Do you at times worry about what to do with your future? As a high school student, I certainly did.
Just before year 12, I went on a short-term mission trip with my family to Nepal. Here I saw great physical needs; children in hospital for preventable conditions and young pregnant women arriving at the hospital without any prenatal care. I came back to Australia with a vision for my future: I was going to work in health development overseas. This passion got me through that final year of high school and then four years of university. It was during this time that I then realised people don’t just need help with their physical health, but also their spiritual health.
Some days I’m disheartened. It’s been 6 years since I was in Nepal and I’m still not yet overseas. I’m learning that God doesn’t always give us all the steps to his plan straight away. Through it all, however, I can trust God’s plans. I may not be completely comfortable stepping into them, but He has always been faithful. And following Him is life’s greatest journey.
Your journey may be similar to mine, or greatly different. That’s not what’s important. But may I encourage you to continue to seek God and His plans for your life, no matter how young or old you are.
Big changes are happening in my life. In one week I will have packed up my belongings, loaded up my little car and be sitting on the Spirit of Tasmania moving to another state! Another island even!
There are a lot of emotions running through
me now; excitement, fear, joy, but the most consistent is peace. In his
letter to the Philippians Paul talks about the peace that transcends all
understanding (4:7) and that’s what I feel. I have peace that I am in the
centre of God’s will.
Whenever I imagined
going to Bible college, I always pictured myself living on campus with all my
friends, having coffee between classes and doing a little bit of study
in-between. With fewer and fewer live-in communities being established I didn’t
think this was going to be a reality. So, when I heard about Worldview Centre
for Intercultural Studies and their cross-cultural community, I was beyond
excited! Plus, their focus on cross cultural mission will help prepare me for
living and serving in another country.
But let me back track
a little and share how God led me to this place.
Two years ago, I went on a short-term mission trip through central Australia. On my phone I had written a list of things I needed to look up when I came home – books that had been recommended or history I wanted more information about. Honestly, I had forgotten about this list, but I found it the other day, and written there at the top was look up ‘WEC Bible college in Tasmania’.
I think I briefly looked
up the college, but I thought I was ready to go overseas (haha this is funny
now, I can see I had a lot to learn still!). I came home burning with a desire
to go out into the mission field. I knew it was where God wanted me, I was
passionate and excited to be sharing my love of Jesus with those who didn’t
know Him. This is when God threw me for a curve ball, as I felt the Lord
clearly say to me that I’d be in Melbourne for two more years. TWO MORE YEARS!
What was I meant to do for two years?! So, I asked Him, and His response was to
make these moments count and prepare for something bigger.
I had no idea at that point what was my next step. Bible college was something that I wanted to do, but it wasn’t until a few months ago God showed me where… Tasmania. More specifically, Worldview Centre for Intercultural Studies – the same college someone recommended to me two years ago on the short-term trip. After spending a week down in Tasmania last September, experiencing classes and having meals together I was sure this was my next step. Just a little side note, anyone can do a Taster Week at Worldview and I highly recommend it.
A couple of people have
asked me if I’m scared about moving interstate, and the answer is no, I’m not.
I have peace that this is where God is leading me, and I’m so excited about
learning more about God and His Kingdom. I’m also super excited about meeting
the community there, making friends and journeying together.
However, there are many things that I will
miss greatly; family, friends and a home church I’m familiar with. I’m learning
that with following Jesus comes sacrifice, and that can be hard. Whilst I’m
excited about what lies ahead of me, it also feels like part of my heart is
getting left behind. These are my people. They’ve seen me at my best and my
worst and loved me regardless. They’ve prayed with me, laughed and cried with
me and done life with me. The idea of leaving them behind is so sad! I wish I
could pack them all up and bring them with me. And I’m thankful for the
internet and how easy it is to connect with people all around the world, but
it’s still not the same as being with them. I’m also sad about the things I’m
going to miss out on. Children growing up, new relationships starting, fun
adventures and memories that people back home will be having. The FOMO (fear of
missing out) is real!
To top it all off it is also my first long
term experience of independence in Australia. Whilst I know how to look after
myself, I’m a little nervous about doing it all in a new space.
‘Do you really need Biblical training to be a
A while ago I had this conversation with a
friend. He was saying he didn’t think it was necessary for Christians to have Bible
training to be a missionary, but my question was ‘why wouldn’t you want it’? If
you were to become a teacher or nurse, you’d do the training needed for the
job. And how much more important is the job of accurately sharing Jesus with
others?! But Worldview is so much more than just studying. It involves learning
to live in community, communicate with those who don’t come from the same
country as you and ultimately learning to love as Jesus loved.
People have told me that Bible college is the
best time of their lives. You’re living with friends, doing life together and
getting deep into the Word. But it can also be really challenging at times, and
a time of refining. A time when wrong teachings and shortcomings are brought to
If you’ve never thought about Bible college,
I’d recommend asking the Lord if this is part of his plans he has for your
life. Taking a year or two out of the workforce can be scary, but is it not
worth it, if it means you grow closer to the Lord and become more like him?
