Saturday, June 23, 2007
GOING TO BOLIVIA 1!
WAH SO FAR!
I begin a series of posts on the circumstances surrounding my journey in response to God's call to serve in Bolivia, South America. After 14 years of ministry in Bolivia, I sense its time, with the benefit of hindsight, to tell our story.
One more than one occasion, people, be they from Singapore or Bolivia, look dumbfounded when told we are serving in Bolivia as missionaries from Singapore.
Some Singaporeans say, "Wah so far ah...".
Some Bolivians say, "Wow.. you've come a long way"
And so I hope that these posts, of which, this is the first, will provide a context for those who've supported us all these years.
LICENSED DIOCESAN MISSIONER
In 1993, Michelle, Elijah and I packed our bags, uprooted ourselves and went to Bolivia with the full support of the diocese of Singapore. I was licensed as a Diocesan Missionary. Bishop Moses Tay called the clergy together to pray for us during the Synod service, a week before our departure. I especially remember Canon Alan Cole's prophecy of how my family and I would rediscover God's presence in the ordinary moments of life in Latin America. Alan was right, doing long term missions is impossible without the graces necessary to find the Lord in the seemingly ordinary components of music, politics etc of a foreign culture.
The events and circumstances leading up to this decision more than 14 years ago have never been told in its entirety. And so...
The story begins...believe it or not with a schoolboy enthusiasm of the Amazon jungle. The Amazon was to me a massive, under explored region of jungles, lakes, rivers and all sorts of creepy crawlies, wild animals; it spoke of adventure and mystery. The Amazon through its tributaries runs through Bolivia not unlike the highways of a modern 1st world city. Going there was a silly adolescent dream. A part of my inner wiring was already pointing toward South America.
I received Christ when I was 14 years old after reading the Bible - a gift from my mother for my confirmation. At the age of 17 I went to see a lecturer at the Singapore Bible College about the possiblity of studying theology with a sense that my future lay in the Lord's hand to serve Him. He wisely told me to work out my faith in the world. I joined the Navy several months later; my personal walk with the Lord was not consistent and I backslided on more than one occasion.
After six years, my contract with the Navy ran out; I came to the conclusion that it was time to make a U turn in my life and return to the Lord. It was a significant point in my life...