This time to OTR, my life was not flipped inside out as it did when I went the first two times. The first time, my eyes were opened to the heart of this ministry, and that was when I witnessed the power of evangelism. The second time, my life was transformed. This time, I was constantly reminded of what it means to submit to Christ. The first couple days were the School of Evangelism. P Matt from JCA was the speaker, and he spoke on spiritual warfare. He explained that spiritual warfare isn’t just demonic possessions but it’s something a lot simpler. Essentially, it’s Satan trying to take the glory away from God. To me, this was something I knew from reading Screwtape Letter by C.S. Lewis but when P Matt spoke on it, it made me reflect on my own life. Having moved away from home and now attending graduate school, working, and planning my own future, these are just three things that consume my mind. And the crazy thing is that none of them are immoral. Trying to devote every aspect of my life to the Lord DAILY is SO HARD. No part of my flesh enjoys waking up at 4am to review for a 7am exam. It is a constant battle for my mind and heart to serve my work place when I have bosses/coworkers whom I do not necessarily agree with. It is difficult for me to glorify God when I can’t even discern whether my future is for myself or God’s calling sometimes. But the privilege to witness God’s work at OTR reminded me just weak my flesh truly is.
Two things I was blessed by, convicted of, and encouraged by:
- The utter surrender Living Water Ministry has to God. Even the minute details of this ministry were done in prayer. From the color of the carpet to even just picking up trash outside the church building was all done in prayer. P Johann prayed over the color of the carpet and was reminded of the three colors that Moses had in Exodus: scarlet, blue, and purple. He explained that outside the sanctuary the carpet is red, which signifies our sin, and once inside the carpet is purple, which signifies that grace (blue) has covered our sin. In addition, prior to purchasing the building for church, it was used by people to do drugs and was terribly trashed. So when they first purchased the building, the ministry began cleaning the trash. But with every piece of trash they picked up, they prayed that Lord would clean this place. And now, the community on the street is cleaner because EVERYBODY on the street throws their trash away. Furthermore, the ministry itself does 6:30am devotions every morning. The staff meet in the sanctuary and spend 2 hours praying and reading. P Johann himself does it before his teaching job at U of Cincinnati. Witnessing just how this ministry functions made me reflect on the areas of my life that I don’t deem important. How often do I pray over washing the dishes, taking the trash out, and all the minute details in my life?
- The hearts of the other missionaries. Ten churches were present at this trip so there were a little over 100 people serving and helping the community. So the age ranged from 18 to 50 years of age. Those who were 18 were all extremely excited and had so much energy. I don’t like to say I’m cynic but more a realist so I told myself it’s because they’re young they have so much fire for God because they haven’t gone through the jaded-ness of life. But, of course, I was blessed by their love for Jesus and fearlessness when it came to evangelizing on the streets. The age range I was most convicted by were those in their 30’s to 50’s. Most of them had families and careers that they put on hold in order to go to OTR. Most of them never attended seminary or were not elders/deacons of their church. They were just there because they wanted to serve and recognized the urgency of evangelizing. I was so amazed because I personally do not see myself going into seminary (or at least it’s not what God has called me to do), and I do not see myself as a future elder/deacon of any church. Serving alongside them was so encouraging because when I enter that stage of life, when I have a career, a marriage, a family, I want the urgency of the gospel to remain in me. I want to place God above all things in my life.
To be honest, I was really, really, really sad when I left OTR. Probably borderline depressed. Being able to worship and serve alongside with the AMI family was such a privilege and made me slightly homesick. Being able to hear the prayers of the pastors and spend time with Sister Grace has been encouraging the night before we left allowed me to experience once again the mighty love of our Creator and King. My hope and prayer is that my faith would continue to increase that even the minute details in my life, even when I do have a career, marriage, and family, my heart and mind would solely focus on God and God alone.