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isa. 40:8).
I spent the weekend with an awesome group of people; worshipping God and seeking His heart for the nations.
14 months ago, I went on my first Next Steps camp. Looking back, I can see how that weekend clearly impacted the direction of the year that followed.
It was on this weekend from May 2018 that God made it clear to me that going on the Short Term Overseas Mission Program (STOMP) to East Timor was the right next step. If you have read any of my previous blogs, you know the impact this trip had on me. After the STOMP is when I applied for Worldview College and finally started the process of joining WEC.
Because of what happened last year I was expecting God to move in big ways this Next Steps camp, and that’s exactly what He did! The presence of the Lord was moving amongst us.
It was lovely
to meet with a group of people who ‘get me’. Even though I had never met some
of them before we bonded on a deep level quickly, and I felt they understood me
as we share a heart to see the unreached reached. Each of us are at different stages of our
journeys into mission, but were able to encourage one another, ask questions
and expect big things from God. I’m so excited to see where these people will
be a year from now, how God will use their gifts, passions and most importantly
their desire to serve Him and ‘make disciples of all nations’ (Acts 1:8).
We discussed how God has always been on
mission, from the beginning of time, and will be on mission until that day that
every knee is bowed, and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Having space and time to ask questions, challenge one another and to have our
worldviews expanded was so valuable. Even though I have been interning for a
mission organisation, it is so easy to get caught up in life and forget there
is a whole world outside of my little neighbourhood. This weekend I was
reminded of the situation around us, that still there is over 42% of the
world’s population that has not heard of Jesus!
So Amber, what was the best thing?
One of the major highlights of the camp was the prayer for the nation’s session on the Saturday night. A few of us expressed how it was a long time to be praying and feared we may even fall asleep! But that’s not what happened, instead the hour flew by and I truly felt like we had entered the presence of God. My good friend Emma wrote about it on her blog and she captured it beautifully.
We were very lucky to have a WEC worker on
home assignment who shared stories about “her people”. Seeing the way
this Australian lady has faithfully served and prayed for this unreached people
group touched my heart. I was convicted that I need to be in regular prayer for
the people I’m going to be working amongst, even if I don’t know yet who they
We were all confronted by what looked like a
sea of people, representing 1/10th of the unreached people in the
world. On each strip of material was a people group, the country they reside in
and the population. It was overwhelming to see, and Jesus’ words “the
harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few’ really rang true. However
instead of complete helplessness (as I have often felt when confronted with this
statistic) I was excited about the promise that every nation, tribe and people
will be represented when worshipping the lamb in the throne room of Heaven.
So today I want to encourage you to start
praying for the nations, because the promise is that they will be represented
at the throne room in Heaven. But the question is, are we going to join God in
his mission in reaching them?
Thank you so much for joining
me on this journey!
With love, Amber
Some useful tools. I’ve started using the Unreached of the Day app by Joshua Project, so that I can pray specifically for a new people group each day.
Some days God will give me a group of people to pray for and so I’ll pray for them. There are so many great resources out there, I encourage you to find one that works for you. I’ve found it’s useful to pray with someone else and this also keeps you accountable.
For a long time, I struggled with this question: how do you know what you’re meant to do?
That’s a big question!
It would have been much easier if I knew I
was called to be a fireman or an astronaut. But it never came that easy or that
clearly. Instead, I’ve had to find a few ways to try and work it all out.
I wanted to share some of those ways with
First, it wasn’t just one simple solution. I’ve found the best way is to simply try a few things. I shared a little on a previous post about how through a short-term mission trip I found out that I don’t have a passion for kid’s ministry, but what I get super excited about is helping people, more specifically by helping people with their health.
So the first suggestion is : what do you get super excited about. (And I’m not thinking your football team winning here – I’m talking about helping others).
My first real encounter of seeing public health in action was in Nepal in 2013. After walking around a hospital and praying and playing with the children, I was overwhelmed by the number of patients who were there for easily preventable causes: Children with cuts and bruises that had gotten infected because they weren’t treated properly, a young mother (who was about my age at the time, 17), who had just delivered twins, and hadn’t had any prenatal health checks prior to coming to the hospital. Fortunately, both her and her babies were healthy, but it could have been a very different story. And countless burns victims. These were the hardest to see and I wanted to simultaneously vomit and cry. Sadly, children and babies being treated for their burns weren’t uncommon. In order to keep warm overnight, the families sleep next to the fire place and then inevitably roll into it. Writing that down makes me want to weep, seeing it in person made me sick.
Hence the second suggestion: what stirs you emotionally…
I was overwhelmed with all I saw. It was depressing.
I remember sitting down looking over the mountains and begging God to show me where
He was, and how any of this was fair.
