It has been exactly a month since I came back from my 11-week trip to Colombia. To you, as partners in this journey I want to provide a concise testimony that we might rejoice together in God’s work.
Before leaving, I remember having an oozing excitement that I was going to be part of God’s redeeming work in Colombia. However, hidden within my deceiving heart, the excitement was mostly being fueled by my own pride and glory. With the façade of Jesus’ kingdom, I was seeking to usurp His work with my own. I was expecting a wave of revival while (because) I was there. My thought was that this trip would be a waste if I don’t get to be part of crazy changes.
My first journal entry clearly reflects this tension between my self-glorifying worries and the peace that comes from humbly submitting to God. I wrote:
“Are you willing to face the crowds even if ‘nothing’ happens in this trip? Don’t worry and trust in God’s sovereignty and control in this mission trip, just submit to His will and He will work.”
During the first 2 months, I struggled to reconcile the lack of perceivable fruit within the Korean community. I blamed it on the church, on the pastor, on the community. Everyone was wrong and I was right: “If you just understood like I do! ARGH!” I blamed it on myself: “Leo! You’re not doing enough.”
God could have left me in my corrupt condition filled with bitterness, disappointment and selfishness. But God is so good: “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14).” Always, when I look back on how God has been with me, I am humbled at His creative teaching. He is perfectly wise and sovereign, yet He isn’t forceful with you; instead He guides and molds your heart, irresistibly with firm subtlety and unforeseen sneaky-ness. Unbeknownst to me, God was smothering my pride.
I was walking down the street after Saturday Dental Clinic, when I passed by Juan Carlos, the homeless man with badly-burnt body and blind eyes (Jan. 8th). Usually, when encountering a homeless man, I would simply pray for him and walk past. But after taking 10 steps I stopped: “This would be a great story, that I talked to a homeless man.” HAHA, I still laugh at the egregious selfishness of my heart. Still I went back and sat next to Juan Carlos and began to talk to him. It was Jesus glorifying goodness: Juan Carlos loves Jesus.
Oh man, how I wish I could be a better writer to share with you how God ministered to my heart at that moment. How Jesus redeems all, even our misguided motivations!
I had told God that I would be humble and obedient within my own terms. But God was opening doors to serve Him in totally unexpected ways. Through all my experiences I was learning that all I had was 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and it was only God who could make them food. It wasn’t up to me, it didn’t matter whether I was in Colombia or not, but God was going to do what He does in His own time to His utmost glory. Like a blacksmith using hammer and anvil to sharpen a sword, God used His Word to sear and cut through my heart:
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country."
The Korean church members :)
I thank God for all the opportunities to do outreach and minister to the lost, the least and the last. Jesus calls us to love the broken, and it is amazing how He was molding my heart to His own. Bosa, Amazon, Dental Clinic, SIBA, homeless, taxi, and my aunt were all unexpected ministries that convincingly broke down my headstrong stubbornness and shortsightedness.
More of Him and less of me.
I thank God that I was given opportunities to serve the Colombian people. I thank God that it is not up to me to change people hearts. I thank God that God’s work is not up to me. I thank God that nothing went my way.
Brothers (and sisters) thank you for joining me in this trip, through your prayer and passion for Jesus’ Great Commission and His Kingdom to come. Your concern and affection expressed through phone calls, letters, Polaroids, messages, comments and wall-posts were an invaluable encouragement in the midst of spiritual loneliness and confusion. Know that God used your love to strengthen and straighten. Continue in your love for God, His renown and the advancement of the gospel.
Jesus, You won’t abandon your people in Colombia.
Your work is being done even in the midst of unseen fruit.
Although we fail You and we are unworthy, thank You for calling us to join in Your redeeming work.
Even now, I ask that I would anguish over the darkness in Colombia.
I would love to share with you in person the questions that still linger in my heart, as my written prose is unclear and vague at best.
Because of Him
For His glory,
Your brother and partner in grace,