2013 Gen. Santos – Sunny Hong

Growing in Faith and Confidence

The Lord really led me on a journey through this missions process. In the natural, it did not seem like the best time for me to go on a trip. I had been unemployed for a long period of time. I had had to move several times from house to house. The hip-hop body worship made training a lot more challenging this season, along with various team-building tasks such as memorizing Isaiah 61 in the hottest room in the jjimjilbang on one of the hottest days of the summer. There were even moments when I started regret signing up to go on missions. This was because there were moments when I felt like I had nothing to give.

But in the midst of all this, I had a deep longing and desire to see God in a new light. Although it felt like nothing in my life was going right, this season also felt like an invitation to trust in God more fully. In the pendulum swings between doubt and trust, I prayed that God would come meet me where I was. At the last Friday Fire prayer meeting before departure, I stood at the altar with the other missions team members. As I received prayers, I felt like I was being set on fire for the Lord. I started to feel something set ablaze inside of me, something beyond measure, and all I could do was scream. At that moment I felt so reassured. I knew that the Lord was calling me to release His fire just as freely as I had received. And as He set me ablaze, I came to realize that God also wanted to remove all traces of doubt from my heart in order to make it whole. He wanted to bring me to a point where I could completely trust in Him, and to be completely confident in His love.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” – John 14:1

And indeed, our team all grew to become more and more confident in the love of God. The Lord moved powerfully among the youth of Gen San. He revealed Himself in miraculous ways. One day after visiting two churches in different villages, our team arrived at the church scheduled for our Sunday evening service. It was hard to see the faces of the children we met, as the entire village was experiencing a power outage. The local pastor suggested two options: one, we could hold the service outside the sanctuary building with the headlights of two cars shining into the common area, or we could hold the service inside the sanctuary building by candlelight. To our team, neither of the options seemed right. Not only did our preaching pastor, Myunghwa Choi, need to see her sermon notes, but the team also needed the lights to show the body worship and teach the VBS (Vacation Bible School) dances.

Therefore our team along with local pastors, leaders, and children decided to pray. We asked that God would increase our faith in His ability, and that He would give us light. After about two minutes of prayer, a confidence rose up in our spirits and we just knew that light was coming back to the village. And when we opened our eyes, we were in awe. The kids started screaming as the sanctuary building was being filled with light! All of us jumped up and down in joy and excitement! We believed, and God had answered. To young and old alike, it was an incredible moment to rejoice in the Lord!

Later that night, Pastor Myunghwa preached about believing in God for big dreams. She then asked people to come to the altar if they were serious about believing in the Lord, and wanted the team to stand alongside them in prayer. Honestly, I was not sure whether anyone would come up. It was hard even for me to believe for them. All I could see was poverty, suffering, and pain in the area. I didn’t want to give them false hope. It would not be right to pray for them when I myself couldn’t believe. So I asked God to help me see the church members as He sees them. And to my surprise, I started to see people came up to the altar one by one. I saw one boy standing in front of me, earnestly praying, shaking, and believing. I could see his heart before the Lord. I would see that he was full of faith, without any hint of doubt. To God, I felt like this boy could become the next Manny Pacquiao . As I was looking at this boy, I was inspired by his faith. I began praying, “Lord, I believe!” I believed with Him and for His dreams for Gen San, Philippines, and the nations. I started to believe with the people at the altar for the salvation of their family members, for healing, and for breakthrough. As we all started to believe together, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God will surely and swiftly answer their prayers.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” – John 14:6

In Gen San, God turned many hearts of the youth from fear to courage, from unforgiveness to forgiveness, and established their identities from merely servants, to sons of God. In raising up the youth, God did not have to convince them with persuasive words, or send them famous people to show who God is and who they are in Him. It is the message of Jesus Christ that set these youth free from fear, turned their hearts to forgive, and breathed the truth of their identities as sons of God and co-heirs with Jesus Christ. In partnering with God, I was humbled to witness divine moments of transformation in those whom God is calling as the leaders of the next generation in the Philippines.

As our trip progressed, I was also reminded that Jesus not only healed hearts, but bodies as well. After one service, a boy who had been lame since birth came with his father to receive prayer. Our team along with local pastors and congregation members gathered around him and contended for his full healing. In our prayers, we envisioned the boy walking out of the sanctuary and running with his friends. We prayed over him Isaiah 53:5, “…with His wounds we are healed.” With the authority we have as the sons of God, we commanded the sickness to leave the boy’s body. He looked scared, but as he began to hold the pastor’s hand, strength entered into his legs and he began to and walk step by step. His countenance changed. Just as we prayed, the boy slowly walked out of sanctuary and started walking down the hill! Jesus is indeed our healer!

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

In addition to the supernatural physical healing, we were able to witness peoples’ supernatural encounters with God. On the last night of the retreat at Faith Bible Institute, the students rededicated their lives to the Lord as the living sacrifices to Him. They cried out for the fire of God to touch them. As we prayed for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the students manifested the presence of God in tangible ways. Many students fell to the ground and cried. Some jumped and danced. I touched one of the students who manifested the Spirit of joy and I too along with those around him jumped and danced. The Spirit of God spread like fire!

