Philippines part 3

How did I ever reached the decision to go to the Philippines?

It all began with a sermon. And in fact, where else would it be for a Christian?

In Romans 15, the Apostle Paul was speaking about his personal desire to go to Rome and meet the Christians there. Maybe he was hoping to do the whole tourist gig, taste a few delicacies, and just rest. Or just be a friend. It doesn’t always have to be a spiritual matter. And yet Paul said no. God was calling him to go to Asia Minor for yet another journey and ministry. Paul would arrive in Rome in chains as a defendant and not tourist. It is hard to come up with some personal application and some pastors will skip this passage. Not our Pastor Andrew.

One word stood out: sacrifice. Paul gave up a trip that would be comfortable for a real mission. He wasn’t comfortable in comfort and mediocrity. He learned to serve others, not himself. And that was the calling to me. How could I ever in good conscience say to God: “I think I have done enough. I serve as an usher, read the Bible, and it’s good enough”?

I can’t. Not when Christ died for me. Not when millions have been martyred. I prayed: “Lord Jesus, just between you and me, I can do more.” It is a dangerous thing to pray, especially when God is always listening. And you know He is a good Father because he tests me.

That very same afternoon, I was browsing Facebook and saw ad for Wycliffe Associates Summer MAST program. Usually, the time spent on ads on social media is anywhere from 1 to 5 seconds. Not this ad; there was something about it. There was this soft voice: “I think you should apply.” That feeling did not go away but got stronger and stronger. I looked up what Wycliffe Associates’ mission statement, history, and the MAST program. Satisfied that this was legit, I clicked reply and gave them my contact information. Knowing that I have done all I could at this step, the ball was in their court. I did not expect to hear back since there are probably hundreds more qualified applicants.

I was wrong.

The ad was Sunday afternoon.

Monday afternoon at lunch, I received a caller ID I did not recognize. I answered it anyway. It was a recruiter from Wycliffe Associates. She had seen my response that because I spoke both Mandarin and French, I was actually more than qualified. She asked whether I was interested in hearing more. At this point, I could have said “no, thanks; I have second thoughts.” Instead, I said: “Sure, tell me more.”

And thus began a three month long conversation. Various countries did not work out; I still have my regular job which required plenty of advanced notice if I decided to take 2-3 weeks off. At certain points, the commitment to growth and change wavered. If I really wanted to do this, why was it taking so long for certain programs to give me firm dates. There was also immunizations, buying supplies, and filling travel medications. But then hope came up: the Philippines trip in Sept and there were firm dates. The question was: go or no go? I have never been there. Is this the country where God wants me to serve?

Like General Eisenhower on June 4, 1944 to decide whether to launch D-Day despite horrible weather, the answer was: GO!

Go despite uncertainty.

Go despite fear.

Go despite possible discouragement.

Go because God is going before me. Go because God is with me.

I applied for vacation and had more than enough days. In fact, I had actually maxed out the number of days my company gives me.

After sharing this opportunity with fellow Christians at church and work, all of them said: Wow! Go! Bless you that you want to do this. No one said anything negative or cautionary.

Thus on the night of Sept 14, I boarded the plane to Hong Kong and connected with Manila. I arrived on early afternoon Sept 16 and thus began a 2 week adventure with Bible translators.

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