At the 2018 OneLove women's conference, we recommended the book 'For The Joy: 21 Australian Missionary Mother Stories on Cross-Cultural Parenting and Life' from the platform. In this interview, co-editor Miriam Chan shares the intentions behind the book and what it looks like to persevere towards eternity in her varying roles over the years as a theological student, Sunday school teacher, school counsellor, ministry wife and missionary mother.
1. What occupies your time during the week?
I’m occupied with lots of little jobs in preparing for eternity. I’m a finger-in-every-pie sort of person and am energised by having variety and room for spontaneity in my week. Right now, I’m preparing for Sunday school and training someone who will teach her first lesson tomorrow morning which is exciting. I’m a ministry wife and seek to be supportive of my husband’s university ministry and be involved by hosting groups of students in our home. As a counsellor (I work at university and in a girls’ high school), I work with emerging adults as they confront issues in their lives that impact their mental health, academics and general well-being. Being a mother of school-aged kids involves lots of car rides in traffic, reminding them about their chores, impressing on them God at work in my life and theirs, making the most of special moments that go by too quickly. I enjoy being creative so there’s often an art project on the side somewhere.
2. How did you come to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?
I had the privilege of hearing about God’s salvation through Jesus with my parents bringing me to church every Sunday. It was at a church Easter camp when I was 11 years old that I realised that I didn’t need to keep inviting Jesus into my life because He wasn’t going away. His Spirit dwells within His people and I could count on Him to stay and keep changing me. Having been saved as a child, the last three decades have been a process of continually being sanctified to be like Jesus and this journey has taken me by surprise in the challenges, the suffering, the hope and the joy.
3. The Christian journey can sometimes be challenging and difficult. What helps you to fix your eyes on Jesus?
The distractions are so many and I’m so prone to take my eyes off Jesus and onto the things of this world. His Spirit prompts me to keep walking a path of obedience when I stray. I’m grateful for the input of people God has put across my path who provide encouragement to throw off what hinders and the sin that entangles to keep eyes on the perfector of my faith.
For example, my husband provides short Bible studies I can read on the train into work and invites me to join him in listening to a sermon, raising children shows my sinful heart and brings me to my knees crying to God for mercy and forgiveness, my clients share their stories with me which grows my compassion for those created in God’s image, broken relationships and suffering make me long to see Him face to face and rejoice that this world is not all there is.
4. You hold a Master of Divinity from Sydney Missionary & Bible College. What encouraged you to pursue formal theological studies and how has it equipped you for life, mission and ministry?
I was involved in university student ministry while studying my undergraduate degree and grew enormously in my faith during this time. Some of my best years were spent doing Ministry Training at a university campus, working with international students and seeing them wrestle with the claims of Jesus and their existing worldview. God kept pushing doors open for me to pursue theological studies, although as a do-er I did at times feel frustrated that as a student, I wasn’t out there diving head first into the frontline of ministry.
Studying at Sydney Missionary & Bible College has provided me a solid foundation of understanding God’s Word and His world. This is invaluable in understanding who I am, my true identity in Christ and in living and serving Him anywhere; in Australia and overseas, in full-time Christian ministry and nowadays as I serve in my counselling jobs and amongst my family, friends and church.
5. You are the co-editor of a book 'For the Joy: 21 Australian Missionary Mother Stories on Cross-Cultural Parenting and Life'. Who should consider picking up this book and what can they expect from it?
In the course of reading a missionary biography at the age of 8 years old, I was convicted that this was the direction that God wanted me to pursue in life. So my life decisions from that point were in line with preparing to go out and serve cross-culturally.
The power of stories allows us to connect with one another. Our lives are tales worth telling. My co-editor, Sophia Russell and I have sought to tell the tales of 21 missionary mothers. Their stories are raw, powerful, honest, surprising and will encourage you with how these missionaries are normal people, raising kids for the sake of the gospel away from home.
If you’re a Christian, this book is written to encourage you to stand firm and endure for the joy set before you. Be prepared to be challenged in your faith - oh and you may want to check that you have a tissue on hand!
6. Why do you think it's important for women to attend women's conferences like OneLove?
I remember attending a women’s conference soon after we came home from the mission field prematurely. I went feeling parched, alone and spiritually broken, utterly spent with nothing to give. I experienced revival and awakening as I wept openly, overcome with being able to meet with God as His Word was read and proclaimed, to hear my sisters speak of His grace and mercy, to freely stand and whisper songs of praises amongst these precious women in a language I could understand fully.
At a time when I felt the journey was too much for me, the conference was a timely intervention and a great gift. Like Elijah, receiving God’s personal care and provision when he had had enough and just wanted to die, this particular conference was a treasured experience of being ministered to by God. Not every conference will have this sort of impact, but I think there is certainly value meeting with believers from different denominations, backgrounds, and countries gathering in the name of Christ and being strengthened to live for Him till He returns.
Gather with women at OneLove 19!
Join us at OneLove 2019 to re-discover the joy and purpose of perseverance from the book of Hebrews. This year we're excited to have Bible teacher Lizzy Smallwood open up the book of Hebrews to encourage us that there is purpose in our perseverance, and Anne-Sophie Rowcroft will share with us from her experiences as a missionary in West Africa.
Early Bird tickets are now available from our website: www.onelovewomen.com
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