Jen Hong has served L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry faithfully for 3 years, but sadly, her last day with us was Friday, September 28th. Jen and Francis were blessed with a beautiful baby girl on Saturday, October 6th. Through much prayer, Jen has discerned from God that it is her time to step away from ministry to the homeless, and step into full-time ministry inside her own home. Here are her reflections on that transition. The Christian life is like a marathon. We are running this long race to receive a crown of life that is worth far more than living in a big house, having healthy and obedient kids and not worrying about money. The Apostle Paul said,
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
I praise God for giving me eternal life and am forever grateful that He has made L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry a milestone of my race.
Floods of memories filled my mind as I walked out of Miryam’s for the very last time. I remember just a few years ago when a homeless girlfriend introduced and accompanied me to this place. It was a bright sunny day, and excitement filled this woman as she shared about the food they served and how much she liked their free coffee and tea. At the time I was a brand new intern for the ministry who did not know anything about homelessness. My prayer was simply that God would guide and equip me to do His work. Amazingly, with no explanation, the homeless began openly sharing their stories and burdens with me. Years later, I still remember the smiles on their faces and the stories they shared with me. Throughout this journey, there have been times when the road was very difficult and loneliness hindered my ability to go any further. Being the only woman staff at the beginning of my career at the ministry was hard, and life seemed impossible with my visa and income issues. These were the times when I wanted to give up and told Jesus that I couldn’t do it. But the Lord reassured me with His promises, and I began to see His blessings flow down when I kept running. I couldn’t remember exactly where and how it started but God had amazingly opened the door. I was humbled. For the first time ever, a Christian ministry was able to openly share the Gospel in a particular women’s shelter. Not only that, God granted me my visa after months of waiting and provided financially for our family.
The events of the past 3 years have flown by so fast that they have seemed like only a few days. While my Christian race continues, I know it is time for me to leave full-time ministry. One Monday night, Ashley, a quiet homeless mom, asked me after the Bible study, “Are you coming back next week? It is so good to hear about the Bible and I want to see you again.” Tears almost raced down my cheeks. I told her that I would not be there next week but maybe in the next few months and I assured her that Jenna would be there in my place. Honestly, I hate acknowledging that I’m leaving the ministry, and it is especially painful leaving the people and ministry I love. When I got home after visiting that shelter, I tried to trick myself into believing I would see that woman again while doing Bible study with my baby soundly asleep in the corner. But I know that I can’t run two paths at once. After months of prayer, all I know is to trust God and embrace the greater calling of being a mom. It is time to change my path from caring for the homeless to caring for a newborn. I am leaving the ministry to follow a different path and receive a different blessing from God.
If I can give thanks to my marathon teammates, I want to thank our Lord for bringing me to the ministry. I could not and would not do it without Him. The experiences and lessons learned at the ministry have greatly enriched and deepened my faith. I also want to thank Charles, Mike, and Mike for trusting and tolerating me. Without their patient teaching, I wouldn’t have been here at all. To Liz and Josh thanks goes out for their faithful support through the years in many different aspects. To Jenna, who traveled with me to almost all women outreaches, studies, and groups, I will always remember the days we drove together, our deep discussions, and the crazy adventures we had. Last but not least, thank you my supporters for partnering with me and the ministry for all these years. Your prayers and gifts are constant reminders of God’s faithfulness. I would encourage you to continue to give to the ministry, as my teammates carry on the work of loving and serving the homeless.
Are you running a race? If you are, I want you to remember you are not running alone. There are Christian brothers and sisters running with you. More so, God is waiting for us at the end of the race with His arms wide open. Sometimes I like to picture myself standing at a beautiful place, exhausted, but with a sense of accomplishment, and when I look up, I see Jesus smiling me at the finish line not far away. That will be the day when God wipes away all tears from our eyes, puts His hand on our shoulders and says, “You’ve come a long way. Come now and enjoy this feast with me.” This will be the day we will finally be united with Him in His love.