On 14 December 2018, 13 members of Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church left for Chiang Mai. Hannah Koh, as well as first-time mission trip participants and father-daughter pair, Ho Kuen Loon and Faith Ho, share some reflections from their experiences.
Upon reaching the city, we began a 2-hour journey up the mountains to the Bui* village. We were joined by a Thai team led by the director of Wycliffe Thailand, Pastor Tharawat. The next day we dived straight in, taking part in a gospel rally for the Bui people. We saw the Lord’s providential hand as He opened the door for the rally to be hosted by the provincial governors on their district office grounds. It began with a children’s programme in the morning, facilitated jointly with a church in Chiang Rai which we have partnered for 9 years. We thank the Lord for the children who prayed the sinner’s prayer to receive Christ. The day ended with a night rally which had a turnout of more than 600 people. It was a collective effort of a few churches in the surrounding area. We had a wonderful time of performances, testimonies and preaching.
On Sunday morning, we were privileged to worship with the local house church in the Bui village followed by a lunch fellowship with the members of the church. We met again that evening at a local believer’s home for a time of worship, personal sharing and prayer.
The next day, we returned to Chiang Mai for a day of learning and understanding more about the work being done by our mission partners there. Our first stop was Payap University where we saw the powerful work of the linguistics department which trains people for the work of translating the Bible into the local languages/dialects.
Our team was given a hands-on opportunity when we spent the afternoon making clay bricks! This is an effort by Wycliffe Thailand as part of a community development programme to help villagers find more affordable housing options. We also visited the Wycliffe Thailand office where we learnt more about their various ministries and future directions.
Finally, we were joined Pastor Tharawat’s cell group which was a time of encouragement and blessing. In the last leg of our trip we joined Pastor Tharawat’s church in setting up and celebrating a Christmas rally, and conducting a Sunday school programme for their children.
Ho Kuen Loon and Faith Ho
It was the first mission trip for both of us, and the 11-day trip was a most humbling and eye-opening experience.
Being able to embark on this trip with my father and a committed team was even more meaningful than I had imagined. Having this opportunity to share the Word of God beyond the reaches of my country and hear countless stories from various people was incredible. In the village, the pastor of the small home-church in the village shared his story of being wrongly accused of selling drugs after he had driven two men who were carrying drugs over the border. He was the only one arrested, was tortured to confess to a crime he did not commit, and jailed for almost 14 years. While there, he came to know Christ, and when he was released, he was not resentful, but rather, eager to serve God wholeheartedly.
So what did I learn? What did I find? I rediscovered God in a foreign land. I had to recognise and come to terms with how often, in our safe and comfortable space in Singapore, I had relied on my own might rather than His. I had forgotten that God is so big, strong and mighty (as the children’s song goes), and is not limited to a place, or anything at all. There’s nothing my God cannot do. And as a disciple of God, I am called to Him, and called to ‘make disciples of all nations’ – not only people in Singapore, but people across borders, languages and cultures.
In the Bui village, we met the only 20 Christians among the 10,000 Bui people, a people who do not even read and write their own language. PSPC has been in partnership with Wycliffe missionaries in Thailand to do Bible translation, and they are now into the sixth year of the 10-year project. We witnessed their amazing work and faithfulness.
I had always wanted to go on a mission trip but did not know how or when. When my 14-year old daughter, Faith, expressed an interest to go on her first mission trip, I told her I would go with her. We prayed about it and went on to find out more. When Faith decided to join this trip, I kept my promise and signed up too. It was a busy period for me at work and in church, and we had to forgo our usual year-end family vacation. But God is always faithful to see us through and expand our time when we are serving Him. It was one of my best decisions, and indeed special to participate in a mission trip with my daughter. We now have a common experience and our relationship has grown much deeper. I encourage parents to consider doing this with their children.
I developed a deep sense of appreciation for long-term missionaries after getting to know the challenges they face. My main personal takeaway after the trip was that going on a mission trip was a key and most essential part of my discipleship journey. It reminded me that God has commanded us to go out and make disciples, and my relationship with God has grown deeper. In closing, I would like to thank God for this privilege of having had a front-row seat and firsthand experience in the field.
* Not the real name.
Adapted with permission from the article which first appeared in PSPC’s newsletter, Messenger, Jan-Mar 2019.