A couple of days later we were able to go to
a community health meeting. Here women from the different towns in the area had
walked – some for 2 hours – to meet together to discuss what health problems
their communities were facing. Here I saw women being empowered to create a
real change in their community. With the help of the hospital, they were able
to work out solutions to the needs of the community. The major issue at the
time (in 2013) was not enough toilets for the size of the community, an idea
that seems crazy to us in the west, especially as many of us have multiple
toilets in our own homes!
As this meeting continued, and the conversation was translated to me, I was so encouraged. There was hope after all and it was pretty simple. I returned to Australia with this burning question, what could I do? I was a 17-year-old high school student, with a very small sphere of influence. But I knew that I had to do something. A few months into year 12 I came across the Bachelor of Applied Public Health and Global Studies, and I was motivated to study hard to be accepted into the course.
The third idea then: what brings you hope that you can share with others …
Although I studied for four years, it wasn’t until last October that I was able to see public health in action again. Before arriving in East Timor, I did a little bit of public health research on the country. Call me a nerd, but I find these things fascinating. I wanted to understand what major health issues this country faced. Despite my research, I still wasn’t prepared for what I’d find on the ground. There’s a slum that adjoins the airport as you fly into Dili, and all around the city there are obvious signs that you are in a country that’s been affected by poverty and war for years. Open sewers, unpaved roads, children running barefoot in mud and so much dust and dirt! Whilst the people are very friendly and welcoming, they have not had the easiest past and carry many scars.
I was so excited when the opportunity arose where I was able to see public health in action in East Timor. Maluk Timor is an NGO that “aims to transform healthcare in Timor-Leste’s community health centres, so that people get great quality care, when and where they need it.” It’s slow work, but it’s transformative work!
Number 4: what gets you super excited!
East Timor, like many other developing
countries, has high rates of TB and HIV. I loved visiting a clinic they were
about to open that would do screening, counselling and education about these
conditions. They were empowering locals and making a difference in the country.
I came back from this short visit feeling alive and so excited! With so
much stigma surrounding these issues and a general low level of health
literacy, the work of organisations like Maluk Timor is able to create lasting
It’s also a way we can show Jesus’ love to these people.
What good is it to preach and teach, if we’re not also helping them physically?
Jesus has commanded us to love our neighbours (Mark 12:30-31). Furthermore, he
tells us that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for him (Matthew
25:31-46). Educating, treating and loving people who are suffering from illness
and disease is a way of loving Jesus. And that’s something we can do overseas,
but it’s also something we can do wherever we live.
In the months since returning, I’ve wrestled with how I can show God’s love to the people I’m living amongst. And I want to give you the same challenge: how can you practically show love to those around you today?
I want to know
what I should be doing with my life, and to be able to do it right now, without
making mistakes or doing things that aren’t my ultimate purpose. I wonder if you’re as impatient as I am. Lately
I’ve been learning that to know what you like, sometimes you must try a few
things. And that’s totally ok! It can take time to work out where your right
fit is and there is always time to try something else. I have not seen a
clearer picture of this in my life than when I was serving God in East Timor.
With 40% of the population below the age of 15 in East Timor, it’s no surprise that WEC has several children’s ministry programs. My good friend Lauren and I have both done different children’s ministries over the years and so before we left Melbourne, we prepared some crafts and simple games and activities for this purpose.
Most of these
ideas went out the window when we met with the team and saw their program. The
children were a lot younger than I was expecting, and their English levels were
a lot lower than I’d experienced before.
Three days a
week WEC runs a children’s program called ‘Esperanca’ meaning hope. When we arrived, we were told they’d been
learning the significance of the cross and so if we had a craft that would fit
the theme that would be great. Through some quick online searching, we found a cross
making craft that was easy to demonstrate to the children.
I loved watching
the 30 children sit down and help one another make the craft. It was beautiful
seeing them draw things they were thankful for as well as write prayers and the
scriptures they’d been memorising in the program. One boy simply drew a picture
of Jesus on his cross with the words ‘thank Jesus’ on the top. This brought
tears to my eyes that he grasped the concept of the cross at such a young age.
balloons came out and laughter and squeals of delight filled the atmosphere.
I’ve never seen children so delighted by balloons before.
successful with the Esperanca program I was feeling confident that we’d have
success with the Petra Kids ministry too. I thought that even though some of
the children were younger, we’d be able to entertain the handful of children
for a couple of hours with games and songs.
Well you could
imagine my shock when we suddenly found ourselves leading 50+ children, who
spoke very little English. Fortunately, we had some help from the WEC ladies,
and were able to entertain them with crafts and activities for the 2hour
program. By the time it ended I was exhausted!
It was at this point that I realised children’s ministry is not for me. Whilst I love and adore children, and will gladly play with them, doing this all the time is not my cup of tea. Lauren on the other hand thrived in this situation. She was in her element and will make an amazing pre-school teacher (so glad it’s her, not me.)
