Dee

Opened Eyes, Open Hearts

Dee Sherwin is a new believer and a part of the FGA family. She went on her first mission trip to Bethesda Batam in July, and she shares her experience here. She hopes this testimony will encourages more of us to obey the call to be sent out, like Dee and her friends did. 

It was a wonderful and amazing weekend for some of us on 21-22 July 2018, but especially for me, because this short mission trip has opened up my heart to hear God and clarify certain doubts about who He is and how He works through broken vessels like us. 

 I have only been saved by the Lord recently, on the 21st of February, and since then my journey of knowing and understanding the Lord’s work has been quite an interesting one, with mountains and valleys.

 The trip to Batam, Indonesia was definitely a mountaintop moment, where we were given a chance to serve together and show God’s love to the children at the Bethesda Children’s Orphanage. There were about 42 children living there.

On our first day of the trip, we were divided into 3 teams – the kitchen team, the children team and the youth team. We were all allocated different tasks to speak God’s word & demonstrate His love to them. We were given an opportunity to tell stories, share our testimonies and talk about God’s great love to his children. We also had an amazing dinner cooked by our team and we were able to spend some time just in warm fellowship, and got to know the children better. 

I had an amazing time, filled with awe at our great God for giving me this opportunity to serve these kids with His unfailing love. Being born into another faith, it was a difficult journey for me especially when I accepted Christ as my saviour. Being on this mission trip has also taught me to open up my heart to embrace the identity issues I faced with my new faith. In Batam, I felt more accepted as we all looked the same and no stereotypes were forced on us just because we were of another faith.  This is something that I’ve always struggled with in Singapore, often having to face the judgment of others. I was thankful that I got to experience God and His love without those stereotypes laid on me. 

 On the second day, we had the opportunity to experience Sunday service at a wonderful church in Batam. The atmosphere during  worship was incredible. And you can sense God’s love surrounding us as we worshipped loudly with incredible energy.

 We then headed for a Sunday school for youth, where Elder Woon conducted a small class for the youths, addressing the impact walking with Jesus can have on their  life choices. I was really glad that I was able to join in for this class! My biggest takeaway was that in life, we have choices to make and those choices are better if it comes from the Father, and fits in within His will.

Although I was sad when the mission trip had ended, I know it won’t be the last. I was honoured that I’d been given this chance by the Lord to share the Word and for showing me what my life actually means.

 I‘ve also learnt during this trip, that we should always trust God no matter what kind of situation we are in, as He knows the best for us. I thank God for opening up my heart and answering the questions I had, allaying my doubts and uncertainty. I thank God for my wonderful team mates who were constantly encouraging me during this journey to know the Lord better. And lastly, thank you FGA for sending us to do the work of the Lord!

2 Thessalonians 1:11
To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 

 

Amen.

 

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Preparing For Your First Mission Trip

I took my first missions trip when I was 20 years old. I’d always heard about missionaries and missions trips before but had never been on one myself. The life of a missionary was pretty fascinating to me.

The memories are foggy, but I can vaguely remember jumping on a bus with my church on a 7 hour road trip to serve an orphanage in Tecate, Mexico for one week. Our mission? To do something as simple as supporting the long term missionaries there, helping them build a new roof over their kitchen, praying for the sick and inviting those in the community for a special Jesus Film night. What we did seemed insignificant at time…but looking back now, the power of a group of people sacrificing their summer vacations to serve those in need was priceless.

Nothing really could prepare me for the experience I was about to have though. The amount of poverty I was exposed to was alarming, and an environment of great need was not something I had ever seen before in all my years of growing up in my comfortable American suburban life. The trip grew my heart for those less privileged, and drew me closer to God’s heart for the nations. I remember a group of us praying for a blind man to be healed and seeing Jesus touch his life. I remember seeing one of my backslidden teammates have a powerful encounter with Jesus on the trip, leading him to radically rededicate his life to Jesus. The trip was an eye opening trip for me, and showed me that the world was greater than my own, and its needs far greater reaching than what any well meaning group of people could ever provide for. While some of the most meaningful moments were the simplest moments, the trip left me wondering if I could do more.

