Have you ever had a major turning point in your Christian life? After years of living as a 'lukewarm' Christian, I arrived at the major turning point in 2007. It was my Watoto mission trip to Uganda.
Back in 2007, I was working for a global company that provided me with financial security, comfort and a degree of prestige. These can be good things in life, but there is also a danger of complacency leading to dwindling vision for the future. In my case, a growing sense of emptiness during that time prompted me to ask the question: is this the life God called me to live? In search of answers, I traveled to Uganda with a team from Northside Community Church in Sydney. Our goal was to work with Watoto Child Care Ministries to build a house for AIDS orphans.
Taking time off my comfortable office job to work as volunteer labourer without construction trade in an unfamilar country at my own expense? Wouldn't it be better to just donate the money? What would I really gain from such an 'inefficient' pursuit? Interestingly, these 'once-legitimate' questions now sound rather foolish. God taught me that His ways are far beyond my logical mind can fathom. All too often, we limit God's influence in our lives through our reasoning. But if we are to draw near to God, we need to take some steps that challenge us to depend on Him in a new way. This conviction led me to step out of my comfort zone to go to Uganda.
Poverty was ubiquitous. To see extreme poverty in my own eyes every day helped me to put things into perspective. In Africa alone, there were already 60 million orphaned and vulnerable children. What would happen to these children if no one takes care of them? The number is so enormous that any work we can do seem only a drop in a bucket. Nevertheless, the vision of Watoto is to rescue, nurture and educate at least some of these orphans, thereby raising up future leaders who can rebuild nations.
Our team consisted of people from many different backgrounds. Men and women, young and old, hairdressers, nurses, pastors, students, retired to name a few. Our task was to assist in building a new kitchen block. We had to adhere to a strict schedule which involved getting up at 5:30am and laying bricks that are 3 times the size of bricks I used to know! Bricklaying is an art, and is hard work. The onsite Ugandan workers trained and coached us every day and corrected our small mistakes. It was so satisfying though getting back after a full day on the work site and rinsing off a day's dirt, mortar and sweat then crashing in bed.
Initially our goal was to complete 7 rows of the exterior walls of the building since we were mostly inexperienced volunteers. Unfortunately, the building work was delayed on the first day due to heavy rain, so we sanded and painted the walls of other nearby buildings instead. We commited our work in prayer each morning before we began for the day.
Much to my surprise, we were able to raise the levels of the walls closed to the top of the window frames on most sides of the kitchen by the third day of building. On the sixth and the final day of building, we have got the full exterior walls up, including windows, plus the majority of the internal walls. The onsite Watoto team was also amazed at how much we have achieved. Most of us were unskilled people for the job. However, God used us to achieve far more than we have imagined when we simply made ourselves available to serve Him and committed each day in prayer.
It gave me a glimpse into what it is really like to depend on God in our weakness and how it delivers amazing results. Since that day, I slowly realised that my lifestyle has been mostly based on my own feeble strengths influenced by wordly reasoning, somewhat independent from God. Going to church every Sunday is one thing, but living a life dependent on God is quite another. The mission trip was far more than feeling good about some practical work I have done. It planted a whole new seed in my heart that geminated over the last few years. Since then, I have left my corporate job to serve God in full-time mission, which gives me much joy.
It is true that the Lord doesn't ask about our ability, only our availiability. And if we prove our dependability, He will increase our capability. A good friend of mine added further: it is so uplifting to think that God doesn't measure our good works according to the strengths of our current abilities but rather to the extent that we open up our hearts and make ourselves available to His service. This revelation was the major turning point in my Christian walk with God. What is your story?
Daniel Jang is an itinerant artist who enjoys painting a big tree on his canvas for the glory of God. His work may never be enough, but he continues with his job one day at a time.
Daniel Jang's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/daniel-jang.html