Missions training in Asia
Ellyn Schellenberg | Malaysia
“Sometimes I'm like a chicken, meaning I ask God, ‘What is your will?’, but when He shares it with me, I say, OK, well I just wanted to know what it is, I don't actually want to do it,” shared the main speaker of Out of the Comfort Zone (OCZ) Asia’s four-day conference. “God calls us to be eagles: to be willing to ask Him what His will is, and then we say, ‘Okay, I will go do that.’”
From 8-12 July, 135 OCZ participants and staff gathered for practical missions training in Malaysia, before dispersing on 13 July for outreaches in nine Asian countries. Every aspect of the conference prepares people for missions in Asia, and then the outreaches expose them to what God is already doing and how they can be a part of His work. Each morning of the conference, the speaker shared personal stories and Scripture to challenge individuals to discover how and where God wanted to use them.
For some, this was a first step into missions. “I came to have more boldness in sharing the gospel, and to learn more about God myself,” said Sara*, a 21-year-old from Laos on her first trip outside her country.
“I’d been thinking of doing missions, but, you know, life and delaying…,” admitted Leena, a 26-year-old Australian. “When someone from OM in my church shared about OCZ my heart leapt a little, and I knew I had to stop thinking and go. I needed a kick in the behind, because back home I'd plateaued and was in my own comfort zone and needed a push out. That's what this is for me."
For others, OCZ wasn’t their first missions experience, but it was an opportunity to experience missions in Asia for the first time, or to learn about God differently.
“I’m learning to trust God in a new way,” another participant, Zene, admitted. “I think we trust God only to a certain degree, and doing something like [OCZ] stretches you to trust Him more.” The 26-year-old Canadian went to Nepal on outreach and experienced God’s teaching in new ways. “It’s been good, but really difficult,” she shared. “I’m realising that God is doing more in me than He is through me.”
One evening, the conference hosted an interactive meal to teach participants about poverty, since most of them would see it on the outreaches. "[The experience] made me realise that the rich are so far removed from the poor, that they can't even see or hear their needs. They have so much around them that it blinds them to the reality that others live in," shared one participant, Leena, during a debrief time. "Even though we know this kind of poverty is happening around the world, it's so easy to close our eyes to it and pretend like it's not even there."
"Don't come to Asia just as a tourist,” challenged Elina, an OCZ Asia event organizer, “because then you only see one part of a country. But when you come through OCZ, you get to see the reality of what life in Asia is like. The media always portray the bad or dangerous things that happen around the world, but we want participants to experience for themselves what God is doing."
During the commissioning service on the last night, one participant, Ryan, prayed fervently, “I pray that there would be two harvests going out from this conference: the one being those who hear the gospel for the first time and join us as brothers and sisters in Christ; [the second being] a new harvest of missionaries who will remember what we've learned here and will remain passionate about doing the will of God, in making Him known."
To learn more about OCZ, visit OM.org.
Published: Wednesday, 26 July 2017
Credit: Ellyn Schellenberg