“I’m rly so tired I feel like I cannot even breathe properly”
“I feel like every ounce of energy has left my body”
“I’m so physically/emotionally/spiritually unprepared for the week ahead. Not sure what I can do about that”
This pretty much sums up the state I was in the weekend prior to the mission trip to Don Tanin. Was seriously considering pulling out and just staying at home because I was continually bogged down by thoughts of how I was going to survive nine whole days overseas when the amount of energy I had was negligible, how my heart wasn’t entirely in the right place, how I was incapable of serving God because I was nothing but an emotional wreck and yet I didn’t want to be a burden to the people I was going to serve with. Was also upset because it was something that I was constantly looking forward to, and it took so much for it to finally come to pass. Even the plane ride was torture because tears just kept flowing although there was nothing on my conscious mind; it was scary because I really had no idea what was going on, and the ability to fall asleep was absent. Things felt better en route to DT because the team provided ample energy to ride on. The moment we got to the resort, however, I felt my energy draining rapidly once more. Gathered that it probably could not be attributed to physical reasons because all we did was sit in the plane and then sit in the van so I was really just like, what even is going on?
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:12-13
These verses came up when Vincent was praying for me, and I was suddenly reminded how someone told me earlier at the airport that warfare was apparent in the state I was in. Didn’t think much of it initially, but it became increasingly evident over the next few days as we were doing ministry and things began to happen. I guess that was an admonition that spiritual warfare is as real as it gets; hence, the importance of spiritual disciplines and being anchored in God.
The next few days were a testimony of how He gives power to the weak and increases the strength of those who have no might; how through His Spirit, He strengthens our inner beings with might according to the riches of His glory; how His power is made perfect in weakness, even as days were long and insomnia persisted. From the English lessons and after school activities in Don Tanin School – 30 minutes straight of Cling Cling, trying very hard to define the job scope of 20 different occupations using the simplest words possible, soccer and everything in between – to the village prayer walk and the execution of the evangelistic event, I knew full well that I wasn’t running on my own strength because it was physically impossible, given the state I was in. Prayed throughout every day for energy and sustenance, and God really just empowered me. Will always remember how it felt when a wave of energy just rushed over me when I stepped into the classroom on Day 3, although I was feeling like crap just 5 minutes before. Mel and Crystal also shared similar experiences and yeah, He just never fails.
Post-after school activities on Day 2, I received a call and some texts from home bearing unpleasant news. Feelings of shock, confusion, anger and helplessness came all at once, and I kinda just lost it (in retrospect, it was not quite a normal reaction). Vincent was telling me how I could have been feeling helpless because I didn’t know what to do or how to deal with the situation, though in actual fact there was nothing that I could do apart from praying and commit both the situation on hand and the people involved to God. Pray, I did, and it was an incredibly difficult feat. For as long as I can remember, whenever I go to God in prayer, hoping to lay every burden down and just surrender everything to Him, I still find myself holding on in some way or another. I have therefore probably questioned the possibility of complete surrender a million times before. But somehow this time, it was different. I had acknowledged how limited my capabilities were and at that point, it felt as though any remnant of saviour complex was completely destroyed, and I was brought to a place of complete surrender. Psalm 121 begun to resonate on a personal level as well (#helpla); real humbling stuff. Very grateful to Vincent and Phyllis for being there to help me sort myself out that afternoon, and for praying with and for me as well.
Later that night, after preparing for Day 3 worship with Mel, this unfamiliar (yet familiar, because it was definitely from the Bible) string of words suddenly came up in my thoughts so I Googled it. It turned out to be 1 Peter 5:10 – And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast – and it was really quite strange because I had managed to type it out word for word in the search bar although I was certain that it was my first time coming across it. But nonetheless, was glad to have Him speak to me in the most direct manner possible through 1 Peter 5:6-11 (didn’t have to anyhow flip Bible that night), some of which was in line with the things that were said earlier in the afternoon. Hillsong’s In Control was also playing in my head as I was reading through the aforementioned verses and after all that, I basically just felt God reassuring me that He is sovereign over everything, and that I just needed to humble myself and trust in Him. Totally felt the loveee.
