“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9, NIV)
How was I able to sustain 20 years of ministry in Cambodia?
It was one thing to be forewarned about the ups and downs, and the challenges and pitfalls usually described in missiology books, but quite another when personally faced with those challenges, each of which hit me hard. But it was God’s grace that sustained me through all of it.
When I was a teenager, I attended a youth retreat at which I felt God challenging me to give my life to serving Him. This call was later affirmed at a missions conference by Asia Evangelistic Fellowship.
My education at the then Teachers’ Training College in 1968 and 10 years of teaching experience helped prepare and equip me for ministry. But I was a broken person inside and needed to be healed before I myself could proclaim the message of healing. When I took up the call to missions at the age of 52, I realised that I had to obey and trust God fully to realise His plans for me.
During my two decades in Cambodia, I went through some serious and critical health issues, including being stricken by Guillain-Barré syndrome*. But during one hospital stay that lasted four and a half months, there was only one day when I did not have a visitor—I received so much love and encouragement.
There were also times I felt like giving up. Once, when trying to mediate a misunderstanding between a staff and a student, a feeling of helplessness came over me as the outcome was less than encouraging. Remembering my calling, I realised that God was moulding me to be a more effective witness for Him, and again experienced His peace and the sufficiency of His grace.
Thankfully, I have close friends and prayer partners who are always there for me and with whom I can share my struggles and pain. I also received prayers from my sending church, Faith Methodist Church, and the MMS Home Team. These have been crucial in my life as a missionary. Without their prayers and support, I know I would not have the strength, courage and stamina. God allowed me to go through some of the hardest times in my life and showed me how His grace was sufficient for me.
Thank God it has not been all tears, heartaches and failures. I have had the joy of seeing the fruits of my ministry in the many young Cambodians whose lives I have touched, and who are now serving their church and community.
Now, I finally have the peace and assurance that it is time to go home. There will be another period of adjustment and re-entry stress, but I am assured that He who is faithful will see me through and complete His work in my life.
A line from the song “I Am Who You Say I Am” captures my days as a missionary: “I am chosen, not forsaken.”
*Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rapid-onset muscle weakness caused by the immune system damaging the peripheral nervous system. I was paralysed for a period of time, and through therapy, regained much of my mobility.
Doris Chan has been an MMS missionary in Cambodia since Jan 1999. She will be returning to Singapore in Dec 2018 after completing her service.
Photos courtesy of Doris Chan