The following is an interview blog penned by Erin King, one of our young ladies who was moved by God through her work abroad. Erin is a covenant member of BLDG 28 Church and has been serving overseas for a little over a year. We are including this interview blog here because we believe the content of this document and the spirit in which it was written will encourage and propel our church forward.
1. Tell us a little bit about this last year in Southeast Asia!
Wow, one whole year overseas! That is still crazy for me to write out and say. I have really dreamed about doing this with my life since I was a little girl and looking back over this first year, and just my life with the Lord, I feel really humbled by how Jesus worked all things together to get me here, in this land, with this team, surrounded by the beautiful people of this nation. I never thought I would spend my first year as a “m-worker” in Southeast Asia, but this past year of my life has been more than what I could ever have expected or hoped for. This last year has been exciting, joyful, new, scary, really challenging, unexpected, beautiful, and even at times painful all wrapped up in one. It has been a year of growing, pruning, refining, and learning how to live in a whole new culture, as well as settle into a whole new way of life. My team and I moved here to pioneer a new m-organization and when we started this whole journey, in the Summer of 2019, we really had no idea what to expect…we just knew that this was where the Lord wanted us, we knew deep inside that He is worthy, we were passionate about the Lost and loving Jesus in a land where He is not known, and we had a “yes” in our hearts. This first year really looked nothing like we thought it would, especially pioneering in the midst of a global pandemic, but we have seen the Lord move and we have felt His nearness. We have become more and more aware of the grand story that Jesus is writing in the Nations! A story where every single tribe and nation will one day sing to Him! Our vision as an organization is to Love the King and Advance His Kingdom – throughout the course of this past year, as we have been getting our feet on the ground, we have given ourselves to the First Commandment of loving the King with all of our hearts, ministering to Him, worshipping Him, cultivating intimacy with Him, and partnering with Him in the place of prayer and from this place we have been moved with Lord’s compassion towards the Second Commandment of loving the people of this nation, sharing the Good News with them, and doing all we can to reach the Lost.
2. Where are you serving and what is the culture like?
I am serving with an organization called Kairos Global and we are based in Southeast Asia! We are a “m-worker” organization that focuses on partnering in prayer with the Lord of the Harvest, preaching and proclaiming the Good News to the Lost, and discipling believers to then send them as “m-workers” to unreached nations throughout the 10/40 Window and the World. Our passion is for unreached people groups that have little to no Gospel witness in their own country and our hearts are set on ministering to Jesus in nations where He is not known or worshipped. We have three main focuses as a team – our House of Prayer where we collectively meet to pray, worship, and intercede; our Training Schools where we help to disciple and equip believers to be sent as “m-workers” through the world; and our Outre@ch/Discipleship Ministries that are focused on reaching the Lost with the Good News and seeing disciples made of all nations.
My team and I are based in the largest Muslim country in the world! However, despite the fact that we serve in the largest Muslim nation, the particular island where we live is actually completely Hindu. The culture here centers and revolves primarily around Hinduism – throughout the day people gather in temples to pray and give offerings to their gods, family traditions are deeply mixed with Hindu practices and beliefs, both large and small altars line the streets and homes, and even social, business, and governmental decisions and activities are based on the religion here. Everything is tied to Hinduism. This culture is known for being extremely resilient in preserving their Hindu beliefs and traditions (for centuries!), despite being surrounded by large Muslim islands on all sides. There are over 20,000 temples on just this one island. The people here feel a great sense of pride in their culture and the cultural roots here run deep – from language, to art, to family life, to storytelling, to dancing, and to food. Every morning the local markets are bustling and every evening families gather together in their homes. While the people here are deeply devoted to their religion, they also are some of the most kind, hospitable, open-hearted, and generous people that I have ever met. To the people of this land, strangers are not strangers, but are friends and there is a deep sense of community that is greatly honored by all. Most of the central and northern parts of this island are full of local villages, up in the mountains, where the people live with their entire families, live slower and more quiet lives, and make a living as farmers in the rice fields. The southern part of the island (where my team and I live) is a little more busy, feels more city-like, and is often where the local people come to find better jobs for themselves and their families. Despite the difference in demographic, Hinduism is entrenched throughout the entire island with some of the largest temples being located in the southern and central parts of the land. This island is beautiful – there are beaches, but then there are tall mountains, lined with rice fields, as far as the eye can see!
