When God said, ‘the harvest is plentiful,’ He is not joking!
I am Fedilyn For-og and I am a 3rd year M.Div. student. My internship was at Indo-China through Asia-Vision Short Term Mission. I was supervised by A Fabiala, Dadai dela Paz, Dr. Will Kwon and his wife. I reflected on Matthew 9: 37-38 as I look back at my short-term missions experience. “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”
I have been wishing to become a missionary even before going to seminary. In fact, I am so passionate with mission work that I had imagined all possible bad circumstances in the field. Truth be told, I have prepared a speech if ever I will find myself about to be killed for the faith. I have songs prepared if I will be burned alive. In this way, I would sing and not scream. But it’s really funny when you realize it’s not really like that in the mission field.
In books and movies about missionaries, they tell how this and that missionary had a heroic and dramatic death, burned alive, killed by natives, miraculously crossing dangerous zones and borders. God knows how I get excited thinking how my life will end up in the mission field. Oh how ignorantly ambitious I was!
People in the mission field are way too kind than those we actually meet everyday. I then realized that dying is not really what God was asking from me, but living for him. I learned that God doesn’t really require people dying for him as much as He needs people living for Him. The same with our Christian life too, we might be too courageous to say ‘I want to die for Christ’ or sing ‘I surrender all.’ but truth be told, we can’t even live for God adequately. So if I want to die for God? I should live for him first.
I also learned that it is easier to be exhausted in the field when you neglect your quiet time than when you do best in your ministry. One time, I felt very very tired. I wish I could just disappear and just come back. That time I wanted to be alone but I couldn’t. But I knew that my quiet time with God is what has kept me going even until now. It is what gives me strength but how easy do I neglect it thinking that the things I am doing are for God. I often rushed my devotionals but I do not find fulfillment. When this happens, I often feel tired at the end of the day. However when I have my unhurried moments with God, I still feel tired but content and satisfied with my work for the day.
Here in the seminary, as students, we are faced with a lot of things to do.It is so easy to get entangled with busyness and before you know it, you are already neglecting your personal time with God.
Before I went for AVSTM, I had a hard time thinking about doing children’s ministry. I struggled because I really do not like teaching children. And I keep wondering do I really have enough skills to go to cross-cultural missions?
When I was there, true enough there were lots of time for ministry to the children! I tried so hard. I danced while teaching, I do acting when necessary, I did voices, I smiled a lot and surprisingly, I enjoyed it. I realized, missions can bring out the best that God has placed in me. I learned that I should get every opportunity to learn any and different skills I could because I never know, I might use them in the mission field. Little things I can develop and use as bridge to reach out to other people of different language.
I also encountered God through learning the history of the countries I’ve visited. The Karen have long been a victim of conflict with the Burmese. I was once asked by a Karen man, “Is there no conflict in your place?” I shared to him that tribal wars also keep happening in my place. I told him, “but fighting each other never stopped the war. It only brings out more killing and revenge.” But in the grace of God the fighting stopped. It started when they knew Jesus and started sharing Christ to each other. Can more of fighting stop the conflict? Only Jesus did that miracle in our tribe.
Visiting Cambodia was also unforgettable. We visited the “Killing Fields” and it was explained how Cambodians killed their fellow Cambodians to raise a new generation they can control.. Babies were not spared by being smashed into trees. I tried not to cry during the tour but once in the bus I cried and asked God, how could he allow this to happen? What will I tell the Khmer if they ask me?
Then I imagined God crying, grieving upon that sight of people killing people. All the wars and genocides happening in the world. I have tried to internalize that short verse ‘Jesus wept’. Yes, God grieves. He allows these things to happen and I do not understand. But one day, evil will be judged. That time, I realized, that instead of asking God these questions, I can pray, “Father, I grieve with you in this.”
To the future interns, let me share an advice. Would you consider AVSTM as your internship After graduation maybe you will have all your life serving in your local church. Why not take 2 months to go out and see the vast field of missions. This might help us understand more the need to send missionaries, to support them, to pray for them, or maybe go ourselves.
I have seen the mission field, and one thing I realized is that they are a lot nicer than Christians. They can be more hospitable than us. So how do I share Christ to them? There in the mission field I learned, sometimes I just have to be there and live a Christian life for all to see. And when the world finally notice how different you are, I hope they will ask the question “why”?. Then you can share the gospel to them. Sometimes, verbal sharing without action actually hinders missions and evangelism, not helping it. So do you want to share Christ to the world? Go ahead and live how a real Christian would. That’s the most powerful evangelism tool we have: Our life!
Thank you and God bless you.
[This article has been edited from the original for this format.]