Ordination & Commissioning of The So's
This past Sunday, 12/7, we had the joy of ordaining Eric So and commissioning his family as local missionaries in a refugee community in Riverdale, MD. Eric got to share their story and the church prayed for his family as they were sent out. It was a powerful time for our church family.
Here is the transcript of what Eric shared:
Growing up, two often asked questions were “What do you want to become when you grow up?” and “What are you gifted at?” I would hear these questions throughout elementary school, middle school, high school, even college. Peers would quickly answer with such enthusiasm but for me these questions, I deeply dreaded. They were questions I didn't know the answers for. The answer for life’s purpose was so elusive and when advised to start by looking inward at one’s gifts, none particularly stood out to me. I was an ordinary boy growing into an ordinary man, unsure of what to make of life and myself. But that all changed when Jesus, by his amazing grace, loved me, sought me, called me, forgave me, saved me and made me alive in Christ. Redeemed me for his purposes. His purpose to redeem and restore creation through the good news of Jesus. And so today, I am still an ordinary man but given the greatest gift, the gift of salvation, and called to a great purpose and mission for God’s glory. What an extraordinary God!
Two and a half years ago, I sat down and asked my wife, Lisa, if I could quit my stable job in government contracting and take an unpaid internship at a local non profit. Amazingly, she didn’t call me an idiot! We both sensed a change was coming and she was completely supportive. What a woman! It’s amusing looking back because we both had no idea how God was orchestrating things through this step of faith. And I think that’s a key reminder in following Jesus. We aren’t able to see far down the road, but taking each step by step, we look back and see how things unfolded in trusting our trustworthy King. In that time period, I began sensing that God was calling me to pursue vocational ministry and through prayerful wrestling and receiving godly counsel by Matt, my wife, and others, it became clear that God was calling me to devote my life to His mission and church. At the same time, the internship at a local refugee resettlement agency opened my eyes to a group of people I had no idea existed beforehand. And God was producing in me a love for refugees that could only be from Him. I was surprised to find out that there was almost no church involvement in loving and serving these people. These people who have been displaced in a foreign land, without possessions, neglected, seeking a new place and community to call home. God began producing gospel dreams in me for these people.
One day, I again sat down with Lisa. Sitting side by side on a couch, I nervously asked her “What if we moved into the Riverdale neighborhood where the refugees in MD are placed?” I was expecting a quick "No" of some sort but instead she gently asked questions. We ended up googling the apartment together and the first review said something about rats, drug dealers, prostitutes, bad conditions. And I’m thinking "Crap." But I’ll never forget her response of “That’s exactly where the gospel is needed.” God was sovereignly producing a united love and vision for refugees in both of us.
Last weekend was our move into Riverdale. Good news, we’ve only seen three cockroaches! We were expecting many more. I know y’all are thinking that’s three too many. After all the moving was completed, and after dropping off some items at my in-laws, it was time to drive home on Sunday night. During that drive a flood of emotions and thoughts came upon me. I began thinking, “What in the world did I get our family into?” and “What am I doing?” I began having doubts, fears, second guessing this path. I yearned for what was familiar and comfortable and safe. “Why are we downgrading?” “It’s going to be uncomfortable." But instead of allowing me to continue dwelling and drifting away in my thoughts and emotions and my faith, the Good Shepherd so graciously intervened. Instead of appealing to my emotions and just telling me it’s going to be OK, He pointed me to Jesus. He pointed me to what Christmas is all about, the coming of Jesus, His incarnation. God became flesh, and dwelt among his people. And He began reminding me what that meant. How could the God of the universe, maker of heaven and earth, all glorious, all powerful, perfectly holy, worthy of all worship, the one who speaks things into being, the one who is not bound by time or any other limits. The infinite one. How could God lower himself, humble himself, downgrade himself to be confined to, restricted to, limited to a human body? Not only that but live among a people who were enemies and opposed and despised him. Philippians 2 states, "though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
How could Jesus do such a thing? Why would He move towards us like that and put himself through that? And at the moment, the Holy Spirit spoke to me of the truth that Jesus was compelled by his great love. And as I was reminded of that truth, I began recalling his promises to be with us, to be for us, to protect us, to empower us, to embolden us. I know it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be uncomfortable, we already feel it. But if by following Jesus we experience discomfort, challenges, heartache, and reshaping, so be it. If it means that we get to experience just a sliver more of what Jesus experienced and we get to know Him that bit more, that’s what we want. Knowing Jesus and making him known, that is our hope. Because Christ is our greatest treasure and we want others to have him.
My challenge to you, church family, is that you would make a firm commitment to gospel intentionality in relationships and life decisions. Without it, one will almost always default to relationships and situations that are comfortable, familiar, and convenient. Those can certainly be positive but will not make a gospel movement. My hope and prayer is that we would be a people who deeply know and trust our Savior Jesus and that He would be our greatest joy and treasure. And as a result, we would not be afraid of relationships and situations that are uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and inconvenient. May we move towards people and places that are different and difficult for the sake of Jesus' name being made known.
I am also praying and believing that God is calling some of you out there to move into Riverdale with us in the next year. If you sense that calling, I invite you to come talk to our family so we can pray and discern with you. We want to see a gospel movement occur in Riverdale and we need more workers there with us.
Please pray for our family in an ongoing way. We desperately need it.
1. Pray that Christ would be our deepest joy and treasure. Pray that our hearts would be dependent upon Him day by day.
2. Pray for God's favor and aroma to be upon us as we move towards our refugee neighbors and meet a lot of new people. Pray that we would quickly find persons of peace in the community and that refugees would be drawn to us and ultimately Christ.
3. Pray for continued provision- protection, strength, finances, support.