My lovely wife wrote some words of encouragement to a university group in Hope Singapore. She showed me what she has written and I thought of putting it on our blog as part of our chronicles of Ecuador. 🙂 Here it goes:
Dear brothers and sisters from NYC,
It is such a privilege and joy to be typing this note to you in a country halfway around the world, 13 hours behind SG time. Thanks Timothy, for this opportunity to share with my fellow NYCians!
Many of you might not even have heard of Ecuador, except maybe during World Cup or some country that Hope Church has some people in. That was us, just a few years ago! My impression of Ecuador initially was a poor country that once in a while gets into the World Cup. My mum thought all Ecuadorians were black and my dad thought Ecuador was a dangerous place full of volcanoes!
The real Ecuador is a beautiful country with lovely and passionate people. The country is rich in culture and resources – the coast, the mountains and the Amazon jungle are just a few hours drive away from each other. The scenery is breath-taking and you can really appreciate God’s wonderful work of nature here. You might be thinking I sound like a tour-agency marketer promoting Ecuador. Well, I might just be! The truth is, after being in Ecuador for 3 years, I have grown to love the people and country. And it is amazing how God has touched and changed me in this.
When I was a young Christian in university, I had always desired to travel the world and expand my worldview. I always felt that was a very important part of life, experiencing new things, meeting new people and I believe this is what many young Singaporeans such as yourself look out for nowadays. So when God spoke of the Great Commission, or reaching the nations, I thought, “Cool! That’s an awesome vision I don’t mind being a part of!”
But hang on. This is church planting, not your normal “adventure globe-trotting”. Well, I would like to tell you, IT CERTAINLY IS GLOBE-TROTTING… AND MORE. Church planting might sound “daunting” but I must tell you, it is an adventure you have to try. It is true, you will face challenges (we had our fair share of difficulties in the initial years, learning the language, causing and resolving misunderstandings, making mistakes, getting bruised spiritually, emotionally and physically etc.) but you will probably face the same challenges if you were to go on a long exchange program or work overseas as many Singaporeans are doing now.
So why not face these challenges with God on your side and better still, understanding that God wants you to do so and embracing the fact that God not just wants you to visit countries, but to make an impact in these countries, to touch the lives of people in these countries. And along the way, be amazed by God’s grace and how He simply loves you and can use you in ways you never thought possible.
We have grown in so many ways and learnt so much in our short 3 years here in Ecuador. We have learnt skills that we would never have thought of learning in Singapore (eg. Build and paint walls, lay tiles, cook for a hundred people etc.)! Today, we speak a new language, we have learnt to adapt to a new culture and survive! We have been molded in our personalities and character in the process, we have learnt to be patient, to accept people different from us, to love them, to persevere, to forgive, to change and give of ourselves, to lead them and to also humbly accept their love, generosity and hospitality. We have been challenged in our faith and grown in our dependence on God; we have prayed for things we didn’t have the chance to pray for in Singapore and we have seen greater miracles; we have cried and felt more helpless than we would do in Singapore but we have also experienced God’s grace and protection in greater measures.
My short note has become pretty long. (“As usual,” Timothy might be saying.) But I would like to end off by sharing that it’s very simple actually. God’s simple purpose is for us to love Him and love people. And church planting is simply a part of our growth process. As you evangelise in the university, you are planting a church in the university. As you go to work and share with your colleagues, you are planting a church in the workplace. Church planting in another country is just another phase of our spiritual walk! It just means interacting with people, evangelizing and making disciples in a different context. I want to encourage you to look forward to this next phase of your spiritual walk. Simply listen to God, simply obey and simply be open to all that He can do through you and in you, and then wait and expect to experience Him greatly as you go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them.