Earlier this summer I went on a Summer Project to East Asia with Campus Crusade for Christ. Below is an excerpt from my ‘update letter’ that I sent to those that prayerfully and financially supported me.
You may be wondering how my 6 weeks in East Asia were. I’d like to tell you that East Asia was one of the best experiences of my life. But it wasn’t. God provided through you all, and I want to be sincere with you. The two words that best describe my time in East Asia are frustration and trust.
Off the plane I was faced with the unique culture of East Asia. These differences on their own were not too difficult, but the stresses of unfamiliarity only enhanced other difficulties that were to arise soon. To say it bluntly, it wasn’t natural to love the students in East Asia. It’s easier for me to love college students in the US – probably because they’re like me. It wasn’t until I began sharing with them about our brokenness and what Christ accomplished on the cross that the truth of God’s love moved me to love the student(s) I was talking to. Unfortunately, time after time I also witnessed students’ denial of Christ: “It’s a beautiful story, but we don’t believe that here. That is for westerners. I believe only in myself.” Besides ministry-frustration, I also struggled with more ‘internal’ difficulties. Some emotional issues I’ve been working through the past two years were regularly present – at times limiting my energy and motivation. Lastly, I felt a lot of pressure to meet unrealistic expectations in ministry and with others on my team. In summary, I wouldn’t describe the project as enjoyable.
After reflecting on the project and the purpose of it, I’m more ok with it not being ‘enjoyable’. Sure, I feel pretty inadequate that no student I shared with accepted Christ. At times I question whether I ‘wasted’ your prayers and financial support – because I didn’t perform or do well enough for you all, myself, or God. But that’s when I can really start to trust – when it’s less about me, and more about Him. I trust that God is making Himself known to everyone – East Asia included. I trust that God will use my conversations with students, no matter what their initial choice. I trust that God planned for the East Asian students to study English for 10 years so that we could talk to them about Him. I trust that Christ is going to work in the lives of the 12 East Asian students who accepted Him this project. I trust that God knows what He’s doing and I don’t. And I trust that all this is true independent of how I feel. There is rest greater than any frustration knowing God’s promises are true because He declared them. Praise God that no experience – enjoyable or not – can change this.