For a while I
felt guilty about this. I felt like to be a “good Christian” I should
love kids ministry and doing this sort of thing. I don’t know where I picked up
this idea but writing it down, I know it’s not true. I believe God gives us
unique dreams and passions. Children’s ministry is not where I came alive and
flourished, in fact I felt the opposite way. But I’m so glad that I went. We
live in a time where we are saturated with options, and that’s can be
overwhelming and exhausting! ‘Where do I even start, and what if I make the
wrong move?’ Slowly I’m learning that sometimes you’ve just got to try
something like I did with children’s ministry, because I can see that for now
it’s not where I’m meant to be. So I encourage you today to give something new
a try. You might find that you absolutely love it, or it might not be right for
you and that’s ok too. But you won’t know that until you try.
Another time I want to share with you what did get me super excited, health work! If you know me or have read my “About me” page, you’ll know that I studied public health at university and loved it! So, stay tuned.
When I first started this blog, I hoped that it would be bigger than just my story. For those of you who know me you’ll know I often think that there’s nothing remarkable about me, except that I serve an amazing God! I believe God is doing incredible things in many others as well. So today I’m stoked because I get to introduce you to one of my dearest friends, Emily. We’ve been friends for over ten years now, and shared tears, laughs and many adventures during that time. As she prepares to go on a journey that will stretch and challenge her, I sat down and chatted to her about what this next chapter of her life looks like and I hope you are as inspired and encouraged as I am by her story.
1.Can you tell us a little about yourself; your childhood, your family and your sibling rivalries and blackmail?
I was born in Ireland in 1999 where I lived for 2 and a half years before my family moved on board the Logos II (one of Operation Mobilisations ships). Together we lived there for almost 4 years, sailing around the Caribbean, South America, Europe and parts of North America. I went to school on the ship and have travelled to around 48 countries over my life time. It was such a unique and incredible experience.
that, we moved back to Ireland, then to Australia, back to Ireland, onto the
Logos Hope (another OM ship) and travelled South-East Asia, then back to
Ireland and finally back to Australia where we have been living ever since.
have 3 siblings. One older sister and two younger brothers. We certainly have
our sibling rivalries and yes, it’s true! We have blackmail folders where we
keep our best (worst) photos of each other along with embarrassing quotes that
we have written down over the years. There are definitely times when these come
When did you decide to follow Christ? How would you describe that moment?
grown up in a Christian family and in the setting of missions, it is hard to
pin-point the exact moment when I gave my life to the Lord. I was quite young
when I came to an understanding that Jesus died for my sins and that I was
created to bring God glory. Ever since then, I have been striving to bring God
glory in everything I do, although I often fail at doing so. I used to feel as
if I had no testimony because I had no major transformation, but I have come to
realise that I am so blessed to have never had to experience a moment without
What was the best and worst part about being an Missionary Kid (MK) and Pastor’s
best part about being a Missionary Kid was getting to experience so many
different cultures by the time I was 6 years old. I got to see how people lived
on the other side of the world and how so many of these people lived in extreme
poverty. It gave me a heart of compassion which I am so thankful for. Without
this experience, I would not have known the extent of the poverty and
oppression that people live through in many countries.
worst part about being an MK was all the goodbyes. Every person we met, we knew
that we would probably never see them again. It was hard to build deep
friendships with people that would only be in your life for a very short amount
best part about being a PK is the relationships that are formed. We’ve been
invited out for so many dinners, been given so many generous gifts and made so
many incredible friends because of being PK’s. It’s also amazing to have
someone to go to about any theological question that we may have. However, the
worst part is constantly being used as a sermon illustration. I clearly
remember the feeling of wanting the floor to swallow me up on multiple
So you’ve changed uni degrees and now are doing something very
counter-cultural. How did you go about deciding what to study after school, and
then why did you change degree, and how did you know it was right?
originally, I had chosen to study Early Childhood & Primary Education. I have
always felt God calling me to work with children in the future and so I thought
what better course than education. I finished the first semester and began the
second before I realised that this wasn’t the right course for me. It wasn’t
what I had imagined, I wasn’t enjoying it and after praying a lot about it, I
realised this course wasn’t right for me. I made the mistake of assuming that
this was where God wanted me, without even asking Him.
I deferred from my course and after months of praying and seeking God, He led
me to Bible college at MST (Melbourne School of Theology). It was there that I
completed my Diploma of Christian Studies in 2018. Bible college was always
something I wanted to do but I had imagined doing it when I was much ‘older and
wiser’. But as usual, God had other plans.
Can you tell us what you’re doing in March, and how you came to that
On March 28th I will begin my journey
with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). I am going to do one of their Discipleship
Training Schools in Greece which runs for 6 months. The school I am going to is
a sailing DTS where we will learn to sail on the weekends, do lectures on weekdays,
do outreach with locals and have the chance to learn about our relationship
with God and about ourselves. We will spend the first 3 weeks in Croatia where
we will do basic safety training for sailing and begin lectures. We will then
fly to Greece where we will spend 2 months sailing to different locations and
learning about God. Then we will spend a week in Turkey where we will have the
incredible experience of doing the Ephesus tour and doing some outreach.