3. Coming from American culture, what was something that was funny/different/a shock to you there?
Oh wow, culture shock is real and can honestly be pretty challenging at times. Life is 100% different here than anything that I have known in America, but at the same time it has been such a fun and exciting adventure. I think the biggest thing that was a shock to me was honestly how much Hinduism dominates the culture, economy, society, and government of the entire island. I knew I was moving into a whole new cultural context, but every single thing is tied to Hinduism here – much different than culture in America where religion and faith affects people on a much more personal scale. The first few weeks that I moved here, I remember crying seeing crowds and crowds of people walking to the temple to worship false gods – altars made of stones and rocks. Entire villages, cities, and roads are shut down for Hindu festivals and everyone on the island goes to their local temple to pray every single day. Morning, afternoon, and night offerings are laid outside all homes, restaurants, and shops. It was pretty overwhelming at first, but it moved me to pray and share. I was shocked (and still am) by the vast amount of people on this island that have little to no knowledge at all of Jesus. In America, churches are on every street, while people here can go their entire lives without ever even hearing the name of Jesus.
I think something about the culture that was completely different, but in a fun way, is that most people drive here on scooters or motorcycles!! When I first moved here, I learned about an app that basically serves as the Asian version of Uber. You can order a ride, but instead of in a car, it is on a motorbike! After a few months of learning how to get around, I decided to make the jump and buy my own scooter! It was a little scary at first learning to drive (since traffic rules don’t really exist here and they drive on the left side of the road!), but now I have a blast! Scooter life is the best.
4. How has the Lord been stirring in your heart during your last year there?
I would say one of the biggest things that the Lord has been stirring in my heart, pretty much throughout this whole first year, is His Return. A verse that we really hold too as a team here is Matthew 24:14, when Jesus says “…this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” So much of what I do overseas as a “worker” is because I want to love the Lost like Jesus does, but I would say that one of the biggest reasons why I feel so passionate about reaching the unreached is because I want Jesus to come back and dwell with us here, on earth, again. It is not okay that every tribe has yet to hear the Good News, it is not okay that Jesus isn’t worshipped in all places by all people, and it is not okay that Jesus isn’t yet here with us physically again. I remember hearing this verse a lot and being moved by it, but it wasn’t until April (back in the COVID lockdown) that I began to more intensely study the Day of the Lord, the Return of Jesus, and what this all actually means. It was like the entire Bible bursted with color to me. I began to read the words of the prophets of the Old Testament, the words of Jesus himself, and the words of the New Testament apostles and started to see how everything is through lens of that beautiful Blessed Hope – the hope we hold too that one day Jesus will split the sky, return to us physically, reign in Jerusalem, restore all things, and fulfill everything He said He would. Everything is racing towards the day when God will dwell with man again. As I have studied the Return of Jesus with my community here and have felt the Lord stirring it in me, I have felt my heart come alive in new ways and it has made Jesus feel so much more real to me – He is not just an ethereal being on a cloud in Heaven, but He is a real man, with a physical, resurrected, glorious body, that has His heart set on the Day that He will return to be with His Bride. The Day of the Lord has opened so much for me in my intimacy with Jesus – it puts His heart on full display and really brings me into the grand story that He is writing and what He deeply cares about. This has really stirred my heart to go deep in the Bible and to know more of the Lord’s beauty, as well as given me a passion for the Middle East and for Israel!
