Ongs in Malawi

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The Mission

Posted on November 28, 2009 at 5:05 AM Comments comments (1)

That’s the title of a song that I really liked back in high school, by a Christian artist by the name of Steve Green. And it came on cassette! Yes, it’s old! By sheer age itself, it can definitely be branded an ‘anthem’.

 

The lyrics of the song really grabbed me back those many many years ago, and from time to time, I still hum the chorus in the shower! The chorus still grabs me today for it reminds me that it is the love of God that makes our hearts tick for missions, and that everything we do springs from that relationship with Him. Mission is therefore not an obligation but a love-response to God! My prayer, echoing the words of the last verse, is that we like the candle become consumed by the passion for God, and that by burning to know Him deeper, we would radiate His glory to the nations!

 

Song words below, and I'm sure there would be some thing on Youtube.

 

~ Pete

____________________________

 

The Mission

By Steve Green

 

There's a call going out

Across the land in every nation

A call to those who swear allegiance to the cross of Christ

A call to true humility, to live our live responsibly

To deepen our devotion to the cross at any price

 

Let us then be sober, moving only in the Spirit

As aliens and strangers in a hostile foreign land

The message we're proclaiming is repentance and forgiveness

The offer of salvation to a dying race of man

 

Chorus:

To love the Lord our God

Is the heartbeat of our mission

The spring from which our service overflows

Across the street

Or around the world

The mission's still the same

Proclaim and live the Truth

In Jesus' name

 

As a candle is consumed by the passion of the flame

Spilling light unsparingly throughout a darkened room

Let us burn to know Him deeper

Then our service flaming bright

Will radiate his passions

And blaze with holy light

"How ARE you?"

Posted on November 18, 2009 at 4:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Generally, before you can go on missions, you need to raise financial support and prayer. To do this, you go around churches and share with them your plans. This comes once your application is successful.

 

Financial and prayer support is important, but what about emotional support?

 

Having been on a short term mission before, I know that can be easier for people to pledge prayer and even financial support than it is to maintain emotional support. Yes, it's great to know that people are praying and that we have food on the table to eat, but it is also important to know that people haven’t forgotten you. When I was all by my lonesome self in Ethiopia last time (Pete was stationed in a rural part with only twice-daily publicly broadcasted radio contact), I remember wishing that people from home would email me. Having said all that, I too am guilty of not keeping in touch with missionary friends.

 

I've been feeling depressed and down lately. Feeling like nobody cares. I feel that no one cares enough to listen to me. Like talking to a brick wall. I'm feeling anti-social and hiding away from people.

 

This feels all too familiar. I've been here before. I was here years ago in my 'Dark Days'. I thought it was strange that this was happening again now. I thought I was better now. I thought I was over that. Out of the valley.

 

It all started when I got upset after what I felt was a lack of response from friends after sending out a message about how I was going. Is this what sending out missionary newsletters is like?

 

4 weeks on, and it finally dawned on me last night. This is a 'spiritual attack'. This is Satan's way of snuffing out my passion for missions, finally rekindled after being 'in the wilderness' for years. This is the first time I'd felt like this since my Dark Days, though not to the same degree. He's doing this now because things have been hotting up in the past few weeks as we began the application process to SIM. The devil is trying to bring me down because he knows this is where I'm vulnerable. My greatest weakness is the need for friends to show care. I was just sharing with my Bible Study group this week that I was worried because if I've been feeling depressed and 'friendless' now though I'm surrounded by friends, how then will I survive being away from all this in the middle of Africa?? How can I go on the mission field??

 

This is exactly what the Enemy wants me to feel!!

 

I know Jesus is my friend and he is all that I need, but sometimes I also just need to ‘see’ Jesus through people, to feel a hug, to hear a kind word.

 

So where to from here? I think it might be wise for us to begin to make plans to raise 'emotional support' for when we leave for Africa, to form a 'home support team', as suggested by a friend from my Bible Study group. We need to form a group of close friends who will pledge to maintain emotional support. I've heard that there are mission agencies out there who train up friends and family at home to care for missionaries, to educate them about the emotional peaks and troughs of missionary life, so people know how to show care. What a superb idea!

 

Perhaps part of the 'training' to care for the Ongs, would be for me to tell friends how I need to be cared for. Everyone perceives care differently. I'm sure people care, but people just have different ways of showing it. All I need is friends to sincerely asks me, from time to time, the simple question of "How ARE you?" and listen when I tell them. What I need is for friends to care and ask me how I'm going in the everyday things of life, not just when I'm in crisis mode. I don't need dinner made for me. I don’t need a babysitter. I just need a message. I don't need an essay, I just need a simple "how are you? thinking of you".

 

I know :o) As one of my close friends told Pete at our engagement party: "You know Jo's high maintenance, right?!!" :o)

 

I am, but like anything, the more effort you put in, the more satisfying the results :o)

Makki 14-01-2002

Posted on November 14, 2009 at 4:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Gradually working through the Makki diary...

 

~Pete

____________________

 

Mon 14th January 2002

 

Went with Thomas to the Mursi Village on top of the hill in the afternoon. It was quite an experience to see all the huts, people especially the children playing. The people are really friendly and very curious about seeing me. They would marvel at my hair on my legs, chin and my facial features too! (Post entry note: The Mursi do not have facial hair nor do they have hair on their arms or legs so it was a facinating sight for them to see me).

 

The kids are very friendly and they seem to be so joyful all the time. Some of the kids I've met have the most beautiful smiles I have come across... It's a great lesson for me as I think of the 'western' culture I have come from... having so much yet people are so joyless... discontent. The kids here are content. They enjoy the simple things that they have. They have shown me a joy that I should have!