Lastly, we will spend 3 months on outreach in a location that is yet to be
revealed to us.
Back in 2017, God specifically told me that I would
live on a ship again. I specifically cried out to God one night saying, ‘God if
you want me to go to the ship, please confirm this to me’. So, I opened my
bible at random pointed my finger down on the page and it landed exactly on
this verse. ‘At that time Ahaziah son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my men
sail with yours”. It’s a very random verse and may confuse some people. But for
me, it was definite confirmation.
I became so excited at the thought and then went on
to apply to live/work on the Logos Hope (the ship I used to live on) since this
was the ship I assumed God was talking about. After being accepted to go back
to the Logos Hope, I began feeling very unsettled about the idea and having no
peace at all about it. I knew deep down that if I were to go ahead with it, I
would be actively disobeying God. I struggled with this for a while because I
was so sure God had told me that I would live on a ship.
I withdrew my application for the Logos Hope and
spent the next while in prayer and confusion and feeling a little bit lost.
After a few months, some missionaries from my church came back from Greece and
shared about their experiences there. During their talk, I felt such a strong
urge to go to Greece. I really felt like God was asking me to go.
This confused me even more as I was still hung up on
the whole ship thing. As I prayed more and more about these two things, I
stumbled across a YWAM DTS that just so happened to take place on a ship…in
Greece. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I prayed about it and applied soon after.
In November 2018, I was accepted to go, and I have
been preparing ever since. It has been mostly smooth sailing (haha) however,
there have been many moments of doubt and feeling inadequate or believing that
I could never raise the funds to go on this trip. These are all lies from the
enemy and God has shown me time after time that this is where I’m meant to be.
I love asking people this question, what advice would you have given to your
worth does not come from the girls and guys around you. It does not come from
the clothes you wear. It is not in how much makeup you wear, and it certainly
does not come from social media. Your worth is in Christ alone and His approval
is the only one that you should seek.
What are your plans and dreams for the future?
Ever since I was a little kid, my dream has
always been to work in an orphanage or start up my own. I have never let go of
that dream and it is still something I would love to do at some point in my life.
When I go to Greece, I would love to visit
Hellenic Ministries ‘Hope Center’. This ministry welcomes and cares for women
who have been sexually exploited and trafficked and provides a hope and a
future for these women by teaching them skills. Many of these women have
unwanted pregnancies and often consider abortion as an option. The Hope Center
provides care for these children and gives the mothers the skills that they
need to raise their children. I would love to be involved in this ministry or
one similar to it as I believe they are so important.
Isn’t she amazing! My favourite line from the whole interview was “I knew deep down that if I were to go ahead with it, I would be actively disobeying God.” This week I was faced with a situation where I knew God had asked me to do something, and I had to choose whether or not to follow His leading. I hope you enjoyed meeting her and hearing more about her journey.
WEC’s vision is ‘to see Christ known, loved and worshiped by the unreached peoples of the world.’ In a nutshell … to reach people & plant churches.
Today I want to share a powerful story with
you about a family who is doing just that – despite pressures and criticism
from the world. This family are helped and supported by a church that WEC
The story begins on a day during my East Timor trip, one that became a favourite as we got to see a new national church that had been established with WEC’s help. We had to drive 2 and half hours out of the city along some very bumpy roads, suitable only for 4WDs. I’m told that this was previously a 4-6 hour trip, and the roads are much better now (makes me wonder what they were like before!) When we arrived I noticed straight away how different it was to the city. Life is much slower paced and far more relaxed.
The pastor of the local church hosted us for
lunch, which was cooked in their outside kitchen. He showed us where his small
congregation meets each week, in the local school that adjoins his property.
Although we weren’t there for a church service I could imagine families coming here
to this building each week to hear life giving messages in their own language,
by their own people. What a beautiful illustration of the church.
Then we drove about ten minutes further out of town and walked another fifteen minutes up a hill to meet a young family from this small church. As we listened to their story and their testimony I was so encouraged by their faith and perseverance. Despite great pressure from their family and home community, they are choosing to live their lives for Christ and reject the ways of their ancestors, which is a mix of Catholicism and animism.
As a majority Catholic nation, with animistic practices, the East Timorese know of Jesus, but very few know Him personally.
Praying with this young family and reading scripture together was definitely a highlight of the trip. By worldly standards this family had very little, but they understood what Jesus said when he said ‘What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?’ (Matthew 16:26). The things of this world, the practices of their family and the relatively easy life they could live if they moved back to their village would seem enticing. And yet, here they are, living away from everyone they know. I don’t even understand how they have water or food on the table. But despite all this their smiles were contagious, and their joy and faithfulness in Christ continue to inspire me.
Less than 3% of East Timorese are evangelical Christians. The majority of this people group are living in spiritual darkness and don’t even know it. Years of bondage to the spiritual world has left them vulnerable and they so desperately need the light of Christ to break through into their lives.
