2017 Vietnam – Daniella Radwan

Home is Where I’m With You
(audio mp3)

This is not a conventional testimony; at least not what I would expect to read after a missions trip. It is not about physical healing, casting out devils, or feeling extremely used in the field. My testimony is simply about remembering what it is like to have a family.

Moving to Korea was no picnic… and I may be biased, but it feels like it is even more difficult if you come from a Latin country where everything and everyone is so warm and welcoming. My Christian life is not long, but it is intense. I guess God likes it this way, and I cannot complain. Perhaps because I already lost too much time, who knows! However, after I moved to Korea (in March 2016) I felt like happiness, gratefulness, and joy were replaced by bitterness. I started seeing the world in a way I never had before. The weather was always too cold, too hot, or too humid. People were only interested in taking advantage of others, no one was honest, and nothing could ever top what I had back at home. Gradually I closed myself more and more and soon it became difficult for me to relate to people. I was unhappy about everything, and ended up feeling completely isolated and lonely. I completely forgot who I was in Christ and started pitying myself. Whenever I had a conversation with anyone, I would start complaining about anything possible. I became a whiner.

Through this, although I could find a hundred excuses not to go to church, there was one thing still alive in me: the voice of the Holy Spirit reminding me of who I am, and asking me if I wanted to go back to that place. Therefore, though as a stubborn child, I did go to church. I exposed my feelings to God, and had various encounters and breakthroughs. I joined membership with New Philly even though I wanted to run away, and when I started feeling overwhelmed and wanted to give up, God pushed me to join leadership as well. I may be dramatic, whiny, and moody… but when God moves me into doing something, I am all-in despite what my natural eyes can see. I think no one knows how difficult these two processes were for me. When I finished my final task I was so emotional… and when I went to church and was officially announced as a member and a leader, my heart exploded with joy and I could see the Father smiling at me.

Then missions came… and I was the first one to sign up. But around this time, there was also a lot of shaking. My living conditions in the dormitory were pretty bad and I was asking God for a new place to live. He told me I would have my own place, that I would have a quiet place with Him, and that I would not need to have a roommate. But when looking at the high prices of everything around me, with my dorm deadline approaching, along with final exams and the deadline to pay my missions deposit, I became very overwhelmed. I requested a meeting with Lisa, the Missions Director, and told her I could no longer go to missions. I guess it was quite obvious that I was not emotionally stable because I would cry for a minute and then talk for ten seconds. She suggested I pray about it that night, and I did. When I was about to close my eyes and talk to God, He asked me: “Why do you want to choose, if I want to give you everything?” Needless to say, I decided to go on the trip, but under one condition: God, I know my life is always intense, and I’m cool with that, honestly! But fundraising? Really? You know how terrible I am at this, and honestly, I don’t have time. I want to have all my support raising completed by mid-December.” That’s what I told God, and then I saw my missions support growing and growing. Donations came from people I could have never have imagined. I went over 100% support in missions donations, and my car in Brazil was sold at the exact price needed for my new housing deposit, and the rent was exactly what I could afford. It was real: God gave me everything I wanted. He showed me once again how much He loved me and that He will always be by my side.

God was moving quickly in my life, but the emotions in my heart were taking a longer time. I still felt so lonely, so hurt, so vulnerable, so tiny. Missions finances were taken care of, but I started to get overwhelmed by all the missions deadlines and tasks. Having to connect with the people on our team was not something I was excited about. With a lot of battling and struggling, the day of our departure approached. One day prior to the trip, I told God that after missions I wanted to leave Korea. How could God have taken me to this cold country? If my love language is physical touch, I obviously do not belong in Korea. If I love being close to people, love serving others, and am so sensitive, I thought there is no sense for me being here. If I am a free spirit, never really had a fixed schedule, am not used to being told what to do, why did He call me to a church with so much structure?! Through all this, God’s answer was: you need to learn how to be disciplined. There is love around you, but you’ve got scales over your eyes.

Right away I stopped questioning why I was in Korea, but was still unsatisfied with the rest of my circumstances. I was excited to be on missions and to relate to the people in the field, I still couldn’t relate to the people in my team. The first day came, and I started to get to know the group. Things still felt awkward and I tortured myself with feelings of judgment, incompatibility, and a sense of not belonging. I told God how I felt and that I wanted this to be my family. Everyone else related so well together… I would too if I were my “normal” self. Then from day 2, everything started to change. It was as if the scales on my eyes had fallen off. I realized that other people’s love language was also physical touch. I started to open up and want to know my team members deeper. God told me it was finally time to tell my testimony for the first time, and in fact, I was one of the team members selected to share it in one of the services. I was naked, vulnerable, weapons down, and willing to give and receive love. Every day we drove in the van I shed tears while looking at the landscape that reminded me so much of home. I did not want to leave… I finally felt like I was at a place I could call home. But on one of the last rides, I started to realize that I was not crying because of Vietnam. I was crying because of the family I had gained. And God told me, “Everywhere can be home when I am with you.”

I can’t say that I am completely free from my emotional struggles or some level of awkwardness… we are all a work in progress. But what I am delighted to say is that I’ve taken important steps, and as difficult as it may be, I will keep going, and I will keep pushing, because I don’t ever want to stop growing and I don’t want to keep myself from all the goodness that He has for me. God placed New Philly in my life and I am delighted to say I now feel part of a family here in Korea. As much as the devil wants to accuse me, destroy me, and put out my light, I am the Lord Almighty’s tough little daughter, and even if I crawl through muddy paths, nothing will stop me from His perfect love. He has brought me through mountain highs and valley lows, and with each season I only become stronger in Him. I know the breakthrough I experienced in Vietnam is only the beginning of a greater blessings in store.

So thank you so much for sowing into our Vietnam missions trip and for covering each of us with prayer. God is so good because He did a mighty work in the mission field. But He also did a mighty work in each of His missionaries. I hope my testimony spoke to you, and was an encouragement especially if you are on a journey of finding family and community. Don’t give up, because God is faithful to you. God bless you!