Michelle Goh, Glory’s member, heeding the Lord’s call to missions in Thailand and has been serving there as a missionary with OMF since 2006.
Whenever we talk about missions, most people think about missionaries and that it is only for those who have a clear calling and the gift of evangelism, and passionate about the lost. Some think of Paul in the Bible on his missionary journeys, bringing the gospel to places where people have yet to know of Jesus. Others think of brave pioneers venturing into tribes living in remote and difficult places, learning their language and living like them in order to share the gospel with them. For me, it wasn’t until I went through training in missions that I realized how little I knew about missions and how it’s done.
When I went on short-term mission trips to Thailand, I had the impression that all missionaries (to Thailand) had to live in the countryside on their own and labour for many years in a village starting with maybe just one or two Christians and slowly see enough growth to start a church. I hadn’t realized that the gospel can be shared in many different ways, using different platforms and ministries, and that it can be done in teams. I didn’t know that not every missionary had to be gifted in evangelism. I didn’t know that mission work involved so many people other than just missionaries.
Recently, our OMF Thailand Field Director wrote that OMF Thailand ministries have expanded and transformed in recent years and in some ways, look quite different from what was done 40-50 years ago:
"We continually seek ways to lovingly and effectively share the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ with Thai people. Everything we do - reaching rural people through an eye glasses ministry, sharing God’s Word on Facebook, providing crisis pregnancy care, teaching and mentoring Bible college and seminary students, reaching out to migrant factory workers, joining hands with and building up the national church, providing online evangelistic courses, coaching soccer, taking the painstakingly slow route of building trust with urban poor communities, fostering reproducible, evangelistic cells, reaching out to young people with adventure camps, or simply sharing Bible stories consistently in our neighborhoods - must serve that one purpose of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in all its fullness with the Thai people to the glory of God."
Of course, the purpose remains the same, but it has been amazing to discover that there are so many ways to do it. The gospel is best shared when we live among the people and serve them, be it through sports, medical work, social work, teaching, business, community development, media and technology, counselling, agriculture or relief work. What I’ve seen is that God calls different ones with different giftings, trainings, experiences and backgrounds to come together to reach out to the unreached with His love and the gospel. And He brings them together in teams so they can help each other to serve His purpose.
But that’s not all. The mission work is not just done by missionaries in the frontline with different giftings. When I started my journey in missions, I realized that for OMF, there is an OMF Singapore National Office where there are people involved in missions here in Singapore – by interviewing and journeying with candidates, mobilizing people through church partnership, managing finances (budgeting, insurance, CPF etc.), caring for missionaries and their elderly parents, coordinating prayer, coordinating short term workers and teams. These people may not be directly involved in sharing the gospel cross culturally, they are crucial in supporting those who do. So, missions work is not just about evangelism. Without the help and guidance from these people who serve here, it would have been hard to do all that by myself! So, no matter what your gifting, training, experience may be, God can call you and use you for His work in missions, even if you think you cannot go overseas!
Even on the field, there are people who are not in the ‘frontline’ of missions work. Right now, I am considered a support worker, being a language advisor and part of the Daniel Training team, which helps new missionaries learn Thai language and culture, and go through the transition of adapting to living in Thailand before they go out there into the ‘frontline’. Apart from language advisor and the team leader who helps coordinate everything (picking up new missionaries from the airport, setting up new houses for them to live in when they arrive, arranging for fellowship groups, cultural sessions etc.), there is also an administration manager in the main office who helps with our visas and work permits, a finance manager, personnel managers who care for us (member care) and someone who coordinates and takes care of short-term workers and teams.
And of course, I’m not leaving out those of you who are reading this who pray, encourage and care for me, as well as support me financially. Mission work involves more than just missionaries. No missionary can go out there and survive on his/her own without any support (at home and on the field) or team. In a way, it shouldn’t surprise us that mission work, even though it’s part of the body of Christ, is also made up of many different parts. Some parts may seem more prominent than others, but all are essential for the body to function well. Some of us may feel drawn to missions but feel that there is little we can offer, unsure of how we can be involved. Start by praying, and ask God to guide you to see how you can be a part of missions.