The STSM Student Report series will highlight current multi-timer STSM trainees sharing about their experiences of the training process. This week’s update is from Nicole Fan and Joseph Han from the North India Team!
Nicole Fan // UCLA // Senior // North India Team
Hi! My name is Nicole Fan and I’m a 4th year at UCLA majoring in architecture. In 2016, I was able to go to East Asia through STSM. Three years later, I have the opportunity to go again but this time, to North India! Admittedly, I didn’t know much about the country outside of the testimonies that I heard from friends who had previously went. However, the more I learn about India and the faith that’s being gradually raised up there, the more excited and humbled I am to be able to witness that this summer.
As I started my senior year and reflected on my relationship with God, He showed me how much I had been treasuring things over Him and placing Him as second-tier in my life. This is why one of my main prayers throughout the year has been asking God to help me to love Him above all things. When training started, I held onto this even more because I remembered how easy it was to make missions about myself and my preferences rather than about God and His glory. By His grace, it’s actually been during this time of training that I’ve seen Him answer this prayer the most. The Sunday teachings and our weekly readings have become opportunities for not only greater discipleship, but also for growing a deeper understanding of who God is. The more I grasp how holy, powerful, and glorious He is, the more in awe of Him I become.
However, in realizing how perfect He is, I also see how imperfect I am. This past Sunday at training, Pastor Richard Kim spoke on the Gospel – why we need it, what it is, and what makes it beautiful. The Gospel is the good news that Jesus died and rose again so that we could be forgiven of our sins. It is an act of amazing grace – but we won’t understand that if we don’t grasp the weight of the truth that we are sinners who didn’t deserve it. A phrase from this training’s teaching that stood out to me was this: when you understand the holiness of God, the only thing that is magnified is your own brokenness. It resonated with me because even though He’s been expanding my heart for Him, there are so many moments when I still end up idolizing and placing my trust in things other than God. Especially during training, I catch myself making judgements and worrying about how I will “perform” rather than understanding that He is the one who works through us and we are just His vessels. However, the truth that His promises remain despite my repeated unfaithfulness is truly an unfathomable grace.
While it was discouraging at first to see how easily I stumbled and forgot, it is the blunt truth of our nature – that left to ourselves, we are disobedient and incapable of loving such a perfect God. John Piper states how because of sin, “we have a deep, unshakeable, compelling preference for other things rather than God”. We are hopeless sinners. However, it is because of our sin that we find hope in our Savior. Knowing that we are unable to save ourselves, God sent Jesus to redeem us, and because of what He has done on the cross, we don’t have to feel defeated when we stumble because we know that He has already claimed victory over it for us. Our confidence is not in ourselves, but in Christ and Christ alone.
Realizing that God is holy, that we are not, and that we get to have a relationship with Him despite that gap, makes the Gospel glorious. What is just as amazing is that He allows us to join Him by being messengers of this good news. As He is teaching and growing me in these things during this season of my life, I’m truly thankful and humbled that He has invited me to witness and be a part of His work – whether that’s here at home or overseas this summer in India. With that said, I would like to ask you to please pray for myself, my team, and the people of India – that God would become our greatest treasure and that the Gospel would become so precious and true to us.
Joseph Han // UCLA // Junior // North India Team
Hi!! My name is Joseph and I am currently a junior at UCLA majoring in Psychology. I was given the opportunity to first handedly see how powerfully God was moving in North India during my freshman year with KCM, and now God has graciously sent me back to his beloved country of North India this summer. Despite all this, missions was probably one of the last thing on my mind before God led me back into this program.
My summer was fully empty and it seemed as if though God was perfectly aligning everything to lead me back into STSM. However, I made every possible excuse to convince myself that I wasn’t “called to go back.” I would remind myself of how stressful it was, how much time I had to invest in the program, how repetitive it’ll feel to undergo through the same process a second time, and how tiresome it’ll be. Although all these excuses held some validity, I ultimately ended up deciding to go back.
Still somewhat confused as to why God led me back into STSM, I naturally ended up spending a lot of time reflecting upon how the whole training process affected me. The past few months I’ve been trying to fully understand how we are supposed to love as Christians and what genuine love truly entailed. After weeks of discussion and reflection among peers and leaders, I’ve begun to slowly see not only the beauty behind the whole training process, but also the purpose. I’ve begun to realize that STSM offers such a unique experience that is rarely offered anywhere else. It gathers believers from the same culture with vastly different lifestyle. Each trainee within the program has different family lives, struggles, personalities, interests, and lifestyles in general. However, despite all these differences, we are placed into 7 different teams and are essentially forced to learn how to work together with one purpose under one God. As a result, the excuses I initially made up were not wrong at all. Of course it’ll be extremely stressful to work under 13 extremely different personalities, of course it’ll feel as if I’m investing my entire life into the program when in actuality it’s only about 4 hours a week, and of course it’ll especially be tiresome racking up support and driving back and forth to training. Yet this is what all the trainees, including me, signed up for. In a sense, we signed up for a 3 month long program where we will be tested in every possible way to determine whether we can truly let go of ourselves for once, die to ourselves, and genuinely be able to label ourselves as Christians for once.
As a result, God was slowly showing me that He was already placing these opportunities for me to practice loving with Christ-like love through STSM. Naturally, after realizing all this, I’ve begun to feel hopeless. How is anyone supposed to fulfill any one this and do so while maintaining Christ-like love all throughout? It felt as if though God had placed these enormous shoes for me to fill and just left me to dry. However, throughout the training process, He humbled me. He reminded me that these shoes that I have to fill will be filled by Him and that He’ll be the one working before me regardless of whether I see it or not. That my job isn’t to fulfill these roles myself, but to trust and have faith in Him to do it for me. That He’ll be the one strengthening me and pushing me to be patient, kind, generous, humble, forgiving, enduring, believing, hoping, and bearing all things by the grace of the Spirit within me.
As my team and I prepare to go off to North India, I ask that you’ll keep us in your prayers. Please pray that we as God’s vessels will be able to emanate the goodness of God by or genuine love for one another and others. That we would be able to serve one another and others like Christ has served us and constantly put others over ourselves. Pray that our hearts may submit to His will and allow Him to reign in our lives and not the other way around.
Thank you for tuning into STSM Student Reports! #GO2k19