Reflecting my past two and a half years in Li Xin Baptist Church, I can't help but wonder what would happened if I had walked away. It was an easy choice to make, LXBC was at her low point: members leaving the church, some considering to leave, worship team was in a mess, the spirit of worship was nowhere to be found, suspicion among members. I was new in town and working across the bridge. It would have been much easier if I had chosen to attend a church nearer to where I stay and easier for me to practice my faith.
|Pastor Matthew and Ai Hua at my graduation|
Yet I stayed. In hindsight, I don't think I made that choice on my own. God placed me here and I somehow had the heart and courage to say: this is where I will stay. While I'm glad I did, but it would have saved me from so much trouble and discomfort.
|My First Mission to Thailand with LXBC|
But if I had walked away, I think...
1. I would have missed the opportunity to allow God to mold me in my character.
I think the choice to stay led me through difficult situations that challenged me as a person greatly. My time in a very much broken LXBC, I have experienced anger, frustrations, unforgiveness and even rivalry and jealousy. It brought out the worse of me.
The entire time, God was revealing the rough edges of my character and did various chiseling in my life. Perhaps chipping "Pride" off me and replacing it with "Humility" was the hardest part of the journey. I was driven into a corner where I have to apologize even when I do not think it was my fault (And they are almost always my fault). I was disciplined into letting go of all the "strength" that I have and instead relying on my weaknesses and ultimately the strength of God.
In short two years and more, God was preparing me for a greater purpose that I wouldn't have known by first molding my character so that I may fit His purpose for me. And this is the journey that I would have missed if I have chosen to turn around and walk away.
I would have missed an opportunity to see the better man that God is molding me into.
2. I would have missed the opportunity to witness God's amazing hand in leading this church into an amazing journey of revival.
If I say that God wanted me to stay in LXBC to bring about a revival, I would be pridefully boasting, because it simply isn't true. While LXBC is upon a journey of a great revival, I have no part in the credit. I am merely a spectator of His glorious work.
Indeed, everyday I am constantly amazed by the work He has done for a small church like us. He provided when we needed, He supplied when we decided to be generous, He lifted up when we were down, He blessed when we blessed and He led when we were lost.
To be able to be a witness to His amazing work empowers me to live a courageous Christian life because I know this God that I follow is a living, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-merciful, all-sufficient God! And to my honor, I had been invited to stay and watch this spectacular work of my Lord.
If I had turned away and ran, I would have missed a great episode of His display of wonders!
3. I would have missed the opportunity to partner with God in an amazing work of transformation.
Coming to LXBC was God's invitation for me to be a part of His great plans for the church. As I have said, God intends to bring LXBC to a whole new level where our hearts and worship burns passionately for Him. Part of His plan is to raise a group of obedient young people from within the church to be rebuilders of His sanctuary.
Along with so many more brothers and sisters of LXBC, we have been invited to partner with Him to build LXBC into a church of solid Scriptural teaching, of passionate worship and of wonderful love relationships with our brethren. And it is amazing to be a part of this great work.
4. I would have missed the opportunity to meet the amazing brothers and sisters who set their heart ablaze for the Lord even in the face of tribulations.
Indeed, I would be in great regret not meeting these brothers and sisters who despite their own pain and trial, gave their all in life to serve a great God so passionately. I have been constantly encouraged by the magnitude of their selfless sacrifice for the church.
Some of them sacrificed the comfort of family time in order to serve brothers and sisters of the church. Some of them sacrificed "productive" time that they could otherwise work on a better paid job in order to bring the greatest praise to our God. Some of them sacrificed precious sleep and rest time that they may ensure all things fall well in place on Sundays. Some of them sacrificed the numbers on their hair in order they may bring out the best of teachings to the church.
These people, young and old, have been amazing testimonies to me and have driven me to go further miles for the love of God and of my brethren. They are the reasons why I continue to sing louder for the Lord and go higher for Christ Jesus.
Even in the face of their personal challenges, they pressed on, simply because they saw the glory of God and want more of Him. If I had walked away, I may missed the honor of knowing such amazing people.
5. I would have miss the opportunity to experience an all-out worship lifestyle that glorifies Him.
Honestly, if I did not stay, I may not be driven to live in a life that constantly worship Him. It was here that the Lord taught me to play music unto His ears; it was here that God taught me to lay down all that I am and count them as nothing; it was here that God taught me to simply worship Him, without needing to prove myself, nor to glorify myself; it was here that God taught me to honor Him and trust that He will also honor me as He pleases.
In the past, picking up the guitar was to prove the more of myself; today, picking up the guitar has given nothing to prove but His amazing grace in my life.
Seeing God's Hands in Difficult Journey
Living in the 21st Century, it is easy to be consumed by consumerism and treat the church of God as such. As consumerism creeps into churches, it drives churches to do crazy things and lose sight of Christ.
If I may encourage young people around me, I would want to encourage you to fight against the sweeping current of consumerism and take ownership of our church. We can be tempted to jump to another church because they offer better worship, better sanctuary, better message or even better friendship, but we often forget that the churches has greener grass because someone worked to build it. So then, maybe the same can happen to our church too. But if we, the young people, who has all our youth, energy and life to offer the church, decides to leave at the first sign of danger, who will stay and rebuild?
Perhaps today God is inviting us into a partnership to rebuild His church, may I also invite you to stay even when it is difficult? And when you hold on long enough, you will definitely see God's Hands working through you and everyone who stayed.
If I had walked away, I would never know the great things that I would miss.
Forward in Faith