When it comes to reaching out and missions, I think of my very first time I went on mission trip.After all, it was through that that God had changed my life and my perspective.
Back when I attended St. John’s Korean United Methodist Church near Boston, I was merely finishing my first year in college.My roommate, Ben Koo, had returned from the church-sponsored mission trip to Thailand.His stories and pictures had stirred up something deep inside of me, and when Pastor John J. Lee encouraged me to pray about it, I did and on we went.
When we landed in Thailand, it was hot!Houston hot!The missionary that we worked with, Achan (Thai designation for someone of respect) Yang, was an ordinary looking middle-aged Korean man but was as dark as a native Thai and spoke just as fluent.His calling was rather striking.In the poorer countryside of Thailand in Chiang Mai area live a tribe known as Mong.They are considered and treated by Thai as third class citizens.And among them, there’s a village of lepers.It’s not a hereditary disease so when Achan Yang went there and started ministering, he realized that if the kids were to have any chance in life, they had to be moved elsewhere.So he started an orphanage in the area nearby and to give them a future and raise a new generation of Thai, he hand-picked promising kids and took them down to Bangkok and to basically feed them, shelter them, give them education, as well as raising them as Christians.This story alone spoke volume to me.Our role was rather simple.We were to go simply as encouragement to these forgotten brothers and sisters (as their self-esteem was rather low) and teach English classes for the summer.The classes would go for six weeks.I have never been a fan of class system and to see them being ignored for simply being from a nomadic tribe made me develop empathy.
After the classes were done, we visited that orphanage and the lepers’ village.I was not ready for it at all.The kids were congregating around us as if they had not seen a human for years.Though we only spent a day with them, my heart was broken, and upon my return to the States, I could not erase them from my poor memory.Over the next year or so, I had begun to struggle with the concept of life-long mission commitment.At first, I had only thought of the likes of savages eating the missionaries.However, when I overcame my own shallowness, God had implanted in me desire to serve these lost kids, the orphans, as my QTs came across numerous references to how God wanted us to oversee and look after the orphans, the aliens, the widows, and the poor.
Though I am struggling to go as long-term tent-makers (missionaries that are self-supported, as apostle Paul was) after paying off my debt, I take my current days as an opportunity and reminder to the God’s calling.I tell myself over and over again that I don’t have to wait till I am overseas somewhere to help the less fortunate as God would have me do, but that it should be a life-long goal.