Beyond “Baby Steps”
Posted on 23 Jun 2018 by Jerome Leng
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24
This post is long overdue. I apologize for not writing sooner. With school, family, ministry internship, and work commitments, I had difficulty carving out some time to write to you. But the semester is finally over and I am excited to share with you about the goodness of our Lord in our lives. We were strengthened by His grace, infused with His love, and blessed by His mercy.
The past couple of months was grueling. Caring for a little one while juggling multiple responsibilities was not easy. We knew that we needed strength from our Lord and we sought Him regularly. The Lord was faithful, as He has always been, in giving us timely support and encouragement. “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul” (Psalms 94:19). Meditating on the gospel of Jesus Christ brings enduring joy. The knowledge of Christ’s loving sacrificial death for our sins and the gift of His Spirit gives us hope to persevere with cheerfulness even when life’s challenges are many.
As we reflect on our journey last semester, we are grateful for our experience as we walked with our Lord each step of the way. Robyn and I learned a lot about parenting and Emmett has been growing well. Our son is a bundle of happiness. We thank God for Emmett’s life and the way he’s been teaching us to trust in God as we learn how to parent him. All of us are doing well both in health and spirit.
God was good in teaching us our limits and capacities. Initially, our goal was to graduate by the end of Spring 2019 and head home to Malaysia sometime in May next year. However, we realized that our pace and schedule from the previous semester was unsustainable. If we kept going at this rate, we fear that we might return more worn out than ready to serve. So, our current plan is to take an additional semester and graduate by the end of next year and, Lord willing, return to Malaysia sometime in December 2019 or January 2020. We miss home and would like to return sooner, but this decision would serve us and the church better. We believe that the Lord is leading us in this direction and trust in His timing to send us home.
Besides schoolwork, I (Jerome) had the opportunity to intern at Clifton Baptist Church. Every Friday, a group of us seminarians would meet with one of the elders and discuss matters related to pastoral ministry. We were also given the privilege to observe the elders’ meetings and were offered various opportunities to teach and preach. This internship has taught me many valuable lessons about ministry, pastoral leadership, and brotherly love. I have grown to love and appreciate my brothers whom I learned and served with. They are faithful to the Lord Jesus and are dedicated to serving His church. I cannot thank God enough for each of these brothers.
Humbled and Encouraged
One of the surprising and encouraging moments for me (Jerome) was receiving the Clyde T. Francisco Preaching award. I was granted a scholarship of one thousand dollars and was invited to preach in the final chapel service for the semester. It was a great honor and I was very humbled. It was a daunting task to preach at Southern’s chapel service but the Lord was with me. As the prophet Jeremiah said, “there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (20:9). I had a message and it needed to be proclaimed. My only desire is that God would be glorified in the obedience of His people as they respond faithfully to His preached Word.
I am under no illusion that I have arrived in my preaching. There is still much to learn and I look forward to a time when I’ll be preaching regularly. But this is a milestone in my training and I thank God for his continual grace in my life. If you are interested to listen, here’s a link to the sermon.
Looking back on the last 6 months, I can barely remember life without a child. Emmett is 6 months! It felt like it was just yesterday that his head was so tiny, it could fit into my palm and now this not so little guy is sitting up on his own and trying to walk! So much of my time and learning in this season has been centred around motherhood- not only learning how to care for Emmett, but also growing to appreciate how God cares for His children.
Emmett’s presence has also been a constant reminder to me of God’s grace- for the “big” things like dodging near-miss injuries or being patient in a frustrating situation, to the “little” things like being able to draw a breath or having the gift of sight. We just cannot thank God enough for the countless ways He has blessed our family.
The biggest struggle that I have faced in motherhood thus far was learning to manage and thrive in the new balancing act my life had become. This past semester, I took one class, tried to work a day a week while caring for Emmett and the home. I knew caring for a child was demanding, but I had underestimated the degree to which my lifestyle had to change in order to care for Emmett well. I also began relying on my own strength to try and fulfil the demand I had put on myself to accomplish the same tasks I did before Emmett was born. Praise the Lord that His power is made perfect in my weakness! He has caused me to depend on him in my weaknesses to provide in both the “big” and “little” things. Our loving, merciful, sovereign God is always near. He knows our need before we even realize and provides grace sufficient for each moment. I am thankful for how motherhood has availed me numerous reminders to look to Christ.
This semester, I completed my final counselling class for my programme (but am still 3 classes away from graduation). It was my second and final counselling practicum class. I had been looking forward to this class since I began my degree programme because I would get to put much of the theory I have learned into practice. It has been a privilege to get to walk with fellow sisters in Christ through their struggles and see God working in their hearts to make them more like Christ. God’s word truly is living, active, powerful and relevant to every situation in life.
For the months of June and July, we have various exciting things lined up:
- Jerome will be going to Dallas, Texas for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) with the group of interns and elders from Clifton. We are hoping that Jerome will enjoy sweet fellowship with the elders and interns and learn much about Southern Baptist denomination life.
- As a family, we will also be heading to Washington DC to register Emmett as a Malaysian citizen. We will be in DC for 5 days and hope to visit Capitol Hill Baptist Church and the Bible Museum among other things. This trip will be our family vacation for the summer.
- As for classes, Jerome is taking “Pastoral Ministry” and Robyn is taking “Care for the Souls in the Congregation.” We are thankful that we can have extended time to think about shepherding God’s flock under His Word.
- Jerome will also be teaching an adult Sunday School class once a month beginning this June to May 2019 on the Gospel of Mark with two other elders at Clifton. This is a great opportunity for Jerome to grow in his ability as a minister of the gospel.
If you remember us in your prayers, please pray
- That the Lord will continue to strengthen us and give us wisdom in our studies and parenting.
- That we will make the best use of our time this summer.
- That Emmett will receive his Malaysian citizenship.
- That the Lord will equip Jerome and bless his teaching ministry.
- That Robyn will grow as a biblical counselor.
I hope to write a post before the Fall semester begins. Stay tuned. Thank you for your partnership and support. We are grateful for you.
For God’s glory,