Serving in Home Missions impacts more than just strangers, as Winnie from Covenant EFC’s China Nationals Fellowship found out.
When we think of missions, our minds may inadvertently drift to stories of great missionaries travelling thousands of miles away from home — braving persecution, reaching out to indigenous peoples, doing heroic work for the Kingdom. After all, those action-packed stories of faith have the highest visibility.
Yet, with the pandemic and all the new restrictions, we are reminded that missions begins at home.
For Covenanter Winnie, 39, home means a number of things. It’s her hometown in China, her current family life in Woodlands, even her church family in Covenant EFC, where her missions journey began last year.
“Everything started with a misunderstanding,” the mother-of-three recalled candidly, “At first, I heard they needed help with translating English Alpha materials into Mandarin.” (Alpha is a series of sessions for new or pre-believers to have intentional conversations to explore the Christian faith.)
“I signed up for a translator or interpreter role,” she said, “But it turned out, they needed hosts and befrienders to lead the Alpha conversations! That’s how I started.”
It wasn’t always comfortable. In fact, Winnie found it out of character for her at first, having to not just connect with strangers, but to share the gospel with them.
But with the help of her team, Winnie has since served in two Alpha Online cycles since joining Covenant Home Mission’s China Nationals Fellowship in July 2020. “When we are willing to put down our own preconceptions and stereotypes,” she said, “God will move in their hearts. (The participants) came without fail every Saturday night, and I still keep in touch with a few of them.”
Bringing Home Missions Back Home
Serving in Alpha didn’t just give Winnie the chance to share her faith with strangers, but to share it with her husband too. “When I was serving in the first run of Chinese Alpha Online last year, it coincided with a trying time for my family,” she shared.
After working for almost two decades in the marketplace, she wanted to stay at home to focus on taking care of the family. But she was the sole breadwinner at that time as her husband’s job search was almost hitting a year. Between her three sons and her husband, being cooped up during the pandemic as the only woman at home had also caused tensions to flare, she recalled.
“I really wanted to go back to China,” Winnie said, “but serving in Alpha brought me back to the feeling of awe and surrender when I first accepted Christ. It was like learning about God for the first time again.” She shared, “I realised that the past decades, I have often relied on myself and my capabilities, but serving in Alpha reminded me that God is the one who looks after me, and gives me a calling.”
Due to the pandemic, Alpha has moved online. While initially fearful, Winnie has managed to build connections and start conversations.
It also taught her a posture of prayer. When she first started serving, she noticed that there was intentional prayer before every Alpha meeting, completely different from her project management experiences. Along the way, she also learnt to shift her prayer focus — from revolving around herself, her troubles and her family, to praying for God’s will to be done.
“There is power in prayer,” she said, “after a futile job search of almost a year, my husband found a job that matched all his expectations within 20 days!”
Her husband, who is a pre-believer himself, has since accompanied Winnie to Alpha sessions where they have grown in connectedness. “At Alpha, I see a very different side of him,” Winnie said, “as he shares his own viewpoints that I didn’t know he had.”
“I had the chance to share my faith experiences with him in a safe space, without fear of being judged or dismissed,” Winnie added.
“While he has not come to accept Christ,” she shared, “he now says ‘there is no such thing as coincidence’. I also explained to him how his job opportunity was an answered prayer, one way we see God’s hand in our lives.”
When we think of missions, let’s be inspired by stories like Winnie’s that encourage us to do missions at home — which is often wherever God has called you to be. “If you feel the desire to serve,” Winnie said, “that’s already the first step. Don’t waste God’s invitation! Keep praying, looking for areas to serve in, and remember that you will not be alone in this missions journey.”