Missions

Post Baltimore Update #6

Some housekeeping items...

Missions Report Night
WHEN: September 22 @ 4:30pm
WHERE: San Jose Christian School (1300 Sheffield Ave, Campbell, CA 95008)
RSVP: by September 21 @ 5pm 

To RSVP, and if you have questions, email cindy.chu@lbcsj.com

Reminder
We are still accepting financial support for one more day! If the Lord impresses upon your heart to give, please do so by August 22. We love you either way!

Warnings
1. Longggg posttt aheadd..I guess Grandma's got a lot to say these days.
2. My post below is a screened collection of recent journal entries.
3. Apologies in advance for my fragmented and slightly emo thoughts.
4. Feel free to ask me for more details.
5. Enjoy! :)

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Seek, Set, Behold
Before we departed for Baltimore, I was asked to share (in front of the whole church - eek!) what I had been learning as well as prayer requests. If you know me at all, you would know that I fear the public eye. The stage is not my friend, and I try to hold hands with Attention using a ten foot pole. But I had to remind myself that it was not about me. It was an opportunity to encourage as well as be held accountable. So I did it.

For those who weren't there that Sunday, here's a snippet of what I shared:

I wanted to seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1). I wanted to set my mind on the things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2). I wanted to behold the glory of the Lord as I am being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). Though imperfectly, I wanted to not let anything obscure the life hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

I need to to continually grow in my love for God so that I can better love others. I need to deepen my understanding of the Gospel so that it would overflow (wherever I am). I need to depend on Scripture and His Spirit so that I may be properly guided. I need to be walking well and intensely focusing my gaze upon Jesus, despite people and circumstances. In short, I need to abide in the true vine (John 15).

And now...
We are about one month post Baltimore.

I wish I could say that I have been on a post-missions high, sharing the Gospel left and right with friends and strangers alike, and in a happy-go-lucky bubble filled with roses and butterflies because #Jesus. While I am still soaking in all that I saw and learned, it's been nonstop challenges. From an earthly standpoint, life has been hard. Very hard. And I have been sad. Very sad, haha. --- Trials keep coming. Insecurities are high. Fears are being made real. Relationships have been rocked. Hurt seems to knock on my door weekly. The demands of work keeps rushing in. The list goes on...and on and on and on. --- But I can say that I am humbled and thankful. God is so good, in trials and in celebrations. I want to welcome these difficulties because I know that He loves me and is pruning me as my Abba Father. I'm learning to slow down through the crazy and the busy, and just appreciate the moment...even if it's with tears and awkward smiles. Thank you for praying with me through the Baltimore trip, and even now. 

Since our week in Baltimore, I have been praying about how the whole of me can be used for God and His people.

If you're still reading, kudos to you. You must like me - thanks!

And if you're curious as to what specifically has been occupying my mind and heart since returning, you can read about the body parts (that contribute to the whole of me) below.

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Hands
Hands that labor. Hands that serve. Hands that build.

I love looking at old people's hands. They tell so many stories without speaking. Maybe it's his recent heart attacks, but lately I have been looking a lot at my dad's hands. I imagine that each wrinkle, scar, sunspot, and freckle tells a unique story of how he loved and sacrificed for his family. Each story has made him the man, husband, and father that he is. Each flaw has been made beautiful through retrospective lens. Though he isn't a believer, I still admire the strength of his frail, arthritic hands. Of course, I am saddened by the idols he's built with his hands (figuratively and literally - there are idols around my parents' house that they pray to throughout the day).

When I think about my career and working in general, I recall “life lessons” from my pops. Despite how much I value the lessons my dad instilled in me re: work ethics and integrity, I have to remember that Scripture has something greater to say. It warns us against banking in the works of our hands.

Psalm 9:16 reminds us, “The wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.”
Psalm 115:4 and Psalm 135:1 tells us, "Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. "
Isaiah 2:8 says, "Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made."
Jeremiah 1:16 writes, "And I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands."
The people described above literally worshiped statutes - much like my parents currently. It's like the golden calf and how the Israelites "offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands” (Acts 7:41). Their hands were not toiling for the glory of the Lord. It is easy for me to identify this in others without realizing how much worth and time I invest into my job, even if it's at the expense of investing in my church people.

But work isn't bad or sinful. It was designed before the fall. And we should “aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). Paul strove to model hard work with his hands (1 Corinthians 4:12), and called others to imitate him (1 Corinthians 11:1).

