This is an update alongside the previous post of what I have been up to the last 6 months. I want to update you on my first semester in post secondary, which was quite a big step for me in personal ways. I am now 5 weeks into my summer semester. I made a mistake on a previous post. I am actually doing my prerequisites and am currently on the wait-list for the Social Service Work program.
On top of adjusting to not being in school for 8 years and reverse culture shock, I had to face my fears of inadequacy, fears of failure, among other things. I was overwhelmed with getting back into the flow of studying (which I didn’t do much of in high school!) So I am even more hard on myself. Words could not express how much pressure I was under and no one could relate to the magnitude of stress it had on me.
For that reason, I went to the counseling department at school a couple of times just to make sure that I wasn’t going insane. It’s amazing what support they have for students’ emotional well-being (especially during exam period!). They have 8 counselors for a reason, they told me. I wish they had that kind of resource in high school when teens are going through their confusing phase of defining themselves.
Thankfully, I met a friend of the same age in my English class, which consisted of just 6 people. She lives a block away from me and had also been overseas, in China for 2 years teaching English. I was so grateful that I had someone to relate on some level with in school. Then I bumped into a girl I had met one time at church and so we became study buddies since she lived on the same street as me! It’s exciting when God connects you with people instantly and just when you need it.
During the start of my first semester, my social anxiety was so high because of the fast pace of the culture and how some professors would ramble on like no tomorrow and talk about conspiracy theories. They also bashed Christianity and that made me uncomfortable. I would come home mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted at times. I am also an introvert, which means that I get overstimulated in crowded settings and need to be alone in order to re-energize myself. It is only natural that I would be among people who value justice and truth in the courses that I am taking. But the mission field is where your daily exposures are.
On top of my educational priorities, being the crazy evangelist that I am, I couldn’t help but invite my friends to the Alpha course hosted at a bar and grill by my church. Everything in my body said I shouldn’t do this cause my heart felt obligated instead of willing since I was already suffering the stress of school. “The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” As women, we do things in spite and that can be detrimental to our well-being if we do not take care of ourselves before taking care of others. Plus I am a stubborn thing… I want my friends to be connected and that is what I do best. If I didn’t do Alpha, I wouldn’t have had met some people I felt God had placed in my life for a reason. He’s not surprised by our choices but makes all things work together for our good.
Alpha is a 10 week, gathering that teaches the fundamentals of Christianity. Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to serve the church but because I was so burnt out with adjusting to everything in such a short amount of time, I was not fit enough to be burdened with following up on them all. Yet I do not regret the experience cause it has increased my understanding of God’s mission for me. Initially, I did not expect my seeking friends to join after I invited them to a party to introduce the course, that they can choose whether or not to sign up for.
Just wanna backtrack, I have yet to mention a good friend whom God has placed in my life. Nang (my friend I mentioned in my previous post) connected me to one time catering job with her and a group of her friends at UBC (University of British Columbia). It was an Aboriginal reconciliation event. To be honest I was so clueless about all the injustices that were inflicted upon their people until I did a research paper on them. Anyways, I met this sweet German girl named, Anja. We clicked right away since she was interested in my journey overseas so we decided to connect. On our first time hanging out, I asked her if she was open to checking out our life group (bible study and connecting in a small group) that is being held at my friends’ place, which was within walking distance from where we were in downtown and starting in just a few minutes. To my surprise, she was willing cause she’s already expressed that she was really intrigued by the bible and loves to connect with new people. So after hanging at Starbucks, off we went and arrived unannounced (since I don’t even attend that life group lol!). I am so glad that she did because since then she has fit in so well with my friends from church and has continued going to life group. I wanted to introduce her before I mention the next bit.
To my amazement, 3 of my friends and 2 friends of theirs signed up. Anja introduced me to her Muslim friend and since Anja was so awesome, of course we connected instantly! She was very open to discuss about the differences between Islam and Christianity that I even invited her to a life group that my parents and I attended. At life group she felt more free in a more relaxed and casual setting to ask about the Bible verses the Qu’ran and she really enjoyed the fellowship.
It was a bit surprising at times cause she is so passionate about Islam but at the same time, it was intriguing. I felt like I was in YWAM again, although her intention was to convert us into Islam, our group took it as a positive challenge for us as Christians to explain our beliefs, where as some Christians can choose to be offended.
She even brought her husband and son (sorry I can’t show a pic by her request) along to the Alpha weekend away to Bowen Island, where we have a retreat to get to know one another better and be inspired by the testimonies that others share, as well as having discussions after the talk.
