Papua and Singapore. In every location there were people with needs, orphans without families, youth without role models, students without community. And it was through this trip that the verse Matthew 9:37-38 really came alive.
*37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (NIV84)*
My personal takeaways were to see how the gospel applies in each instance I catch myself trying to please people, and continue praying for Papua and Singapore. So thanks again for your prayers! Below there are more comprehensive details about the trip if you would like to read. Otherwise, if you have any questions feel free to ask!
*Jakarta* We spent a couple days in Jakarta to join the Chicago, Austin, Singapore, and Jakarta missions teams and spent time training together. We spent most of the time getting to know each other, teaching each other the dances and skits, praying for the trip, and eating Indonesia food (really good and really spicy). One of the best times was getting to play a couple games of ultimate frisbee with all the different teams, some of the Indonesia guys were really good. It was incredible to see how quickly the teams came together with the same heart and spirit, it was almost like they were long lost brothers and sisters that we just hadn’t met yet. And I got to meet my JKT web team counterparts, and it was really hilarious taking photos of our church’s “global” web team.
*Biak* In Biak we learned the need to be flexible. There was ministry that we thought were scheduled but when we got there, we realized didn’t exist, and also ministry gatherings that we didn’t know existed until right before. We partnered with a church part of a denomination called GKI to do various revival meetings and youth seminars. GKI is supposed to be a fairly conservative church, so when we invited people to come to the front and receive prayer during a meeting, we were shocked at how open some of the people were. In both the adult and youth meetings, some people broke down and renewed their commitment and need for Christ, and some (mostly men) stood in the back just watching others. We also had youth seminars where we were able to connect with some of the more committed youth (anywhere from 15-30 yr olds). They shared that the biggest issues in Biak were drugs, free sex, alcohol, and apathy/disinterest in the church.
We also spent a day visiting local schools around the island. We saw many teachers and principals share how great the needs for the students were, but also how they were doing their best to use the resources they had. We saw glimmer of hope in many of the teachers and innocent joy in the kids eyes. Also, throughout our stay in Biak, we received the most incredible hospitality from the women of the church who would get up early to prepare us breakfast and stay up late to clean up our dinner, and everything in between.
I was really moved by the stark contrast in Biak, where large ornate churches were half-filled with a dwindling congregation and teachers were holding out hope for students and the next generation of students. Our team really had the feeling that the work we did there was simply to “prepare the way”, and we’re praying that there will be others that go to stir up a generation of youth that will build a church that is on fire for God there.
*Jayapura* During our stay in Jayapura, we spent the majority of our time at a soccer camp called “EMSYK UniPapua”, in addition to visiting a couple churches. We worked with Pak Harry (Pak = Mr.) who’s vision was to use the soccer camp as a vehicle for transforming the people and, eventually all of Papuan society, especially because soccer is HUGE in Papua. At the camp, we actually played a soccer match against their 18-21 year old team and lost 4-2 (we found out later that throughout the game they were yelling at each other to go easy on us). We hosted a 2 day “character and motivation camp” where we shared biblical values of responsibility, integrity, and courage to the players. In one of the times of sharing, one of the students opened up his life and shared about a significant family struggle. The different activities really seemed to connect with the players. We did arm wrestling competitions, soccer ball juggling competitions, showed them how to play ultimate frisbee, among many other things. After the two days many of them did not want us to leave, kept asking us for facebook and email contacts. Even as we left at around 3am in the morning, many of them came back to help us pack and load our luggage and say goodbye. It was an incredible time being able to spend time with these soccer players, share Christ’s love and pray for them that they would become not just the best soccer players, but the next generation of leaders in Papua.
I was really inspired by the camp and the whole vision of seeing this become a center of holistic education for the soccer player, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We were just able to get a glimpse of what God wanted to do in that place.
*Sorong* In Sorong we did various visits to orphanages, seaside towns, poor rural villages, house visits, churches, and universities. In many of these towns and villages, we saw such a great need for God. There were workers disillusioned by rough working conditions and no government help, villages so remote there were few good schools, sick lepers in hospitals with little hope. But in the midst of those people, we also met a number of people that gave hope to the city. We met the mother of a famous Papuan soccer player who started an orphanage. She exemplified a woman of faith, raising the children to fear God, to be disciplined and hardworking, and many of the children went off to lead successful lives as politicians, businessmen, even traveling to the US. We met a group of youth leaders who were excited to invite another missions team to host a camp, bringing all the traditionally-opposed denominations together to unite the youth of the city to bring change. And we met a missionary couple sent out from Texas who started a school, defying the popular held belief that Papuan children could not learn. They started with only kindergarden, but are looking to build a school that will serve through grade 12. But their influence is not limited to the students, of the students they taught, some were muslim, and they were able to see 14 or 15 muslim parents come to know Christ through a bible study ministry.
(visiting an orphanage)
Again, God showed me just how great the needs are and how he only requires people who will be faithful to their calling to see the greater society transformed.