5. How do you get through the hard days and missing your family?
By far what I miss the most about home is my family – I have the best family in the world. As I have been overseas this past year, I have definitely felt and wrestled with the costliness and sacrifice of moving away from such close proximity to my family. Thank you Jesus for FaceTime! On the really hard days, I get really honest with the Lord in prayer. He is well acquainted with grief and sorrow and He knows the deep emotions in my heart. I get really honest with Him, cry, and then I turn my heart towards His with Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is HUGE. I think having a heart posture of gratitude towards the Lord is key because it gets my eyes off of my circumstances and gets my heart focused on Jesus. It makes everything about Jesus, who He is, His character, His faithfulness, and His Goodness. It doesn’t negate the hard days, but it rather invites Jesus into them with me and makes me aware of what He is doing right before me. Thanksgiving really frees your heart in a lot of ways. I think community is another huge part. I bring my friends on my team into what is going on in my heart on the hard days when I miss home and my family; friends who can pray with me, encourage me, and help remind me of the Lord’s grace and character towards me. I also sing and pray the Bible. There are entire chapters and even books of the Bible that are dedicated to the authors expressing their deep emotion in various stages of life – David in the Psalms or Jeremiah in Lamentations, for example. Singing and praying Scripture really makes my heart come alive and centers me back on Jesus in the midst of the hard days.
6. What is the coolest experience you’ve had with the people there?
There are so many moments to choose from! I have been able to travel to some of the most beautiful places on this island with my local friends and have even had one of the greatest honors of my life in showing several people here the Bible for the first time. I think probably one of my most favorite moments this first year was when I went to the largest Hindu temple on the island and spent time with a Hindu priest and his family. The entire thing was completely Holy Spirit-led. My friends and I wanted to do a prayer drive to several Hindu temples around the island because we felt like the Lord wanted us to intercede for the people and worship Jesus there. When we arrived at what is known as the “mother temple” here, the Lord led us to meet a Hindu priest. We had just gotten out of the car and one of my teammates felt like the Holy Spirit was moving her to pray for someone with head pain – it ended up being this Hindu priest! He was the first person that we met and not just that, but he was one of the main priests at this temple – the most sacred temple on the island. We prayed for him and he was healed of his head pain, then he invited us to spend time with him, his wife, and his son in their home! We had no idea what to expect when we first arrived at this temple (we thought we were just coming to pray from the outside!), but it was like the Lord had granted us crazy favor with the people there to the point that we were now going to sit with this head priest and his family in their home! We just knew it was something only Jesus could have orchestrated. This specific temple actually is situated on the side of a mountain and all the priests live inside the temple as well. As we entered his home, a blanket was laid out on the grass and we all sat together and began to share stories, our testimonies, and about Jesus. Their hearts were so soft and so open. We learned that the priest’s wife had constant pain throughout her body, was unable to eat, and actually had been cursed with black magic by witch doctors on this island. We prayed for her and as we prayed she received a vision of Jesus and the Cross!! She cried and cried as she felt the love of God. It was an experience that I will never ever forget.
7. What is a piece of advice you’d give to someone praying if the m-worker path is for them?
I would say first and foremost that it is one of the best things that you could give your life too – it is very costly and is a lot of sacrifice, but it really is the biggest joy to get to be a friend of Jesus and love Him in a place where He isn’t known or loved – whether this is for a short-term season or for your whole life. I also would say, that you don’t need a big calling to say yes to the “m-worker” path. Obviously, I do believe the Lord leads and guides us and I think it is wise to take every decision to Him in prayer, but I think a lot of times people feel like they have to receive a huge vision, prophetic word, or hear the audible voice of God before they can say yes to serving Him in the nations – if the Lord has given you a burden for lost souls overseas, if you have felt His deep compassion for those that don’t know Him, and if you feel Him tugging on your heart to go, I would say go. I also would encourage someone who is praying about becoming a “m-worker” to know that you don’t have to be perfect, have it all together, or understand everything about Jesus to move overseas. This is why we have the beautiful gift of the Holy Spirit and the Lord equips those He calls. It is really easy when you move overseas (or at least is has been for me) to get caught up in feeling like you aren’t being effective enough, producing enough fruit, or doing enough for the Lord – I would say to pray and ask the Lord to guard your heart from this; to know that your identity and worth is first and foremost in who He says you are and He fully, completely delights in you before you ever do a single thing for Him overseas. He is the one who will produce the fruit, our job is just to be faithful and obedient. Also, last thing I would say is, really really be present once you are overseas. Enjoy immersing yourself in the culture, hearing the stories of the people, and learning the rhythms of life in a whole new country across the globe. It is an adventure with Jesus!
