To date, I have led four Short Term Mission (STM) teams. While my first STM was to Thailand, this year was my third year to Taiwan. Each year has had its own unique challenges and blessings. But one thing has consistently been the same – God showing me His generous grace towards a sinner like me, and blessing me in ways I could not have imagined. Here are some stories from my STM to National Central University (NCU) in Zhongli, Taiwan, doing outreach and discipleship at the cafe ministry on the campus at NCU.
We Almost Did Not Go
Earlier in April of this year, when final commitments were due for STM, none of the ones who showed interest could give me a definite answer to go. To be honest, I was quite relieved when I told our church’s Mission Board that I was cancelling the trip due to lack of members. Less work for me!
Within two weeks of cancelling, three individuals who eventually became our team members – Rebecca, Terence, and Elsie – told me they were disappointed and were still trying to free up their work schedules for the STM. So I sent another email to the Mission Board, “We are back on!” Darn, now I would have extra work to do!
You can see that I didn’t go into this trip with the best attitude. I still wasn’t convinced that I wanted to go, so I asked God to show me somehow that He was in fact calling us to go. I asked Him to give me two more team members. I prayed, looked around, and asked a couple, James and Christine, whom I figured would say “no.” I knew James was very busy at work, and their sons would be moving into their college dorms during our trip dates. Those were good reasons for them not to take two weeks off for STM. Well, guess what? That’s right, they said “yes!” God made Himself clear to me that we were called to go to Taiwan!
What God Wanted Us To Do
Why did God call us to Taiwan? Was there an assignment He wanted us to do? God affirmed by the end of the trip that we accomplished at least two assignments.
The first affirmation was when Pastor Lu, the local pastor who supports the cafe ministry at NCU, said to us no less than 3 times, “You came at the right time.” He must have really meant it since he said it several times and had not said that to me in the past two years that I was there. The details are not important to explain here, for that’s another story. What is important is that our presence gave him support and encouragement at a time when he needed to make difficult decisions, related to both personal and ministry. We didn’t plan for that to happen, but God did.
The second affirmation was when we were able to share the gospel several times with a man named Odyssey. To appreciate God’s timing in this, you must know that Odyssey’s wife is a faithful long time member of Pastor Lu’s church, but he is not a believer and does not go to church with his wife and four children. I got to know his family during the last two years of Taiwan STM, but I never met him until this time. Four months ago, Odyssey decided he wanted to learn English. To learn the language, he even pays up to $30 an hour to talk to English speakers online. So his wife said, “Why don’t you come practice with the team from America?” When Odyssey came to the cafe to talk to us, his wife said he would never go to a Christian gathering like this. She said, “You came at the right time. Odyssey’s heart is more open than ever before!” God prepared his heart through another faithful Canadian pastor who is practicing English with him. Every time we practiced English with Odyssey, we told him about Jesus. We continue to pray for his salvation.
I honestly did not know what kind of impact we could make in two short weeks, but God graciously allowed us to participate in His work in Taiwan. If the STM was cancelled, we would have missed the privilege of seeing God at work in the lives of Pastor Lu and Odyssey. And those are only two stories among many that we saw during this STM. God is good!