Last week, I had an amazing opportunity to be sent to China with a team of missionaries to preach and teach at our campus ministry’s youth summer camp and campus staff training there.
Most of you know me to be that admin office girl. I don’t really preach or teach on a normal basis.
But when you are part of a campus ministry team with leaders who are always empowering and encouraging, and who believes that you can do more than what you think you could do, you get to be sent to China to minister—good flaws and all.
With me on this trip were four of our veteran speakers who have been doing this since who knows when. More than feeling pressured about that fact, I actually felt more secured. I thought that with them around me, I will be in a very good and safe place to mess up. HAHA.
We arrived in China on a hot and humid Monday afternoon and went straight to the summer camp that kicked off that evening and culminated on Friday afternoon that week. I was assigned to do the Tuesday and Friday morning devotions (which was at 6am, btw) and the women’s meeting on Thursday.
Or so we thought.
By Thursday afternoon, we had to do a major regrouping.
Let’s just say that the stories we heard from pastors and missionaries who had to hide and run away from the cops because of their faith were actually TRUE and REAL stories. And again, let’s just say that for some reason, God wanted us to have our share of that story too.
And so that afternoon, while we were supposed to be on stage speaking, we found ourselves driving around the countryside and later on that day packing our stuff to flee altogether. (Hi mom and dad, sorry I *forgot* to tell you about this part lol)
The summer camp pushed through without us, with all our remaining sessions being done by the locals instead. It was powerful.
Whatever the enemy meant for evil that week, it did not succeed. Because God turned it to good. And since we are on His side, the victory is always, always ours. Even for this camp.
What I saw and learned from this experience – the boldness, courage, and zeal of our brothers and sisters in Christ in China; the beauty of our spiritual family there; the level of faith they have to a point of great sacrifice – they were all phenomenal and will be for another blog.
But what couldn’t escape my mind that day, when we were driving away from the summer camp venue and never to return again, was if I was able to give my best to preach the word of God and give justice to it as it deserves when I did the morning devotions the day before.
If only I knew it will be my last.
Followed by that thought were flashes of faces of people who I was really meaning to come up to and say, “Hey, great worship leading,” or “I am encouraged to see your passion for Jesus” but I stalled it because I thought, “Oh, could still do that tomorrow,” or “It can wait till the last day of the camp.”
I wonder what would we all be pressed to do if we operate on the thought that this could be the last time and the only time we’ll have the chance to say our words, to minister to people, to preach the Gospel.
I wonder what would be the difference it makes when we consider in our heads that there will be no more next Sunday or next youth service to stand on the pulpit to to preach His word. Or if we will not fall into the trap of our own routines and try to slack this day because we think we still have our chance tomorrow.
Cause really, what if we don’t?
Here’s a lesson learned from the most rookie, occasional preacher in town to all of you, veteran preachers and non-preachers alike:
When you get the chance to preach the word of God, preach as if it’s your last.
Always and at all times, be faithful in giving the best you could give.
Here’s a video that I put together recapping my China trip.
And here’s my favorite Chinese worship song as of the moment. This has been on repeat!
China is a creative access nation and though I really wish I could show you more photos of our church and campus ministry there and the faces of all the beautiful people I’m forever grateful to have known and met through this trip, I’d rather leave it out to be sure nothing is compromised.
This blog was written on October 1, 2015. It’s one of the many blogs that stayed as a draft and didn’t make it because I never felt it was finished but today I’m deciding to stop being a chicken and post it here anyway.
There was once a man who I had the privilege to work with as my leader.
This man has taught me a lot of things, most of it he taught by example.
Today I think about this man as I am starting to feel the heavy weight of the new role given to me at work—his role. And in case you still haven’t guessed, I have very big shoes to fill in.
These days, facing new challenges that I have no idea how to deal with has been my new normal in the office.
This afternoon was the most overwhelming so far.
I was trying to navigate through a situation that looked so intimidating. When I felt I’ve already lost all my confidence to handle it, I began to think and wonder what he would do with the situation at hand if he’s still the one in charge.
I chucked alone while thinking about that as I couldn’t help but have flashbacks of my former boss and how he’s usually like in the office (something we truly miss about).
I realized I barely have a memory of him making to-do lists like what an obsessed admin person like me would do as if my whole life depends on it. Barely saw him sit at his desk (he didn’t have a proper one and he didn’t mind) or be on his laptop (he didn’t have one either, and still he didn’t mind).
But he made things done. Oh did he make things done.
We like to also remember him as the man who likes to barge in the office, good angst and all, as if everyday is a war day, “Remember, guys! You are changing the world!”
He’s like that, known for making few unforgettable remarks that sound so hilarious at first but you’ll realize are actually full of truth once it sinks in.
One of my favorites would be him saying in true Dan Monterde fashion,
“Basta, guys, trabaho lang. Ang taong maraming hidden agenda, madaling ma-offend.”
It’s his way of reminding us to always check our hearts and our motives behind why we do what we do.
Sometimes we put too much of ourselves in the work that we do that it becomes about us. And so when someone criticizes or corrects our work, we have the tendency to take it personally against the other person and harbor offense from that.
Other times, the tendency is to perform. To please people.
But once our motive towards work becomes just simply to give God our best—to work as if working for the Lord and not for men; to serve Him and His people with all that we have without expecting anything in return, work becomes lighter.
Not because it did really get light, but because this time your focus now is not on yourself but on Jesus.
This afternoon, I was looking for a method, a structure, a process to pattern what my next steps are (which are great and are also equally important), but in the end I was reminded of the right response.
It’s the response that says, “It’s not about me,” “This is for Jesus,” or “I’m doing this for the next generation.”
When I remembered that lesson from Dan, I just had to smile and shake my head this afternoon coming to a conclusion,
“He’s gonna keep his eyes focused on Jesus, not on himself. That’s what he’ll do.”