What is it like to leave home, family and friends to serve in a nation where you often have to learn the language from scratch? It takes faith, passion, courage and an unwavering desire to do God’s will. In this second in a series on getting to know our missionaries, Cassandra Lee, a former Army officer who became a Methodist Missions Society (MMS) missionary in Thailand, shares her personal reflections with Methodist Message. She is sent and supported by Grace Methodist Church.
“After almost 26 years as a personnel officer in the Army, I retired and opted to join the Methodist Missions Society.
The seed of my desire to become a missionary was planted more than 20 years ago. On my very first mission trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, in the early 1990s, I received the spiritual gift of tongues. On my return from that mission trip, I felt the need to learn and understand God’s word better – I enrolled in the Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) course.
I was in BSF for seven years. During this time, God put into my heart a desire to serve Him in the mission field. I then decided to take up a part-time theological degree so as to better equip myself for missions when I retired from the Singapore Army.
Before becoming a missionary, my main apprehension was financial stability, as I wanted to continue supporting my mother. To that end, I put my trust in God to provide for my needs.
My second apprehension was that I was unsure which country and ministry God wanted me to serve Him in. I boldly stepped out to serve God even when I did not have all the answers from Him yet, and persevered in prayer. It was only then that God gradually revealed and confirmed His plan and ministry for me.
My first challenge was learning the Thai language while serving in Thailand. I struggled constantly, trying to communicate in the local language for the first six months. I felt lonely and isolated – however God graciously provided short- term mission trippers from time to time to alleviate my loneliness and sense of isolation.
Teaching English to Thai children was my second challenge. I have had no prior experience as an English language teacher, and with my limited Thai language, teaching and classroom control was a struggle. However, things got better as I persevered, and learnt from Singaporean teachers.
I am now able to listen to, speak, read and write Thai but only at the elementary level. I am a long way from being proficient in the language – but I am grateful that I am immersed in a Thai-speaking environment, as I am now living in a shophouse with a group of Thai ladies.
My day starts with language lessons, and in the afternoon, I go on to teach English to primary students in a government school. In the evenings, I am involved in cell group activities.
Teaching and working with children is something I feel God has called me to do. I remember how He called me when I was just a child, and before going into the mission field, I had served as a Sunday School teacher at Grace Methodist Church for many years, in order to equip myself as a children’s ministry worker.
I work very closely with Shineforth Methodist Church in Chiang Mai in their children’s ministry and also assist in leading a cell group. I have taught some Bible lessons to the Thai teachers in Vineyard School, and also teach English to Mettakij Hostel students.
Recently, a ministry was started where I began teaching English to police officers. I see my role as assisting the local Thai churches in reaching out to pre-believers through my Englishteaching work and through fun activities like summer camps and Christmas celebrations.
The needs are many. I encourage pastors and lay persons to consider volunteering to teach Thai church workers and church members how to be more effective in pastoring and evangelising. You can also help teach English – this is a particularly effective evangelistic tool.
I look forward to your partnership in the sharing of the Gospel here in Thailand!”
VOLUNTEER * to teach Thai church workers and members how to be effective pastors and evangelists * to help teach English to children during the summer months of mid-March to end April u to help teach conversational English to Thai police officers for one or two months * to share your experiences of evangelism with the Thai Christians, that they may be effective in outreach.
For more info, contact David Khew of Methodist Missions Society at 6478-4801 or david.khew@ methodist.org.sg, or email Cassandra at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictures by Methodist Missions Society