Assured Journey!

by Melvert Magparo (33rd Batch)

Jesus came to this world to give us life to the full (John 10:10). In spite of this, the book of Acts conveyed that we must experience hardships to enter the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). It may not sound good news to others, but it actually is. Jesus Himself declared that He has overcome the world (John 16:33)

As a missionary, taking heed of the great commission in Matthew 28:19, 20 is my deep gratitude to Christ and His redemptive act. Being assigned in South Korea is a fulfillment of Acts 1:8. Experiencing cultural barriers is just like rowing in a sea tossed by waves. If you know how to handle waves, they act as an ‘external energy’ that will help you speed up your spiritual journey. Peter on the other hand was very anxious about the waves instead of focusing on Jesus. As a result, he eventually started sinking (Matthew 14:30). We should not be anxious about the winds and the waves. Ungrateful students, disrespectful learners and inconsiderate authorities are some examples of the waves in our lives here in Korea. In one way or another we could be like Peter who almost sank. However, verse 31 clearly emphasizes that Jesus immediately stretched out His hand for Peter as he cried out for help. God’s hand is available for us, too. We need guidance and directions.

Interestingly, God volunteers Himself to give us directions. He wants to change the course of our lives. He has the map and is the Map (John 14:6). We can now travel anywhere to the four corners of the world. Also, as we witness outside “Jerusalem’, we need food and water. Jesus is our Living Bread (John 6: 56-58) and Living Water (John 4:13-14). He has provided us more abundant spiritual nourishment which is also enough to share.

If you guys are with me, you will agree that a person who has the MAP, BREAD and WATER can travel with the assurance of not getting lost. In our journey and in the race we are into, not the fastest but whoever perseveres gets the price. Don’t rush. Maintain your pace and keep hydrated with the Living Water.

Shalom!

Trust in the Lord

 
by Jeffrey Fernando
 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5, 6

 

In an overall sense, this proverb always speaks for my direction. However, there are those acute times when I desperately need the Lord’s specific direction and this verse becomes even more directive and meaningful in my life. Perhaps some of us today are dealing with the inconsistencies of life such as difficulty at work and troublesome classes. This verse is absolutely helpful.

This wonderful proverb has three commands followed by a promise:

1. Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

Trust requires faith, confidence, and assurance that God is working through any situation. One does not place his trust in the circumstances or in his own heart, but the object of his trust is “the Lord.”

In my mission field here in Donghae Sahmyook School, the school couldn’t provide text books for my classes. In others words, I have to use my creativity and so I always depend on the Internet for topics to be taught. Sometimes I run out of ideas on what lessons I am going to teach the next day. This Bible verse always reminds me to keep on trusting Him no matter what.

Are we to partially trust God and partially rely on our own abilities or wisdom? God wants us to trust Him with all our heart.

2. Lean not on your own understanding.

I consider the times when I thought I understood something, only to find out later that I was wrong. When I lean on my own understanding, I often get things wrong. I may start to worry, become  fearful or grow desperate, and then I would begin to make huge mistakes, wrong choices, etc. My understanding is always limited, often flawed, and could not give an accurate view of what is ahead.

3. In all your ways acknowledge Him.

In our thoughts, in our speech, and in our actions, others may see that God is the central figure of our lives. Smile and the world smiles with you. Simple acts like sharing a smile with the students can brighten their day. Through these we are sharing God’s love.

The promise in the text is, “He shall direct your paths.” Our responsibility is to obey His commands. When we do so, we are absolutely assured that God will direct our paths!

Giving God Our Leftovers

by Marian Fe Panugao (36th Batch)

In the Book of Leviticus, the LORD called to Moses and spoke to him. He said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: When you bring an offering to the LORD, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.” (Leviticus 1:1-2)

God told them what offering they should bring that would be acceptable to Him: “…he is to offer a male without defect. (verse 3) A man had to offer a sacrifice ‘on his behalf to make atonement for him’ (verse 4) and a sinner must slaughter the animal himself before the Lord. Maybe we would conclude that the act was so ‘ew’ or ‘yikes!’ Well, that was exactly the reason why the same person who sinned had to do it himself. God wanted the sinner to realize how disgusting sin was; that the innocent animal died on his behalf; and, that the animal symbolized Jesus, who, later became the Ultimate Sacrifice.

