Striving and Thriving
by Dr Andrew Ng
(SIM East Asia pioneer, currently serving as Missions Consultant to SIM EA)
A photo of the famous ‘Sahara caravan train’, with men striving cross the Sahara desert for 6 months a year just to sell salt for grains and provisions needed to thrive in the desert. Andrew and his wife Belinda travelled over 600 km North of Galmi Hospital to take this shot. Encountering them crossing the desert is a once in a life-time experience for most travellers.
How in the world does a Christian entity exist for 125 years? Whilst not the longest surviving mission agency, SIM is still one of the few agencies left from the heydays of the modern missionary era. ‘Striving and thriving’ are the ‘portions’ which God gave us as His co-labourers in His vineyard. So long as we do our work faithfully, God will give the increase and continue His purpose through us, according to His will.
I can think of 4 overlapping reasons why we survived all these years.
- We have hung on well to our motto “By Prayer”, which ultimately means “utter dependence on Him”.
- We have clung on to the Spirit of mission and not to our own power or might, as in the words of the Lord to Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4:6 – “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty. SIM survived not by our might nor by our power as a big agency, but simply by His Spirit dwelling in each one of us, lifting and empowering each one of us to keep striving and thriving against the odds for 125 years.
- We have not become weary of ‘doing good’ especially when things became routine or moved slowly. The first fourteen years of SIM’s history was just pure striving with hardly any fruits to show. We could have ceased operations if either our missionaries or our supporters gave up there and then.
- We have been able to pass on the vision to the next generation successfully. The moment the next generation of missionaries or our supporters think that our cause and effort is hopeless and unimportant, we are doomed. Many churches and Christians, and even missionaries, do not fully grasp the value of the ‘home or sending office’. Unconsciously, it is considered as another layer of unnecessary administration and financial burden to be borne, and perhaps could be done away with. However, the most critical function of the sending office is to pass on the missionary vision to future generations of senders and to build up a strong base of supporters and partners to continue sending the next generation and the generations after that. It is a very long-term vision that is not replaceable, as long as it is the Lord’s will for workers to be sent to the harvest fields.
We are still able to fulfil God’s call to SIM because God’s missional people like you are involved and journeying with us in the Great Commission.
Striving and Thriving in the East Asia Region
One of the many examples of ‘Striving and Thriving’ in our region is the formation of the SIM East Asia Regional Division in the early 1990s. While still in the pre-formative stage in 1990, our SIM Australia Office with courageous faith decided:
- To set up a fully functioning office in Singapore (the 7th SIM sending regional office in the world). At that time, East Asia was no more than 1% of the global SIM size.
- That East Asia will be built up to include 10 regional countries (West Malaysia, East Malaysia+1, Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, India, Taiwan and Singapore) to send out Asian missionaries.
- To enter into the newly opened country of Mongolia.
- To develop Philippines also as a field country, resulting from the merger with International Christian Fellowship.
- To raise funds for all these needs from within the new region, even though we still had office building loans and other outstanding debts. With just one couple returning from the field and another couple seconded from Australia, it was indeed a time of striving and thriving as East Asia grew in vision and strength. Through achieving economies of scale, it is now able to sustain itself as a viable mission sending agency.
Thanks be to God for our supporting constituencies.
我想 SIM 之所以可以在这些年岁中存活下来是有四个原因：
- 我们并不是倚靠自己的力量，而是倚靠着圣灵的力量，正如上帝在撒迦利亚书四章六节所言：“万军之耶和华说：不是倚靠势力，不是倚靠才能，乃是倚靠我的灵方能成事。”所以，SIM 存活下来了，不是倚靠我们的力量，也不是倚靠我们作为一个大机构所拥有的权力，而是倚靠祂降临在我们每一个人身上的圣灵，让我们在这一百二十五年的日子里能够持续地『竭力服侍并蓬勃昌盛』；
- 我们并没有厌倦行善，尤其是当事情变成了例行公事或进展缓慢之时。SIM 百年历史中的第一个十四年，只是纯粹的努力打拼，几乎没有任何可以展示的成果。如果那时候我们的宣教士或者支持者放弃了，那么我们也只能“结束营业”了；
- 在新加坡建立一个功能齐全的办事处（也是 SIM 在全球的第七个区域办事处）。那时候东亚区SIM 的规模还不及国际SIM 的百分之一；
- 东亚区将包括十个国家和地区（西马来西亚、东马来西亚 +1 、印尼、菲律宾、香港、日本、韩国、印度、台湾和新加坡），他们一起差派亚洲籍宣教士；
- 尽管我们仍有办公楼贷款和其他未偿之债务，但我们仍要在经济上独立，在这些新的区域筹集所需的资金。那时候，只有一对从工场回来的夫妇，另一对则来自澳大利亚，所以这确实是东亚区在异象和能力中成长的努力并竭力发展的时代；而藉着实现规模经济（Economies of Scale），SIM 现在是一个能够自我维持并可执行任务的宣教差派机构。