by Bomi Kim

A short-term mission trip to Iloilo has had a deep impact on my life, and I am happy to share my story with others.

This was never going to be an easy trip for me. Right up to the point of boarding the plane, I had very low expectations – my faith was dim, you could say. I believed that God would do amazing things, but through my awesome teammates and the people there, not me. On the face of it, I thought I had every reason to feel this way. I was in a challenging season, where the breakthroughs I had been praying for had not yet happened. I felt like a “hot mess”, someone who was just learning to walk out of the healing that I was receiving.

I was pleased to be a spectator and felt happy to take a back seat.

However, as I was soon to discover, God was not going to let me get away with it. He showed me that I am very much part of the story that He has been writing. The Bible talks about how God restores and renews the strength of His people. Well, I got to experience that in Iloilo as He constantly showed up to challenge how I see myself. He shared His desire to partner with me, through the brokenness and pain of the season.

There are two specific occasions that stand out. On the first day, we were on the way to the leprosarium when I found myself having a panic attack in the back of the jeepney. Being around the sick, the poor and the outcast has never been comfortable for me, especially given the tough times that I had been through in my life. Consider it an allergic reaction to pain. All I wanted to do at that moment was to avoid the pain forever and live in my own la la land.

In my desperation, I asked my prayer support group to stand with me – hoping that God’s love would somehow take my fear away and I would be able to just be myself.

It was more like meeting my neighbours and we did what neighbours do – talked about stuff.

It worked, of course! We arrived, and I remember taking a few deep breaths to calm my heart but after that, it was just a great, fun time. I somehow forgot that they are “the sick”.  It was more like meeting my neighbours and we did what neighbours do – talked about stuff.  Not particularly spiritual. We were just hanging around and getting to know them.

I saw the ladies there who were gorgeous, so I told them so and they lit up. One grandma said to me, “You are beautiful too.” I responded: ‘I know!’

A gentleman by the name of Allan struck up a pleasant conversation with me. We chatted about life – food, cities we’ve visited, stuff he made. Despite the language barrier, it was fun talking to him. Later on, someone told me that Allan is deaf. How did he understand me? I have no idea.

The second occasion was when we visited a women’s jail. That morning before we left the hotel, I was a bundle of nerves. I was supposed to share my testimony during the visit, but I was struggling with the fear and uncertainty of doing that. I felt my testimony was still very much a work in progress, without a happy ending, yet. So as I sat down with my morning coffee in hand, I decided to just pour my heart out to God as I wrote in my journal. And God interrupted me. As I wrote, He spoke the following words to my heart: “Talk about your best friend – My Holy Spirit.”

I couldn’t let it go. I remember arguing with God so much that morning as to WHY and HOW I was supposed to do that. It was not something I felt I could whip up in short time like great preachers do. Nonetheless, He spent that morning pursuing me, persuading me to introduce Him to His daughters at the prison. He made me realise that just as the Holy Spirit had walked with me every step of the difficult season I was in, so He longed to do the same for others. He even confirmed this message through a teammate as well.

So with that, I walked into the prison and shared a very simple story about my best friend. I explained how I had been through many tears and endured much pain in my brokenness, but this best friend, Holy Spirit, is faithful. He is really not going anywhere, after all. I asked the women around me: Would you like to meet him?

They said yes, and we just all just sat there and wept together as His presence rushed into that jail. My best friend was meeting my new friends. The story of Emmanuel – God with us – came alive in a whole new way for me that day. Like He has done with me all these years, I am trusting even this moment that He is very much there in that jail, walking with these beautiful ladies, being their best friend.

It’s about sharing life and telling stories.

The trip was full of stories like these. Powerful stuff, yet so simple. For me, it really gave me more clarity on this whole mission thing. It’s never complicated. It’s about sharing life and telling stories. It’s about you thinking of who your neighbour is. It’s about God wanting to meet those neighbours where they are at, and me just sitting with Him as He does so. This is something I can do anywhere in the world.

This trip also gave me assurance that what I am going through now – the good, the bad and the ugly – will be used by God as I testify to who He is. I am still very much in the process but I will walk into my future while telling crazy stories about my best friend who is there, through and through. To do that well, I also realized I need to be better equipped. So I am looking into studying theology next year. Exciting!

God is good. Even though I don’t have an epic Hollywood-like ending to my story yet, I can speak about His goodness in this process. And so can you.

Inspire us and others!

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