Jean was having her silent retreat at Chiang Mai, Thailand. She had decided to read the Minor Prophets during her retreat. One day, she came to Amos 8:11: “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.”
“The verse stirred me,” Jean recounted, “I asked God, ‘What does it mean? You must tell me.’” Provoked from deep within, Jean went to a chapel to pray. Minutes later, she heard God, loud and clear. “Jean, I’m sending you to this country. The people have fled their homelands because there is a famine of hearing My Word. Go there and feed them.”
There and then, Jean had received her kingdom assignment, at the age of 69 years, a time when most people are taking life easy.
“It’s like God opened a door. I just stepped into it,” she said. It all began with a trip to a country up north in November 2016. Like most Singaporeans, Jean associated the country with good food, shopping and sightseeing. But a huge surprise was in store for her and her friends. They visited an NGO working with refugees and were stunned by the reality that there were so many of them. “I felt so ignorant even though I visited the country every year.” At the end of her three-day visit to the NGO, she had to fill up a questionnaire. One question gripped her heart: “Will you come back and serve the refugees?”
“I couldn’t answer that question,” Jean recalled, “the Spirit said, ‘Come back.’ But I struggled with God. ‘To do what?’ Then the leader said it was time to return the questionnaire, and I wrote ‘Yes’.”
In the months that followed, Jean continued to wrestle with God about returning to serve the refugees until God’s invitation gripped her heart at her silent retreat.
As she recounted God’s message to her, she paused for a moment before continuing, “Even now, I have goose bumps just talking about it. I said ‘Yes, God’, and He took over to guide and teach. Most significantly, He has been a present help in various situations.”
In the middle of 2017, Jean left for the country and worked among the refugees for one-and-a-half years. She returned to Singapore in 2018 to seek God’s direction for her next steps. God spoke clearly once again, through three verses, in early 2019.
“Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.” (1 Chronicles 16:24)
“Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not …” (2 Corinthians 4:1)
“… for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)
“These verses struck me as a single instruction from God to continue working amongst the refugees,” said Jean. She returned to the country again in April 2019.
Jean currently serves in a learning centre that teaches youths and adults aged 13 to 40. The work is challenging because some students have no understanding of English. In every class, the students are of mixed ages and abilities.
Jean’s passion for her work is undeniable. As she described her work among the refugees, she exclaimed with excitement, “The fields are not just white unto harvest. They are golden fields. It’s an amazing chance to reach out to the nations right at our doorstep.” (John 4:35)
Apart from teaching every day, the staff visited the homes of the students to get to know the students’ families better. Jean got to witness how some of them live. “I remember visiting a family living on the fourth floor. After turning the corner of the first flight of stairs, it was pitch dark. My student’s young sister had to hold a torch to shine on the steps. They were staying on the fourth floor because it was the cheapest apartment. I know of another family where the children have to do their school work at the main doorway where it’s brightest so they can save on utilities.”
Jean is single. Her siblings are supportive of her work among the refugees. What advice does she have for seniors who may hear a call to go out and serve the displaced and marginalised, but struggle to step out of their comfort zones?
“We just have to take the first step and say ‘Yes’ to God. He will take care of the second and third steps, which are the concerns that hold us back.
“He cannot show us the next steps until we say ‘Yes’ first!”
*Names and places have been withheld for the protection of the interviewees. This story was first published in Salt&Light and is adapted with permission.
If you believe the Lord has given you an assignment, then just obey. Take the next step and see how He comes through for you. Like Jean, you can only experience something when you finally experience it. He desires to reveal His power though you when you step out in obedience and when you begin to move on your kingdom assignment. Ps Henson exhorts his readers in Alignment Check, “…don’t get caught up with ten steps to everything that you miss the one of utmost importance – obedience.”
Jean is living the best season of her life! All glory to God!