Ravi Zacharias wrote in the book Opening Windows, ‘It is impossible to worship without sacrifice. But the people had begun to show contempt for God by bringing the lame and the blind and the sick of their fold and giving their leftovers to God as their worship.’

In the Book of Daniel, Belshazar used the gold and silver goblets in drinking wine with his wives and concubines. (Daniel 5:2-3) That was a sacrilegious use. Sacrilege, said Zacharias, is normally defined as taking something that belongs to God and using it profanely. But sacrilege does not only consist of such profane use. In its worst form, it includes taking something and giving it to God when it means absolutely nothing to you. Malachi 1:8 is the very charge God brought against the people when He said, ‘When you bring me the blind animal for sacrifice, is that not wrong?’

True worship is giving our best to GOD–the best of our time, the best of our energy, the best of our thinking, the best of our wealth, the best of our dreams and the best of our plans. When we give the world our best, GOD merely gets our leftovers.

The Best of Best Friends

by Sazie Merille Chio (35th Batch)

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”Friendship is the only cement that will hold the world together.” Wouldn’t life be miserable without friends. Everyone wants to think that they have at least one friend. Abraham Lincoln said, “The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.” John 15:13 (NKJV)

I remember one afternoon when I asked each of my students if they have a best friend and what’s their best friend like? Everyone got so excited to share their answers. One boy said, “I have a strong and brave best friend.” Another boy said, “My best friends are good in soccer and baseball.” One girl stood up and said, “My best friend is funny.” Another one said, “My best friend is pretty.” And the last student said, “My best friend is kind and generous.” All of them were like competing with each other as to whose best friend is better. At that moment, something suddenly came into my mind. Why are friends so important?

A friend is one who is your ally in trouble. He is one to whom you can tell your troubles and deepest secrets, without fear of having them revealed. He is one who likes you because you are you, and not for what he can get from you. “Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you.”

With these facts in mind, it is perfectly appropriate to think of Jesus as our Best Friend.

What makes someone a good friend? A friend is someone who accepts you just the way you are, believes in you and encourages you. Someone who is trustworthy; who never forsakes you; who forgives your mistakes; who enjoys being with you; and, who makes you laugh. Jesus wants to be this way with us. He is not a far away God. He wants us to spend time with Him. He wants to be your very Best Friend, and He wants you to be His!

Friends, let’s share this wonderful friendship we have with Jesus to others, especially to our students, our friends and the people we meet everyday. Let us tell them that He is the pure example of a true friend, for He laid down His life for His “friends.”

Do you want to know who my Best Friend is? His name is JESUS… He is the best of everything we look for in a friend.

You Don’t Have to Endure Alone

by Victoria Acoymo (35th Batch)

  Give all your worries & cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you. 1 Peter 5: 7 (NLT)

Serving God in this foreign land has been the most challenging task I have ever encountered so far. First, I had to give up many comforts and learn how to adapt to this new society as well as to the culture and behaviors of the people around me. During my first three months in my mission field, I struggled and had some difficulties dealing with different situations. Sometimes I cried and longed to be home again. I prayed to God that He would give me a humble spirit and the willingness to serve Him and the people.

When winter came, more problems and worries clouded my mind. I was worried about my health; I wondered whether I could survive the cold. My room was not always warm because they didn’t always allow me to use heater since gasoline is expensive. So I just used my bed and blankets to stay warm but those weren’t enough to comfort my shivering body. I cried as I prayed to God asking Him to shield me with His mighty wings that I may be able to endure and stay alive until the morning. I experienced the same situation over and over but God helped me overcome it.

Winter had passed and summer came. Our enemy was trying to tempt me again. I almost gave up and decided to go home. But the Lord reminded me the sufferings He bore at the cross. I began to recall all the good things that He has done in my life. When I was in the missionary training, my father suffered with cancer on its 4th stage. I begged Him to heal my father and He did. He gave my father a new life. Then He allowed me to be here to continue serving Him. Thinking about these blessings lightened my burdens and my troubled heart and eventually helped me realize that God really cares despite the hardships and difficulties I’ve met.

If we only keep looking up, not down at our difficulties, we will not faint on the way. We will soon see Jesus reaching His hand to help us, and we just only have to reach out in simple confidence and let Him lead us. As our trust in Him grows, our faith and hope will grow as well.