As someone who was raised in a strong Christian family, it increased my awareness of the need to continually define my faith to those who never considered Jesus as the Son of God. The Philippines was my comfort zone cause they know of Jesus, being in a Catholic nation and believe they are saved yet still caught up in religious acts and sin instead of having a true relationship and living life for Him. I could identify with that much more.
I believe my Muslim friend was sent by God to me as inspiration to be more well rounded in my understanding of how non-Christians think and what they believe as opposed to just relying on my experiences to explain spiritual awakening in Christ. So I decided to sign up for a History course on Islam, but don’t get all excited yet.. After 3 weeks in, I found there was too much reading and I was overwhelmed with all the Aramaic terminologies and I am totally not a historian. So I chose to withdraw from the class and focus my energy on things that I was going to do well in.
My friend and her family has gone back to Saudi Arabia but will be coming back in August, which is when I’m done my summer semester. We agreed that my life group leader would read the Qu’ran, while she would read the Bible and we would reunite and debrief on what we learned during our time apart =)
At the moment, I am learning to dissociate my emotions about the Truth. It is easy to take things personally and then try to inwardly reject but outwardly conform to what the teacher says about your faith. But then you isolate those who need to strengthen their faith just as much as you do. Silence is where Christians feel the most segregated when it comes to these awkward one sided views in class. I had to always come to the conclusion that every opportunity for more usefulness is fashioned in the midst of adversity. Looks can be deceiving and when it comes to being in a secular school, Christians tend to fear being known for their beliefs because of backlash in class. Instead of looking at it as persecution, we need to see it as an opportunity to be a light where lost souls are searching for truth.
Just a few days ago, I had to talk to my Sociology teacher who was using a bunch of bible verses to prove a point that were out of context on how it was to be read. (in relation to the historical culture and its audience) Plus cutting out the key verses thus creating more controversy. I wanted to brush it off because I feared being identified in class and needing to stand up for my beliefs but it was not the right place to do so since it was not a religious or philosophy course. At church, the pastor spoke on the exact verses and how many people misunderstand it’s meaning behind it. I felt like God was reminding me to talk to the professor and not letting this blow over. So as the next class began, the prof debriefed from last class and even showed the evidence he photocopied from a Sociology textbook to inquiring students. As I met him in his office and told my concerns for the way he mentioned God in a view that made Christians feel segregated, he became a bit defensive but softened up as I was not out to prove a point but my objective was to come to a mutual respect of where both our viewpoints were coming from.
He asked about my personal faith and so I openly shared with him about my transformation from an on-the-fence Christian to truly living by faith in my journey overseas doing ministry in the red light district of the Philippines. He told me that he really respected the work I did. Being a Sociologist instructor, he has traveled around the world so I shared my struggles adjusting back to the culture as well as secular schools that tend to find offense in Jesus and God. He told me that UBC offers historical teaching in the Old and New Testament but unfortunately there were no History to Christianity courses held in Langara. There was a religious course for Islam, Christianity, and Judaism course but I explained that the book they wanted us to read on top of that would undermine all of those beliefs entirely (it was some new age book about the cosmos) and that was not the reason I would be there for. He said that he came from an Anglican background but doesn’t believe in certain aspects of the bible. I explained what my understanding was on the passage that he quoted in class and he could see it from a Christian perspective but as a Sociology teacher he was very logical in his approach to the bible. Since he was so evidence based, we got on the topic of evolution. I asked if he would be willing to look at a video on Evolution vs. God. Here is the link : http://www.livingwaters.com/outreach/evolution-vs-god (Scroll down to see the video)
We talked for an hour and he would have asked me more personal questions if it wasn’t for the work he needed to do. My whole body was vibrating with adrenaline just from the idea of speaking to a teacher about these topics. I vowed to never fear persecution in school because you never know what background people are coming from and I was surprised that he did come from an Anglican background. I have recently joined a Christian club at my school and I was very supported emotionally and Spiritually. We even watched and discussed the video I shared to my professor and hopefully I can get some info from my fellow club members on the topic of evolution to share with him. I’m very intimidated in the area of discussing evidence based logic since this is a totally different field of evangelism for me. I felt very drained this week from a lot of opposition and so I thank God for the connections I’ve made with the members of the club cause as Christians we must combat Spiritual opposition with fellowship, prayer and encouragement from others.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”