Faith Mission to South Asia
Ruth Yap, one of our labourers from the NUS (National University of Singapore) ministry, left her job to go on a 4-month mission trip to South Asia in March last year. She shares her experiences and what she has learnt:
What led you to go for this mission trip?
At the start of 2022, God gave me the promise of Isaiah 43:18-19 —
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
This verse speaks of how God is doing a new thing. God used this verse to challenge myself out of my comfort zone, as I am not good at dealing with changes. However, I knew that remaining in my comfort of constancy and familiarity would limit both my learning of faith and the excitement of beholding the new things that God wants to do in me and before me.
I completed my studies in Linguistics in 2021, specialising in teaching English as a second language. When the opportunity to spend half a year in South Asia was shared with me, I felt a beckoning that it was one of the “new things” that God wanted me to step into by faith.
What did you learn during the 4 months spent in South Asia?
The 4 months spent in South Asia from March to July 2022 made for unforgettable experiences and lessons.
For one, my time there was a training and testing ground in faith. Placed in an environment where everything and everyone was new to me, my limitations and inadequacies became even more glaring. I could barely speak a word of the local language when I approached the people, intending to share the gospel with them. Remembering peoples’ names and backgrounds became an immense challenge, and language barriers led to communication lapses and sometimes misunderstandings.
When having man-to-man time with individuals, I found myself unable to properly discern and meet their real needs, and my weaknesses would often surface. Faced repeatedly with my shortcomings, I saw how much I needed to rely on God’s Word and His Holy Spirit to teach and guide me at every step, so that His power may be displayed in my weaknesses. Each of my weaknesses then became an opportunity to experience God abundantly.
The instability in the country’s governance and economy was yet another chance to grow in my faith and conviction. While the intensifying fuel crisis pushed transport options near to none, I saw how the spirit and fervour of the ministry leaders never once dulled.
It was not unusual for the ministry leaders and labourers to spend 4 hours on the road to fetch a girl from her home to the city so that she could have in-person fellowship with us for half a day. The initial 2-hour wait in the fuel queue grew to a 16-hour wait within a few weeks, during which the ministry leader also caught a severe bout of dengue fever.
While the practical limitations could have been reasons to put a pause on fellowship activities, they saw these as tests of faith and willed themselves and others to count following Jesus still the more precious privilege to possess. Their daily living is so praiseworthy to Jesus, and I desire that mine will become like that too.
Another blessing I received was seeing how life-on-life discipleship bears the fruit of Christlikeness in an individual’s life.
During one of my first few dinner fellowships with the local brothers and sisters, I asked what the most significant lesson they had each taken away from training together was. Though I was a mere stranger to them, they shared in full transparency about who they had been in the past, and who they had now become in Christ through the encouragement and spurring on with another in fellowship. Their humble, vulnerable responses struck a deep chord within me. I am inspired to obey God’s command — to present every man perfect in Christ for His glory, which will reveal in the depth of commitment to life-on-life discipleship.
I have also learnt that loving an individual deeply and wholeheartedly is one of the ways through which God captures my heart with His World Vision. The ministry leader would frequently remind us that “World vision is in the kitchen”, while we cooked meals together. I remember an illustration that was shared — We are called to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. Accordingly, if we walk the full circumference of the earth in the same direction, then the person at the other end of the earth would be the person who is right next to us.
I have learnt about God’s desire for my heart to be enlarged in love, one individual at a time, until I learn to love the world as He does.
I have also learnt that God is our real and unchanging hope in every season and situation. While this had been an easy-to-say byword, I found myself confronted with the question of whether I was firmly convicted of this in my heart while I was there.
One of the girls sadly shared, “I cannot see anything for my future. This country, my life, my future… everything is a blur.” While I knew that I should encourage her with the assurance of God’s good and perfect plans, I struggled to say anything, knowing that I come from a place of an abundance of options. I struggled even more that week during my fellowship time with each of the girls I was staying with, as they each shared their feelings of helplessness and uncertainty.
Dinner fellowship after cooking together
On the day when I had to visit the Immigration Department to have my Visa extended, I had to get off the vehicle 2 streets before the building. The roads were full of vehicles and people had been queuing there for days, hoping to get their passports made. The driver who took me there earnestly wondered, “Why are you trying to stay longer, when everyone else is trying to leave?”
While there were many people in the passport queue, the Visa department was extremely quiet; hardly anyone was trying to stay in the country for longer. I was challenged to ask myself — how much do I believe that the gospel is enough and is the solution to all of life’s problems?
If this is the conviction of my heart, then I must also learn to lift others up to have the same hope.
What are you looking forward to this year?
I saw and experienced personally how life-on-life discipleship is the way through which the gospel message can permeate deep into the life of an individual. It is the means of obeying the command to “present everyone perfect in Christ” (Colossians 1:28-29).
Quiet Time Sharing
In the year ahead, I am looking forward to learning the life of discipleship from my spiritual leaders, meeting and following up with new students through witnessing, and developing deeper life-on-life relationships with people I am meeting.
Ruth grew up in a Christian home where she learnt about Jesus when she was young. However, she did not have a personal relationship with God back then. When she was in Secondary 3, she wanted to share with her friend about Jesus, but realised that she could not help someone to know God when she did not know Him personally herself.
In 2013, God arranged for Ruth to meet the Navigators during the Student Life Fair at NUS (National University of Singapore) when someone from the Navigators invited her to join them for their Bible Studies and Quiet Time Sharings. Through the fellowship with other brothers and sisters in the Navigators, she saw their authentic zeal for God that motivated their lives given wholly for the gospel. She knew that she wanted her life to look like that and has never looked back since.