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Photo by Goinoiseau

Photo by Pierre Goinoiseau

By Ann Chen

When I tell people about my time serving overseas in Malawi, the part that I usually get the most response about is when I tell them about the nearly 4 months I spent alone.

My intention in going out overseas was always to be on a team, and that was the plan we had made when I launched out. Plans change, however, and a few weeks in, it became clear due to unforeseen circumstances that perhaps my teammates wouldn’t be coming so soon or perhaps ever, and the short-term people who came out with me were also leaving soon.

So 3 months into my time in Malawi, I found myself alone. While I had some friends here and there around town that were locals or with other organizations that I would get together with, and while I continued to carry on with my ministry duties, I found myself having a lot of time to myself.

I often would find myself just sitting at my bed in the one small corner room of the house that I had settled into. The rest of the enormous house was totally empty – meant for my teammates and a daily reminder of my current state.

I wish I could say that I responded really well and just used all that time to pray. I didn’t. In fact, most of the time, I would just fall into TV marathons of Alias and Gilmore Girls, watching simply to be numb and avoid confronting some of the feelings and frustrations I was feeling. On occasion, I’d move into thinking, reflecting, praying, wondering, and asking God the question of  “Why?” but even in that, I could find no answers and no peace.

That season did eventually end and my teammates did arrive. It was great to have teammates and since I was living with a family with young kids, there was rarely ever a time where I was alone. And when my time ended, I had forgotten a lot about those few months just prior.

Soon after I returned back to the States, God showed me something profound. At a workshop, a speaker had asked us to visualize a time when we felt God closest to us. Instantly, I saw myself sitting on the bed in my room that I had spent so much of my season alone, but I saw Jesus sitting behind me, wrapping His arms around me. There was so much comfort and joy in that picture.

I heard a former missionary recently share about a revelation he had about his time overseas. Like me, he was complaining to God about why He was sending Him alone to a foreign country. In that very moment, God gave him a vision of the airport he would be landing at. There, Jesus was waiting for him to arrive. When somebody asked Jesus what He was there for, Jesus responded that He was waiting for His friend to arrive, because that’s where their friendship could best grow.

I realized what God was doing in those months when I was alone. That time forged an understanding of God’s closeness in desiring friendship with me, even when I had nothing to give him. When I look back on my whole Malawi time, people are often surprised when I tell them my time alone was my absolute fondest time. It is there that I discovered a new understanding of God’s love for me.

Ann Chen was recently serving in Malawi, working to see a discipleship making movement raise up amongst the Yao.  She is an International Staff member with Epicentre Church and has a degree in Intercultural Studies at Fuller Seminary

Photo by Chris Smith Ronnie Shumate

Photo by Chris Smith Ronnie Shumate

By Young Lee Hertig

The term “the bamboo ceiling” coined by Jane Hyun describes the virtual absence of Asian Americans in top corporate CEO positions despite significant numbers of Asian American students at Harvard (18%) and Stanford (24%). On October 14, 2014, an article called “Cracking the Bamboo Ceiling” posted in The Atlantic stated that Asian Americans account for just 1.4% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 1.9% of corporate officers overall. Continue Reading »

Church Vs. School

Photo by Vancouver Film School

Photo by Vancouver Film School

By Eun Joo Angela Ryo

I recently attended a seminar for the parents at a Korean immigrant church I was visiting last month.  The title of the seminar was “God and Grades.”  As a mother of a teenager and a preteen, I thought it would be helpful to check it out.  The seminar, as it turned out, should have been more accurately titled “Church Vs. School” rather than “God and Grades.” Continue Reading »

Photo by Sakhr Abdullah

Photo by Sakhr Abdullah

by Chloe Sun

This week, I came across a short poem that prompts me to reflect on the idealists and the realists. The poem goes like this:

Ideals are like stars
We never reach them,
But like mariners of the sea,
We chart our course by them.[1]

This poem distinguishes ideals from reality. Ideals and reality are not set in opposition to one another. Rather, they are in an interconnected relationship: Ideals give hope to reality. Ideals chart the course of our lives. Whether we can ever reach the ideals is not the question. The question is: as we journey through life, what are we guided by? Are we guided by a higher principle or are we like a ship wandering in the vast ocean aimlessly? Continue Reading »

Photo by Maria Liu Wong

Photo by Maria Liu Wong

By Maria Liu Wong

Coming out of the fog of an intense push to finish my dissertation in the midst of the holiday season in December – while juggling full-time work and family life raising three little ones – I was close to being totally burnt out and needing a serious break. A month later, in a session with my spiritual director, I looked back at that time as a gift, where I learned an important lesson of gratitude, in a journey and process that was surprisingly life-altering and life-giving. Continue Reading »

Life Map

Photo by Courtney Rhodes

Photo by Courtney Rhodes

By Wendy Choy-Chan

As part of an exercise for a spiritual formation program, I had the opportunity to construct a life map of my own.  As I answered various prompts and filled in event after event in my life — negative and positive childhood memories, encouragement and criticism from major figures in life, etc. — something wonderful emerged from my life map.

There have been negative life events that have shaped me and given me false beliefs of myself and of God.  In the first few weeks of the program, we talked about negative cultural and family influences and how they project for us a false image of God. Continue Reading »

To Know and Be Known

Photo by  Jonathan Kos-Read

Photo by Jonathan Kos-Read

By Tina Teng-Henson

Dear Reader,

I realize, I don’t really know you. I read your little bios at the bottom of your blog posts, and I remember bits and pieces of things you’ve shared over the years… but who are you really? And who the heck am I? :) Our words take us a long way on this journey to know and be known – yet at their best, they are still an approximation.

It’s mid-January, 2015. I don’t have any formal ministry responsibilities lined up ahead of me. I have one class this quarter then one class next quarter — then I’m done with my MDiv. I am, Lord willing, going to give birth to our second baby this summer, but that’s about it. Continue Reading »

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