Editor’s note: The mission of WitnessSF is to provide a platform for our communities to share their stories. You were created for a purpose, and we hope that this story encourages you to pursue your God-given purpose with all your heart. How are YOU pursuing your purpose? Share in the comments!
“I am in ministry.”
Even a year ago, I would’ve hardly believed those words coming out of my mouth. Now, I live in and breathe for ministry. My transformation from a promiscuous gal with low self-esteem to a secular Christian, and now to a Kingdom-builder had been slow but enduring. My story of coming to know Jesus isn’t one of revival or experiencing a bright light at the end of a tunnel. Rather, my story is the sum of snippets of daily life and the grace of a Savior.
I grew up in a large, extended family and despite an otherwise normal childhood, I seldom felt loved and pretty. By my teenage years, I had turned my attention to boys, constantly seeking approval from guys I didn’t even particularly care for. Though I accepted Christ during a summer camp when I was fourteen, I let my rebellious and sinful self take over my life. By my late teens, I had moved out of my family home and was living with a boyfriend. That relationship was rough and at best, unhealthy. It was unsatisfying and not loving. It was the wrong guy, for all the wrong reasons. Often times, I would cry in the shower, so the water would wash my tears away. I distinctly remembered I once cried out to God to save me from this relationship during one of my shower moments.
After three plus years of this unhealthy relationship, I got out and met my now husband, David. In one of our very first conversations. I found out David was a Christian. I made a mental note of that, because even though my relationship with Christ was far away at that point, I knew there was something special about it. I began a gradual process of reconciling with God, attending churches with David and his family when we visited them. After I got married, I attended church more consistently and got baptized a year later. At that point, I considered myself a Christian, but was more or less a “cultural” Christian. This meant that while I believed in the Bible, shared friendship with other fellow Christians, knew Christian songs and tithed to our local church… my life still wasn’t surrendered to God. My life may not even have looked that different from people who didn’t call themselves “Christians.” I scarcely served at church and my attention was still centered around my career, my next vacation plans, or the next social outing with friends. The day-to-day “stuff” of life often intruded on my relationship with God, making me worried and anxious.
My life hit a turning point when I decided to move to Santa Clara in preparation of the birth of my first-born. In searching for a new home church, David and I came across South Bay Church. We would receive their fliers in the mail, but I kept throwing them away. Eventually, something inside nudged me to check out this “start-up” church. We loved the church service and I just knew God wanted my family to be there. After I committed to call South Bay Church our home church, I went from being a guest, to a small group participant, to a volunteer, to a small group leader in a matter of about six months. My faith grew exponentially every Sunday as I absorbed the words of God at “Ground Zero” with many people who did not know Christ before, having moved to the Bay Area from different parts of the country and world. Together, we were experiencing the love of Christ in a non-judgmental way.
After a year of attending South Bay Church, I was approached to help with organizing life groups (small group gatherings throughout the week). I said “yes” right away because I love my church and life groups were where I personally experienced life-changing relationships, as people in my life group had walked with me through a difficult time when my second son was born with a genetic blood disorder. They had been there to pray for, love and encourage me. Every four months, new life groups would start. Every four months, I was asked to help. Every fourth months, I said “yes.” As I said “yes” to the call to help, God would provide the time, the mental capacity, the strength, the wisdom, the discipline and above all, the abundance of joy to me. And then it hit me. “I am in ministry”.
In the past, when I thought about ministry, I thought it was about a whole family foregoing all their dreams and desires of the world, moving to the Amazon jungle to share the gospel with the natives. Or taking on a pastoral position in a small church while the family tries to make ends meet. I had my preconceived notions and just didn’t know any better. I’m not a missionary in the Amazon jungle, nor the small town pastor, but I, too, am in ministry. I am in ministry, right where I’m at. Being in ministry isn’t about how much money I forego in a career, how much time I spent preparing a sermon or how many mission trips I have taken. “Being in ministry” is that email I send to our church leaders thanking them for their hard work, the phone call I make to connect a new guest to a small group, or the text I send to a friend who may need encouragement. All these seeds I have sown, big or small create a ripple effect that may last for a lifetime. I am part of the Body that works to build for the King of all kings. I serve alongside with these other wonderful humbled Kingdom builders to make disciplines of all nations and take the message of Christ’s love to the ends of the earth. Normal people, just like me. I am serving with joy from the bottom of my heart that overflows to others. Even the Negative Nancy in me turns into the Faithful Faye.
This paradigm shift energizes me and enables me to think beyond who I am, and towards what I have been created for. I am created for the Purpose of God. The truth is, YOU can be in ministry. YOU can minister to your friend who is in need. YOU can reach out and give a hug to a friend who is going through a divorce. YOU can serve at your church or a local organization you have been called to. YOU can serve alongside many others who don’t have a seminary degree. The only requirement of a ministry worker is brokenness in the past, redemption and restoration for good, and a reconciled relationship with God.
To borrow my pastor’s words – one day when you die and you get to heaven, God will ask you two questions, The first question is “Did you believe in my Son?” The second question is “What did you do with your life?”
So, what are you doing with your life? My encouragement and prayer for you is that you realize the best gift God has given you is his Son, Jesus Christ, who died for you. And also the next best gift: that God has a Purpose for you. Find a local church or organization who’s vision you believe in and partner with them. Be intentional and be missional. You will also find yourself one day in ministry. Just say yes and help.
Vivian and her husband David attend South Bay Church, which meets at1180 Murphy Ave in San Jose, CA. In addition to her role as mother of two young boys, Karl and Connor, Vivian is on staff at South Bay as Life Group Director in parallel with her role as a finance director at a local high tech company. Vivian is passionate about connecting people so they can form lasting, meaningful relationships in a comfortable group environment. Visit South Bay Church in person or online at southbaychurch.org