Elizabeth (Liz) Frey is part of the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program, spending a year in Malaysia teaching English as a second language. The program is reliant on coordinators who facilitate the young adults’ ministry and provide mentoring and spiritual guidance. To support a YAGM coordinator, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
I recently listened to a sermon regarding these verses from 1 Corinthians 9: “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings” (verse 22-23). The pastor explained the text as Paul crossing social boundaries that his society had built up. He was taking risks in order to tell anyone and everyone about Jesus. Paul was jumping the lines that separated people in his day.
This mental image got me thinking: As a YAGM, how am I crossing lines in pursuit of sharing God’s message?
First, just being a YAGM forces one to cross a line. That line could be cultural as in stepping from the consumer culture of the U.S. to living a simple life in a new country. As a YAGM, I left the American culture I was immersed in for 23 years to become part of a culture I knew very little about.
But, there are many more lines that I have had to cross since coming to Malaysia almost six months ago. I have become a teacher. I don’t have a degree in education, but here I am teaching English several days a week to future pastors. I have become a meat-eater. This is mundane, but in a culture that does not facilitate to vegetarians, I crossed a line in order to immerse myself here.
Most importantly, my faith has crossed a line in the months that I have lived in Malaysia. Honestly, I was a “Sunday Christian” prior to coming to this country. I only thought about God on Sunday, while I was at church. I never read my Bible and rarely prayed. I had faith, but it wasn’t part of my daily life. Living and working at a seminary has changed me in dramatic ways.
Being in Malaysia has changed me in amazing ways. I live my life with God in mind. I have crossed a line and become something all for the sake of trying to live out the gospel.