Updated: Jun 26, 2019
After much prayer and deliberation, Gloria and I decided it was time to relocate to our designated field in East Asia (EA) after 9 years of shuttling between Singapore and EA. It was increasingly tiring and physically draining for me, especially when the flights were long. Moreover, time with Gloria and our two young children were often disrupted due to my frequent travels, which could be as long as 3 weeks away from home. Sometimes I only got to be with my wife and children for the remaining 7 to 10 days in the month. Even then, I would need to report to work from 9am to 5:30pm. So the weekends became even more precious to me. Also, due to ministry needs, it was not effective or strategic of me to travel in and out of Singapore so often. The costs of flying me to and from EA, the possibility of not always being able to meet with the people whom I worked with, security considerations when communicating with my local leaders long distance either via e-mail or phone, and not to mention the high phone bills incurred were all taken into consideration. Therefore, with these thoughts, we decided that it was more realistic to move the whole family to the land which God had burdened us with.
My wife and I love this country and we are sure of our calling to minister in this land. We strongly sensed God’s leading us to live and serve in this country. I had the privilege of visiting and serving in different countries in the past, but those were only for short terms of 1 or 2 weeks. This time, we were going to live and serve in this land for at least 3 years. This was really a faith venture and an unsettling experience for me in particular. This was one journey in my life where I was filled with uncertainties and fear. Yet, with much prayer and affirmations from my organization and church leaders, we moved in faith and began to make plans to serve for a 3-year term. We are very thankful to God for the support, encouragement and prayers that Bartley rendered us during those times of waiting. Yet, the fear and uncertainties did not go away.
Like many others who have worked and lived overseas for some time, we know how difficult it is to uproot and move to a foreign land where the culture, language, environment and food are so different from Singapore’s. We had been well accustomed to and protected in the lovely, clean and safe environment of Singapore. Packing was very stressful for us as we had to prepare for the different seasons in a year – winter, spring, summer and autumn. We had to forgo most of our summer clothing and had to include thick winter jackets and long johns. This added much weight to the luggage, which included other items such as books and children’s items (like medicine) which cannot be found over there. We also needed to plan and bid farewell to friends and family members – something that was hard for us (particularly me as my life was practically here!). For me, it was my mother, siblings and friends who were difficult to part with. For my wife, it was the friendships she forged with so many BCC friends, especially from the Chinese congregation. As we prepared and worked on renting out our house, filling out documents with the relevant government agencies, fund raising etc., we began to feel the reality that we were leaving. That was the time when the thought that I may not get to see my family and friends for a long while began to sink into my heart and mind. Sometimes, I do wonder if I had made the right decision.
We were not sure what God had in place for us when we moved into this new ground. Because of the nature of our work and the risks involved, there are uncertainties about the future and fear of what lies ahead of us: uncertainty regarding whether we can really do what we hope to accomplish, and fear of the “what ifs.” God reminded me of one passage in the Bible that says, “Fear not, for I am with you... I will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1: 8-9). This passage became my source of encouragement and assurance in times of uncertainty and fear. Yes, there are times when I am spiritually weak and my faith gets shaken easily. During these episodes, I feel like I am being stretched to my limits and thoughts of wanting to quit do occur. Yet I recognize that I have to only trust Him wholly, to hold onto Him tightly, and to believe in Him unconditionally. These are not easy lessons and I am still an apprentice in these areas. Somehow, I believe that when the storms of life come crashing at me, the only way I can be sure that I will not drift away is to anchor deeply in His Word.
In about three months’ time, Gloria and I will mark our second year of living and ministering in this land. God is good and will never fail us. When we are willing to take Him at His Word and believe in Him, He will provide us with the solution and ways to overcome the challenges and difficulties.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
Hebrews 11: 1-2 (NIV)
Adapted from “Journey Jumbles – Real Stories...Real People...A Real God,” a JMM publication for Bartley Christian Church July Mission Month 2008.