Written by Melissa Mah
The Gracious Call to Serve
I thank God for the gracious call to serve Him in the fulltime ministry. Not only is the Lord merciful to save me from my sinful, self-pleasing ways, He has also granted me a part in His Gospel ministry. That I have an opportunity to serve Him – what a blessed privilege the eternal King has bestowed upon an undeserving sinner as I! Just as the apostle Paul said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy…” (1 Timothy 1:15b-16a).
In my late teens and early adulthood, I lived a life that was attracted by the glittering allurements of this world, seeking its pleasures and comforts, just like the worldly-wise-but-spiritually-foolish unbelieving people, forsaking the spiritual instructions and counsels in God’s Word despite learning them from a young age. Those were foolish paths that would only lead to a soul’s perilous end. However, the tender Shepherd showed great mercy not to forsake me in condemnation, but to lovingly bring me back to the fold, and even opened the door to service in His glorious Gospel work. The response, in the words of one hymn-writer, was: “love so amazing so divine, demands my love my life my all.”
But how does one know he or she is called to serve God full-time? That question lingered in my mind for a considerable length of time, until the Lord Himself showed the answer. I prayed to the Lord that if it was His will for me to serve Him with my life, He would help me know it without a doubt. Isaiah 65:24 says, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Truly, the assurance of God through prayer is the promise that every seeking soul can hope and rejoice in.
Thus in July 2006, through various circumstances in life and God’s providential leading, the Lord convicted my heart to surrender my life to serve Him, through the words and ministry of the apostle Paul who wrote: “For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:9). The apostle Paul’s attitude in the service of God was one of “labour and travail”. Instead of being anxious or fearful at the testimony of the hard labour required, I knew God was speaking to me through His Word and the working of the Holy Spirit in my heart. I took these words as God’s call and command for the days ahead, and set aside all worldly ambition to serve the Lord. The Lord had clearly laid out His expectations of my service.
Learning to Fulfil the Call and Be Faithful
I am mindful of how God had called me to serve Him, and am learning to fulfil the call to serve Him each day. None of us, with our gross sins and weak wills, truly deserve to serve so holy and awesome a Master. Yet He has sanctified us and counted us worthy of the call through the cleansing blood of Christ His Son. For this reason, we humbly labour to be accepted of Him when He comes (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:9), remembering that the measure of our work is not done by us, but by God who sees every thought, motive and deed, “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth” (2 Corinthians 10:18).
From the first day God called me, the instruction He gave to me was that the life of service would mean arduous toil, requiring whole-hearted commitment and love for His work, to which I have strived to fulfil by God’s strength and by keeping close to Him in submission to His Word and will. Through the past 14 years, the Lord has granted joy, peace and His abiding presence as I serve Him. He also gives daily strength and resolve to be faithful in spite of human weaknesses. Without His help, we are unable to fulfil any calling in life, for He, being in possession of everlasting strength (Isaiah 26:4), is the Supply of our strength.
It is a daily task to unburden myself from every load that binds me to this world, in order to be approved as a faithful worker. As Scripture instructs us, we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). The Lord’s work needs all of our devotion, and it must be done with God-given wisdom and haste. Jesus commanded us to follow His example, to work “while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). The Master has allowed me entrance to His vineyard, so I must labour whole-heartedly. Christ, who has called us, strengthens us by His might to go through the course He has set before us. The difficulties along the path are joyous and not burdensome, if we look unto Him, for He has promised, “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).
Learning to Be Fruitful in the Work of God
The Lord is our great Resource in all the work we do for Him. He supplies and sustains His work. I am neither IT savvy, nor do I possess a natural liking for technical things. So, I praise God for His gracious enablement to learn the skills needed to manage the audio recording system that our church has invested in over the past 14 years, and thereby to do my part in the propagation of the Gospel throughout the world.
Much skills and resources are needed to effectively carry out the work of God in a church like ours. In Bible Witness Media Ministry (BWMM), and Bible Witness Web Radio (BWWR), there is so much that we desire to accomplish but often the labourers are few. It is an on-going struggle to create and maintain good, spiritually edifying content to be broadcast on BWWR, and this often brings frustration and disappointment to me. Nonetheless, I praise and thank God that the Lord has preserved the ministries He has led us into, and while some abandon the work, others see its value and offer sacrificial service. I thank God for bringing Sis Sharon dela Cruz back to assist in BWMM this year, and for her labours to edit audio content for BWWR. Similarly, the Lord has recently granted us another extra pair of hands in Sis Dorcas Koshy, who has joyfully contributed much content for BWWR in the recent month.
These are God’s provisions for His own work, but there is still a great need for skilled young minds with vigour to serve Him without delay, having understood the great worth of the things of eternity. Many times we have undertaken mammoth tasks, which I worried we could not fulfil, but the Lord has always been a gracious Provider of all the resources and spiritual mettle we needed to complete each project. With every work, I have experienced the blessed Hand of the Master who has proven Himself to be the One that unfailingly guides and accomplishes His work.
Learning to Fulfil the Call as a Woman in Service
In 1 Corinthians 14:34, women are instructed to “be under obedience” to the authorities God has placed in the church. Over the years, the Lord has also helped me to understand the role of a woman serving in the ministry. Serving mostly among brothers-in-Christ, I am acutely aware that fulfilling my calling requires me to follow the leadership of godly men – namely the (faithful) pastor, preachers and church leaders – as I serve in areas as the Lord would direct. My duty is to support their attempts to preach the Gospel and edify God’s people. Through the caring and upright ways of my co-labourers, I have learnt how a woman ought to serve and conduct herself in the work of the Lord. By obeying the Biblical patterns for women in service and learning from the mistakes of others, I have received much blessings serving in this church office, which has been a special and wonderful place to work in. Having a place where we are of the same mind towards God, His work and one another, is indeed God’s favour upon our ministry.
The sovereign Lord plants our footsteps, not we ourselves. He has been good to show many ways in which I could be a part of His glorious Gospel work, for which I am thankful and humbled. He has taught me patience, meekness and submission to His will. He also granted the joy of serving Him. I do not know what other areas of service or appointments in this life the Lord would set for me, but I pray I would be faithful in every task, great or small, labouring daily to be accepted of Him and to please Him. For this, I rest on the promise of God in 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” I am made a useful vessel only because of His abounding grace each day. Trusting in the Lord, I am greatly assured that He will fulfil His purposes in me.
Finally, I am aware that the greatest battle in the service of God is the battle against self – not only dealing with my own weaknesses, but also struggling against sin, distracting thoughts and ‘feeble’ emotions, yet desiring to fear the Lord, to walk in His ways, to love and serve Him with all my heart and all my soul (cf. Deuteronomy 10:12). Certainly, much daily labour is needed in order to be able to fulfil God’s call and be counted faithful – labour to be holy, labour to flee sinful enticements, labour to be rid of pride and selfishness, labour to see our own weaknesses, labour to resist being discouraged and dejected, labour to bring everything to God in prayer. Daily self-examination and repentance is necessary, with God’s gracious help, in order to prove one’s calling. We must deny self – not squandering the time, life and opportunities He has given, in trivial pursuits. Let us cast aside things that do not count for eternity, to serve Him with our all, before life is past. To the Lord be all glory and praise.