 

Photo: Mursi Kids

 

Was woken up this morning by noises on the roof. Wasn't sure at first what it was but found out that it was Bryon. He had some how managed to escape the front verandah and was trying to find his way back into the verandah enclosure. Had to wake up a few times until I finally was able to let him in. I think he was hungry and was looking for food! He would only eat mangos!

 

Photo: 'Bryon' the African Civet... the cause of many sleepless nights!

 

Going through the motions

Posted on November 9, 2009 at 4:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I've been challenged lately during my Mums Bible Study group, about the concept of 'going through the motions' as a Christian. I can totally relate with that, having 'gone through the motions' myself. I remember my 'Christian high' days of doing lots and appearing on the surface to be godly, but on the inside, I was lacking in a daily personal relationship with my Saviour. People see the outside, but God sees what's inside.

 

I've always believed that missionaries are just ordinary Christians who are willing to work overseas, willing to sacrifice home comforts in order to serve God. Missionaries are just Christians, like me and you, who is open to God leading them to serve anywhere.

 

Some people put missionaries on a pedestal, like they are super Christians. Likewise with pastors. Maybe it's because I've grown up as a pastor's kid that I know that pastors are just ordinary people at home. They are people with the same struggles.

 

I don't want to go on a pedestal. When we become missionaries, I want people to realise that I am still the same old Jo. I will not grow a halo the day I step on the plane headed for Africa. I will still struggle with things I struggle with now, and I will still have my ups and downs.

 

I don't want to go on a pedestal, because then everybody is watching when you slip and fall. They expect you to stand tall and firm, incapable of falling. But on this side of heaven, we are all sinners and all capable of falling.

 

How often we see people who can 'act' and make all the right moves as Christians, but yet lacking the 'real stuff' on the inside? Being a missionary or a pastor or a Bible college student doesn't make you any more 'godly' than the humble church goer who dutifully sweeps the church steps every sunday. Being a missionary, or a pastor, or a Bible College student is just a CHOICE that we make with our fallen human minds. Anybody can decide with their minds to do these things. But it is much harder to actually have a genuine heart that seeks to please God.

 

I think what matters is not so much that you appear to have it all together on the outside, to be 'perfect' - because no one is until the day of Jesus' return, but that you show and have a genuine desire to walk with God and live by his grace each day. As Christians, it's not that we don't fall, but that when we fall, we can be sure that God is there to catch us.

 

I recently saw a poster outside a church that I thought was really clever, it read: "Don't let Christians put you off Jesus."

 

Only by looking to Jesus can you really know him, if you look to people, they will inevitably fall and let you down.

 

I hope when we serve in Africa in a few years time, I can help people see Jesus clearly. That I won't just go through the motions of being a missionary. That people will see that I am a fallen being living by God's grace and strength each day. That I am just like them. That my God is what carries me through my struggles, not me.

 

~Jo

Challenges Ahead

Posted on October 29, 2009 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (0)

While we have taken decisive steps to start the application process with SIM, with the plan of departing Australia for Africa in 2012, it is still over 2 yrs away which can feel like a long time. Anything can happen in this time! The door to going may remain open or it may close.

 

One of the things that I have learnt in my role as a project manager at work is the need to constantly look out for "obstacles" that may stop or hinder a project from progressing, and to take the necessary steps to overcome them. I think this lesson is also true for this journey towards the mission field too, but the only difference being that God is the one in control and He directs the steps. However, the exciting thing is that He invites us on this journey and gives us the wisdom and capacity to plan; and the courage to take the steps to get to where He wants us to go.

 

One of the obstacles (or should I say challenges to put it more positively) that we will face is our parents. For Jo, this is not an issue as her mum is very supportive of our decision to go. My parents on the other hand will be more challenging to deal with. I know full well that my parents will not be supportive of this move to uproot our family and go to Africa, especially now that we have kids and they love these precious grandkids to bits!

 

Prior to going on short term to Ethiopia about 8yrs ago - this was when I was still unmarried and just finished uni - my parents basically told me not to go and not to even bother with "backward" places like Africa. Being in my family, when something is a big issue it often involves the wider extended family. On this occasion my grandmother was informed and she called my uncles to try to persuade me that it was a bad idea to go. It was a real discouragement and at times I had to bite my tongue and not get frustrated explaining myself over and over again! Nevertheless, I found encouragement from my two older brothers. One of them even gave me a generous sum of money towards the trip.

 

I remember after the Ethiopian trip when I came home, Dad had written me a lengthy letter to outline the reasons why I should not consider doing mission work for the rest of my life. I love my dad and I know he has good intentions but there are certain values and passions that we do not share. Like many other Asian parents, for their children to having a good education and a good job that generates a good income and reputation, was very important to them for they want the security of knowing that they will be looked after in their old age. Dad tried to convince me that becoming a career missionary would be a waste of my private high school education and a waste of my engineering degree! I have kept that letter, and its contents still remains clear in my memory to this day. It serves as a reminder to me that serving God will involve putting Him first above our desire for status and financial security. Convincing my parents of the generous provisions of God for me and them to release me to do His work will be perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome.

 

It has been eight yrs since that letter, and nothing has been said about missions. Mum and dad perhaps thought it just just a passing phase that I went through and that I've probably come to my sensesnow that I have kids. Driving home from college today, I thought to myself that breaking the news to them in a years time about quiting my engineering job and going to Bible college would be a difficult one! I have mixed feelings about telling them for it will be an emotional struggle but at the same time I know it will also be a great opportunity to share my faith with them and tell them of the grace of God which will be sufficient for the road ahead.

 

~Pete

 

If you are family relative reading this, please do not tell my parents of our mission plans as I would like to tell them myself rather hearing it from someone else. We plan to tell them in due course. Thanks!