As American Christians we can often get caught up in the day to day of our busy lives that we lose perspective and take for granted the freedoms and privileges we have to live out our faith. In this video, former missionary, Alicia Wong, reminds us of some of the things we could learn from Christians serving overseas in the mission field.
Alicia Wong has served as a missionary in Venezuela and in East Asia with the International Mission Board and served as a national missionary focusing on women’s evangelism with the North American Mission Board. She is currently an assistant professor of women’s ministries at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
There’s so much that I think American Christians can learn from Christians serving overseas.
First of all, I think one thing is not to assume about other cultures. I think when you’re serving overseas and you’re interacting with people, I think you first learn to love people as they are without looking at color, race, or even their background or socioeconomic status. I think all of that kind of goes away when you look at the gospel and you understand the gospel and how precious that is.
I remember the first time when I served overseas and I went to a country in which they do not allow people to practice Christianity, not allow us to read the Bible, pray out loud, or even sing songs. I remember going to sleep with a Bible in my arms and just holding it, because it was so precious to me in that. When we sang songs as a group, I remember my leader having to do “Amazing Grace” with words and we had to mouth the words as we worshipped.
It made me appreciate, as an American Christian, we could sing as loud as we want. We could do it hands raising, rocking back and forth, however we want, as loud as we want to sing any time that we want.
Yet there are Christians around the world who aren’t able to do that. They can get imprisoned, thrown in jail, their life threatened, their livelihood being threatened, jobs being taken away. What we can really learn from them is don’t take our freedom, first of all, for granted, but also don’t take Christianity for granted. The fact that we can read the Bible, we can pray out loud, the fact that we can sing.
I hope that you will really grasp what it’s like for Christians who are serving in those hard places, especially read books about martyrs. I think that you can learn so much from just the sacrifice that Christians on the mission fields have to constantly do. I think you come in with an appreciation for all that God has blessed you with. Instead of looking at what we don’t have, I think we appreciate what we do have and how much the Lord has blessed us here in America.
As you travel and as you see those who are on the mission field with things that they give up, I think it challenges us, as American Christians. What are we sacrificing here for the gospel? What are we doing that will further God’s kingdom? And be challenged in that way. Although God may not call us overseas, but He’s called us here.
Just like those who’ve been called overseas, who’ve sacrificed, and given their life, how are we giving up our lives and the things that tie us down? Whether it could be our jobs, our finances, and even sometimes family. To be able to put all of those and lay it at the altar for the Lord to use however He wants to use. I think that Christians on the mission field have already had to do that. And I think it challenges those of us who are here in America to do that on a daily basis. To really think about what it means to sacrifice, to follow the cross. What does that mean for us?
I know when I was on the field, I just had such a deeper and closer walk with the Lord because I had none of these other things that, as American Christians, we can depend on. We can listen to podcasts or we can read a book and pick book or buy a book and it’ll come on Kindle. Well when you’re overseas you may not even have access to those things.
For all those different reasons, it really just helped me to appreciate and love God’s Word more, to love God more, and to be dependent only and solely on Him. When I was on the field, I just noticed that I was so much more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and how He moved and how He directed, because there wasn’t all these other things that were peripheral to many of our lives, but we get caught up in our daily lives that we forget to hear from God.
Those are some of the things that Christians can really learn from those who are on the field.