I lift my hands to heaven, here my heart surrendered
I tell my soul again, You are Lord of all
And though the seas are raging, You will speak and tame them
In You, I find my rest
You are in control
Through valleys I will trust, Your spirit is enough to keep me walking
You guide my every step, speak life to me again
Lord, I need You
Oh, I need You
“Great are the works of the Lord;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.” – Psalm 111:2-4;6
During the village prayer walk (drive), there was a build-up of frustration and confusion for me as we progressed from house to house. The language barrier was really getting to me because there were so many stories and experiences being shared, and yet we were unable to hear about them firsthand. Was still very much touched by them though! The moment we entered the house of the teenaged girl who was in a coma, my heart suddenly felt very heavy. Can’t quite put into words how the entire atmosphere of the house felt like. Grim, maybe? Was slightly thrown off guard when Vincent asked me to pray for her because I was still quite lost and confused, so I decided to spend some time in silent prayer first. Subsequently, after we sang Grace for Grace and began to pray, the atmosphere of the place just changed. It felt as though the Holy Spirit had just invaded the house and filled the entire atmosphere, and its presence was made more apparent with every sentence that was uttered. We saw tears streaming down her face and movements in her limbs; we saw how she struggled again and again in her attempts to speak, and how she was fighting hard to get up. There and then, the presence of God was so real that it was undeniable. He was at work. And later that night, we realised that there was actually some sensing amongst the team that it would be the day that she woke up. Really praying that it will soon come to pass, and that she will come to be the Salt and Light of her village.
“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.””- Matthew 17:20
The unknown turnout number for the evangelistic event kinda made planning and shopping for logs challenging because everything had to be based on an estimated number that could deviate significantly, and it was definitely something that Crystal and I were not used to. As things came up in the days leading up to the event whilst we were in DT, no matter how small, we kept reminding each other that we had to take some time out to pray before the event (even considered praying Psalm 121 over the event 121 times HAHA). After arriving at the church and distributing all the logs, we sat down to pray. We prayed against feeling flustered or disappointed when things didn’t run according to what we had planned, for God to take control of the event from beginning to the end, and for His presence to fill the place; for hearts to be tender and receptive, for seeds to be sown, and for revival in the valley of dry bones. After we concluded our prayers, I began to experience this inexplicable peace in my heart. I also felt that we were 100% ready to just roll with it, truly just letting go and letting God work. Again, surrender.
Come 430pm, 30 minutes after the intended start time, there were around 22 kids in the sanctuary (we inititally planned our event around the estimated number of 40 kids). So we were like, “It’s okay, small-scale event”. But that wasn’t what it was meant to be – kids just kept streaming in as the games progressed and when we gathered back in the sanctuary an hour later, there were 63 of them! Crystal and I literally just sat on one of the pews, both overwhelmed and in awe of how things turned out despite us not being able to complete everything that we had planned for, and how messy the round-robin movement got at some points. Practically everyone responded to the altar call and I believe that seeds were sown, even if a portion of them responded due to peer pressure. God’s provision was also evident in the availability of extra logs (trash bags, masking tape, Blu Tack, string), and how I managed to find my phone at the pulpit. He’s truly the main man (:
One of the songs we sang for worship that night was How Great is our God, and it perfectly summed up everything that happened that day. WOTD was “Woah”. When you get to experience how God works and manage to catch a glimpse of the amazing things He can do, you’ll begin to wonder why you constantly desire to have full reign/control over everything that you do in the first place. This was a pivotal realisation that will stick from here on out; truly walking by faith and not by sight.
This reflection could probably go on for paragraphs and paragraphs on end because I don’t feel like I’ve collected all my thoughts, yet there is only so much that words can reveal about God in the fullness of His power and glory. Was blessed by the opportunity to serve alongside the rest of the DT team, in which unity as one body of Christ was exemplified. Thankful that we could be honest and vulnerable in the presence of each other, and thankful to be able to learn from and be encouraged by the experiences, struggles and revelations of each individual. Thankful for the fun, and it’s still rather amusing how the final night’s “party” became a time of testimony sharing. It’s also heartening to know that He met us where we were, both individually and collectively. Even as we return to the daily grind, may we persevere in keeping to the disciplines and may we never lose our wonder (:
Been a few months since I realised and recognised the burden that God placed upon my heart, though what it means exactly I’m not yet sure. In this season of seeking His purpose for my life, I pray for heightened sensitivity to His leading, peace in the midst of uncertainty and for Him to increase my faith. Incredibly excited for what’s to come!
All my hopes, all I need held in Your hands
All my life, all of me held in Your hands
All my fears, all my dreams held in Your hands
In Your everlasting arms, all the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end, I can trust You
In Your never failing love, You work everything for good
God, whatever comes my way, I will trust You