In our last post, Joel Barkman realized that he was defining a successful missionary as someone who stayed on the field for decades, and he shared how he rethought that idea. Sophia Wang’s story beautifully illustrates how being open to God’s call, even once you’re already serving overseas, might mean accepting an unexpected move.
By Sophia Wang, SEND missions coach — After five years in Spain, God called me back to the States to serve as a missions coach with SEND International, specifically to help diversify our global workforce. I would like to share my journey here.
In Spain, I unexpectedly found that some of my best opportunities to share the gospel were with Chinese students. Naturally, having a similar face gives me a unique opportunity with other Asian people. However, I never fully appreciated this characteristic of being Asian while living in the States nor as an Asian in Spain, because I felt, at times, more of the pain than the blessing of being Chinese. While I carry some scars due to both overt and institutional racism in our fallen world, Jesus has moved me toward healing and taught me to pursue knowing and clinging to my identity as a child of God.
God had already shown me that he could use my education, my profession, and my love of sports for his use, so I asked, “Lord, I know it’s not a mistake that you’ve made me Chinese, so do you want to use this face of mine, too, to further your Kingdom?”
As I explored various resources and sought out wisdom from other Asian Christ-followers, I began to see the need to develop my voice. I sensed a stirring to share what the Lord has done in my life as an Asian-American who loves Jesus, especially in the aspect of following Jesus into overseas missions.
During a home service, I explored the potential of returning to work with Chinese in Spain, and I also knocked on the door of East Asia. I found opportunities there, yet I believe God cautioned my heart to wait on him for something more.
A great fit — but could she move back?
The idea of mobilization came up when I analyzed what my experiences revealed about how God wired me. I am a perpetual networker, and I’ve seen God use my relational gifts to “recruit” and connect diverse peoples throughout my life.
As I was seeking the Lord’s path for my future, I went to three colleges to represent SEND and explore mobilization. I loved meeting and speaking with students, hearing their stories and questions and coaching them to consider the next step God might have for them.
Mobilization truly did seem like a great fit for my gifts and the varied experiences I brought to the conversation, but I honestly hadn’t thought that working Stateside was for me. I was convinced that God had prepared me for cross-cultural ministry overseas, so why would he bring me back to the States?
But, I knew God wanted me to rely on him to put things in place for my future. So I asked him if he wanted me to be open to serving in North America, and I had to lay down before him my prejudice toward valuing overseas ministry more than US-based ministry.
The Lord’s confirmation
As I was going through this process with the Lord, my home service coach mentioned my growing interest in mobilization to Tom, SEND’s director of mobilization. His response revealed that God had been working behind the scenes and was now ready to reveal this seemingly dramatic ministry shift.
Tom exclaimed, “What? Sophia’s interested in mobilization? We’ve been praying for an Asian mobilizer for the past three years!”
My journey as an American-born Chinese woman called to full-time ministry in Spain brought to my attention many cultural differences and challenges that have often impeded others, especially Asians and other “people of color,” from effectively following Jesus in active Great Commission service. Now, by sharing the experiences and lessons that God carried me through, I can purposely invest my unique story to encourage such believers to participate in cross-cultural ministry.
Instead of God calling me, just one person with an Asian face, to go engage the unreached, I see that through this mobilization ministry, God can multiply my influence many times over as he raises up many workers with faces and strategically unique opportunities like mine to go into his harvest field.
After months of searching, learning, praying, training and waiting on the Lord, I rejoice that the he has revealed this tailor-made new opportunity for me to serve his expanding global Kingdom.
Read on …
- What is missionary success? It’s not measured by time on the field: ‘I realized that I was thinking of people who returned after one year, or even after one term, as failures.’
- What is missionary success? 10 definitions that miss the mark: Even if you speak without accent, you’re a leader and you always get the job done, success means something more.
- What is missionary success? Why many of our definitions leave us feeling empty: Plus, a better way to think of success, pulled from 2 Corinthians.
- Feeling God’s call yourself? We invite anyone who senses God’s leading into cross-cultural service to sign up for On Mission, SEND’s free, monthly guide for people interested in becoming missionaries. Subscribe here, and as a welcome gift, you will receive a free download of a world map that highlights today’s unreached people groups. Together, we can bring them Good News.
Banner photo: Sophia at NAAMC, the National African American Mission Conference, in Virginia.