*Singapore* Singapore was in stark contrast to Papua. City skyline, automated everything, streets cleaned day and night. People in Singapore generally had this feel of “busy”, work life is difficult, and cold interactions with strangers. Underneath the beautiful landscape and prinstinely controlled society seemed like a apathetic, over-worked, soul-less population that needed Christ’s joy. We were hosted by the HMCC Singapore church and had a wonderful time partnering and serving with them. We helped them put together a “game night”, in which by random coincidence (or God’s soveriegnty) another university group had planned a game night at the exact same time and place. We met many people and connections for the Singapore church members to follow up on.
I have a little green notebook that I jot down all my todo’s, random ideas, timesheets, and various other personal information. It’s the perfect size that fits in your pocket, so I carry it around everywhere I go it’s become pretty important to me.
A couple days back I lost my little green notebook. Immediately I went into a frantic search of my memory to try to trace back where I could have lost it. I checked my whole apartment, my bags, coats, drawers, everywhere I could think of. I retraced my steps, back to the room I had my last meeting, at the cost of being late to my next appointment.
When I backtracked to that room, I found my little green notebook on one of the tables I had been sitting at. I excitedly interrupted a group of students inside the room to grab my notebook and quickly left the room while excitedly texting a friend about how I’d found it.
I get so excited about finding little things that were once lost. I wonder how much more does God rejoice when His lost children return to Him.
Last Sunday, I made a commitment to list 5 things I’m thankful for every day of the week. Here’s my list for Thursday.
I’m thankful for:
- A new friend I just met who came to church and really experienced God through it.
- Having older guys that care enough to take time out of their own life to help me through my life.
- Building better relationships with my co-workers, especially when I feel like I’m the new guy and everyone already knows each other well.
- Being able to work with a team to build our church website and see real change and growth.
- Somehow always being really excited about learning (at work and other random interactions) and apply it in new ways to my life and the teams I lead.
Over the past month or so I’ve been learning how it’s so easy to look at my own life and nit pick at all the things that are lacking. What follows? Discouragement, a poor attitude, and nothing but complaining. It’s refreshing to see the brighter side and actually thank God for all the awesome things that are going on all around me.
A lot of times my boss at work will say “I’m confident we’re going to get this deal”. He’s talking about a call he just had with a potential client that is interested in our product. I always wonder what gives him such confidence and certainty, especially because afterward, sometimes the deal goes through and sometimes it doesn’t.
Today at church we studied Hebrews 3:1-6 and one of the points was that we should have confidence in the freedom that God gave us. We are God’s people “if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.” (v.6).
As I sat there listening to the message, I was thinking: “how can I maintain or have this kind of confidence?”. Where does this confidence come from? I’ve learned that just trying to “muster” up confidence doesn’t really cut it. And besides, why does this lesson about confidence sound so conditional? I thought the gift that Jesus gives us is completely unconditional and “not about me”? There are other verses that sound similar:
Mt 10:22 “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Heb 3:14 “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”
Ps 119:33 “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.”
How can I make sure that I’ll be the one that “endures” or is “firm to the end”? There are so many times that I’ve tried to do all the “right” things, like pray before my meals, read the Bible, go to all the good church meetings, be extra nice to people, and I either get really apathetic and jaded or I fail and become discouraged. So it seems really difficult to hold firm to this “confidence”. Then why does the statement “if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence…” sound like it’s all up to me to find confidence in order to know Jesus? Is this now dependent on me now?
No. As I thought about what it means to be confident, I realized that confidence is enabled because something outside of ourselves is sure. When I stand on a rock foundation, my confidence comes from the rock’s characteristic of being sturdy. When I throw a ball into the air, I’m confident that it will eventually come down for someone else to catch. I take it for granted that gravity always works, confident in gravity’s perfect track record of making things fall. When we trust in God, our confidence comes from the fact that He died on the cross to give us life. All the above are sturdy, unchanging, and not dependent on my feelings, thoughts, or actions.
Confidence is not something we muster up or are something we can “get good at”. It’s a by-product and a response to something that is already solid and set in place. More than a rock is sturdy or that gravity is always working, God is unchanging, guaranteed, consistent, unfailing, everlasting, eternally faithful, and good. If we can have confidence that rocks are sturdy and gravity is a normal fact of life, how much more then can we have confidence that God gave us life through His son? Confidence is enabled because something outside of ourselves is sure. And our unchanging God is surely outside of ourselves.
So if my boss can find confidence in clients that are 50-50, I can definitely find confidence in a God thats 100%.
9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.
7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”[b] 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Today I sat through an elections proceeding that demonstrated that power is not you job title, how hard you work, or even how well you speak.
Three people went up to speak. The first guy rambled a lot, the second guy laid out clear goals and cast an exciting vision (albeit a little dry), and the third guy blew the other two out of the water with a charismatic speech.
The rambling guy won.
When all three had left the room, two other people spoke in favor of the guy who rambled and the rest remained silent.
What did he do different? He influenced people who would advocate for him even after he left the room.