Why missions, why Timor? I experienced a major turning point three years ago when the Lord miraculously delivered me from a dark season of my life. My response to this deliverance was, “Lord, here’s my life as a blank page. Wherever You lead me, I will follow.”

At that time, Sarah, who is my team leader now, had actually begun praying for a team to join her in pioneering a work in Timor Leste.

Within two weeks of her praying, we had a conversation about the possibility of me joining her. And after receiving several confirmations from the Lord, I said yes!

Through that time, the Lord affirmed my heart through Psalm 40.

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:1-3, ESV)

The psalm was a reminder that I had been redeemed for a reason — to declare of His goodness so that others would see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.

It was not so much about a specific place or people. I’d never been to Timor and I didn’t know much about it. It was simply an act of faith and obedience to make room for the Lord to use me as He wills.

The Lord’s encouragement to me was that though I knew nothing about missions, He could still use me to minister to the broken through my brokenness.

I believe my involvement in missions began with the mercy of God being extended to me, not because I was adequate in any way or had a huge “altar moment” when I was younger.

The Lord knew that teaching me about His kingdom, in this way, would bring about His redemptive plan in my life and in the lives around me in a greater way.

Open doors

The Lord led our team of three to work with a local church, in a village 1.5 hours outside of the capital city, Dili. This turned out to be a deeply divine partnership.

When we arrived, we were told that the church had been praying for support and people to serve alongside them for years. The lead pastor also happens to be a young lady, which is extremely rare in a patriarchal society like Timor. That dynamic has allowed our team to journey closely and work well with her.

The Lord opened doors for us to partner the local church by serving in various areas — the church, community and larger district.

Some of the things we do throughout the week with the church include training the youths to lead Sunday School, teaching Bible study (as many received their first Bibles last year), running house church gatherings in the village and equipping the church elders and leaders for ministry.

In the community, we also run English courses, Kids Club (a Bible-based, character building programme), health and education sessions and outreaches during Easter and Christmas. These are not just opportunities to bless the village, but also for the local church to get involved and be the face of Christ’s love to the community.

Across the district, we get to be part of the larger LoveTimor movement by gathering pastors, leaders and youths from various churches and denominations to unite in prayer every other month.

That’s a time of mutual encouragement and inspiring faith, a time to lay hold of the Lord’s calling for us as one Body of Christ!

We’ve been called alongside the local church this season to stand behind and beside them, encouraging them to see that they have not just been called to survive, but to be the very heart of the communities they are based in.

Running outreach events has been a new experience for the church we work with; watching them catch the heart of God, and courageously step out in faith and obedience to bring Christ to their community has been such a joy!

We also do our best to bring up Timorese believers from Dili and short-term teams from Singapore to minister with us in the village. This has become a very key way for us to encourage the local believers.

The village now sees more visitors than ever before, which serves as a powerful reminder to the believers that there is a much larger body of Christ that they are a part of – they are not alone or forgotten.

It has also become a powerful testimony for pre-believers who would often call the local Christians “crazy” or accuse them of making up their own religion. They have slowly begun to see that Jesus is indeed Lord of all peoples and nations, and is pursuing them too.

The struggles I’ve faced as a missionary

1. The inner man

Whenever people ask me what my biggest struggle is, my answer is always “me”.

I think the unique circumstance we have as a team that lives and works together nearly 24/7, brings out the best and worst in us. But I am extremely thankful for a team that loves Jesus, with whom I can always return to a place of truth and love.

Personally, this season has surfaced how truly unloving and self-centred I can be, as well as the many ways in which I have yet to be refined. It has been a painful, yet fruitful process of inviting the Lord to prune my life.

Though we face external challenges like frequent blackouts and water shortages, this inner work has been the most challenging.

It is my desperate prayer every day that the Lord would strip me of my pride and expectations, and help me to better love and serve my team and the local community.

Coming in as a missionary, many people think that we must be in a certain place to do the work. But the truth is that we are just broken people being refined daily by the Lord.

And I believe that is what God wants to do first in our lives as missionaries, even before we minister or bless others – He is more interested in doing that deeper work in us!

2. Weakness in the flesh

I also have a history of severe eczema.

