If you have not read “From Apathy Into Action“, it’s probably a good idea to read Part 1 before reading this post, especially since this post is a long sequel that is just as good as the first movie. (:
So I received the email about 3 weeks before the internship at 930PM Friday Los Angeles time / 1230PM Saturday Hong Kong time on May 7th 2019.
Before that very moment in my life, I have never considered ministry work at all. And now you’re wondering how I even applied for this internship.
Well, I was bored one fine day in the middle of job applications. I thought since I was mulling around and contributing nothing to society, why not volunteer? I looked around the world, from Australia to Hong Kong to Malaysia, from churches to mission organisation, and nothing was open.
Then I remembered Mosaic from my trip to LA last December (there is a backstory to this ‘coincidence’ – coming soon). They had something open for the summer, and I thought: why not, I’m bored, what have I got to lose?
The only thing I remember about that application is that I finished it in an hour, and my opening sentence statement about my life story is that ‘my life is a series of God-sized interruptions’ (which then inspired me to write this post).
After that day, I completely forgot about looking for church-based work, including this application to Mosaic. Therefore, it was a shock when I received an email for a FaceTime interview a few weeks later.
I did the interview anyway because the thought that ran through my head was: interview experience, why not? I’m not going to say yes anyway.
I remember three key moments from that interview.
The first moment was when Pastor Brooke asked me why I wanted to apply, and I said that I never wanted to do this and I’ve always been skeptical of people going into Bible School as a way to escape the world instead of serve the world (I promise I’m good at interviews). Pastor Brooke quickly shut me down saying that I could never judge someone for going into ministry work. I loved her sharp honesty, and I knew that I could roll with this.
The second moment was when she asked about my role models other than my parents. I said Christine Caine, Lisa Bevere and probably Bobbie Houston because these were women who were unashamedly wise and bold female leaders, while also having an incredible family/ career/ relationships/ life/ God balance. Pastor Brooke pointed out that all these women worked in ministry, and I had never realised this for some reason.
The last moment was at the end of the interview where I had the chance to ask questions. I only asked one and that was: what was a good reason to NOT do the internship?
Pastor Brooke laid out a bunch of legitimate answers that didn’t apply to me, like I didn’t have a dying relative or a home church I was obliged to serve at. At the end of the list of reasons, she said:
If you don’t want to change, don’t come.
To end the call, Pastor Brooke said I already got in the program, and all they were waiting on was my ministry recommendation. Yet when I hung up and said goodbye, I told God I’m not saying yes anyway, promptly went to bed and forgot all about it.
But when I received that email, I knew I had to say yes.
So I talked to my parents about this. Coincidentally, they were in LA at the time. I decided to wait till LA’s morning for me to spend more time with this yes, to see if it was just a spur of the moment or something more.
I called my parents that night/their morning and told them what God told me. They were extremely skeptical, and honestly, so was I.
Apart from the whole never-wanting-to-work-in-ministry thing, there was also a boy in LA that could truly muddle my motives for going (context found in this post right here). So we all agreed to pray about it and get back to each other the next day.
A technique I’ve learnt about hearing God is through Gideon’s story about using a fleece. The gist of the Bible story is that God told Gideon to lead Israel’s army, Gideon’s like just to be sure let me put out this fleece – and if it’s dry on the ground but only wet on the fleece, I’ll do it. The next day God came through, but Gideon was like actually just to be 100% sure, let the fleece be dry and the floor be wet. God came through again.
So in my case, my parents were my fleece to see if God wanted me to go to LA to serve Mosaic.
The next day, I called my parents and they came back with a sharp ‘no‘. This was not a good idea.
I agreed with them, but my heart was not okay. My parents are people that I respect and honour deeply so I usually follow whatever my parents say because I trust them and they’re pretty wise. And it’s not like they’re ‘no’ was unwise or irrational, but for some reason, I couldn’t accept this ‘no’.
Even though my fleece was my answer, I was not okay with it.
Then I had to reckon with the question of: Why did I want them to say ‘yes’?
That night of the ‘no’, I went to bed and started a book called ‘God Has A Name‘ by John Mark Comer.
Essentially, the book is about digging deeper into who God actually is – not just little-g god, but the big-G God that is also Jesus and the Holy Spirit according to the Bible. The anchor of the book is this passage where God says His name for the first time.
“The LORD [Yahweh] came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD [Yahweh]. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD [Yahweh], the LORD [Yahweh], the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’”Exodus 34:5-7
For some reason, that passage struck me and I could not stop reading it over, and over. And somewhere in re-re-re-reading the passage, I was crying. I rarely am ever moved to tears, so when I cry, it means something.
I was overwhelmed by the glory, the intimacy, the wholeness, and the beauty of who God is. This is the perfect God that wants me, in all my inadequacies and inequities and inabilities, to serve Him.
Somehow, I stopped crying for like 5 minutes and I finally got to the end of the introduction.
“It’s one thing to read a book about God; it’s another thing to scale a mountain in the middle of the desert and pluge head-first into the darkness. To abandon yourself to a life of dangerous, risky, I-won’t-stop-for-anything pursuit of God.”John Mark Comer, “God Has A Name”
I cried the entire night. I barely remember that night, other than the constant prayer to search my heart, basically I was praying Psalm 139:23-24 over and over.
If this ‘yes’ was because I wanted to see the boy and because I wanted to be glorified for taking a leap of faith, then God ought to say ‘no’. But if this ‘yes’ was purely because He wanted me to serve and I wanted to obey Him, then I will go against all odds.
I know that God knows me better than I know me.
I finally slept at 6am with the peace and assurance that I was going to LA in June.
I called my parents in their morning time the next day and said I have to go. I didn’t have a cohesive argument except for this inexplainable desire to do this internship.
I never ask my parents for much, but when I do, they know it means something.
As I waited for their answer, I started the visa paperwork and plans as if a ‘yes’ was in my favour. But just to add another ‘fleece’ to my situation, I had already accepted the job in Hong Kong, but I messaged the team asking if they’d allow me to push back my start date by 3 months so that I could do this internship.
If they said yes, well then, God is moving.
The next day my parents said yes. My work in Hong Kong was willing to wait for me to start full-time in September, as long as I did part-time work throughout my internship. Around 2 days later, I left Hong Kong to get my USA visa in Malaysia.
What turned out to be a 2-day visa application process dragged out into a 2 week process. In the middle of the waiting for my visa, I placed my deposit for the internship as an ‘act of faith’.
I remember waves of doubt crashing over me during this waiting season, but the peace and assurance was louder than the uncertain.
A week later, I got my visa.
I left for flight to Hong Kong 2 days later. And within a week, I had my flight to LA, my accommodation, my rental car, and packed up my stuff for the next 2 months of my life.
Before I knew it, I was in LAX waiting in the worst mess of immigrations and customs I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. But I survived, and passed through immigration with almost 0 questions asked.
Then I got my luggages and waited for the boy to pick me up on June 2nd 2019.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;Psalm 139:23-24 NLT
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life
Sometimes the beginnings are stories in themselves, so thank you for letting me indulge in all the details that led me to LA. I’ll be spending the days ahead figuring out how to talk about the A LOT that happened in that wonderful city. But until then, stay tuned, subscribe, see you soon!