2015 Angeles City – Heidi Anna Chae

Unknowingly, Me Too

John 13:35: Your love for one another will prove to the world
that you are my disciples.

There were a few things I expected from this missions trip to the Philippines, but they were heavily outweighed by the golden treasures I gained instead through witnessing the transformative love of God and joy. Unknowingly, I was being changed on the inside too, by gaining a bigger perspective and rest in the greatness of God.

It’s common for people to see me as one who is jolly and carefree all the time. But I am not superhuman. I have other feelings and emotions as well. However as soon as we met up with the other half of our team from Sydney, I was floored by the amount of corporate joy everyone carried. It was to the point where I almost became critical and offended by it! Almost every, single moment we spent together was full of laughter. I started to doubt the authenticity of peoples’ joy. Over the course of the trip, after having spent times of ministry together and hearing each other’s testimonies from the pulpit, there was a temptation to second-guess each person’s sincerity. But soon enough, these thoughts started to peel away, in addition to the unhealthy amount of introspection I was engaging in, and limitations I put over myself as well. God showed me His nitty-gritty, wonder-working power, and how He is not limited by people’s circumstances. He fills them up with a joy that is powerful and moving.

Our team visited a few homes in the more rural villages, where we split up into groups of four and five including our young translators. We all grew very close to each other by the end of the trip. We were expected to share the Gospel, pray and bless people by handing out tracts, and inviting them to join the local church’s feeding program. Each home usually greeted us with hard-working young mothers and/or grandmothers, along with at least 2-4 children by their side. Some of the stories started to repeat after a while: the father was away overseas or hours away from their village, earning money to support the family. Many of the women were left feeling burdened about having to carry out important duties at home on top of filling an extra parental role. There were worries about finances, schooling, and safety of the children as well.

These were moments of conviction and realization for me. I had gone into this trip with the mindset that I was going to share with the people the “Romans Road to Salvation” which I had memorized. I expected to tweak around the Gospel according to their living situations and get to see them accept Jesus into their lives. Yet as I listened to their stories, I was surprised by their openness and depth to which they shared about their hardships. I was take aback by their many tears. While hearing these stories, I started to really wrestle with God asking, “How are we supposed to meet them where they are at, yet be loving in lifting them up out of it without being aggressive? What if I hurt them more as a foreigner who has absolutely no idea what it’s like to be in their shoes?” It had been a recurring question I’d asked even when I went on other missions trips, and I felt like God showed me His answer as we went house after house in Angeles City. He was showing me that praying with His people about their needs, inviting them to the local pastor’s church, and sharing our own personal stories were all a part of God delivering His comfort. We were able to listen, and strengthened these brothers and sisters with our words. It was so encouraging to see most of these brothers and sisters come out later in the afternoon to the feeding program, where we were able to have service with them, and sing and dance with them. Some were later touched by the presence of God through many tears. Burdens were broken off, and fresh grace was released. My mind once again started to readjust through witnessing the Lord move in the hearts of the local residents. It was amazing to witness His gentle grace and mercy in their lives, to see that our God is great and mighty- anywhere and everywhere.

In the midst of all our ministry, a very anointed worship team of about 6 youth accompanied us faithfully from the beginning. They helped to translate during house visits and services. On one of the evenings, our team leader Eunice called out a sister from the worship team whose father, an NPWM pastor, had passed away recently. The team was called to encourage and bless her to fully mourn. We were also establishing her in her identity and calling out her gifts. This sister began to break down crying, and soon both our teams began to cry alongside her. It was a precious moment of mourning with those who mourn, that we may soon rejoice together as well.

And soon enough our team had fellowship time at MacDonald’s, laughing hysterically at all sorts of things and at each other. In a moment, I felt like I was taken aback and was reminded of how much each individual had become brighter, more joyful and content during our time in Angeles City. And God faithfully whispered to me, “You’ve also changed too Heidi,” with the biggest grin on His face. And now I am back, walking in greater rest and trust in the Lord, thankful for how much He moved through us, and showed us His wonder-working power.

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