by Paul and Moh Leng
Twenty years ago as we stepped out into full-time ministry beginning with studies at Discipleship Training Centre (DTC), we began writing regular prayer letters. Today in reviewing some of those prayer news or items (in italics and dated below) we can trace God’s hand in guiding us on our journey of faith and trust in Him.
“...our hearts were at peace as we put in our preliminary applications with a particular missionary organisation early this month... We do not have any specific country or ministry in mind and we need the Lord’s guidance as we consider various suggested possibilities” (Dec ‘89).
That was among the first of many experiences of knowing His peace in our hearts as a way to move forward when we find ourselves at the crossroads of our lives or seeking His will for us. After finishing at DTC and while serving as an intern with Bartley, Paul made a fact-finding trip to Cebu, Philippines with Pastor Tony Yeo in Sep 1990. This trip was undertaken on behalf of the Missions Board, to explore the possibility of Bartley sending missionaries directly to the field. In fact, we were asked to consider taking this direction, but because we realised we are not the pioneering sort, we were not at peace at all about the option. In the end we went ahead with our application to OMF and left for Thailand in April 1991. All we knew then was that God had led us to this country. We did not know the particular ministry or people group that we would be involved with.
“Pray for protection and provision of travelling means – ferrying the children to and fro the Oppel’s (for babysitting) and ourselves to and fro classes” (May ‘91).
This was a practical need in our first prayer letter from Thailand. Each day we had to travel some 2km (one way) sending the children to be looked after while we had language lessons with our Thai teachers. Public transport serving our area was rather infrequent, so at the end of our first day into this routine, Paul was taken to a motorbike shop by the language supervisor to buy a second-hand bike to get around town. With trepidation of heart and without any prior experience in riding, Paul was given a one-minute lesson and then left to figure out the rest on his own. By our next prayer letter we reported... “thank God for provision of transport in the form of a second-hand 49 cc Honda motorscooter, and daily protection on the road. Paul has gained enough confidence so that all 4 of us can now travel together on that machine.” Indeed, we were helped by having His peace over this mode of travel.
“Pray for the Lord’s leading regarding our eventual ministry during the second half of our first term (i.e. 3rd & 4th years) as well as subsequent terms. This would involve a decision on the particular field (whether North, South, or Central Thailand) and also the type of ministry and place” (Jul ‘91).
Very early on we had begun asking prayer for the Lord’s will to be revealed regarding our ministry type and place. After the one-week exploratory trip to South Thailand in April 1992, we wrote, “We remain open to M work though that would mean leaning another language and another script. Pray for clear directions from the Lord...if we should...move into M work.” Even though “...it was decided by the leadership that we should serve in the M church planting field in the south” (Jan ‘93), we had the Lord’s peace in our hearts in entrusting the matter to our leaders’ decision.
“Our house is actually a 2-level one-bedroom shophouse in Pattani town...” (Sep ‘93).
Our colleagues had house hunted around town and found this place for us. When we first saw it upon arriving south, our hearts sank. We had least expected a house located beside a busy road and with only one bedroom for all 4 of us. But God encouraged us that day and in the days ahead. He gave us peace as we settled in and gradually got to know some of the neighbours.
The route and practicalities of our children’s education have been the subject of a fair bit of our prayer items over the years. “Pray for our preparation in sending Joanne off to Chiang Mai at the end of August... May both parents and child know with full assurance the Lord’s hand of guidance and protection in this coming first experience of separation” (Jul 93’).
Joanne took the lead in going to boarding school, followed 3 years later by Joshua. At each juncture of a major decision and transition in their educational paths, the Lord gave us peace in the direction we took – from Chiang Mai International School to Chefoo, to Singapore schools, to living at a TCK boarding home, to coming back together as a family again.
“Pray for Paul’s translation project – the goal is a Bible for our target people group in Thailand in a language that has been modified and adapted and that will not be offensive to them” (Mar ‘96).
Two years earlier in 1994, we began mentioning in our prayer letters about a translation work in the local dialect. The situation changed as Paul was asked instead to work in the Thai language but using phraseology that is contextualised for our target audience. God’s peace guarded Paul’s heart as much prayer surrounded the translation work in the years that followed. He had God’s peace in the moments of “loneliness” in the job, or when progress to bring the work forward depended on the help of busy colleagues to check his translation drafts with native speakers, or when perseverance was needed to see each scripture draft through 4 stages of change and so on.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you...” (John 14:27). The Lord’s peace is an important assurance that we are walking in His will. This journey of faith continues and will end only when our journey on earth is over.
Adapted from “Journey Jumbles – Real Stories...Real People...A Real God,” a JMM publication for Bartley Christian Church July Mission Month 2008