Whilst there are more Christians in the world today than ever before, the Joshua Project states that “81% of all Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists do not know a Christian“. That’s crazy! It can be so overwhelming that at times I want to put my head in the sand and not think about it. It can be so scary, but it’s also so important to step out of our comfort zone into the space God wants us to move.
There are so many people around the world who
are in desperate need for the hope of the gospel. Perhaps that’s your
neighbour, friend, colleague, family member or a people group abroad. Time is
precious, but people are more precious. A moment of awkwardness is worth it if
someone’s life is changed for eternity as a result.
My prayer is that each of us would be willing
to share the gospel with those around us who need to hear. I know it’s scary,
but it’s worth it!
Please join with me in praying for those who are facing the challenge of being Christ followers in difficult situations of persecution and hardship around the world.
I wonder if you have someone you’d love to travel with? Someone to whom you often say ‘it would be so amazing to visit *insert place* together’? It’s been a dream of mine for a while to travel overseas with Lauren, one of my closest friends. In October that dream came true as we were privileged to join an amazing group of people headed to East Timor. But a few shocks were in store for both of us. I’ll come back to that in a moment …
Why East Timor? Read about it here. The rest of the team comprised of Steve and Chris, both long term missionaries with WEC , as well as Adriana, a lovely Brazilian Australian from Sydney.
The five of us touched down in Timor-Leste’s capital, Dili just after 4pm and excitedly made our way out to meet the East Timor WEC Leaders. By this point I was absolutely bouncing with excitement. The first shock was the heat. The humidity hit us straight away, and even in the evening we managed to work up a sweat from doing absolutely nothing.
Apart from the heat, one of the first things I noticed was how lovely the people are. One of the first stops we made was to the children’s program. Even though we were only there for five minutes we met so many new faces – lovely people who wanted to know our story, but I felt so awkward and inadequate because I didn’t know any of the language. I was desperate for a knowledge and understanding of the language so that we could share our stories with one another.
Wait, we’re staying where?!
Now a big shock hit. We spoke about culture shock before leaving Australia, and being an experienced traveller I thought I’d be ok. But I was alarmed when I arrived at the place we would be staying and realised that not only did the place not have any air conditioning (a real struggle when it doesn’t get below 28 overnight) but there also wasn’t a flushing toilet or running shower! For the first hour Lauren didn’t really say anything. She was so overwhelmed and wondering what she had gotten herself into. Lauren is one of my favourite people, however unlike me has had limited overseas travel experience. She is also quite introverted and quite gentle and sensitive to new situations – unless you’re watching ‘High School Musical’ with her! Through this experience God powerfully demonstrated to Lauren that He was more powerful than her personally, gifts and struggles, and in fact was able to use them to further the Kingdom. Her quiet and gentle nature meant it was easy for her to connect with children and love them.
I had a friend ask me the other day- what do you do when you get culture shock?
I think the strange thing about culture shock is that it doesn’t always look the same, and can occur at the most random of times. I remember once experiencing culture shock walking through the high-end fashion stores of Japan. Not a place you commonly think of to experience culture shock.
So what did I do?
I prayed about it, a lot! I complained to God about things that I didn’t like and questioned Him about why He wanted me on this trip. And I vented to Lauren too. This is something we’re both so thankful to God about, that we experienced this together. It is so helpful if you can find someone on your trip who you can share with how you’re really going. It’s likely they’re also struggling too and going through it with someone else is so much easier than alone!
And then I tried to find the beauty in the place I was, however big or small. The delicious fruit we ate, or the beautiful sunset, or just the smile in the children’s faces. And then I took it one day at a time, one movement at a time. Knowing that the itinerary we received was more of a guideline, but I could trust God was in control in it all.
The beautiful part was that after our first meal and talking with Thelly, an Indonesian WEC missionary in East Timor, who’s home we were staying in, we both felt so much more comfortable- well as comfortable as you can be in 33-degree heat and 80% humidity! We realised that we were capable of getting through this time, and even enjoying it.
Much of the time culture shock or fears set in because of preconceived ideas or expectations. So when our experience doesn’t match what we had in our mind we can be startled. Understanding more about their culture was so helpful in understanding the people and gradually reducing the culture shock. It’s why long-term missionaries will spend the first two years doing cultural and language learning.
We didn’t have two years on this trip, but we did spend the first morning in Dili learning more about this interesting country. They have such a bloody and intense history of struggling to finally have freedom. The Museum of Independence tells the story of decades of fighting for a place to call their own. The videos were overwhelming to watch, but what hit me hard was these are real lives and real people, fighting for a greater future for their country.
During the next ten days we were able to see some really beautiful things that God is doing in East Timor, like children’s programs, church plants and health work. I’ll share more with you in my next post. In the meantime, if you haven’t read my first STOMP post you can do so here.