The Spirit of God also touched the hearts of the students powerfully, as we washed their feet on the last day of the retreat. Personally, it was my first time taking part in a foot washing ceremony. In doing so, I was humbled to learn the heart of Jesus “who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). As the students felt the love of God, many wept uncontrollably. Towards the end of the ceremony, one of the boys was so captivated by the love of the Father that he jumped out of his seat. He wandered around as if he was following an angelic host, then fell prostrate and began to worship with his hands lifted up. It looked like he was caught up in the third heaven with the Father. “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8). Amen!

Not only did the team have a powerful time of ministry in Gen San, but we also had a powerful time of building relationships. At New Philadelphia Church, we believe that the kingdom of God advances through relationships. And indeed, we were able to go deeper with the students, local pastors, and ministers. We saw the fruits of ministry being birthed in Gen San through the synergy of gifts and callings between the local churches and our own church. We were able to build on the relationships of trust, respect, and honor. For instance, the academic dean of Faith Bible School, Pastora Meriam, translated the message from English to a local dialect. But as she translated she was so at one with the preacher and that many were brought to tears as they listened. Pastora Meriam herself received the message and multiplied the wisdom and revelation. Furthermore, many students shared about how much they loved the games, dancing, and skit performances during their retreat. It was it was their first time doing activities like this with a ministry team. It was a blessing for us to see the whole village coming to watch the students perform the skits! (The picture above is my proud team of Fantastic Tribal Team, a.k.a FTT, winning the 3rd place spot for the game! “Move! Give away! FTT is on the way! Move! Give away! FTT is on the way! Go! Go! Go! FTT!”)

Personally, my fondest memory from the trip is our last dinner at the house of Pastor Ching and his wife Pastora Meriam, along with Pastor Dan and his family. We had the ocean-fresh tuna for dinner and balut , with durian and “cat poo” coffee for dessert. It was funny to see what a delight it was for the local pastors and family to watch us eat balut for the first time! We gathered around in the front yard of the house with beautiful trees and a 2-year old dog, Winter, and just chatted and giggled while feeling the breeze and sprinkles of rain. I believe what Pastor Myunghwa shared with Pastors Ching and Meriam well-captured what we all felt that night: “Even if we did not do any ministry in Gen San, we would have still have come just to be with you.” Pastor Ching had recently lost his close ministry partner, Pastor Alfonso, along with his father, Pastor Takero within a few days of each other. Pastor Takero had founded Faith Bible School (in addition to Faith Tribal Ministries) and close to hundred churches in Gen San. In addition to these losses, Pastor Ching is suffering from severe back pain for which he had to make several trips to the hospital every week. Standing in front of the great man of God who shared with us “the greatness in the kingdom of God comes from serving others,” we were humbled and honored to pray for him and his family and partner with him for the kingdom of God in Gen San.

One lesson that I learned from the trip is this: to be confident in myself. Throughout the trip, I had opportunities to share my testimony, preach, and teach a seminar on forgiveness for the first time in my life. I had never thought of myself being capable of doing such things. When I could not even believe for myself, Pastor Myunghwa believed in me and opened up these opportunities for me. Despite my shortcomings, she embraced me and affirmed me. I could sense that she was confident in me. In receiving the honor, I came to realize how the heavenly Father would believe in me as well. His belief in me would display such confidence in me that would empower me to be confident in myself.

Personally, the year 2013 was challenging mainly because things did not happen the way that I wanted. I had started to lose confidence in myself and in some of my relationships. But through this trip, I received the key revelation that would forever secure my confidence in myself: God believes in me and He is confident in me. I realized that confidence is not the end result of success, but that confidence is the substance of my faith in God and His love for me. This is unchanging in nature. Regardless of the circumstances, I can always be confident in myself because of God who believes in me.

As you can see, God is moving powerfully in Gen San. As I express my gratitude for your support, I would also like to request your continuous prayers for Gen San regarding the following topics:

  • Pray for Faith Bible School, which celebrates their 25th anniversary in August. Ever since Pastor Ching’s father started the school with his two disciples, the school has been run by faith for the provision of God and for the training of its students. Currently, there are about 50 students who are not able to afford their tuition. They are from different tribes and will be sent back as pastors and ministers after completing their 3-year training course. We know that God will use each student to influence over 1,000 people in Gen San. Please release faith for the operation of the school and please pray for the future of these students.
  • Pray for full healing over Pastor Ching. He oversees close to a hundred churches in Gen San and is also the dean of Faith Bible School. Pastor Ching is suffering from a spinal problem which causes great pain in addition to numbness in his legs. Please pray that he will be completely healed and become even stronger than before.
  • Pray for the comfort and peace over Pastor Ching and his family. As briefly mentioned earlier, Pastor Ching lost his close ministry partner and his father very recently, and within days of each other. As he is mourning over the loss of his loved ones with his family, please pray for God’s peace, strength and new hope over them.

To say the least, this missions trip was the best trip that I had ever been on! Thank you for your prayers and generous financial support. But most of all, thank you for believing in me.

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