Since this trip the Lord has grown my heart for missions tremendously and called my husband and I to a lifelong calling to missions. Throughout the years I’ve been on various “missions” trips (long and short) and each one has been different from the last. Each trip has taught me something new each time.  “Christian mission” is the act of going into a different culture other than our own, and sharing the good news of Jesus with others.  It was modelled to us through His very life: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God sent Jesus into our world so that we could hear the good news.

Missions is not something we do because it’s sounds like a nice thing to do. As one of the last things Jesus said while here on earth, Jesus actually commands us to go into all the world to make disciples of the nations. (Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”)

So if you’re planning on going on a missions trip soon, what are some good ways to prepare for a missions trip?

1) Prayer: It’s important to root everything we do in prayer. Our goal as Christians on this earth is to be extensions of Jesus, to be His hands and feet to those around us. This is no less true when we go on missions trips. We want to reflect Jesus. As short term missionaries, we are representatives of Jesus…so it’s a good idea to represent Him well.

How do we represent Him if we don’t communicate with Him first about what He wants to do on the trip and what He wants reflected?  John 5:19 says “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” If we want to be like Jesus to the people we are reaching, we have to tune into His wavelength.

Spend time preparing your heart, and hearing His heart. Ask God what He wants to do on this trip. How does He see this trip? Ask for His eyes. Is there a word He’s given you about what this trip means for you, or a word you will be sharing with the people you will be meeting? Is there a name, or a face He’s highlighting to you of someone you are to meet? Matthew 7:11 says “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” If we ask the Lord to speak to us and whisper His desires and plans to us, His desire is to come through and speak to us.

2) Go with a humble, teachable heart:

Learn about the culture: We don’t have to be able to speak the same language to communicate with others of a different culture, but we can certainly take time to learn about their culture before embarking on our journey. Over the years I’ve found that one of the best ways to connect with locals is to show them we are genuinely interested in their culture and that we want to respect it. Nothing is more off putting than having foreigners come in to your culture with a proud “we know better than you” or “our culture is better than yours” mindset. I’ve noticed this instantly close doors to peoples’ hearts. In order for people to want to receive anything you have to say, build bridges, not islands.

Before we can embrace any culture, we have to learn about it. Take some time to read up about the culture you will be visiting in advance. Just because something is okay to do in our culture, doesn’t mean we can assume it is okay to do in the next culture we will be visiting. For example, while women wearing shorts and tank tops might be acceptable in this country, in another country, wearing these same clothes may give off the wrong impression to men. Women going out past a certain time period at night may be misconstrued as impious. Handing money to a cashier with the left hand instead of the right hand may be acceptable in this country, but totally offensive in the next. Taking time to learn basic customs, basic words, and proper behaviour/greetings can go a long way. It can reveal your desire to want embrace their culture, which in turn, can open up amazing doors to share the gospel.

Take time to sit with the locals, smile at them, share a meal together and allow Jesus’ heart to shine through you.

Submit to leadership. No matter how much you think you might know better, always choose a posture of humility and yield to your team leaders or long term missions team on the ground. After all, they have gone through the training necessary to prepare them for this trip, or lifestyle of missions if they are long terms. They may be more familiar with the people group you are visiting from the training received or their extensive time they have spent there, and may be aware of issues with the locals or government you may not be aware of. This is for your own safety, and also so that the mission is not compromised. I have seen compromised missions come in various forms…but ultimately some of these can be avoided just by simply submitting to leadership.

3) Have healthy expectations: Sometimes it’s easy to have big expectations for the entire village to get delivered, healed and saved, after a 1-week trip. I pray that these kinds of breakthroughs happen every trip, but the reality is, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes God just wants to use us to be the seed sower. From John 4:38, “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor…” we see that God sends some to be sowers, and some to be reapers. It’s okay if your trip isn’t a reaping trip. Sowers are just as important as reapers are!

