Transformed by The Lord
posted on September 16th, 2013
A DAUGHTER’S STORY:
My parents were born and raised in Taiwan. Yet my two older sisters and I were born and raised in the United States, in an area where people of Asian background make up only a small percentage of the population. Most people in the area where we live are Caucasian, so when I went to elementary school, I understood the English language better than Mandarin Chinese. I used to go to a Chinese school where they help American-born kids learn to read and write in the Chinese language, but after going for a year, I stopped. So I really only heard Chinese spoken at home. Though I can understand most Mandarin Chinese, I cannot speak it that well. I guess I was really self-conscious about my ethnic background. I always wished I lived in an area with people more ethnically similar to me.
When I first went on a mission trip to China, I was fourteen years old. The team was made up of overseas Chinese people and was run in Chinese. But I did not want anything to do with the mission team, nor did I care about being in China at all. I didn’t want to go; I was forced to go by my mom. The whole summer I kept thinking to myself, “Why do I need to go to a place I’ve never been to? I mean, I don’t know any of these people. They barely understand my language. I should be with my friends in the summer, not in an area I’m not familiar with.”
That was my attitude for almost the entire time in China. I was just going through the motions of the trip with the mission team. One day, the entire team prayed over me. I was reluctant for them to pray for me, but at that moment I felt the Holy Spirit. I started to realize that my attitude was wrong. If I want to grow in God, it cannot always be about me.
After that experience, my outlook on the rest of the trip changed. I had a new “set of eyes” towards the culture and the lives of the local people. I started to notice the differences between myself and the people of the area. For example, the people were so content and seemed so happy. They treated visitors (our mission team) with such hospitality and the utmost respect. Where I live, people are not as welcoming or respectful. That hit me. How could people who knew so little about us still treat us so nicely? And how could they be so happy with the little that they had?
I started to question myself about why I was so resentful about coming to China. The people had been so kind to me, but at the time I had not even cared. I had not wanted to go on the trip for selfish reasons. My outlook towards the people changed and by the end of the trip, I felt more content and humbled about what I had. I also started to treat people with more respect.
Three years later, I got the chance to go on another mission trip to the same area of China. This time, I was super excited. My mind was all for seeing the culture that I had seen before, and also maybe seeing a different culture in a new and unfamiliar area. As I got on to the plane to fly back to that area, I could hardly wait. The flight took off and before I knew it we had landed. I recognized some faces, but many were new. The atmosphere was different – I was different. God had changed me in ways I could not have changed on my own; and I cannot thank Him enough.
We spent a lot of time praying. We prayer-walked around the town and villages; we biked through the area; we prayed for the villagers that they would hear God’s voice; and we prayed for God’s authority to be established over the places we visited.
One thing I liked about praying was that, even though I did not know Mandarin Chinese that well, there was no language barrier. Everyone prayed in their own language and the Holy Spirit took away the language barrier. That helped the entire mission team to bond and get closer spiritually and mentally. During the trip, we helped local people pull weeds out of the potato fields; we prepared food for the pigs to eat; and we interacted with the local people and their children. Wherever we went, we gave candies to the kids and blessed them with God’s presence. The local people were very hospitable and welcomed us into their homes. They shared their culture – their food, their music, and sometimes even their dances. From time to time we were able to share testimonies with them. It was a great time and I will never forget the people on the team, the people from the local area, and the people we met.
After being on this second trip, I felt so much closer to God. One day when I was praying, God spoke to me with a song. I’ve never felt that way before. And when that happened, I knew that this mission trip was meant to be.
Comparing myself when I was fourteen to now as an eighteen year-old, I know I’m a completely different person. My relationship with God is stronger than ever before. I still have many things to work on, but I am much improved! I would like to thank my mom for taking me on that first trip to China, because without that reality check I probably would not be writing this.
Not until I went to Taiwan and Mainland China for the first time, did I finally feel comfortable with myself. I think being around people who were more similar to me helped me. Now, I am a lot more proud of my background and am eager to learn more about it. When I go to college, I’m going to study Mandarin Chinese as my minor, so I can have more knowledge of my background.
I strongly encourage you to go to China! If God is calling you, go on a mission trip. You might not know why or what you are going for, but He will use you – whether it’s through a talent you have, through helping people, or just simply by being there. No matter what age you are or what language you speak, remember that God uses people in the most mysterious ways. So if you get the opportunity to go on a mission trip, just take it! You never know how much you might impact someone’s life.
A MOTHER’S RESPONSE:
Six months prior to my youngest daughter’s first mission trip to China, God spoke to me about getting passports for all my children. I was puzzled and kept delaying putting the applications in. Then God spoke again through a pastor who works on the mission field. He suggested that all Christian parents should take their teenagers on a mission trip to experience cross-culture mission when they reach the age of 14. I had booked the flights and applied for the visa within a month; and we were on our way to Asia.
It’s not easy raising teenagers, let alone taking them to a foreign land for a week of mission. Their view of the world is so different from ours! Halfway through the trip, my daughter was challenged by something that happened and was terrified. The entire team prayed over her and then something beautiful happened – she encountered Jesus; and He delivered her from the bondage of fear and set her free. She was a different child for the rest of the trip. She was cheerful, content, obedient and respectful.
It was two years after her first mission trip when she told me she had had a dream in which she went back to the area we had visited before. We prayed together and asked God if this was His will for her. It was a difficult decision for her because she had to choose between her beloved sports and the mission trip.
Yet a few months later, I was looking over my shoulder on a Chinese bus. There she was in the last row, leaning against her cousin, asleep. We were on our second mission trip together and I was just amazed at how God had transformed her from a timid and self-centered 14 year-old into a confident, compassionate, and mission-minded 17 year-old young girl.
My heart feels such gratitude and thanksgiving to the Lord for His work in her life. His wisdom, patience and perseverance equip, encourage, and guide me as she walks with Jesus. We have spent many hours talking about the frustration, discouragement and unfairness of this world, but we have spent even more time praising God for His promises, love, discipline and protection in our lives.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” God entrusts parents with the task of raising children to be His light in the world. As a mother, I would encourage every parent to pray and walk with your child in the journey with Christ. This summer, my daughter and I will embark on our third mission trip together to serve the people we have fallen in love with. Have you ever thought about serving the Lord on a mission team together with your child? I would encourage you to grab the opportunity!