8. Have you picked up any new hobbies or interests living overseas?
I recently have become super interested in getting my scuba diving certification! About a month ago, a couple of my friends and I went on a snorkeling trip to see some of the beautiful coral reefs here, as well as swim with manta rays! I absolutely loved it and it really made me want to pursue diving! I also have really taken up going to the gym! I love to workout and there is a pretty big athletic community here on this island!
9. What’s your morning routine like?
I usually have to wake up pretty early in the mornings! My team and I have daily prayer and worship meetings at our House of Prayer and since I usually lead worship or play in the band, I have to get there pretty early! When I wake up in the morning, I always for sure make coffee! It is a must! (Southeast Asia has some of the best coffee in the world!). I then will spend time with the Lord. My quiet time varies from day to day – sometimes I will just play worship songs on my guitar or sing the Bible, other days I spend most of it in prayer, while other days I just read! I usually am up and out of the house by 8:30!
10. How do you share your faith overseas with others?
I am really really blessed that the island I am on is one of the more lenient islands, within this nation, when it comes to sharing the Good News publicly. I have never lived in a Hindu culture, prior to moving overseas, so I have had to learn how to share my faith in this context! Because so much of Hinduism is rooted in their belief in the “spiritual realm” with spirits, stories, and nature, most Hindus here are extremely open to talking about things related to faith. I have found that it is really easy to open up conversation with the people here about Jesus – especially since so many have never heard of Him and are interested in learning about God. A lot of times, I will start the conversation by asking them about Hinduism and the Hindu culture here and as the conversation continues, I will ask them if they have ever heard about Jesus or know His story. Other times, I will just start and ask the people I meet if they need prayer for anything. Since Hindus here pray in their temples multiple times a day, this isn’t out of the ordinary for them; in fact many are really receptive and want to receive prayer. I will pray that Jesus reveals Himself to them in dreams and visions and that they will feel the love of God – many people here have never even heard that God loves them. All they know is that their gods demand they do enough good things so that they can have enough good karma – the goal of their entire lives is to have enough good works stored up so that their gods don’t reincarnate them, but rather grant them passage into their version of heaven. If you are reincarnated, it means you have debts to pay and just weren’t good enough the first time around at life. Several times throughout the week, my teammates and I will go out to share the Good News and before we start, we like to pray and ask the Holy Spirit for a picture or word of knowledge that will direct us in where to go and who to share with. This is so fun because a lot of times the Holy Spirit will put a specific place on our heart or give us a picture of something or someone to be on the lookout for. For example, one time my teammates and I prayed and someone got a picture of the back corner of a local market. We ended up going to a market close by my house, went to the back corner, met several young adults, and ended up sharing the Good News with them for an hour. We were able to tell them that God actually led us to them and this grabs peoples’ attention like nothing else. The fact that you can hear from God is so foreign to Hindus. In this culture, only “holy people” or Hindu priests can hear from the gods, so when we show up and tell them that God spoke to US about THEM, it is mind blowing to them. It is the perfect open door and a lot of times we get to share our testimonies as well, which is always really powerful. Lastly, I often ask those I meet if they have any pain in their body and if they say yes, I love to pray for healing. My teammates and I have seen a ton of physical healings since moving here – the Holy Spirit loves to move in miracles to confirm the preaching of the Word!
