The Call to Participate
It is hard to believe that I have finished my first year of teaching and that I am already back to Newberg. This year has gone by so fast! I have been so moved by the people I’ve interacted with and the experiences I have had.
So many beautiful spirits come to mind when I think of the people here in Xiaogan, China: the family by the food carts, always smiling and ready to serve us rice and noodles no matter what time of day; the regular attenders of English Corner who just want to talk and build relationships; the churchgoers willing to go out of their way to worship and make a statement of faith; my Oral English students who have shown me great friendship and demonstrated the power and importance of a thirst for knowledge and a desire to do better each and every day, all with a positive attitude. I have been so blessed by all these people in Xioagan, and I will miss them dearly.
As I look back on this year in Xiaogan, I see a clear theme—participation. On several occasions I took a step back and thought How did I get here? and I’m not exactly prepared for this! Yet through my weakness and uncertainty I hope to say that God used me and used my team for his greater glory. At other times I experienced doubt when I struggled with culture shock and tried to learn the basic principles of teaching a class. Through it all, God taught me humility and understanding. Some days I felt prepared to give it my all and plenty of other days I just had to throw my hands in the air and say, “I’m not sure about this, but I’m here.” cont’d)
At the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s really about? Isn’t participation what God asks of us? We might have days when our faith feels strong and secure and others when our faith feels faulty. No matter what we may be feeling on a particular day, God calls us to show up. God calls us to step forward into the day, to trust in him in our weakness, to have courage and humility in our validated strengths. If we consider many of the people in the Bible who were called to serve God outside of their comfort zone, we can count ourselves in good company when we feel unprepared. I can think of a specific instance, about a month ago, when a few friends from the Teaching Abroad team and I had an amazing three-hour conversation with a member of the Xiaogan community about God and what it means to be a Christian. It was a truly beautiful time, a time we had not necessarily planned, yet God was using us.
God used us that evening for his greater glory. Each and every day, no matter how we are feeling about ourselves or about the turbulent world we live in, God calls us to show up so that he can use us for his greater glory. He calls us to participate.
On July 26, I will fly from Portland, Oregon, to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I have accepted a job with American Pacific International School, where I will be a residential life advisor for the next two years. I’m grateful for the opportunity. It will certainly be something entirely new, with many challenges and blessings. I hope these next two years, no matter what challenges and blessings come, I will be able to show these students and the community in Chiang Mai Christ’s love as best I can. I cannot put into words how much I appreciate your ongoing prayer and support.
My prayer is that wherever God has called us, no matter what kind of day we are having or how we are feeling about ourselves, we would show up, trusting that God will do a good work in and through us. God is greater than all our hopes and fears, and he is greater than we are. In the midst of uncertainty and feelings of incompetency, are we willing to step out in faith, hands outstretched, trusting, and participate?