2017 Vietnam – Ujin Lee

Eyes On Me

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” – Psalm 37:7

On the 9th of January 2017, I finally embarked on my first missions trip with my church, New Philadelphia, to the land of Vietnam. And my my, I have to say, God really blew my mind and opened up my eyes to what He has already been doing in this nation. It was beyond my expectations. Wherever we went, He was there. This trip was truly marked with the growing hunger, passion, and zeal of Vietnam for the Lord. Everywhere we went, our team was able to witness God pour out His sweet, kind, and gentle love upon His people.

If you know me personally, you would know how special this trip was for me, as after many years of yearning and longing, God finally opened the doors for me to go on missions! And because for so many years I had dreamt of going on missions, my expectations had really grown- envisioning what my first missions experience may look like: witnessing salvations, signs and wonders, miracles, demons being cast out, people falling under the glory of God, praying for people to see the captives free, binding up the brokenhearted- the list goes on. But little did I know, His plans and ways were far greater what my little head could expect. I would love to tell you a little bit about it.

On our second ministry day, we had the privilege of visiting and ministering to the Stieng tribe, a marginalized ethnic minority group in Vietnam. I was asked to give my testimony on breaking generational curses. My team member Joanna then followed up with a sermon on generational blessings. There was so much grace and after the sermon ended, and there was so much response. I got excited as I felt the Spirit moving and stirring. I was ready to go full warfare mode and start ministering, but I felt my heart slowly getting disappointed as I realised that the ministry time wouldn’t end up in a direction I presumed it would go. Despite pressing in, the time was over before I knew it. I felt like the same thing happened the night before as well. During lunchtime, instead of celebrating what God did, I couldn’t help but dwell on what I didn’t see happen.

After lunch, many people lined up to receive prayer for healing. Our team created a system to pray for them, and with many lined up, one after the other, we began praying for them. And as we began to pray, I remember really struggling, feeling like my mouth was uttering, but nothing was moving in my heart. This was a frightening feeling. I felt like all of a sudden I was ministering alone without God’s presence, and it was scary. I wrestled with this idea and experience through the whole day and felt discouraged and confused. I remember even spending most of the team prayer time continuing to wrestle with God, finding it hard to even focus on praying for the next day. This is when Pastor Anna, our team preacher prayed over me: “No striving. Be yourself.” Although confused and discouraged, I remember thinking, “I can remain feeling like this until the end of this trip, or I can shift and seek the Lord.”

The next day, as we ventured out to our next ministry time with the Hmong tribe, and as I sought the Lord in the time that I had, He quieted my spirit and gave me peace to just dwell in and simply enjoy His presence. After yet another powerful service, I felt Holy Spirit move and stir within us, as ministry time began again. As I stood at the corner of the altar, strumming the guitar and singing, I kept watchful- warfaring in the Spirit, inviting God to move, keeping a close eye on everything, making sure I didn’t miss anything. Looking, praying in tongues, looking and praying. Then I felt God speak to me, “Stop, and just worship Me. You’re here to worship Me. Fix your gaze on Me.”

I think this is the moment that I realised what had been going on. I was so focused on what God was going to for these people, for us, that I wasn’t able to just love on Him and worship Him. I realised that because I had been waiting to go on missions for so long and suppressing my desires for so many years, I had developed and created a check-list of all that I wanted to see God do. Yet He is not my genie, He isn’t just some miracle performer. His love language (quote P. Ems) is simply love. I realised that because I wanted to see SO much and witness SO much, because I NEEDED missions to be special, I felt like I needed to act like somebody else- to pray and sing in a manner worthy of being on missions!

So many times when I stood leading praise without an amped-up guitar or a microphone, I felt like I had to sing louder and get a thicker pick to strum louder because I was afraid that the congregation wouldn’t be able to hear me. Yet God was trying to teach me that it’s not what I sing into these people’s ears, or what they hear physically that brings His presence– not what I sing into the flesh that allows the Spirit to move. Rather it’s what I sing unto Him, in the spirit, what I whisper to God, with my eyes focused and fixated on Him, that’s going to break down walls and be my weapon for this warfare. Because it was never going to be flesh and blood that we were fighting against, but this was a battle in the spirit.

So many times, I thought missions was all about a loud roar going into battle. I thought that when God moved, it would always look a certain way. I realised that I never inquired to seek what it might look like each time, and I didn’t realise that it could look different each time! This is because my General is personal, and thus His plans are personal! I hadn’t sought what His plan or tactics were- I had just moved the way I felt was familiar! But God was teaching me to be still and wait for His command of action before anything. He was teaching me about precision and accurate timing. I remember during one of the team prayer times, He showed me a vision of a trumpet. Pastor Anna helped me understand that there are two ways a trumpet is blown: at the front line of a battle as a weapon of warfare, but also when the King enters the room. I felt like God was teaching me to strum and sing every tune with purpose and precision- to be still and listen.

I felt like on this missions trip, God taught me the strength in being quiet and gentle in my spirit, and following His leading from that place. He taught me to not fix my eyes on what is seen, but rather fix my eyes into the unseen and see what He is doing in the Spirit. He was teaching me to move along with Him, like floating on gentle waves. My first missions trip this year to Vietnam didn’t look much like what I expected it to look like, but God did an even deeper work. He transformed me perspective all the while doing a deep, foundational work in the land of Vietnam. Praise the Lord!