Hi Belva! Was being a missionary ever part of your plan?
My parents were missionaries so I was pressured to follow in their footsteps. People always asked me when it was my turn to go to the mission field and I would just say “No”! I wanted money and a comfortable life instead. But I think God slowly opened my eyes to see that that is not what life is about and I am not the centre of the world. Slowly, God brought me on a journey of discovering missions. I don’t know where He is leading me to eventually but I have faith that God will speak when He deems it necessary.
How did you end up deciding to spend a period of time in Africa?
During my time in Polytechnic, I spent my holidays going on mission trips. My first trip was to Guam for two weeks. Next, I went on the Logos Hope for a month and following that, I went to East Asia for two weeks. During my time on the Logos Hope, God revealed to me that missions was something I was going to be involved in but I didn’t know how! There was so much I didn’t know and God was nudging me towards some form of training school. When I was 19, I decided to enrol in Operation Mobilisation’s (OM) Mission Discipleship Training (MDT) in Africa for five months, and then extended it by another two months to serve in a non-profit organisation called Impilo Centre. Though there were other places that offered the same training, I wanted to go somewhere that was way out of my comfort zone, hence I chose to go to Africa.
What two experiences impacted you the most?
My outreach team consisted of 21 people of 11 different nationalities, and yet in five months it felt like we had known each other forever even though we had just met. I actually felt like I knew them even better than my friends back in Singapore! Perhaps it was because we were all in such a vulnerable position and were very open with each other. There were so many nights when my roommates and I would just sit on our bedroom floor after a long day to share what we had learnt, what God has placed on our hearts, and cry together. We really built each other up like the members in the Acts 2 church; it was so beautiful because it gave me a glimpse of what it will be like in heaven when everyone from different nations come together.
The second happened towards the end of my fifth month when I was about to graduate from the training programme. I was just so drained and I didn’t feel God’s presence; that was very scary to me! How could I serve God when I didn’t even feel connected to Him? I took a prayer walk and in my frustration and arrogance, I questioned God. “God, you said in Hebrews 13:5 that you will never leave me nor forsake me. I cannot feel you. How can this be a promise when I feel so forsaken and so alone?“
However, that night during worship, a Swedish girl went up to the front and said, “I don’t know why I’m here with the microphone but I feel like God wants me to say something to someone in the room. God is saying to you that He will never leave or forsake you, He is constant, faithful and is always there”. I just broke down because I knew it was for me directly! No one else knew about my struggles, and yet God used her to speak to me so directly about all my frustrations. In that moment I knew that God heard my prayer, and clearly, I wasn’t left alone. With that, I carried on into the remaining few months with a heart so fully certain that He will never leave me nor forsake me.
IN THAT MOMENT I KNEW THAT GOD HEARD MY PRAYER, AND CLEARLY, I WASN'T LEFT ALONE.
After living abroad for seven months, what were some difficulties you faced when you had to transition back to life in Singapore?
It wasn’t easy coming back. Everyone kept on preparing me for re-entry back to Singapore but I didn’t understand why! I was on a “high” for the first month — I kept on saying that I was going to be the best missionary, attend all the prayer meetings, share all my stories, and mobilise all the youth. However, I didn’t realise I was so burnt out. I spiralled into depression for about 2 months. I felt like no one understood what I was going through and that there was no reason to live. I felt very hypocritical because I had experienced so many amazing things overseas, so why was this happening? Blessedly, God sent a lot of people alongside me like my parents who didn’t offer any condemnation, and friends who voice-messaged prayers to me. It was an unexpected experience that gave me another tool for ministry — to understand and empathise with others in the future should they also undergo similar experiences. Since then, I have picked myself back up and am back on track with God, focusing on school, and helping to mobilise people for missions.
How are you applying all that you have learnt to your life back in Singapore?
Missions goes beyond just leaving your country or culture — it is essentially about living a missional lifestyle by sharing the gospel whenever, to whoever. When I returned back to Singapore, one of my anchor passages was Acts 4 where Peter and John were accused of spreading the gospel and told to stop, but that did not deter them. Instead, they spoke with so much conviction.
They could not help but to speak about their time with Jesus (v20). People were also astonished at their courage despite them being uneducated common men, and noted that it was because they had been with Jesus (vs 13)! My desire is that people can see how I am not great, but God can use my experiences to bring glory to His name wherever I am.
MISSIONS GOES BEYOND JUST LEAVING YOUR COUNTRY OR CULTURE — IT IS ESSENTIALLY ... SHARING THE GOSPEL WHENEVER, TO WHOEVER.
What are you currently doing?
I am a first year student in NTU in Wee Kim Wee School of Communications. I am just trying to keep on track with my school readings, and serving in church in the missions committee. It’s back to a normal and regular Christian-girl life in Singapore. Sometimes I still look back at my time in Africa and wondered if it was even real because it seemed so surreal!
Any encouragement for our readers?
Prayer is a lot more powerful than you realise — it can move mountains, open doors and soften hearts. Not knowing where you are going now is very normal so there’s no need to freak out. But keep desiring to know God! That is very beautiful because it shows how much you are willing to let Him take full control. Seek God’s purposes rather than your own. Also, finding a like-minded community is very important too! It is very easy for the fire to be quenched when you are in an environment that doesn’t share the same heart as you do. Lastly, keep a consistent quiet time; draw near to God’s voice and let Him speak to you.