In my first month here, I spent a lot of time staying home as the heat and dust would irritate my skin. So while my teammates were out buying furniture and doing the heavy lifting, I would stay back.

I realised that so much of my identity came from the idea of contributing or being of value to others.

During that time, the devil would often discourage me with thoughts that I was useless or would not survive my serving term. Or that I had come all the way to Timor just to be a burden to the team.

It was through this time that the Lord was teaching me how to rest, not just physically, but spiritually. I realised that so much of my identity came from the idea of contributing or being of value to others.

But the Lord was tutoring me from His Word in 2 Corinthians 12 — that His power is made perfect in my weakness. It was never about anything I could do of my own accord, but about His glory being seen in and through my brokenness.

This ended up being a core lesson I had to keep returning to in the past 1.5 years, as I struggled with my skin and health regularly.

Quite recently, I had to take two weeks off from ministry due to repeated skin infections. I even had to consider the option of returning to Singapore as my condition had become quite severe.

As I grappled with the possibility of my term being cut short, I heard the Lord asking me, “Is my presence enough for you? Am I enough for you even if your ministry doesn’t look a certain way, or if you have to go back prematurely?”

The Lord was humbling me again, and reminding me that my primary ministry was to God Himself! Amidst the challenges of my flesh, I am thankful for a God who constantly draws me to His heart.

3. Loving as Jesus loves

While the people of Timor are incredibly hospitable and some of the most generous people you’ll ever meet, there are still cultural differences that we have to navigate, especially since we come from a more developed country.

Through less efficient systems and processes, or different levels of civic-mindedness, I often have to be careful not to impose my expectations and judgement upon them. Instead, I must see through the eyes of God.

Some days, I find myself fervently praying and weeping over the land with overflowing compassion in my heart.

The very next day, I’ll be struggling to not get angry when I have had a long day and am unable to sleep with their parties lasting till the wee hours of the morning.

But I am reminded that all we achieve through our formal platforms of ministry amount to nothing if I am unable to learn to love the people more than myself. Yet another thing I truly need the grace of God for!

Looking ahead

I am currently in the midst of praying about my next season, whether I will stay on in Timor or return to Singapore.

I do have certain inclinations in my heart, but I am trying to hold them loosely before the Lord as I believe that even ministry and the way I want it to look can be an idol.

So, I just want to be sensitive and obedient to how He is leading me. I want to be willing and ready to go wherever and do whatever He is calling me to.

As I shared earlier, my prayer this season is that His presence would be enough for me.

I have seen first-hand how He is truly faithful to guide and provide as I walk in faith and obedience to Him, so my hope and plan is to simply walk in step with the Lord day by day. 

I want to seek out how He has specifically and uniquely called me to build His kingdom and, by His grace, be yielded to whatever that may look like.

Looking back on 20 years of LoveTimor

When I agreed to come to Timor, I had no idea that I was stepping into one of the most incredible stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

Last year, our team was tasked to document the story of LoveTimor, in preparation for its 20th anniversary celebration this year.

This video we worked on together with the Thir.st Collective was produced to serve as a memorial of what God has done in Timor and to mobilise more labourers to the field.


Part of this process involved interviewing pastors, missionaries and leaders who have answered the call of God to serve in Timor.

Some of them have stayed several months. Others have been here for over 20 years.

The Lord was using the production process to minister deeply to me.

I would often be in tears during the interviews where I would hear story after story of how God divinely led and provided for each one to be here.

I was overwhelmed by God’s love for this small, relatively unknown nation – that He would gather people from all over the world, to partner with Him in redeeming this land.

I count it a huge privilege to be serving here in a season where we have begun to see great fruitfulness and a harvest as a result of those who have faithfully sown into the ground for the past 20 years!

In the early phases, many had their houses and churches stoned or burned down, with several missionaries even being chased out of Timor.

Today, we see unprecedented open heavens over the land, where many are more open to the Gospel than ever. So although there is much to celebrate, we believe that there is still more work to be done, with a harvest that is indeed plentiful.

The story of LoveTimor is merely a small part of the Lord’s greater plan to bring redemption to all mankind. I pray that each one of us would give our “yes” to answer the call to the Great Commission, for I can testify that it brings far more joy and fullness to our lives than what we think we could ever sacrifice.

May we be found faithful, until He comes again!