It’s now been almost three weeks since I boarded the Turkish Airlines flight from Logan International in Boston and eventually landed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
My time here has felt both surreal and God-ordained. Whether I’m relishing the taste of a banana Roti or caught up in the excitement of starting my first profile story, I’ve taken a step back and thought to myself: “This is crazy. Am I actually living in Malaysia, thousands of miles from home?” At the same time, I have this sense that this is exactly where God wants me to be. Perhaps it’s the coincidental way that I originally stumbled across this opportunity or the joy that I feel when I’m doing something I love in a way that gives Him glory.
I’m here as a communications intern with OM for two months this summer. I don’t even clearly remember how I first learnt about this job; it was probably a random Google search. This spring, I finished my gap year programme between high school and college, so I wanted something to do this summer other than lounging on my couch watching sports. Little did I realise how much the Lord had in store for me. When I learnt about this opportunity, it seemed almost too good to be true. Professional writing experience? Travelling to a different culture? Seeing the impact of the love of Christ in people’s lives? I was sold.
My first weekend here consisted of recovering from jet lag and exploring Kuala Lumpur. I immediately learnt that food is a huge priority to both residents and tourists, as indicated by the hundreds of restaurants that line the streets. Cuisine here ranges from the traditional Malay dishes to Chinese and Indian, representing the three major ethnic groups. This diversity of ethnicity, culture and religion within the country both surprised and delighted me, something that I hadn’t experienced before in my years of growing up in Asia.
On a drizzling Monday, I joined Alex*, a photographer, on his commute to the OM office, where I officially began my internship, learning about OM’s unique brand and communications style. I am thrilled over OM’s emphasis on the outworking of God’s love in individual stories and the fact that I can play a role in communicating those stories. I want to discover how people have experienced that transforming love, but also empathise with their present struggles. Isn’t this in some way part of Jesus’s mission of incarnation? To be able to encounter people in their brokenness and beauty, whether it was a woman drawing water from a well or an unusually short tax collector throwing his dignity to the wind by climbing a tree. Jesus knew better than anyone else that all ministry begins and ends with the love of God entering a human heart.
Of course, being here isn’t always rosy; missions is messy. There are times when I have deeply missed my family and friends, now literally a world away, times when I feel inadequate, times when it just seems all a little too much. But I know that this is part of how God is writing my own story, leading me ever closer to his heart. Two months are a drop in the bucket compared to a lifetime, but, who knows? Maybe this is where I discover more of who I’m meant to be and what I’m meant to do. At least, if these first few weeks are any indication, then the rest of the journey is going to be one crazy ride.
**Chris grew up in Asia as the son of American missionaries, and now studies at Duke University in North Carolina. He loves climbing mountains, exploring new countries and diving into a good book. Writing helps him to see the beauty of God in the world and in the lives of other people.