The temptation that my parents fell into was trusting in themselves and the work of their hands. I do the same. But believers have a calling and an eternal treasure bigger than what we store up for ourselves, and more glorious than any of our hands' work. We can rest and rejoice in the work of God’s hands, rather than our own, even if His work is done through our hands (1 Corinthians 15:10). “You, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy” (Psalm 92:4).
Even though my job gets insanely busy, I can work heartily unto the Lord. If we want to be truly happy in our jobs, we cannot base our happiness on our jobs, and definitely not on the abilities of our hands (and minds and whatever else you want to argue). Our worship and happiness must be anchored and rooted in God alone.

I can only keep hoping that my dad’s hands might one day praise the Savior. And I know I am eternally secure in the hands of Jesus (John 10:27-28), his nail-pierced hands. "Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8). I want to hold onto temporary things with open hands, focusing on what is lovely, pure, and true (Philippians 4:8). So come trials, come.

Knees
Ashy knees. Weak knees. Knees that tremble. Knees that bend. Knees that bow to the King of Kings.

I used to think elbows and knees were the oddest body parts. I didn't understand their function, nor did I see their attractiveness. As I now consider qualities that I desire, qualities of those whose faith I admire, and even qualities of a future spouse (Lord-willing), I consider their knees. That is, to whom do their knees bow. I saw this type of worship in the saints at BBC who sang loudly, danced shamelessly, labored tirelessly, evangelized relentlessly, prayed fervently, and loved on us constantly. All because their knees are bowed before the Lord of Lords. 

I wish I didn't need struggles to make me bend my knees in prayer (literally and figuratively). But in recent days, as relationships have come and gone, and disappointments are easy to grow, I am reminded of the hope and victory I have in submission to His will rather than my own plans and preferences, even if I think they are for God.

Feet
Feet matter. Stinky feet. Big ol', clown feet. Itty bitty feet. They all matter.

Making disciples of all nations requires more than dropping a Gospel tract, or eloquently regurgitating the Gospel message. Making disciples requires more than a dimly lit room with ambient music, crying publicly because #Jesus, writing verses in beautiful calligraphy (I have awful penmanship), or having a super hip social media account. Disciple-making involves getting your feet wet, immersing your whole body, opening your heart, and teaching not just what Jesus commanded, but to observe all that he commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).

Discipling others is a long term effort. Being discipled by Christ and his commands is a lifelong endeavor. Discipleship involves entrusting the gospel to faithful men who will be able to then teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). It involves older women training younger women (Titus 2:3–5). It means coming alongside and exhorting with the gentleness of a nursing mother and the strength of a father (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12). It means an eagerness to share not only the gospel, but our own selves (1 Thessalonians 2:8), providing an example for others to imitate us as we imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1), and empowering people to practice what they have learned and received and heard and seen (Philippians 4:9). I really believe that disciple-making is best done through the vehicle of the local church, and in partnership with other local churches. And it starts by going - not just overseas, but going wherever you have you feet planted. Your mission field is wherever you are - home, work, school, etc. 

Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:15 clearly and relevantly says, “How beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news!” The feet of those who leave behind family, friends, familiarity to adapt to a new language and custom and place are beautiful feet because they echo the journey of Christ's feet. The feet of those who persevere daily through the mundane, shining brightly in a dark but sometimes enticing culture, fleeing from (and not entertaining) temptation, are beautiful feet because they follow the call of Christ.

Like our friends at BBC, we as believers have feet that follow Christ and that carry the Good News through discipleship in the local church and outreaching to our communities. I want to walk as Christ walked - humbly onward and humbly upward. May my feet not stray from the narrow path. Instead, may Your Word be a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).

Heart
Follow your heart, they say. It's all about your heart before God, they say. It's all good in the neighborhood if your heart is at peace, they say. How often have you heard these lines spoken loud and proud as if it’s all about the feels (i.e. what you want)? What about Jeremiah 17:9? It says the heart is deceitful above all things. Let's be honest - if left to ourselves, our hearts would not choose God. 

In the last two months, my heart experienced so many emotions: enjoyment, disappointment, hurt, bitterness, fear. If I listened to the wiles of my heart in those dark moments, my heart would not have found comfort in Christ.

My family's salvation is not guaranteed. My career may change. My plans may not be the Lord's plans for me. My personal desires may never see the light of day. My friends may not always be there. My future is uncertain. But I want to be described as David in Acts 13, as one after God's own heart.

Hands, Knees, Feet, Heart
In summary... I am upheld with His righteous right hand. I am a slave to righteousness; a sinner with knees bowed before the King. I have feet that bring the Good News. I have been given a heart of flesh to glory in my Redeemer.

