2017 Nepal – Benjamin Wong

My Journey to Missions

My mission testimony can be divided into two parts, the first being my journey to missions and the second being the actual impacts of the mission trip that revealed to me a new understanding of the need of missions and God’s will in my life.

From the moment I decided to sign up for missions and up until this very moment, I have been asked one question, “Why?” Why did I decide to go to on missions? With the possibility of going to Nepal, India, or Sri Lanka. To comprehend why I chose to spend my Christmas and New Year holidays in any of the above countries, I must take you all on a journey that spans back up to ten years. From the time I completed university until now, each year I would escape the scorching Australia summer heat to an Asian winter; either Hong Kong, Japan, Korea or any other South East Asian country that would give me a climate more to my liking. Little did I know, God was working in my life year by year, slowly and patiently laying the ground work for my eventual participation in the Nepal Missions Trip 2016.

It was approximately five years ago, on one of my annual trips to Hong Kong, one lazy afternoon at home with my grandmother when she asked me a question. She asked me when I’ll be settling down and how much more of this pleasure-seeking lifestyle I’ll continue living? My grandmother, who was the most loving person to me, who was the person who would allow me to do whatever I wanted as long as I was happy, she asked me, “What haven’t you experienced and done? What joy and pleasure haven’t you experienced? Is it time to think about your future?” My conversation with her that day set me on a journey that I had no idea would lead me to where I am today. Thinking back to that day, it was God’s first step in preparing me for missions. For the next two years, I continued my yearly trips, four years ago in Japan, three years ago in Korea, with her words lingering in the back of my mind. It was at the end of my Korea trip three years ago, that I decided to make a change, but what change I did not know yet. In April 2014, New Philadelphia Sydney officially launched and I attended the first Sunday Service. I have been attending ever since. During the course of the year, God began to work in my life, moving me and challenging me to understand the value of a church community.

In 2015, I became a member of the church. I imposed a two-year travel ban on myself, stopping myself from any overseas travels. That year, I spent my first Christmas in Australia in a very long time. I attended a weekly Sabbath class that Christmas, learning to read the Bible more and meditate on the Word daily. God was changing the fundamentals of my life. Throughout 2016, as I started to read and study the Word more and more, I began to search for God’s Will for me, something that I have been searching for, for a long time. Then in July 2016, at our Sydney campus retreat, it was revealed to me that God’s Will for me was to be like a light on a lamp, to shine for him. I promised God at that moment that should the opportunity present itself for me to serve Him, that I would do it obediently. Shortly after, I was invited to join the service team which I obediently accepted. It was my first ever act of serving to the Lord.

In October 2016, for an unknown reason I renewed my passport. My passport was set to expire in December 2016, but because I had no travel plans for the next two years, there was no rush to renew, as long as it was completed within six months of the expiry date. But one weekend I woke up with the urge to renew it and I renewed my passport within that week. God was laying the foundations for me to travel over Christmas without me knowing it, generally the whole passport renewal process would take up to six weeks to completed, I received my new passport just before November. A week after receiving my new passport, at Sunday service, someone asked me what my plans for Christmas were, and that I should think about missions. That following week, without knowing any details of the mission trips, I spent a lot of time thinking about missions. My schedule was clear, I had the annual leave, and I had a newly renewed passport allowing me to travel. I was convinced that this was God’s will for me. Without knowing anything about missions, I decided that week that I would sign up.

I had never been on a mission trip before, but I was determined; as soon as the mission trips were announced, I signed up, with my only request to be sent to a winter country. By God’s Grace, I was selected for Nepal. I attended all the seminars, completed all my homework, went to all the team Skype sessions, did my healing and deliverance session, all activities that I don’t particularly enjoy; but I had promised God that I would obediently do whatever task he presented to me. And on December 25th 2016, our team set off to Nepal for a short mission trip, Bhaktapur, an ancient cultural city was our destination. Bhaktapur is approximately an hour drive from the capital city of Kathmandu. It is a small city, but has a density of temples and idols compared with the land size and population that is greater than the rest of Nepal.