I’ve haven’t posted on my blog for a couple of
weeks as I’ve been away for more nights than I’ve been home. Because I was
curious, I counted it. For the first 6 weeks of this year I’ve slept in my own
bed for 15 nights. Fifteen. Only 15 times!
Fourteen of those nights I spent in Sydney for the first part of WEC’s Candidate Orientation (CO). This is the training process you go through in order to join WEC long term. The outcome of the two weeks took me by surprise.
Looking back, I don’t really remember consciously
saying yes to wanting to join WEC, it just kind of happened. So prior to the
two weeks I had been praying and asking the Lord if this was even something He wanted me to do. I have a habit of
jumping into things and saying yes to the adventure, and then later wondering
if that was the best idea. So this time I wanted to be sure. But before I even
finished asking the question, “God do you want me to do CO with
WEC?”, I felt him say yes. It wasn’t an audible voice, but more a strong
sense deep within me. I then proceeded to give Him reasons why I didn’t think
it was a good idea. I found myself thinking, I’m so young, I’ve got so much baggage. Others are way more qualified, I
would fear, forgetting my identity. Then there were practical thoughts. It’s going to cost a bit of money and time,
is this wise? But every excuse I threw at Him was, when I considered, just a
personal fear or concern. Having this clear answer was comforting and powerful.
And so I arrived in Sydney with great peace that I was exactly where I was
meant to be.
We started off the two weeks thinking about our
expectations, and I discovered I was desperate to learn more about WEC, myself,
but most of all, God. And wow oh wow, did that happen!
When I first started as an intern a year ago, I was
told that WEC sees itself as one big family, and I have to say, that’s really
how it feels. Going up to the WEC headquarters in Sydney felt like going to
visit my family. One of my absolute highlights was hosting a number of these
‘family members’- past and present WEC missionaries – to meals. The six of us
doing the training were then able to ask a number of questions and hear their
stories and wisdom from years in the field. Time and time again we were told
about how God provided for His people when by human standards all looked bleak.
I was inspired and encouraged by their amazing testimonies and what God is able
to do through a person’s life when they surrender all to Jesus. These people are
amazing, not because of their own achievements and accomplishments, although
they are great people, but because they are serving an all-powerful God who can
use broken vessels for His glory (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Hearing these stories and learning more about the structure, history and core of WEC, I am excited about joining an organisation that is so focused on Christ. Their vision, to see Christ known, loved and worshipped by the unreached peoples of the world, flows into every aspect of their ministry.
Starting each morning as a group and seeking to know Christ more, was such a powerful way to begin the day. I journaled and prayed on the first morning we were there, for more of God. That I would know what it means to live fully, filled with God as my living water (John 4). Whilst I’m not there yet, being away from my usual places and deliberately seeking God’s face brought me so much joy and life. I want to end with this verse as it sums up my time away rather well.
“Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; Don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track, Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to GOD!” – Proverbs 3:5-7 MSG
It’s been about 3 months now since I got back from a STOMP in East Timor. What in the world is a STOMP?!? They are WEC’s Short Term Overseas Mission Programs, through going on one of these trips it gives you a taste of what mission is like in the field. They can be for a few weeks, like mine, or up to two years. Here’s a link for 2019’s trips.
One of the common questions I got asked
leading up to the trip and then after is, So why East Timor?
As part of being a WEC Mission Intern you have the chance to be part of one of the STOMP trips. In March 2018 when I got the list of STOMP trips I was looking at going to a different country. But as He often does, throughout the year God revealed He had other plans. One of the major reasons for going was that more and more God was convicting me of serving long-term as a missionary and East Timor was a potential place to do this. Missions has been on my heart ever since my first overseas trip (I share a little bit about that here), but I thought it was something I’d do in about five years’ time. Over the course of the year God revealed that He was actually putting it into progress now. And going to East Timor was my next step of obedience.
There were two more major things that
really interested me about East Timor. Firstly, the country is filled with
young people – I’m talking 40% of the population under the age of fifteen. And
do you know what one of the favourite parts of my week is in Australia? Youth
Group. Well, here is a country that is overflowing with young people who
desperately need to be shown Christ’s love.
Secondly, there is a great need for health
care. As one of the poorest and youngest countries in the area, communicable
diseases such as TB and HIV are extremely prevalent. There is a need for better
health care, health education and policies. As this is my area of interest and
study, the realities of their health needs struck my heart.
I’ve heard it said that you find your purpose where your passions and your skills
line up, and I experienced that for myself in East Timor.
But I didn’t go into the trip thinking we’d be saving these people. At university we studied and discussed whether volunteer short term trips were beneficial or not. I’ve heard numerous accounts of voluntourism causing more problems than help, and more than ever I was cautious about signing up for the trip.
