Written by: Katherine Poon
Translated by: Sara and Alan Chan
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
The verse above from Proverbs is not only one which I always remind myself of, it’s also the motto I had when I joined the P.E.A.C.E. team to go to Kenya this year. Both words and actions reflect what is in a person’s heart. The mission’s success or failure depends on whether we rely on God, humbly follow His will and teaching and know how to make decisions. Otherwise, no matter how well you do it, it’s only a job of man in vain. It only gets short-term praises from man but there is no eternal value and needless to say there is no praise from God.
Fear God and Submit to Him
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.
Proverbs 3:5-7 (NIV)
The bible always reminds us to keep a heart that fears God and submit to His guidance, as it helps us stay away from sin and attain true freedom in life.
When man knows that we are only creation of Him, we realize there’s nothing to boast about, as only the Lord truly deserves the respect and worship. We must always be humble, “not think of yourself more highly than you ought” (Romans 12:3), nor think we are smart and capable enough to handle everything. Submitting to God’s plan and guidance can help us calmly accept that anything can manipulate our emotions or cause us to sin, especially when what we face is frustrating, unexpected and not what we want to accept. When we encounter this, we need to be submissive and put God first. It will then help us remove the impurities in our lives and the flaws in our characters, allowing us to become a Godly person.
Although I have the heart to serve others in P.E.A.C.E. trips, I’m not a very spiritual person. I have experienced many ups and downs in my life and my walk with God. However, the experience has helped me understand my sin, weakness and insufficiency. I realize that I can remain steadfast in faith and attitude under any circumstances only by relying on Him and the Holy Spirit, as my strength is insufficient. By His grace and might, anything is possible.
When we are doing God’s work, Satan will meanwhile attack and attempt to stop us using whatever means possible, lead us away from God, cause us to neglect the Holy Spirit’s voice, make us lose our faith in God and remove our heart to love, sacrifice and serve others… we will end up only looking after our own needs and feelings, and thus make our relationship with others become fragile and distant. Ultimately, Satan wants us to lose heart and motivation in serving, to give up and stumble.
After I decided to join the mission trip, I experienced an unprecedented amount of spiritual attacks. I physically fell three times resulting in severe injuries and great pain, which led me to become depressed. Other ministries and miscellaneous tasks also distracted myself from the careful preparation of my Bible teaching material and prevented me from doing sufficient exercise to strengthen my body for the trip… and I haven’t begun discussing all the problems we had when we arrived. However, thank God for His grace and empowerment! My trust and faith in Him, and my heart in joining this P.E.A.C.E. trip was not shaken. Therefore, remember to connect with God, trust that He has the power to protect us and lead us from all temptations. We can stand firm in all circumstances!
Understand the difference in Culture
Everyone is God’s unique creation with differences in background and culture, and it’s natural that we need time to learn to accept each other and conglomerate. As we serve Him, we need to respect others, try to understand each other’s circumstances and avoid comparing and criticizing. Don’t consider that our methods are always superior and expect others to adjust and accommodate to our plan or thinking. This is because change, improvement and growth all take time.
Do not underestimate your health condition
For this mission trip to Kenya, there were many things I had to do in preparation and while serving. Preparations before the trip, all the travelling during the trip, constant sleep deprivation, etc., all took quite a toll on my physical condition. I regret that I wasn’t able to give it my all for the mission because I didn’t fully prepare myself physically. Upon reflection, I believe this was not a good testimony. We should always be giving our best to serve God, so that others can witness God’s grace and perfection, and they in turn, will give glory to Him. On the other hand, God’s name will be dishonoured by our poor testimony.
A word of advice: while you are preparing your heart, always strive to stay in good mental and physical condition in order to be prepared in the face of continuous spiritual wars!