11. What part of m-worker work do you enjoy most or find the most rewarding?
Honestly, the fact that Jesus has given me the opportunity to play even a very small role in His greater story of Him receiving His inheritance of every tribe, nation, and tongue worshipping Him is the most rewarding thing. He is my reward, He always will be, and this is all for Him. I get to love Jesus where He is not loved, I get to love people that He has made, and I get to partner with Him here. He could do it all on His own, yet for some reason He chose little me to be a part of what He is doing in Southeast Asia. He is so relational and involved. I would say that knowing all of that and then seeing people here get wrecked with the love of Jesus is the best thing. These are lost people, sheep without a shepherd, that have no idea who Jesus is and have never felt the presence of the one, true, Living God – then in a single moment, everything shifts and they feel the greatest love they have ever known. That’s my favorite part.
12. What passage of Scripture have you held most closely to your heart during this experience?
Revelation 1, Daniel 7:9-14, John 6:66-69, John 15, and Psalm 18.
13. Who would you say is your own missionary hero or role model?
My role model is Mike Bickle, 100%. No Bible teacher has impacted me more than Mike Bickle and what he has pioneered at International House of Prayer in Kansas City. Mike Bickle has a deep history with Jesus and the Holy Spirit has used his teachings on intimacy with the Lord, the End Times, prayer, and the First Commandment to mark my heart, inspire me, and cultivate more and more hunger for Jesus inside of me. I highly highly highly recommend looking into his sermons and teachings, as well as checking out the International House of Prayer’s livestream on youtube!
14. What is your favorite thing you’ve eaten in Southeast Asia?
I think my most favorite dish that I have eaten is probably Soto Ayam Betawi!! This is a popular soup dish here that you can find everywhere – from street food carts, to restaurants, to the local markets. It is a coconut-milk based soup that is mixed with chicken, rice, spices, vegetables, and of course – sambal! Sambal is a spicy chili sauce here and it is eaten with every single meal! Something that is really fun about the food culture, in this nation, is that every island has its own spin on Soto Ayam and Sambal! The best dessert that I have eaten here is known as Martabak! It basically is two giant, fried pancakes that are sandwiched together with chocolate, peanuts, and coconut!
The weirdest thing that I have eaten in this nation is…pig intestines! A popular dish here is known as Babi Guling. This is very common in villages and is a rice dish that is mixed with pretty much every part of a pig, even the ears!
15. What is a misconception you’ve had to overcome?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions that I have had to overcome is that I would see “fruit” right away. While the Lord can do anything and is ALWAYS moving (Praise Jesus for all the salvations and miracles we have seen!), I think I thought things would happen super quickly overseas, while honestly so much of my life here is sowing seeds of the Gospel, praying, and pioneering. Even things like discipleship, church planting, or making local friends takes time and in the midst of that, the Lord is moving on behalf of our prayers. I am learning to not discount the Gospel seeds that we are planting in the hearts of people here and to trust Jesus with the fruit.
16. When do you think you will return to the States if that is something you’re considering?
I will most likely be returning to the States, for a few months, in Fall of 2021! Every two years, my organization allows us to take several months to come home for a visit and to rest. October 2021 will be my two-year mark on the field, so I will be coming home for a visit around then! 🙂
17. How has COVID affected your ministry overseas?
Back in March/April, COVID hit this nation pretty intensely. We had to go into lockdown and the entire economy of the island that I am on almost collapsed. My team and I had to go into lockdown for a few months, but we honestly saw this as a gifted season from the Lord to pursue Him in the Secret Place and in the place of prayer and intimacy. We felt like the Lord gave us a lot of vision as a team during this time. After the mandatory COVID lockdown was let up, my team and I did all we could to help the local people that were suffering from the economic state of the island. We heard stories of people that couldn’t provide food for their families, had no money to receive medical care, and were even becoming depressed or committing sucicide because of how the pandemic had taken a toll on them. Due to this, my team and I began to fundraise and began to package food and medical bags! We partnered with local churches on the island to distribute food bags to villages all over the island, as well as to orphanages and brothels. Over the course of about 2-3 months, my team and those we partnered with handed out over 1,500 food and medical bags! This distribution opened the door for us to build relationships with many people throughout the island – several of which ended up receiving Jesus and were baptized! Even though COVID has not been easy, the Lord really used it to give us space to hear from Him, build relationships with the community, and share His love with the people of this island in new ways.
