By Michelle Chun
World Vision Malaysia
The tall, narrow buildings looked like colourful blocks as our bus left busy Hanoi and headed into Vietnamese countryside. Suddenly, the tiny green patches I had seen from the plane became lush paddy fields stretching far and wide until towering mountain ranges stopped them from conquering the horizon altogether.
I was on my way to Lac Son, a province in northern Vietnam. World Vision Malaysia is the support office for an Area Development Programme there, and we were taking a group of Malaysian sponsors (and their companions) to visit their sponsored children.
Having been in World Vision Malaysia for three months, I still feel new. Every day poses a new challenge, a new climb. When I was asked if I would be willing to travel to Lac Son and gather stories for some of our publications, my first thought was, “God, is this You?”
I had come into World Vision after months of an incredible struggle between surrender and safety. Having taken unpaid leave from my previous job to attend a three-month Bible school, I had already felt that something new was coming. And when He told me to leave my job and simply trust Him with my future, I knew the something new had come. It was terrifying.
Three months later, after many tears, crippling fears and learning to utterly depend on a God I knew I could trust but was many times afraid to, I found myself in World Vision.
Another three months on, and there I was: sitting in a crowded bus, surrounded by Manglish chatter and an almost tangible air of excitement as we left the colourful buildings behind. Settling into the steady jolting of the bus, I had a quiet conversation with God, thanking Him for this rare opportunity and asking Him to keep my heart close to His. I really wanted the trip to be more than an assignment; I wanted to know Him better.
Needless to say, He never disappoints. Throughout the entire trip, I felt as though I was on a journey into the middle of His heart. Each day revealed a little more of God’s heart, a greater revelation of who He is. And as I discovered more of Him, I learnt more about myself, my faith and my work.
Growing up, I’d always wanted to love and serve God perfectly. But it hardly seemed attainable. I eventually burnt out after years of trying to be the ‘good’ Christian, disillusioned and discouraged. It was in Bible school that I reconnected with Him and embraced the knowledge that He has a great purpose for my life. All I need to do is trust Him.
My time in Lac Son was where He reassured me that World Vision is where He wants me to be, right now. I had always wanted my work to be my ministry, and it’s definitely easier to find that place in a Christian organisation. However, it’s also easy to lose sight of it. In marketing, I sometimes find myself chasing numbers instead of looking to the One who brings in the numbers. In Lac Son, the Lord brought everything back into focus.
It was also during this trip that I saw this truth in action: God is love. I’ve known this phrase ever since I could read, but I have begun to see it with greater clarity. He is love. As a Christ-centred organisation, World Vision therefore works from a place of love. It is His vision of love we weave into people’s lives with each step we take toward community transformation.
I saw His love everywhere. It was in Canh—an ADP sponsorship staff—who knew the name of every child running up to her trying to steal a hug and hello. I saw it shining through the gentle Mr Lam, faithfully leading his small but passionate team of staff committed to serving the poorest of the poor. I saw it amongst the child sponsors as they lugged their big suitcases and bigger hearts, bearing gifts for the children.
And I saw what His love brings—the shining confidence in Nguyet’s eyes as she recounted how, through World Vision’s training and help, she became a successful chicken farmer; the contagious joy in the children’s laughter as they darted around muddy puddles and yellowing columns; the beads of sweat glistening on young Minh’s forehead, proof of a healthy boy no longer suffering from a debilitating heart condition but now able to play football with friends.
I now realise my work extends far beyond the confines of my cubicle and the tapping away of fingers on my keyboard. From child sponsors to sponsored children, fundraising staff to field staff, volunteers to donors—we are all part of His vision of love. Immersed in His love, it spills out in everything we are and do. It starts with Christ, and ends with Him.
So I pray that my eyes remain fixed on Jesus, and that I live in the reality of my Father’s love for me. For I know that as long as I stay in that place, I will carry His vision of love—in my work, in my home and in my world. As the Thessalonians lived, I too want my work to be inspired by faith, labour to be prompted by love and endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
That’s my world vision.