Faith In Action

Labour prompted by Love

Here’s Michelle sharing a lighthearted moment with Mr Lam, Lac Son ADP Manager

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.

Pastors’ Field Visit To Arpana ADP, India

By Rev. Terrence K. K. Sinnadurai
Chairman, Desa Amal Jireh/Rumah Faith

Group picture taken in front of World Vision India Office, Chennai, after an encouraging interaction session between the Malaysian pastors team and World Vision India on the first day of arrival. (From left to right: Front row –  Rev Calvin Lim, Rev Allen Tan, Dr Jayakumar Christian (CEO of World Vision India), Pastor Cheryl Lai, Rev Denise Yong; Second row – Rev Francis Ho, Sister Margaret, Brother Valentine; Last row – Pastor Faye Chen, Brother Joseph Lai, Rev Lynda Choi, Rev Terrence Sinnadurai, Brother Allen Benjamin. World Vision India staff)

I.    Introduction

Firstly I would like to thank World Vision Malaysia for inviting me to join the  Pastors’ Field Visit to Guntur, South India on May 19 – 23. This is my first visit to Andhra Pradesh .

Secondly, after being involved in social work for so many years, I realise that I am just touching the surface and our work is very small and specific compared to what World Vision (WV) is doing in India.

Thirdly, with limited funds and personnel, we can only do limited work but what World Vision is doing in India is a real eye opener. I would like to congratulate World Vision for their efforts.

Pastor Faye Chen was showing the coloring work that she did happily together with one of the children in a community church that we visited.

II.    What Impacted Me Most During This Visit?

A.    First Impact – Adequate funding and personnel is needed to competently handle all the work that is being done. I also learnt one aspect of interdependence in the World Vision Partnership: the Malaysian office and other Support Offices in other countries commit to fund-raising while countries like India (designated National Offices) are the recipients of the fund. I realized that adequate funding is important to give good service to the poor. The rich must help the poor. The haves, the have-nots.

B.    Second Impact – That all of World Vision staff in India are passionate about the Lord and their work. Many are regular church goers, and some are even Bible College graduates. They work among all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. They are very professional in their approach. As they work among the poor and oppressed, their main aim is to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.

C.    Third Impact – World Vision’s structure must be commended. The founders and those who have spent a lot of time in working out the structure must be commended for it seems very successful. I believe this is replicated in many countries. The World Vision head of India, Dr. Jayakumar Christian has a firm hold on the organization and runs it well with the help of the support staff.

D.    Forth Impact – World Vision’s emphasis on regular prayer is commendable.

III.    What Significant Benefits Can The World Vision Community Development Programme Bring Or Provide To Arpana ADP?

In my opinion WV is doing a tremendous job among the villages in Arpana. Initiatives like Economic Development, Education, Health and Sanitation and Community Empowerment seem very effective and are touching many lives and raising them from their level of poverty. Many families, individuals, ladies and students are being helped.

Children of a school in Arpana gathered under the WV program of “Child Health Now” to pledge on their commitment towards health while receiving mosquito nets and livestocks supply. Malaysia pastors team was overwhelmed by the cheering and smiles of the children.

The only way I can see further significant benefits that can be extended to them is to help more people in more villages. Maybe more funds should be raised to give further help to reach out to more villages.

A family headed by a widow living in a “home” made do by cloths and bamboo sticks. The children and family are deprived of security, protection and provision.

Secondly, I feel after spending resources on these projects, there must be another back up group that tactfully ministers to the spiritual aspect.

Malaysia pastors were praying for the children and families who respond to the sharing of the gospel. Years of laboring with the people living with HIVs in this community has opened up the hearts to receive the good news of Christ – a holistic transformation that World Vision pursues with faith.

Fourthly, the schools are in deplorable conditions with poor furnishings. I understand the Government is only constructing the structure and not helping with the furnishing. It will be difficult for World Vision to furnish all the schools in the villages. I hope that World Vision can work further with the local politicians to look into the furnishings.

A community centre that World Vision started with local villagers to give safe space for children to play and to learn, and to hold community meetings that emphasize on the well-being of children.

IV.    What Will Be The Positive Learning Lessons You Gain That May Contribute To The Christian Social Ministry in Malaysia

The situation in Arpana is different to Malaysia and as such we can’t adopt all the programs that are being done over there. Though it may be hard to find hardcore poor in our country, there may be pockets of them in certain places and relevant programs should be considered.

The only hard core poor I can think of are the Orang Asli in West Malaysia and the Pribumi in East Malaysia. World Vision and churches should penetrate into these Orang Asli villages with the relevant projects.

Children in a school that we visited raise up their hands with excitement to express their response to “Child Health Now” project.

V.    What Are The Opportunities That You Have Discovered And Would Like to Explore Further To Support This Initiative With World Vision?

While visiting some places I was impressed to give an offering. But I think my offering will be a small drop in the vast ocean of World Vision’s financial need.

It will be good if World Vision can share her vision with the local churches so that we can partner with World Vision in the mission fields of these needy countries. Sponsoring children will be a good way to start with.

I think churches will come forward to partner more readily if the social emphasis which is an important way to break the ice with the community is capped with a spiritual emphasis too.