Going into missions I didn’t have many expectations. I had never been on a mission trip before, nor did I have any particular gifts in sharing the Gospel. I did not especially enjoy people or speaking too often. My only true anticipation for missions was to see what being obedient to God without resistance would look like. Throughout the course of the trip, I began to understand the need of mission trips; as I looked into the eyes of the Nepali people who we would encounter or pass by on the streets, I could see a lack of hope and a lack of life in their souls. There was both an acceptance of their circumstances and a desperation of wanting to escape it. The local people would turn to false gods and idols, perform rituals and various sacrifices in an attempt to change their fate. Many of them did not know God and the Gospel, I felt that they were seeking something, but not knowing what they were looking for. They were like fertile soil ready to be sowed into. I sensed that this situation is not limited to Nepal, but to many places in the world. As the mission trip progressed, I saw more and I heard more, I came to understand the need of missions; a mission trip is not about attending local churches, meeting local Christians and having a fun time, but it is about the sowing, the revival, the support, the training, and the reaping of the harvest in areas of the world where it is needed.

There was not one particular moment from the trip that really stood out for me, rather it was the whole trip that revealed to me the Grace of God and also the manifestation of prophetic words. The verse Luke 8:16 – “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar, or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.” Has been my verse of the year, a verse that I’ve been meditating on and a verse that has been challenging me in various parts of my life. I would much rather be the stand that holds the lamp than be the light in the lamp.

Prior to leaving for the mission, Pastor Susy our team preacher from Korea had sent our Sydney team a prophetic prayer to each of our team and this is what she said to me:

“Ben, I can see you making deep connections with people, both within our team but especially with the youth in Nepal, young students looking for an example of faith and inspiration. I can see you connecting well with local pastors, translators, and people we will be “unofficially ministering” to. You will also see yourself doing things you never dreamed you could do! Press in for the supernatural every chance you get to pray for people, and He will be faithful to answer your prayers! There is power in your straight-forward faith in God’s ability to do the impossible. Exercise that faith! :)”

I did not think much of the above prayer at the time it was sent to me, however; throughout the course of the mission, the prayer became to manifest itself. I am a very particular person. I require and enjoy a lot of alone time with myself. In the missions environment, I was in a situation where I would spend up to 18 hours a day with our teammates and local Pastors and people; as such, I would purposely wake up at 5am, make myself a coffee and spend some time alone before the day began. Because of this routine, I came to befriend and make a deep connection with the guesthouse owner who would also be awake at that time preparing breakfast for the morning. I would share a coffee with her, she would sit with me as I read the Bible and wrote my testimony. She found an interest in my behaviour and asked me on many occasions what I was doing and if I loved Jesus. We shared some conversations regarding the Word. She was Hindu, but had an interest in knowing more. Unbeknownst to me, I was ‘unofficially ministering’ to her, just as Pastor Susy had prophesised

On another occasion. I had woken up early to rewrite my personal testimony to relate it better to the topic that Pastor David was going to teach on that day in his seminar. I had written about Luke 8:16, that morning during our morning devotions, Pastor Susy picked Matthew 5 for meditation, verse 14-16 was another version of Luke 8:16. At that moment, I became to understand that being the light of the world is not so much about personal glorification, but it is about providing light to the darkness, so that people who come into the light are able to look for what they are seeking. The light is not the main attraction, but it is what it reveals that is the attraction, which is ultimately the glory and grace of God.
Upon return from Nepal, I was scrolling through the UPS postings on Facebook, I saw a prayer that was prayed for me while I was in Nepal:

“Ben, I don’t know you, but I heard the word ‘healing’ as I prayed for you. Maybe God wants to heal you in certain areas of your life through this trip. I also pray that God will use your hands & prayers to heal others (not only Nepali ppl, but also your team members.) I also feel like your presence itself will heal others bc you’re just that wonderful.”

When reading that prayer, I felt that it had manifested. Throughout the trip, I had come to understand what being the light on a lamp meant. The purpose of the light is to provide light, it doesn’t have any other particular duty; my presence on the team is not about how well I can preach or spread the gospel, how many VBS dance moves I have mastered (none), or how many people I have brought to salvation. My presence as a light on a lamp is to light up the space around me so that people that come into my vicinity will be able to find what they are looking for, and ultimately see my good works and give glory to my Father who is in heaven.

On pondering the events leading up to my mission trip and also the time during the trip itself, I have come to be thankful for the opportunity to be part of the mission team to Nepal. I have also been revealed to the patience, grace and will of God. God’s Will for us is not always obvious. He is patient and loving, and will prepare us to do His work, sending us off when He feels the anointed time has come. I believe that missions is a blessing, not only to the people that we come into contact with on the field, but also for each of us that get sent as well.

Matthew 5:13-18 says:

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Amen!