I suppose I could be forgiven for thinking that my ministry over here is not that important. I don’t think God thinks that, in fact I’m sure of it. But if you get enough people who don’t see what you are doing as being significant to God, then you can’t help – on a human level – to start to wonder if you are doing what you think you are doing, if you follow my drift.

Here’s what I think I am doing. I am in the first place seeking to serve God. I wouldn’t be in Asia, miles away from my family and friends (thank you Jon and Nic for your visit; you don’t know how happy your being here for a few weeks made me!) if I didn’t believe with all my heart and mind that God did not only called me to come to Malaysia in the fall of 2006, but had in fact been leading me to make that decision for all of my life. From thumbing my way around North America and Europe in the early seventies, to serving Him in Bangladesh in the eighties and Germany in the nineties; from giving me a wonderfully successful teaching career that every year was a joy and an adventure, to giving me the worst teaching year of my life in 2006 and practically driving me out of my comfort zone; from seeing all my kids finally graduate from college and university, to listening to my wife plead with me to resign so we could go back to Asia; the Lord has been talking to me about this for years. I know I am where He wants me to be.

What I think I am doing is providing a support for my wife’s missionary endeavour in Cambodia that couldn’t be funded any other way. Not that what she is doing is too insignificant for a Christian agency, for example our home church or our church’s denomination to support. On the contrary, what she is doing is nothing short of miraculous. Her goal, if she can bring it to pass, is to put a Christian witness in every village in Cambodia through health care evangelism. That is a worthwhile endeavour, by any standard. That fact that I am her sole support is not a reflection on the importance of what she is doing, but rather on the woeful state of the Christian church in North America that seems to have lost its vision for the lost. I am a vital part of the support for her ministry. Without my support, it would not exist.

What I think I am doing is seeking to fulfil my responsibility to my God to give back to Him the gift of talent and capability that He gave to me: to become the best I can be at what I do. Parenting and teaching have been the two of the greatest joys of my life. I have poured myself into both of those things in order to honour the One who gave me the gifts to do those things. I can’t do much in the way of direct parenting anymore; my ‘kids’ are all approaching 30 and pretty much have got things worked out by now. But they still need me to model for them what a good Christian man does with the life God has given him. By leaving behind a good job with a comfortable income and lifestyle to serve God in Malaysia I am providing that modelling. This is what it means to be a Christian. God comes first, comfort comes later.

Not that our life over here is at all uncomfortable. You have seen the pictures; this is a beautiful place. But we had no idea when we left Canada that this would be so, and that is the point: we trusted God, put Him first. He honours that, and always has in our lives. As for my teaching, well that is my daily bread. I have always wanted to be a high school English teacher, and God has now given me that opportunity. I dreaded the thought of teaching high school in Canada: the drugs, the rudeness, the lack of motivation . But over here it is different; the kids are decent and well behaved, respectful and motivated. But teaching goes beyond a good working environment. The heart of my satisfaction is that I am committed to continue to grow as a teacher and as a person, and this challenge does that for me. Back in Canada I had exhausted every challenge. Over here I have taught one new English course every semester I have been here. It has stretched me and made me a better teacher.

I will conclude these thoughts in the next post.