Now my one-year term is almost over. I thanked God for giving me these experiences, which enable me to grow more in faith and teach me to put my trust and confidence in Him.
Jesus has His own way of making you smile, especially at times when you want to give up and lose hope. Certain surprises would come your way and make you rise and keep going on.

What Can I Do for You, Lord?

by Zenia Dee Cortez

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus, concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV

For most of us, it is difficult to give thanks in a bad situation but I learned that God’s ways are higher than our ways.

When I was assigned as a missionary in Daejeon Sahmyook Elementary School, I would always ask God a lot of WHYs. (Why did You assign me in this school Lord? I don’t know how to teach. Why did You allow me to live with this family? We don’t understand each other and they are manipulating me. Why, why, why?)

When I went back to the Philippines, I took up a degree in Education and majored in English. My professor told me that I should major in pre-school because I’m good with children. She saw my gift which I never thought I possess. Praise God that I followed her advice!

I wasn’t able to finish my schooling for I went to Qatar to work as a caregiver. While working, the daughter of my patient oppressed me. I told God that if He could let me go home unharmed, I would join the 1000 Missionary Movement again. One day, this woman got angry to almost everybody and she said that Filipinas only like men. I blurted out, “Not all”. She got so mad at me that she dragged me out of their house. I had no slippers while walking to my employer’s house (her brother). It was a hot, Friday noon. I didn’t have lunch yet because I was feeding their mom. The next day, my employer got a ticket for me to go back home. Even though my employer wanted me to stay longer and work for his family, I decided to leave.

Again, I experienced God’s grace after I re-applied as a missionary. While waiting for more than a year to be re-assigned here in Korea, I went back to school, met new friends and took care of my mom. When my partner and I arrived at our mission field, the first thing we did was kneel and pray. God is good. He prepared our mission field for us.

There are a lot of challenges that I am facing now in my new mission field but I learned to let go and let God do things for me. Looking back, reality overwhelms me. God had placed me in those situations to refine my character, humble me, let me discover my gift and make me a better person, a better missionary in His vineyard

I learned that God’s plan for us is to be like His Son Jesus. Instead of asking why, ask: What can I do for You Lord? As missionaries, we should grow in Christ and put on His robe of righteousness so that others may see Jesus in our lives. We are God’s love letter to the world. Our life should reflect how good God is even in a very difficult situation.

God bless us all.

On Christ’s Second Coming: Am I Going?

by Alma J. Pantaleon

This is my second year now in Haneul-Galle Church, but a couple of years prior to my assignment here, I had also served as a missionary in Sinchang Church in Asan City. Most of the time I had when I wasn’t working in Sinchang Church, I spent reading. I was really lucky that my previous pastor, Pastor Choi Byun Geun, has a library loaded with lots of English reading materials. It was a joy for me when I read his books one after the other. And it was an even greater surprise for him that I was able to read all of his 12 Ellen G. White books. I read books just to pass my time there.

But recently, I have been reading Ellen G. White’s The Great Controversy again. Now I am reading it with eagerness to learn more about the mystery and the reality of that controversy. I am also rereading it with more understanding and awareness of what lies ahead for everyone. The gnawing fear of not being in heaven was at one point eating me up when I read the pages. But by being able to also read God’s promises in the Bible gave me the assurance that there is truly hope for every sinner, including me.

I have this deep sense of commitment now to make it right with the Lord, to work for Him, and be used for His ministry here on earth. How much time we have now is uncertain so we must strive daily to accomplish the work given us.

I am aware that I wasn’t equipped with the ability to speak or the talent to preach His Gospel. But when I finally fully surrendered myself to Him, I knew He wrapped my whole being with His robe of righteousness and holiness. I also believe in His promise that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). And daily I must rest on that knowledge so that He could fully work in me–maybe not in speaking but by living a life that speaks of my God, a life that reflects His righteousness and holiness. I am not a perfect being, but it doesn’t mean I have to limit myself on what I can accomplish. It means I must not put a limit on God’s ability to use me because He will use not only me but all of us if we would only let Him.

And now, instead of fearing and worrying about not being able to be there with Him in heaven someday, we could focus more on the excitement and joy of being finally with our Maker soon. And when that time comes when He would ask me if I want to be there in that heavenly home, I would, with all the joy in my heart say, “Yes, LORD! I am going!”