2017 Sri Lanka – Jihye Eom

I Call to God

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” – Jeremiah 33:3

2016 was a year full of challenges and I was stretched and challenged in many ways. My daily life seemed to be so far from “Rest,” the theme of my home church, New Philadelphia. Then towards the end of the year, God called me to go on missions with Him. My immediate response was “no” in my flesh, but I said “yes” out of desperation and helplessness, hoping to taste and see that God is truly alive. The prayers I sowed in prior to the trip, and the entire preparation process, became a time of healing for me. God was already working in me even before I was sent out. Truly, God’s plans for us are so good. Thus I would like to share about the most memorable part of this process for me, and also about the ministry of God’s presence that I learned from this trip.

The highlight of our time in Sri Lanka was when I witnessed Heaven on this earth during our visit to the Nawajeewana Rehabilitation Center. This is a place where male drug addicts and alcoholics stay together and seek healing. As soon as we walked through the fence circling the center, we found a stairway going down to the main area, with paintings on the walls. Slowly lifting my head to look around, I saw the rays of sunlight breaking through the tree leaves, highlighting the Bible verses written everywhere: on the trees, bird nests, and pillars. It was so peaceful and beautiful- this is what I imagined Heaven would be like. In the midst of all the tall and beautiful trees, there were people with curious looks on their faces. They dropped everything they were doing and turned their eyes to us, seemingly wondering what brought this bunch of foreigners to their place. I smiled at them, but they didn’t smile back. I stepped forward to be closer to them, and they stepped away. Honestly, I didn’t know what to say or how to approach these people we were called to minister to. So I just stood still. It was then when Mr. Manju, the overseer of the center, gathered people for the service. And to my surprise, everyone’s faces brightened up once the service started. The worship time was filled with such joy and loud praise. After worship, Sam, our team leader shared his testimony about true freedom from addiction, and encouraged these men to fight the good fight with God’s grace. He opened up the altar for prayers, and we prayed for 10 people who responded to a salvation prayer. Seventeen people received prayer for God’s freedom from addictions. Praise the Lord! The joy I witnessed must come from the living God, and He was among these people. Anyone who visits this place will know that God is alive, and get to see a glimpse of what Heaven looks like.

During our time at the center, an old man called Masum taught me how to pray. He came up and talked to me after the service, and he looked as old as my grandfather. He shared how he became a Christian through his friend, Raja, whom he had met in prison, and it turns out Raja was the founder of the center. We had a good talk sharing about our journeys with Jesus, and exchanged prayer requests regarding family. At one point, he asked me if I prayed in tongues. I said yes. Then, he asked me if I knew the direct phone number to Heaven. That was when I thought to myself for a second that maybe he was one of those who suffered from mental illness. I told him I did not know. So, I asked him what the number was, feeling a bit disappointed as I came to the conclusion that this guy with a mental illness wasn’t on the same page as me. Masum then looked into my eyes with a smile on his lips, and said it was Jeremiah 33:3. Since I wasn’t expecting to hear anything close to an answer, I was stunned and stood still until he broke the silence, saying I should look it up now. So I went to get my Bible and turned to Jeremiah 33:3, where it says, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

Masum simply invited me to have a casual conversation, but what he was actually doing was hosting a ministry of presence to me, which ministered to me so deeply. As I look back on 2016, there were many sleepless nights with tears for different reasons, but all I needed to do was just call to Him. I had felt like God had kept silent throughout the whole year, which was discouraging, and I almost begged Him numerous times to say anything. But the talk with Masum was so special in that God ministered to me not through words, but simply with His presence. When I realized this, I pictured in my mind the very first day of 2016 in a cold funeral hall mourning my grandfather’s passing, to that very moment at the end of 2016 in Sri Lanka talking with Masum, and also every day in between. The whole time God has been sitting right next to me, listening, and empathizing.

The past year was a season when no words could give me comfort (rather only make me even more upset), and no one could completely understand what I was going through. I felt lost and helpless, but I learned that all I needed was His presence. Even when I didn’t know what to ask, God knew exactly what I needed and generously showed Himself to me. I believe Jeremiah 33:3 speaks forth what is to come in 2017. Just as God revealed something I previously thought was hidden when I called to Him, I am expectant of how this verse is going to unfold in this upcoming year. As you read my testimony, as people of faith, I would like to encourage you to claim this testimony as your own. I pray that God will reveal great new things to you, and I also pray for the gift of faith and courage to wait upon the Lord until He gives you the answer according to His perfect timing. My fellow brothers and sisters, I am writing this testimony to testify that Our God is alive and His goodness knows no end. So, take courage and continue to call to God. He will surely reveal great and hidden things to you!