It's easy to long for heaven when times on earth are hard. But until my time comes, may I live in such a way that is wholly used by Him - all year long, wherever I am on the daily, and not just on summer STMs like the one to Baltimore. 

Thank you, Jesus.

Post Baltimore Update #5

I tend to forget how short it has been since our team has gotten back from Baltimore. When we first got back, I remember being extremely challenged to have a stronger boldness in proclaiming my faith and sharing the gospel with those around me.

For those that don’t know, there had been a lot of transition at my job before I left for the trip which meant that I was coming back into those transitions. I was coming back to a new manager and what felt like, a new office. I was reminded of how reserved I was to share why I fought so hard to get PTO to go to Baltimore and I wanted to be able to come back and really share with my heart what I’ve learned through the trip. I share this because the next day I came back from Baltimore, I had to work. What I wasn’t expecting was the opportunity that God placed in front of me to get to know my new manager. He shared with me that he had actually grew up going to church and his grandfather was a Pastor. I was able to share with him about the purpose of me going to Baltimore and what I learned. To this day we still talk about the gospel and scripture here and there throughout the work week and even if he isn’t truly saved, I am constantly encouraged and challenged by our conversation. I even invited him and his family to church and he wanted to visit but wanted me to be there (which is next to impossible because we work the Sundays that the other person is off) but I hope that he will come visit LBCSJ on his own.

Throughout the next 2 weeks, as I saw my coworkers, I had the opportunity to share a little deeper in regard to why I went to Baltimore. As I shared about the kid’s camp and scatter week, they would say “you’re such a good person” and leave it at that. They weren’t interested in hearing the gospel but wanted to know if there were any cool sightseeing in Baltimore. I share this because even though we aren’t in Baltimore passing out tracts, there are opportunities everywhere. We cannot let the fear of man keep us from sharing the great news of Christ Jesus. If I am honest with myself, handing out tracts and sharing the gospel with strangers is easier then sharing with those I know because of my fear of rejection/man.

Please pray that I would be able to show the love of Christ to my coworkers and that they would be receptive to hearing the gospel one day (also that my manager would come out to church to hear the word of God being preached). The trip was such a great reminder that we do not save man but God does. We can only share the gospel to those around us and God will change the hearts of man. I can get easily discourage with the response of my coworkers, but I find comfort in knowing that God is the one in control, not me.

Post Baltimore Update #4

How deep the Father’ s love for us,

How vast beyond all measure,

That He should give His only Son,

And make a wretch His treasure.

It has been almost 3 weeks since the Baltimore STM team has returned from Maryland.  Since returning from our short term missions trip, and coming back to work, with all the duties and responsibilities that follow, I realized how blessed I was to be able to go on this trip, and have an extended time, to both share and examine my faith.

One aspect of my faith that I was both encouraged and challenged with was in hospitality and loving others. Seeing how Baltimore Bible Church (BBC) not only was hospitable to guests and their own church attendees was such an encouragement. From the time we arrived at the airport in Baltimore, and was taken care of by Pastor Matt, to the palpable love extended by the church members (lots of hugs and one-sided cheek kisses when meeting our LBCSJ team), to our interactions with BBC throughout scatter week, we were overwhelmed with hospitality. It was especially nice to get to see how a like-minded church worshipped on Sunday, and to see the church members interact with each other. Their commonality was Christ, from the youngest children, to the most mature saint.

We were never treated like strangers, and were welcomed with open arms. After our time at the VBS kids camp, the church members would gather to have a brown bag lunch, which was made by a wonderful married couple. The wife was not feeling well with vertigo, but both the husband and wife still continued to shop for, and faithfully pack and prepare at least 30 brown bags lunches for the entire BBC outreach team everyday. They made the sandwiches, packed chips, fruit, and a sweet dessert. The only day the wife missed being there a lunch was the day she went to her doctor’s appointment, but her husband was there to hand out the prepared lunches.

Another way BBC showed us hospitality was to be gentle and loving with us. During dinner, I shared how I was nervous to street evangelize to strangers with Mama Trudy (P. George’s mama). Mama Trudy gently encouraged me, not only by giving me tips, but literally took my hand and partnered with me for my first two days during our street evangelizing time. She led by example, showing me how she approached strangers to engage them in conversation, and used reassurance and love.

My challenge to you, dear reader, and to my beloved LBCSJ, is to examine how you yourself and corporately as a church love others-- both to church members and regular attendees and to the friends, acquaintances, and non-believers in your lives. How do we outwardly show love, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because of our love of the Son, and His work for us on the cross? How do we consider others’ needs first and not our own? How do we grow in love, knowing that Christ has loved us first?

