STSM Highlights (Part 6 of 7)
Today we continue with part six our seven-part series called STSM Highlights! We’ll be sharing new mission testimonies every week from each of our STSM 2K18 teams.
Next up is our Philippines team, featuring Shannel Yoo and Susan Lee! Check out the article for their testimonies! If you want to access the rest of Philippines testimonies, click here.
Shannel Yoo (Senior, UCSD)
Hello. My name is Shannel Yoo, and I just graduated from the University of California of San Diego this past spring. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to serve God’s kingdom in the Philippines and see how he uses a sinner like me to advance his kingdom and ultimately use me to give Him all the glory.
As this is my 2nd time going through the STSM program, I had unforeseen expectations and knew the steps to be quickly adjusted to a foreign country. Unknowingly, my pride made me to think I knew how to handle certain situations and as long as I do as I am told, everything will be fine. Everything was already planned out in my head and I wanted God to use me and bless me, according to my own ways. However, I was rebuked and humbled through it all. There were unexpected situations and challenges that arose during this one month, which made me completely caught off guard. From the start of the trip at our layover in Taipan, I was challenged to fully trust in God’s SOVEREIGNTY. As soon as I landed in the Philippines, I had to leave and eventually joined my team a week late. I had a handful of mixed emotions of bitterness, anger, sadness, and doubtfulness as to why God would place difficult situations in my life when I was going to the Philippines to serve Him. In the end, I recognized that my purpose in life is to be FAITHFUL and OBEDIENT, and continue to serve Him with a JOYFUL heart.
Through processing every challenges and obstacles that arose, I humbly recognized the fact that I will never be able to grasp how powerful, mighty, and dominant God is. Instead, I was able to see that He truly is sovereign and is in control of it all. The trait that He is so SOVEREIGN and the fact that everything works according to His perfect timing were evident this past month. I was able to recognize that we are not here to try to UNDERSTAND why He places certain obstacles in our lives, and question His decisions and upcoming, but to truly just TRUST in Him, knowing that He will make straight your paths. I’ve come to realize that He placed certain situations in my life in order for me to grow and trust in Him with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. I realized that it’s important to notice that your struggles are ultimately blessings in your life and through this, God uses every circumstance to make His name be known.
To be FAITHFUL and OBEDIENT is not easy; but we are called to be faithful and obedient because He is our God. His love and sacrifice for us is shown on the cross and it is a daily reminder to live faithfully and obediently. Every single day before ministry, I constantly reminded myself that God sent his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. With this constant message, I was continuously reminded to die to myself, knowing that He did something much greater. Once you rely on God’s strength and not your own, you begin to find joy in Him and find joy in serving Him. With this, you’re able to choose JOY and say, “Lord, I want to lift this day up to you and give you all the glory.”
One perfect example of someone who portrays what it means to be faithful and obedient is Manang Chit, the missionary contact, and also literally a true “WOG.” She lives her life everyday choosing joy over everything and living faithfully to Him. She knows that if it is in His will, that He will grant her all the supplies and resources needed for the Faith Project. She exemplifies what it means to have a servant heart and really live out the gospel with faith. Manang Chit’s everyday life showed me what it meant to be a faithful servant. Our interactions with her, and even her hospitality and loving nature really showed Christ’s love.
I thank God and praise Him for giving me the greatest gift, His Son. I am saved by grace and grace alone and I can’t wait to see how much more my love for him grows. Coming back to the states is challenging for sure – but I’m going to trust that He will move according to His perfect timing and all I have to do is continue to be faithful, obedient, and choose joy over all else.
Susan Lee (Freshman, UCI)
This summer, I was given another opportunity to #GO and obey the Great Commission across the globe. Growing up, missions have always been a significant part of my life as it shaped me to become the person and Christian I am today. I’ve been on several mission trips to countries like Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Kenya with my church. So, with that in mind, I had a general idea of what life on the mission field would be like.
As much as I wanted STSM to be the most memorable, blessing, and life-changing experience of my Christian life, it wasn’t what I anticipated. As I prepared myself for my 3rd overseas mission trip, I wasn’t anxious about traveling to a new country, stepping out of my comfort zone, and temporarily adapting to cultural differences and lifestyles. This mindset I carried had taken control of my time before and during the Philippines. My performance was affected and my view of the trip was altered. I was initially determined to go on STSM with KCM because of the month long time it had to offer – compared to the two week trips my church had offered – and the previous “life-changing” testimonies I’ve heard from past STSMers.
When I signed up for STSM, I boldly claimed that it would be the life-changing event for me because of the great works that God has done in other people’s lives and the hype that was placed onto STSM. Simply put, I expected God to provide me with the same life-changing experience as He had provided for others. My mentality was that “I’ve been on so many missions so I’m more experienced than others and I know God will change my life because I’m sacrificing my summer for Him”. Unfortunately, this attitude got in the way of my genuine encounter with God and the natives there. As much as I don’t want to admit, I did not prepare myself spiritually for this trip. In conclusion, this is where I realized my mistake. I put this pressure on STSM to change my life, yet, in return, I didn’t put in the effort to see this change. I didn’t pray to God consistently or excessively nor rely on Him throughout the training process. Instead, I expected Him to provide me with something wonderful simply because I was doing deeds for His Kingdom.
After the first week we got to the Philippines, God exposed to me the greatness of sin and Satan’s effort to draw me apart from God and His works. When everything seemed to be going well, Satan attempted to bring me (and my team) down and make us question whether or not God was present. I questioned why God would allow such a sin to occur when the work I was doing was initially for Him. Through this unexpected experience, I was able to witness the brokenness of this world. Though I wasn’t able to immediately process the situation, I eventually saw fruits that beared from it, and so did my team. Whether it was bringing my team closer, having personal appreciation for the mountain churches being located in isolated places, or acknowledging God’s sovereignty and His timing, I came to accept that God had intended so much more for me than just the immediate consequences of this situation. I was ignorant to the sins of the world. I lost focus of why I trained 3-4 months to #GO. I forgot that I was going to serve the people of the Philippines. I was so consumed in the idea of coming back with a great testimony that my ultimate goal seemed to be blessed rather than to serve and be a blessing. God exposed this reality to me in a way that I never desired nor saw coming. Luckily, PR had said something that later helped me to process the situation a little more. He reminded us at the debriefing retreat that “a blessing is something that ultimately brings us closer to God”. At the moment, I couldn’t see how any good that could come out of this. But being the great God that He is, I was able to witness how He used this situation to confirm my faith, bring me closer to him, and face the realities of this world I was once naive to.
This mission trip was different from my previous mission trips, in that, rather than truly witnessing God’s love and presence with all kinds of people around the world, I was able to identify where my faith in Christ was at. I was exposed to the lack of faith I actually had in Christ before and during missions through the experiences I came across – whether they were good or bad. As someone who has gone to church and missions all their life, it was unfortunate to now accept and acknowledge the absence of faith I had after so many years. Moreover, this delayed awareness of my Christian faith contributed to my future walk with Christ. For many years, I tried to convince myself that my relationship with God and knowledge of Him were adequate because of the work I had done for His Kingdom, but finally coming to terms with this reality, I can fix my relationship with God and attempt to grow a relationship with Him despite everything that has occurred in the past. This mission was did not meet many of my expectations, but nonetheless, it taught me more about Christ, who He is, and how much this world, and myself, desperately need Him.