Do Good

My true fear is growing comfortable

Joey Lam // June 18, 2018, 3:05 pm

Comfort

This is a response piece to A Chinese girl in the Congo: Working in war zones 5,000 miles from home.


I was reading Jemima’s article when I was struck by a line in it.

‘Then it dawned on me. I hadn’t fled for my life, lost everything I owned, hidden in jungles for days, watched people I love die in front of me, starved in refugee camps, endured squalid conditions with little hope for survival … “

Stopped dead in my tracks, a singular thought came to mind: Have I become too comfortable?

While God doesn’t necessarily call us to live in dangerous places, He has called us to die to ourselves so that He can use us wherever He has positioned us.

So my true fear is being too comfortable in full-time ministry. And I never thought I would ever start feeling comfortable.


There are a number of reasons why I thought I would never be comfortable in full-time ministry.

For starters, I don’t have a regular income. Many of us working in mission organisations have to raise our own funds, and few are able to consistently hit their needed income for a stable salary. Few of us have adequate CPF contributions, taking a salary way below market rate. But God is faithful to provide.

Next, Interserve Singapore for a very long time did not have an office space. To save money on rent, we worked from our own homes or anywhere with WiFi. So I regularly did my work from coffee shops or on the train. Only recently were we blessed with office space by Geylang Church of Christ.

My prayer is that no matter where the currents of life bring me, I will never grow too comfortable, to die to self and follow Him into the field.

Third, for a very long time, my only other colleague was Christy, my director. The working relationship between Christy and I is precious, as we can share vulnerably and openly, but it was still strange to a fresh graduate. I can’t complain about my director to my director, can I? Though honestly, there isn’t much to complain about – it’s been my privilege to work with such a visionary, energetic and earnest leader.

Also, for most of the questions I did not know (I was doing graphic design when I was trained in political science) I had no one to ask but Google and YouTube. So in a sense, if I were ever to ask someone how to do something, I would be inquiring from other agencies like YWAM or OM.

In short, agency work broke all my stereotypes and mindsets about a fixed office, fixed working hours, colleagues to have lunch with, and most crucially – a fixed salary.


Yet after one year plus in ministry, I still caught myself getting comfortable.

During team prayer one week, we received news from a friend serving in Central Asia that there were 15 impending bomb threats to be carried out at any time.

I just sat there shaking my head. 15 bomb threats at the same time? I couldn’t imagine how the security forces were rushing to track the bombs and diffuse each one. How did their wives and children feel when they watching them leave to work against time-bombs?

And how about this missionary’s family here in Singapore? What would they think if they knew they might lose their daughter serving in Central Asia to one of these bombs?

That was when I asked myself: If God called me to drop everything, to go live and serve in hard places, amidst danger and suffering – would I go?

While God doesn’t necessarily call us to live in dangerous places, He has called us to die to ourselves so that He can use us wherever He has positioned us.

I didn’t dare to answer because I knew my answer. That was when I knew I got comfortable. That I had not died to my own desires, crafting up excuses to avoid God calling me to hard places.

I am working in a mission agency and I dare not go?

What then do I believe in? Do I even believe in what I am mobilising people towards? These workers we’re talking about are single ladies who face death threats, rape threats, lack of electricity, no WiFi, no hot water, no air con, not even a fan … How dare I quietly tell myself my life is more valuable than those serving and suffering in these hard places?


It’s not about chasing after adventure and danger, it’s about choosing to die to self and go to places to live amongst people who God loves dearly.

In Christy’s words, “Do not be afraid to come close to suffering. Jesus came close to our suffering.” And truly, we often read about the co-suffering with Christ in the Bible.

The call to serve overseas in hard and painful places isn’t the easiest decision to make admittedly. Like the rich man (Matthew 19:16-28), we have great possessions. We serve Jesus faithfully but dare not sell all that we possess, to give to the poor and follow Him. The rich man couldn’t, even after Jesus promised him that he would have treasure in Heaven.


At this juncture, I myself am transiting to a slightly more marketplace setting in the community services. Here I have fixed income, a sizeable team of colleagues, career progression to speak of.

I took some time to share with Joseph Chean about this transition I was about to make. “Go in with your eyes wide open,” were the words spoken straight into my spirit.

“Go in with your eyes wide open, knowing that when the day comes for you to make the jump into the mission field, and you can’t – don’t regret.

“By that time, you would have got a wife and children, a house, a much higher salary, most probably in management level. And at that moment, if you can’t make the jump, don’t regret. But go in with your eyes wide open, knowing that today, you have considered the choice you are making.”

His words echoed deep within the recesses of my heart. Upon surveying all I have ten years from now, will I – out of fear – conjure up excuses to avoid the honour and privilege to partner with Christ in hard places where great suffering abounds?

“Do many not make the jump in the end?” I asked. “Yes. Many,” was his reply.

My prayer is that no matter where the currents of life bring me, I will never grow too comfortable. I will die to self and follow Him into the field. After all, He jumped.

I’ll jump too.


With an expected one billion people in Asia moving from rural to urban areas by the year 2030, the number of world city dwellers is expected to rise to 70% by 2050. There is an urgent call to the Church, especially as the majority of new urban dwellers will be young (under 25 years old) and live below the poverty line ($2 a day).

The GoForth National Missions Conference, happening June 21-23, 2018, will look at an array of diverse strategies to empower individuals and churches to reach and transform cities with the love of Christ. Visit their website to find out out more.