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Tuesday, January 02, 2007


When I was seventeen years of age, my good friend Jit asked me, "What is your calling, Elaine?" I did not know of course, but Jit's question made it seem that I had to know; it was of absolute importance for living on earth. Obviously I told him then, that I did not know what my calling was, and he said: ask Him. The naïveté of childlike faith was in my favour, and I went home that night, stood on my chair, and asked: "God, what is my calling?" And God answered, "Elaine, your calling is to be an evangelist."

There have been many scenes passed since then, that answer ten plus years ago. What is an 'evangelist'? It is a multi-dimensional word for a global and eternal career. The answer to my act of questioning my Father precipitated an entire journey of which much now still remains unknown. From that moment of barely knowing, my destiny was shot into orbit and each seeming revolution drove me into light and umbras all the same, again and again.

So, what did it mean? Did it mean preaching the gospel of Christ's love to many many people gathered in tents? Perhaps, but that was all I knew then at that age, and this knowledge, however limiting, scared the hell out of me. All I knew then was that if God said so, it was going to happen, no matter how small and limiting I was and still am.

Turns out that 'preaching to people gathered in tents' was not the definition; to hold the office of an evangelist is more than that: "It was he who gave some ... to be evangelists, ... to prepare God's people for works of service ... attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." It was about building people up, to fulfill their destinies, enabling them to serve others in their spheres of influence. I may not change this entire world in my lifetime, but the next person I impact might be the one who does. I am but one person, but like a seed that falls to the ground and dies, my life could produce a harvest for this world that God loves.

When I was nineteen or so, I heard another message that changed my life even further. At that age I was hardly an adult, still under the jurisdiction of my parents, poor, that is, no financial independence, still going to school and bound by timetables and exams. If I had wanted to impact the poorest of the poor, I had the sensible mindset that that would have to wait till when God called me, which would be after I have worked and gotten myself some money. My senses were torn to pieces soon after. So many times in our lives we are waiting for the need, waiting to be called, to be touched into action. But God had already called me: He already said, "Go into all the world..." to change it and love every part of it, to share God with people who need to know Him. The time is now, not later.

There is this cliched story about how someone, supposedly a teacher, walks along a beach with a friend, with many stranded starfish on the brink of death strewn along their path. The Teacher picks up a starfish, returns it to the sea, and continues with the next starfish, again and again. The Teacher's friend, bewildered, asks, "Why do you even bother? You can't save them all." But the Teacher full of love says, "It matters to that one that I save." There will always be a place for such dedicated lifesavers. Imagine trying to help one broken-hearted friend that you love. Ever wondered why they say friendships are forever? Helping even one person could be a lifetime's work. But I am not the Teacher. When I see the beach full of starfish, I rush to think, "Let's get as much help as possible down here, now." I may not end up saving many starfish with my own bare hands, but I would want to be responsible for the bulldozer-teams that were brought in to excavate the many starfish home to sea.

When I knew that God wanted me to be involved in missions, I asked Him, "Do you want me to go, send people, or mobilise mission teams?" I learnt that though the time is now, how we are placed to make a difference in this world, is unique to each individual. I was willing to go, plant myself in every heart of Asia and beyond, and become a real missionary. I enjoyed impacting my peers at the time, to extending their spheres of influence, to pray, give and go for missions, to letting their lives change others' for the better. But God eventually told me, again at the time rather cryptically, that he wanted me to be a mobiliser, one who initiated and led people into missions. Not just to go, or to to send others, but to go and send others while also inspiring others to also do the same. "To prepare God's people for works of service." This was the work of an evangelist.

We are the sum of our experiences, interests, strengths, and passions. I did not know much at the time, why I had an interest in management and the like, and at the same time, for the arts, for working with people. There were things that stirred me, that broke my heart, that inspired me to change myself, and then the world. I ended up graduating with a business degree, during the dark years post-tech-bubble-burst, doing what I was qualified to do at first, then, founding SW with H. In our early conversations together, H said to me, that missions is his destiny, and education was the first step. In that moment of destiny, everything fell into place, for the years to come.

Aside from work, I ended up also going for mission trips once every year since then: Kazakstan, Batam, Sangklaburi (Thailand), Sisophon (Cambodia), Yangon. Before my trip last year to Yangon, just as I was preparing to leave, I said to God, "This trip, change me." I was richly aware of my sin and weakness, and I really wanted to be more loving and a better person. You see, by this time, something strange had happened. I was already secretly feeling increasingly unhappy with the work I thought to love, that all my friends still believed that I love. Unaware, I turned to things that numbed my lack of drive and motivation (reading, writing, WoW, etc.). I thought I was just lazy or inadequate. Well I am indeed lazy and inadequate, but when I returned from Myanmar, I realised that it was more than my weakness I was dealing with. For a large part of the year just passed, things started falling apart in my heart, as I started to feel that I had to change course. I had been sailing on a wondrous journey since 2004 when I entered into the dream of SW full-time, right-smack straight on course, in the middle of God's perfect plan for me. Suddenly it crept up on me that I had to now steer an almost perfect right-angle change in course, to my horror, and surprise, and bewilderment.

I had asked God, "Change me," and when I was in Yangon, while praying for the forced slums of South-Dagon, tears flooded my heart, and I saw again a vision that I had received many years earlier. It was of a child, povertised, sitting at a doorway in a war-torn village, and I was ministering to this child, bandaging his foot. The vision was in black-and-white, just as I saw it many years ago. I could hardly hold back my tears then, to know that perhaps that scene was to become a part of my destiny somehow. When this same black-and-white vision returned to me in Yangon, I then knew that this was part of the change I asked for, a key to the steering eastwards of this vessel I had already been sailing on.

I came home, and eventually, I let go, and left SW, for the better of everyone I reckon, but with hardly any announcing. So, here I am. I had come to believe all these years, that SW was my work, for now until the day I go. I did not see it as a stepping stone, nor a door to a separate road. It was the road, the dream. Oh what pride! The peace for me to continue at SW was going, gone, and I blamed myself for it, for my distractions, my inadequacies, for my anger, for my loss or love for my work. It is no longer a part of me.

But God said to me, "Seek peace and pursue it," as it also written. If He did not want me to pursue a path any longer, is it not natural that the peace from that previous path would also no longer be there as it once was?

I had asked God to change me, while the compelling desire to do more missions had already been growing in me throughout the past year. The decision as it occurred in reality, led me to feel a little like Jonah. I went into hiding, thinking the change in my life's direction was perhaps my fault, my inadequacy. I disappeared, you no longer saw me. I did not want to talk to anyone; new friends were better than most old, because then I did not owe them an explanation.

I have finally come to terms with my decision. I have to go into missions, and now. Be it Christian spiritual work (of which I am not worthy to do), or humanitarian work that saw to the basic needs of the poorest of the poor. I have to do it now, and this year, 2007, marks the change officially. This is my explanation.

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