It’s a really good thing to desire and pray for transformational things to happen in a community, but oftentimes, these kinds of things take time. That’s why our church strategically partners up with long term missionaries who can carry on the fire our missions trips have helped catalyse. It’s good to keep our expectations in check so that when grand things don’t seem to be happening, our worlds are not “wrecked.” I’ve been on trips where I went with low expectations – because I had no grid for what “should” happen on a missions trip – and came out sweetly surprised. I’ve also been on a trip where I expected grand things to happen and was sorely disappointed when those things did not work out as planned. No matter what happens in the end, God works beyond our human limitations. God’s story for the people you will be reaching is so much grander than what you could ever hope and imagine. He just asks us to be obedient and “go!”

As we go on missions, let’s be prayerful, humble, teachable, expectant people who reflect the love of Jesus!

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Short-Term Missions Report: Surabaya, 19-23 Oct, 2017

In October, a team of four from FGA Singapore went to Surabaya to visit our church plant. In the five days that we were there, we had the opportuity to teach some of our “Being Rooted” syllabus, train some new leaders who can assist Ps Dodi with his ministry to university students and pray for and minister to the congregation.

The previous trip to Surabaya, we had contact with about 14 young people but this time, we met with and spoke to about 25-30 students each day.
After meeting include a delicious dinner home-cooked by Ps Dodi’s wife, Leni. The students also appreciated having a healthy homecooked meal, and we had a good time of fellowship before each session.

Douglas Choo had the opportunity to train 10 potential leaders on how to study the word and the cost of discipleship”. He shared Luke 9:57-62 ad talked about counting the cost and what total devotion and commitment to Christ looked like. At the end of the session, we had a pledge of commitment to serve Christ.

He also preached on Sunday. The total attendance was 35 people. After the service we had lunch together. In the afternoon we broke the group into males and females. Nalinee and Pat ministered to the ladies and SK Charles and Douglas ministered to the males.

Next year, we hope to be able to bring some of our other programmes like Know Your Shape, the GABS process and how to run life groups. If you want to be a part of the next trip in January, contact Douglas Choo at the church office.

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Reaching Youth In Surabaya – Mission Trip Report

In June, I joined a small team to visit the home church of Pastor Dody and his family in Surabaya. Pastor Dody was commissioned by our church to lead the FGA Surabaya church plant since 2016. Our purpose for that trip was to help educate and equip the youth attendees of this church with knowledge about God and the Bible, through the Alpha curriculum. These sessions with the youth spanned over 4 nights.

Upon meeting these young people, I was blown away with their wealth of questions about the faith. Most of them had grown up in Christian homes but never really had a personal relationship with God. They are not very different from the youth we know back at home, though – they are smart, well-educated, and career-driven.

During the sessions, our team and Pastor Dody answered as many questions as possible about the faith, who God is, why they should read the Bible as their source for the truth of God’s Word, and why being in a church community is important. We also prayed and worshipped with them – they have such beautiful Indonesian worship songs!

Pastor Dody has done such a great job in being well-versed in Bible knowledge, as well as a deep understanding for the political and religious climate in Indonesia. With what he has, along with his fire for God and to make disciples, he has led this group of young people very well.

However, I believe that they will be further blessed by the guiding examples of other God-fearing, Christ-following young people around them. Though I don’t feel that I came with much to offer on this trip, I did share a bit of my personal testimonies with them over 2 evenings, and I felt prompted by the Spirit that my experiences and God-given lessons from my youth would touch these young people in a special way.

As such, I would encourage more young people (youth and young adults with the age range between 18-35) to join the next Surabaya mission trips on 18-22 August, or 20-24 October. “Let no one look down on [you because of] your youth, but be an example and set a pattern for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in [moral] purity.” 1 Tim 4:12 – Your connection and friendship will be a blessing to them in itself, and plant the seeds for faith to arise amongst that young, intellectual and vivacious community. You are marked to magnify His goodness!

FGA Surabaya is a part of our FGA family, and we can do our part to support and grow our extended family. Hope to see you in August!

Watch the Instagram Stories compilation of the Surabaya Mission Trip here.

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info@fgasingapore.org

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