On Sunday 14th of October, Lauren and I
boarded a plane to Sydney to meet up with the rest of the team, before flying
out early the next morning. During the flight, I spent time with God voicing my
concerns with Him and praying that this wouldn’t be the dreaded terrible short-term
trip. He led me to this passage that Paul quotes in Romans 10:15 from Isaiah
52:7. “How wonderful is the coming of messengers who bring good news”. My
prayer was that we would be a blessing to the team and locals and be bearers
of joy. I felt convicted, and finally at peace, that we’d been sent out by
God and our communities for this time to bring good news, the best news. And
what a joy that is!
More and more God is revealing to me that
obedience is what He desires from us. That to simply follow is the greatest
thing we can do for His Kingdom. For me that looked like listening to His voice
and getting on a plane to East Timor, but for you it might look completely
different depending on what God has placed in your heart. Imagine how beautiful
your life would look if you were daily stepping out in obedience in every area
of your life!
“… in that he spends the rest of his time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires.” – 1 Peter 4:2
Like to know more? I’d love to be able to answer any questions about STOMPs, East Timor or cross cultural mission. Click here for more.
You know that feeling before you do something out of your comfort zone, and you know everything will change. Well maybe not everything, but at the time it feels like everything. This is what I imagine it’s like to launch a rocket.
And that’s what starting a blog feels like.
This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s the most terrifying thing, and the thing that has the most potential of failure. Writing a blog – putting my thoughts and words down for people to read on the internet, terrifies me!
You know that dream you have as a kid, of getting to school in your pyjamas (for me this wouldn’t be that bad because I love my llama pjs), or even worse with no clothes at all? That’s how I feel. Exposed and uncomfortable!
I never set out to write a blog. English wasn’t my favourite subject, in fact it was my weakest subject. And as a result I’ve had so many doubts about launching this ‘rocket’. Like, Amber who’s going to read it anyways, who are you to give them advice or information, and you’re not even that good at English.
I was reminded recently of a time on a short term trip to central Australia where I literally broke down at the breakfast table over my bowl of cereal, because I felt inadequate and weak. As I poured out my heart to my dear friend, who’s like a mother to me, about my fears of not being good enough to be a missionary, or clever enough because I couldn’t do something as simple as learn a few key phrases in their language. She took me aside and gave me some scriptures that have stayed so close ever since.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
And that’s exactly how I feel as I sit here and write this, weak, and unimpressive and like a clay jar. Yet God is reminding me that it’s not about me at all, but about Him!
All I’m required to do is to be obedient to His calling for my life. And man does obedience take faith!
In the same way that I need faith, it took faith for Abram to leave his home town for the unknown. It took faith for all the prophets to speak the message God has given them. And now it is taking faith to launch this site, even when it might mean I fail and crash and burn.
I wonder what the Lord is asking of you today, you don’t have to be perfect at it. And you don’t have to have your life together, trust me – I don’t! But He asks for your faith and obedience.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
As the year comes to an end I’ve been reflecting on what God has taught me.
Firstly, His timing is perfect! In November of last year I began praying “God I’m willing to do whatever you want me to do, but you need to show me what that is.” For about four months this was my daily prayer, and it wasn’t until February that God revealed what He wanted me to do this year. In a way that only God could orchestrate I heard about the WEC Mission intern program. During this time I had applied to countless job positions and knocked on what seemed like endless doors. One of my friends said to me one day “well, if it’s not this job, then God must have something better in store for you.” I truly believe God “works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28), and He has better plans than we can ever ask or imagine.
It was during this season of waiting on the Lord that my faith deepened and I learnt some amazing lessons of patience and trust! His plan and timing is truly perfect.
The second thing that God has shown me is that He is a God of transformation and redemption! He is, and always will be until Christ returns, at work drawing people to himself. I’ve seen this clearly in my own life this year as He heals the broken parts of me, and reveals His beauty.
I’ve seen this in accounts of scripture, how he chose Abram and the people of Israel, but then also other unexpected people. The gospel is not the story of perfect people, but of broken people with a powerful and merciful God.
I’ve also seen this through the ministry of Betel (church planting amongst drug addicts) and through my short-term trip to East Timor. We are never too far from God for His love!
Thirdly, I have seen that there is so much joy in doing what you’ve been called and designed to do. I think I had this idea of what being a missionary looked like, and I didn’t understand how I’d fit into that mould. Realising that it takes a whole team and different skills (1 Corinthians 12:4-6), has been so freeing and I’m now excited about how God can use me in His mission abroad.
In a podcast I was listening to recently, John Crist said “You know you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, when you’re doing it, you’re not thinking ‘I should be doing something else’… that’s what you’re put on the planet to do”. I replayed these lines a couple of times, as I’d never heard the description of purpose so clearly. And since then I’ve been really thinking about the things I love to do, and are these what God has put me on the planet to do?
There have been so many elements of this year that have been super fun. But it has also been a super hard year, where I’ve been stretched and exhausted and pushed outside of my comfort zone. But in that time I’ve done new things and traveled to places I never dreamed of. I hope as the year comes to an end you’ll take some time to think about what you’ve learnt this year and what you hope to achieve in the New Year.