I just got back literally an hour ago from a conference that wasn’t even for me, but I was deeply touched and God began to tug and pull strings on my heart during this time.
So, here’s a little bit about how all this came together. Darin Pust is a friend from the old days of the Simpson University Music Department, and we were in choir and other various things together. Anyway, he contacted me maybe in October and let me know that he and a team of people would be coming to Thailand for a conference; he was leading worship and the rest of the team would be doing child care. He later let me know that he was trying to talk Becky Levy, another good friend from Simpson, into coming to help lead worship as well.
Time quickly passed, and before I knew it, they were here, and it was time to go! I met up with them on Saturday to do some sightseeing with them around Bangkok (it was refreshing.. I haven’t ever been a tourist in my own city!). As things came together, and it came time to leave on Sunday, I FINALLY understood what kind of retreat this was. For some reason I had thought it was for Christian Chinese leaders in China, but rather, it was a forum for all the CAMA (Christian and Missionary Alliance) leaders in China. Obviously since the only tie I have to CAMA is Simpson, I did feel quite out of the “circle” as you might say, but from the beginning I felt that I was getting just a small picture of this intricate network of people and I felt so blessed to be apart of their ministry, and to get to feel like I was stepping into their shoes for just a few days.
This retreat happens once a year, and always outside of China, since it is still against their government to have large gatherings of believers. The entire time, I just was struck with the truth that these people rarely get a chance to really worship like this, and hear encouragement from God’s word. I was just struck.
Last night, all the women attended a nice banquet. I wasn’t totally looking forward to it, since sometimes these gatherings tend to be unnecessarily tear-filled and super emotional. Not to my surprise, there were tears, but I found myself crying and just being struck with conviction and just looking at these women and being filled with such awe and respect.
I guess my idea of a “missionary” were families who came to churches and dressed really weird and spoke. That’s all I really knew of them. Then, when I began attending Simpson University, my eyes were open to the needs in the mission field around the world. I was struck with the concept of learning about other cultures, and learning that other cultures didn’t have the same values that we had. My idea of being a “missionary” was totally turned upside-down.
Now, yes I’m in Thailand right now, but sometimes I don’t consider myself a “missionary”, but I realized during this conference that I really am a missionary, and it just looks different for everyone.
The other thing that really struck me was the strength that these women have. There were all ages in this room, and many of them aren’t much older than I am, and have families of 3 or 4 children. I was struck with the deep, reverent faith they all had. Sure, it had been a year of trials for them, but still, their deep faith that God is their provider and the one who will care for all their needs completely blew me away.
Faith has been a huge theme of my life, especially this last year, but when I looked into the eyes of these people and heard about their ministries in China, it made some of the trials I have experienced here in Thailand just fade away. I get to go home in two months, and some of these families still have years before they will get to be on home assignment again. Wow.
There’s so much more I could say, but I feel a fire burning deep within that won’t go out. I know that I’m supposed to be exactly where I am right now. I know I need to finish this degree with Liberty; teaching will really bring so many options for me in the future. I’m not saying anything definitely right now, but after this conference, I realized: 1) how much I will really miss Thailand, 2) how much I will miss being overseas, 3) what an adjustment it will be for me to go back, and 4) that I’m willing and open to go literally wherever God wants me to go.
I would like to say so much more now, but this is all I have time for! Homework and lesson plans need to be done!