Tuesday, 24 February 2009

An Open Letter to A Friend

Dear Jonathan,

I must confess that I was a bit at a loss after we ended our conversation and parted ways. You have remained much in my thoughts and prayers. I was not sure what to say to you after you expressed your desire to quit the ministry and return to the marketplace. You shared with me your struggles and the circumstances that led you to make this very difficult decision. You also shared with me the kind of responses given by your leaders as you informed them of your decision to leave the ministry.

First, I have to confess that I do not pretend to know all that you are going through. I do not have all the answers nor solutions to your difficult situations. But I feel your pain and the emotional turmoil you are going through. I share the heavy burden that are weighing you down. I see your tears flowing down as you share your heart with me. I feel the hurt that is deep within you as many have misunderstood you in your decision making process.

This I do know about you, my dear friend and brother. I know that you have never doubted God's calling in your life as you make that sacrificial decision to resign from your job at the peak of your career to enter seminary. I know you are very passionate about teaching and preaching God's word, as this has been clearly demonstrated in your ministry. I know you are deeply committed to the vision and burden that God has placed in your heart as you have shared this many times to me during our many sessions of "teh tarik" together, right up to the wee hours in the morning.

People say to you that you have betrayed your calling. Let me assured you that you did not. When God calls you into full-time ministry, God does not call you alone into ministry. God also calls the community of faith into partnership with you in your ministry. It is not you who have betrayed your calling. It is the people of God who have betrayed their calling in failing to adequately provide for your needs.

People say to you that you do not have enough faith to trust in God to provide for your needs. But let me assured you that I have not seen anyone with a deeper faith in God. It is not you who do not have faith. It is the people of God that have failed in exercising their faith in ensuring that your materials needs are taken care of.

People say to you that you run away from God by leaving the ministry. I know deep in your heart, you love God. No, you do not run away from God. It is the people of God who have run away from God by failing in their responsibilities in caring for you.

Jonathan, I know that deep within you, you care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. I know you have sacrificed so much for them. I know you really love them. I know this is a very difficult decision you make.

I pray that the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus as you return to the marketplace. Therefore, go in peace, Jonathan. Go and serve the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might in the marketplace. Go and be an authentic witness of God in the marketplace as you strive to become a living exegesis of the gospel of Christ in the marketplace. I know that your workplace will be very blessed to have you there.

I will remember you in prayers. I promise you that I will conitnue to journey alongside you as you make this transition back to the marketplace.

Your fellow sojourner in this journey of faith,
Kar Yong


Florence said...

wow. even though i hv found a fitting ministry placement here, this open letter still speaks to me, as i was considering the possibility of working in the "secular" domain in klang valley earlier.
i hope brother jonathan will continue to trust God and worship Him with all his love, strength and might.

Paul said...

KY, It is a biblical perspective - it's certainly not a one man show - the community of faith must be involved in the calling. Thanks for this. Very sad though .... and brings back memories and thanksgiving that another community of faith called out to me and thus allowed me to continue in full-time vocational ministry.

不肖生 Sceptics said...

I never think quit the full time ministry is a big issue, because we are all serving God full time, no matter we work with secular job or not ....

likewise, shifting to full time ministry is also not a big thing,,,,

most important is , we continue to serve God no matter where we are..., and on what capacity..

Lee Chee Keat said...

Honestly, I'm in my 2nd year of studies in my seminary and I am still dreaming of going back to marketplace one day !!

Kar Yong said...

Hi Florence,
"Jonathan" represent a few of my friends who have left ministry...

So - you said you have a ministry placement - does that mean you will not be coming back home?

Anyway I will write to you separately.

Kar Yong said...

Hi Paul,
I am so glad you have a community that is behind you. Cherish it!

Kar Yong said...

Hi Sceptics...
Yes, I agree with you there is no dichotomy between the sacred and secular. But sad thing is, the church expects those who work to be paid so miserably that many suffer in silence....this is sad. If there is no dichotomy, why can't the church pay a bit more?

Kar Yong said...

Chee Keat,
I am in ministry for 11 years already - and I still dream of it...hahahaahahah

不肖生 Sceptics said...

Yes KY,

I agree with you.

maybe I am lay pastor, does not draw salary, but contribute money to church, thats y, does not feel the pinch...haha!

but I seriously, always want to go full time study and ministry,,,

haha, now , again , being informed of the horror of dark prospect lying ahead of me... so frightening....