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A Crown That Will Last Forever

by Lovely Hepowit

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” 1 Corinthians 9:25

Long before I finished my bachelor‘s degree, I was already interested in joining the 1000 Missionary Movement. I thought I might dedicate even a year for missionary work as my gratitude to God for being with me throughout my school life. However, my communication with Him was always about my requests to mold my future and to become a financially successful woman someday. Eventually, I realized that juggling those two ambitions was not that easy. Things got worse as the years of my academe life increased and took up the majority of my time. Being preoccupied with my studies made me forget about my dream of being a missionary. My spiritual life was tested. Problems occurred that I even reached the point of contemplating suicide and cursing God for bringing me into such predicaments.

It took a lot of sweat, tears, patience, and heartfelt prayers before I got a scholarship for graduate studies here in South Korea. Working on my visa application was not that hard, but the moments before I got the opportunity to study abroad were tragic for me. Yet it seemed that a great strength was lent to me that I managed to survive from all those trials. He gave me angels in the form of human beings to comfort me and courage to stand from my falls. Being here created questions in my mind again, but when I considered everything that happened, it seemed like a path was especially designed to draw me here. It left me to solve the mystery of leaving home, and led me to the crossroads where I met a group of people who are called to be the chosen vessels of Christ. In retrospect, I realized that this is the group I wanted to join before when my heart still had unselfish desires.

God never gave up on me despite how sinful I am and how narrow my mind is. Instead, He made my stay here a great blessing to myself and to others as well. Now, I know one main reason why God sent me here and I know there are still more. But what I am sure of is that He chose me to be one of His vessels to spread His love in a place like this, teaching me to be tough while sailing against the current of the people’s undesirable practices. I may not be officially part of the 1000 MM but I consider myself as a missionary in my own way. I believe that lending a help to them is also part of my mission. Also, a number of souls were baptized in the church where I am attending now. According to my professor, these people were encouraged to attend church services because of God’s music that I share every Sabbath, all for the glory of God.

I might not have graduated cum laude, might have taken the board exam twice, might have been jobless for a year, and may still have problems like most of you are experiencing, but we are currently striving to win the race in which at the finish line awaits an everlasting award. The same is true for the missionaries here–serving other people rather than their families, leaving their professions behind and choosing to receive a lower pay, sacrificing personal relationships and instead making connections with strangers, forgetting what could be acquired from this world. But as what the Bible says (1 Cor. 9:25), we don’t do this to obtain our worldly desires that will decay, but rather to receive the crown that will last forever. After all, life is not only all about what God and what others can do for you, but what you can also offer to God and what you can do for others.

Soon, I may depart from the missionaries I am with now, but the heat of their spiritual faith would remain in me forever. So wherever I go, whatever I do, I will always remember that once a missionary, always a missionary–candidates to receive the crown of glory!

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