Called to Be a Sojourner

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Prov. 3:5-6

At any given time in your life, you may wonder, “Lord, what is the purpose of this moment?” Many times we may never know the answer, but sometimes, in moments as glorious as a perfect chord played at the end of a beautiful piece of music, we get a glimpse of how God has used the many different twists and turns of our lives to give us the precise combination of calling, passion and skills to equip us to do exactly what he has called us to do.

Pastor Judy Choy, who serves at Whitby Oshawa Chinese Baptist Church has just such a story.

Born into a multigenerational Christian family, Judy comes from a long line of faithful believers. Growing up in the church, Judy dove into missionary biographies, filling her imagination with dreams of becoming a missionary—perhaps even a missionary doctor. She longed to heal people’s bodies and hearts at the same time. Serving in her church since she was a teenager, being a part of a community of believers was deep in her core. Even so, things didn’t go quite the way she had expected.

Instead of heading to the mission field, Judy joined the IT industry at a successful job with a major tech corporation. All the while, she continued to serve in her church, taking part in different ministries, and participating in short-term missions whenever the opportunity arose. Throughout her career, her sense of calling to ministry grew, pushing her to reconsider her direction. The people closest to her—her family— also had a sense of Judy’s calling and encouraged her to get equipped. Armed with the support of her family and the encouragement of friends, Judy took the plunge into seminary.

While she was still working full time, Judy also studied part-time. With a smile, she remembers working all night on a paper, and heading to work the next morning, somehow making it through with all the energy she required—only by the grace of God. Despite the rigours of working, studying and continuing to volunteer at church, it was at seminary that she felt more equipped to answer the questions asked by that those outside the fold—preparation that came just in time.

By the time Judy was in her last year of seminary, Mandarin-speaking people had begun trickling into their congregation. Because she speaks Mandarin as well as English and Cantonese, she was the perfect candidate to lead. “It was church planting in my own backyard,” describes Judy.

The Mandarin-speaking congregation grew! It wasn’t long before the church realized that they needed their own Mandarin pastor, so they invited Judy to apply. “The time was ripe. It was all God’s timing,” says Judy. “That’s how I decided to put down my career and join the church, serving full time.”

While there were a few minor growing pains with transitioning from volunteer to pastor, Judy has never looked back—nor does she think of pastoring as a career. For her, ministry is a calling, not a job, and her investment in others, in journeying alongside her congregation in faith, is how she defines that ministry. She is a sojourner—a co-traveler, sharing the light of Christ with others on the path ahead.

Judy now serves as the lead pastor at Whitby Oshawa Chinese Baptist Church, shepherding a thriving congregation. Despite the complications of the pandemic, she feels they have been able to manage fairly well. With her background in IT, transitioning into online services has been easier for her than most, and given her opportunities to connect with the next generation.

When we begin our journey through life, we never know exactly how things will work out, do we? Even so, with a little patience and perseverance, God will bring everything together at just the right time, for his purpose, with his people, and that is worth the wait.

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