Six years ago, I watched a video which changed my life.
Attending the 2012 Kingdom Invasion Conference, the video I watched was about Heidi Baker’s IRIS ministry in Pemba, Mozambique. It stirred my heart and deposited a dream in me: I will be there someday!
Yet in the following years, this dream of mine would prove difficult to realise due to parental objections. And even after I was given consent to set sail, the entire process was tedious and challenging.
The first hurdle was financial difficulty. After counting all the costs, I estimated that I would need a total of $12,000. I was wondering how on earth I would get this amount since I was also taking no pay leave from work.
I prayed and committed it to the Lord. I was shy and had never fundraised before, so I asked God to send me people who would give me $1000 each without having to ask them to. I only told my mum about this, who was the first to offer me my first thousand (which I ultimately didn’t even need to take).
After a month, nothing happened. I began to ask the Lord if there was anything I needed to do to raise the money I needed. The Lord then gave me an idea to bake cakes and cookies – a skill I had learnt from my mum when I was in Switzerland.
The Lord blessed me greatly. After my fundraising – along with love offerings from all over – I received a total of $24,100!
I even received money when I was there in Africa. I asked the Lord, why did I receive so much extra money and what did He want me to do with it? He told me clearly that the money would be used to build a shelter in a village on a rubbish dump in Madagascar! So I quickly drew a sketch of how the shelter would look like.
When I got to Madagascar, I met with the chief of this village. As we talked about building a shelter, I realised he had a passion to get people into school. He used two small rooms in his house as a classroom for villagers who could not afford to go to school, where IRIS hired a teacher for them. The rooms were tiny: One had no tables and chairs, while the other had tables and chairs that were all broken.
They may not have many possessions, but they are rich in joy and full of the Holy Spirit.
That was when we realised we could build a multi-purpose building: A school for the mornings, and a shelter for the afternoons! Today, the villagers have named the building “Sekoly Fanantenana,” which means “Hope School” in Malagasy. It certainly stands as a testimony of hope to them!
When I think about how this building is located at a rubbish dump, I am delighted because I know that Father God’s heart is to establish His kingdom among the least of these (Matthew 25:40).
As I spent time in Mozambique, learning from Rolland and Heidi Baker (as well as many missionaries who serve in South Sudan and war zones in the Congo), I began to see what it was like for Christians who lay down their lives.
They may not have many possessions, but they are rich in joy and full of the Holy Spirit. They are used to having knives and guns pointed at them. They have seen the police and army seize all their possessions. Each day, they risk their lives for the gospel.
One day, while we were on the IRIS base – there was a shooting. Heidi had told all of us that if there ever was a shooting, we were to run for our lives. But she would walk straight into it because it is her ministry.
After the chaos, when the shooters were caught, Heidi went to the jail to speak to them. And she saw the shooter’s gun lying on the table in halves! Apparently, after firing a few shots, it broke in two. And she knew that God did that. What radical faith and dependency on Christ!
But I wasn’t quite like Heidi Baker a lot of the time. Occasionally, I would struggle to trust God with my life – even when it wasn’t being threatened. Due to the bacteria and insects in Pemba, I had to take antibiotics and receive many injections for three out of five weeks. I already had six injections before I went to Africa, and I couldn’t believe that I would take six more when I got there!
In my final week in Pemba, Mozambique, I experienced my worst injury. A spider bite had caused my leg to swell until it was double its size! It was so painful. At one point, I could not walk – I had to be carried to my room. The doctors wanted me to go to the hospital to get it drained, and asked me to reconsider heading back to Madagascar.
I was very down but I surrendered the situation to the Lord. The very next day I was healed supernaturally! Through this time, God was also teaching me how to minister even when I was uncomfortable or unwell.
Meeting people who lay down their lives for the gospel and seeing the joy they carry – I came to realise that trusting God with my whole life and giving my all to him is the only way. God was so real to me in Africa – I wish people could experience that reality in Singapore too. To that end, maybe it’s not so bad to have things stripped away from a cluttered life!
Missions fire up my spirit like nothing else even though it can be very challenging in all aspects. It demands the surrendering of your life – even life itself.
I remember when I was 17, hand scrubbing clothes on a washboard in a mission trip and thinking to myself: There’s nothing else I’d rather do in this world than missions. I’ve been on many mission trips locally and globally since then – and I’ve never looked back.
When you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, it increases your need to trust in God. It increases your need to exercise supernatural faith – to be prepared for anything and everything. Yes, it can be scary to give everything up for people in developing nations, but I believe God has blessed us richly to bless others.
We are so blessed to live in Singapore. The challenge and onus is on us to carry God’s heart for the less fortunate – one that is always desperately hungry for Him and set on serving His people.
May this generation send out the greatest number of missionaries across the world!