“Jiamin, what will you do in the future?” many asked during my third year in university. Should I enter the corporate world like most of my peers? Pursue further studies? Or respond to the growing desire in my heart — to offer God my first fruits after graduation by serving as a missionary onboard OM’s ship Doulos in obedience to God’s call on my life? I had never felt so torn and afraid.
Singapore had been like a harbour — a place of refuge, comfort, and security. I was on the route to obtaining a degree that would open doors to a well-paying job to provide for my widowed mum and younger siblings.
Standing at life’s crossroad, there was nothing I wanted more than to serve God in missions. However, the cost was high. If I were to obey the Heavenly Captain’s call, it would mean sailing away from these safe shores, leaving my loved ones behind, and having an uncertain future.
My biggest fear was what others would think of me. Some said, “You’re the eldest child. If you go on the Doulos, what’ll happen to your ageing mother? You’re supposed to take care of the family.” Some thought I was brave to go alone. Others were concerned I wouldn’t be receiving a salary and advised me to work for a few years before joining Doulos. There were nights when I cried silently, wrestling with God about the fear of being misunderstood as an unfilial daughter.
In such a time, I was reminded of how Peter walked on water toward Jesus (Matt 14:22–33). In the midst of winds and waves, when Peter saw Jesus walking on water toward the disciples’ boat, he dared to ask, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water (v. 28).” At Jesus’ command, “Come,” Peter obediently climbed out of the boat, felt the cold waves under his feet, and walked toward Jesus in faith (v. 29).
Peter’s eyes were fixed on Jesus who called him. He was the One whom Peter witnessed the previous day feeding over 5,000 people with five loaves and two fishes (Matt 14:13–21). This was the same Jesus who healed his mother-in-law by ordering the fever to leave her (Matt 8:14–15). Surely Jesus can keep Peter walking on water.
Things were going well until reality hit. The gusty wind got the experienced fisherman’s attention and steered his focus off Jesus. Fear overtook faith, and Peter started sinking. But as he cried for help, Jesus immediately reached out and caught Peter. When they got into the boat safely, the wind died down.
Like Peter who got out of his boat at the call of Jesus, I was stepping out of my comfort zone to obey God’s missions call. Like Peter whose faith was shaken by the wind, I had taken my eyes off God and allowed the fear of what others were thinking to overwhelm me. But how comforting to know that despite my little faith, God’s merciful and powerful presence gives courage.
I recalled how God had taken care of my family by providing loved ones to help with finances after my father passed away. I remembered how my identity is anchored in Christ, and not in what others say about me. Surely God can enable me to serve Him in missions, and also watch over my family, friendships, and future.
In faith, I surrendered my fears to the Heavenly Captain who had called me, and followed Him out of the harbour and onboard the Doulos. I sailed for four years to 31 countries, bringing a message of hope in Christ, and learning to love the world beyond my shore, one port at a time. If I could live my life all over again, would I still have chosen this path? Yes, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Because there is no greater joy than obeying my God, being where He calls me to be, doing what He calls me to do.
“A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.” — William Shedd