STSM HIGHLIGHTS (PART 7 of 7)
This is part seven of our seven-part series: “STSM Highlights”. We’ve been sharing the testimonies of every mission trainee sent out by KCM last year through our STSM program. Applications for STSM 2K18 are due THIS FRIDAY, March 16th @ 11:59PM.
Featured below are the testimonies of two students from the Philippines team: Clare Hwang and Hyomin Park. For the full collection of Philippines testimonies, click here. (To quickly search for a specific student on the Google Doc, click View > Show Document Outline)
CLARE HWANG // UCI // FRESHMAN
I learned what it means to seek God in everything, respond with joy and recognize that that joy is a grace gift from God. Everything I do is a spiritual act of worship to my Lord.
As obvious as it seems, I saw God in ministry and through my team. Because the Philippines is known for rock star ministry and the countless “programs” or performances given, I was initially worried that our body worships, skits, and ultimately proclaiming His name would eventually feel repetitive and routine; that possibility frightened me.
Leading up to the trip and during, I asked God daily to restore and renew the Gospel within me. He is gracious and allowed me to see Him and find joy in worshiping Him every single time. Each person on my team is not like the other but I experienced joy in our common desire to glorify God in our worship. The same skits and sermons moved my heart in various aspects and uncovered different lessons each time.
When I am faithful in the word, prayer, and the challenge of seeking Him in every circumstance, the gospel and worship are anything but boring! Being faithful in the little helps us to be faithful in the bigger and grander.
I also saw God in my weakness. I would say that one of my weaknesses is public speaking. I am shy, I stutter, and I giggle when I am nervous. During the first week in the Philippines, my team and I partook in relational ministry at Bonfal National High School, a high school of walkable distance from our headquarters. I had the opportunity to share my testimony for the first time (besides to my team) to the locals at Bonfal National HS.
As I shared my testimony, the number of girls decreased¾some slowly slipped out of the circle due to boredom. Despite this, I found so much joy for the first time in talking about my struggles¾ not because I was proud of my mistakes, but because I was proud to talk about my God who is so much bigger than my past hardships.
Through this experience, God allowed me to recognize His sovereignty in perfectly placing experiences I once found shameful to now allowing me to boast in His name. God was glorified and His power was magnified through my weakness. I think that that is so beautiful. I actually shared this as my high that night during team time; it was definitely one of my most memorable moments there.
The very next day, I was asked to share my testimony on stage during a program. Ironically, I felt so conflicted because I had just experienced so much joy in sharing it the day before, but this time I doubted myself and ultimately God by thinking, “If my audience is children, will they even understand? How will I say everything in only five minutes? What if I stutter or laugh or cry…”
This just shows how little faith I had in God and how prone we are as sinners to wander from Him. I heard myself nervously responding, “I-I-I’ll do it.” That night, I delivered my testimony in front of the big crowd of children and their parents at Covert Court and I felt overwhelmed by God’s presence. God gave me the words to clearly and concisely describe how He had been shaping my life.
My life is a testament to God’s grace. I was humbled and reminded that there is nothing I could ever do to earn God’s love and it is by no means my own ability when I share my testimony and experience joy. Despite nerves and everything else I lack, God is faithful and will meet me in my willingness. God gave me courage and boldness to be open when it came to sharing my testimony, struggles, my past, or anything really to the Filipinos and my team.
Lastly, because we did not know what or when we would be doing anything, each day was a mystery. It was difficult at first to not have any idea what we were going to do next. However, I think that this helped me to rely more on God and live in the present instead of worry about the future. I asked God for strength today and understood that we were not promised tomorrow.
I realized that even if all I know is that I will wake up, serve God, eat, and sleep, that is all I really need to know! I hope to continue this mindset here at home, at my church, and on campus and faithfully do everything for God.
HYOMIN PARK // UCLA // SENIOR
Truthfully, I decided to go on STSM as a graduating senior with no specific plans for the summer. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to #go on my first mission trip to the Philippines. My desire was not from a conviction from God, but rather stemmed from an inkling of curiosity and an excuse to run away from the reality of post-grad life. I mean, everyone that has faith is called to obey the Great Commission anyway right?
Even during training, I cannot say I was ever ecstatic. I had quite the apathetic heart. I was jaded to the gospel from what seemed like an absence of God’s presence in my life after witnessing hypocrisy within the church time and time again. Although a part of me was expecting some kind of great revelation where God would break me and I would be transformed, my general expectations for this trip remained low.
During our trip, God revealed to me His faithfulness to His people and that He is God of all nations. Our ministry in the Philippines was rock star style, where we would “tour” different schools and perform for the students, ranging from elementary to university, limiting our team from building deeper and more intentional relationships. It was difficult to engage in fruitful conversations, leading to discouragement about my own abilities to reach out to these students.
Even though I struggled with trusting in God due to the lack of tangible fruition, I learned that it is not up to me to have control of every situation. Thanks to our leaders’ constant reminder that it is not about the fruit that we are able to see, but about our faithfulness to serve, I was reminded again that no matter what I do, God is sovereign through it all.
The biggest blessing on this trip was our missionary contact Chit Cabigat as I was able to witness God’s faithfulness throughout her life. Her faithfulness to the Lord despite her incredibly arduous circumstances showed me how little faith and trust I had in God. Her life exemplifies the very definition of faith¾ she believes in things not seen and further trusts that God has His own perfect plan that trumps over anything she could possibly imagine.
The Faith Project, which is a project dedicated to constructing a facility capable of training pastors and leaders from all over the Philippines, was a tangible symbol of God’s faithfulness. The process took over thirty years and is still in the making, putting into perspective how God works in His own timing. God reminded me that my journey of faith does not have to include some incredible revelation or life changing moment, but it is about serving faithfully for His kingdom, to love the people of the Philippines, and to trust in Him.
Regarding my apathetic mindset going into the mission field, I realized that we are all human, we are all sinful creatures, and the Gospel is solely about God in all His goodness and perfection. So, even if church was falling apart, even if life might seem like it is spiraling out of control, God remains constant and is always faithful until the end.
If I could sum up the biggest lessons I learned in the Philippines, it would be in these two verses. Psalm 51:12 which states, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit” and Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” I began each day with these verses, coming before God and asking Him to humble me and restore in me a heart of faith, that I might have true joy in sharing His love and that I might not rely on my own understanding.
STSM 2K18 applications are due this week! The online portion is due March 16th at 11:59PM, and the physical portion is due March 25th. #GO