Dickson Leung, University of Alberta
Entering medical school, I was eager – eager to learn medicine and become a doctor; eager to be a fervent witness to my new classmates. However, my passion was short-lived. After the semester began, I continually heard medical faculty and those around me, praising us for our brilliance and congratulating us for becoming medical students. It seemed like we had achieved a new realm of success and value by becoming medical students. Hearing this, I began to believe it and prioritized my identity as a medical student. I lost sight of wanting to be a witness for Christ in this setting, and began focusing mainly on my studies. As I met my classmates and news flowed about everyone’s successful backgrounds and talents, I began to feel insignificant. I placed my identity in medicine, but yet I felt like a flickering miniature candle in a room of bright flashing neon signs.
A few months into medical school, I was asked to consider leading our CMDS chapter at the University of Alberta next year. This came as a surprise to me as I had not been very involved in CMDS. As I was still trapped in my self-sufficiency and pride, I pushed the idea to the back of my mind. Fast forward to Christmas break, I attended the student missions conference, Urbana 2018. During a prayer intercession session, I renounced self-sufficiency and was told that my invitation to lead CMDS was God’s gift of grace to me. Leading CMDS would help me refocus my attention on God and His will. However, I was still unwilling to fully surrender to God. I was anxious about leading CMDS. I thought to myself, if I agreed to lead CMDS, would I suddenly become a target in medical school? I am not ready to defend the faith against a class of intellectuals. If I agreed to lead CMDS, would I be put on a pedestal for judgment – would I shame Christ because of my daily imperfections? How could I, with my petite flame, shine for Jesus?
Skip ahead to the CMDS Student Leadership Conference in March, God answers my questions and uncertainties. During the conference, I was reminded by the story of Gideon how God works through the weak. I was encouraged by personal stories which displayed the message that “things worth doing always will be difficult” and “there is always sacrifice in taking up leadership”. An especially memorable moment to me occurred one night, when a few of us gathered together and shared our personal testimonies. As we listened, and recounted our journey of faith and path to medical school, I was reminded that God was/is/will be faithful. By God’s sovereign love, on the last day of the conference, God spoke to me through preaching from my favorite Old Testament book of the bible – Daniel. Whenever I read the story of The Fiery Furnace, I am always blown away by God’s timing. I imagine myself in the shoes of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Imagine this: You are forced by law to perform an act against God’s commands – in this case, bowing to an idol. Despite your faithfulness, God does not evidently appear. You are brought before authorities and condemned. Despite your faithfulness, God does not evidently appear. You are brought towards your death; the burning fiery furnace stands before you. Despite your faithfulness, God does not evidently appear. You are falling into the blazing furnace. Despite your faithfulness, God does not evidently appear. You are now within the fire. Because of His faithfulness, God is there. God chose to appear only after they stepped into the fire.
I always long for an “amazing” testimony – stories in my life where I see God miraculously intervene and deliver. Yet, I desire comfort. These are not compatible. Our faith is refined by fire. In our suffering, difficulties, trials, sacrifice, and weakness, God’s strength and glory shines most brilliantly, if we submit. Thus, in my weakness, and despite my feelings of inadequacy and insignificance, I can be a humble conduit of God’s majesty. I end with one of my favorite quotes: “…if my fire is not large, it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame.” A. W. Tozer.
While at the Student Leadership Conference this year, I was really challenged through the story of Boaz and the personal experiences of Dr Paul Zung who was speaking at the conference. I was struck by the parallels between Boaz and Jesus, and started considering what redemption looks like in my life and in the lives of others around me. When Boaz enters the story the first thing he does is he notices and he inquires after Ruth. Ruth is a total stranger when he first sees her in his fields. What she was doing was common practice for the less wealthy at that time, and for Boaz to concern himself with her is remarkable. He hears Ruth’s story form his workers and he’s filled with compassion and kindness towards her. God is like this in that he sees us, he knows about us and he cares. Matthew 10:30 says God knows all the hairs on our heads and I think that that’s a really powerful picture. I’ve been really challenged to be more observant with the people around me. And not just with people I care about, or who are in my immediate circle but beyond that to people I don’t know at all.
Adesewa Adeleye, Univeristy of Alberta
While Boaz is legally obligated to Ruth as her guardian redeemer or Goel, he goes beyond this obligation. Goel is a Hebrew term which comes from the word lig’ol (“to redeem”), meaning “redeemer”. It identifies a person as the nearest relative of another and defines their duty to restore the rights of another and avenge their wrongs. Boaz tells the harvesters to drop the best behind for Ruth, he tells them not to intimidate her. When Ruth comes to him at the threshing floor, he covers her and protects her reputation even though at this point she has little in the way of social standing. I’ve been challenged to express compassion for others that goes beyond just compassion into kindness. I think of all the times in my life where maybe I do pay attention, and maybe I do notice someone. Maybe I even inquire after them and I’m filled with compassion, but how often do I act? I think if Jesus calls us to be like him in every way he also calls us to be redeemers to those around us and that’s a tall order. Ultimately Jesus is in every way our Goel. He restored our right to be one with God in fellowship and our right to eternal life. He is with us in every struggle we experience in this broken world, he conquered Satan and enables us to conquer sin. Jesus is the only one who can redeem us for eternity, but the actions of redemption are for us all to work out as Christ followers on earth. Understanding that Jesus is first Our Redeemer gives us the strength and courage to be a redeemer to others.