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

– Ephesians 5:1-2

Post Baltimore Update #3

It has now been 3 weeks since we’ve been back from Baltimore. A lot has happened in my life in the last 3 weeks, and what I’ve learned in Baltimore made me better equipped to deal with all of it. Being on a missions trip was a huge blessing that allowed me to put aside the hardships of everyday life. This is not to say that missions was not difficult (believe me, it was), but it was a joyful kind of labor. Being with other believers 24/7, constantly being reminded of the Gospel, and being united in one explicit goal - to proclaim the Gospel - was such a relief from the daily grind of work, eat, and sleep. But that brings the question to mind, “shouldn’t that be how I live my life now?”. Granted, being at work takes me away from other believers, yet it is not that different from being at a subway station proclaiming the Gospel to unbelievers there. God has been reminding me of something that I’ve learned before: true fellowship doesn’t happen by accident. It isn’t enough to just be around other believers; we need to find our identity and mission in Christ, and we do so by proclaiming the Gospel to ourselves and others. I am reminded of this again as I have just returned from a week of counseling at a church summer camp where I experienced the same joy as I had in Baltimore, except this time I was much more prepared to share the Gospel because of all the practice I had in Baltimore. One of the burdens of camp counseling is the desire to see conversion and fruit within the span of a week, but the two biggest lessons I learned in Baltimore are that 1) The Gospel has the power to save, not me, and 2) my job is to plant and water, God will decide if or when He will bring growth. In addition to coming back from camp, I also had some issues at work lately. Thankfully, God has rooted me in His truths so that I could weather this storm, and I can see now that God has used Baltimore to do prepare me. God is indeed both sovereign and good, so don’t ever let anyone tell you anything different.

Post Baltimore Update #2

It has been about 2 weeks since coming back from Baltimore. I have had some time to reflect about what happened during the trip, but the adjustment back to reality was a little tough. As some of you know I am a physical therapy aide, which involves standing up all day. I am not sure if I was jet lagged, or just exhausted from the trip (probably this one), but for the first week back every day I went to work I ended up hitting a wall after only a couple hours. I would feel completely wiped out, which isn’t good because I need to look happy for the patients. However, God provided me with enough energy to get through the day, as always.

Apart from energy, one challenge was how I would respond when non-Christians asked he how my “vacation” was. Even before the STM I have been praying that I would be bold for God and be able to provide a truthful answer to friends, coworkers, and patients that asked. I would say that when I was asked about the trip, I was able to respond with a decent amount of information. I could tell that I was still nervous and didn’t really pounce on the opportunity to share about how much God blessed the trip and even share the gospel with those that asked. I described my trip to people, hoping they would ask more questions, but a lot of the responses were “oooh that’s cool….” That kind of ended the conversation. But I see that there is still room for improvement in my area of boldness, which leads me to one big thing that I have been reflecting on, trying to figure out how to grow in, and apply to my life.

As you guys know we did street evangelism in Baltimore. My big prayer request was that God would provide me with boldness. When we got there, God definitely gave me some of that, but after seeing how excited people from Baltimore were about sharing the gospel with people, I began to wonder why I wasn’t too excited. I even volunteered on the first day to stay by the waters because I assumed I would talk to less people (I was wrong).

After some reflection, I reached this next question: “how much do I love God?” Loving God always seems to be the answer to everything. I come to the conclusion that if I truly loved God and his gospel, I would be truly excited to share this good news with everyone. Boldness would not be my biggest worry.  I would want to show people who He is through my actions and words. I would want to live my life for him all the time - not just when its convenient or when I have to. I know I do love God, but God showed me that there are a lot of holes in my love for Him. I am still reflecting on this and I know it is a sanctifying process, where I hopefully will grow more and more in my love for God, but I came to a couple other possible answers that may be both true. Either I don’t really love God as much as I think I do, or my view of loving God is skewed and I need to learn how to correctly apply true love. It is hard to tell when we can’t even truly see what’s in our hearts, but either way God has shown me something. I need to grow in my love for Him and live it out. It is hard when all I want to do is love myself, but every day I try to put to death what is earthly in me and put on Christ. Yeah I fail, but through God’s grace I am able to get back up and try again.

After this trip, I do feel like I grew in my love for God, but it needs to grow so much more. One way apart from reading His word and praying, is serving Him. Currently I am not a part of many ministries at Lighthouse, but from serving on the STM and other ministries at my home church, I know I have experienced God’s love from other believers and directly from Him. It is amazing to see God working in the world first hand. I want to continue that and do my best to serve God by loving Him and his people more.