18. Is there a certain song that has ministered to your heart this last year?
Oh wow, I love this question, but it is so hard for me to choose! Here is a list of several songs that have ministered greatly to my heart this year!
The Blood and the Barley – Dalton & Anna Thomas
Jesus, You’re Beautiful – Jon Thurlow
More than Ashes – Tim Reimherr
Seek the Lord – Cody Ray Lee
Lord, You Know All Things – Olivia Buckles
Oh the Cross – UPPERROOM
Faithful to the End – Cory Asbury
Joy – UPPERROOM
Where I Belong – Cory Asbury
Beauty of this Man – Tim Reimherr
19. What has been your biggest take away about God’s character this last year?
I think more than ever before in my life, this year has been the one where the Lord has done the most “heart surgery” – He has brought up so much in my heart that needed healing, pruning, and redefining. I caught myself feeling really heavy, discouraged, and weighed down at times with pressures and expectations that I felt like I had to live up too as a “m-worker” in ministry overseas. I would get really anxious on certain days, had a hard time trusting Jesus with my process of being overseas, and overall just felt really tired. This led me to really place a lot of these things on the Father, as if He was the one demanding these expectations from me and I began to fear that I would fail Him, disappoint Him, and even at times be judged by Him. In the midst of all this coming up and being in the thick of it a few months ago, there was a moment in our House of Prayer when we were singing about the Cross. In this moment, I felt Jesus speak to me and I broke down as the love of Jesus and the love of the Father hit my heart deeply. I heard Jesus tell me, “I died for Erin. I didn’t die just so you could do ministry or be a m-worker overseas, but I died specifically for Erin and Erin’s heart because I love you”. For so much of this past year, I was living as a “worker” and not a “lover” of Jesus and it led me to have wrong perspectives and views of how the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit see me or relate to me. I began to think that God only cares about what I do and that everything I do is onto ministry or serving Jesus, instead of viewing my life with the purpose that God always intended it to have – having a relationship with Jesus, being in communion with Him, and knowing His love. I even caught myself thinking that all my pruning and refining was just because the Father wanted to make me into a better m-worker or so that I could last longer on the Field, rather than seeing it as the Father just caring about my heart. In the midst of all of that, Jesus spoke to me in a small prayer room and said “I love you, Erin, and the end goal for me, on that Cross, was not you becoming a m-worker or feeling heavy from burdens of having to “work” to please me. No, the end goal was your heart and was so that you could know real love. You were my thought on the Cross”. I think that has been the biggest thing I have learned about God’s character this year. He loves me for me just because I am His and belong to Him. I couldn’t do anything to earn His love, He just gave it freely and that was what His heart was after from the beginning of time. I couldn’t earn it then and nothing I do in ministry will add to or take away from His love – He delights in me right now. As much as I want to minister to His heart, He wants to do just the same to mine. He is trustworthy and He really satisfies. I still feel very much in this process and a lot of times I feel weak, but I am learning that Jesus doesn’t despise my weakness, but rather in the midst of my weakness says that my love is still real to Him and His love will never leave.
20. How can we be praying for you?
I would love personal prayer for more and more hunger for Jesus; that the Holy Spirit would move in my heart and grow my capacity to love Jesus, see Him, hear Him, and know Him; and that I would continue to learn how to abide in the love of Jesus daily. Please pray for my team and I that as we head into the new year Jesus would continue to give us vision for and wisdom on how to pioneer Kairos Global – that He would give us creative ideas and prepare us for what He wants to do. My team and I are really expectant for 2021 and we really believe that Jesus is going to bring in a big harvest of souls – the harvest is ripe and ready! Please pray that people here in Southeast Asia would receive Jesus and come to know Him as their Lord and Savior!