In my earlier Archippian story, I shared that I finally understood how God has been equipping me for my current assignment – to be a witness amongst the overseas Chinese diaspora who are in the USA, especially university students and young working adults. I never knew that my involvements in a Chinese-speaking church congregation and Chinese Varsity Christian Fellowship back in my undergraduate days are how God has prepared me with the gifts, know-how, and the jargon required to communicate with the overseas Chinese diaspora.
While on this assignment, there is a lot of alignment, especially in refinement, that needs to be done. When I first moved to Delaware, USA, for my studies in the University of Delaware, I was plugged in to a local church with a predominantly Chinese congregation. Unfortunately, my attitude was not exactly ideal. Though I ministered to many believers and unbelievers alike, I was extremely cynical in my speech especially against certain negative aspects of “church-y” culture that stifles the growth of many believers. Sure, what I spoke might have carried an element of truth, but my heart was clearly misaligned. I was seeking to build a culture I liked; I was not building the Church, the Kingdom and body of our King Jesus.
By the grace of God, my pastor in Delaware and fellow church members showed me much grace. The Lord spoke patiently through them, and He hit the message home at a spiritual leadership training I was attending at the Ambassadors for Christ. Through the speaker, I realized that when we hit setbacks and conflict within our ministry teams, we must always think back on the example of Jesus. Jesus spoke strongly when He had to especially against the established religious leadership; but even more so, our Lord Jesus was willing to die for the sin of all humanity, including – the sins (and faithlessness) of His own disciples. How much more should I learn to bear with the weaknesses of my brothers and sisters whom I am ministering with, instead of building an idol out of the ministry I want to accomplish!
This was a lesson that I took to heart, and a refinement process has begun. I started to participate more positively in the community rather than to react badly to things I do not like. Due to various circumstances in my PhD programme, I had to move the University of Michigan (UM) to complete my laboratory work as part of my PhD. Again, the Lord had prepared me for more assignments. I got plugged into a local church near UM – no surprises – predominantly Chinese again!! Note that this was in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and there were natural challenges that various church leaders had to negotiate. Thanks to the refining of my heart that has taken place in my church at Delaware, I am actively aligning to God’s timing instead of imposing my own preferences in my church involvements. As I continue to align to God’s will, I have started to minister effectively to some of the little ones, be it believers and non-believers alike again (Matthew 25:40).
As we build the arc (a community of Archippuses on assignments) together, we have little surprises where we get to celebrate together. I was invited by my church friend to go back to my church in Delaware to be the pianist for his wedding! It was a great time to both catch up with the Body of Christ back there, and surprisingly, I got to meet a mutual friend whom the Lord opened an opportunity for me to witness to her and let her know how to enter the Kingdom. It was also a great chance to recharge after about 12 months not going on any extended break out of my workplace. I wonder what will happen next while on assignment for the Lord Jesus Christ!
Refinement, painful as it is, is what every disciple of Jesus Christ goes through, that we may become more and more like Him. Henson writes in Alignment Check, “That is what discipleship essentially is: Denial of Self. Devotion to Jesus. A disciple aligns with the master. A kingdom subject aligns with the King.”
If your Christianity and discipleship still revolve around the Self around you, this is an alignment issue you’d want to address. Examine your idea of success against what the upside-down kingdom is all about.
Ever since Gerald (seen here with his girlfriend Yvonne Lim) himself has been awakened, he has been actively looking for people to get aligned with God. Gerald is currently a PhD student in the University of Delaware, but even more so a student of the Word of God and a man learning to submit to the Spirit’s guidance.